Now that the season is slowly approaching and the roster spots are filling up, let’s break down what the Knicks have been able to do with their limited cap space this offseason.
9) Acquiring Big Man Jeremy Tyler
Let’s be honest, as great of a defensive presence as Tyson Chandler and the newly re-signed Kenyon Martin are, they can’t do it alone. This is where former Atlanta Hawk and Golden State Warrior Jeremy Tyler comes into play. The 6-10 and 260lb forward-center wowed the Knicks over the 2013 summer league putting up 12.6 ppg and 6.4 rpg showing great effort by cleaning up the offensive glass and pushing his way to the rim. Don’t plan on seeing to much of Jeremy this season as he will no doubt be placed behind Tyson Chandler, Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. However he will add great depth to the bench and if anything be able to grab a few boards and dish out the hard fouls.
8) Picking up undrafted FA C.J. Leslie
When C.J. Leslie didn’t get to hear his name called late first round and even into the early second, the 6-9 and 206lb forward from NC State slowly become unsure about his future in the NBA. Thanks to the Knicks he wasn’t out of a job yet. This young and very athletic player has a lot to learn but has the tools to take on the job. With a great build and fantastic athletic ability Leslie is a good transition player and can score on the fast break. His great speed and leaping ability will make him a problem for defenders on the high post while his large wingspan makes him a good defender given the right coaching which he have under Woodson and former defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler. However his position on the floor is still a mystery not being physical enough to play the 4 and having an unreliable mid range shot that will keep him from the 3. It will be interesting to see where he will be penciled in on the rotation later down the road but don’t expect to be seeing too much of our boy C.J. this year.
7) Picking up Tim Hardaway Jr. at No. 24
Let me be the first to say I did not see this coming. As I sat on my couch on draft night hoping our Knicks would pick up a big man like Gorgui Dieng or Mason Plumlee to learn from our defensive general Tyson Chandler, it never occurred to me that I would be hearing Tim Hardaway Jr’s name being called up to the stage.
At first I wasn’t too happy about the idea seeing as we already have our returning sixth man of the year J.R. Smith and a growing star in Iman Shumpert. However after watching some footage of him playing at Michigan, I’m starting to warm up to the idea. As a rookie coming into his first season, Hardaway Jr. has a lot to learn but the athletic swingman from Michigan has a lot of energy and a good ability to get to the rim. If he can work on his ball handling and his shot selection a bit he will make a fine addition to the Knicks bench—but don’t expect him to be pulling a “killer crossover” like his father any time soon.
6) Re-signing Pablo Prigioni
When talks began to rise about pesky Pablo testing free agency I held my breath and prayed that we would resign him and not Chris Copeland. Thank goodness he decided to stay after the Knicks used some of their mid-level exception to offer the maestro a 3 year, $6 million dollar pay out with the final year being partially guaranteed. Pablo was a key factor to the Knicks’ success last season after being placed in the starting rotation that helped lead our Knickerbockers on a 13 game winning streak.
The 36 year old point guard from Argentina refuses to show his age and continues to be a threat on both ends of the court. Expect to see Pablo dropping a few dimes, spotting up for a couple threes, getting his hands on a steal or two and over all just being a pest for the opposing team.
5) Picking up Beno Udrih
Udrih wouldn’t have been my first pick to add some depth at the point guard position (cough, Bobby Brown, cough), but on paper he was our safest option available at a cheap price. The veteran floor general agreed to a pay cut in order to join the Knicks for their title run, accepting a 1-year deal for $1.27 million dollars. During his 9 year career, before coming to New York, Beno was able to play on 4 teams most notable the San Antonio Spurs where he helped Tony Parker and friends win two championships. Udrih’s playoff experience will undoubtedly be a great asset on and off the court giving Felton strong back up of presence to replace the late great Jason Kidd.
Along with that, Beno is coming off a break out season averaging 8.2 ppg and 4.6 apg playing with the Orlando Magic and the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2012-2013 season. Overall, looking at our options, Beno’s contract was a steal and we acquired a veteran point guard who is a pass first, shoot second guard who will keep the offense moving by feeding Melo, J.R. and Bargnani some good placed shots.
4) Re-signing K-Mart
The former first overall pick in the 2000 draft from the University of Cincinnati is here to stay for another year after accepting a veterans minimum for $1.4 million. Last season K-Mart was picked up by the Knicks in late February after being signed to two 10-day contracts to help while injured Tyson Chandler recover from his bulged disk in his neck. As a result we got a key defensive presence in the front court that helped lead us to a 13 game wining streak and create a major confidence boost going into the post season. Kenyon defense around the rim and ability to defend in the paint became a key factor to the Knicks’ success towards the end of last season, and going into the playoffs.
With the signing of Jeremy Tyler, K-Mart should be able to free up to play a little more offense and not have to dish out the hard fouls when needed. During his 18 game run with the Knicks last season, K-Mart averaged 7.2 ppg on 60 percent shooting and 5.3 rebounds during 24 minutes of play time. Expect to see those numbers rise this season.
3) Re-signing J.R. Smith
As much as I love our sixth man of the year, J.R. Smith, and what he has done for the Knicks, there are a few factors in play right now that makes this move a little scary. First off was his playoff performance last season after giving the good old right bow to Jason Terry. Don’t get me wrong, I dislike Jason “The Jet” Terry as much as the next person who isn’t a Dallas Maverick, Boston and now Brooklyn fan, but having J.R. be ejected and suspended one game was not worth the payout.
On top of that, once J.R. returned to action, it was like he didn’t win sixth man of the year at all. He stepped on to the court averaging 13.5 ppg game against the Indiana Pacers in the conference semi finals, which is 4.6 points lower than his average for that season. Of course this just adds to talk of J.R. not being mature enough for a playoff team, but if he wants a ring, he has to learn to play smart and be more consistent with his scoring output. Along with this is Smith’s recent patella tendon surgery and tear in the lateral Mencius of his left knee. These procedures could keep the 2 guard out for 3-4 months, coming dangerously close to the start of the 2013-2014 season. However the Knicks front office was aware of J.R.s injuries before signing him to a 3 year, $18 million dollar deal.
Let’s just hope that J.R. Smith has a speedy recover and is back to 100 percent, or close to it, by the time the season opener rolls around because his scoring off the bench is a must for the Knicks.
2) Trading for Andrea Bargnani
Just because it’s the biggest trade of the offseason doesn’t mean it’s the best. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people have been bashing this move but I think it’s just because people often like to focus on the negative side of things. What fans forget is the Knicks acquired a 7-foot, lights out shooter, who can get to the basket and spread the floor for Melo.
What did we give up for him you might ask?
Just Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, Steve Novak, a first round pick in 2016 and two second round selections in 2014, and 2017. Now, out of that list, the only thing I’m going to miss is Steve Novak’s championship belts. But once the opposing defense learned to keep a hand in his face at all times from behind the arc, he became little help to the team. So in my book that’s not a bad trade, aside from having to absorb Bargnani’s outlandish $20 million dollar contract for the next two years, if he doesn’t opt out in 2014. Yes, the former first overall pick has to work on his defense a bit, but mentoring under Tyson Chandler and working under Coach Woodson’s system should do the trick.
If Bargnani can manage to stay healthy, I think his journey to New York will be a new chapter in his career, making him a great asset to the Knicks. It will be interesting to see where he lands on the rotation, though, due to Carmelo’s recent success at the 4, but we will have to just wait and see come tip off.
1) Signing Metta World Peace
Thank goodness he didn’t go to China because
Ron Artest, oops, I mean Metta World Peace, still has a lot to offer in the NBA. This former Laker, with one ring on his finger, is a lock down defender who can guard almost anybody on the court. Metta is also not afraid to make the big shots and push the floor on the fast break when need be.
He is currently coming of a great season averaging 12.4 ppg, 5 rpg and 1.6 spg, which are numbers we haven’t seen from him since his time in Sacramento and Indiana. His tough-as-nails defense and playoff experience will be a huge factor come this season and might be that extra push we need come playoff time.
In addition too his overflowing resume, the Knicks got him for little to nothing, seeing as the Lakers still owe the former 2004 defensive player of the year $7 million after using their amnesty on him during this previous offseason. The deal amounted out to be $1.6 million over two years with a play option on his final year. World Peace has made it very clear through this contract, and in recent interviews, that he doesn’t care about the money, he just wants to bring a championship to the city he loves and grew up in.
Where ever he lands on the rotation, whether it be starting or backing up Melo at the 3, he will be a defensive nightmare to the opposing team.