Saturday, May 25, 2013
Knicks' offseason notebook, Part 1
By Jared Zwerling
Could University of Miami point guard Shane Larkin be an option for the Knicks at No. 24?
Throughout the offseason, ESPNNewYork.com will bring you news surrounding the Knicks' draft targets and potential free-agency moves.
NBA DRAFT (JUNE 27)
What will the Knicks do with the 24th pick?
The team's two pressing needs are: one, a younger and explosive backup point guard who could help maintain the faster pace of Raymond Felton (the team ranked last in the league in fast-break points); and two, a younger, physical big who can score inside and a bit outside, rebound, defend, bring energy and make hustle plays. They were sorely missing a player like that in the Pacers series.
With that being said, the Knicks like two point guards in the draft: Dennis Schroeder (Germany) and Pierre Jackson (Baylor). While Schroeder, who's being compared to Darren Collison, is ranked higher than a 24th pick, he could slip because he's an international player. Jackson is slated to go in the second round, but he's noted for his athleticism and ball-handling. Shane Larkin (University of Miami) might draw some interest, but his general measurement testing at the Chicago pre-draft combine was "not special at all," according to a draft expert.
A sleeper pick is Nate Wolters (South Dakota State).
Tyson Chandler needs help down low.
"I wouldn't be shocked if someone took him in the first round," the expert said. "He has very good size at 6-4, he can shoot, he's real smart, and creative with his ball-handling and passing. He's kind of like a poor man's Ricky Rubio."
As for rookie bigs, Jeff Withey (Kansas) is the most sought-after in the late first round for his defense and shot blocking. However, because the Knicks have a low first-round pick, a source familiar with their potential draft plans had this to say: "They are going to go best available at their pick, regardless of position."
FREE AGENCY (STARTS JULY 1)
Speaking with two sources familiar with the Knicks' potential free-agency plans, the bottom line is this: Don't expect many changes.
"They will try to improve and enhance their core," one source said. "They have eight players under contract and they will re-sign J.R. [Smith], making it nine. Then it's the mid-level [of $3.18 million] and minimum salary guys who want a chance to prove themselves."
Here are some younger point guards and versatile big men who might be attractive, affordable options (the new CBA allows for more opportunities to find cheaper talent):
A sleeper pick is Henry Sims, who has received an invite to play on the Knicks' summer league team, but he hasn't made a decision yet. They could also look at older bigs Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert, knowing Mike Woodson favors veterans.
"I don't know that they will add a young big," one source said. "Too much pressure to win now. Woody wants to win now and play vets."
As for any sign-and-trades, the Knicks could explore a smaller deal with a team with salary-cap space, which is the only possibility for a team over the cap like the Knicks. Don't anticipate a blockbuster sign-and-trade. That would mean saying goodbye to Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert, and the team isn't leaning that way.
"Chandler is the key to everything they do. He's not going anywhere," one source said. "And Shump is a big part of their future."