Ranking the New York Knicks' Best Moves from the NBA Offseason
The New York Knicks were not the noisiest team in the NBA offseason. However, as a team on the edge of becoming a true league power, the Knicks made some key moves that should keep them competitive in the Eastern Conference.
For the Knicks, this offseason was about building, or rather finalizing, a team that gives them a legitimate chance to win a title in the next few seasons.
However, New York didn't orchestrate blockbuster trades to bring in any new stars (unlike their friends in Brooklyn). Instead, the Knicks focused on re-signing valuable talent and bringing in role players where needed.
Here are the best moves from general manager Glen Grunwald and company.
Honorable Mention: C.J. Leslie
The Knicks recently signed C.J. Leslie who went undrafted out of North Carolina State.
Leslie is a tremendous athlete. At 6'9" and 200 pounds, Leslie can jump out of the gym. With a measured 40 inch vertical leap, it is no wonder why scouts have kept an eye on Leslie.
However, Leslie never seemed to take the next step in terms of developing his offensive skill set. He is "raw" in every sense of the word, which is often a troubling label on draft day.
If nothing else, the Knicks will have the opportunity to work with Leslie, and he'll benefit from playing alongside a host of veteran big men.
The Knicks haven't invested much in Leslie financially, so if it doesn't work out it won't be the end of the world.
8.) Signing Beno Udrih
In August the Knicks signed point guard Beno Udrih to a one year deal for $1.27 million.
Udrih is by no means the next big thing in New York, but he is an experienced veteran who played well for Orlando last season. After being traded mid-season by the Milwaukee Bucks, Udrih averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 assists per game for the Magic.
Udrih was essentially signed to replace Jason Kidd as a back up point guard to Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni.
Udrih is also a two-time NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs. Thus, he'll at least a bring a dose of foresight to a locker room that lacks championship experience.
7.) Re-Signing Kenyon Martin
By bringing back Kenyon Martin, the Knicks have added further muscle to their interior defense.
Martin played well for the Knicks last season, providing energy and intensity off the bench. He even started some games during the Knicks' 13-game tear.
Martin is also a bit old, 35 to be exact, but he is still a solid rebounder, defender and overall paint presence.
Like several other members of the Knicks roster, Martin knows his role on the team.
He won't try to do too much as his primary concern is winning. When he's in the game, Martin rebounds, blocks shots and gets dunks making the most out of his minutes.
Martin is also a fan favorite. Nothing electrifies Madison Square Garden quite like a rim-rattling K-Mart throw down.
The combination of Martin, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler will make for an intimidating, and effective, New York frontcourt.
6.) Drafting Tim Hardaway Jr.
With the 24th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft the Knicks got Tim Hardaway Jr. out of Michigan.
Coming off an NCCA Finals appearance, there was a lot of speculation about Hardaway's NBA potential. Hardaway was a lights out shooter while playing for the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. However, given his physical stature, it is unclear what position he'll play on the Knicks' current roster.
Bleacher Report NBA Draft Lead Writer Jonathan Wasserman described him as being the "prototypical size for an off-guard at 6'5'' with long arms and fluid athleticism."
Sounds a lot like J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert.
However, if Hardaway can adjust to the NBA three-point line he could be a mismatch for opposing teams who will have to respect his jumper as well as his slashing ability.
It is unlikely that Hardaway will have an enormous role in the Knicks' 2013-14 campaign, however look for him to stick around New York and become a key part of the post-'Melo Knicks.
5.) Trading for Andrea Bargnani
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The move wasn't exactly a blockbuster, but it will yield some positive dividends for the Knicks this season.
Bargnani is a seven-footer with a fairly good offensive repertoire. He has the ability to stretch the defense with his mid-range game, and he averaged 12.7 points per game last season in Toronto.
However, to put it nicely, Bargnani isn't much of a rebounder or defender. He has often been labeled as "soft," and some worry that the European nature of his game ultimately fails to translate to the physicality of play in the NBA.
That said, the Knicks have no shortage of tough big men. With Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, Amar'e Stoudemire and Metta World Peace, Bargnani won't be expected to bang with the big bodies in the paint.
The only question that remains is whether or not Bargnani will be able to find a role in the Knicks' rotation. If he does, he could provide New York with a unique offensive dynamic and create mismatches galore.
4.) Re-Signing J.R. Smith
You never totally know what you're going to get from J.R. Smith.
At times, he can be one of the most dominant offensive players in the league, seemingly scoring at will from practically any spot on the court.
At other times, however, Smith can be a downright plague. Ask Smith what the best remedy is for getting out of a slump, and he'll jack up a fadeaway three with 15 seconds left on the shot-clock.
Although, the Knicks sort of had their hands tied when it came to the future of the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
Despite his egregious struggles in last year's playoffs, Smith was the Knicks' second leading scorer behind Carmelo Anthony last season, and if the Knicks truly hope to be a championship-caliber squad they'll need a secondary scoring threat.
Furthermore, Smith has steadily improved since joining the Knicks and he wants to play in New York. Despite his affinity for circus-like offensive play, he wants to win.
Smith is hungry for a ring and he believes in the Knicks. If he can stay on track and out of trouble, Smith could very well rise to superstardom in a Knicks uniform.
3.) Re-Signing Pablo Prigioni
Put simply, Pablo Prigioni brings stability to a team that sometimes finds itself on the verge of imploding.
The Argentinian agreed to a three-year deal that wont break the Knicks' bank. For about $6 million the Knicks will get a pure point guard to help get the rock in the hands of Knicks' big scorers.
When Prigioni became the starting point guard for the Knicks last March, bumping Raymond Felton to shooting guard, New York promptly went on a 13-game winning streak.
Though he may not light up the stat sheet, Prigioni understands the game. He understands his role on the team, and he proved to be a reliable decision-maker when Raymond Felton experienced bouts of sloppy play.
And when Felton gets hot, Prigioni can take over ball-handling duties while the former Tar Hell spots up.
One significant drawback with Prigioni is his age. At 36 years old, and entering only his second season in the NBA, Prigioni is certainly not a long-term solution for the Knicks.
However, given that the Knicks are interested in winning right now, Prigioni figures to be an integral part of the Knicks' short-term plan.
2.) Keeping Iman Shumpert
Since last February, there have been scattered trade rumors involving Iman Shumpert.
In February, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reported that the Knicks were entertaining trade offers for Shumpert. Namely from the Phoenix Suns, who aimed to ink a deal that would send Jared Dudley to the Knicks.
Then in July, Frank Isola of The New York Daily News reported that New York Knicks owner James Dolan wanted to trade the budding star over his apparent lack of commitment to his spot on the Knicks' summer league squad.
Shumpert is one of few young talents on the Knicks roster, and he will be an integral part of the Knicks' success this season.
His game has improved drastically since he was drafted two years ago and he is one of the most explosive athletes in the league. His contributions on offense and defense are too valuable to trade away over an insignificant clash with Dolan.
Shumpert has settled into his role as the Knicks best perimeter defender, and his offensive versatility will be extremely useful as the Knicks begin to put together rotations.
Keeping Shumpert is more important to the Knicks than re-signing Prigioni and Martin because Shumpert could very well be the face of the Knicks franchise in the future.
Thankfully for Knicks fans, it seems that Shumpert and his flattop are here to stay.
1.) Signing Metta World Peace
The best move the Knicks made this offseason has to be signing Metta World Peace. With World Peace, what you see is what you get.
For about a decade, World Peace has been one of the toughest players in the league. Sure his passion has resulted in a few hiccups in his career, including one rather large hiccup at The Palace of Auburn Hills. But World Peace is a competitor in every sense of the word. He is one of the best defenders in the NBA and he is willing to get a little banged up in the name of helping his team.
Furthermore, World Peace will bring a sense of fortitude to the Knicks that has been lacking for a long long time. He is a New York native who will quickly win the hearts of the Knicks faithful.
The Knicks will be able to use World Peace however they want without having to worry about his energy levels. He is a floor-leader on defense and has the ability to make entire teams better, defensively.
World Peace also has the ability to step back and knock down big three-pointers.
And with defenses concentrating on the Knicks' other scoring threats, World Peace could find himself open on a consistent basis.