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Rumors: Christian Wood, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Knicks’ free agent radar

Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson discuss the potential star the Knicks should look to draft with the eighth pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

New York has its new front office led by Leon Rose. It has its new coach and tone-setter in Tom Thibodeau.

But if the Knicks are going to win, or even just take a step forward, they need a lot more talent on the roster. The Knicks have come up in big swing free agent and trade rumors, but what they need is a foundation of talent that will attract stars. That’s where a couple of new free agent rumors come in:

Christian Wood and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Wood had a breakout season in Detroit, averaging 13.1 points a game and showing three-point range (38.9% from deep. He fits the role of a modern rim-running big so well the Pistons traded Andre Drummond to free up a starting spot for him (Wood finished fourth in Sixth Man of the Year voting). Detroit wants to keep him and has the cap space to pay him starter money ($12 million a season or more), but New York has its eyes on him, reports Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

One team with interest in Wood expects the 25-year-old to be a top target for New York this offseason. SNY reported in March that some in New York’s front office had been enamored with Wood. The Knicks had been monitoring Wood for much of the season prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Many teams were monitoring Wood ahead of the trade deadline, but New York was one of the few teams watching the Pistons regularly after the deadline -- an indication that the Knicks had a high level of interest in the forward.

If the Knicks want Wood, they would have to come in over the top at a price that Detroit would not match. That’s a lot of money to throw around for a team thinking about a big free agent splash in the 2021 offseason.

The Knicks also need defense — 23rd in the NBA last season, Thibodeau will improve that number — which is where signing Kidd-Gilchrist comes in. Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote about Kidd-Gilchrist as a Knicks target.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft who has established himself as a defensive specialist, is on the Knicks’ free-agent radar when the market opens a few days after Nov. 18th’s draft.

According to sources, the Knicks also view the player known as “MKG” as a solid locker room guy. However, Kidd-Gilchrist wouldn’t address the Knicks desire to improve their outside shooting.

This is not a bad roll of the dice on a player who will be at the league minimum or not far above it (he played just 13 games for Dallas last season). Unlike Wood, the Knicks could bring in MKG and not mess with cap space for the summer of 2021.

This may not be the summer of splashy moves in New York, but if Thibodeau and company can start to do what that team over the Brooklyn Bridge did — build a foundation that superstars want to come to play with — it will be a big step forward.