In an effort to become more able-bodied for the postseason, the New York Knicks are being forced to cut ties with an old friend.
According to Howard Beck of the New York Times, the team is adding 28-year-old big man Solomon Jones and cutting injured veteran Kurt Thomas.
This contradicts reports from earlier in the week that had the Knicks agreeing to terms with forward James Singleton. Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that deal fell through due to issues with his contract in China.
Jones stands at 6'10" and is a six-year NBA vet, having played on four different clubs. He provides depth at the center position that New York so desperately needs as the playoffs draw closer, and with Tyson Chandler still struggling to find the hardwood with his neck issue.
The health of Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Kenyon Martin are all huge question marks as well—so much so, that the Knicks started rookie Chris Copeland at the center spot Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls.
Jones has never received impact NBA playing time—his career-high was 17.8 minutes in 11 games with the New Orleans Hornets last season—but is a healthy big man, which is something New York has none of. He's averaged 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes for his career, so his shot-swatting ability should help the small-ball Knicks size up with bigger teams like the Indiana Pacers.
Jones' career rebounding marks aren't overly impressive, but solid nonetheless. He isn't a lock-down defender in the paint, either, but the presence of a 6'10" body alone is an improvement from the Knicks' current situation.
Offensively, Jones has shown an ability to occasionally assert himself in the paint, and can throw down a flashy jam every so often. He'll shoot the occasional perimeter jumper, but it doesn't fall at a very high percentage. In 2010-11 with the Pacers, Jones' jump shot was wet 29.4 percent of the time, or 20-of-68.
Cutting Thomas loose was a painful move for New York, but one that was a no-brainer. His last game as a Knick—likely the last of his career—was a warrior-like display. Thomas logged a season-high 27 minutes and led the way with firm defense on younger Utah Jazz bigs, namely Al Jefferson.
It was the first triumph of the Knicks' recent 13-game winning streak.
Over two stints in New York, Thomas played eight seasons in a Knicks uniform.
Once it was announced that rehabbing the stress fracture in his foot was no longer possible and surgery was needed, waiving the 40-year-old Thomas was the only logical move to make.
Via Alan Hahn of MSG Network, here was what Glen Grunwald had to say about Kurt's departure:
Once it became clear that he would not be able to return this season, and due to a rash of injuries to our big men, we felt that it was important for us to free up a spot on our roster. We thank Kurt for all that he has done. I have the utmost respect for Kurt as a player and as a man.
Kurt's contributions to the Knicks have been immeasurable. From the first day of training camp to the last game against the Utah Jazz, Kurt has been a key contributor to our team. The team's success this season has been driven by veteran leadership on and off the court -- it is something that cannot be quantified or read in a box score.
Knicks' Health Situation
In a utopian Knicks world, Jones will simply be an insurance policy for the veteran big men. Unfortunately for Mike Woodson, the myriad of uncertainties in the frountcourt may lead you to believe that Jones could receive more minutes than the coach desires heading into the postseason.
Amar'e Stoudemire is still rehabbing his knee after the debridement procedure he underwent weeks ago. The original six-week prognosis would have him slated to return at the start of the postseason, but STAT took eight weeks to return from the same procedure on his other knee last fall.
Tyson Chandler is dealing with a bulging disk, and likely won't be back to 100 percent health this season. He's missed 12 of the Knicks' last 16 games, and is listed as day-to-day.
Kenyon Martin was battling knee issues, but was forced into action when Tyson Chandler's back flared up again on April 9 against the Washington Wizards. In that game, Martin rolled his ankle and suffered a sprain. He, too, is listed as day-to-day.
Is the addition of Solomon Jones the right move?
Marcus Camby has played in just 24 games this season courtesy of plantar fascia problems in his left foot. He's been in and out of Mike Woodson's lineup this season, but hasn't played in April with the injury.
Rasheed Wallace remains out indefinitely, but has been seen shooting around before games. He still is unable to run, which leaves his hopeful playoff return a longshot.
Adding Jones is a move that can't hurt the roster at all—he's replacing a player in Thomas that is unable to perform the rest of the way—and could pay dividends if the Knicks run into a series with a larger team.
But if we find Jones playing major minutes for the Knicks in any postseason game, that's when we'll know things have gone horribly wrong.
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