No team in the NBA garners as much attention about player moves than the New York Knicks. Furthermore, NY is (1a) in media markets that obsess over what player the Knicks need and what we will/should do with lineups. I hate that about my team! But it keeps basketball interesting. It gets sports sites the page clicks, so I get it. Working in sports, I do enjoy sorting out what free agents have to consider when it comes to re-signing to their current team or moving onto assumably greener pastures.
Marc Gasol is the most coveted free agent this summer. As an unrestricted free agent, Gasol will have a lot to think about when the Grizzlies’ season comes to a close. Every day, there’s an article about rumors or insight from “sources” close to the situation. I may be in the minority of #knickstape, but I don’t think we need Gasol though. With the cap space we’ll have, these are the moves I’d like to see Phil Jackson make.
Sign Goran Dragic, waive Prigioni: The antiquated triangle offense works when you have a guard with a high basketball IQ and can bring the ball up. Derek Fisher was never in the conversation for being a top 10-15 guard. But he’s a smart basketball player. Same with Dragic. He doesn’t come with a ton of flash and can play off the ball as well. With a logjam in Phoenix, Dragic will surely be looking at a team where he’ll start. People can argue all day long about whether Dragic is max-deal worthy. The fact of the matter is he’s the best guard on the market to run this offense for the next few years. Prigioni’s deal isn’t fully guaranteed and he brings nothing to the table. That salary can be allocated to pick up a more experienced back up guard like Aaron Brooks for cheap.
Sign Danny Green or Wesley Matthews: Both UFA, either of these players will be upgrades at the 2 spot. The former has also turned into a solid wing defender. Green already has a NCAA championship and a NBA championship. He’ll be 28 hitting free agency and could be swayed to sign at a $5-5.5 million figure. Plus he’s from NY. That’s a soft spot Jackson should play off of. Matthews will garner a heftier price tag. I’m hoping Phil Jackson will be consistent at not overpaying players all at once.
Make an offer to Tobias Harris: Because he’s a restricted free agent, getting Harris may be a long shot. Orlando can offer him a max and some because they have his Bird Rights. What’ll make that bidding war interesting is Harris has a clause in his Jordan brand contract that secures a bonus when he signs to a bigger market. The chance to play in NY, a marketing bonus, and a leap in the East can be very attractive to the 22 year old. At 6’9 with a strong post game, he gives the lineup some variety. When STAT is out, Harris can play with Melo at the 3 or 4 depending on the opponent.
Sign Greg Monroe: The prevailing theme of the new Knicks is we need youth to compete with the West. So if we can’t get Harris, Monroe is an acceptable plan B. Although Paul Milsap may be a cheaper option, Monroe is younger with the same type of offense and defense. Monroe doesn’t need to go out and put up 20 a game but he can. An interior player like him can also create second chance points and get to the line.
Fill the rest of the roster with low risk-high reward deals. Once you lock in a smart point guard, a fresh draft pick with Melo, NY now becomes an enticing sale for players who aren’t doing anything on their current team. Additionally bring back Jason Smith and a veteran wing player can easily propel the Knicks back up to a 50+ win team.
My ideal roster would look like this
Hardaway/D. Green/G. Green
No, it’s not perfect. If STAT or Paul Milsep is willing to take a pay cut, we won’t need Monroe and there’d be some veteran presences. As a realistic fan, I think this is a balanced roster to make a run in the next 2-3 years. Phil Jackson didn’t put the Lakers’ 3-peat roster together. But in 3 years, that roster was anchored by Kobe and Shaq, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, and Brian Shaw with random young role players. So it can be done.