The regular season schedule is out, and the Knicks officially have 14 players on their 2013-14 roster. That means they’ve got one spot left to fill, and they need to do so with great caution and thought.
Looking at the roster as it stands now, I see two areas where the Knicks could use some help. Sure, they’ve got Carmelo Anthony at small forward, Tyson Chandler at Center and Amar’e Stoudemire at power forward among other skilled players, yet they lack back-up in a few key areas.
According to Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com, the Knicks are still shopping around for a big man to sub in for Tyson Chandler and split time with newly acquired Andrea Bargnani. In this case, I agree with New York; the team could absolutely benefit from another big man coming off the bench. Especially if Bargnani turns out to be a disappointment, which is entirely possible.
As Zwerling details, the Knicks are looking at resigning Earl Barron, the seven-footer who has been playing the NBA for seven years. Last season with the Knicks, 32-year-old Barron averaged 3.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game.
He’s obviously not a starter, but Barron would be a good pick-up for the Knicks if they can get him for the right price. They can’t afford too much, given their minimal cap space, after all.
Whether or not they actually go for Barron, the Knicks do need to consider adding another center to their group if they can swing it. Currently, New York has two centers signed on to play at the center position for 2013-14: Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani.
Chandler is pretty excellent and has plenty of experience. Last season, he averaged 10.4 points and 10.7 rebounds in 32.8 minutes of game play. He is at the epicenter of New York’s low post.
However, Chandler does not have age on his side. He’s 30 years old and more importantly has been playing in the NBA for 12 years. That means plenty of wear-and-tear and more susceptibility to injury.
Moreover, Chandler has fallen victim to injury in the past. Just last spring, the center had to miss some of the last regular season games because of a bulging disk in his neck. If a similar case should manifest next season, the Knicks need a reliable back-up big who can step in for Chandler.
Though Bargnani may turn out to fit in better with the Knicks than he did in past seasons with Toronto, I don’t think New York should make that gamble. Adding Barron or another similar free agent center would be wise to complete their roster.
Though one might argue that New York has a strong enough point guard situation, I believe this position is the second weakest of the Knicks’ roster.
Currently, New York has Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and most recently Beno Udrih slotted to play at point guard for the 2013-14 season. Felton played well last season, and his statistics speak to that fact; he averaged 13.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 34.0 minutes per game.
What his season averages don’t show, though, is that his numbers were higher at the start of the season. After the Knicks brought the point guard to New York, he soared, averaging 16.8 points and 6.5 assists per game. Then, in December, he bruised a bone in his hand. Later, he fractured his pinkie. These injuries, though seemingly minor, did enough to disrupt his game.
If 29-year-old Felton encounters injury again this season, the Knicks will call upon Pablo Prigioni and Beno Udrih to step up to the plate. New York resigned Prigioni over this offseason.
Though Prigioni facilitated good offense and ball movement last season, he’s not much of a scorer. He averaged only 3.5 points per game. What’s more, the point guard has only played one year in the NBA but is 36 years old. To put it bluntly, Prigioni is old. His age means he is very vulnerable to injury.
In order to ameliorate the point guard situation, New York signed Beno Udrih at the beginning of August. Previously with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic, Udrih averaged 8.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 22.1 minutes of game play last season.
All in all, the Knicks have a skilled point guard in Felton. However, that doesn’t mean that they will necessarily thrive if Felton falls injured. I don’t have as much confidence in the Knicks’ back-up point guards as I do the other bench players. While Udrih’s numbers are good, he is new and will take time to adjust to playing with the Knicks’ squad.
Despite cap space, they look good
Provided the Knicks scoop up another center, the team will look formidable going into the 2013-14 season. They’ve added good players and resigned important ones, all while working with very limited cap space.
As long as Felton stays healthy and strong, the Knicks will have a solid point guard to lead the team. The pressure rests on New York to bring in a good back-up big man.