New York Knicks: Which Bench Players Are Worth Keeping?

Matt WolfsonContributor IIIJuly 28, 2011

New York Knicks: Which Bench Players Are Worth Keeping?

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    In the depression of the NBA lockout, many of us analyze which stars fit best on which teams.

    We get so caught up in conversations over the few that we often forget about the many.

    Everyone seems to complain about what was given up in acquiring Carmelo Anthony, which was a necessary trade that left the New York Knicks depleted of role players and help off the bench.

    In moving forward, the Knicks have most, if not all, of the big pieces they'll need.

    Now, it's time to take a look at the smaller pieces.

    As Colin Farrell's character in the new movie Horrible Bosses said, the Knicks need to "trim the fat."

    Unlike Farrell, I don't mean that they need to fire the fat people (mainly because Eddy Curry was already traded), but they do need to get rid of the players who are weighing them down.

    Perhaps the best example of the Knicks' depth struggles came during game two of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics.

    Amar'e Stoudemire went down with a back injury, and 'Melo was forced to play every grueling minute of the second half.

    Unable to take even a minute rest, Anthony was worn out in the closing plays of the game, as he almost carried the Knicks to victory by his lonesome.

    With just a little help for Anthony, the Knicks could've done a lot more damage.

    The Knicks of the '90s had two Sixth Man Award winners, with Anthony Mason in '94-'95 and John Starks in '96-'97, so fans can recall the importance of having a deep roster.

    It isn't the sexiest topic, but it is one that needs to be visited.

    Here are the players that came off the bench for the Knicks last season and how they will fit into the team's scheme next season.

Toney Douglas

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    What He Brings to the Table

    As a backup point guard, and sometimes shooting guard, Toney Douglas was probably the most relevant name off the Knicks bench.

    He was often the first reserve to come into the game, averaging a bench-high 24 minutes per game.

    There's not much to complain about when it comes to TD's performance—he's a very complete bench player.

    Douglas is an exciting scorer, which serves well in D'Antoni's offense.

    Also, he's a great defender, something unusual on a D'Antoni team.

    If there's any problem with Douglas, it's that he goes through streaks of shooting too much at times, which can be annoying.

    Is He Worth Keeping?

    Toney Douglas is definitely worth keeping.  

    He's due to make just over one million dollars next season, and he's a great, cheap option to play about half of each game.

    However, rookie Iman Shumpert has earned the nickname "Toney Douglas 2.0," so they may use either one of them as trade bait.

    It'll be interesting to see how the Knicks juggle the two guards off the bench.

Shawne Williams

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    What He Brings to the Table

    I was skeptical of Shawne Williams at first, but he quickly changed my mind.

    The Knicks were his third team in four seasons, and his numbers before last season weren't exactly promising.

    In his 15 games with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2008-09 season, Williams shot 17 three pointers, and made just one.

    He has been arrested on two separate instances for possession and selling of drugs, which is never a good sign.

    But last season, Williams turned it around.

    He shot 40 percent from three point range and spreads the floor incredibly well with that corner three he loves so much.

    Is He Worth Keeping?

    Shawne Williams is worth keeping for the right price.

    He made just over $800,000 last season, and for a similar price, he would be great to bring back.

    I have a feeling that we haven't seen Williams maximize his skills, and his ability to play big while still threatening on the perimeter is very uncommon.

Bill Walker

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    What He Brings to the Table

    This K-State grad was a nobody on the Celtics bench until he was shipped to the Garden in the Nate Robinson trade.

    When the Knicks got Boston's 12th man, I didn't have high hopes, or even expect that he'd play more than garbage minutes.

    His 4.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game don't really explain his contribution, as he played just 12 minutes a night, and he was useful in his time.

    At 11.35, his player efficiency rating is a few points below the league average of 15, which is definitely acceptable for a guy who gives you 12 minutes off the bench.

    Is He Worth Keeping?

    Walker is on contract for next season at around $900,000—an acceptable rate.

    His intensity is what keeps him in the league, but like Toney Douglas, sometimes he shoots too much and hangs on to the ball for too long.

    If Bill Walker is kept towards the end of the bench, his minutes could continue to be worth something.

Jared Jeffries

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    What He Brings to the Table

    Jared Jeffries doesn't bring much to the table.

    The Knicks brought him back from the Houston Rockets to help fill the defensive hole that Timofey Mozgov left in the frountcourt. 

    This didn't work as well as planned, with Jeffries averaging just two points and three rebounds in 19 minutes in his return to the Garden.

    He brings no offense to the court, which gets very frustrating, very quickly.

    Is He Worth Keeping?


    Get Jared Jeffries away from this team.

    Those who defend Jared by claiming that his solid defense makes up for his poor offense must have lost their argument after he came back to New York.

    He may have slowed opponents down at one point, but he surely didn't do it this past season.

    Let's just put it this way: Jared Jeffries plays about as well as he pulls off that fedora—very poorly.

    If you need any more convincing, just watch this.

Shelden Williams

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    What He Brings to the Table

    Mr. Candace Parker was a throw-in player in the 'Melo deal, and played decently in his extremely limited minutes.

    He is 6'9" with a 7'4" wingspan, which Jay Bilas forced me to mention, and plays like a small center off the bench.

    There isn't much else to say about Shelden, but as simply put it, he's "...a modestly big body with six fouls to use on Dwight, KG (whom he played with last year), and/or Bosh."

    He often looked like a solid defensive option, but that might just be because of who the other options were at center.

    Is He Worth Keeping?

    Williams isn't on contract for next season, and I could take him or leave him.

    If they can sign him for an extremely cheap price, and if he wouldn't be taking a spot from a better player, then it might be a smart move.

Anthony Carter

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    What He Brings to the Table

    Anthony Carter is another veteran acquired in the Carmelo trade.

    He's made a living off mopping up minutes at point guard since 1999, and has flown under the radar his entire career, ever since going undrafted out of Hawaii.

    He is most remembered in blue and orange as the old guy who almost beat the Celtics in game four.

    Aside from that, he doesn't do much. sees Carter as, "...a limited offensive player. He is not a point guard who will make the jaw dropping pass or direct the offense."

    Also, since being traded to the Knicks, he hasn't missed a single free throw, which is kind of cool.

    Is He Worth Keeping?

    If the Knicks are trying to be a serious championship contender, Anthony Carter probably isn't the kind of player who should be collecting minutes.

    He's old and stocky, which isn't going to help the Knicks much. His lack of speed might be the opposite of what Mike D'Antoni needs.

    Oh, and as for game four against the Celtics? He scored just 11 points.

Derrick Brown

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    What He Brings to the Table

    There isn't much to say about Derrick Brown because he only played eight games for the Knicks last season.

    His numbers scream mediocrity (4.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG), but had a few positive notes on Brown: "At a lanky 6-8, he has great size for the SF position, has transferred his game effectively to the perimeter, very explosive leaper, a southpaw, which gives him an unorthodox offensive game."

    His two seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats didn't leave much of an impression.

    Is He Worth Keeping?

    The Knicks are paying Brown just over one million dollars next season, which will give him time to prove what he can do.

    On one hand it appears that he isn't talented enough for a team that wants to take it the next level, but we really just don't know yet.

    Scouts claim that he has a good sense of team, and it should be interesting to see if he can bring that off the bench next season.

Ronny Turiaf

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    What He Brings to the Table

    Ronny Turiaf was the Knicks starting center for a portion of the season, and did a decent job at it.

    He's more of forward than a center, but he stepped up sporadically when he was needed.

    Sometimes he flashed the tools that a starting center needs to have, but then he'd follow it up with several games of disappointment.

    His most notable game this past season was on January 11th on the road against the Portland Trailblazers.

    With Amar'e in foul trouble, Turiaf turned in a 19/10 performance in a 14 point rout.

    He would score in double digits just twice for the remainder of the season.

    Is He Worth Keeping?

    Turiaf's $4 million contract isn't breaking the bank, but it is one of those that will need to be corrected by the lockout.

    He is a great personality to have, but isn't the center of the Knicks' future.

    Ronny is likable, has a ton of intensity and is definitely good enough to relieve Amar'e and the starting center when needed, but hopefully it will be at a lower price after next season.

Renaldo Balkman

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    What He Brings to the Table

    I debated not including Renaldo Balkman, because if you think that he is a solution for the future, than I have nothing for you.

    Then again, if Derrick Williams gets a slide, so does Balkman.

    He averaged one point per game and didn't play enough to show how little he was needed.

    Is He Worth Keeping?

    In a word: no.

Andy Rautins

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    What He Brings to the Table

    There are no pictures of Andy Rautins with the Knicks.

    In the deepest sports photo bank ever created, where there are piles of choices of which Renaldo Balkman picture to use, there were zero options for Andy Rautins.

    He scored a total of eight points this season and sat an awful lot.

    His main function is being best friends with Landry Fields, which looks like fun.

    Is He Worth Keeping?

    If only for continuing the Andy and Landry Show, yes.