The New York Knicks new shooting guard, John Jenkins, just signed a new contract, but don’t expect him to linger in New York long.
The 27-year-old shooting guard just signed a two-year contract to remain in New York, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. It’s an interesting move on the Knicks’ end, especially since Jenkins has played in just two games for them this year.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 20, 2019
In those two games, Jenkins is averaging 10.5 points over 17.5 minutes per game. He has shot 50 percent from the field and made a third of his three-point attempts. New York has a hole at shooting guard following Tim Hardaway Jr. being traded to the Dallas Mavericks with Kristaps Porzingis, and Jenkins can help fill it.
Except, fans shouldn’t get too used to Jenkins wearing a Knicks uniform. Given the team’s circumstances entering the coming offseason, they should instead prepare themselves for when he’ll probably get traded in July.
A shooter's struggle and journey
John Jenkins‘ position with the Knicks now is surely not what he envisioned early in his career. The Atlanta Hawks made him a first-round pick (23rd overall) out of Vanderbilt in 2012, and his college stats suggested a dangerous shooter was coming.
Jenkins not only shot 43.8 percent from long range as a Commodore but was also a prolific scorer. His 19.5 points a game his sophomore season led the SEC and as a junior, he tied the conference record for made three-pointers in a season. After being made a first-round pick, it was thought he would continue playing at that level as a professional.
Except, Jenkins struggled to crack the starting lineup as a rookie. He played in 61 games, but only averaged 14.8 minutes per game and his playing time went down in the ensuing years. In fact, the 17.5 minutes Jenkins is currently averaging in two games as a Knick are a career-high.
And yet, if John Jenkins only had the playing time, he could actually be a decent 2-guard. He has posted 14.4 points per game per 36 minutes. He has shot 38.6 percent from long range for his career.
Jenkins has the tools to be a solid three-point threat on the NBA level and proved it this year in the G League. He posted 24.7 points per game there this season while shooting an eye-popping 42.9 percent from downtown in 21 games.
Grooming for a trade
John Jenkins’ new deal came on the heels of his performance in the Knicks’ Feb. 14 win over the same Atlanta Hawks who drafted him in 2012. In 26 minutes, he logged 14 points with five rebounds and sunk a pair of threes. Keep in mind, this was three days after Jenkins signed a 10-day contract. Basically, he had one good game and suddenly had a two-year contract.
Talk about a shotgun wedding! The Knicks and Jenkins made things official quicker than Britney Spears after a night in Las Vegas. Even Romeo & Juliet had more time to get to know each other. Granted, Jenkins began the season with the G League’s Westchester Knicks and also spent time with them in 2017, so it’s not as though New York went into this deal blind. There is a history between both parties.
Except, the Knicks aren’t going to keep Jenkins around as anything but depth for the time being. Moreover, depending on how the summer goes, odds are he’s in a different uniform for the 2019-20 season.
An excellent trade chip
Now, let’s borrow Rick Sanchez’s portal gun and explore one version of what might happen this summer. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, the Knicks land the first overall pick in the draft. In the days leading up to the draft, GM Scott Perry does his due diligence and engages with the New Orleans Pelicans about Anthony Davis, though no deal is struck.
Come Draft Day, New York picks Duke University star Zion Williamson with the first pick. Next up is free agency, and Perry is ready to use the Knicks’ shiny new addition as a selling point.
Except, Perry’s pitch falls flat. The Boston Celtics work a trade for Davis and, as a result, re-sign Irving. Durant and Kawhi Leonard join forces and sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. Kemba Walker opts to stay with the Charlotte Hornets. Suddenly, the Knicks are looking more vulnerable than Porky Pig at a Carolina cookout.
This is where John Jenkins comes in, along with New York’s several draft picks. If free agency goes south, Perry can package Jenkins and his per-36 numbers along with a pick or two for someone like Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who has waffled on how happy he is with his team. Another option is San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, who was noticeably upset upon being traded from the Toronto Raptors last summer.
The point is this. With as busy an offseason the Knicks plan on having, some sign-and-trade deals are going to happen. It’s just part of these big money deals. In the case of the Knicks, a big-time sign-and-trade could make or break the offseason, and Jenkins has to be a part of any such deal.
He isn’t a superstar, but he can shoot. Moreover, his new two-year contract is only fully guaranteed for a year. Young and controllable talent is a key asset in free agency summers set to be as big as this one, and the Knicks have plenty of that.
John Jenkins. Dennis Smith Jr. Damyean Dotson. More draft picks than they know how to use effectively. All in all, the Knicks have what it takes to be big players this offseason, be it in free agency or trading for cap space.
In extending John Jenkins, the team has sent a simple message for the summer: they will not be ignored.