Cost-Effective Moves the New York Knicks Can Make in Free Agency
Caught in a state of financial purgatory, the New York Knicks will use whatever cap space they have left to hopefully reshape a roster that could possibly be decimated by key departures this summer.
Only seven Knicks players are under contract for next season: Carmelo Anthony ($22,407,474), Amar'e Stoudemire ($21,679,893), Tyson Chandler ($14,100,537), Marcus Camby ($4,383,773), Steve Novak ($3,750,000), Raymond Felton ($3,637,073) and Iman Shumpert ($1,703,760).
That's approximately $71.7 million wrapped up in less than half a full roster's worth of talent.
J.R. Smith, the NBA Sixth Man of the Year for 2013, declined his $2.9 player option, thus making him an unrestricted free-agent. Early reports indicate that Smith would like to return to New York (Knicks can re-sign Smith for $4.9 million with the Early Bird exception), but other teams could swoop in and offer him more money, which would be very difficult to turn down.
Quentin Richardson and Earl Barron were simply brought in to shore up depth on the bench during the Knicks postseason run. Their time with the team would appear to be over. James White and his $917,000 non-guaranteed deal for 2013-14 will likely be waived, as well.
Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni could both return to the Knicks next season on one-year deals, but their futures still remain in doubt.
All the Knicks will really have to work with in the offseason is a mini-MLE ($3.183 million, 4.5 percent raises each year), a veteran's minimum (roughly $1.2 million) and a TPE (traded player exception of $954,389), which was obtained last February in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for Ronnie Brewer.
None of those deals will lure any lucrative free-agents, as it's simply not enough money to make any sort of impact on the market.
Getting the most bang for their buck will be key. Chris Paul and Dwight Howard won't be walking through the front door, but with what little cap space they have, the Knicks could certainly land a solid role player that can fill a need for this team.
Sebastian Telfair, PG, Toronto Raptors
2012-13 statistics: 59 games played, 16.6 minutes, 5.6 points, 36.2 percent from the field, 1.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks, 1.1 turnovers, 10.92 PER
2012-13 salary: $1,500,000
The average age of the Knicks' point guard rotation (Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton) last season was nearly 35 years.
With Jason Kidd headed to the Brooklyn Nets to become their new head coach, and the future of Prigioni still up in the air, the Knicks will need to fortify that position with some new blood.
28-year-old Sebastian Telfair, a native of Brooklyn, New York, can provide the Knicks with a nice spark off the bench as the floor general for their second unit.
For the past 11 seasons, Telfair has played for seven different NBA teams (Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors). He hasn't stayed with one franchise for more than two years.
Joining the Knicks and playing in his home state could be revitalizing for his career.
He can attack the basket, take care of the basketball (averages just 1.5 turnovers per game for his career) and create quick offense when needed.
The veteran's minimum would likely be enough to sign a player like Telfair. He wouldn't be playing any heavy minutes, so even if he didn't pan out on the court, it wouldn't hurt the Knicks in the long run.
Timofey Mozgov, C, Denver Nuggets
2012-13 statistics: 41 games played, 8.9 minutes, 2.6 points, 50.6 percent from the field, 2.6 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.4 blocks, 0.6 turnovers, 12.37 PER
2012-13 salary: $3,140,429
Timofey Mozgov is no stranger to the New York Knicks. The 7'1" center from Russia signed a three-year, $9.7 million dollar deal with the team back in 2010.
He was later dealt to the Denver Nuggets in the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York.
Mozgov sits behind both JaVale McGee and Kosta Koufas in the Nuggets' rotation. He didn't see the court once during the team's first-round series with the Golden State Warriors.
At least with the Knicks, Mozgov could play some meaningful minutes as a backup center. There isn't any quality depth at the five spot behind Tyson Chandler, at the moment. The health of Amar'e Stoudemire is always in question, and Marcus Camby provides next to nothing at this stage of his career.
With Mozgov, the Knicks would get a young, motivated big man who can block shots, rebound and score around the basket.
His career per-36-minute averages of 11.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks show that when given time, he can be productive.
He's comfortable playing in the city and would certainly get the PT he so desperately craves.
Mozgov does have a qualifying offer worth $3.9 million for next season with the Nuggets, but it appears unlikely that Denver will extend that offer to him.
2012-13 statistics: 18 games played, 14.3 minutes, 5.3 points, 35.5 percent from the field, 1.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 turnovers, 7.90 PER
2012-13 salary: $10,924,138
It's pretty safe to say that Corey Maggette won't be commanding the kind of money he made last season with the Detroit Pistons on the market this summer.
Maggette never got a chance to play with Detroit, averaging career lows in games played, minutes, points and rebounds.
While 2012-13 was clearly the worst season he's ever had, that certainly doesn't mean he can't bring any value to a new team and new surroundings.
In fact, it was just two years ago in which Maggette was averaging 15.0 points per game for the Charlotte Bobcats.
With the exception of last season, Maggette has been instant offense for every team he's ever played for. His career scoring average of 16.0 points would be a nice addition to the Knicks' second unit, especially if J.R. Smith doesn't return.
Maggette also has an exceptional talent for getting to the free-throw line, averaging a career 6.8 attempts at the charity stripe.
His shooting numbers have taken a turn for the worse as of late (51.6 percent from the field in 2009-10 to 35.5 percent last season), but that hasn't stopped Maggette from chucking up shots in his attempt to put points on the board.
In a perfect world, the Knicks would sign Maggette for the veteran's minimum. In all likelihood, it will probably take at least the mini-MLE to get a deal done.
*All statistics and salaries provided by Basketball Reference, ESPN.com and Hoops World.
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