For many New York Knicks fans the much anticipated off-season of 2010 begins July 1st. However, what the Knickerbockers do at the June 24th NBA Draft could prove to be huge in what happens with free agency.
While there is not a crazy buzz surrounding the Knicks who hold two second round picks (38th and 39th overall) in this draft; the Knickerbockers need to add rotation ready players. Rumors, have already been swirling that General Manager Donnie Walsh will look to trade one of his second round picks along with cash to move into the first round. However, no matter whom the Knicks draft they must get players who can provide solid minutes off the bench in head coach Mike D'Antoni's rotation.
With New York hoping to allure two max free agents this summer it is imperative that they sell free agents on the supporting cast they potentially will be playing with. The Knicks already have some intriguing young talent with Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Toney Douglas. All three young players could be nice role players to complement two superstars and their development will only increase playing with two of the top players in the NBA.
The Knicks also found a rotation player in Bill Walker last season who was acquired in the trade-deadline deal which sent Nate Robinson to Boston. Both D'Antoni and Walsh were very high on Walker at the end of the regular season and loved his work ethic. The athletic Walker has shown even more dedication as he has already dropped 27 pounds this off-season and is expected to to resign with the Knicks this summer.
Another player who sparked the Knicks at the end of last season on a 10-day contract was Earl Barron. The former D-Leaguer showed intesity on the defensive end along with the ability to stretch the floor with his midrange shot. Both Barron and Walker proved they can contribute to a rotation on the NBA level and the Knicks need to find either another Barron or Walker in this draft.
Don't expect New York to hit a home run and find an immediate impact player in the second round in this draft. Expect D'Antoni to look for pieces that can play in his uptempo offense while filling positions of need. Knickerbocker fans should look for the Knicks to take a chance on a big man, point guard or combo guard.
Reportedly the Knicks are extremely high on Nevada point guard Armon Johnson because of his size at 6-3 and ability to get to the basket. With his shooting ability he could look great in orange and blue. Another guard of interest include Maryland's Greivis Vasquez who after playing four years for the Terps appears to be ready for the next level. As far as big men go, if the Knicks stay in the second round they make take a chance on 7-foot-1 German center Tibor Pliess who they also have shown strong interest in.
Walsh has made it clear that he is looking to move up into the first round in order to grab another rotation ready player that would be attractive to a major free agent. The Knicks GM has the right mindset here in understanding how important this draft albeit a non-lottery pick will be important for the Knicks if they want to make a big splash this summer.
If the Knicks are high on a player that they think may be gone at the end of the first round and they believe that player can crack their rotation for next season then there should be no hesitation to trade one of their picks along with a few million dollars to move on up. This summer is a great opportunity for New York to return to relevancy in the world of basketball and it can all start by adding a key piece at the 2010 NBA Draft.