The New York Knicks are going to need some extra help in the frontcourt next season, but with their financial restraints, they'll need to get creative to add to the team.
This offseason, the Knicks will have the 24th pick in the draft and the $3 million taxpayers' exception to spend, but after that, only veteran's minimum contracts will be at their disposal.
If it gets lucky, New York will be able to re-sign Kenyon Martin and Chris Copeland using the non-Bird exception, but either way, the likelihood is that it'll need to add an extra big on the cheap. At the moment, it looks like Marcus Camby is set to back up Tyson Chandler at center next season, but considering his injury history, New York will be needing a younger player to help add depth.
Young, defensive-minded centers are hard to find with such a small amount of money, but the Knicks might have found their answer in former Tulsa center Jerome Jordan.
Jordan played for the Knicks in 2011-12 and has returned to the team for this year's NBA Summer League after being traded to the Houston Rockets last season.
Though he barely played during his first stint with the team, Jordan feels he's ready to contribute now, telling ESPN the following in a recent interview:
I'm ready to play. It was a tough year with the team [in 2011-12]. There was a lot of pressure. I'm just trying to be physically and mentally ready to play on both ends of the floor. Defensively, block shots and rebound, and then on the offensive end, just try to be comfortable out there.
I think [playing in the D-League] helped. It was a different experience just to go down there and play a lot of minutes. A lot of guys come down there and sacrifice something. They could've gone overseas and probably do better financially, but you've just got to work hard and trust that it will all pay off. I think it will pay off.
Having had time to develop his game a bit more, Jordan could be right. It's often hard for big men to adjust to the NBA on short notice, but after spending more time in the D-League and overseas, things may be different this year.
Since he only played 108 minutes, it's hard to judge Jordan based on what he did in 2011-12. Instead, what we should look at is what he did in the D-League, where he averaged 13.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in two seasons of action—good for an 18.4 PER.
Giving Jordan an opportunity in the summer league and training camp obviously won't hurt, and there's a chance he could end up as a decent reserve toward the back end of the roster.
If nothing else, Jordan is someone who can be kept with the Erie BayHawks to develop until he's needed. After all, he has a healthy, young body, which is more than what you can say for the majority of New York's bigs last season.
Jordan isn't a player who will make or break the Knicks' season, but they need frontcourt depth on a budget, so he's definitely worth a shot.