New York Knicks: 6 Former 'Bockers Who Could Return to MSG for a Title Run
After two years of assembling their major pieces, the New York Knicks are gearing towards a run at that elusive Larry O'Brien trophy.
Though injuries and coaching changes slowed them down last year, the Knicks have the talent to at least make some noise in the Eastern Conference.
But, things haven't always been this good for the Knicks.
Over the last decade, plenty of popular players have put their all into the blue and orange, only to be rewarded with lottery pick status year after year.
Most of those players are gone now, but with some hitting the 2012 free agency market, there's a chance that some of the more useful ones could be convinced to come back to Madison Square Garden to try and win the title they never could the first time round.
Let's take a look.
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Matt Barnes was not a Knick for very long, and his return certainly wouldn't have the nostalgic feel of that any other player on this list would have.
Still, the Knicks are a team that could use his skill set—especially if it comes at the right price.
Surprisingly, the Knicks are a somewhat defensive team now with Mike Woodson at the helm and, as one of the NBA's best perimeter defenders, Barnes could certainly buy into that mindset.
The Knicks should be particularly interested in three-point shooting and rebounding in free agency, and Barnes can bring both of those in limited minutes from the small forward position.
Barnes wouldn't be worth the $3 million mid-level exception the Knicks have at their disposal, but if another player is acquired via sign-and-trade, the Knicks may consider offering him it.
If not, the Knicks could potentially offer him the biannual exception, or even just a smaller portion of the mid-level.
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According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, Marcus Camby has the Knicks on his list of potential free agent destinations—much to the delight of plenty of Knicks fans.
Even at his age, Camby is a dominant rebounder, and the Knicks' bench could really use some of his determination down low.
Camby is also still a feared shot-blocker and, besides Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks don't have one right now—even including Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
Ultimately, Camby would only be a worthwhile signing for the Knicks if acquired for the veteran's minimum or with the biannual exception. But, there's a chance he could be convinced to sign for either one if he thinks it will get him a ring.
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Just like he did last offseason, Jamal Crawford has made a return to New York an option for him in 2012, according to ProBasketballTalk.
Despite the criticism he gets for his style of play, Crawford could be useful to the Knicks if used as a scorer off the bench—much like J.R. Smith was last season.
Crawford is still a high-volume scorer in the NBA, and has the potential of going off on any team on any given night.
Of course, Crawford's arrival in New York is contingent on whether or not Smith is staying which, at the moment, seems likely with a long-term deal in the running.
If Smith leaves in free agency, Crawford could certainly demand the $3 million exception. It just depends on what the Knicks' priorities are when it comes to filling their needs.
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With a ton of better veteran point guard options out there for the Knicks, Raymond Felton should not be very high on their offseason wishlist.
If Felton and Amar'e Stoudemire can recreate the chemistry they had back in the 2010-11 season, that will only mean good things for the Knicks.
That said, Felton has rarely played at a high level for the bulk of his career. Players whose efforts are regularly questioned are not going to help too much when it comes to winning it all.
Felton's value has dropped considerably after his dismal 2011-12 season, so there is a chance that he could end up as a value pickup for the Knicks if signed for the veteran's minimum, or thereabouts.
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At this point in his career—and after all the injuries he's been through—Tracy McGrady is nothing more than a veteran's minimum player.
But, with starting shooting guard Iman Shumpert out injured, the Knicks may consider McGrady as an option to add insurance at the back end of the roster behind J.R. Smith and Landry Fields.
The addition of McGrady wouldn't bring too many benefits to the Knicks besides that. But, for such little money, it wouldn't hamper the Knicks' activity in the rest of free agency either.
McGrady would be another last resort-type player for the Knicks, which is fine. There won't be too many other teams pursuing him this summer anyway.
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Nate Robinson's tenure with the Knicks between 2005 and 2010 really was a mixed bag.
Some will remember his back-to-back dunk contest victories and his energetic displays at MSG, whereas others may remember the bad times—like when he shot the ball at the wrong basket against the New Jersey Nets.
Since leaving New York, Nate's roles on his multiple new teams have slowly been diminishing.
But, as he proved last season with the Warriors, he can still provide a spark off the bench if needed.
The Knicks are definitely in the market for a point guard and, though Robinson isn't the pass-first player they're looking for, he could still be useful as a third-stringer or as a shooting guard behind J.R. Smith whilst Iman Shumpert is out with injury.
Robinson played for only the veteran's minimum last year in Golden State. After averaging double-figure points off the bench, he may be looking for a bit more this time around.
It will be another case of convincing a player that a ring is more important than money. As a player who's felt the heartbreak of a loss in the NBA Finals, that may just be enough to bring him back to New York.