Entering his fourth NBA season, the final on his rookie-scale deal, Immanuel Quickley is eligible to sign a contract extension with the New York Knicks any time between now and Oct. 24, the day before the start of then 2023-24 regular season.
If the Oct. 24 deadline passes and no deal is reached, Quickley will enter next summer as a restricted free agent, which would force the Knicks to match any offer that were to come his way to avoid losing him for nothing.
That is not a situation in which the Knicks want to find themselves. Quickley would certainly receive good offers on the open market, perhaps ones that would really test New York’s upper limits. There have been reports, both from Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports and SNY’s Ian Begley, that no substantive talks have happened yet between Quickley and the Knicks.
Expect that to change as October rolls around the extension deadline nears. What kind of contract might Quickley be in line for? One NBA executive who spoke with Deveney believes Quickley’s asking price will be in $100 million range over four years, roughly equal to what Jalen Brunson got last summer.
Brunson’s deal was a steal. He’s worth a lot more than that, and the Knicks are going to have to pay him accordingly when he becomes extension eligible next summer. Nine figures might feel steep for Quickley, but it’s not far off. He has been one of the most valuable Knicks players over his first three seasons.
The traditional numbers are solid. Last season, Quickley averaged just under 15 points on 45% shooting — including 37% from 3-point range on almost six attempts per game. In 21 games as a starter, those numbers shot to 22 points, five assists and five rebounds on 40% 3-point shooting.
But it’s the numbers of those around him that really start to illuminate Quickley’s value. Consider this: Over his first three seasons in the league, 20 players have logged at least 500 minutes playing with Quickley, and every one of those 20 players won those minutes. In other words, not a single two-man Knicks tandem that included Quickley over his fist three seasons finished with a negative point differential for the year. Not one.
Last season, eight players logged at least 500 minutes alongside Quickley:
Those top four Quickley tandems were the only two-man Knicks units to finish with at least a plus-200 net differential last season. In 2021-22, two tandems topped the plus-200 mark for the season, and again, both included Quickley (Quickley/Burks: +256; Quickley/Toppin: +215).
In 2020-21, Quickley’s rookie season, he was once agains part of the Knicks’ three best net-rating duos (Quickley/Randle: +164; Quickley/Rose: +151; Quickley/Gibson +125).
By contrast, last season, Brunson and Randle, who are generally regarded as the Knicks’ two best players, finished with a plus-57 point differential for the season, while Brunson and RJ Barrett were minus-26, and Randle and Barrett were minus-65.
That’s not apples to apples. Different tandems are playing against different lineups and there’s a mix-and-match factor to any lineup data; also, obviously, you players with more than two players on the court. Still, at a certain point, over a three-year sample, you have to concede to the value of a guy who is consistently winning his minutes across a vast range of lineups.
Last season New York outscored its opponents by 8.5 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. That was the best mark on the team for anyone who logged at least 1,000 minutes, and second only to the late-season surge of Josh Hart’s plus-15.9 over 741 non-garbage-time minutes.
Are you seeing the trend here? When the Knicks have Quickley on the floor, they are an appreciably better team. He spaces the floor as a volume 3-point shooter, can create offense both primarily and off the catch, and he’s become a really good, if not flashy, passer. He consistently is on time and target with his simple passes to shooters.
Last season, 61 players recorded at least 500 drives, and among those Quickley ranked 11th with a 12.6 assist percentage, higher than the likes of Trae Young and James Harden and up more than 50% from his 2021-22 mark.
And he defends. If you’re under the impression that Quickley is a microwave bench scorer who gives up just as many points as he creates, you’re wrong. This is a starting-caliber two-way point guard. He’s still something of a hidden gem, even after finishing as the Sixth Man of the Year runner-up.
Naysayers will be quick to point out some of his playoff duds last season. That is a classic small-sample mistake, and it was not all bad, anyway. A few stinkers make the averages look worse. The guy is 24. Not especially young by NBA standards, but still developing. Last season was really the first that he was truly trusted by Tom Thibodeau.
Bottom line, Quickley deserves to be properly compensated for his value, which has been quietly high and should continue to rise. I would suspect that the Knicks, even with a somewhat crowded backcourt, know this, too.
It will be interesting to see what Quickley gets. In a vacuum, he could be worth $100M, but with Brunson locked in as the team’s foundational point guard, paying well over $200M for two small guards is a tough way to build a contender.
I cannot see the Knicks letting him go to restricted free agency, where it only takes one team to throw him huge offer to put them in a big bind. If Quickley were to get $100M over four years, it wouldn’t be a huge overpay, but my guess is he gets closer to $80-85M from New York. That would be a sort of meet-in-the-middle deal that secures Quickley’s financial future while New York retains a very good player/trade asset without having to break the bank completely wide open.
Deveney notes that $80M number as an expected range for Quickley, according to his executive sources. Begley outlines a scenario in which Quickley gets $18M in the first year of a four-year extension with annual raises from there, which would total somewhere north of $80M.
Both sides should be happy in that neighborhood. Especially the Knicks. Because if Quickley has an even better season this year, he could easily get a nine-figure offer next summer in free agency, and that would be a much tougher decision to make.