According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the New York Knicks are targeting veteran forward Elton Brand as a potential free-agent signing. The 34-year-old is reportedly seeking one final contract before retiring from the NBA.
While the name value and ability may be there, Brand would be a poor fit for the aging Knicks.
Brand is a 14-year veteran that has sustained his production into the waning years of his strong career. While he's never been a player with the privilege of chasing a title, his numbers are Hall of Fame caliber.
Brand has career marks of 17.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, and in 2012-13,played in 21.2 minutes per contest and posted 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks—the best per 40 minutes rebounding mark that Brand had posted since 2003.
With that being said, Brand is on the back end of a career that was derailed by severe injuries. While he may be as high-quality a reserve big man as you'll find in the NBA, he simply doesn't fit the Knicks' needs.
That's the only thing for New York to acknowledge as they build their title contender.
The Knicks have a trio of big name interior players in Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire. For those unfamiliar, Bargnani is a former first overall draft choice, while both Chandler and Stoudemire have All-Star appearances to their name.
Throw in the fact that Carmelo Anthony was primarily a power forward in 2012-13 and you have quite the crowded frontcourt.
Both Bargnani and STAT can play the 5, but neither thrive on the defensive end of the floor. In fact, both players are criticized more often than they're praised for their respective abilities as a rim protector.
Brand is a powerful player that has no trouble stepping up to take his man out of the post, but he's also 6'9" and lacks any form of elite explosiveness. With this in mind, it's highly unlikely that Brand would be able to play the 5 in a Knicks rotation that often utilizes small ball sets.
Plain and simple, it simply doesn't make sense to bring Brand on board with Bargnani entered into the mix and countless other options available on the open market.
When the Knicks traded for Bargnani, they effectively created a frontcourt in which minutes will be close to evenly distributed to three high-profile players. While the addition of another interior player is expected, as depth is the key in the NBA, there's only so much room for playing time.
With those available minutes, the Knicks have smarter options to target than Brand.
The three most viable options to select over Brand are Chris Andersen, DeJuan Blair and Kenyon Martin. All three have NBA experience at center and each provide the Knicks with something that Brand currently lacks.
It's all about making the proper pitch.
Blair is a virtual carbon copy of Brand at this stage of their respective careers, with the only exception being the former's age. 10 years younger than Brand, Blair could potentially be signed to a one-year deal with the selling point that he's guaranteed minutes in a major market.
From there, it becomes a matter of New York re-signing him as a future building block or his one-year services paying dividends in their title hunt and his 2014 free-agency endeavors.
For Martin, he's not the youngest of the group, but he proved in 2012-13 that he still has explosiveness remaining in his legs. Built in a similar manner as Brand, K-Mart has familiarity with the Knicks and is more than capable of playing center in the playoffs.
As it presently stands, Martin has 82 more games of postseason experience than Brand.
The final option may be the most intriguing, as Andersen is coming off of a season in which he sparked a defensive uproar in Miami. As a player who thrives in working off of the ball and makes his money defensively, Andersen is exactly what New York needs.
As great of an addition as Brand would be, the alternatives are simply too attractive to pass over.
Absence of Athleticism
The New York Knicks currently have a three-man frontcourt consisting of Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire. Each of those players have battled injuries and all are entering the latter stages of their prime.
With this in mind, the only logical step would be to add a young, athletic player that can learn behind the three high-profile veterans.
Elton Brand certainly has a place in a rotation with a history of injuries, as he can provide a sense of security by playing roughly 20 minutes per contest. With that being said, the Knicks have just two players under 27 with guaranteed contracts.
Neither of those athletes play along the interior.
Even if they are to find an aging asset, the key for New York is defensive versatility and athleticism. You'd be hard-pressed to find a reserve as skilled as Brand, but the latter trait simply isn't a part of his repertoire.
There's reason for interest, but if the Knicks want to compete for a title, they need to add agility and explosiveness to their frontcourt—something Brand wouldn't add.