New York Knicks: Looking at Shooting Guards Who Could Cover for Iman Shumpert

Ciaran GowanContributor IIIJune 17, 2012

New York Knicks: Looking at Shooting Guards Who Could Cover for Iman Shumpert

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    With only six players under contract for 2012-13, the New York Knicks are a team with a lot of needs heading into this year's offseason.

    One unwelcome need that has opened up for the Knicks is at shooting guard, as Iman Shumpert's unfortunate ACL tear in the playoffs will more than likely cause him to miss the first few months of the season.

    The promising rookie will need a replacement for the time being, but the Knicks' salary cap situation won't do them any favours in finding one.

    Glen Grunwald will have a lot of work on his hands to find a starting-quality shooting guard willing to take a near-minimum salary, as well as filling the many other needs the Knicks have elsewhere.

    Here is a list of 11 shooting guards the Knicks could look to in free agency and the draft to cover for Iman Shumpert until his return.

J.R. Smith

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    Besides the Bird rights situation surrounding Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, the biggest question for the New York Knicks early this offseason is whether or not J.R. Smith will pick up his $2.5 million player option for next season.

    Smith would without doubt fill in for Shumpert if he stayed on with the Knicks, but there is a huge chance that he may opt to move elsewhere.

    The erratic guard has a lot of factors that will weigh into his decision—he can probably earn a lot more on the free-agent market, but then again, he's a good friend of Carmelo Anthony and seems to love the city of New York too much to leave.

    At this point, Smith's decision really could go either way, but if he chooses to stay, he'd save the Knicks a lot of trouble scrambling around to find another two guard.

Landry Fields

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    Ever since the Carmelo Anthony trade of 2011, Landry Fields has become one of the Knicks' most oft-criticized players.

    Back in the early portion of the 2010-11 season, Fields was great as a starting shooting guard. He had the confidence to take and make open jumpers and was a player who generally seemed to feed off of the success of everyone around him.

    But since the Knicks traded away the majority of their depth to Denver, they've relied on Fields a lot more than can be expected for the average second-round pick.

    Fields' struggles eventually caused him to lose his starting job to Iman Shumpert and to play more minutes at the small forward position, which he appears to be naturally suited to.

    The Stanford grad will definitely be back in New York next season, but the question is whether or not head coach Mike Woodson has enough confidence in him to give him another opportunity to start whilst Shumpert recovers from his injury.

    If he does, the Knicks will still need to find another guard to play behind Fields, but a guard of that caliber will be a lot easier to find in free agency.

Ray Allen

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    Following the Boston Celtics' heartbreaking Eastern Conference finals defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat, Ray Allen has become one of the most coveted names in this year's free-agent market.

    Reports of a "strained relationship" between Allen and Celtics' point guard Rajon Rondo appear to be enough to confirm the end of Allen's spell in Boston, and it's likely that he'll find himself elsewhere heading into next season.

    Even at age 36, Allen can be a very useful piece to a championship-contending team, and most playoff teams will be interested in the three-point specialist's services.

    At this point, Allen has reportedly listed the Knicks and the Heat as the teams he'd most like to join next season, but both could face strong competition from the LA Clippers and Chicago Bulls.

    Out of all four teams, the Knicks will have the least cap space to offer Allen a contract with, but he could still be convinced to sign for the veteran's minimum if the Knicks can prove themselves to him as a genuine title contender.

Jamal Crawford

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    Much like last season, Jamal Crawford has once again opened himself up to the prospect of returning to the city he once called home.

    As one of the Knicks' stand-out players during the "lost years," it would certainly be fitting for Crawford to come back and enjoy some of the better times at Madison Square Garden.

    But once again, salary could be a huge obstacle.

    Crawford obviously enjoyed his time in New York enough to want to return, but when faced with the same situation last year, he eventually chose the increased salary Portland had to offer over a return to the Knicks.

    After a terrible season with the Trail Blazers, Crawford appears to be ready to opt-out of his contract and hit free agency once again.

    Crawford would be an ideal replacement for J.R. Smith if he chooses to decline his player option, and he definitely still has the quality to start in place of Iman Shumpert for a few months.

    It would take a lot of work from Glen Grunwald to bring Crawford back on a lesser deal, but if there's one team he'd take a pay cut to play for, it's the New York Knicks.

Brandon Roy

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    Most every NBA fan will be happy to hear that three-time All-Star Brandon Roy is making a comeback from retirement.

    If and when he does return, it won't be for the team he spent his entire career with to this point.

    Thanks to their use of the amnesty clause on him last season, Roy will not be able to return to the Portland Trail Blazers until the 2014-15 season, making him a viable option for every other NBA team.

    Considering the risk he's putting on the knees that have haunted him for so long, Roy will probably want to play for a team that can get him a championship sooner rather than later in return for his hard work.

    It's hard to say whether or not he'd be willing to take a veteran's minimum deal, though, but by the sounds of it, this guy is just motivated by playing basketball.

    At this point, the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be the frontrunners for Roy upon his return. But anything could happen, and the Knicks are still very much in the running if they're interested.

Anthony Parker

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    Anthony Parker was on the Knicks' radar back in December, but the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up retaining him as the "elder statesman" on their rebuilding team.

    Now that Cleveland's young core is growing, though, the Cavs might opt to let Parker move on in free agency this time round, giving him a chance to win the championship he never could in the LeBron James era.

    Last year, Parker had a salary of $2.25 million, which the Knicks will not be able to afford without the NBPA winning last Wednesday's Bird rights arbitration hearing.

    But at age 36, Parker's value may be a lot less on this year's free-agent market, giving the Knicks a realistic chance to sign him.

    His perimeter defence and solid three-point shooting would make him a worthy cover for Iman Shumpert and a very useful player off the bench once Shumpert returns from injury.

Keith Bogans

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    The last time we saw Keith Bogans. he tore his deltoid ligament playing for the New Jersey Nets, only a year removed from starting all 82 games for the Chicago Bulls.

    His injury turned out to be season-ending and bad enough for the Nets to cut him. But having been such a durable player for the majority of his career, there's a huge chance he could come back and be productive in the NBA.

    Bogans is by no means an elite shooting guard, but he is a player that plays very good perimeter defence, hits the open threes and makes very few mistakes.

    The Knicks could definitely survive for a few months with Bogans starting, and they'd have no trouble fitting him under the salary cap either.

DeShawn Stevenson

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    Another guard who plied his trade for the New Jersey Nets last season is DeShawn Stevenson, who, like Keith Bogans, was starting for an elite NBA team (the Dallas Mavericks) only a year ago.

    Stevenson is a player whose main trait is the tough defense he brings, and he is known more for the ATM installed in his kitchen than anything else.

    Still, Stevenson is a cheap option at shooting guard that would allow the Knicks to bring in another guard along with him for extra depth.

Kim English

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    We move now to the NBA draft as a potential option for the Knicks, as there are plenty of solid shooting guards who could be had with the Knicks' 48th overall pick.

    Kim English out of Missouri is one of the premier two guards the second round will have to offer, but he will probably fall to 48 and could even go undrafted if the Knicks are really lucky.

    In his fourth season at Missouri, English really exploded onto the scene as an elite three-point shooter, lifting his outside percentage from 37 percent all the way up to 46 percent.

    If English can carry this success into the NBA, he suddenly becomes a very intriguing option for those picking in the late second round.

    Along with his shooting, English plays quality defense and could even earn playing time at the one, much like he did in his last season with the Tigers.

William Buford

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    Another talented two that could fall to the Knicks in the second round is Ohio State's William Buford, who started all 39 games for the Buckeyes in his senior season.

    The former Mr. Ohio Basketball brings with himself an NBA-ready body, a neat jump shot and surprisingly good play-making ability.

    Buford won't be good enough to start in the NBA, meaning a free agent guard would have to be brought in along with him. But once Shumpert returns, he could be a very good role player off the bench.

Hollis Thompson

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    Finally, we have Hollis Thompson of Georgetown, known mainly for his athleticism and fantastic outside range.

    Thompson is listed by many as a small forward, but much like Landry Fields has done, he could perform just as well as a shooting guard.

    But despite his three-point shooting, Thompson is not a great defender whatsoever. And the Knicks should probably be looking for someone who is to make up for the perimeter defence they'll lose with Iman Shumpert out.

    Much like William Buford, he's a player who'll only really shine upon Shumpert's return and won't really act as a direct replacement during his recovery period.