With free agency rapidly approaching, the New York Knicks who are endlessly criticized for their train wreck of an organization, need to make a splash if they want to quiet the media down.
After Latvian Kristaps Porzingis was chosen with their fourth pick in the draft, some fans claimed to have given up on their beloved team. Also, sports commentator Stephen A. Smith, accused President Phil Jackson of bamboozling the fans, ripping the draft decision to shreds via Twitter. It is no secret there is doubt in the hearts of Knicks fans everywhere, but how can there not be when news of Jeremy Lin possibly returning is surfacing. However, rumors have been circulating at warp speed in the past few weeks, whether it be talks of the Los Angeles Lakers trading their draft pick for Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins or the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler wanting to sign a one-year deal with the Lakers. Nothing is for certain and Knicks fans will just have to remain patient, as impossible as it may seem, but there are some more obvious free agency strategies available on the chessboard.
News recently came to light that veteran David West of the Indiana Pacers is likely to sign with the Knicks this off-season and was aware of this probability before he opted out of his contract. An interesting move, but certainly not detrimental to the Knicks. Averaging 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds last season, not only would the 35-year-old produce some solid numbers, but he would provide a much-needed veteran presence on the court and in the locker room. During the Knicks’ 2012-2013 season, in which they were eliminated in the eastern conference semifinals, the veteran leadership was heavy and there was undeniable camaraderie between teammates. Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, and Jason Kidd were among the vets. With Carmelo Anthony not yet adept at the leadership position, and West considered the heart of the Pacers, he would be an excellent addition to teach a primarily young team the art of professionalism.
Also, West would provide a physical toughness and quality defense that the Knicks also lack tremendously.
It has also been speculated that Detroit Pistons big man,Greg Monroe, wearing a Knicks jersey next season was a sure thing, until recently. Monroe wants to sign with a team that is ‘ready to win’ and the Knicks seem a far ways off from doing so, unless the Zen Master can convince him he is the missing ingredient to a playoff ready recipe. Though he lacks defensive prowess, he is certainly a threat and can give the Knicks a double-double every night. It is no secret a big man is on the Knicks’ high priority list. LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trailblazers and Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies would be ideal pickups at this position and are the big prizes of this upcoming free agency, but the two are likely to sign elsewhere. Returning to hometowns seems to be a trend in the NBA, so Texas-born Aldridge is likely to sign with either the San Antonio Spurs or the Dallas Mavericks, and Gasol has lived in Memphis most of his life. He is expected to resign with the Grizzlies, a team that always seems to be in contention.
If the Knicks do acquire West and Monroe, they would be pretty stacked in the front court. There are plenty of guards on the current roster including Jerian Grant, who was acquired in a trade sending Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks. The only concern left would be a solid backup for Carmelo Anthony at small forward. Let us not forget about Thanasis Antetokounmpo, whom the Knicks may or may not bring up from the D-League. There is also free agent DeMarre Carroll of the Atlanta Hawks, who can alternate between guard and forward and would be a very good look for the Knicks.
There is big money here in New York, 27 million to be exact, but will it be enough to sign the guys who can turn things around for the Knicks?
A better question: Is immediacy what Jackson is searching for to compliment an aging Carmelo with a massive contract, or should Knicks fans consider the Porzingis pickup proof that Jackson is actually trying to build through the draft and create this team with an eye towards the future?