5 Point Guards Not Named Chris Paul New York Knicks Can Target

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2011

5 Point Guards Not Named Chris Paul New York Knicks Can Target

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    The NBA lockout makes it difficult to predict the future for any team, but in the New York Knicks' case, it is a certainty that they will look for a premiere point guard to direct their offense.

    Chris Paul remains the Knicks' preferred target, but should he prove to be unattainable due to financial and/or asset restrictions, New York will have to turn their sights elsewhere.

    Where will they turn? After all, compared to Paul, almost any other point guard is hardly a satisfying consolation prize. 

    That may be true to a certain extent, but if a Paul and Knicks reunion never comes to fruition, there are a few other options that can be explored through trade or next summer's free agency.

    Paul may be Plan A, but it never hurts to have an effective Plan B as well.

Ramon Sessions

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    You get the feeling that Ramon Sessions does not factor into the Cleveland Cavaliers' long term plans, and the fact that the Knicks have expressed interest in him in the past makes him a good target.

    Sessions averaged 13.3 points and 5.2 assists per game in Cleveland last season, numbers that would be sure to rise in Mike D'Antoni's high octane offense. He is a great playmaker and very unselfish, and also can get to the basket with ease.

    Additionally, Sessions runs the floor incredibly well and would only improve the Knicks' ability to score in transition; he is among the quicker guards in the NBA.

    Sessions' jump shot has improved as well, although he still isn't much of a threat from beyond the arc. His defense doesn't hold a candle to Paul's either, but then again, whose does?

    At only 25, Sessions has showed some promise, but has not been in favorable situations that harnessed his skills and enabled him to breach his full potential. Given the opportunity to run an offense though, it is probable Sessions succeeds. 

    That being said, his inexperience in terms of leadership is a concern, and it is unclear what Cleveland's asking price would be for the guard, but he is definitely worth an inquiry.

    Directing an offense with two prolific scorers like Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire is quite a task, but Sessions could be one of the few who are up to the challenge.

D.J. Augustin

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    D.J. Augustin had a quite the third year in the NBA last season, and is also a restricted free agent next summer, making him a player the Knicks could set their sights on.

    Augustin averaged 14.4 points and 6.1 assists for the Charlotte Bobcats last season. He is extremely athletic and very strong for his position. In terms of being a floor general, he is a keen distributor and vocal leader.

    Given his athleticism and quickness, Augustin is another player who would fit in great with the Knicks run and gun offense. He runs the floor well and is adept at scoring in transition.

    The Bobcats are almost certainly going to want to retain Augustin next summer, but if he expresses a desire to leave, or the Knicks make him an offer Charlotte is reluctant to match, he could be had. The team also has two players in Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson who they are high on, meaning they could be open to a trade if Augustin wants to go elsewhere.

    At only 23, yet entering the fourth season of his career, Augustin is the perfect combination of youth and experience. He would certainly be new to winning, but that only serves as motivation, and is something athletes become accustomed to fast.

    Additionally, Augustin's durability goes relatively unnoticed, but is something New York would cherish. He has only missed a total of 12 games over his three years in the NBA, making it clear his body is up to the rigors of the season.

    Acquisitions become a little more complicated when the athlete is a restricted free agent, but if the Knicks are prepared to pull out the stops for Paul, a pitch for Augustin may not seem so bad. 

Jameer Nelson

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    While it is unlikely that the Knicks will be able to make a legitimate trade push for Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson could prove to be a different story.

    If the Orlando Magic accept that Howard is as good as gone, no one on the roster becomes untouchable. Nelson is 29, and if the Magic are in disarray after or leading up to Howard's departure, he may consider bolting at the first chance he gets; Nelson has a player option for the 2012-2013 campaign.

    Nelson averaged 13.1 points and six assists per game last season. He is a great ball-handler and unafraid to attack the basket. His decision making skills are great, which are reflected in his ability to be a superb playmaker.

    Nelson now boasts an approved jump shot, and is even a threat from beyond the arc. Most importantly perhaps, he is an effectively aggressive defender. He uses his strength and quickness to overshadow the fact he is only six-feet tall, which allows him to cover shooting guards as well.

    New York's fast paced system is a great fit for Nelson. He thrives in transition, both offensively and defensively. Additionally, having spent nearly a decade alongside Howard, he knows what it takes to satiate a superstar's appetite, so balancing an offense with both Anthony and Stoudemire won't prove impossible for him.

    The Knicks can wait and see if Nelson plans to opt out, and pursue him next summer via free agency, but if the opportunity arises to enter trade negotiations regarding the underrated floor general, it is one New York would be foolish to pass up.

Steve Nash

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    Steve Nash may be 37, but he still has plenty of swagger left in his step.

    Nash averaged 14.7 points and 11.4 assists per game with the Phoenix Suns last season. He continued to boast one of the best court visions the NBA has ever seen and his stamina is as good as it as ever been.

    Nash is an especially appealing target for New York because he has already played and excelled in D'Antoni's system. His ability to make quick, efficient decisions makes him the perfect candidate to run a seven seconds or less system.

    Additionally, Nash is no stranger to carrying his team. He is a good leader, with an even better head on his shoulders, making him more than capable of balancing an offense that boasts two heralded stars.

    It's no secret that the Knicks have expressed interest in Nash, and while Phoenix has maintained the point guard isn't going anywhere, the Suns' interest in Iman Shumpert leading up to the draft was evident. This gives New York a great starting point in Nash talks.

    Nash is also enticing because not only does he give the Knicks the ability to win now, but his contract comes off the books next summer, just in time for the team to pursue Paul. That being said, it would be justifiable on New York's part to offer a reasonable two-year deal to the veteran and use the rest of their cash to pursue a big man to anchor the low-post.

    Obviously, Nash is not the future point guard five years down the road, but he can serve as more than just a stop gap for the rest of this season.

    And that makes him not only a viable option, but an incredibly attractive one as well. 

Raymond Felton

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    Raymond Felton was quite the loss in the Carmelo Anthony trade, albeit a necessary one.

    Last season, Felton put up a combined 15.5 points and 8.3 assists per game. He exhibited impressive strength, yet exceptional agility, and proved to be one of the hardest working point guards in the league.

    Aside from being a capable scorer and passer, Felton is a solid defender. He is at an advantage in terms of strength for his position, yet doesn't sacrifice anything in speed. This helps him against the Chris Paul's and Deron Williams' of the league.

    New York already knows what Felton is capable of, as he helped lead the resurgence of the team for the better part of last season. He was a phenomenal pick-and-poll partner for Stoudemire and he thrived off the opportunities he was given while opposing defenses were focused on the All-Star power forward.

    Felton can be a little over zealous at times, moving too fast for his own good, but he kept that in check rather well during his tenure with the Knicks. He was a valued workhorse and an athlete that was hard to relinquish, even in exchange for Anthony.

    It is highly unlikely that the Portland Trail Blazers put Felton on the trade block after only recently acquiring him, so any plans to bring him back to the Big Apple would have to wait until next summer. That's okay though because that was the original plan anyway.

    Felton may not hold the franchise altering reputation Paul does, but the Knicks don't need him to. He provides star caliber abilities at a fraction of the cost, and is definitely an old flame New York should rekindle if given the opportunity. 

     

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