Knicks monitoring NBA players in China

February, 1, 2012
2/01/12
4:31
PM ET
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- With the Knicks struggling, Baron Davis' return further delayed due to soreness in his back and the team still having a $2.5 million exception to spend, Mike D'Antoni said Glen Grunwald will likely explore Plan Bs just in case.

One of those areas of interest is in China, where four key NBA players have been competing since the lockout. They include free agents J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler and Aaron Brooks. Regarding those players overseas, D'Antoni said:

"I think those are things you monitor. I think those are things you keep your eye on. If it makes sense, we'll do it in a heartbeat. If it doesn't make sense, then we'll take a pass. And there will be speculation that we're looking for this guy, we're looking for that guy. But we'll do our due diligence and do everything that we can to make the team as good as we can make it. But we're not just going to panic and just take somebody that just doesn't fit. It just doesn't make sense. We can't do that."

Martin and Smith are the most feasible options for the Knicks because they're both unrestricted free agents. Smith, who's a New Jersey native, tweeted this on Jan. 12: "I wonder what it's like to play on broadway? #hmmmmm!" It's unclear how much contact, if at all, the Knicks have had with Smith, who would be an immediate scoring spark off the bench. He's hot right now. He just went for 60 points (14 3-pointers) in a Chinese playoff game.

Regarding Martin, he's expected to make a decision about which NBA team he'll sign with this weekend, according to Yahoo! Sports. The 12-year veteran's suitors include the Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Hawks, who have all expressed interest in signing him. Carmelo Anthony has reportedly said he'd welcome Martin, a former Nuggets teammate, to New York. The biggest question mark is his conditioning level. Word is, he looked a bit sluggish in China and didn't have the same explosiveness as he's shown in the past. He is, after all, 34 years old.

While Chandler would, and always be, welcomed back in New York, he's a restricted free agent who the Nuggets really want back. Chandler could be the final piece to what they're building in Denver this season. And even if he doesn't land there, he'll be highly sought after for a hefty price. In fact, the Raptors are reportedly planning to offer him a large contract.

The Knicks' best current option out of the Chinese collection is Brooks because he's a point guard and his salary demands could be on par with their mid-level exception. In 2010-11, he only earned a shade over $2 million. But, like Chandler, he's a restricted free agent. Also, with Steve Nash turning 38 next week and being that he'll be unrestricted this summer, the Suns may not want to lose the younger 27-year-old Brooks, who averaged 10.7 points and 3.9 assists in only 21 minutes last season.

Which NBA player in China would you prefer? Leave us your comments below.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

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Carmelo Anthony
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OTHER LEADERS
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