Knicks' final roster spot: What's the plan?
August, 10, 2013
By Jared Zwerling | ESPNNewYork.com
USA TODAY Sports Too small? Too slow? Just right? Who will round out the Knicks' roster?And then there was one.
With the signing of Beno Udrih this week, the Knicks' roster has reached 14 players, with just one more spot to fill.
So who could that player be? While the Knicks remain interested in their summer league point guard Toure Murry -- he received a training camp invite while in Las Vegas -- they now have three point guards (and even J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert can orchestrate sets at times).
What the team needs is another rebounder and rim protector behind Tyson Chandler, who turns 31 in October.
The problem is this: the pack of serviceable big men is slim, with players like Cole Aldrich, Earl Barron, Jason Collins, Hamed Haddadi, Jared Jeffries, Jerome Jordan and Shavlik Randolph. Aldrich is active around the basket, but not athletic enough and has knee concerns; Barron is a good rebounder, but a poor shooter; Collins shot 31 percent from the field last season; Haddadi has a hard time getting up and down the floor in a timely manner; Jeffries is not a consistent inside player; Jordan plays too tentatively; and Randolph is more of a stretch 4.
A D-League player like Henry Sims would likely not be considered, according to a source, even though he played well last season for the Erie BayHawks and is admired by Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston. Instead, a foreign big man like 7-2 Lithuanian Ovidijus Galdikas, 24, who worked out for the Knicks this week, could get the upper hand.
"Teams would prefer to buy these players out of their overseas contract, and then pay them between $1 million and $1.5 million," an NBA agent said. "Instead of just getting a serviceable big from the D-League or something for $500,000, they are really motivating these young men to play in the D-League. You have teams like Atlanta and Golden State going after bigs that played 15 minutes a game overseas on only OK teams -- players like Ognjen Kuzmic or Pero Antic. They weren't even starting on the clubs they were on."
The Knicks did sign 6-10 Jeremy Tyler -- based on his defense and rebounding in Vegas -- for potential minutes as a backup center. But he's not seasoned enough. Their frontcourt is still lacking depth -- and good medical history, for that matter -- which could become a key issue against the Nets and Pacers, who upgraded well in that department this offseason.
The Knicks have also expressed interest in several little big men, such as Lou Amundson, Drew Gooden, Ivan Johnson and Tyrus Thomas, but only one (Johnson) would help the Knicks with his youth, defense, toughness, rebounding and inside scoring. While he's 6-8, he plays much bigger. The others have suffered in health and/or production in recent years. They're in the more-risk-than-reward category.
Overall, the backup center market is bleak, and there's no pulse at this point that the Knicks will bite on a tweener big. That's why, according to a source familiar with the team's free-agency plans, they'll probably sit tight for now.
"I'm actually getting the feeling they will stay with 14 [players], and possibly bring in non-guaranteed guys for veteran camp spots," the source said.
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