Now that the New York Knicks have added their draft pick, Tim Hardaway Jr., it's on to free agency starting July 1. Here's their order of business:
New York Knicks
1. Re-signing J.R. Smith. GM Glen Grunwald made it clear on Thursday the Knicks don't want to let him go. "We're going to do what we can to get J.R. back," he said. However, that won't happen if Smith can't resist a lucrative offer and a chance to start, which he hasn't done for most of his career, including in New York. The Bucks, Pistons and Suns, for example, will likely be gearing up to outbid the Knicks, who can only offer the Sixth Man Award winner $5.58 million with early Bird rights.
2. Re-signing Pablo Prigioni, Chris Copeland and Kenyon Martin. First, regarding Prigioni, he represents a pressing need for the Knicks. "We think we need at least one more point guard," Grunwald said. "We love Pablo and hopefully we'll get him back." Prigioni also wants to return. "I would like to go back to New York," he told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Knicks extended their qualifying offer of $988,872 to the Argentine. He could demand more on the open market, but if he doesn't return, it will likely be because he wants to return to Spain, where he lives and has played previously for many years.
As for Copeland: Add the Celtics to the long list of teams that want Copeland, who was extended the same qualifying offer as Prigioni this week. Now that the Celtics have more cap space with trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, they could make a strong push for Copeland. In the Knicks' favor is that he really wants to return. But, like Smith, a high offer with starting potential could be the deal-breaker.
And Martin? He wants to return, but he would likely have to accept the veteran's minimum. While his good friend Jason Kidd is in Brooklyn, now that Garnett is joining the Nets, that could encourage Martin to want to stay in New York for more minutes.
3. Adding another point guard and big man. The Knicks only have a mini mid-level exception of $3.18 million, and if they use that to split up Prigioni and Copeland's salaries, they would only have veteran's minimums to spend to fill up the rest of their roster. As for point guards, Aaron Brooks, A.J. Price, Josh Selby and Sebastian Telfair could be in that lower price range. Top D-Leaguers Tony Taylor and Toure Murry, who will likely be playing for the Knicks' summer league team, will be given hard looks.
As for bigs who can defend, rebound and score inside, the ideal candidates would be J.J. Hickson and Jason Maxiell. Rasheed Wallace told ESPNNewYork.com a few weeks ago that he really likes the Pistons forward's game. But would either take less money?
Most likely, the Knicks will be looking for bigs at the veteran's minimum with names like DeJuan Blair, Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert, Shavlik Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, Chris Wilcox and Brandan Wright. One interesting candidate is Andray Blatche. While he has said he wants to return to Brooklyn, now that Garnett is in town, perhaps there would be a bigger playing opportunity for him across the river.
Two sleeper picks for the Knicks in the frontcourt are Henry Sims and Jerome Jordan. While Jordan is playing for the Knicks' summer league team, Sims has been invited but hasn't accepted the offer yet.
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