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Knicks Rumors: Needs New York Can Finally Address If Bird Rights Ruling Holds

Ben ShapiroAnalyst IIIJanuary 2, 2017

Knicks Rumors: Needs New York Can Finally Address If Bird Rights Ruling Holds

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    Last week's court ruling regarding "Larry Bird" rights for NBA free agents will have a dramatic impact on this summer's free agent class.  

    No team will be more impacted by it than the New York Knicks.

    Madison Square Garden Network's Alan Hahn has already speculated that the Knicks will not only be able to bring back many of their existing free agents, but possibly bring in a new one as well.

    The NBA will appeal this ruling. If it is overturned then the Knicks' offseason plans could be disrupted.  

    On the other hand if it holds up then what needs will New York's new found financial flexibility allow them address?

    They will not be able to address all of these, but some of them may be rectified.   

First Guard off the Bench

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    J.R. Smith already had the potential to return to the Knicks. He has a $2.5 million player-option that he can simply accept. That would put him back in Madison Square Garden through all of next season. 

    Smith could also decline the option and become an unrestricted free agent. If that were to happen the Knicks could still re-sign Smith for a 120 percent raise. That comes out to $3 million a year for Smith. 

    Smith is not a traditional NBA player. He has got a point guard's physical attributes, but the skills and mindsets of a shooting guard. 

    That does not mean he cannot be a valuable player, but it does mean that whatever team he is on is probably best served by keeping Smith in a specific and targeted bench role. 

    That's what he had in New York last season when he was brought in off the bench to provide outside shooting, and athleticism, while playing in the backcourt. Were Smith to return he would likely be the Knicks first guard option off he bench.  

    That seems like a good fit for Smith, will the Knicks brass feel the same way? 

Steve Novak

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    When the Knicks' offseason started Steve Novak and J.R. Smith seemed like an "either-or" type of proposition. 

    The Knicks might be able to afford to bring one of the two gunners back for next season, but not both of them. 

    Last week's court ruling means that's no longer the case. 

    Novak, who is an unrestricted free agent could be brought back alongside J.R. Smith. That combo proved tough to defend last season. Novak led the NBA in three-point shooting percentage. 

    At 6'10", Novak will never be an easy perimeter shooter to defend. The prospects of bringing back that type of scoring and shooting off the bench has to be appealing to Knicks' management. 

A Veteran Point Guard

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    With Jeremy Lin likely to return as the point guard of the future, there is still a gaping hole in the backup role.

    A positive ruling on the Larry Bird rights case has opened up another mid-level exception for the Knicks to use, and a veteran point guard may be at the top of the priority list.

    Jason Kidd, a former all-star is one of the more intriguing possibilities.

    Kidd is 39 years old, he is no longer a top tier point guard who can produce for 30-plus minutes a night. Kidd could be a great option as both an off-the-bench contributor and as a mentor to a young point guard like Jeremy Lin.

    Frank Isola of The New York Daily News recently reported that Kidd could be a target of the Knicks as a result of their new found salary flexibility.

    Also in the mix is free agent Steve Nash.

    The money might be a little more difficult with Nash. Even at the age of 38 Nash averaged 10.7 assists per game last season.

    Jared Zwerling of ESPN.com revealed that Nash would definitely consider the Knicks as a free agent this summer.

    "The Knicks are a great franchise and I live in New York City (each summer), so I'd definitely consider them if they were interested," the Phoenix Suns' mainstay said at a promotional appearance in Manhattan." Steve Nash to ESPN.com 6/20/12

    In spite of that positive quote, Marc Berman of The New York Post points out that Nash is likely to receive offers larger than the mid-level exception that the Knicks will be able to offer Nash. That would make New York a long shot for his services.  

Bring in a Different Outside Shooter?

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    Maybe the Knicks take a different course of action? 

    What if they don't bring back J.R.Smith and Steve Novak? What if only one returns? 

    If the court's ruling holds up the Knicks could make a run at several talented free-agent shooting guards. 

    Mitch Lawrence of The New York Daily News reports that Jason Terry, O.J. Mayo and Ray Allen could all be targeted by the Knicks.

    By bringing in a shooting guard with either more skills (O.J. Mayo) or with more experience (both Allen and Terry) the Knicks might find more leadership on the floor when the starters are not in the game.

    Mayo could easily start in New York. Allen would seem better suited to the bench.

    Jason Terry is too old to start, but he's got a versatile enough game that he could play either the point, or the shooting guard off the bench.  

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