5 Free Agents the NY Knicks Must Avoid
The New York Knicks fell short of their goals in 2013. There's no question about that. The focus has now shifted to this summer, where the capped-out Knicks will need to somehow revamp most aspects of the roster.
They'll need to steer clear of several dangerous, although enticing potential targets, though. Luckily, the team is in a position where dealing out colossal figures won't be possible, but unwise deals are still something to be weary of. Look no further than Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby's pacts of yester-offseason as evidence.
With prospective fits in the backcourt and frontcourt, Glen Grunwald and the rest of the Knicks brass should and will be placing calls to various agents around the league. They'll just need to be the right ones.
There's a possibility that J.R. Smith may leave the Knicks this summer. Should that be the case, the team would then need to tack on an affordable reserve swingman with scoring ability. Fans can only hope that Glen Grunwald and Mike Woodson aren't under the delusion that Nick Young fits the criteria.
Young can score. That much we've learned over his six NBA seasons. The issue is, well, just about everything else.
Last season, Swaggy P swagged 10.6 points per game on 9.2 shots in 24 swaggy minutes. He only swagged 1.4 assists per game though, and swagged three-pointers at a 35.7 percent clip—the second-worst clip of his swaggy career. Swag.
Off screens, primarily via the catch-and-shoot, Young sank threes at a 48-percent clip. His 1.09 points per play off screens ranked 15th among all players, according to Synergy. So that's good.
With the ball on the floor, however, it's a different story. Young fails to penetrate with much success at all. He shot just 37.5 percent on layups. Defense doesn't really interest Nicholas all that much—namely because you can't shoot on defense—but he did manage to come away with one swaggy steal per game.
Young may be affordable, he'll likely come off the bench, he is a swingman and he scores points. In those senses, he could act as the Knicks' sixth man just the same as Bad J.R. could. Just swaggier.
The Knicks have a need in the frontcourt for a body that can grab some boards and score a few points in minor minutes. Jermaine O'Neal has a body that could possibly grab said boards and maybe score said points in those minor minutes. But probably not.
He'll be 35 by opening night and hasn't logged more than 23 minutes per game since he was 31. 2013-14 would be his 18th season of doing things pro basketball players do, and he entered the NBA fresh out of high school, which makes kind-of-old guys seem like old guys a lot sooner.
O'Neal actually played well last season, clocking 16 points, 10 boards and three blocks per 36 minutes. He only averaged 19 minutes though, so his real stat line doesn't look as cool.
If the Knicks learned anything from last season, it's that the many-old-men-in-minor-roles strategy doesn't work. No matter how many old men there are, and how good they seem in the beginning. The Rasheed Wallace/Kurt Thomas/Marcus Camby/(and later) Kenyon Martin frontcourt reserve band seemed like a good idea in November, and made Knicks fans hate all senior citizens in April.
For the sake of senior citizens everywhere, Glen Grunwald, just leave Jermaine O'Neal alone.
Lamar Odom was born in Jamaica, Queens. He's been a very good two-way player through most of his career, which is something the Knicks, a basketball team, need badly. Unfortunately it's been a few years now since basketball has been all that important to Odom.
At least that's the way he's made it seem. He essentially screamed it at the top of his lungs during his Dallas Mavericks tenure, and impressively made matters worse by showing up to Los Angeles Clippers camp weighing 260 pounds. He improved his physique as the season progressed, and went on to put up decent numbers in his LA re-up. But there's no assurance that Odom won't inhale the nearest bag of sugar at any given moment.
He averaged just 19 minutes for the Clips, but posted seven points, 10 rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal per 36 minutes over all 82 games. It's a shame there are no beaches in Dallas.
The Knicks need insurance at the forward positions, and Odom can play both of them. The Knicks could even run the offense through him for spurts if they really needed. But he'll be 34 years old and more than two seasons removed from his most recent days as an NBA difference-maker. And probably sad, if he's beyond the border of California.
The Knicks could really use the player Odom was three years ago. Then again, they could really use the three-years-ago version of most of their players. So on second thought, get this guy a contract. And some Skittles.
Chauncey Billups will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1. He'll also be 37 years old, and coming off one of the least productive seasons of his 16-year career. This should be enough to scare away Knicks management, but after last summer's strange sequence, you can never be too sure.
On the surface, Billups could seemingly fit into Mike Woodson's dual-point-guard lineups that carried the Knicks to their most successful basketball of the season. His age would make nearly every other team shy away from Billups, but Woodson's affinity towards veterans leaves Madison Square Garden's doors cracked open for a second stint in New York.
Aside from his age and recent recovery from an Achilles injury in 2012, Billups just isn't the type of guard the Knicks need. With Carmelo Anthony being the center of the offense, New York thrived with 1s that handled the ball with dishing on their minds. Billups has maintained a scorer's mentality over his lengthy, decorated career.
Billups wouldn't provide any improvement in defending the point guard position, either, which is an area that killed the Knicks in '13. Opposing point guards logged a PER above 18 against Billups, according to 82games. According to Synergy, opponents shot 47 percent against him, including 67 percent in isolation and 46 percent as a pick-and-roll ball-handler.
Glen Grunwald could see Billups as the former Mr. Big Shot who can provide the Knicks with good ol' know-how and grit. Should that be the case, let's hope Billups' sour 2011 exit comes between a Manhattan reunion.
Jarrett Jack played a key role in the resurgence of the Golden State Warriors in 2013. He posted 13 points, six assists and three rebounds in 30 minutes per game, while shooting 40 percent from beyond the three-point line. He was in the Sixth Man of the Year debate throughout the season and will undoubtedly garner a long line of suitors this summer.
The Knicks shouldn't be one of them.
Jack will likely be out of the Knicks' price range at the MLE, but some finagling could be done to allocate more money to the guard via a sign-and-trade. Although possible, New York shouldn't think about going to such extents to nab Jack.
Although a good role player, Jack tended to play through stretches of iso-heavy ball, which is concerning when you consider his backcourt-mate was often Stephen Curry—a more-than-capable scorer himself. According to Synergy, 22.5 percent of Jack's offensive plays were isolations, and he shot a so-so 42 percent from the field—and just 28.6 percent from three—on those attempts.
For a player likely seeking a starting role, the lack of judgement with the ball isn't ideal—particularly with the Knicks, who funnel most field-goal attempts down to Carmelo Anthony.
Jack will be 30 at the start of next season, which fits Mike Woodson's veteran preference. However, the Georgia Tech alum's progression and overall game doesn't scream "wise veteran" very loudly. On defense, perhaps Woodson's most valued trait, Jack struggled often. He posted an individual defensive efficiency of 108 and struggled closing out against the San Antonio Spurs' shooters in the playoffs.
Jack's offensive track record won't make any GM comfortable about him starting, either. He's averaged more than 30 minutes per game in three of his eight seasons, and has posted a PER above 15 just once. Granted, it was the most recent of the three—his 2011-12 campaign with the New Orleans Hornets.
The Knicks have a need in the backcourt—specifically at the point—but Jack doesn't seem to be the ideal fit for New York.
Follow me on Twitter at @JSDorn6.
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