As I sit here and watch the dismantling of the 2010-2011 edition of the New York Knicks by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the quarterfinals, my thoughts drift to what the team needs to do to improve their roster going into next season.
The first thing that constantly pops up is a big man, a center.
Of course, this is assuming that there will be a next season, as the rumblings have been growing louder that a lockout is coming, and one that very well could get nastier then the current labor situation the NFL finds itself in.
The Knicks will have only one restricted free agent, seldom-used forward Derrick Brown. Six other Knicks will be unrestricted free agents, three of whom have seen time at center this season, none of which are irreplaceable:
- Shelden Williams
- Jared Jeffries
- Ronny Turiaf (Player option)
Of this group, one would assume that Turiaf will not opt out of his contract, as he genuinely seems to be enjoying his time in New York.
The Knicks need to add size and depth to bolster their bench and interior.
Without further adieu, here are five big men in the NBA who could find themselves learning to hate New York traffic the same way the rest of us do.
What do you think Knicks fans?
If nothing else, he is consistent, and someone the Knicks could count on night in and night out.
About to celebrate his 30th birthday next month, Dalembert is tenacious on the boards and can cause havoc for the opposition when they drive the lane, forcing them to redirect their shots or make an errant pass.
With ties to the New York area already (he attended Seton Hall University in New Joisey), he could be the perfect fit to fill the gaping black hole that is the starting center position in the Knicks lineup.
Whether or not the Knicks could actually afford to sign Dalembert is another story altogether—he made just over $13 million this season and while he's not worth that kind of money, I'd imagine he'll command somewhere in the $8-$10 million range.
Josh McRoberts is another developing young player coming off his rookie contract. Only 24, the 6'10", 240-pound Duke product averaged 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds on almost 53 percent shooting from the floor.
With the emergence of Tyler Hansbrough in Indiana, McRoberts could be the odd man out. He has great hands and the ability to make clean passes, something that has been lacking from recent Knicks big men.
While his defense is suspect, his conditioning needs work, and his free throw shooting is Chris Dudley-esque, McRoberts still has room for improvement and would be a welcome addition.
His salary this year was $885,000, so the salary cap implications would be minimal.
I'd put the chances of Davis not re-signing with the Celtics at about 10 percent.
After angering their locker room with the trade of Kendrick Perkins, it would be very surprising if Danny Ainge didn't make re-signing Big Baby a priority.
But he is a unrestricted free agent, and James Dolan likes to spend money, so you never know.
Davis is a lunatic on the offensive glass. He has an excellent mid-range jumper, something the Knicks sorely missed from their big men this season.
Davis may only be 6'9", but he is surprisingly athletic for someone who weighs close to 300 pounds. On defense, he uses his size and strength to effectively guard taller opponents.
Only 25, Big Baby will be looking for a significant increase from his $3 million salary this season.
Only 24, this big Russian import (7'1", 280 pounds) is not a starting center. He is not a finished product.
In limited action with the Jazz this season before breaking his hand, he averaged an underwhelming two points, two rebounds and 0.3 blocks.
But, as we know, the Knicks need size, and Fesenko has that.
He has room for improvement, and at the very least would be a capable second or third center to fill in some minutes and grab some rebounds. He can finish around the rim but his post moves lack refinement.
Making just over $1 million this season, he would be a relatively inexpensive investment.
I know, I know. French centers and the Knicks go together like Reggie Miller and the Knicks—the fans can't stand them.
But Ajinca could change that.
He's 22 years old, 7'2, 248. His wingspan is almost 7'9".
Alexis is raw—very raw. But he has a mid-range shot, he can block shots, rebound, and has tons of upside.
He made almost $1.5 million this season, so like McRoberts and Feseknko, he's a relatively inexpensive signing.