Best Free-Agent Point Guard Options for NY Knicks to Replace Jason Kidd

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2013

Best Free-Agent Point Guard Options for NY Knicks to Replace Jason Kidd

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    Like a college freshman at Kentucky positioning himself for the NBA draft, it was one-and-done for Jason Kidd with the New York Knicks.

    Those outside the Big Apple are quick to point out that Kidd is on the wrong side of 40 and was held scoreless in the last 10 games of his career. Nonetheless, he was a key piece of the team that won 54 games.

    The leadership he brought to the locker room was easily his most valued asset, but his three-point shooting prior to the playoffs (35.1) and ability to play on or off the ball facilitated the advancement of New York's dynamic offensive attack.

    More than a month into free agency, the Knicks have yet to find his replacement. Not for want of trying, though. They've been linked to just about every free-agent guard out there.

    Problem is, they can't offer anything other than the minimum allowed. Compounded by their reluctance to hand out more than a one- or two-year deal (2015 all everything) and the waning crop of talent on the open market, finding the right fit is difficult.

    But it's not impossible.

5. Sebastian Telfair

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    Age: 28

    Years Experience: 9

    Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 5.6 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 0.6 steals on 36.2 percent shooting

    You probably have reservations about the Knicks signing Sebastian Telfair, and rightfully so. But the Knicks don't have the ability to be too selective this late into the offseason.

    New York has kept an eye on Telfair since the summer began, and according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, he's still on their list of potential signees.

    Having just finished his ninth season in the league, experience won't be an issue. That is, unless the Knicks are looking for someone with postseason credentials. Telfair has yet to appear in the playoffs almost a decade into his professional tenure.

    Although he can be a bit flamboyant and selfish at times and is notoriously inefficient, Telfair has a nice handle and is prone to finding the seams in defenses for himself.

    There's also something about "coming home" you can't ignore. Telfair attended high school in Brooklyn. Knowing athletes tend to play with a little more fight when making any sort of return to their roots, there could be things in New York he winds up doing he wouldn't do anywhere else (save for Brooklyn).

    Remember, it wasn't all bad when his cousin, Stephen Marbury, joined the Knicks. Only able to assume the third-string point guard slot, he doesn't figure as prominently into their game plan anyway.

    What could go wrong?

     

4. Bobby Brown

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    Age: 28

    Years Experience: 2

    Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Euroleague Per-Game Stats18.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 0.5 steals on 47.2 percent shooting

    New York is all about point guards who can play off the ball, so I give you Bobby Brown.

    Before heading overseas, Brown spent two years in the NBA with four different teams. After a dominant Euroleague campaign, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that the Knicks are taking a long, hard look at him. They have until August 15 to make a decision.

    Standing at a not-so-towering 6'2", Brown is basically an undersized shooting guard, but his capacity to function as a distributor improved considerably last season. 

    One of the biggest questions remaining is how he would fare as more of an off-ball shooter.

    The way Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith dominate the ball, the Knicks need a guard who can do more than slash when away from the possession. Brown has never been what you would call a deadly shooter, and though he connected on 34.4 percent of his deep balls last year, there's no guarantee he brings that middling conversion rate stateside.

    Normally, defensive matchups would be a problem for a combo guard who figures to spend most of his time next to a point man as an essential 2, but the Knicks always run small. It's what they do—sacrifice a lot on defense to make a splash on the offensive end.

    As far as affordable options who would be willing to sign a one-year deal, then, the Knicks aren't going to do much better than Brown.  

3. Mike James

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    Age: 38

    Years Experience: 11

    Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 6.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.6 steals on 37.3 percent shooting

    Who better to replace a 40-year-old than a guy who's almost 40?

    Mike James provided quality minutes with the Dallas Mavericks and is a great option for a Knicks team that just needs an offensive body.

    While he won't give the Knicks much defensively, he's a serviceable playmaker in limited minutes and, more importantly, an acute outside assassin. He knocked down 38.4 percent of his deep balls last season and is burying 37.9 percent for his career.

    Given what little youth is available and the not-so-magnificent quality of the available youth, the Knicks shouldn't be opposed to signing someone who they will, you know, actually play.

    Kidd was able to have a profound impact courtesy of his on-ball acumen and regular-season shooting alone. James is no Kidd, but as far as controlling the tempo and putting some points on the board is concerned, he stands to have a similar offensive impact.

    Here's to signing players well past their prime and hoping it works out for the best. 

2. Mo Williams

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    Age: 30

    Years Experience: 10

    Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.0 steals on 43 percent shooting.

    Mo Williams would be higher if it weren't true that the idea of him joining the Knicks for the minimum is about as whimsical as a Felton sighting at the gym.

    Sheer logic hasn't stopped New York from lodging an inquiry, according to Berman. Then again, it never does (see every Knicks free-agency rumor ever).

    Keeping the Knicks in play is the belief that Williams will consider signing with a contending team for next to nothing. If that proves to be the case, some believe he'll opt to join an organization like the San Antonio Spurs or Miami Heat, or any team that can be perceived as a championship favorite.

    In a much-improved Eastern Conference, the Knicks don't appear to fall under the category of "championship favorite." Not with teams like the Heat, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls all seemingly better on paper.

    New York's saving grace, however, is the lineup it runs. The Knicks could bench either Felton or Prigioni (Felton, please) in favor of Williams, whom I consider to be a more restrained, and therefore efficient, version of Monta Ellis.

    Shooting 38.6 percent from behind the rainbow for his career, Williams is able to play either guard position. According to Synergy Sports (subscription required), he drained more than 44 percent of his spot-up threes with the Utah Jazz last year.

    Off-ball prowess is something the Knicks will be very interested in, as is someone who can seamlessly transition into their rather unconventional (and shallow) backcourt rotation. Provided Williams is willing to take a steep pay cut, you sign him. Then start him.

    If he elects to take less elsewhere, then you simply hope he doesn't wind up on an Eastern Conference rival. 

1. Beno Udrih

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    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 0.6 steals on 44.1 percent shooting

    Beno Udrih should be out of New York's price range since he took home nearly $7.4 million last season, but somehow, he's not.

    In a twist that isn't even close to out of character, ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting that the Knicks are "trying hard" to persuade Udrih to sign for far less than he's worth. 

    Selling Udrih on what amounts to more than a 75 percent pay cut would be a coup at this stage of free agency.

    Upon leaving the Milwaukee Bucks last season, his numbers skyrocketed (don't everyone's?). He went on to average 10.2 points and 6.1 assists on 39.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc in his final 27 games of the season.

    Playing time could become an issue, depending on how the Knicks structure the backcourt. Should they decide to run with a dual point guard lineup, Udrih would have no problem logging between 20 and 25 minutes a night. He could even find himself starting alongside Raymond Felton or Pablo Prigioni.

    Unlike most of the other players scattered throughout the open market, Udrih gives the Knicks that option. Per Synergy, Udrih buried 43.3 percent of his spot-up treys last season.

    For a team that is still built to live and die by the three-ball and plays host to more ball-dominators than you have thumbs, off-ball shooting comes at a premium. Adding Udrih to the roster gives the Knicks a dynamic three-man rotation between him, Felton and Prigioni.

    Signing him would be one of the easiest decisions the Knicks make all offseason. Not only because he fits the mold of a player they need, but because at the price they'd end up reeling him in for, he'd be one of the biggest steals of the summer.