One of the more head-scratching decisions of the preseason was the decision of the New York Knicks to keep Chris Smith, the younger brother of J.R. Smith, while cutting the likes of Jeremy Tyler and other potential big men.
Tyler was injured and missed all of training camp, forcing the Knicks to work out a trade with the Golden State Warriors to obtain his D-League rights.
Now it looks as if the Knicks could add Tyler to their roster sooner, rather than later, and part ways with the younger Smith, who has no business being on an NBA roster.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Knicks management has engaged in a “serious” discussion about signing Tyler this week, when a four-day layoff in the schedule would allow the big man to get acclimated in practice.
That’s a move the Knicks have long been expected to do, after waiving the 6’10” during the preseason, when he was on the shelf with a stress fracture in his foot. The Knicks could also wait until January 6, when 10-day contracts may be signed, to buy a little more time for Tyler’s foot to fully heal.
Tyler has been playing for the Knicks’ D-League affiliate, averaging 18.0 points and 10.2 rebounds in six games so far. He’s improved his efficiency over his past few outings, raising his field goal percentage to 47.8 percent.
The original thought was that the Knicks would wait to sign Tyler until after some trades are made, but owner James Dolan said during the week that no trades would be made. However a conflicting report suggests the Knicks are still actively looking to move players, so a roster spot could be freed up for Tyler if a deal is made.
If one is not, the Knicks would have to clear a roster spot before adding Tyler.
Guard Toure’ Murry and center Cole Aldrich are on non-guaranteed contracts and have played sparingly, though Murry’s longest outing of the season came recently. Cutting Aldrich to make room for Tyler does nothing to add frontcourt depth, so Smith is really the only likely candidate noted Berman. Smith‘s contract is fully guaranteed for the rookie minimum salary, but he’s played just two minutes so far this season.
The original signing of Smith was a controversial move for the Knicks over the offseason as many speculated that the Knicks added him as a sweetener to get J.R. to re-sign over the summer.
Now that part is done, the organization can forget that mistake and move on by adding some much needed frontcourt depth in Tyler.