BREWER: Say all you want about the Knicks letting Jeremy Lin go, but they've been smart about their money this offseason. They've landed financial steal after financial steal. Jason Kidd (about $3 million per year), Marcus Camby (about $4 million per year) Raymond Felton (about $3 million per year) and now Ronnie Brewer (about $1.4 million for one year). In fact, during Brewer's career in the NBA, his salary went up each season from 2006 to 2012, the last in which he made $4.7 million with the Bulls.
A big part of the reason the Knicks were able to acquire Brewer inexpensively is that he was inconsistent in Chicago last season. According to ESPN Chicago's Bulls beat writer Nick Friedell, "no player on the Bulls roster had higher highs and lower lows than Brewer. After Rip Hamilton got hurt early in the year, Brewer responded by playing the best basketball of his brief Bulls' tenure. He spent all last summer during the lockout working on his jumper and that extra work paid off as he shot the ball with plenty of confidence in Hamilton's absence.
"After a while, that confidence wore off and Brewer, who had been playing 35 to 40 minutes in some contests, suddenly struggled to find 15 to 20 minutes in some games and was replaced in the starting lineup by Kyle Korver even before Hamilton returned. Brewer's decline came to a breaking point in Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs against the Sixers, when he was benched for the entire game by Tom Thibodeau."
The Knicks are obviously hoping Brewer finds that positive streak he had last season. After letting Landry Fields walk, which was the right move considering the Raptors' high offer sheet, the Knicks needed a shooting guard/swingman who could guard the game's best players at his position -- especially with Iman Shumpert out until likely January. That player is Brewer, who helped the Bulls become the No. 1 defensive team last season.
Offensively, Brewer is not a 3-point threat, but his jumper is solid off down screens and he follows shots well, along with his own, for offensive rebounds and putbacks. His athleticism also allows him to flourish in transition. This summer, he's been training in his home state of Arkansas, mostly working on his outside shot. If he can improve his long-range consistency, also while working with Allan Houston during the season, Brewer will help the Knicks space the floor even more, enhancing their offensive efficiency.
With Brewer in New York, expect J.R. Smith to continue his role as sixth man. Then, once Shumpert returns, the Knicks will be much better equipped to deal with teams with lethal backcourts (the Heat, Nets, Celtics, Spurs, Lakers and Thunder).
PRIGIONI: If you watched the Team USA vs. Argentina game on Sunday, Pablo Prigioni proved that he's a very efficient point guard who doesn't make many mistakes. But he makes the right pass. A lot of that is due to his veteran experience (he's 35) and many years playing international basketball.
In the NBA, Prigioni won't do much scoring. While many of his highlights on YouTube show him driving by international competition, he had more of a difficult time getting into the paint against Team USA's strong and athletic point guards, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook. But Prigioni runs the pick-and-roll well and he has clever ball-handling that keeps defenders at bay. That should generate solid spacing for the Knicks, creating open shots and lanes to the basket.
Prigioni's agent, George Bass, said that the Argentinian point guard had been on Knicks GM Glen Grunwald's radar for about five years. That's because Prigioni is viewed as a pass-first point guard like Kidd, and he also excels defensively. Bass said the Knicks felt like he was young enough with no major injuries to help the team, which will come in handy because he may be called upon to play backup minutes. In addition to Shumpert being out, Mike Woodson likes to interchange positions and he could use Kidd and Felton together at times in the backcourt.
One underrated aspect of Prigioni's game is his ability to adjust to physical play, which he's been exposed to during his many years playing in Argentina and Europe. That will be useful during the NBA playoffs, as Prigioni will be able step right in and not get rattled by the extra pressure. He's good insurance to have around, especially with Kidd turning 40 next year.
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