Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Knicks could use Ray Allen, but ...
By Jared Zwerling
In addition to a veteran point guard and forward off the bench (ahem, Lamar Odom), the Knicks need to add one other thing in the offseason: a 3-point marksman in the backcourt.
That's because Iman Shumpert -- who shot 37.9 percent from long range from March 26 until the end of the regular season -- is out until possibly January and the Knicks are coming off a season in which they shot 33.6 percent from beyond the arc (near the bottom of the league). They were also 27.5 percent in the playoffs (second worst among all teams). While Landry Fields, a restricted free agent who will likely return, can start at the two in Shumpert's absence, he seriously dropped off from downtown in his second year (39.3 percent as a rookie in 2010-11 to 25.6 this past season).
The Knicks need outside consistency next season when Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony do most of the penetration. So why not Ray Allen, who's an unrestricted free agent?
The 16-y˙˙ear veteran holds the mark for most 3-pointers made in NBA history (2,718) at an astonishing 40 percent. Even though he's set to have surgery on Wednesday to remove bone spurs in his right ankle, which limited him during his playoff run with the Celtics, he should be 100 percent healthy before training camp starts in late August.
While Allen will have a lot of mileage on his body when he turns 37 on July 20, anyone who knows him knows he's one of the most prepared and conditioned pro athletes on the planet. For example, he keeps to the same strict training regimen and takes shots in darkened NBA arenas hours before tipoff. Therefore, he should have another two serviceable years in the NBA, knocking down 3 after 3 and separating himself further from Reggie Miller.
Before Allen even considers the Knicks or any other team, it's a given that he's first going to see if the Celtics want him back and what his two veteran All-Star teammates, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, are planning. The latest is that Pierce wants KG to return, and if that appears evident, it's likely Allen would stay, especially to play with Rajon Rondo, who's been the best medicine for the aging Big Three. At this point, it's unclear what Allen, Garnett and Pierce, who's signed through 2014 but has recently considered retirement, really want to do.
If the Celtics don't pan out for Allen, Sports Illustrated's NBA writer Chris Mannix was told that the Knicks and Heat are at the top of his list. But a source very familiar with Allen's situation told ESPNNewYork.com that the Heat, as well as potentially the Clippers, will be more attractive to the five-time All-Star in the offseason because they're top teams that can offer more than the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million. That will likely be the Knicks' spending limit for free agents.
You also have to consider that the Clippers feature Chris Paul and the Heat have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as proven floor generals. The Knicks will have the still-developing Jeremy Lin running the show next season. If you're Allen, who would you put your trust into more for delivering great passes with your career winding down?
The Knicks would obviously prefer to keep Steve Novak and have another stud shooter on the court (whether or not J.R. Smith opts in or out). Even if Novak doesn't re-sign, likely for the bi-annual exception of $1.98 million, that amount will likely still be too low for Allen, who is coming off $10 million on the books.
Overall, Allen will have to take a pay cut regardless, but $1.4 million with the Knicks is lower than what he'll receive with a championship contender. Even if Allen doesn't work out, the Knicks could still find value in these unrestricted free agents: Anthony Parker (36.2 3-point percentage; $2.25 million in 2011-12), Mickael Pietrus (33.5; $1.22 million) and former Knick Nate Robinson (36.5; $983,307), who played well last season in Golden State.
Two outside shots could be Randy Foye (38.6 3-point percentage; $4.25 million in 2011-12) and Shannon Brown (36.2; $3.5 million), but both will likely get multiyear, mid-level-like deals this summer.