The New York Knicks do have a lot of cap space to spend, but also have nine roster spots to fill. Going after big names such as LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan would take up the majority of their 28 million dollars, they will need to look to fill out their roster with cheaper options. Here is one player at each position who could come cheap and make a big impact for their salary.
Former Knick Nate Robinson has seen his career burn out a bit over the past two seasons, but he still has a shot to reignite it.
The 5’9 fan favorite point guard played in 42 games last season between the Nuggets and Clippers, and he struggled. He shot an awful 35%, averaging a career low 14.5 points per 36 minutes.
A big part of his struggles may have been due to an ACL tear he suffered the previous season. Now a year and a half removed from surgery, Robinson could see a revival of his career. The last time we saw him fully healthy was the 2013 playoffs when he was a member of the Chicago Bulls. Filling in for an injured Derrick Rose, Robinson led the Bulls past the Brooklyn Nets, averaing 16.3 PPG on 44% shooting.
Robinson would be a solid addition to the Knicks bench due to his scoring powers. He is the definition of a volume scorer, as he can heat up in an instant and pour on the points. Naturally, he also can get cold just as quickly and force the issue, firing shot after shot. He is similar to J.R. Smith in that sense, minus the off the court baggage and the Phunkee Ducks.
Being a third string point guard behind Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon also would take the pressure off both Robinson and the Knicks. If he struggles, they’ll have other options to turn to, and Robinson won’t be under as much pressure either. He also should come close to the veterans minimum in terms of his contract, so he could be a steal if he can bounce-back from a rough season.
The San Antonio Spurs drafted Cory Joseph with the 29th pick in the 2011 NBA draft, and he has been hard pressed to find playing time, but he has quietly been very good when given the opportunity.
The Toronto native averaged 18.3 MPG this past season, and put up 6.8 PPG on 50% shooting and 36.4% from deep. He also totaled 2.4 RPG, a very good number for a point guard. Joseph’s most eye opening stat is his offensive rating of 115. Offensive rating is the average amount of points scored per 100 possessions, and Joseph’s 115 is identical to Steph Curry’s 115. Not to compare Joseph’s skills to Curry’s, but Joseph does still have a lot of potential to mold into a solid role player.
He may also be a financial causality if the Spurs go through with all their big plans. Signing both LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard to a near max deal, as well as looking to retain Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Danny Green will be ridiculously expensive. Joseph could be expendable.
While Gerald Green is probably more so known for his ridiculous dunking ability, he still is a very capable option off the bench. He seemed to be the forgotten man on the bench for the Suns this past season, being buried behind guys like Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic, and Brandon Knight throughout the season, so he saw his numbers take a hit. He averaged 11.9 PPG on 41.6% shooting, playing 19.5 MPG. In 2013-14 though, he lit it up.
In 28 MPG, he put up 15.8 PPG on 44.5% shooting overall, and a career high 40% from deep. It was a career year for the 29 year old journeyman.
What Green would bring to the Knicks is pure scoring. He is not a very good rebounder, and he doesn’t pass a ton either. He has career numbers of 4.5 RP 36 mins and 1.9 AP 36 minutes, but also 18.4 PP 36 minutes, including 20.8 per 36 over his past two seasons with the Suns. He would be a solid scorer off the bench who could come cheap due to his lackluster season.
The 22 year old KJ McDaniels should have an interesting free agent market. He is entering just his second season in the league, and had a very impressive rookie campaign for a second rounder.
The athletic swingman played 62 games for the 76ers, averagimg 21.8 MPG. He put up 9.2 PPG on 40% shooting, with 3.8 RPG, 1.3 BPG and .8 SPG. He then was traded to the Rockets where he fizzled out with minimal playing time and an injury. Still, the restricted free agent has a ton of potential to become a very good player in the future. His game is centered around his athleticism, which he can use to posterize his opponent and drive to the rim on offense, and block shots and defend on the perimeter on defense.
It is unclear whether or not the Rockets will match offers for him, so it is worth a try to target him.
Mike Dunleavy Jr
The 34-year-old Dunleavy is nearing the end of his career and his stats are on the decline, but he still has something left. He can knock down the three ball with ease, as well as drive to the basket off a pick or through a back door cut. His defense is mediocre, but he presumably will be signed to a bench role with limited minutes at this point in his career.
He had an excellent playoff run, averaging 10.9 PPG on 49% shooting and 48% from deep. He was on fire, connecting on 27 of his 56 long balls. Dunleavy in a bench role could be greatly beneficial.
The 35 year old veteran is running out of gas, but he still can provide serviceable minutes on the wing. His defense has lost a step, but he still is an incredibly smart defender. He can jump passing lanes and is a vocal leader. His incredibly long wingspan is also still beneficial in stripping the ball away from players, and blocking shots when players blast by him. He isn’t very fast anymore, so he often will get beat by quicker opponents.
On offense, he plays an old school game. He operates in the post with his back to the basket and can work to the rim to finish, or operate in the pick and pop. He is money from 10-15 feet out, and can occasionally knock down the three, with a career 37% 3 PT.
Prince isn’t capable of playing the amount of minutes he used to (24 MPG last year compared to 32 MPG on his career), but he can still be a leader in the locker room and a very good teacher for cheap.
Elton Brand would be the perfect 13th-15th bench man. He has expressed an interest to play for his hometown Knicks, and he has been praised for his leadership throughout his career, most recently by Mike Budenholzer and Jeff Teague in Atlanta. On the court, he is probably only a worst case scenario away from getting significant minutes. He played in just 36 games for the Hawks last season, scoring 2.7 PPG and 2.8 RPG. A lot of his lack of playing time could be due to the fact he simply is not a good fit for Mike Budenholzer’s space the floor offense, but he is also 36 years old.
A big reason why he would be a nice fit for the Knicks is his leadership and mentoring skills. The 2012 Knicks team were so good largely in part due to guys like Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace who were well past their primes, but had leadership traits that kept the team together. Brand could fit that mold perfectly.
Lakers big Ed Davis took a huge risk prior to last season, signing a cheap, short term deal. He passed up some money in longer term deals so he could prove himself in the short term and then sign a bigger contract this summer. And it paid off.
Davis quietly put up a very good season, averaging 8.3 PPG aond 7.8 RPG in 23.3 MPG, and demonstrated fine rim protection skills. The 26 year old is already a journeyman, having played for three separate franchises in his short career, and he very well could make that four this summer.
Davis can knock down shots from the mid range, as well as finish at the rim. With continual improvements to his game, he could very well become a potent offensive weapon. He would be an excellent first big man option off the bench.
Biyombo is arguably the most underrated defender in the league.
He is a complete ghost on the offensive side of the floor, with a career number of 7.5 points per 36 minutes, only scoring off the simplest of chances. But on defense, he is a more than capable defender.
He had a defensive rating of 99 last year. LeBron James had 103 while Marc Gasol had a 102. He is an excellent rim defender who still is just 22.
The Congolese big is just 6’9, but plays much better. He boxes out good, averaging 12 rebounds per 36 minutes over the past two seasons, and he also has averaged 3 blocks per 36 in the same time span. He had his career night this past season against the San Antonio Spurs, infuriating Greg Poppovich. His stats were 29 minutes, 15 rebounds, 12 points, 5 blocks, an outstanding line.
Biyombo could come cheap and be a very effective rim protector.
Marc Gasol is out of the picture for the Knicks, so why not target his backup? Kosta Koufos has been a serviceable backup throughout his seven year career, and may be in the search for a bigger role.
He has career per 36 numbers of 12.7 PPG, 1.9 BPG and 11 RPG. He also is a very good defender, and can anchor the paint. It still would be difficult to see a scenario where he lands in New York, mainly because he wants a bigger role on a winning team. The Knicks probably can not offer that right away, barring any miraculous signings.