I’ve never felt more unprepared leading up to an NBA Draft as I do tonight. In general, I know who the top prospects are, but in terms of who the Knicks are eying with their 24th pick, my knowledge is eh. Considering that the draft isn’t filled with many future franchise players to begin with, the chances of the Knicks drafting a role player who can make an immediate impact on the team leaves a lot to be desired.
And this is unfortunate because the Knicks MUST have a successful and productive offseason if they plan to exceed this year’s performance. How GM Glen Grunwald is going to pull that off, I have no idea. The Knicks salary cap situation is a nightmare and will prevent them from being active participants in free agency. Additionally, because of CBA restrictions and the majority of the team’s money being tied up among Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks are limited in what they can offer their own restricted and unrestricted free agents such as JR Smith, Chris Copeland, and Pablo Priogioni.
Here are few thoughts I’m considering as the Knicks 2013-2014 rebuilding efforts begin tonight.
1. So, it looks like the New Orleans Pelicans are going to make a strong push for Copeland. And the Milwaukee Bucks too. He’s a restricted free agent and the most the Knicks are able to offer is $3.1 million. If I were Copeland, I’d leave town. Mike Woodson didn’t maximize his talent and there are plenty of teams that can benefit from Copeland’s shot making ability. Unless Woodson is committed to increasing Copeland’s role, and has expressed that to the 28-year-old forward, trying to convince him to stay and continue to be marginalized is insulting and a non-starter.
2. JR Smith opted out of his contract and intends to test the waters. Good for him. I don’t know how much he’s expecting to earn, but he should definitely be able to garner more than the $2.9 million the Knicks planned on paying him. Although he can’t officially start fielding offers until July 1, it’s believed that the Milwaukee Bucks are interested in the streaky shooter. Not only would he receive more money, but he could also potentially return to the starting lineup if he signs with the Bucks. Ultimately, whether JR decides to stay or go will come down to what matters most to him — getting paid or potentially winning a championship. Remaining with the Knicks definitely gives him the best shot at winning, but if he’s all about the money, then pulling a Jeremy Lin is the best way to go. Either way, I’m indifferent about Smith’s future with the Knicks. I like him and he was exciting to watch, at times, but there’s no denying that his inconsistency and poor shot selection were a liability. Plus, Woodson proved that his unwavering trust in JR Smith is a detriment to the team. That type of loyalty to a player not named LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or Kobe Bryant, I can’t co-sign.
3. It seemed that the Knicks were trying to get creative and strike a trade with the Mavs. If the Mavs accepted the Knicks offer, they would’ve received the 13th pick in tonight’s draft which could’ve put them in play for a young point guard — Shane Larkin, Isaiah Caanan or C.J. McCullom. But since this report first surfaced last week, the Mavs have received more substantial offers and moved on. It was a nice thought though.
4. After trading away the rights to Kostas Papanikolaou to Portland in exchange for Raymond Felton last year, it looks like the Knicks might want that old thing back. According to Chris Berman of the Post, “The Knicks have offered future second-round picks and future considerations (cash) to Portland in an attempt to regain the rights to small forward Kostas Papanikolaou, according to sources. The Trail Blazers have rebuffed the Knicks and were asking for their 24th pick in a swap with Portland’s 39th pick Thursday night to pony up the 6-foot-9 Greek.” Since the Knicks will probably lose Smith and Copeland, the Knicks need to replace the perimeter shooting that we’ll lose. Papanikolaou can fill that void. But, is he worth dropping down 15 picks? Sounds like a huge risk to me. If Grunwald doesn’t bite, I don’t blame him. But I can’t help thinking that the Knicks would trade away the rights to a player only to decide that they want him back one year later. Hey, once a Knick always a Knick right? Even if it just was for a couple of hours.
5. Again, I know little to nothing about the players the Knicks are considering tonight. But I do know, as far as the big men go, the Knicks need someone who can pose a threat in the middle when Tyson Chandler is resting. Marcus Camby hasn’t retired yet, but here’s hoping he will. And Amar’e Stoudemire’s chronic injuries make him a non-factor. So, the Knicks really need to focus on someone who can defend and battle with the bruisers on the Indiana Pacers, rebound, and also score. As for guards, without Jason Kidd and possibly Pablo Priogioni too, the Knicks are in trouble. Raymond Felton is cool, but we desperately need someone who can push the tempo, run the pick and roll, and defend. We can’t continue to get out hustled by the younger, speedier, and athletic guards in the league.
A few prospects that are high on the Knicks list are big men: Gorgui Dieng, Tony Mitchell and Jeff Withey and point guards: Lorenzo Brown, Isaiah Canaan, Shane Larkin, Dennis Schroeder, and Nate Wolters. ESPN broke down the strengths and weaknesses of each player (here and here). FYI, after reading their analysis, I’m not too fond of any of these options. A few other players that are being considered include Tony Snell, Glen Rice Jr., and Tim Hardaway Jr.
6. Shumpert teased a new orange Knicks jersey while participating in an Adidas shoot, yesterday. He posted the pic to instragram and then quickly deleted it. But not before @jose3030 was able to snatch it up. I’m into it, but what do you think? Much easier on the eyes than these, don’t you agree?
That’s all I’ve got. But like I said here, as long as Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert remain Knicks, I’m not going to trip about losing too many of the players on last season’s roster. The fiery squad that cruised (kinda) to a second seed in the East, flamed out in the playoffs proving they weren’t as good as advertised. Melo needs scoring help, that’s a given, but will any of the players on tonight’s draft board provide the fix we need? Only time will tell.
What are your thoughts about the Knicks heading into tonight’s draft?