Best Potential Free Agent Fits Available for NY Knicks During 2013 Offseason
The New York Knicks aren't going to completely overhaul their roster this offseason, but a few tweaks here and there can make a big difference heading into next season.
Flexibility is an issue, but after re-signing some of their own players, the Knicks will be able to spend the taxpayers' mid-level exception and give out unlimited minimum-salary contracts.
Essentially, what that means is that one player can be signed for a maximum of $3 million, and then the roster will be filled out with minimum players. Alternatively, the mid-level could be split to help pay a returning free agent such as Chris Copeland.
In all likelihood, New York will bring back Copeland, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin, which will leave them with four places left before they reach the maximum of 15 players.
The Knicks have the 24th overall pick in the draft, and since they aren't allowed to trade it away, they'll have a rookie taking up one of those last spots.
With that in mind, these are the best available fits for New York this offseason. The team won't be able to sign them all, but bringing in two or three of them is definitely a possibility.
New York is definitely in need of some energy off the bench, and Nate Robinson can provide just that at point guard.
Robinson was one of the league's most impressive players in the playoffs, leading the way for the Chicago Bulls as they made it to the second round despite a litany of injuries.
Though he only made the veteran's minimum this past season, Robinson should be looking to get paid this summer. He may take a slight cut to play for a contender, but if the Knicks are going to sign him, the full taxpayers' mid-level is probably going to be needed.
Robinson has already said to CSN Chicago that he would "love to" re-sign with the Bulls, but is aware that it's unlikely due to their financial limitations and the number of point guards already on the roster.
Instead, a return to New York—where he began his career in 2005—could be a good alternative. He would slot in as the backup behind Raymond Felton, in a city that loves him.
He is primarily a scoring guard, but during his stops with the Bulls and the Boston Celtics, he showed that he's still a team-first player hungry for a championship.
Let's just hope his beef with Steve Novak doesn't get in the way of a potential signing.
If there's one thing that the Knicks really lacked off the bench last season, it was a healthy big who could rebound, play solid defense and score in the post.
Andray Blatche provides all of those things, and based on his comments earlier in the season, he could be a surprisingly affordable option.
For those who don't know, amnestied players continue to be paid the remainder of their contract with their previous team off the books. But, the more he signs for with another team, the less the Wizards have to pay.
Blatche's hatred towards the Wizards could be an absolute blessing for one lucky team this offseason, which could get his 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for as low as the veteran's minimum.
New York would be a nice fit, and if Blatche is looking for what's best for him, this could be it. He'll have a guaranteed place in the rotation, and he'll be surrounded by veteran teammates who can help him continue to develop.
There could potentially be a clash of minutes with Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin, but those two players in particular will struggle to stay healthy for an entire season anyway.
A big issue for the Knicks in the playoffs was their lack of two-way players, who can bring more than one thing to the table. They had shooters, defenders, rebounders and playmakers in their supporting cast, but very few players who fit into more than one of those categories.
Barnes proved last season with the LA Clippers that he's more than just a tough defender, showing an ability to score and rebound at a high level as well.
Playing alongside or behind Carmelo Anthony, Barnes could be a huge addition for the Knicks. He gives them a lot of what they lacked in the postseason, and he could come at a reasonable price.
Barnes made only the veteran's minimum last season, but after proving his worth could be looking for a little more this summer. Based on his production, New York should be happy giving him the $3 million taxpayers' exception.
If there's one player who'd be a perfect fit for the Knicks, it's Barnes. He's durable, he can play multiple positions and he contributes in almost every category. Glen Grunwald definitely needs to make an aggressive run at bringing him back to New York, where he played for a short while in 2005.
The Knicks can only spend the taxpayers' exception once, so at some positions they are going to have to settle for a minimum-salary player.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, as someone like Sebastian Telfair can help out despite not being the most attractive free agent out there.
So far in his NBA career, Telfair has failed to live up to expectations, but he has been solid as a backup these last few seasons.
Telfair would be great playing behind Raymond Felton, where he would provide penetration and an all-around game.
If he looks for more money this offseason, the Knicks could struggle to re-sign Pablo Prigioni, but Telfair would be an apt replacement.
He's not perfect by any means, but for the minimum salary, it's hard to argue against bringing in Telfair. It's a low-risk move for a player who has been productive in limited minutes these past few seasons.
DeJuan Blair's minutes with the San Antonio Spurs reduced significantly this season, but he's still one of the league's best rebounders off the bench.
Now that he's an unrestricted free agent, Blair will likely be looking for a bigger role, but he'll probably want to remain on a contending team.
That makes New York a good fit, and the Knicks could offer him a portion of the taxpayers' exception to give him more than the $1 million he made last year.
Since he's only 6'7", Blair could go under the radar this summer, but the Knicks would be wise to take a serious look at him. He's a durable big who plays solid defense and cleans the glass better than anyone they had on their roster in 2012-13.
There's also the added bonus of Blair still being a very young player, as we all know the Knicks' bench needs to get younger.
Career averages of 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds should be intriguing to New York's front office, especially when you consider that they've come in limited playing time.
If Nate Robinson goes elsewhere, Will Bynum could be a decent alternative with the taxpayers' exception or even the veteran's minimum.
Bynum is fast and energetic, and he's coming off a productive season for the Detroit Pistons. At the age of 30, however, he has played just four career playoff games, and should jump on the chance to be part of a better team.
He can't shoot too well, but Bynum is great at penetrating the lane and creating for both himself and others. As a result, he averaged 9.8 points and 3.6 assists in just 20 minutes per game last season.
Bynum isn't the most attractive or well-known free agent out there, but given a chance he could be just the player the Knicks are looking for at point guard.
With Bynum, the Knicks will have someone who can start when Raymond Felton is injured and also give the bench unit the same penetration the starters benefit from. Playing alongside J.R. Smith, that secondary backcourt option could be lethal.