On Thursday, the New York Knicks agreed to terms with Pablo Prigioni on a three-year deal that will pay him about $1.5 million in 2013-14 -- a good portion of the team's $3.18 million mini-midlevel exception.
Since that exception can be split up, the Knicks have about $1.7 million to use on another player.
So how would the Knicks prefer to spend that remaining amount?
Knicks forward Chris Copeland, a restricted free agent, is the most talked-about target at the moment. But New York is aware Copeland could receive a higher offer sheet from the Bucks, Pacers, Mavericks or Jazz, and the Knicks wouldn't be able to match it. The Lakers "really want him," according to a league source, but they wouldn't be able to offer $3 million to $5 million, which Copeland could fetch.
While Copeland continues to be discussed, the Knicks have another idea in mind for that $1.7 million: signing a small forward who could start alongside Carmelo Anthony at the 4. And, no, Ronnie Brewer isn't coming back.
A league source told ESPNNewYork.com that the Knicks are "looking for a 3 who can shoot the 3 and is a good defender on the wing."
A few small forwards the Knicks have expressed interest in, who could be in their financial ballpark, are Carlos Delfino, Francisco Garcia and Dahntay Jones.
Matt Barnes, according to a league source, is in the market for a full mini-midlevel deal, and he'll likely sign with the Lakers or Clippers. Stephen Jackson is an intriguing candidate, but his salary has gone up every year he's been in the NBA. While Jackson might sacrifice some money this time around, $1.7 million sounds like a stretch. Another player to watch is Mickael Pietrus, whose name will be discussed among the Knicks' brass. Contrary to reports, the 31-year-old veteran was mostly healthy last season and has been impressive in recent pickup games.
At this point, most of the agents for these players are waiting to see what happens with Dwight Howard and some potential sign-and-trades before biting on any offers from the Knicks (or any other team, for that matter). They want to see what the potential market will be.
Beyond small forward, the Knicks would like to sign two younger point guards and two big men to minimum contracts. At point guard, some affordable and serviceable players include Aaron Brooks, Daniel Gibson, John Lucas, A.J. Price, Nolan Smith and Sebastian Telfair. Most of these players have a few teams in pursuit. During the summer league, which starts next week, the Knicks will take a close look at Toure Murry, who was one of the top point guards in the D-League this past season.
As for bigs, Elton Brand has been the Knicks' No. 1 priority since the start of free agency, but the 34-year-old New York native is weighing better offers -- an ominous sign for the blue and orange contingent. Kenyon Martin is a top target, as well. Brandan Wright has been in the conversation, but he's likely too expensive for the Knicks; the same goes for DeJuan Blair. Other likely names in the mix include Samuel Dalembert, Lamar Odom, Shavlik Randolph, Anthony Tolliver and Chris Wilcox. During summer league play, Jerome Jordan and perhaps Henry Sims will be on the team's radar, too.
There are still several holes on the Knicks' roster. In the end, they'll likely need to sign cheap alternatives who can step up in a big way next season.
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