Among the first promises issued by David Fizdale upon being named head coach of the New York Knicks was that he was going to get the best out of his young point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay.
Acquired in a three-team trade from the Denver Nuggets last year, 22-year-old selected seventh overall in the 2015 draft was written off by his former team as an inconsistent offensive game saw some major struggles shooting from the field.
A career 37.4-percent shooter entering the 2018-19 season, averaging 10.8 points and 4.3 assists per game, Fizdale looked at Mudiay during his introductory press conference and simply stated, “we’ll get you right.”
It looks like he has.
Mudiay is in the midst of a career year, wrenching the starting point guard job from a crowded backcourt that also includes Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina. His time with Fizdale is clearly paying off, especially in December.
In 11 games this month, Mudiay has seemingly figured it all out, averaging 19.1 points and 5.7 assists per game while shooting 46-percent from the field. That shooting percentage is right on par with his season average, a 46.2-percent mark in 26 games.
Wait, so why would the Knicks want to trade Mudiay?
This success could be putting the Knicks at a bit of a crossroad here.
Mudiay is in the final year of his contract unless the Knicks extend a qualifying offer for 2019-20. But a $12.8 million cap hold, per Newsday, makes that unlikely.
This dramatic upturn in play is only going to make him a popular figure on the free-agent market for teams desperate for backcourt help.
While there could be competition for the point guard’s signature this offseason, money is not the problem for the Knicks as they have a projected $48.1 million of practical cap space next year, per Spotrac.
This is not a knock on Mudiay in any way, shape, or form, but the Knicks simply might have larger fish to fry next offseason.
With two max-salary slots available, New York is expected to at least be in on the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. However, there will be premier and established point guards also available like Kemba Walker, who grew up in the Bronx and has stated his affinity for playing in his home city.
If Mudiay continues to play at this kind of level as the season unfolds and the Knicks sink even deeper in the standings, contenders could be calling at the trade deadline. That allows the Knicks to set a high price that will only continue their rebuilding efforts as all eyes are fixed on a promising 2019-20 season.