After a 17-65 season, the New York Knicks clearly have lot of holes that are needed to be filled this offseason. After agreeing to terms with Arron Afflalo on a two-year/$16 million contract (2nd year is a player option), the Knicks have a player who should be slated in as their starting shooting guard. The Knicks drafted Latvian 7-footer, Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall selection, and traded Tim Hardaway Jr. for the 19th overall selection, point guard Jerian Grant.
The Knicks are attempting to making steps towards relevancy again, after being one of the laughing stocks of the NBA last season. The process is not over yet though, as there are still plenty of holes that are needed to be filled. Here are some of the holes the Knicks should look to fill during the rest of free agency.
Of course Carmelo Anthony is set as the starting small forward, but it remains a question as to who will be the starting power forward and center heading into next season. If Porzingis reaches the upside he has, he can be penciled in as the Knicks starting power forward for the foreseeable future. Whether he is ready for large minutes this upcoming season remains to be seen, as he is only 19-years-old.
The Knicks have been linked to making progress with free agent center Robin Lopez, who would immediately start at center as a solid rebounder and shot blocker. The Knicks recently met with DeAndre Jordan, who is seen by many as the best available center in free agency as Marc Gasol was never expected to leave, but is also seen by most as a long shot for the Knicks to sign.
Enes Kanter is a restricted free agent, and Oklahoma City seems likely to match any offer he is given. Kosta Koufos may be able to be signed for a reasonable price, as he may look to leave Memphis and receive more minutes after playing behind Marc Gasol, similar to Marcin Gortat wanting to leave the Orlando Magic when he was playing behind Dwight Howard. Another cheaper option is Bismack Biyombo, who has a very limited offensive game, but plays well on defense as a rim-protecter.
There are a few free agent power forwards available who should not command huge salaries, and would be reasonable for the Knicks to sign as potential starters. Guys such as Brandon Bass and Luis Scola are hard-nosed players that the Knicks could sign to reasonable one or two-year deals. Carlos Boozer is nowhere near the player he once was, but still can be a solid offensive player, despite some obvious defensive limitations.
There have been reports the Knicks could look into trading for an old face, David Lee, depending on what happens in free agency. They also have their own free agent in Jason Smith, who Phil Jackson has been rumored to be interested in re-signing.
Point guard is another position the Knicks should look at. Jerian Grant had a phenomenal senior season with Notre Dame, averaging 16.5 points, 6.7 assists, and 1.7 steals, which being named Consensus 1st-Team All-American. He is someone who could potentially start at point guard for the Knicks next season, as his game could be more NBA-ready than most rookies who leave school early.
If Grant is not the answer at point guard, at least from the start, the Knicks may want to do better than Jose Calderon. Calderon was a huge disappointment for the Knicks, after being acquired from the Dallas Mavericks in a trade involving Tyson Chandler. Calderon was injured from the start, and only appeared in 42 games, averaging 9.1 points and 4.7 assists. He was the oldest starting point guard in the NBA last season (turning 34 on September 28), and is a subpar defensive player at his position.
Patrick Beverley is a name that has been linked to the Knicks. Beverley has never been an elite offensive player, but has been a solid 3-point shooter (career 36.1%), and is one of the better defensive point guards as he was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team during the 2013-14 season.
Beverley is a restricted free agent, meaning the Rockets can match any offer, and it is unclear whether the Rockets would match an offer the Knicks may make.
Other free agent point guards who should be available at prices that do not break the bank include Aaron Brooks, C.J. Watson, Jameer Nelson, and Cory Joseph. While none of these names are sure-fire starting point guards, they can all play solid quality minutes to help relieve some of the pressure off Grant.
If Calderon is not traded, the Knicks could hope that he is able to revert back to the quality shooter he had been in past years. They could also look to bring back Alexey Shved, who performed well in his short Knicks stint. Langston Galloway can be seen as a tweener between shooting guard and point guard, so he will also be available for point guard minutes.
The Knicks should look to add scoring off their bench. In the past, they’ve used J.R. Smith in that role, and while he had his inconsistencies, there were times he lit it up including during his 2012-13 6th Man of the Year season. Tim Hardaway Jr. was another guy who wasn’t always consistent, but at times was able to provide quality bench scoring. Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford were two other guys in recent team history who provided timely bench scoring.
Other than Langston Galloway, it is unclear who will be on the Knicks bench that they can count on for scoring. Lou Williams, the 2014-15 6th Man of the Year, is another name that has been linked to potentially having the Knicks interest. Williams is one of the ultimate heat-check players in the NBA, averaging 15.5 points last season, while shooting 34% from 3-point range. He can also penetrate and draw contact, averaging nearly five free throw attempts a game while connecting at a 86.1% clip. It is to be seen how much money Williams is looking for, so it is not known whether it will be a price the Knicks are interested in.
Other free agents who are still available for that role, and should cost less than Williams include Gerald Green, Marco Belinelli, Alan Anderson, Gary Neal, K.J. McDaniels, Derrick Williams, and Wesley Johnson.
Getting Afflalo is a start for the Knicks quest to becoming a better team. To actually become a team to be reckoned with, and a team Knicks fans can be proud to support, there are still many moves that are needed to be made. Famous playwright John Heywood is known for coining the phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The same can be said for the Knicks, especially coming off their worst season in team history.