I thought it’d be good to gather some of the brain trust and ask some questions about what they saw of the Knicks during summer league.
1. The Knicks have invited Jeremy Tyler to training camp. Assuming he makes the team, how many games into the season before Woodson actually trusts him to warrant more than token minutes?
David Crockett: Not before December unless there is injury. One exception. If he starts out playing defense, like Shumpert did, he’ll get some rope. Thing is, we probably need him to score.
Robert Silverman: Welp, assuming that Kenyon Martin or Lamar Odom or John Gianelli or some other veteran PF/C is signed before September, given the Tokyo-subway-at-rush-hour-level jam-packed frontcourt rotation (And yes, I’m including Melo), it’s going to take awhile. Best case scenario is a path similar to that taken by Chris Copeland (<3 n’ miss u, Chris. Don’t let West and Hibbert and those Nap Town bullies push you around and tote chartreuse backpacks and stuff. OUR BABY’S ALL GROWNS UP.). Tyler’ll get a smattering of minutes in lopsided victories/ugly blowouts, before a spate of injuries and/or ineffective play opens up space, probably right before/right after the All-Star festivities.
Mike Kurylo: Either 25 games (how long it took Copeland to see some serious time), or when both Woodson gets sick of Bargnani’s hyalophobia and Amar’e is hanging out with the medical staff. Whichever comes first.
Jeremy Conlin: I’m not sure it’s a question of how long before Woodson trusts him as much as how long before Woodson is desperate enough to play him. As long as Chandler, Amar’e, and Bargnani are healthy, Tyler should probably stay on the bench.
David Vertsberger: To me, Tyler’s first real minutes will come due to desperation. We’re due for another STAT injury, or perhaps someone above Tyler in the depth chart will straight bomb. Assuming Kenyon Martin re-signs, I don’t really see Tyler getting genuine minutes on his own accord.
2. Of the non-Tyler big men (Terrence Jennings, Jerome Jordan, and Eloy Vargas), which should the Knicks take another look at?
David Crockett: My eyes tell me Eloy Vargas, but it’s probably Jordan. Jordan has played well as a professional. So there’s that. Jennings played well but I really wonder how well his game translates. I’m intrigued by Vargas’s overall size and athleticism.
Mike Kurylo: Jennings averaged 2.5 blk/36 in the Dees, and led the team in swats (4 blk) during the summer league. Half of his rebounds were Symbiote Knick misses. Sounds like that “mini-Tyson” the Knicks have been looking for.
Jeremy Conlin: Jordan is probably the best of the group – he’s been strong in summer league and has the D-League track record over the last two years to back it up. Plus, he was with the team in 2012 so at least is vaguely familiar with the system and culture.
David Vertsberger: Vargas looks one-dimensional to me and Jordan has yet to develop much skill since we last saw him, so it’d be Jennings. He was sound at just about everything on the court, and that 7’2″ wingspan makes me smile. I’d actually take him over Tyler.
Robert Silverman: It’s an interesting choice. Each of these bigs offers a fairly unique skill-set. Jennings is a banger/hustler with a decent touch from 15′ and around the rim who tends to get manically flail-y and out-of-control on defense. Vargas is more slight of build but might be the most fundamentally sound defender of the three, and can stroke it from three-point range. Jordan is…long. He was probably the least impressive Knick big at the LVSL, but like the old saying goes, you can’t instruct altitude. If I had my druthers (and I buy mine in bulk at the Costco), I’d opt for Jennings by a hair over Eloy. The fact that ‘Eloy Vargas’ sounds like a character in a Phillip K. Dick novel nearly pushed him over the finish line.
3. After watching summer league, this year Tim Hardaway Jr. will be ____.
David Crockett: “A PERFECTLY ADEQUATE, LEAGUE AVERAGE SG.” (And, many fans will not understand the value of a cheap, league average player.)
Mike Kurylo: “CHUCKING.” Was it me or did Hardaway not see a shot he didn’t like? On one play a big man made a good defensive play and hustled up the court. Normally you feed the gargantuan to reward him for his efforts. Tim-may launched a three. If that happens in November, change my answer to “ON THE BENCH.”
Jeremy Conlin: “DYNAMIC.” Perhaps not very, but before he got hurt he displayed a level of offensive skill exceeding that of many of New York’s wing players from last season (Novak, Kidd, Brewer, James White).
David Vertsberger: “EARL.” Summer League confirmed my belief that Tim Hardaway Jr. on the basketball court is a J.R. Smith clone. High-volume scorer who would best suit his team spotting up and taking advantage of his athleticism on the defensive end, if he actually stuck to it.
Robert Silverman: “ENTICINGLYFRUSTRATING.” Okay, that’s not one word, but I think it does sum up the totality of what will be year one of the THJr experience. The talent is there to be an above average shooting guard/long-time NBA #STARTER. He doesn’t have one aspect of this game that really jumps off the page, and when he tries to do things he’s not particularly suited for — like engaging in his best bit of JR Smith CosPlay, launching off-balance 20 footers — he gets in trouble. As with our fave pipe-offerer, there’ll be delicious highs from Timmy the Younger and plenty of gaffes that will cause the ‘Bocker faithful to use their skulls to dent a desk or two.
4. Who haven’t we mentioned yet that the Knicks fans should hope to see on the roster in November?
David Crockett: Leslie. I see what there is to like. (I didn’t catch much of him in college.) He could still be quite a steal, but he’s got some serious work to do.
Jeremy Conlin: Toure Murry might be worth a longer look. The Knicks were at their best last season with multiple ballhandlers on the floor and Murry could be a good fill-in emergency guard. They’d be better served adding another guard than another big man.
David Vertsberger: Toure Murry! A point guard who can do that, what do you call it? Defense? Yeah, that thing. That’s one of our biggest needs at the moment and thankfully Vegas has one again blessed New York with a gift, Toure Murry.
Robert Silverman: Um…TOURÉ MURRY. This article has been completely Touré Murry-free for who knows how many bytes and therefore is not an internet-based basketball commentary/analysis that I wish to take part in. Good day, sir(s). I SAID GOOD DAY. Hyperbolic gushing aside, Murry’s probably not ready to step in as the Knicks 3rd PG. Bobby “BOBBY!” Brown, Bassy Telfair or possibly someone we haven’t heard in the fervid soup of summer gossip — Beno Udrih, Mo Williams or even Nate? (Probably not Nate) — is gonna snag that plum role. That said, like I babbled about here, he’s an intriguing combo guard prospect, mainly on the defensive side of the ball. Stefhon Hannah really opened some eyes playing for the D-League Select Team. An undersized scoring point (think a quicker Lindsay Hunter), he’s also the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Yes, D-League DPOY, but still.
Mike Kurylo: If Felton gets hurt, and it turns out that Pablo Prigioni is really 53 years old (c’mon that set shot screams “grandpa”), you’ll want Toure Murry on the roster. He was OK in Vegas, and his D-League stats are solid. Also there was this.