Let us first recap how the draft went. I’ll admit that my first reaction to the Kristaps Porzingis pick wasn’t favorable, much like most of Knicks fans in attendance at Barclays, but after emotions settled and logic began to take over I came to the conclusion that the Kris pick wasn't deserving of those boo’s. No one at the fourth pick is a guaranteed game changer and with early hype Phil Jackson chose to swing for the fences. I was really excited about the Knicks move to select Jerian Grant one of the best point guards in the draft not names Russell and it totally wasn't expected. I guess Jackson chose to follow up his all in on black with a little $20 bet on red, and I approve.
The Draft wasn't going to propel the Knicks into championship contention territory anyway so seeing Phil move at a slow and steady pace like most 69 year olds wasn't surprising. Where Jackson must make a significant splash is Free Agency. Now is the time for Phil to shine up those 11 championship rings, lay out an assortment of cronuts and pizza slices or any other delicious foods that are only best in NYC (that athletes who are serious about taking care of their body probably shouldn't be eating) and get to Zenning, (uh Zen Mastering? yea that’s better.) In his first year he re-signed a franchise star in Carmelo Anthony and while many wouldn't see that as an accomplishment it is a win (relativity speaking). How much of a win has yet to be seen, let’s see Melo’s ability to attract Free Agents. While technically that’s not his job it is glaring when compared to seeing how valuable that trait is for Lebron James. Carmelo is moving out of his prime window so it is also time for Carmelo to step up and get to recruiting.
The 2015 Free Agency class is full of some very talented players enough that any team with cap space could feasibly build a turnaround team. The Knicks have close to 25 million is cap room to sign players and its not a lofty expectation to think the Knicks could really become a playoff team just by signing a few key players. I will take a tiered approach to my free agents list because of course we all want stars, but this isn't Live 2001. The tiers start with Stars, Starters and Role players. If the Knicks made a strong push and signed 1 player from each tier I would be a happy Knicks fan.
Tier 1 ( Stars )
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers (PF) - LaMarcus is probably the no 1 FA this year (not named Lebron…more on him later) as one of the best big men in the game he is a no brainer for any team not to throw everything they’ve got at him.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (C) - Continuing with players that have two capital letters in their first name, DeAndre is another premier player. An elite defender who can patrol the paint much like Tyson Chandler did. I really did not like the Tyson experiment because of his inept offensive ability. But Jordan is still young enough to turn around and dunk from a foot further than Tyson could. I don't like the one side of the ball players but if DeAndre says yes the Knicks can’t say no.
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (C) - Marc is just as good of a fit for the Knicks triangle as Lamarcus Aldridge, if not better. He’s an elite defender and can shoot. Gasol probably the best FA out there for the Knicks.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers (PF) - Klove is the best person in this bunch to space the floor and would be a solid 20 & 10 player for the Knicks or any where not in Cle.
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons (C) - Greg has been the name most tied to the Knicks but I feel he’s a poor man’s any name above but will still command close to the same amount of money, limiting the Knicks ability to sign other marquee talent. At the right price he be a great addition to the team but at max dollars his lack of defensive ability being paired with Melo will hurt more than I think his offense could help.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat (G) - Shocking I know Wade is still on of the games most Dynamic players even with his injury problems. He is looking for “long term security” and I think he is well worth it to an extent. Injuries play a big role but what Wade brings to the table outside of that, is tremendous. Lebron was always destined to be the best basketball player in the world but Dwade made him a champion. Could he do the same for Melo? The best way for him to join the Knicks would be under the case that NY signs Greg Monroe or another big to a contract that is good for both sides leaving room to give Wade the raise somewhere in the middle between what he wanted and what Mia was willing to pay. Plus his wife Gabrielle Union is in the limelight and NY is a great place for those types. I see LA and NY being a strong play for Wade. Time to get to work on recruiting Melo & LaLa.
Tier 2 ( Starters )
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks (PF) - There’s a reason why I have only listed bigs so far. It’s the biggest need for anchoring the Knicks into playoff contention. Millsap is a solid player with above average fundamentals.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets (C) - Lopez probably should be in tier 1 but with him being an injury prone player I am reluctant to place him there. However he is a big that can score making him a great fit for the triangle. He’s another player that would be a good addition if the contract is right.
Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons (PG) - Reggie has the potential to be a top guard in the NBA, he just hasn't had the ability to showcase much of it due to sitting behind arguably the best PG in the game in Russell Westbrook. He was then traded to Det who was already starting to pack it in at that point of the year.
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls (SG) - Jimmy definitely deserves to be a tier 1 FA as he is the best guard in this class, however I don’t think he has the same impact on the Knicks as those I listed. He’s a great piece for a team just needing one more player to put them over the hump like a Clippers or Pelicans or any other team out west. That’s where I see him going.
Tobias Harris, Orlando Magic (SF) - Tobias is a young player still with much upside. He’s an efficient scorer and versatile at the SF spot. He’s also from NY and that just might help.
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks (SF) - Another young player with versatility. He can play multiple positions and scores well from 3 point land.
Rajon Rondo (PG) - Any other year Rondo would be in tier 1 and at one point was the player I wanted to see most on the Knicks along side Anthony. But may have Rondman his way out of this league. At one point during the playoffs the only team that seem interested in Rondo was the Lakers but after picking Russell, I’m not sure how much interest they have left, or any other team for that matter. Phil is lauded for his ability to coach ego’s right? Just maybe this is the perfect scenario to get a great player with something to prove and at the right price.
Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks (SG) - While Monta is a good scorer he is is a volume shooter, and volume shooters aren't the best pieces to put next to players who need the ball in their hand. He still would provide a good second option to Carmelo but I’d think this pairing would have similar results to what we saw in Dallas with Dirk.
Al-Farouq Aminu (SF) - Al is a tenacious defender and that would be his role. The Knicks need to have an elite defender somewhere on the floor and Al-Farouq is as good as any player to do it.
Tier 3 ( Role Players )
David West (PF) - West has been linked as being interested in joining the Knicks. He a solid player who is firmly in the years of retiring and wants one last stop before he exits the NBA. He’s one of the last players in the league who reminds you of Oakley, a tough player who you can count on to do the dirty work.
Elton Brand (PF) - Same as West, Elton is an older player once a No.1 overall draft pick, but has just been a journey man in the NBA. Last year with the Hawks he didn't log much minuets and gave nothing for them in the playoffs. At this point he’s just a body to give the other guy some rest.
Brandon Bass (PF) - Bass is another hard-nosed player. He’s only 30 and you can count on his 10pts & 5reb. Brandon is a quintessential glue guy.
Mo Williams (PG) - At this point in his career Mo is a solid back up point who can still spot up shoot. He’s been traveling a lot lately but I think that’s more so due to not finding the right fit rather than his ability to produce. Mo is still capable of giving you 14 pts. and 6 asst. with quality minutes and maybe a great fit in the triangle.
Paul Pierce (SF) - Arguably should be in tier 2 but the fact of the matter is Paul’s days are numbered. He just may be a great fit for the Knicks as he searches for his last stop in the NBA. A mentor in the locker room much like when Kidd was here to teach the young ones around him how to win. He also has a career that Melo at this point would love to emulate, he put up great numbers for years in Boston and just before leaving his prime got some help and won a championship. The two should bond real well.
That is my long list of players I think the Knicks should target. They're are probably a handful more that the Knicks will meet with, and we will see what magic tricks Jackson has up his sleeve. Before I sign out I’ll leave you with one bold prediction. I have a running bet with my friend who is a Lebron rider. I think he is leaving Cleveland and I have a strange feeling the Knicks or rather playing with Carmelo is in his head. They tried to get Carmelo to Mia before he left the heat. I just see a reasonable scenario where they try and do it again in the Big Apple.
Of the big Free Agents, who do you think the Knicks will sign? And where do you think the other players will go?