New York Knicks: Thoughts on 10 Possible Solutions at Center
Last season, the New York Knicks vastly improved their overall team. They went from an annual basement-dweller to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The chemistry between the Knicks' two superstars, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, began to develop late in the season, and the Knicks were picked by many experts to upset the aging Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Knicks fans, the Celtics were able to outplay the Knicks and take them in four games.
The playoff-tested Celtics were able to point out two of the Knicks' flaws: The lack of a backup point guard and lack of a true center.
All season, the Knicks were able to outscore their opponents and this led to the team's first winning record in 10 years.
However, they were not an efficient defensive team and they were one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. This is exhibited by their awful team rebounding rate of 47.9, which was good for the third worst in the league.
Both of these flaws were due, in large part, to the fact that the Knicks lack a true center who is capable of starting for an NBA team.
In this slideshow, I have listed 10 players (some of whom are being discussed in the media, while others have not been discussed at all) who may be able to contribute at the center position, and help the Knicks form a more complete team.
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“Jorts,” as he has come to be known, reminds me a lot of another player who will be featured on this list: Ronnie Turiaf.
Like Turiaf, Harrelson stands at 6’10, a tad undersized for an NBA center. Josh also brings a ton of energy with him on the court and can be a solid defender.
However, like Turiaf, Harrelson does not have great offensive talent. He put up just over six points and eight rebounds a game in his senior year. These stats will not blow anybody away, but they prove he can bang with some bigs in the NBA.
I do not think Josh is ready to be an NBA player. He is a little overweight and he has to develop his post game a little.
His tenacity and willingness to learn suggest that a year or two in the D-League or overseas will do this kid wonders and make him into a very important player for the Knicks.
Harrelson will not have an immediate impact for the Knicks, but he will provide the Knicks with an excitable role player for years to come.
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This slide might be a shocker for some people. However, I believe there is a slight chance that the Knicks will find a way to bring the seven-foot Russian back to New York.
He averaged under six minutes a game and never scored more than six points. It seems as if the Nuggets do not believe Mozgov is a valuable player.
I think there is a chance the Knicks might make a trade with the Nuggets to bring Mozgov home. He might only cost a second-rounder and maybe a player like Roger Mason.
If the Knicks bring Mozgov back, I think he can see quite a bit of playing time. I would expect him to sit behind a veteran and get quality minutes like he began to do at the end of his time as a Knick.
He could play up to 25 minutes a game and his large frame and great attitude, he can develop into the rebounder the Knicks desperately need.
This would be a nice addition for the Knicks, but there are no guarantees this will happen. I have not even heard the Knicks express interest in bringing Mozgov back, but it is an intriguing thought.
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Before the lockout, Nenê opted out of his four-year, $50 million extension with the Nuggets.
The Brazilian center is arguably the most refined big man in the entire free agent pool. At 28, he is now entering into his prime. He is a very good defender and would be a great addition to the Knicks if it weren’t for the amount of money he is asking.
If the Knicks pursue Nenê, that will mean that the idea of acquiring Chris Paul in 2012, would virtually be non-existent.
Nenê will likely ask for a deal for about $14 million a year. This would be a major cap hit for the Knicks, and I am not sure if it is worth giving up on Chris Paul.
Nenê is a great player, but he is asking for too much money. He consistently hovers around 14 points and 8 rebounds per game and has had his fair share of injuries in the past.
Therefore, I do not think that Nenê will be a Knick next season.
If they do sign him, thought, they will be immediately considered contenders; however, they will be financially strapped to three players for the next few seasons and all thoughts of a “Big Three” can be abandoned.
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Like Nenê, Gasol would mean the end of a “Big Three” in New York.
Gasol is a restricted free agent and the Grizzlies are very high on his ability. They believe that he is one of the young cornerstones they need to build upon.
Therefore, a team would have to offer an exorbitant amount of money to acquire Gasol.
Gasol is still young and is developing into one of the better centers in the league. He would definitely be a good investment for many teams; however, he is not a dominant player by any means, and he still has to grow as a player.
The Knicks do not need to sink a ton of money into a player who is not fully mature.
Gasol would shore up the center position for the Knicks for many years, but, like Nenê, his contract would prohibit the Knicks from gaining another superstar and in my eyes, it does not seem worth it.
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After Game 2 of the first-round series against the Celtics, many Knick fans have been suggesting that they do not want to see Jared back in the Blue and Orange next season.
This idea blows my mind. Although he froze with the ball in his hands in the final minutes of a big game, it does not mean he can be a valuable role player.
The Knicks can probably sign Jeffries for just over the league minimum. For me, his defensive prowess far outweighs the money that would be needed to bring him back.
The Knicks put too much pressure on JJ last year by starting him towards the end of the season.
If used correctly, he can be an excellent defensive specialist who can help defend some of the better centers in the league. He should be playing about 10-15 minutes a game behind a solid center.
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Ronnie played incredibly hard last season, but he proved that he is not slated to be a starting center in this league.
He brings a ton of intensity off the bench and could be an excellent role player for the Knicks. I would love to see play about 20 minutes a game behind a true starting center.
With Jeffries also coming off the bench, these two might be able to play a little power forward and give Amar’e a few well-needed breaks.
Turiaf is and always has been a true competitor. He is just not a starter in this league.
A combination of him and Jeffries off the bench would be deadly if a true center were starting ahead of them.
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Kurt Thomas was a fan favorite when he played for the Knicks. He also gained the attention of a lot of Bulls fans when he stepped up and played well in the injured Joakim Noah’s spot.
Thomas is another guy who will not blow you away with stats.
However, his knowledge of the position and his time spent in the league can be invaluable to this team.
He can be a leader in the locker room and can mentor the younger big men on this team, all while giving a solid 20 minutes of time a game.
He can also be had for a small one-year contract which will not financially strap the Knicks.
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Dalembert is only 30 years old. He can probably be signed to a one-year deal for about $5 million-$6 million.
He also put up eight points and eight rebounds per game last season. Once again, these stats will not blow you away, but they will get the job done.
Dalembert has also been around for a long time and could be a mentor for some of the younger players on this team.
Samuel can help this team in a lot of ways. He is not the long-term solution, but he would give the Knicks a true center next season.
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The former first overall pick would be an upgrade for the Knicks at center. Last season, he averaged almost eight points and seven rebounds per game.
Those stats might not blow you away, but they would be a significant upgrade over Ronnie Turiaf and Jared Jeffries.
Kwame will not be demanding a large contract, and the Knicks can probably sign him to a one-year deal. A signing like this would be a low risk, high reward kind of deal.
There is almost no downside.
Kwame might thrive in the starting role with New York. He proved last season that he does possess some of the talent that convinced Michael Jordan he was a first overall pick.
Kwame could be exactly what the Knicks are looking for and his tiny contract would not hamper the Knicks' ability to land CP3 next season.
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While many people have not heard his name until the past few weeks, Jerome Jordan had been putting up excellent numbers in the Adriatic League with his team, Hemofarm.
The Knicks acquired the rights to the Jamaican seven-footer by purchasing his rights from the Milwaukee Bucks for half a million dollars.
The Knicks then stashed the “Jamaican Hurricane” in Serbia to continue his development. While playing for Hemofarm in limited minutes, Jordan put up some extremely promising stats. In 15 minutes a game, he scored 7.5 points and grabbed 3.7 boards.
However, his most mind-blowing stat was his astonishing field goal percentage which was 73.5%. While playing on a team with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, shot selection becomes extremely important and it seems as if that will be no problem for Jordan.
To put that in perspective, note that the NBA’s leader in FG% was Nenê and his percentage was 61.5%. Obviously the Adriatic League does not compare to the NBA, but those stats have to excite Knicks fans
Jordan is also no slouch on defense. He holds the Conference USA record for blocked shots, which he set during his time at Tulsa.
Jordan is the future for the Knicks at the center position. He excels on both ends of the court and has the size to match his talent.
In a dream scenario, the Knicks would pair Jordan up with a savvy veteran to split time. However, I think that Jordan will be starting for the Knicks by the All-Star Break.