The New York Knicks main tool to fix some of their larger issues is the free agency period. Phil Jackson has done an excellent job in shedding salary and gaining as much cap space as he has done. The Knicks ended the tumultuous and torturous 2014-15 season with a disappointing record of 17 wins and 65 loses. With that record it makes things hard for Jackson this summer.
The Knicks have a measly four players under contract next season which means that eleven spots need to be filled. After this horrid year it doesn’t exactly make the Knicks a great free agent destination, but I’m sure $30 million will attract some players. As long as free agency exists so will the money seekers. In recent times more of the high-profile free agents seem to be leaving seeking a championship, that’d mean that the Knicks are out of play for the superstars.
Here are a few realistic free agents for Phil Jackson and company:
*Offensive rating is the points scored by a player per 100 possessions.
*Defensive rating is the points allowed by a player per 100 possessions
Portland TrailBlazers 2015 Statistics: 10.6 points per game, 2.7 rebounds per game, 1.1 assists per game || 41% FG, 40% 3PT, 85% FT || OffRtg – 104.5, DefRtg – 105.6
Arron Afflalo is a smooth shooting guard who can catch fire from both mid and three point range. Offensively he’s at his best when receiving the ball off of screens and either shooting immediately or hitting a dribble pull-up jump shot. Afflalo is a rhythm shooter and his release is suited to shooting off the dribble – especially to his left.
Another area where he excels is in the mid-post. Afflalo can face up and knock it down or use his strength to back his opponent down, then hitting him with a smooth fadeaway. The 29-year-old is an elite three point shooter, he has shot 39% over his eight year career.
The former Bruin is most valuable on the defensive end. Afflalo sits in the upper echelon when talking about perimeter defenders. At 6’5″ Afflalo is able to hold his own when defending a small forward due to his solid frame of 225 lbs. He has a few knee issues in the past three seasons which have slowed him down making him not effective as he once was. Afflalo can have struggles, due to his ailing knees, chasing his opponent around the perimeter relentlessly.
In theory Arron Afflalo would be a great addition for the Knicks. He ticks a majority of the boxes and brings skills that the Knicks desperately need. He provides the ability to shoot perimeter jump shots while also being able to contribute on the defensive end. His pre-existing relationship with Carmelo Anthony may draw Afflalo to New York.
2014-15 Atlanta Hawks Statistics: 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals per game || 49% FG, 40% 3PT, 70% FT || OffRtg – 107.5, DefRtg – 101.9
DeMarre Carroll has improved out sight offensively over the past two seasons with the Hawks. He has turned himself into an elite three point shooter, shooting 40% on the year. Carroll is undaunted when a defender is closing out, he is cool, calm and collected before rising one up and knocking it down. The 28-year-old also excels in transition due to athleticism but his three point shooting makes Carroll a handful as the defense can’t predict what he’s going to do.
Carroll knows his limitations on the offensive end, he doesn’t try and pull off moves he knows he can’t do. Carroll’s shooting ability makes defenders push up on him, which means Carroll can use his skills as a slasher to burn his opponent which results in some easy buckets.
Carroll’s bread and butter is the defensive end. He is most definitely in the upper echelon of perimeter defers in the NBA. Not only does Carroll lock down his opponent one-on-one, but he chases his man through every screen and he also frequently gets into the passing lane creating steals.
The University of Missouri product averages just over five rebounds which is highly productive in the scheme of things in Atlanta. Carroll also never backs down defensively and he’s not afraid to get into his opponents’ face. Carroll has a certain competitiveness which shines through when playing defense.
Carroll’s ability to shoot the long distance jump shot, run in transition and lock down defensively make his a highly sought after player this summer. The fact that he’s producing 12 and 5 a night in a team-first system make him an ideal candidate to land this summer.
Orlando Magic 2014-15 Statistics: 17.1 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game || 47% FG, 36% 3PT, 79% FT || OffRat – 100.2, DefRtg – 106.7
Tobias Harris is a scorer and he can put up points in many different ways. The New York native can shoot the long ball and it’s not rare to see him heat up quickly from behind the ark. Harris can also shoot both set and off the dribble jump shots from mid range. The 22-year-old is elusive off the dribble and he can get to basket with relative ease. Harris is a superior athlete and he’s terrific on the fast break. As you can see, there are many avenues he can take to get the ball in the bucket.
Harris is a one trick pony as he plays lackluster defense. Part of the issue is that he prioritises offense over defense which results in less effort defensively. He has the athletic tools to be solid on the defensive end but Harris is still young and it will improve with time and some stern words from his coach. One aspect of defense that he is god at is anticipating the play and getting into the passing lanes.
Harris would be a great piece for the Knicks off the bench. His ability to score and doing so in many different ways would help the team greatly as consistent bench scoring was non-existent this season. His want to come home is appealing as the Knicks will take anybody they can get at this point.
2014-15 Detroit Pistons Statistics: 15.9 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game, 1.1 steals per game || 50% FG, 75% FT || OffRtg – 102, DefRtg – 103.7
Greg Monroe plays an old-school style game. He’s at his best when in the low post where Monroe is methodical and calculated and the majority of the time he makes the correct decision. The bulk of Monroe’s points come in the low-post and in and around the basket. When left wide open on the elbow the former Hoya isn’t reluctant to shoot it and he has decent a touch on his jumper.
In saying that, Monroe is quite inconsistent when shooting the ball and this is highlighted by his struggles to make free throws – he can go ice-cold. Monroe is definitely in the upper echelon of big men when it comes to passing, he has good court vision and he can hit a cutter or make a nice pass to a chooser.
On the defensive end Monroe is solid when defending one-on-one on the low block and he knows where to be and what space to fill when defending the pick-and-roll. The 24-year-old also has good anticipation and Monroe has the ability to intercept passes which lead to easy baskets. Arguably his best asset is his rebounding ability. Monroe understands the fundamentals of the game, which include boxing out and that’s one thing he does very well. Not only does the Georgetown product clean the defensive glass but Monroe collects 3.3 offensive rebounds per game.
Monroe’s skill set are a hand-in-glove fit with the Knicks system. He’d fill some of the many holes that New York has. His ability to finish off defensive possessions, his uncanny passing ability and his dominance in the low-post make him an attractive target.
2014-15 Denver Nuggets Statistics: 13.9 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, 1.7 assists per game || 43% FG, 34% 3PT, 78% FT || OffRtg – 102.7, DefRtg – 107.8
Wilson Chandler has turned into a perimeter shooter and he does not look to attack as much as he once did. This season 41% of Chandler’s shots have come on three point field goals. He has battled injuries over the past two years but since finding his legs late in the season Chandler has proven that he can still be a serviceable player.
Chandler, now 27, still loves to get out in transition and hoist up three pointers and also looking to make the highlight play above the rim. He has not only found his rhythm, but his legs as well. Chandler has shown that he can still create and generate shots off the dribble.
Chandler is a mess defensively in recent years and his ailing body plays a key factor in this. His time in Denver also doesn’t help his case either. Chandler can still contribute defensively as he still able to defend players much larger than himself. Chandler plays above his height. The Nuggets were a gambling team defensively and you bet, Wilson played that way too, meaning that he anticipates the play and Chandler is always in the passing lanes.
Chandlers ability to shoot the long ball – both spotting up and in transition – and defending larger opponents is something that the Knicks need. Chandler is also still a very capable rebounder and the Knicks need desperate help there as well. Chandler could help the Knicks and a return the Manhattan could be on the cards.
2014-15 Indiana Pacers Statistics: 12.6 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, 3.1 assists per game || 44% FG, 39% 3PT, 82% FT || OffRtg – 99.6 , DefRtg – 100.2
Rodney Stuckey is a guard that is a lethal midrange shooter and he’s a very capable three point shooter when left open. Stuckey is also a big guard and he enjoys using that in his favour when posting up.
The 28-year-old can score in many different ways; catch and shoot, off the dribble, posting up, driving to the rim and getting to the free throw line. For a player that is usually recognised for his scoring, Stuckey has adapted to playing a team-first style of basketball and this is reflected to his 3 assists per outing. Unlike other scoring guards Stuckey usually takes high quality shots and he does not force the issue, he lets the game come to him.
The Eastern Washington product has always been an above average defender. Stuckey has a good defensive stance and he is quick laterally. His big frame also gives him an advantage on the defensive end. Stuckey is immovable when posted-up, but he’s also like a bulldozer when running through or getting over screens. The 28-year-old is also a good off-ball defender as he sees the ball and his man at the same time.
That means that he doesn’t take a nap when away from the action. Although Stuckey doesn’t crash the boards but he contributes with a solid 3.5 rebounds a night.
Stuckey’s willingness to play at team-first style in conjunction with his well-rounded game makes him a viable candidate to log around 20-25 minutes a night. The Knicks are in dire need of consistent shooting and defense which makes Stuckey even more so attractive.
2014-15 Minnesota Timberwolves Statistics: 11.8 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game || 43% FG, 36% 3PT, 88% FT || OffRtg – 98.7, DefRtg – 102.9
Gary Neal is a sniper behind the ark. He also has a deadly pump fake which leads to many wide open mid and long range jump shots. What makes Neal so dangerous is that he has ‘Jimmer Range’ and his release is extremely quick.
Neal may be more comfortable from behind the line but when driving through the lane he has a reliable floater. Neal can shoot off the dribble, running off screens or in catch and shoot situations which makes him a tough cover for the opposition. One of Neal’s biggest weaknesses is his passing and decision making as he averages around 2.0 turnovers a game.
Although he doesn’t look the part Neal is a very good perimeter defender. He makes his opponent uncomfortable as he applies pressure from just inside his teams defensive half. Neal is not the quickest or fastest player to grace the hardwood but he’s often able to get position to draw charges – he’s not afraid to put his body on the line. As is the case with many players nowadays is that Neal goes to sleep defending an opponent in the corner. Neal is another guard that hangs around the free throw line after a shot to collect the defensive board which seems to be a lost art now.
Neal’s ability to shoot the long ball would be of great benefit to the Knicks. His on-ball defense is another reason to bring him on-board as the Knicks will take any sort of perimeter defense that they can get their hands on. As a knock down shooter and solid defender makes Neal a reasonable target to place on the bench.
2014-15 Washington Wizards Statistics: 6.6 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game || 51% FG, 70% FT || OffRtg – 98.6, DefRtg – 104
The Frenchman is a player that thrives on the low-block. Seraphin is a huge frame and he uses this to his advantage. Seraphin is able to back down his opponent with ease and he’s got a handy post game in which he can finish with either hand. His mid-range jump shot is hit-and-miss but when left open Seraphin can make his opponent pay.
Seraphin is a poor decision maker, he averages 1.4 turnovers per game, and he regularly looks to force the issue rather than resetting and running another set. Seraphin often becomes shot-happy. Every time he lays a finger on the ball the 25-year-old looks to score rather than facilitating the basketball to get a better shot.
Defensively Seraphin is hard to watch. His one-on-one defense is poor and his help defense is non existent. He is a giant frame at 280 lbs and Seraphin is usually good at finding his opponent and keeping him off the glass. His gigantic body makes him immovable down low. Seraphin make it hard for his opponent to get here he wants to go.
He is not a rim protector and guards that can finish well have a field day when Seraphin is on the court. This is issue in amplified when defending a pick-and-roll due to Seraphin’s inability to communicate and get to the correct spots.
The Knicks need a post presence down low who can score the basketball. Seraphin would be high-risk but signing him cheaply would hardly matter. New York also needs a big bodied centre to clog the land and contest shots. Seraphin could be a solid option if Phil Jackson wants to minimize spending this summer.
2015 Detroit Pistons Statistics: 7.3 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, 1.7 assists per game || 43% FG, 42% 3PY, 66% FT || OffRtg – 99.4, DefRtg – 104.7
Tayshaun Prince is a well travelled forward who plays an old man’s game offensively. Prince is most effective when posting up, he is very methodical and he usually makes the correct read to either pass or shoot. He will also make you pay if left open from 15 feet out – it’s money. When posting up Prince often gets into a triple threat position and he’s excellent at hitting the open man, wherever he may be on the court. Prince may not look the part but he still has some bounce in his legs. Prince would also be a great mentor to the younger players on the roster, he’d also be able to provide some insight as he’s made championship runs.
At 35-years-old, Prince isn’t as good as he once was on the defensive but he is still serviceable – his huge wingspan plays a part in that. Prince came into the league primarily as a defender and he knowns what is coming. He reads what’s going to happen before it happens and Prince still has active hands and knocks ball away constantly.
His on-ball ability may have dismissed but Prince still sees the ball and his man at the same time. The former Wildcat is and always will be aware on the defensive end, it’s not often that he completely humiliated on a back-door cut.
Prince’s insight and experience would be of great benefit to everybody on the roster and at 35 he’s still serviceable if someone was to fall to the injury bug. Prince can knock down jumpers all day long and his methodical and patient mind when posting up make him a solid veteran option.
The Knicks may have money to spend but on the back of a horrible season some first and second tier free agents may be scared away. This may result in New York having to take what they can get, no matter how talented or un talented. In saying this, the 2015 free agency period will be incredibly business for Phil Jackson and the Knicks.