Since we’re regularly reminded that the Knicks have little flexibility in spending, it’s imperative that the team gets thrifty while shopping for talent. Today, the Knicks Summer League squad takes the court for the first time in Vegas. Perhaps the roster will reveal a diamond in the rough, slept on type of player that’s productive and efficient, for the low low.
Some players on the team are familiar — Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway JR, CJ Leslie, Chris Smith, Jerome Jordan, Jeremy Tyler — and others not as much.
Before taking a look at the complete roster, here are some additional things to note.
1. Tim Hardaway and CJ Leslie were officially signed by the team. Since the Knicks already committed to buying the goods, this will allow us to see what type of return to expect.
2. I love that Shump is playing. Many questioned his decision to compete considering that he’s entering his third season and he’s already proven his abilities. But, I say why not? The summer of his rookie season, the NBA was in the midst of the lockout and canceled Summer League. And last season, he was rehabbing his ACL injury. Since Shumpert is healthy and able to participate, he’s jumping at the opportunity. As a Knicks fan, I appreciate this. Coach Woodson said he wants Shump to improve offensively. He’s also going to let him have a shot at calling some of the plays. This will be a good opportunity for Shump to evolve as a leader and athlete. There’s always an opportunity for players to improve. I’m glad he recognizes that.
3. When JR Smith re-signed with the Knicks, we should’ve known his shadow and little brother, Chris, wouldn’t be too far behind. Last season, the Knicks avoided that awkward moment of cutting Chris, due to an injury. Will lightning strike twice? Probably not. Pay attention to the spin and how the team maneuvers this situation if they plan to release Chris.
4. Of all the players, I’m most interested in watching Jeremy Tyler. If you recall, he made headlines a few years back when he opted to bypass his senior year in high school and play overseas for two years, instead. He thought playing in Japan and getting paid would be a better career move than finishing high school, going to college for a year, and then entering the NBA Draft. While he may have earned some money overseas initially, since returning back to the states, he hasn’t had any luck finding a permanent role with an NBA team. He eventually was drafted into the NBA, but has bounced between the NBA and NBADL.
The Knicks Summer League season kicks off today at 4PM/ET. Here’s the game schedule per Knicksnow.com:
Friday, July 12………………….. vs. New Orleans……………. 4:00 p.m…………….. WATCH ON MSG/NBATV
Sunday, July 14………………… vs. Washington…………….. 4:00 p.m…………….. WATCH ON MSG/NBATV
Monday, July 15………………… vs. Charlotte………………… 4:00 p.m…………….. WATCH ON MSG/NBATV
July 17-22……………………….. Tournament Play………………….. TBD
To help prepare for the upcoming games, here’s a Knicksnow.com scouting report on each player. Click on the thumbnail to view the player breakdowns as a slideshow.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. (6-6, G, Michigan) — You’ve heard about Hardaway. Just a few short weeks ago, the Knicks made him the 24th overall pick in the draft. They hope he can make an immediate impact, and the start to that will be a strong showing in Vegas. His game would appear ready for the jump; he’ll have to adjust to the speed of the NBA, but his jumper and instincts should help him as he finds his way. Expect him to focus on being a leader — communicating, bringing defensive intensity and making the right play to get his teammates involved.
C.J. Leslie (6-9, F, North Carolina State) — Leslie declared for the 2013 NBA Draft after his junior season at NC State. He averaged 13.7 points, on 49.7 percent shooting, with 7.3 rebounds and 1.37 blocks over 28.9 minutes in 99 games with the Wolfpack. As a junior, he averaged 15.1 points, on 51.9 percent shooting, and 7.4 rebounds and 1.23 blocks over 32.4 a game. Scouts agree that Leslie has the tools of a lottery pick; now he must show that he can translate them into success against NBA-level competition.
Chris Smith (6-2, G, Louisville) — Smith is a veteran on this year’s squad, having played for the Knicks’ entry last year. He averaged 10.2 points per game in Vegas before suffering a knee injury in training camp and undergoing surgery. After missing the entire season, he’s looking to show that he can develop his game and potentially help the team down the road. That means: continuing to improve on a three-point stroke that really came along after transferring to Louisville from Manhattan College as a junior; working to improve his handle; and, as is almost always the case with young players, getting up to speed with NBA team defensive concepts.
Jerome Jordan (7-0, C, Tulsa via Los Angeles/NBDL) — Jordan, you’ll remember, played 21 games for the Knicks in 2011-12. Scored 13 points on 60 percent shooting and pulled down 7.7 rebounds a game in 47 D-League games last year. The native Jamaican has traveled quite a bit already in his young basketball career and hopes to show during the next few weeks that he can help a team if given the chance to stick around.
Eloy Vargas (6-11, F , Kentucky via San Lazaro/Dominican Republic) — Vargas is 6-11, with three years in the SEC (one at Florida before transferring to Kentucky) and a National Championship under his belt. Problem is, he barely had a chance to get noticed, playing behind No. 1 and 2 picks, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. After a season in the Santo Domingo League in the Dominican Republic, in which he averaged 19.4 points and 13.4 boards a game, he’s looking to show the Knicks he can give them the size they need.
J’Covan Brown (6-1, G, Texas/Greece) — Brown is best known to basketball people as the “other guard” next to some recent Texas Longhorn standouts. He played with Myck Kabongo, Cory Joseph and Avery Bradley while in Austin, and hopes to join his former teammates in the League. He’s experienced playing off the ball, has long arms for his size, and good feel for the game. He scored 20 points a game as a junior in 2011-12, and shot 37 percent from three over his last two years. Most recently played 6 games in Greece, averaging 9.3 points in 20 minutes.
A.J. Matthews (7-0, C, Farmingdale State) — Matthews worked out for the Knicks before the draft, so it’s not much of a surprise to see the local product turn up on their Summer League roster. He hails from Division III Farmingdale State, so he’s up against the odds in his quest to make it to the NBA. But he did lead the nation in rebounds per game (16.3) and double-doubles (26), while finishing third in blocked shots, at 3.67 per game.
Tony Mitchell (6-6, F, Alabama via Fort Wayne/NBDL) — Not the Tony Mitchell that visited the Knicks before the draft; this Tony Mitchell is much more of a wing than the imposing post specimen from North Texas. This Mitchell is currently playing for the Celtics’ Orlando Summer League entry and will join the Knicks after that wraps up. Through three games, he’s 13.3 points per game on 48.3 shooting from the field.
Justin Brownlee (6-7, F, St. John’s via San Diego/ABA) — Brownlee played two seasons at St. John’s, improving drastically as a sophomore. He’d see over 30 minutes a game as a result, averaging 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds while scoring more efficiently across the board. He’s played all over since college, amassing 50 games in the NBA D-League, where he has an average of 8.0 points and 4.9 rebounds a game.
Terrence Jennings (6-10, F, Louisville via Iowa/NBDL) — Jennings has an NBA body; his 7-2 wingspan is outstanding for his well-built frame. He played behind NBA player Samardo Samuels for two seasons at Louisville, getting his shot as a junior at big minutes and responding with 9.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He spent last season in the D-League, struggling to make an impact.
Toure Murry (6-5, G, Wichita State via Rio Grande/NBDL) — After four years at Wichita State, Murray played in 52 games for the Rio Grande Valley Viper of the NBA D-League, where he scored nine points a game and shot 36.7 percent from three. He’s a guard that can do a little bit of everything — he can shoot from deep, create for his teammates, and gets to the line at a reasonable rate for a guard.
Jeremy Tyler (6-10, F, Tokyo Apache/Japan and the Golden State Warriors) — Tyler was a celebrated prospect coming out of high school, so when he bypassed the NCAA to play professionally and entered the draft in 2011, many considered him a strong upside pick in the 2nd round. He’d play in 42 games with the Warriors in 2011-12, even starting 23, before being traded to the Hawks this past season and then waived. But while his career averages of 3.6 points and 2.5 rebounds don’t stand out, his NBA experience (on a Summer League roster) and obvious talent do. 22-year-olds with his moves and touch around the hoop never have a problem getting noticed, and he has a real chance to show the Knicks that he — after putting up 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds a game in 17 career D-League games — deserves a close look.
What do you think about the Knicks Summer League roster? Any true potential?