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Grading the Knicks offseason

9/23/2013

The Brooklyn Nets grabbed the headlines this offseason, and deservedly so.

Billy King added Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to an already strong roster, putting the Nets in position to contend with the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

But the Knicks made several significant moves over the summer as well.

Glen Grunwald added scoring big man Andrea Bargnani via a trade, re-signed J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Pablo Prigioni and added Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih in free agency.

Due to salary cap constraints, the Knicks couldn't throw big money at any of this summer's free agents. So Grunwald was a bit handicapped from the start.

With that in mind, how do you think the Knicks' GM did this offseason? Below, we offer our grades. We'd like to know what you think as well.

DRAFTING TIM HARDAWAY JR.

PROS: Hardaway Jr. gives the Knicks a perimeter scorer off the bench to help fill the void left by J.R. Smith, who is rehabbing from offseason knee surgery and will serve a five-game suspension for a violation of the league's anti-drug policy as soon as he's healthy.

CONS: The Knicks needed a backup point guard and a big man heading into the draft and didn't address either of those needs. They selected a two guard, most likely because they knew Smith wouldn't be available for the beginning of the season. Also, according to people who followed him last season, the biggest concerns about Hardaway are his shot selection and consistency.

GLEN'S GRADE: B

TRADED FOR ANDREA BARGNANI

PROS: In trading Marcus Camby and Steve Novak, Grunwald got rid of two players who didn't fit well in Mike Woodson's system and whose contracts extended beyond this season. He acquired a player in Bargnani who, if he returns to form, can boost the Knicks' perimeter scoring.

CONS: One of the lessons learned from the Indiana series is that the Knicks need to bolster their defense against opposing front lines. If history is any indication, Bargnani won't help there. He is a poor defender and rebounder. He's also coming off a season in which he shot 40 percent from the field and suffered an elbow injury. Also, it's hard to figure out why Grunwald included a first-round draft pick (2016) along with two second-rounders in a deal for a player that many felt Toronto was trying to get rid of.

GLEN'S GRADE: C

RE-SIGNING PABLO PRIGIONI

PROS: Bringing back Pablo was a must after Jason Kidd retired. It's hard to understate just how vital Prigioni was to the Knicks late last season. After the Argentine was inserted into the starting lineup in mid March, New York reeled off 13 straight wins. The Prigioni signing allows Mike Woodson to use Raymond Felton and Prigioni together in the back court, if he so chooses.

CONS: The Knicks inked Prigioni to a three-year deal (3rd year is team option, with incentives). The potential problem here is that Prigioni will be 37 in March. He's in fantastic shape, but you have to wonder if he can hold up through the life of this contract. And how will he respond to playing regular minutes this season?

GLEN'S GRADE: A -

RE-SIGNING J.R. SMITH

PROS: It may be hard to remember at this point, but there was a time when Knicks fans were worried about losing J.R. Smith to free agency. Smith was the Knicks' top free agent target. Eventually, they got their man -- at a discounted rate. For those who say the Knicks should have spent the money they gave J.R. (3 years, $18 million) on another player, it's worth noting that, per the CBA rules, they could not spend that money on anyone else. He may not be an ideal secondary scoring option, but he was the best option for the Knicks, given their salary cap constraints.

CONS: Shortly after signing his three-year contract (player option in the third year), Smith underwent patellar tendon surgery and an arthroscopy for a tear in the lateral meniscus of his left knee. He is expected to be out until mid October, at the earliest. The Knicks maintained that they knew about Smith's injury before they re-signed him so it's fair to question why a team would sign a player knowing that he'd need major knee surgery. Also, Smith was suspended earlier this month for violating the NBA's Anti-Drug program. He will sit out five games as soon as he is deemed healthy enough to play.

GLEN'S GRADE: B

ALLOWED CHRIS COPELAND TO SIGN WITH THE PACERS

PROS: In limited playing time last season, Copeland showed a proclivity to score. But he struggled on defense. Is that something that the 29-year-old could improve upon? Sure. But the Knicks have enough players who leave something to be desired on defense. They probably don't need another one.

CONS: Copeland is a strong perimeter shooter. The Knicks' offense last season relied heavily on the 3-point shot, so losing Copeland hurts in that respect. Also, Copeland's departure is another example of a player on a minimum contract having success in New York and then signing with another team. The Knicks had a chance to develop a young player for the future, but passed on it.

GLEN'S GRADE: B

SIGNED METTA WORLD PEACE

PROS: If healthy, World Peace gives the Knicks a versatile defender who can score when called up. He also may lighten the load on defense for Carmelo Anthony. In theory, if Anthony and World Peace share the floor together, World Peace can guard the opponent's top scoring forward, giving Anthony a bit of a break on defense. Also, the Knicks signed World Peace to a cheap contract (two years, $3.1 million).

CONS: World Peace turns 34 in November and is coming off of a knee injury, so there is some concern over how much he has left to give. Also, it's worth wondering how World Peace, a Queensbridge native, handles being home year-round.

GLEN'S GRADE: A -

RE-SIGNED KENYON MARTIN

PROS: Martin proved to be a valuable piece for the Knicks late last season. He helped defend the rim in the second unit and filled in for the injured Tyson Chandler late in the regular season as the Knicks reeled off 13 straight wins.

CONS: Similar to Prigioni, you wonder how Martin, 35, will hold up through the life of his contract. He played 30 games (playoffs included) for New York last year. How will the 13-year veteran handle the workload of an 82-game season?

GLEN'S GRADE: B +

SIGNED BENO UDRIH:

PROS: The Knicks found their third point guard when Udrih, a 31-year veteran, agreed to sign for the veteran's minimum in August. Udrih gives Woodson the flexibility to play a two-point guard lineup and gives the Knicks' second-unit a seasoned lead guard.

CONS: Udrih is said to have sub-par athleticism and isn't a very strong defender. Other than that, it's hard to find much wrong with this move on the surface. There weren't many attractive FA's available and the Knicks needed a third point guard.

GLEN'S GRADE: A

SIGNING JEREMY TYLER, C.J. LESLIE, CHRIS SMITH, TOURE' MURRY:

None of these young players are on guaranteed contracts, so the Knicks can cut them after training camp, if they so choose.

Tyler and Leslie have some guaranteed money in their deals, so the Knicks would owe each guy a certain amount if they choose to let them go.

GLEN'S GRADE: INCOMPLETE

OVERALL: The Knicks, as discussed above, were very limited in what they could do this offseason. They didn't have much money to offer free agents and didn't have many tradable assets. That said, it's hard to fathom why Grunwald gave up so much to land Bargnani. Other than that, I think Grunwald did fairly well, given the circumstances.

GLEN'S GRADE FOR THE SUMMER: B

QUESTION: What do you think? How would you grade Knicks GM Glen Grunwald's offseason?

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