The draft marked the symbolic end of a week so blah that Indiana and Golden State saw more drama. In truth though, it has been an important week for New York if a boring one. Nothing really happened, but the stage is set for some potentially good outcomes.
Amid a chorus of boos, face palms and Scooby-Doo faces, the Knicks selected Kostas Papanikolaou, a forward in Greece’s top pro league. I suspect that fan reaction was just animosity toward an unfamiliar name. Odds are that Papanikolaou will take his place in the annals of European would-be 2nd round steals, right alongside Maciej Lampe, Slavko Vranes, and Milos Vujanic, assuming he ever makes it to New York. I cannot speak intelligently about young Mr. Papanikolaou’s upside, but this seemed like the perfect draft-and-stash opportunity so Grunwald didn’t overthink it. Good for him. Little point in adding more specialists or limited upside/undersized guys to this roster.
In what is perhaps an under-reported story, Amare Stoudamire (evidently when he’s not tweeting) will be enlisting in Camp Olajuwon this summer. My initial impression is to say that this sort of thing only matters at the margins, if at all. But Stoudemire’s decision to consult Olajuwon is encouraging on its face. For many aging/injured stars, an unwillingness to make concessions new limitations is a bigger problem than the actual limitations. Stoudemire may no longer be a cloud-piercing athlete, but he’s plenty athletic enough to be a hugely important piece of a top four seed in the East. I just hope that 75% of his time with Olajuwon is spent on defensive footwork.
Of course, the big story is the settlement between the league and NBA Player’s Association on “Bird Rights” for waived players. The settlement likely allows NY to return last season’s roster in tact and add some much-needed backcourt depth without exceeding the tax threshold. NY is likely to concentrate on re-signing its own players, and perhaps bring in a backup guard in trade/free agency. OJ Mayo hitting the unrestricted market may benefit NY by pushing another guy down into the mini-MLE/veteran minimum range.