Ranking NY Knicks' Best Options for Final Roster Spot
Despite having their spending limited to only the taxpayers' exception and veteran's minimum contracts, the New York Knicks have had a fantastic offseason, getting deeper or younger at every single position.
Looking at the Knicks' roster, it's hard to point out any major weaknesses, but with one roster spot left to fill, they'd be wise to add another big man.
Preferably, New York will be looking for someone who can play at center, as right now Jeremy Tyler (who, according to ESPN, will miss 8-10 weeks following foot surgery) is the only back-up they have for Tyson Chandler.
However, since they do have other players capable of playing at the 5 if needed, anyone who can rebound and play physical defense will do.
Options tend to be thin at this point in the offseason, but the Knicks aren't looking for a superstar here.
They simply need another role player who can step into the rotation when injuries happen. And there are still some free agents out there who can do just that.
5. Lou Amundson
Bruising forward Louis Amundson has been a target for the Knicks since last summer, which is no surprise considering how weak they were on the boards last season.
Amundson averaged only 1.2 points and 2.7 rebounds last season and was cut by two different teams, but one thing he can always be relied on to bring is energy and toughness.
At this point, there's virtually no upside in a player like Amundson, but New York would know what it's getting with him. He's a veteran who plays physically on both ends of the floor and has averaged 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per 36 minutes for his career.
Standing at 6'9", Amundson is best suited to playing at power forward, but with a 7'0" wingspan and a penchant for blocking shots, it wouldn't be surprising to see him used at center.
The only issue with Amundson is that he won't be a remotely reliable scoring option if the frontcourt gets the injury bug, but he is an effective offensive rebounder at the very least.
In an ideal world, the Knicks would find a guy who can also hit a mid-range jumper consistently, but they can do a lot worse than Amundson as their 15th man.
4. Fab Melo
Melo played only six games for the Celtics last season after suffering an embarrassing concussion when he walked into a door frame, and instead spent most of his time in the D-League.
Though his experience with the Maine Red Claws was mixed, Melo did have a few standout moments, including a triple-double against the Erie BayHawks in which he had a record-setting 14 blocks on the night. He was also a member of the D-League's All-Defensive and All-Rookie teams at season's end.
Still, that wasn't enough for Boston to consider him a significant piece of their future, so they sent him away to the Memphis Grizzlies, who waived him just two weeks later.
It's a shock that Melo's career is already in the balance at such an early stage, but it's clear that he has upside the Knicks would be wise to tap in to.
Melo is still raw, however, so it would be difficult to see him making significant contributions to a title run this season. Instead, a better course of action would be to give him a camp invite and keep him stashed in the D-League until needed.
Just a couple of years ago, Chris Wilcox would have been an ideal fit for the Knicks' bench, but his numbers have gone down significantly since suffering an enlarged aorta which required heart surgery in 2012.
According to The Boston Globe, Wilcox thinks he is set to return to form next season, and while his first option would be to stick with the Celtics, the likelihood is that he'll have to find a new home.
Now entering rebuilding mode, Boston is going for a younger approach this season, but having a player like Wilcox would be perfect for a veteran team like New York. He's a hard-worker who contributes in all areas and shoots at a high percentage, which is just what the Knicks need behind Tyson Chandler.
Picking up someone with a recent history like Wilcox's would be a risk, but it could pay off if he plays anywhere near as well as he did with the Detroit Pistons in 2010-11.
The worst-case scenario is that Wilcox would repeat his final season with the Celtics, where he averaged 4.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 0.5 blocks while shooting 72 percent from the floor. That in itself would be pretty solid production for the last man on the roster.
2. Earl Barron
The Knicks are still on the look for depth behind Tyson Chandler, but the answer might be right under their nose in the form of veteran Earl Barron.
Barron was signed late last season to cover at center while Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin rested for the playoffs, and he looked impressive in his only game. Going up against the Atlanta Hawks he had 11 points and 18 rebounds, displaying his mid-range game and nose for offensive boards—exactly the traits the Knicks are looking for.
Of course, it would be wrong to assume Barron could be a long-term contributor based on only one game, but with career averages of 11.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per 36 minutes, there's enough evidence to justify giving him a roster spot.
Now 32-years-old, Barron hasn't never really had much of an opportunity in the NBA, but has produced the few times he's been given significant minutes.
Unless they can find someone with more long-term upside, signing Barron just makes perfect sense. At 7'0" he has the height to defend the rim when Tyson Chandler is off the floor, and as we saw first-hand, he's also a good rebounder who can handle himself on offense.
1. Hamed Haddadi
Recently crowned FIBA Asia Championship MVP Hamed Haddadi is easily the most interesting free agent still available in the Knicks' price range.
Standing at 7'2", Haddadi is a monster on the boards, with a career average of 11.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per 36 minutes.
Playing in a tough Memphis Grizzlies frontcourt, Haddadi impressed in the few opportunities he got to play, making a name for himself with physical defense at the rim.
Considering his physical tools and defensive ability, it's a surprise the Knicks reportedly aren't interested in the Iranian center, but that could change in the wake of Jeremy Tyler's foot injury.
If nothing else, Haddadi is worthy of at least a camp invite, especially considering the team's lack of height behind Tyson Chandler. If you can find a good role player under the age of 30—who essentially fills your exact needs—this late in the offseason, it's an opportunity that has to be taken.
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