Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: Should the Knicks release Rasheed Wallace to sign a defensive-minded center or guard?
Chances are Glen Grunwald, Allan Houston, Mike Woodson and the Knicks' front office are in a room somewhere right now discussing what to do about Wallace -- among other issues, of course, as the team has been mostly playing .500 ball for the past few months.
But with Wallace, the question is: Do they wait him out and hope that he's ready for the playoffs, or release him now to sign another big?
On one hand, remember how long it took him to get back into NBA shape -- not simply conditioning shape -- before the season? There could be a major delay with his return, if he returns at all. One source close to the team still thinks "he's done."
On the other hand, the field of serviceable centers is basically nonexistent. The one sleeper pick is Henry Sims, who's been playing very well on the Knicks' D-League team, the Erie BayHawks, as he's averaging 17 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. An NBA scout who has watched Sims has been impressed with the center's progression because the D-League favors guard play.
Another option for the Knicks is to release Wallace and sign a veteran defensive-minded guard who can also shoot. This would benefit the team's bench, which has been struggling to guard opposing wing players and hit 3-pointers -- a key to the Knicks' offense. While more zone D would help the second unit -- evident in their win over the Celtics on Jan. 24 -- Woodson comes from the Bobby Knight school, where man-to-man is the only way.
Two intriguing guards who fit the criteria above are free agent Delonte West, 29, and Utah's Raja Bell, 36. West wants back in the NBA -- he last played in the D-League -- and the Jazz could buy out Bell's contract soon. From 2004-12, West averaged 9.7 points (on 37.2 percent 3-point shooting) and 1.1 steals per game; and from 2000-12, Bell averaged 9.9 points (on 40.6 percent 3-point shooting) and nearly one steal per game.
Considering Bell is older, it's likely the Knicks would find West more attractive. As one NBA scout put it, "They don't need another senior citizen." Additionally, Bell reportedly has his heart set out on playing with Kobe Bryant, who has previously recruited him.
While West suffers from bipolar disorder, an NBA scout who has worked with the Mavericks, West's most recent NBA team, said the guard could help the Knicks.
"He's not a bad guy," the scout told ESPNNewYork.com. "He can play, knows how to play and is a good defender. [The Knicks] are not losing anything if they offer a non-guaranteed deal. They do need a big, but there's not any."
An agent agreed saying, "West is a good name."
The Knicks could also choose to retain Wallace and then not renew Kenyon Martin's contract in order to sign someone else.
What do you think the Knicks should do? Leave us your comments below.
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