Free Agent Talk

Bring Back Kurt!

     I am loving the rumors that the Knicks are looking into bringing 39 year old free agent center Kurt Thomas back. I have always been a huge Thomas fan. He was great with the Knicks from ’98-’04  and I even enjoyed watching him in Chicago this past season  In watching him play this past season, he can still shoot, he still has that tenacity and meanness on the court and he delivered some hard fouls that the Knicks desperately need. He started 37 games for the Bulls this season, the team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference. While he averaged only 4.1 ppg and 5.8 rpg, his impact on the game doesn’t come in statistics. He’s 39 so he’s a clear backup at this point but he has the ability to mentor our young guys like Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan. Him and Amare have a mutual admiration for each other from their Phoenix days. Would Thomas come in and save the team at center? No way. But could he provide veteran leadership, give you 15 solid minutes a game off the bench and provide the intimidation factor down low that we desperately need? Absolutely. Plus he’ll come cheap on a willing 1 year contract which is what we need from our free agents as we prepare for the summer of 2012. Obviously this talk is all relative to the terms of the new CBA but I believe Thomas will come so cheap (he made 1.35 million last season) that he’ll be affordable no matter what the cap is. There’s a lot to like in Kurt Thomas’ situation. For a man who has never won a championship, coming back to a talent infested New York ball club with a chance to get some playing time should make a lot of sense for him. Bringing in an old vet who already knows New York, knows the garden, and who would fit in nicely as a veteran on this young team makes a lot of sense for the Knicks. Lets get it done Knicks hierarchy. Bring back Kurt.

 

Image via Best Sports Photos

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Knicks Interested in Jonny Flynn

     Frank Isola of the Daily News reports that the Knicks have begun preliminary talks with Minnesota for point guard Jonny Flynn. Toney Douglas and cash are what I’m hearing that the Knicks will include in the deal. As much potential as Flynn has, being the 6th overall pick of the 2009 draft, I don’t like this trade for New York. Flynn has been anything but dependable during his time with Minnesota. He’s been inconsistent and injured as he is currently coming off of hip surgery. Douglas is coming off of major shoulder surgery which may be a reason New York is trying to deal him but I believe he’s much better than Flynn at this point of his career. Douglas is a notoriously good defensive player and hard worker as well as a knock down 3 point shooter. He had points of this season where he was unstoppable Flynn hasn’t had much of an impact at all. While he’s a prototypical backup point in terms of size and skill, he’s yet to put it all together. Interestingly Flynn’s agent is Leon Rose, the same agent who represents Hornets point guard Chris Paul. It’s been speculated that this trade might be a favor for Rose to get Flynn out of Minnesota and that would increase the Knicks chances of landing Paul. Either way, the NBA wasteland is filled with guys who never fit their potential and Flynn has a chance to be one of those guys. There’s no doubt he’s got skill and could immensely help the Knicks if his potential pans out but that’s a big risk that I am not sure the Knicks should take right now.

Image via Syracuse.com

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Should Knicks Ditch 3 Star Plan?

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     Today, Marc Berman of the NY Post wrote an article about how Dallas has shown that the Knicks should change their 3 star plan. The 3 stars being Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and hypothetically, now New Orleans point guard, Chris Paul. I’m not sure that Miami’s collapse suggests that the Knicks need to scratch the 3 star plan because I think the 2 situations are completely different. Having a big 3 with a Chris Paul versus Chris Bosh is completely different. One of the great positives of Chris Paul is that he makes everybody better on offense and he’s a great defender. Bosh adds a 3rd scorer to LeBron and Wade but he doesn’t pass to make people better and he’s not a great defender (see Dirk at the end of game 2 of the finals). Depending on the new CBA the Knicks may be able to afford Paul or they may not be able to. Depending on the new salary cap figure / whether or not it is a hard cap, the Knicks could be able to get Paul cheaper and maybe add a decent piece or two. Miami did well in that they had the big 3 signed to less then max deals and they were able to sign Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller. Amare and Carmelo are both signed on max deals and the NBA doesn’t allow, or doesn’t allow under this CBA, the ability to take a pay cut while in contract. I am a big proponent of team depth. We have enough firepower with Amare and Carmelo and I would not be opposed to bypassing CP3 and signing a veteran point, a center and some bench pieces. Right now, with all the CBA uncertainty, I think it’s a bit of a waste to discuss this. While it is interesting to discuss, nobody knows what the terms of the next CBA are. Depending on the cap number, CP3 may not even be a possibility and then the 3 star plan will have to be scratched. I think there are pros and cons to both plans but this cannot be seriously discussed until we know the terms of the next CBA.

Image via NY Daily News

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Joe Alexander Also Works Out for Knicks

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     Alan Hahn reported via twitter that Joe Alexander, former Bucks lottery pick, impressed along with Javaris Crittenton at the Knicks free agent camp. Alexander was the 8th overall pick by the Bucks in 2008 but has been a major disappointment. He was traded to Chicago after his second season and then later traded to New Orleans. He was a D-League All-Star for the Texas Legends. He is a super athletic small forward who has good scoring range. He looked lost when he was last in the NBA and maybe his D-League success will translate to quality NBA minutes moving forward. He would be a nice piece on our bench if he could give us quality minutes as he can score as well as play defense with his long, athletic frame.

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Bonzi Wells and Javaris Crittenton Work Out for the Knicks Thursday

     On Thursday, Bonzi Wells and Javaris Crittenton worked out for the Knicks. I actually think both these guys are intriguing for next years Knicks team. Wells hasn’t played in the NBA since 2008 and Crittenton played in the D-League after being released by Charlotte. Wells was notorious for all his off court problems and his “bad boy” reputation. He’s 35 years old, that’s old but it’s not too old to play in the league. If Wells somehow made the club, I feel like he’d be in there for like 6 minutes a game, picking up some hard fouls and playing defense. He wasn’t known as a great defensive player but I do like the “bad boy” reputation he has. Javaris Crittenton, a former first round pick, is interesting in that he’s immensely talented but hasn’t been able to put it together. He’s most notorious for pulling a gun on former teammate Gilbert Arenas in the Wizards locker room. Interestingly enough, his best game came when he was with Memphis and scored 23 points in a win over the Knicks in ’08. He’s 6’5 and is a good defensive player. Depending on how the draft plays out, I could definitely see Crittenton having a spot on the Knicks bench.

     Also, it’s interesting to point out that Amare did wonders to help Shawne Williams. Williams was plagued with off court issues and this year he was a model citizen. A lot of that has to do with Amare and his leadership capabilities. I believe the Knicks feel more comfortable with taking risks with these kind of players because of Amare’s leadership. He keeps everybody focused on basketball and he keeps everyone honest and on check. His impact to the Knicks is irreplaceable because he’s the leader that was sorely missed during the dreaded Isiah Thomas days. If one or both of these players catch on with New York, it’s safe to say that Amare will be on their asses getting them working hard and doing the right things to become respectable citizens.

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DeShawn Stevenson Would Be a Nice Fit In New York

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     The more finals games I watch, the more I think that DeShawn Stevenson would fit very well with the Knicks next year. His contract is up with Dallas after this season and I’d love to have him in New York. He’d provide some of that defensive toughness and veteran leadership that we need off the bench. He’s more then held his own defending against LeBron James and Dwyane wade. In game 4, he even showed that he can hit his 3′s when his number is called, but that’s gravy. I think Stevenson would be a great fit because of his defensive versatility, being able to guard the 2 and 3 and probably the 1 if needed, and because of his toughness. I’d much rather have him playing significant minutes over Mr “Offensive Foul” Bill Walker. I don’t know why D’Antoni loves Walker. He’s athletic and had some good games but for the most part I think he sucks and he’s not a great defender. Right now look at the roster, there’s talent but there are no blue collar defensive stoppers. Stevenson’s only 30 so I don’t know if he’d accept the veteran minimum or maybe a small mid level exemption, the circumstances under which he’d have to come to New York, but if we could get him I think he’d be a very valuable bench piece to have on next years Knick team.

Photo Via ESPN

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The Dwight Howard Versus Chris Paul Debate

Today Dwight Howard announced he won’t be signing a contract extension before the July 1 deadline.. With Howard officially putting Orlando in the clock, the Knicks now must decide whether to go after him or New Orleans point guard Chris Paul III. Both are elite players in the NBA and both are free agents after next season barring any extensions being signed. So the debate begins, who should the Knicks go after? Howard or Paul?

Money: Anybody who says the Knicks don’t have the money to get another superstar doesn’t know what they are talking about. As can be found in the useful links section of this site, the Knicks salary situation for the 2012 season leaves them 17 million dollars  to spend under the current salary cap. Now it is probable that the cap will be lowered from the current 58 million dollar cap but with a lower cap will come a lower max contract. In short, it’s very possible for Melo and Amare to drop a couple mil a season to contribute to a 3rd superstar and we will still fit under the cap.

On the court: I believe if given the opportunity to acquire one of these 2 players, there is absolutely no way the Knicks can lose. Chris Paul looked re-energized from his injury in the postseason and looks to build on his strong finish, and when he’s healthy he is one of the top 3 point guards in this league. Dwight Howard is far and away the best center in this league. The sexier pick is Chris Paul, and granted I’d love to see him become a Knick, but if given their pick, I believe the Knicks should sign Dwight Howard. First Howard is 26 and has been injury free while Paul is 26 but has had knee problems and a concussion. The deciding factor for me is how Howard is the best defensive player in today’s NBA. The reigning 3 time NBA defensive player of the year eliminates any inside game an opponent throws towards him. With Melo and Amare’s notoriously lazy defense, Howard would eliminate a lot of defensive deficiencies, especially when it comes to rebounding. On offense, his low post presence would open everything up for Melo and Amare, especially down low. Who on that offense would you double team? It wouldn’t be possible to defend us. As much as I love Chris Paul and he is a great point guard, nobody doubles point guards. Nobody wants to see Paul in a Knicks uniform more than I do, but from a purely basketball standpoint Howard makes more sense for this team. Not only does Howard give the Knicks the center presence we sorely need but he makes everybody else better. He’ll open up the wings for Melo, Toney Douglas, Billups if he’s still around, Fields and the other guys to knock down open 3s. He’ll take double teams off of Amare and Melo and give them more room to operate. We won’t be out rebounded by anybody if we get Howard, he’ll control the glass and allow our defense to cut back on giving up 2nd chance points. While Paul would make us an even better offensive team and provide the ball movement and assists that make offenses go, I believe you can find quality point guards way more easily then you can a dominant center. In today’s era where Howard is far and away the best center with no center even in the same stratosphere, you take the center whenever you can get him.

Conclusion: Go back and look at the great Knick teams of the 90′s, they had Ewing and Starks and a bunch of really good defensive players. Starks was a great player but nowhere on the level of Melo or Amare. If Ewing and a bunch of solid role guys competed against the great Bulls teams, imagine what our big 3 with Dwight could do. Also look at the matchups we’d have against Miami, the team that’s gonna stand between the Knicks and future championships. Miami lacks a great center, I mean Joel Anthony vs Dwight Howard. It’s no contest. Miami’s best offensive game is when they drive and dominate the paint. With the 6’11, 3 time defensive player of the year standing in the paint there is no way Miami would dominate the paint in a 7 game series. With D’antoni’s 7 seconds or less offense making the transition to a halfcourt game, Howard’s post up style of offense would be a great fit. If you look at the Bulls dynasty or this last Laker dynasty, Ron Harper and Derek Fisher were the point guards. Yes they were good point guards but not elite. It’s different for all teams but the past has shown that you can win NBA championships with solid veteran point guards. Its not everyday that Dwight Howard comes walking by, the Knicks would be foolish not to pounce on him in the summer of 2012.

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Jerome Jordan to miss Knicks Free Agent Camp

According to Alan Hahn of Newsday, Jerome Jordan is likely to miss the Knicks free agent camp June 8 and 9 at the Madison Square Garden training center. Jordan is still recovering from an appendectomy. I wouldn’t say this is crushing to the Knicks as Jordan isn’t even guaranteed to be brought across seas but this is definitely an inconvenience. With all the hype surrounding Jordan around the Knicks community, this is a letdown as the team will be unable to see him in person. With the upcoming lockout, the summer league may be wiped out, eliminating the Knicks ability to scout Jordan in person. This may lead to an impact with the upcoming draft in that the Knicks may be unsure of Jordan’s ability which would prompt them to draft a center at 17. Hopefully Jordan can recover before June 8 and get into the gym to show Knicks hierarchy what he can do.

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