The Knicks are bringing back J.R. Smith.
It’s free agency time, and the New York Knicks have certainly made some moves to build their team for the 2013-14 season. Of course, there are the rumors: according the the New York Post, the Knicks are interested in none other than ex-Laker Metta World Peace.
But let’s talk about the free agency decisions the Knicks have already made, not the ones they’re currently mulling over.
Last season, Smith proved himself incredibly valuable to the Knicks. He won the Sixth Man of the Year Award for his play, having averaged 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 33.5 minutes per game during the regular season. J.R. played in a total of 80 games for New York.
What can I say, they needed to keep the Sixth Man. He’s a solid scorer and rebounder at the shooting guard position, and he was reliable for New York during the 2012-13 season. They were very wise to resign him.
For 2012-13, Prigioni averaged 3.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 16.2 minutes per game. He appeared in a solid total of 78 games for New York.
The Knicks have a host of guards coming back next season, including J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Tim Jr. Hardaway and Iman Shumpert. While they may benefit from Prigioni coming off the bench, he’s 36 years old yet has only had a year's experience in the NBA. The Knicks shouldn’t expect more from him than he delivered last season.
While the Knicks have brought back J.R. Smith and Pablio Prigioni, they let Chris Copeland go to the Indiana Pacers, as ESPNNewYork.com's Jared Zwerling confirmed. The small forward averaged 8.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game last season.
Copeland signed a two-year, $6.1 million contract with the Pacers. The Knicks made the right move letting Copeland go; he’s not worth that money to keep in New York, given his statistics last season. And, given the salary cap, New York wouldn’t have been able to match Indiana’s offer, anyway.
While it’s not exactly a “free agency” move, the Knicks have made another recent change to their roster that’s worth mentioning, especially as they consider what other free agents to go after in the near future.
In particular, New York made a risky trade for Toronto’s big man Andrea Bargnani that became official on July 10, according to Jared Zwerling. The Knicks gave up Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a first-round draft pick in 2016 and second-round draft picks in 2014 and 2017 for Bargnani. They’ll be paying the big guy over $11 million for next season alone.
In Toronto last season, Bargnani’s play was pretty dismal. He averaged 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 28.7 minutes per game. Compare those numbers to his career averages: 15.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
He also only played in 35 games because of injury. Bargnani couldn’t even finish the season because of elbow problems.
Maybe the Knicks think a change of scenery will bring Bargnani back to his old self. Maybe New York will be a better place for him as a player. However, there’s no way that Bargnani is worth $11 million. He also isn’t worth the loss of three draft picks and three players.
With the acquisition of Bargnani, the Knicks will probably not be looking for any other free agents to fill out the low post. But, can they count on the former Raptor to deliver? Unfortunately, they can’t.
The highlight of this free agency for the Knicks has definitely been J.R. Smith. The shooting guard is a reliable asset who should definitely stay put where he plays well: New York.
Unfortunately, the Knicks should have looked for other free agents to fill positions on the low post instead of making the trade for Bargnani. Maybe the risk will somehow pay off, but given his play in Toronto, Bargnani is the farthest player from reliable.
We wait with bated breath to see what other moves the Knicks make.
Overall Grade: B-