If we look at Phil Jackson’s past success with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls , two familiar names can be seen in his rosters: Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. They were the cornerstones of their respective organizations with a second All-Star on the supporting cast such as Scottie Pippen for the Chicago Bulls or Shaquille O’Neal/Pau Gasol for the Los Angeles Lakers. As for Jordan and Bryant, what similarities do they share other than creating some of the most famous basketball dynasties of all time under the sport’s greatest coach ever?
They both played shooting guard in the triangle offense. Jackson said he is not straying away from the triangle offense for the New York Knicks despite the failure this past season. He also said prior to the draft, where he picked up Kristaps Porzingis with the #4 pick, that the point guard and small forward positions are already filled. This means that the starting shooting guard role will not be taken by Alexey Shved or Langston Galloway but rather by someone in free agency. Here are some realistic candidates for the position:
A 6’-6”guard that played 81 games in one of the league’s best teams (San Antonio Spurs) is a New York Native. He is only 28-years-old so he is reaching the prime of his career and posted great numbers this year with 12 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. He has a win share rating of 7.8 which we can compare to Carmelo Anthony’s win share of 10.7 last year in the 2013-14 season. That’s not too shabby for someone who will be playing alongside arguably the NBA’s best shot creator.
Win shares are calculated using stats such as points allowed per 100 possessions and points made per 100 possessions. His offensive and defensive ratings are similar meaning he is a great all-around player on both ends of the floor. He also shoots more that 40% from behind the arc attempting about 5-6 3-pointers a game. He also only made $4 million last season and could probably double that salary with the Knicks easily.
The 6’-8” forward has expressed interest in the New York Knicks before he was injured in the playoffs in Game 1 with the Cleveland Cavaliers and failed to return further on. The team was later swept which proved either how valuable Carroll is to his team, how elite the Cavaliers truly were in the East, or both. Carroll’s shooting was one of the main reasons the Atlanta Hawks were in first place in the Eastern Conference. He shot a staggering 49% from the field during the regular season and the playoffs this past season.
He proved to be determined, smart and hard working. He is not an all-star caliber player but can make a huge difference on a team for his willingness to do the dirty work on a team as he has claimed himself to be a “Junkyard Dog.” The Knicks would hope for him to come in to the team for less than a maximum deal so that they can sign other players as well but Carroll has the evidence to prove that he is a fine candidate for it. If the Knicks can sign him for about $10 million a year he can be a difference maker. If he would come he would also have to be moved back to play shooting guard, which he is unfamiliar with.
A 10-year pro who was just awarded Sixth Man of the Year has been linked to the Knicks in pursuit of more money and minutes. Lou Williams has been coming off the bench for Toronto behind DeMar DeRozan and would likely want a starting role on a new squad. He would be an offensive jolt for the team but just like Carmelo Anthony he would be a hindering on the defensive end. He is only 28-years-old so he would be just entering his prime. He averaged a great 15.5 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists with bench minutes which is no wonder why he won the sixth man award. He would need to work on his shooting however if he wants to succeed in the triangle as he made only 40% of his shots and 34% of his threes this past season. This has the potential to become J.R. Smith 2.0 as Knicks fans remember when he was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2012-13 and then become someone who just hucked shots up hoping for some luck. As with every risk, there is potential for success so I cannot say if Williams will be bad or good but his youth and athleticism would get fans excited when watching games.
Coming off an achilles tear which limited him to 60 games in the season Wesley Matthews has arisen as one of the Knicks top candidates for shooting guard because of his excellent defense and staggering 15.9 points per game. He also averages 2 assists, 4 rebounds, and more than a steal per game making him a solid all-around player. About 60% of his shots come from beyond the three point line and he nails about 39% of them. He is confident with his shot and can put up big numbers consistently.
Matthews is an excellent floor spacer and can take the scoring load off of Carmelo Anthony instantly. One downfall is that he is reportedly demanding a maximum deal. If he never had such a significant injury a case could be made that he was worth the money he is asking for, but now this can be a sign of future injury problems and that scares the Knicks given their history of signing injury prone players such as Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani. One way we can possibly lure him in on a less than maximum deal is by signing defensive big man Robin Lopez, with whom he has played since 2013. They play very well together and both would fill voids for the Knicks. Bringing in this ex-Portland duo would be a great move for New York.
The 29-year-old is coming off a season where he was traded from Denver to Portland mid-way through. His numbers were great either way though they were not as good as his times in Orlando where he was posting up more than 17 points per game. He knocks down 40% of his three point shots and 85% of his free throws. He is a great candidate for the Knicks at the 2 position. Bringing in Robin Lopez could lure him to New York the same way as with Wesley Matthews.
His age may be a setback though as after only one season he will be 30 which is not ideal for a ball club that has just drafted high-ceiling project Kristaps Porzingis. The New York Knicks can sign Arron Afflalo for a short term deal and then look for a younger shooting guard once Porzingis develops. Afflalo would cost around $8 million annually, but it is doubtful that he would come to Madison Square Garden over teams like the Lakers, his hometown which is also rebuilding.
The unsung candidate whom many have overlooked because of his failure to live up to “Lin-Sanity” with the Knicks could actually be great for the Knicks next season. Though he is the smallest of all the candidates listed at 6-3 he can shoot 42% and37% off the three. These are not the greatest numbers but he had too large of a load on himself with a roster barren of assets and full of aging Kobe Bryant. He still managed to post up 11 points and 4.6 assists per game making him a generous passer along with a good scorer.
Lin only found success in New York so maybe this success be rejuvenated in his return. One thing that really sticks out about Lin is his intelligence. The Harvard Grad is one of the League’s smartest players meaning he could learn the Triangle quickly and efficiently. He is also only 26-years-old. He is a cheap, young, and very smart candidate for the position in New York.