Free Agency Starts at the stroke of Midnight on Wednesday, July 1st. Who are some potential targets for the Knicks? Here’s a breakdown:
Knicks’ current situation:
The Knicks have roughly $27 Million in cap space. Their roster includes Carmelo Anthony, Jose Calderon, Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Langston Galloway, and Cleanthony Early. They will almost certainly renounce all of their Restricted Free Agents— Alexely Shved would cost them $6M if they gave him a qualifying offer. They could trade Calderon’s $7.5 Salary, or, if the don’t find a taker, waive him using the “stretch provision” and only pay him $3M, which would put them are about $31.5 in cap space. It appears unlikely that they will do this, however. They could also add Thanasis Antetokounmpo for somewhere around $500 K.
So, who will Phil Jackson chase?
1. Elite Targets: These are guys you can build your team around.
– Marc Gasol: Gasol is the dream acquisition for most teams, especially the Knicks. He would be a perfect fit in the Triangle offense (thanks in large part to his unselfish passing) and can anchor a team on defense. He might be the best center in the league. He will ask for the max and he will deservedly get it. The main issue? He’s almost certainly staying in Memphis.
– LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge is another superstar who will ask for and get the max. He’s a bit worse than Gasol overall, but he is a better scorer, and would be another great fit in the Triangle. Unlike Gasol, Aldridge is likely to leave his current team. The Knicks will meet with Aldridge in Los Angeles— they will be the last team to meet with the soon-to-be-30-year-old and his entourage, after the Lakers, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Mavericks, and Raptors. The Knicks will almost certainly hit Aldridge with the full-on-press reserved for superstars, but they appear to be a long shot, with the Spurs and Lakers apparently the favorites to land him. If the Knicks can sway Aldridge, it will be a massive success for Phil Jackson and his crew.
2. Top-Tier Targets: These guys probably won’t be the best player on a championship team, but they’re still among the best players in the NBA
– Dwyane Wade: Wade is one of the best players of his generation. But that generation is on its way out. He’s old, and he’s breaking down. When he’s on the court, he’ll produce, but he won’t be on the court every night, and certainly not for 35 minutes. Wade opted out of his contract with Miami and is daring the Heat to pay him, which indicates that it’s all about the money for D-Wade this time around. Wade’s demands in both salary and years will likely be too high for him to make sense for the Knicks.
– Greg Monroe: When all is said and done, there is a good chance that Monroe will be the headliner of Phil Jackson’s offseason. The Knicks are reportedly the favorites to sign the 25 year-old big man, with some even saying that it’s close to a “done deal.” Monroe is a skilled post player who will fit well in the Triangle, and is also a solid rebounder. His defense has improved to the point of respectability, but he still is no more than decent on that end of the floor. Considering Carmelo Anthony’s defensive indifference, Monroe isn’t the perfect acquisition. But he would still be a solid get for Phil, and he appears to be a very realistic target.
– DeAndre Jordan: The Knicks reportedly like Jordan, and it appears that they will get a meeting with him, although they aren’t on the top of his list. Jordan is an elite rebounder and a terrific rim-protector. On offense, he is a threat to finish on a lob play and is serviceable in the pick-and-roll, but mostly fits the mold of a young Tyson Chandler. The biggest negative? He can’t shoot free throws to save his life. Jordan should get a very nice deal, possibly hitting the max. He’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Knicks, but he’s not nearly as likely an acquisition as Monroe.
3. Starter-Caliber Targets: These guys would start on nearly any team in the NBA
– Rajon Rondo: Rondo’s value has plummeted recently, but if he’s on his game, he’s one of the best distributors in the league and he’s a plus on defense as well. He can’t shoot the ball, so he’s not an ideal Triangle fit, but if he’s willing to sign for somewhere between $8 and $11 million, he might be an option.
– Monta Ellis: Ellis probably isn’t the kind of guy the Knicks need right now. He isn’t too young, he’s not a great shooter, he’s not a plus defender, and he can get selfish at times. He’ll also probably get $10M a year.
– Wes Matthews: Matthews made a ton of sense for the Knicks before he tore his achilles. Matthews is an elite shooter and a great defender at the SG position, and he reportedly has a chance to be ready for training camp. If he’s willing to settle for somewhere around $8-12 M after his injury, the Knicks will likely pursue him hard. He reportedly wants $15M, which is a bit of an overpay. But not one the Knicks shouldn’t at least consider.
– Arron Afflalo: The Knicks are reportedly the favorites to sign Afflalo. Afflalo is another “3 and D” guy, but he’s been deteriorating lately, and isn’t as impactful on defense as he used to be. According to reports, he might be looking at $12M a year, which seems like a pretty bad overpay. He’d be a nice get for the Knicks at around $7-9M, but no more than that.
– Tobias Harris: Harris is a solid shooting guard who reportedly had interest in joining the Knicks. But he’s a restricted free agent, and it could take an overpay— maybe as high as $14M, to secure his services.
– Robin Lopez: Lopez can anchor a team defensively, but like his twin Brook, the Portland center has had injury woes in the past. He could be a solid get for around $8-12M, but he’s not too reliable.
– Reggie Jackson: The Knicks like Jackson and have tried to trade for him in the past. But as a restricted free agent, he’ll probably cost somewhere around or over $10M.
4. Role-Player Targets: These guys might start, but if not, they’d be terrific pieces to have leading the way on your second unit.
– David West: Recent reports have stated that West is “very likely” to sign with the Knicks, but others have stated that he wants to join a contender. He’s in the twilight of his career, but he’s still a very serviceable player and would be a good mentor for the younger players like Kristaps Porzingis. However, he’ll probably get overpaid, and Phil Jackson should be wary of entering into what could become a regrettable contract. Update: West has stated he does not intend to sign with the Knicks.
– Gerald Green: Green is uber-athletic and has worked on becoming a more complete player. He would bolster the Knicks on the wings, and might be gettable for around $4-6 M.
– Patrick Beverley: Beverley is restricted, but Houston is trying to clear cap room, so they might let him go. He’s not one of the better offensive point guards in the league, but his defense is very strong. He could cost around $7-8 M though, and that seems like an overpay. The Knicks are interested, but how much?
– Lou Williams: The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is on the market, but the Knicks need to focus on their starting lineup first, and they’ll probably spend their money elsewhere. There have been reports that they are interested in Williams, however, so it wouldn’t be unthinkable to see him join on a deal that pays him somewhere around $7 M.
– Kosta Koufos: Koufos is one of the best backup centers in the league, and could help protect the rim, which is something the Knicks will need. There will be a lot of teams chasing him though, and he might end up getting an excessive payday.
5. Key Bench Targets: These guys would come off the bench, but could still play a valuable part in a team’s success.
– Jeremy Lin: Linsanity obviously will take a paycut this summer. The Knicks reportedly have some interest, and he might make sense for between $2-5 M.
– Bismack Biyombo: Biyombo is a great rim protector and rebounder with great athleticism, but is absolutely invisible on offense. If the Knicks could get him cheap, he could really help their interior defense, but he’s too one-dimensional to be worth a big contract.
– Amar’e Stoudemire: He left on good terms, and reportedly has interest in a return. He can help on offense, but that’s all. Makes sense for $3M.
– Andrea Bargnani: Say what you want about this guy, but he certainly makes sense if the Knicks can lock up his solid mid-range game for the veteran’s minimum.
– Marco Belinelli: Same as Dunleavy, but will likely cost a bit more.
– Andre Miller: The Knicks probably need more mobile PGs, but Miller wouldn’t be bad as a third or fourth option.
– Jason Smith: The Knicks could bring back Smith, if he signed for the minimum.
6. End-of-the-roster Guys: These are guys you would take a “flyer” on, but they all have clear value— or upside
– Andrew Bynum: Bynum has panned out for one guy: Phil Jackson. He might be worth a flier.
– Thomas Robinson: Robinson hasn’t fulfilled his potential, but his motor is elite. He could be worth a roster spot.
– Reggie Evans: One of the toughest guys in the league.
– Cole Aldrich: Provides size, rebounding, occasionally solid defense, and a rare offensive outburst. Worth the minimum, maybe.
– Quincy Acy: A much younger version of Reggie Evans. Beard included.
– Shane Larkin: Lightning quick, but not very polished. The Knicks can pay him a maximum of $1.6 M
– Alexey Shved: Worth the minimum, probably nothing more unless the Knicks strike out with their other targets.
– Chris Copeland: If he’s ready to go when the season starts, he could provide shooting off the bench.
– Carlos Boozer: Probably not a good fit, but worth the minimum.
– Jimmer Fredette: He can shoot. That appears to be it. But it’s something.
– Marcus Thornton: A much less fun version of Jimmer.
– Lance Thomas: Knicks could bring him back for the minimum.
Targets off the market— The Knicks missed out on these guys
– Jimmy Butler: Butler is one of the best young players in the league, but he is a restricted free agent. The Knicks might go out there and hand him an offer sheet for a max contract, but Chicago will likely match any offer. Update: Butler has signed with the Bulls.
– Kawhi Leonard: Leonard is in the same spot as Butler. San Antonio won’t let him walk. Update: Leonard has signed with the Spurs
– Draymond Green: Draymond is also a restricted free agent, but he might switch teams anyway. He’s very good, but it’s debatable whether or not he is a max player, and if a team offers him a huge deal, Golden State might let him walk. Green is a terrific defender with a great motor, and he can shoot the three, but he isn’t very skilled offensively. Only 25 years old, he’d be a solid signing, but he probably stays put. Update: Green has signed with the Warriors.
– Paul Millsap: Millsap is a very solid player but he isn’t the kind of guy who can take over a game. He’s better served joining a team that’s missing a piece, not a team that needs to start over like the Knicks do. He’ll get a nice payday, certainly over $12M a year. Update: Millsap has signed with the Hawks.
– Goran Dragic: Dragic will likely get a max offer from Miami, who can give him a better deal than anybody else. If he leaves, he will want a max offer from whoever he ends up with, so signing him would eat up most of the Knicks’ cap space. Would he be worth it? Maybe. It’s not a question the Knicks will likely have to answer— it’s unlikely Pat Riley lets him walk. Update: Dragic has signed with the Heat.
– Brandon Knight: Knight is a restricted free agent, so whoever gets him will have to overpay him. But he’s young and he’s become a very solid player, so he might be worth the money— for a team that doesn’t need to add several pieces. The Knicks, however, are basically starting from scratch, so, like Millsap, Knight might not make sense. But if Knight is willing to sign for somewhere around $10M, the Knicks could make him their point guard of the future. Update: Knight has signed with the Suns.
– Danny Green: Green is a great shooter and defender who the Knicks reportedly have interest in, but it’s unclear whether the interest is mutual. He’ll probably get a pretty nice payday (Possibly as high as $14 M, although a team would probably try to get him for around $11M) and he’ll probably be seeking it from a contender if he chooses to leave the one he’s spent the past few years playing for in San Antonio. But Green is from Long Island, which could work to the Knicks’ advantage. He might be a terrific fit for what this team needs. Keep an eye on him. Update: Green has signed with the Spurs
– DeMarre Carroll: Carroll is another “3 and D” guy looking at a nice payday. He could be a good fit for the Knicks if they miss out on some of their other targets. Look for him to get $10-12 million. Update: Carroll has signed with the Raptors.
– Tyson Chandler: Chandler might be a good fit, but his departure from NY a year ago didn’t seem too smooth. This won’t happen. Update: Chandler has signed with the Suns.
– Omer Asik: Asik got overpaid on his last deal and might have to settle for around $6M this time around. He can protect the rim, but he appears to have regressed recently. Update: Asik has signed with the Pelicans.
– Jae Crowder: Crowder is a great defender, and if the Knicks could get him for $5M, it might pay off down the road. He’s restricted, though. Update: Crowder has signed with the Celtics.
– Al Farouq Aminu: The Knicks will reportedly meet with Aminu, whose value lies nearly entirely in his defense. Update: Aminu has signed with the Trail Blazers.
– Mike Dunleavy: This guy can shoot the lights out, and if the Knicks can get him cheap, they won’t have to watch him kill them every time he faces them. Update: Dunleavy has signed with the Bulls.
The Knicks will end up with 15 players. Who will they be? It’s anyone’s guess.