It’s no secret that the New York Knicks will have a superfluous amount of cap room this offseason.
All the focus has been on the big names. Players like Marc Gasol, Greg Monroe, Kevin Love, and Rajon Rondo have been discussed as possible targets. Spending big money on guys like that is necessary, but the Knicks have so many holes they will need to focus on getting cheaper plug in guys as well. These players are crucial to a championship team, but are not exactly franchise changers.
DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks SF
2014-15 statistics: 31.3 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 49% FG, 40% 3PT FG, 5.4 RPG, 1.4 SPG
Carroll was the only member of Atlanta’s starting five to not make the All Star game, but he still is crucial to Atlanta’s massive success this season. While some of his offensive success can probably be credited to the genius Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer, Carroll still has made strides this season. His defense is excellent, and he has improved his shooting numbers. Atlanta also outscores opponents by 3 more points when he is on the floor compared to off. A premium has been placed on 3 and D players in today’s NBA, something the Knicks have lacked for years. Carroll fits that bill perfectly.
Omer Asik, New Orleans Pelicans PF/C
2014-15 statistics: 26.1 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 52% FG, 10 RPG, .7 BPG
Asik was traded to the Pelicans this summer from the Houston Rockets. Since his arrival, he has been solid. Asik is known as a top tier defensive big man as well as being dominant on the boards. He is allowing opponents to shot just 50.3 percent in the paint against him. To compare, elite defender LeBron James is close, giving up 49.7%. While Asik will not help a ton on the offensive end, he should be an excellent player to pair alongside whomever the Knicks select with their first pick. The rookie will probably struggle to adjust to playing defense in the NBA. Insert Asik, who can help lessen the impact as they learn.
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks SG/SF
2014-15 statistics: 30.2 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 46% FG, 41% 3PT, 4.5 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.6 SPG
Middleton has had a breakout year this season on both sides of the ball. His defense is outstanding, and his impact has helped raise the Bucks to being the second best defensive team in the entire league. The oppositions field goal percentage jumps from 47.3% when he is on the court, to 51% when off. The team’s defensive rating is also 97.6 when on the floor compared to 106.3 when he is on the bench (the lower the better). He is only 23 years old as well. He is restricted, but Milwaukee is a small market team that may not be able to afford a bigger contract because they already know they’ll need to save money to sign guys such as Michael Carter-Williams, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson. He would be an outstanding signing if the Knicks can get him.
Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs SG
2014-15 statistics: 28.6 MPG, 11.8 PPG, 44% FG, 42% 3PT, 4.3 RPG, 2 APG, 1.3 SPG
Although he is known for his dead eye shooting, Danny Green is a much more dynamic player then that. Him and Kawhi Leonard form one of the best defensive tandems in the NBA on the perimeter. His 1.3 SPG show that. Green also is an improving passer, and becoming a better scorer inside the three point arc. The Long Island native will probably be retained by the Spurs, but they do have a lot of other issues to resolve. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli have to be re-signed, and Kawhi Leonard is a restricted FA. Corey Joseph will also be available. If the Spurs do not want to take on all those salaries, Green could very well be headed back home to play for the New York Knicks.
Robin Lopez, Portland Trail Blazers C
2014-15 statistics: 27.9 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 53% FG, 6.9 RPG, 1.4 BPG
Lopez has locked down the paint very well this season for a surging Trail Blazer team. He’s an outstanding offensive rebounder as well, with a whopping 48% of his rebounds coming on the offensive end. That would be a huge boost for New York, who are ranked 18th for offensive rebounds per game. Lopez is also not a great offensive weapon, but his defensive game and rebounding skills make up for that. The Knicks also reportedly want to stay away from aging players, and Lopez fits that bill as well. He will be just 27 years of age to start off the 2015 season.
Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns SG
2014-15 statistics: 19.3 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 41% FG, 35% 3PT, 2.5 RPG
The second Green on this list, Gerald Green has a different appeal for the Knicks. It appears the Suns do not want him back, evident by criticism by head coach Jeff Hornacek and a drop off in minutes. He also is having a bit of a down year after scoring 15.8 PPG on 45% FG, a candidate for most improved player. His production decline will ultimately bring his price down, and make him much more affordable and appealing for the Knicks. He also has seen an increase in production with a role increase. After playing just 13 MPG in the month of March as the Suns figured out the rotation after trading Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, he has been averaging 16.8 PPG in April on 48% shooting, including dropping 30 on the Dallas Mavericks. His defense is a bit inconsistent, but he could be a worthwhile signing for the Knicks.
Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies C
2014-15 statistics: 16.6 MPG, 5.1 PPG, 51.3% FG, 5.2 RPG, .8 BPG
Marc Gasol probably is not going to be leaving the Memphis Grizzlies. He has expressed a desire to stay, and Memphis also has a legitimate shot to make the NBA finals this season if they can escape the murderous Western Conference alive. So, why not target his effective backup? While Kosta Koufos has not received a ton of playing time, he has impressed off the bench. While per 36 stats can be misleading, he is a double-double guy in that category. Not only that, but he is an effective defender as well. Koufos should be a highly coveted target as he is one of the top big men who will not receive a max deal.
Brandan Wright, Phoenix Suns C
2014-15 statistics: 19.3 MPG, 7.3 PPG, 64% FG, 4.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG
Wright has bounced around the NBA this season, being traded from Dallas to Boston to Phoenix all in the span of a month. Wright will finally be able to actually chose where he goes this summer as he becomes a UFA. Their are concerns about his rebounding (about 8 per 36) but he is such an efficient offensive scorer he could very well be worth the price. The Knicks have struggled to find a true center this season after dealing Tyson Chandler, and Wright could be a worthwhile investment to fill that void.