A source close to unrestricted free agent Chris Andersen said the power forward is open to signing for the veteran's minimum. That's all the Knicks can offer, and they could use a seasoned backup for Amare Stoudemire who can score inside, rebound and block shots.
There's no word yet if Andersen, 34, has been in talks with the Knicks, who don't comment publicly on any free agents. But his former high school coach, Rob Stewart, said that Andersen would love the opportunity to play in New York. He enjoys the city and knows Carmelo Anthony well from his Denver days, and he's very close with J.R. Smith, also a former Nugget. Stewart said a few teams have already contacted Andersen, but he didn't want to say who out of respect to the power forward's agent, Steven Heumann.
On that note, it's worth noting that Andersen is a client of CAA, which also represents five Knicks: coach Mike Woodson, Anthony, Smith, his younger brother, Chris, and new acquisition Ronnie Brewer.
While the Knicks' roster stands at 15 -- the most players a team can have come opening night -- they could add Andersen right now to their books. That's because Chris Smith's contract is partially guaranteed, which means, in this case, he's only signed for training camp. In technical terms, Smith is not an NBA player yet. The Knicks will likely release him before the season starts, and then work with their D-League team, the Erie BayHawks, to sign him separately.
Also, keep in mind, that a team has no restrictions on the number of players it can invite to training camp, which starts in late September.
For the past four seasons, Andersen played in Denver -- two with Anthony and three with Smith -- where he earned around $4 million per season. His career averages in 10 seasons are 5.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, and he has lit up arenas with his colorful, full-body tattoos and spirited, high-energy style of play.
However, there could be risk associated with signing Andersen. For more than two years (2006 to '08), he was suspended from the NBA for violating the league's anti-drug policy. And in May, authorities searched his Denver-area home as part of a child-exploitation investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children unit. Andersen has not been charged and no arrest warrant has been issued.
Currently, Andersen is in the Denver area, where he's been rehabbing his right knee, which he had arthroscopic surgery on about four weeks ago to remove some loose cartilage. He begins light training on Monday and will be ready for the start of the season.
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Four other power-forward candidates include Kenyon Martin, Andray Blatche, Louis Amundson, D.J. White and Donte Greene. According to a source familiar with the Knicks' free-agency situation, Martin "makes the most sense, but he won't play for the veteran's minimum." The window for him to play in New York for a contending team, though, could turn out to be more attractive.
Martin, 34, is the most experienced four out of this bunch, and he's already familiar with Anthony and Smith's game. Like Andersen, he played in Denver as well.
According to a source close to Blatche, the seven-year veteran has several teams after him. He could be open to the veteran's minimum because no matter how much he signs for, he'll still collect $7.1 million next season from the Wizards after getting amnestied. There are also some insiders who predict he'll go to a situation where he can start for an up-and-coming team, so he can boost his profile and then look for an eight-figure salary next offseason.
Regarding Amundson and White, a source says they're both in the market for mini mid-level deals -- they made just below that last season -- so if that's the case, that would obviously leave out the Knicks.
The Knicks' roster currently includes point guards Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni and Chris Smith; shooting guards Brewer, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert; small forwards Anthony, James White and Chris Copeland (also some PF); power forwards Amare Stoudemire and Steve Novak; and centers Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas.
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