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Considering their early moves, what should the New York Knicks do next in free agency?
Joe Caporoso - First, I’d like to see the Knicks get both JR Smith and Pablo Prigioni back. It feels like Chris Copeland is already a goner, so focus on not losing the 6th Man of the Year and all the joy that PABLOSANITY brings to us Knicks fans. After that, the Knicks need a backup point guard and another forward to add to the mix. Matt Barnes would be a nice signing. The Knicks need guys who can contribute on BOTH ends of the court and having Barnes and Iman Shumpert as defenders would be quite the luxury. As for point guard, Aaron Brooks can be had on the cheap and provide some needed juice off the bench. I don’t think Elton Brand is going to happen, even though that’d be a terrific addition to the Knicks bench. Kenyon Martin will likely be back and can hopefully give the Knicks what he did last year.
Chris Celletti - The Knicks need to do some bargain hunting when the top-level free agency dust settles, as they did last year with Ronnie Brewer, Rasheed Wallace, Chris Copeland, Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin in-season. The advantage of being a team with a superstar that is perceived, at least, to be a contender in the conference is that some players may decide to take a little bit less to play for you. The Knicks have to hope that rings true again, and if it does they have some options. Depending on what happens with J.R. Smith, the Knicks could be in play for a couple bench 2/3 guard options, like Rip Hamilton or Carlos Delfino. Both are fundamentally sound players who can knock down an open jumper. Worth a look, in my mind. I also would definitely look at Elton Brand, who would be an ideal backup center to Tyson Chandler. With Andrea Bargnani on board (and either winning them a title or destroying the franchise forever to the point where they’ll just fold up shop and move to Kansas City, depending on who you ask), the Knicks need some rebounding and defense off the bench. Brand, while slow at this point in his career, would provide that.
There are point guard options on the low-end as well, namely Francisco Garcia and Devin Harris. But the Knicks under Glen Grunwald have proven capable of unearthing players from overseas, the D-League etc., so if they don’t come away with any names right away, I wouldn’t quite panic.
Kevin Smith - Point guard is a glaring hole for this team and it should be prioritized once J.R. Smith and Elton Brand are taken care of. Raymond Felton can’t keep anyone in front of him defensively and I love Pablo Prigioni as much as the next guy, but if the Knicks banking on a 36-year old to give them 25-plus minutes a night for 82 games, then they are setting themselves up for failure. I loved the two point guard set last year and if we’re able to bring Prigs back to pair with Felton, the Knicks would still need to add yet another floor general to continue that success. A combo guard like Nate Robinson would be ideal, but he can probably get more money elsewhere and is aways looking to score more than distribute. The Knicks are looking at Jamaal Tinsley, but shouldn’t they be done with signing 35-year olds? I think the most realistic option is Aaron Brooks, who is amicable to coming to New York and could keep the floor spread and play at the two-guard here and there.
Chris Connolly - As the market continues to set high for JR Smith, a lot of what the Knicks will do going forward will depend on his decision. The Knicks have been in pursuit of Elton Brand over the past few days, but if his deal falls through who is the next option? I guess bringing Kenyon Martin back could be an option, but I’d wonder if he could sustain a full NBA reason. Henry Sims is another name that has been surfacing around the Knicks for awhile. Could he be an answer if Brand signs elsewhere?
Also, I like the idea of the Knicks going out and pursuing more two-way players. Last season showed a team full of specialists isn’t going to get it done. With that said, I think Matt Barnes would be a logical guy to look into. Many Knicks fans remember him for his short stint in ’05-’06, but he has evolved into a completely different player over the years. Pairing him with Shumpert could make for a very formidable defensive tandem. Carlos Delfino, who was released by the Rockets, is another guy who could fit this billing. Rip Hamilton is a name that has been circulating around the Knicks, but at age 35 and skills declining rapidly, how much more does he have to offer a contender?
The Knicks are also in the market for a backup point guard. I think this role could easily be filled by Aaron Brooks, who like Delfino was released by the Rockets. Brooks is a career 41% shooter from 3 point range, and would spread the floor at the point for the Knicks offense. He would also bring some quickness to the Knicks backcourt.
Chris DiGioia - With the Knicks recently acquiring Andrea Bargnani, and Amare Stoudemire working to get healthy, their front-court is finally starting to fill out. On top of that, with reports of the Knicks making an offer to Elton Brand surfacing, he can certainly provide another source of shot blocking and scoring off the bench. There are questions about whether or not Chris Copeland will be resigned, but I believe the Knicks should make that happen. Copeland is a sharp shooter who can stretch the floor, fitting the mold of what type of player Carmelo must be surrounded with.
As for the backcourt, the Knicks are still looking for a backup point guard. It is clear the Knicks are strapped for cap space, but I would love to see them be able to bring Nate Robinson back to New York. After an incredible playoff stretch filling in for injured Chicago Bulls guards Derrick Rose and Kirk Heinrich, three million dollars a year is most likely not going to cut it for the Knicks. I truly want to say JR Smith should be a top priority for the Knicks to resign, but the guy just scares me. However, I’m confident New York and Smith’s camp will agree on a deal, which will sure up some extra offensive firepower. As for the backup point guard issues, and Robinson’s demand for a bigger contract, I’d like to see a cheap, sharp-shooting point guard like Aaron Brooks make his way to the Knicks. Monta Ellis would be a dream come true, but the Knicks would have to make some major shifts on their roster to make that happen. As for now, it’s vital that New York brings in a serviceable point guard to backup Raymond Felton.
Tim Murray – The next move the Knicks need to make is to bring in a point guard that can run the offense by setting an effective pace and take some of the scoring load off of Carmelo Anthony. Felton has been adequate in that role but all great teams have that one facilitator that brings out the vision of the offense. Getting Monta Ellis would be huge because he can not only facilitate but is also an effective scorer that could compliment Carmelo nicely.
Someone I would pursue is Rajon Rondo. Celics GM Danny Ainge has stated they are not looking to trade Rondo, but now that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have been traded within the division I believe all bets are off. Rondo is clearly still young and is a great piece for the Celtics to hold on to in their rebuilding era but a lot of teams should be making a play in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes and the Celtics will not have a worse enough record to be involved by holding onto Rondo. If trading Rondo could land them a top 2 pick in the 2014 draft it will make sense to let him go.