Frank Isola of the Daily News is reporting that the Knicks have reached a deal with free agent forward James Singleton.
As a result, Knick power forward Kurt Thomas will be released to make room for Singleton. Thomas will now have surgery on his injured foot. It seems likely that the Knicks waited until it was clear that Thomas would not be able to return to playing this year before they made this move. As we suspected, Thomas’ classic performance against Utah will, in fact, be his last game as a Knick (and likely the last game of his career). He almost certainly will be offered some sort of job with the team. He’s definitely been one of the most memorable and well-regarded Knicks of the past two decades. Let us hope that the Knicks can have his final season end with him receiving a championship ring.
The Singleton deal is likely also one of Grunwald’s patented “sign a guy for the rest of the season with a non-guaranteed contract option for next year and then trade him in the offseason to a team that wants to cut payroll and would deal a useful player for the ability to just release the traded player and get his salary taken off of the books” deals. I have to imagine that the NBA will soon try to close that loophole. Until they do, though, Grunwald is once again smartly exploiting it.
As for this season, I would guess that Singleton is purely front court depth. However, last season he actually played really well for the Washington Wizards at the end of the season after playing two years in China. At the end of the season, the Wizards hedged on bringing him back and he chose to take the definite money he was offered from China. Singleton is the type of guy who has improved his game year after year after going undrafted early in his professional basketball career (his strong play in Italy in 2004, where he played with former Knick Danilo Gallinari, got him to the NBA in the first place). Here is Singleton talking about himself last season on the Wizards:
They teased me sometimes but everyone knows that I’m not the kind of guys that’s going to decline, you know. Every year I get better. I just worked on my game. I spent more than an hour, an hour and a half a day working on my jump shot with the coach that was over there, just working of different parts of my game because China is different than the NBA. Over there, it’s a lot more physical, a lot more dirty play, and they pack the lane over there. I used to be a slasher, so I had to develop a jump shot to be able to do more things. Once that opened up for me, everything just became easy. Right now the NBA is easy to me.
Strong words. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him back them up this season. Would anything really surprise you about this Knicks’ season?
Thanks to Michael Lee of the Washington Post for the Singleton quote!