The New York Knicks have a long way to go to be competitive next season, but a few key free-agent signings could make a huge difference going forward.
While the return of a healthy Carmelo Anthony and the addition of rookie Jerian Grant should help improve the roster going forward, No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis is likely a few years away from making a real impact. Add this to a squad that struggled mightily last season, and the likelihood of contending for a playoff spot is low.
However, New York could improve dramatically with the signing of a few quality free agents, and many of them already have some interest in coming aboard. Here is a look at some of the more intriguing names currently linked to the Knicks.
The Knicks are looking at quite a few potential targets to help in the low post, but some of the bigger names might be out of reach. ESPN.com's Marc Stein broke down the various targets available:
Of all these possibilities, however, it appears David West is the most likely to end up in New York, according to Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling:
All of the other options listed appear more likely to head to true contenders in comparison to the Knicks, who finished with the second-worst record in basketball last season. Conversely, West could simply be looking for a chance to get a bigger role on the team after being limited last season with the Indiana Pacers.
The problem is that this move doesn't make a whole lot of sense from the Knicks' perspective. Sure, it would provide the team with a former two-time All-Star who can put up quality stats. At 34 years old, though, he's not the type of player who will truly push the team in the right direction for the future.
West is coming off his worst season in about a decade, his average of 11.7 points per game being his lowest since 2004-05. The power forward is clearly past his prime and represents more of an old-school NBA as a low-post player who can't spread the floor with outside shooting.
Adding West would be better than nothing, but the Knicks shouldn't waste funds on a player who will only provide minimal value going forward.
Although he might not be the big-name player fans are hoping for this offseason, Tobias Harris could end up being a perfect match for the Knicks.
Shams Charania of RealGM.com provided an update on the restricted free agent, noting New York isn't a favorite but remains in the hunt:
As Orlando restricted free agent Tobias Harris will pursue a maximum-level offer sheet on July 1 that the Magic possibly won’t match, the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics have emerged as leading candidates for the talented forward, league sources told RealGM. [...]
The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have also been long known as interested teams for Harris.
A projected cost of $15 million per year appears like a lot until you consider Harris averaged 17.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season. His 4.8 win shares, per Basketball-Reference.com, would have easily led the Knicks in 2014-15.
The Long Island native has the versatility to play either small forward or power forward and would likely become fan favorite quickly if he does end up with the Knicks.
It's been a few years since Linsanity, but we could be seeing it again if Jeremy Lin decides to return to the Knicks this offseason.
According to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, New York is interested in a reunion with the 26-year-old point guard:
Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games for the Knicks during the 2011-12 season, although he is best known for his out-of-nowhere stretch in that July. After scoring 25 points in a win off the bench, the Harvard grad totaled 28 points and eight assists in his first career start.
During that February he averaged 20.9 points and 8.4 assists per game.
Although he hasn't replicated this level of success in three seasons with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers, Lin still possesses value as a backup point guard. As long as the price tag isn't exorbitant, this could be a smart signing.
This would be the real prize of the free-agent class for the Knicks if they can get it done. The NBA's leading rebounder could transform the defense with his ability to patrol the paint and protect the rim.
Meanwhile, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Daily News reported DeAndre Jordan might not re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers because of a rift between him and star point guard Chris Paul. Add this to the fact he wants to be "more involved in the offense," and the Knicks could be a perfect fit.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, New York is one of four teams Jordan will meet with in the coming weeks as he decides where he will sign. He added while the Knicks might not be the favorites, this can change in the meetings:
If Jordan wants to have a bigger role within an offense, going to a place that has just one established scorer (Carmelo Anthony) and little else would probably be a good destination. He will not have Paul providing perfect lob passes, but he could have opportunities to advance his low-post game while creating chances for himself.
New York would greatly benefit from an elite defensive player who is still improving at just 26 years old, so the organization should try to do whatever it takes to convince the big man to come to Madison Square Garden.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.