After signing center Jason Smith from the New Orleans Pelicans to a one-year deal, the New York Knicks further cemented a roster for 2014-15 that boasts Carmelo Anthony as the lone star in a solar system orbited by a debris field of uncertainty.
With precious little roster spots or spending money remaining, the Knicks must now target a veteran who will sign for a minimum salary and can help stabilize a team in tumult—one led by a single bona fide star at the mercy of a rookie head coach and rookie team president intent on installing a new offense.
Veterans carry clout, and their presence can make a marked impact on a potentially middling squad, as shown by the roles of Rasheed Wallace and Jason Kidd on the 54-win Knicks of 2012-13.
It's difficult to say what the team needs right now, because so many players on the roster have question marks, including whether J.R. Smith will bounce back and the looming prospect of actual consistency from Iman Shumpert.
Then again, either of their talents could be on the move to another team, according to ESPN New York's Ian Begley, who cited a league source as saying Smith, Shumpert and trade-acquisition guard Shane Larkin have the team "discussing their potential trade options." (But don't worry, Knicks fans: "Tim Hardaway Jr. has been deemed virtually untouchable, per a source.")
This list of the top potential veteran free agents for the Knicks taps players who will actually fit into the Zen Master's regime. Players with behavior issues get disqualified, unless they have previous history with Phil Jackson, Melo or the Knicks, which actually covers the majority of the targets.
First, it is necessary to examine the state of the team, the roster and the budget in order to temper expectations, and then five realistic veteran targets will follow, with a range of splashiness and utility coming from each.