Best Value Free Agents for NY Knicks to Pursue

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Best Value Free Agents for NY Knicks to Pursue
USA TODAY Sports

Even though there are gaping holes that need to be filled on the New York Knicks, now is the time to be frugal.

Next summer is when the party starts. At that point, the team will be freed of a slew of burdensome contracts, including those belonging to Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler. And New York will be looking at a loaded class of free agents, too.

That's when president of basketball operations Phil Jackson can start making it rain.

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks will passionately pursue re-signing Carmelo Anthony this summer if he opts out of the final year of his contract, but Jackson has encouraged 'Melo to play out the deal and instead become a free agent in 2015.

Other than that, though, don't expect any earth-shattering moves from the 'Bockers, a team that will be looking at a payroll upwards of $91 million next season.

According to ESPN New York, the Knicks can "offer free agents the tax payer’s mid-level exception (a contract that starts at $3.3 million and can be as long as three seasons in length) or standard veteran’s minimum contract."

Think of the Knicks—for this summer, at least—as a parent in the grocery store, shopping to feed a big family on a small budget. They need a lot, but can only spend so much.

That's where the emphasis on value comes in. It’s imperative that New York makes the most of every dollar it spends this offseason.

 

Jimmer Fredette

USA TODAY Sports
Jimmer could give the Knicks some reliable scoring off the bench, as well as backcourt depth.

When Jimmer Fredette was released from the clenches of the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 27, I wrote that New York should jump on the opportunity to land the former BYU star.

The kid can flat-out score. The word “defense” might be scribbled out in his pocket dictionary, but Fredette knows how to put the ball in the cup.

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Over the course of his three-year NBA career, Jimmer hasn’t been the star that he was in college. But he really hasn’t gotten a fair shake, either.

After netting nearly eight points a game in his rookie campaign with the Kings, Fredette’s scoring numbers—and playing time—have since declined.

Even after his departure from Sacramento, the 25-year-old played in just eight games with the Chicago Bulls and didn’t see a single minute in the playoffs.

Granted, Fredette wasn’t with the Bulls, a defensive-oriented team, long enough to develop the right chemistry with his teammates. And he clearly didn’t earn the trust of head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Jeff Haynes/Associated Press/Associated Press
Fredette isn't a complete game-changer, but his range beyond the arc is very valuable.

But this summer, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Fredette hasn't shown great promise as an NBA point guard, though the Knicks could use a change in the backcourt. And even if bringing the ball up doesn't work with Fredette, New York can make him a platoon shooting guard behind J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Glen Falls, N.Y. native won’t fetch a heavy price and would likely love to play is his home state, even if it is just for the veteran’s minimum.

The Knicks had the league’s 20th overall offense last season, and Fredette—a career 40.1 percent shooter from three-point land—could give New York a boost off the bench next year.

 

Jan Vesely

I guess you can say that Vesley gets up. Just a little bit.

The Knicks need an influx of youth, height and athleticism. Jan Vesely brings all those assets to the table.

The former sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations that he set for himself—after being selected, he called Blake Griffin “the American Jan Vesely,” per SB Nation’s Mike Prada—but he's still got a high ceiling.

The Washington Wizards traded Vesely to the Denver Nuggets at this year's trade deadline, but the three-year veteran continued to struggle to find his footing. Having never averaged more than five points or five rebounds in a season, Vesely’s free-agent stock will be relatively low.

And that’s why the Knicks could take a flier on him.

Ned Dishman/Getty Images
Vesley soars for a dunk as Bargnani's feet appear cemented to the court. Oh, Bargs.

Stoudemire and Bargnani aren’t reliable at the power forward position, and neither of them are supremely athletic. But Vesely, though he’s far from being mentioned in Griffin’s league, is an athletic freak and could give the Knicks some electrifying minutes off the bench.

Before the trade, Wizards star John Wall raved about the 6'11" forward’s athleticism on ESPN radio. As reported by Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post in late January:

That’s what Vesely does. Man, we’ve seen him do some crazy things in practice that doesn’t make no sense, that you’d never think he would be able to catch. So when we’re in the game, I love when he’s in the game with me. I always feel like if I get the opportunity — if I see him ahead of anybody, or running along somebody — I feel like he’ll win the battle with them if I throw it up there.

New York leaned far too heavily on small-ball last year, mostly due to the fact that the team was essentially void of reliable size.

By acquiring Vesely, the Knicks would get younger, bigger and more athletic for a presumably rock-bottom price.

 

Andrew Bynum

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
If anyone can get Bynum's act together, it's the Zen Master.

Now we’re talking.

Before I start getting beaned with a cloudburst of tomatoes, I get it—believe me, I get it.

Andrew Bynum has done more than enough to discourage the Knicks, and any other NBA team for that matter, from touching him with a 10-foot pole.

A bowling injury kept him sidelined for his lone season with the Philadelphia 76ers. He got the boot for excessively clowning around at Cleveland Cavaliers practices earlier this year. He collected a $1 million check for playing two games with the Indiana Pacers.

Over the course of his years away from the Los Angeles Lakers, Bynum has absolutely shattered his reputation as an elite center. But there was a time when he was with L.A. that Bynum was, according to Shaquille O’Neal in 2012, “the best big man in the game.”

During a three-year span from 2009-2012, the former Laker dropped 15 points and nine boards a night while playing a sizable role in two championship runs.

Do you remember who coached those championship Laker teams? Some guy named Phil Jackson. You may have heard of him.

Per ESPN New York on May 23:

[Bynum’s] reputation and career seems to be in need of repair after the injuries and drama over the past two seasons. If anyone can get him back on track, it’s Phil Jackson, whom Bynum enjoyed success with in Los Angeles.

Derek Fisher, Bynum's former teammate with Los Angeles, is a strong candidate for the Knicks' head coaching vacancy.

Over the course of his four years playing alongside Bynum, the crafty Fisher has likely seen what works and what doesn't to get through to the big man from a coaching standpoint.

And he, along with Jackson, would conceivably be able to maximize the potential still embedded in the 26-year-old.

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
That's some look PJax has going on as he talks with Bynum. Sweet flops.

New York just missed out on landing Bynum after he was spurned by the Cavs, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. So clearly, even without Jackson's presence, the team had shown interest despite all of the baggage that comes along with the 7-footer.

Signing Bynum would be a Hail Mary, full-court shot of a move for the Knicks.

But if it works, and Bynum reverts back to the player that he was under Jackson in Los Angeles, the payoff will be immeasurable.

 

All stats used are courtesy of Basketball Reference. Contract information was taken from HoopsHype.

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