Our roster is thin. Okay, we all knew that.
Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler can fill two of the starting spots.
But those two are better suited getting a solid 25-30 minutes off the bench than having to run them ragged. They are both young and cannot be expected to play 35-40 minutes a game for a full 82-game season.
Some Knicks fans/analysts suggest Toney Douglas could be our starting PG this upcoming season. We shouldn’t demand starter’s minutes out of this kid. I’d rather see Douglas get solid minutes off the bench than to wear him down.
Those are the players we have that are going to get significant minutes next year. We do have a couple of other guys that could be on the opening-day roster.
Eddy Curry has a player-option, but he is not going to opt-out. Curry will be on the roster, but it's hard to see him getting minutes in a Mike D’Antoni offense.
Management also has team options on Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens, both acquired in the Nate Robinson deal. Walker should get 10-15 minutes/game (or more if he steps-up) if the Knicks retain him. And it's hard to see the Knicks bringing back J.R. Giddens for the $1 million they would have to pay.
So the Knicks have to fill somewhere between two and five starting positions with roughly $35 million in cap space.
There is also a huge wild card not being discussed here: James Dolan.
If Dolan is willing to amass a Lakers, Celtics, or Mavericks-sized payroll then maybe the Knicks could sign all of the players that are about to be mentioned.
But the following is being taken in to consideration with the NBA salary cap, and assuming we don’t destroy it.
Key 2009-10 Stats: 23.1 ppg, 56 FG percentage, 1 apg/2.6 TO
Most Knicks fans see Amar’e wearing the blue and orange. His history with D’Antoni and skepticism over attracting other the top free agents gives Knicks fans all the proof they need.
Amar’e is a talented basketball player. He is one of the most skilled big men when it comes to putting the ball in the basket.
He is not worth the maximum level contract he will be seeking. That’s the sort of a bottom-line statement.
Doesn’t play defense. Nearly at all. Amar’e might score 30, but he likely gave up 22 (or more).
Doesn’t pass. For a guy that has the ball in his hands so much to average one assist/game over 82 games is shameful.
Injury History. I’ll give him credit. Amar’e has played a couple of full seasons, unlike other players with injury histories. But the surgery he went through will be a red flag throughout his career.
Finally, Amar’e has played with future Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash for six years. This has undoubtedly improved his stats. But aside from the numbers, one can’t assume the Knicks will have a playmaker nearly as good as Nash to facilitate Stoudemire’s talent.
Key 2009-10 Stats: 19.5 ppg, 56 FG percentage, 11.2 rpg, 3.2 apg
Several weaknesses in Stoudemire’e game are actually strengths in Boozer’s game.
Boozer plays solid defense. He may not block or prevent shot attempts, but he can make them difficult by moving players away from the basket and playing physical defense. He is also an above-average passing big man.
Those are two things Boozer’s agent is currently selling Pat Riley and Rod Thorn.
What I’m selling (or giving away):
His selfish attitude.
During his tenure in Utah, Boozer made several public comments about wanting a hefty extension from the Jazz. When Utah GM Kevin O’Connor balked, Boozer publicly said he would exercise his player-option to leave the team. He never did.
Lets not forget his Cleveland debacle. He convinced Cavs management to make him a restricted free agent in order for them to be rewarded with a new contract. Boozer used the opportunity to skip town for a better offer in Utah.
His injury history. Boozer has missed 50+ games in a season twice in his career. And he has an additional season where he missed 30+ games. Can’t depend on a guy like that to be the cornerstone of a team.
Key 2009-10 Stats: 21.3 ppg, 4.9 apg, 4.6 rpg
JJ is the second most popular choice for being Knicks-bound. Johnson is a Boozer-situation. We could use a player like him, but not for the money he is going to want.
Johnson made waves last year by turning down a lucrative extension from the Hawks. Some fans don’t feel that he warrants a max contract. As the best player on a consistent playoff team, he feels that he does.
First, Johnson would alleviate several of our key needs. Ball-handling, distribution, a physical offensive presence.
I can’t even think of too many excuses not to sign this guy. 20-4-4 is almost guaranteed. He plays decent defense. And at 29 years old, he is still in his prime.
The logical reason not to sign Johnson is because he is not good enough to carry the Knicks. He was the best player on a very talented Hawks team, and they hardly did anything to brag about except for improving their regular season record.
Considering the contract he wants will be paying him around $20 million when he is 34... Too steep a price.
2009-10 Key Stats: 15.4 ppg, 2.8 apg, 3.3 rpg
Salmons had a strong finish to the 2009-10 campaign.
He started off slowly with the Bulls, but he quickly asserted himself after being traded to the Bucks. He was arguably the most important part of Milwaukee’s late season playoff run.
Much like Boozer and Johnson, I would like to have Salmons on our roster. He would easily become our starting two guard. He brings a little range to our offensive attack, and arguably becomes our best play-maker.
But I don’t think you can sign this guy.
Salmons will likely be looking for roughly $40 million over four or five years.
Again, Walsh could seek to trade with teams looking to get out from under contracts. Players that immediately come to mind are Mike Dunleavy, Richard Hamilton, Mo Williams, Monta Ellis. Some of these guys have less years on their contract. Some are simply more talented.
Again, it's not that Salmons couldn’t help our team. Its just the money could be used more wisely.
Key 2009-10 Stats: 20.2 ppg, 54 FG percentage, 11.7 rpg, 3.6 apg
I know. Cold-blooded.
Lee has been amazing while the Knicks have been terrible. A solid 20-10 performer this year, it's easy to see why Lee will be seeking a long-term contract.
It was reported that Lee was looking for somewhere around $10 million per year over five years. Quite an investment.
Since we know Lee personally I won’t flatter him too much. The guy busts his tail. That’s why you sign him.
Why wouldn’t you sign him? A bit more complicated.
Doesn’t play defense. Unlike Amar’e, Lee is trying on defense. Like Amar’e, the results are the same. Watching Lee play defense is eerily similar to watching a matador take on a bull.
Doesn’t change the game. I love Lee. I appreciate a guy who plays hard on a bad team. It’s a difficult thing to do, and he did it. But Lee doesn’t bring anything extra to the table. He cannot dominate offensively and he cannot dominate defensively.
D. Lee has an improving offensive game, and he will likely be averaging north of 15 points-10 rebounds no matter where he lands. But for the same price the Knicks could look at players like Troy Murphy or Antawn Jamison. They bring more to the table for roughly the same amount of money with fewer years on their contract.