New York Knicks: 6 Ways to Improve the 2011-2012 Roster
With the 2011 NBA draft over, Knick management will move forward in hopes of landing a few more pieces to enhance their current roster. Currently, The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Chauncey Billups, Ronny Turiaf, Renaldo Balkman, Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Derek Brown, Andy Rautins and Landry Fields under contract. Add to this the signings of both draftees (Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson) and Jerome James waiting in the wings, the Knicks have room for about 4 to 5 additions to the team. Currently the teams needs depth at center, point guard, defense and another scorer/shooter off the bench. Let's take a look at six ways the Knicks can round up their current roster via free agency or trade.
1. Addition by Subtraction
Renaldo Balkman eventually found himself back at the Madison Square Garden in 2011 as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade. The last big game Balkman had at MSG was the one that originally got him drafted by New York when he played for South Carolina. Balkman's posted a 28-point, 16-rebound, 4-steal monster performance in a 67-56 win over Alabama on February 14, 2006 in the NIT's where he was MVP of the tourney. He looked like a man amongst boys with his high flying ways on the court. Let's fast forward 5 years and one must notice that Balkman's paltry career high of only 5pts a game just hasn't cut it in the league. He skill set doesn't seem to have improved over these 5 years to truly warrant keeping him. Management should cut their losses and offer the forward a buyout. Let's just call it addition by subtraction and the Knicks can hopefully replace Balkman with a player who could help out during the 2011-2012 year. Even bringing back the aging Anthony Carter might make sense since he showed he can run the show well and still has some gas left in his tank.
2. Shooters Needed
One of Donnie Walsh's better acquisitions this year was rediscovering and reigniting the career of Shawne Williams. William's deft shooting abilities have made fans forget the shooting horrors of past small forward Shandon Anderson hoisting up threes from the corner and missing most of the time. In the 6' 9" Williams, you had one of the leading 3pt shooters during the 2010-2011 season. The Knicks would be smart to bump him up with a small raise and hope he comes back even more effective than last year. At 25, Williams is still growing as a player and after shooting over 40% from 3pt range during the season and 43% during the playoffs. Even though Williams is a great shooter, he might want to work on his ball handling and conditioning. If Williams chooses to sign elsewhere, other Knick options to look into are James Jones, Reggie Williams or maybe reach a bit for the athletic Thaddeus Young.
3. Size Matters
Amare Stoudemire is a true warrior but for the kind of money New York invested in him, they need to keep him from constantly banging against bigger centers on a constant basis since they lacked one last year. With that in mind, the NBA has a slew of potential big men to throw a couple dollars at for this type of duty. With centers such as Nene Hilario, Tyson Chandler and Marc Gasol probably out of the team's price range, the team will have to look at the B group centers and cross their fingers. The first order of business would be to entice current L.A. Clipper center DeAndre Jordan to join forces with Amare and Carmelo. At 23, Jordan's window for growth is huge as he brings a level of athleticism that few centers can match. He shoots for a very high percentage (60%) since most of his shots are from 8ft and in but on the flip side he shoots a horrendous Chris Dudley like 40% from the free throw line. With the possibility of Jordan staying out West the Knicks could also look at centers Samuel Dalembert, Hamed Haddadi, Aaron Gray, Joel Przybilla or even Greg Oden as possible bigs to bring to Madison Square Garden.
4. Toughness: Hard Hats for Hire
The Knicks lacked a sense of toughness when it mattered and with the off season in full swing, this is the time to bring in the soldiers needed to give the team balance at both ends of the court. Enter Carl Landry, who could be a potential 6th man of the year might he don a New York Knick Jersey this year. Landry is just the type of tough minded workhorse who can play both inside and out. He is a solid defender who just needs to find a home for the next few years. In addition, Landry plays over the rim and has the ability to score in the post and the perimeter.
Media outlets are letting word out that former Knick Kurt Thomas might be in the mix for a return visit to NY. The 39 year old would provide stability on and off the court. Thomas still has a solid knack for defending in the post, rebounding and running the pick and roll. He would be a welcomed addition to the locker rooms as well.
If all fails in acquiring either of these two, the Knicks could always place a call to Kris Humphries, Jeff Foster, Glen Davis, Reggie Evans, Chuck Hayes or Shane Battier for help in these areas.
5. The Next Major Trade
Knick management knows they need to get players for the future and it all seems to often be centered around Chris Paul. Paul would definitely be an upgrade if he dons a Knicks uniform in 2011. While there are other options the Knicks could explore while using Billups as bait: Steve Nash, Brandon Jennings and Tony Parker, Paul is obviously the grand prize. He combination of speed, basketball IQ, defense and toughness is second to none currently in the NBA. Paul's ability to break down the defense and set up teammates would make the Knicks favorites to win the Eastern Conference Title.
6. An Undrafted Gem
The draft provided two potential pieces for Knicks growth in picks Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrelson. With many talents gone undrafted, the Knicks need to continue to use the draft to bring in end-of-the-bench talent that can grow with them and create the type of winning atmosphere that has been brewing on 33rd Street as of late.
Julyan Stone, a 6'5" PG/SG, has great athleticism and length with his 8' 6" reach. He will bring play-making ability, solid defense and a non-stop motor that would be appreciated in NY. He'll also have time to improve his poor shooting skills.
Other non-draftees to consider are: sharp-shooting PF Jamie Skeen; the 6'10", ultra-athletic PF/C Matthew Bryan-Amaning; PF/C Rick Jackson; and the NBA Developmental League's SF Jamine Peterson.