ESPN New York beat writer Jared Zwerling is saying that the Knicks plan to fill out the roster with two bigs, two point guards, and a wing. Two PGs seems a bit excessive. I’d be a little surprised if that were the mix. I take a look at some available players who could fill the various roles. I’m not going to include much on the guys we already know (e.g., Kenyon Martin, Jerome Jordan, Chris Smith).
Players are listed in no particular order, with links to each player page at basketball-reference.com. I also think NBA.com has a pretty good free agent tracker.
BACKUP CENTER OPTIONS
- Samuel Dalembert – If you’re looking for a “poor man’s” Tyson Chandler then Dalembert should probably be your top target for the rest of the mini-MLE. The Negatives: He’s 31 and he’s been out of shape. Not “Big Snacks” out-of-shape, but he only played 47 games for Milwaukee last season. He got into Scott Skiles notoriously roomy dog house and got benched. The Positives: Despite that, Dalembert had a fairly typical season in 2012–a season the Knicks could sorely use. He shot well (TS: .563), rebounded nicely (O%-14.2, D%-22.9), and wasn’t far off his career avg. for blocks (5.1 vs. 5.6%). Overall: This guy is about as good as there is in traditional centers if you’re not looking for upside. There may eventually be some comp from other playoff teams but it hasn’t emerged yet.
- Cole Aldrich - I admit to liking Aldrich when he came out of Kansas. I thought he’d become a Collison-quality big man. The Negatives: Hard to say since he hasn’t gotten much run in the league. I suppose that’s a negative. Statistically he’s been a bit of a turnover machine, but so are a lot of bigs who don’t get consistent minutes. He’s hardly old at 25 this season, but you can’t really play the upside card anymore. The Positives: His excellent college rebounding and shot-blocking have translated to limited minutes in the NBA. This guy just needs a little run. Overall: Aldrich could be a Jeremy Lin-style find. I’m NOT talking Lin-level talent, but just a useful guy that probably fell between the cracks. It’d be hard to argue with Aldrich on a minimum contract.
- Elton Brand - I have to say, Brand may be getting a little too much love from the Knick faithful. The Negatives: His rising fouls per 36 (4.5/36 last season) are a major red flag. As is his declining efficiency. He’s been a below average to awful shooter for most of the past five seasons. He was nuclear winter cold in Dallas in just 21 MPG. The Positives: On defense he still rebounds and blocks shots. I love that. He’s still a useful passer, even though his assist rate has declined. Overall: For the kind of money we’re talking he’d be an okay signing. I just think we can do about as well or better for probably the same money. We signed four old guys last off-season and got, oh, about a quarter-season’s worth of actual backup for Chandler.
- Brandan Wright - The Negatives: He is an undersized center (not power forward) in the extreme. He is listed at 6’9″ and #205 on BB-reference. He played a career high 64 games last season, his fifth. The Positives: There is a lot to like if you understand what you’re getting. Wright is a consistently good shooter (career .594 TS) and rebounder at both ends (O%-9.1; D%-16.4). He even blocks a couple shots (2.3/36). Overall: A portion of the mini-MLE seems to be precisely what he’s worth, but the market for him seems deeper. He’s on everybody’s list as a guy they’d like to get cheap. Someone seems destined to overpay.
- Timofey Mozgov – The rumor mill has it that Mozgov has interest from Russia on a four year deal, which means he’s not likely on NY’s radar.
- Greg Stiemsma – The Negatives: He was just turrbull on offense for Minnesota, who waived him, after good rookie season with Boston. He does not appear to have an NBA-quality offensive skill. The Positives: I see a Jared Jeffries-type, who rebounds, plays good position defense, and can even block a shots (3.2/36). He could be a decent end-of-bench vet if, for instance, paired with another big man that can score. Someone like…
- Josh Harrellson – Yeah, we all know what Jorts brings to the table. But you may not know he went for 30 and 23 for Chongqing FD (China) earlier this month.
- Byron Mullens – The Negatives: He seems like a crappier version of what Bargnani is now. He took over five triples/36, hitting only 31.7%. He didn’t do much else and Charlotte gave up on him. The Positives: He’s an okay defensive rebounder and can pass a bit. Overall: The Lakers are sniffing around. I have little interest in bidding for this guy.
- Chris Wilcox – The Positives & Negatives: He shot the bejeezus out of the ball for Boston last year, but did so on basically career-low minutes and usage in only 61 games. I have always liked Wilcox, but I think you’re a fool if you pay him above the minimum.