The New York Knicks were fairly aggressive prior to the trading deadline. Phil Jackson was trying to move as much money as he could. In a perfect world it would have been the departure of injury-riddled Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e “glass knees” Stoudemire and the disappointing savior; Jose Calderon.
The end result was that Amar’e Stoudemire was bought-out and later signed with the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks completed one trade; Pablo Prigioni was swapped for Alexey Shved of the Rockets. The Knicks also acquired a 2017 and a 2019 second round pick. Prigioni is set to make around $3 million next season, on the contrary, Shved is a free agent at the seasons’ end.
With Stoudemire being waived, it results in the Knicks having an open roster spot. There are not only free agents available, but the NBA Development League is stacked with talent. The Knicks could go either veteran or young.
Before I begin, on a side note, it is unlikely that Phil Jackson will call up Thanasis Atetokounmpo of the Westchester Knicks. If New York were to sign him now it would only be a two-year deal. Season one is classified as the remaining 27 games. If the Knicks wait they can ink the Antetokounmpo to a four-year deal. New York should also avoid signing him to a 10-day contract, once that contract expires Antetokounmpo becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Here is the current depth chart;
Guards – Jose Calderon, Langston Galloway, Shane Larkin, Alexey Shved, Tim Hardaway Jr.
Forwards – Lance Thomas, Cleanthony Early, Quincy Acy, Travis Wear, Lou Amundson, Carmelo Anthony (injured).
Centers – Jason Smith, Cole Aldrich, Andrea Bargnani.
Willie Reed, Forward/Center, Grand Rapids Drive (NBA Development League).
14.6 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 62% FG, 55% FT
Reed, a thin and athletic big man, is terrific at running the floor. He is excellent at trailing a play and then turning it into an easy score. Reed provides instant energy for both the team and the fans, as he is always looking to make the highlight play. Although he is light, Reed has an uncanny ability to seal the post in order for an effortless score. He also thrives on the glass, averaging over 12 a game including 3 offensive boards.
Due to his slight figure Reed often ends up just centimeters from the basket, but he makes up for this with his shot blocking ability. Reed also has tremendous timing when playing help defense, he often swats the ball out of bounds. One of Reed’s best assets is pick-and-roll play. He has the ability to set brick-wall screens followed up by a roll the rim where he usually flushes it with force.
In his last two outings Reed is averaging 19 points, 17.5 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Jordan Hamilton, Forward, Reno Bighorns (NBA Development League).
16.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 45% FG, 35% 3PT FG, 78% FT.
Jordan Hamilton is a guy that can step in and flat-out shoot the basketball. His biggest issue while trying to remain in the NBA is consistency. He is much like J.R. Smith; red-hot some nights and ice-cold on others. Hamilton, 24, is a pure shooter with deep range. The majority of his skills lie on the offensive end. Hamilton can shoot the three pointer but he is also adept at knocking down a pull up jump shot. The 24-year-old’s face-up post game is not half bad either.
Hamilton is a poor on-ball defender, he has poor lateral quickness and often plays defense with his hands, not his feet. Hamilton is also lackluster athletically, it takes him some time to reach top speed and Hamilton’s vertical is only average. One solid aspect of his defensive game is his rebounding ability. Hamilton’s is a unit and it’s a challenge to contain him on the glass.
Glen Rice Jr., Guard/Forward, Rio Grande Valley Vipers (NBA Development League).
15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 48% FG, 34% 3PT FG, 74% FT.
Rice, standing at 6’6″, is a combo player who can play at either shooting guard or small forward. Like his father, Rice Jr. has range that extends well beyond the ark. When run off the three point line he is more than capable of draining pull-up jumper after pull-up jumper. Rice Jr. weighs in at 215 lbs, due to this big frame he is able to thrive in the mid-post. The 24-year-old can back his man down or he can face-up and knock down jump-shots.
At this point Rice Jr. is fairly one-dimensional. On the defensive end he is sub-par. He may be big which benefits him offensively, but defensively it is a disadvantage. Rice Jr. is slow and his lateral movement is poor, he often struggles to keep his man in front of him. Also, for someone of his size and weight Rice Jr. is a lackluster rebounder. Right now the Knicks struggle to put the ball in the basket consistently, Rice Jr. can help to solve that problem.
Austin Daye, Forward, Erie Bayhawks (NBA Development League).
13.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 37% FG, 36% 3PT FG, 79% FT.
Austin Daye is one of those players that you know when they shoot it, it’s going in. He continues to grow, Daye started his career as a shooting guard, he now stands at 6’11” and either plays as a two-guard or either of the forward spots. Offensively his forté is the three ball, Daye is lethal in the catch and shoot situation. Due to his height he has spent some time as a power forward. Daye’s incredible outside shooting ability makes for an unstoppable pick-and-pop play.
Daye is a string bean, he weighs in at just 200 lbs and this makes him a liability on the defensive end. Daye constantly finds himself being overpowered in the low post. Again, due to his slight frame, Daye is only an average rebounder and the opposition has no struggle in taking him away from the glass. New York has not been able to find consistent perimeter shooting all season and Daye can fill that void in an instant.
The Knicks could also call-up Orlando Sanchez or Darnell Jackson from the Westchester Knicks.
Stephen Jackson, Guard / Forward, Free Agent, Previous Team: Los Angeles Clippers
1.7 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 23% FG, 0.07% 3PT FG, 50% FT.
Stephen Jackson has spent 14 years in the NBA and he has played in numerous different environments. Jackson has played on championship teams as well as lottery teams. He has also had a vast array of roles, Jackson has been a starter and go-to scorer to being a veteran leader who only plays in garbage team. He is notorious for being a tough and hard nosed player. Jackson was waived by Spurs for being overly aggressive in practice. New York could use a player like that, someone to get in the face of the younger players, to challenge them during practice.
Jackson is a smooth shooting and scoring combo player. Now in his twilight years, Jackson enters the game as a spot up shooter and he has the ability to get red hot in a hurry. The Knicks, this season, have had no consistent threat from behind the ark. Jackson was an above average defender, he may not be that anymore but he knows how to use his six fouls. Captain Jack, as he was once known, has travelled the long roads that is the NBA and his knowledge would be very beneficial for the young Knicks backcourt. Jackson would not only help the backcourt but the team as a whole as they have no real leader with Carmelo Anthony out. The Knicks seem to be wandering off course, Jackson could get the Knicks back on the road.
Emeka Okafor, Center, Free Agent, Previous Team: Phoenix Suns.
9.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1 block, 48% FG, 58% FT
Emeka Okafor has battled some brutal injuries over the past three seasons. He has not played since the 2012-13 season. He is a seasoned pro and Okafor could most likely still play and be productive. The Knicks front court is fairly young and inexperienced. New York often gets out-rebounded, the addition of the rebounding-beast could benefit those who have not played consistently in the NBA. He is a veteran that has been there and done that.
As well as rebounding Okafor is immovable in the low post. He changes many shots when out on the basketball court. Offensively he sets rock-solid screens and when he rolls to the rim he is a capable scorer. Okafor would be like Jackson, come in and provide a voice for the currently voice-less Knicks. His ability to be a leader should not be underestimated.
Rashard Lewis, Forward, Free Agent, Previous Team: Miami Heat.
4.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 42% FG, 37% 3PT FG.
Rashard Lewis was one of the game’s most versatile perimeter shooters. In his time with the Miami Heat Lewis was able to step in and provide a veteran presence as well as knock-down shooting. Lewis has been around the ringer, he has been there and done that, his vast experience in different circumstances and situations would allow him to be very beneficial to younger players. Lewis knows what has to be done in order to win.
Although he is now washed up, Lewis could still be serviceable due to his perimeter shooting ability. Last season Lewis had some big games in the Playoffs including a game where he made six threes against Indiana. Lewis was never fond of the defensive end but his superior knowledge and shooting ability could be of great benefit for the Knicks. At 35-years-old he is now in the twilight years of his professional career.
Nate Robinson, Guard, Free Agent, Previous Team: Boston Celtics
5.8 points, 2.3 assists, 1.2 rebounds, 35% FG, 26% 3PT FG, 65% FT.
Nate Robinson was dealt to the Boston Celtics but he was recently waived by the team. In his time with New York, the three time Slam Dunk Champion was a spark plug as a starter or a sixth man. We all know what ‘Nate the Great’ can do, but since leaving New York he has bounced around and matured and become more of a veteran and coach. Robinson, now 30-years-old, has played in many different situations which results in him having a vast array of knowledge. He has much to share with younger members of the team.
The Knicks back-court is incredibly young and any veteran teacher would be of benefit for them. Robinson has always risen against the odds, his never give up attitude would add some much needed fire to a relatively cold back-court. Robinson is also still serviceable, he would be able to guide his younger teammates through the rocky roads of the NBA.
Other candidates: Al Harrington, Keith Bogans, Marcus Camby.