On early Monday afternoon, the New York Knicks announced that they officially signed former Vanderbilt center Luke Kornet to a two-way contract. Although this deal has reportedly been in place since late June, it wasn’t able to officially go onto place until July 1st. That date represents the time when the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which introduced two-way deals, officially went into effect.
Under a two-way deal, Kornet is expected to spend the majority of the season in the G league with the Westchester Knicks. While he’ll technically stand as a G Leaguer, Kornet will be paid $75,000 in the NBAGL, a significant improvement over the $25,000 that the average G Leaguer receives for an entire season.
In addition to that, Kornet could spend some time on the New York Knicks roster. While two-way players can only spend a maximum of 45 days with their NBA squad, they could still earn up to $250,000 if they spend that entire duration in the NBA.
When you first take a look at Kornet, you can easily see why the Knicks were both interested in him as a prospect while also forcing him to spend his rookie season in the G League.
That interest comes with Kornet standing as a 7-foot, 240 pound big that has shown an ability to both protect the rim and space the floor. As a senior at Vanderbilt, Kornet became one of only 22 NCAA bigs (6’10 or taller) in the past 17 years to average at least 2.0 made threes and 2.0 blocked shots per 40 minutes. Both of things were accomplished by Kornet being a fundamentally sound player that maintains a solid shooting stroke while also having solid timing as a rim protector.
While those traits pushed the Knicks to throw a two-way contract at Kornet, there’s still plenty of reasons why he’ll be spending his rookie year in the G League. Arguably the biggest reason was due to how errantic of a shooter he was throughout his career - 23% as a freshman, 41% as a sophomore, 28% as a junior and 33% as a senior. So while he technically shows an ability to hit an outside jumper, it was hard to depend on him to hit them on a consistent basis.
Coinciding with those perimeter inconsistencies, Kornet has a lot of room to grow on the defensive end. But Dakota, didn’t you say that Kornet averaged two blocks per game and has solid timing as a rim protector? Yes. However, those stats shouldn’t take away from the clear flaws that he has on this end of the floor. For one, Kornet isn’t the most mobile big which really hinders his potential as a pick-and-roll defender. Kornet also looked lackadaisical from around the paint as he averaged only 6 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes as a senior.
Despite those clear flaws, folks within the Knicks organization remains optimistic that they could develop Kornet into a solid two-way player. “I think he will be a great fit with his size, skill set and ability to shoot the ball,” Westchester assistant coach Derrick Alston recently told Ridiculous Upside.
“An added plus is his rim protection capability. He will be a valuable piece who will improve greatly with game reps and with out player development program. We all really look forward to working with him as the kid has a very high ceiling.”
Another person that remains optimistic about Kornet’s future as a Westchester Knick is....Luke Kornet. “The two-way was a great opportunity for me to develop and I trust their commitment in me and I in them in this situation,” Kornet recently told Ridiculous Upside. “I’ve been working on my body primarily and really improving to become an elite shooter at the NBA level.”
Kornet will have a lot of opportunities to work on those skills as we’re still more than three months away from the start of the G League season. Although that’s still a long wait until we see him suit up for the Westchester Knicks, Luke Kornet still has the potential to be one of the best bigs in the entire NBA G League.