Over the last few days many of the big-name free agents have agreed to sign with teams — Dwight Howard to the Houston Rocket, Andre Iguodala to the Golden State Warriors, Josh Smith to the Detroit Pistons. In their wakes, the second tier of free agents will sign with teams who didn’t land the big names. We’ve seen this already with guys like Jose Calderon, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Martin, etc.
What comes next will involve the New York Knicks, who have been fairly quiet during recent days. It kind of had to be that way. They gave J.R. Smith the maximum amount of money they could with his Early Bird Rights, and they used part of their Mini-Mid-Level Exception to re-sign Pablo Prigioni. They’ve handled their biggest business, and now they’ll have to wait to see who’s available to fill out their remaining positions of need.
The Knicks are in the market for a third point guard (after all, Prigioni is 36-years old), another wing player, and a back-up big man, center or power forward. Here are three players in the Knicks price range that they consider signing for those positions:
1.) Guard: A.J. Price
Apr 2, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard A.J. Price (12) takes a shot against Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) during the second quarter at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports
Price has been quietly decent during his four-year career, so it’s possible that he could receive an offer outside of the Knicks’ pay range. However, throughout his career, Price has never made over $900,000 in a season. Accepting the veteran’s minimum from the Knicks would actually be a pay raise for him. According to the CBA, Price would make $1.02 million this season at the minimum, and the Knicks could offer that and a winning situation (which he may desire after a season with the Washington Wizards).
For his career, Price is only a 32% three-point shooter, but last year he knocked down 35% of his attempts from beyond the arc, and the Knicks have a decent track record turning iffy shooters into reliable ones (see: Anthony, Carmelo; Shumpert, Iman). As a starter for 22 games last season, Price managed 9 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 4.7 assists for the Wizards. The Wizards were the same offensively with him on the floor versus on the bench and slightly better defensively when he played. He has good size at 6’3″, 185 lb. and could play in small-ball lineups with Prigioni sharing back-court time with him. He’s young and has starting experience which means, if necessary, the Knicks could rely on him to play serious minutes if a situation demands it.
2.) Wing: Mickael Pietrus
The crop of remaining wing players isn’t quite as rich, but there some potential finds in there for the Knicks. For whatever reason, Mickael Pietrus hasn’t been able to stick with one team for the last three seasons, but he’s been productive pretty much everywhere he’s been. Pietrus was a huge part of some good playoff teams in Golden State and Orlando years ago, and even played an important role for the Boston Celtics two seasons ago during their playoff run. He’s been on three teams in three years and hasn’t had a long-term contract in awhile; he should be available for the veteran’s minimum.
Pietrus has always been a capable shooter, averaging over 35% from downtown for his career. His 3FG numbers have been declining recently, but his career has shown that he’s a reliable option from beyond the arc. He’s a willing rebounder for his size, can defend when he puts his mind to it, and doesn’t require minutes or much usage on the court. The Knicks have Anthony, Shumpert, Smith, and Tim Hardaway Jr. (if he plays well) to trot out on the wings, but having a little insurance for a 3-and-D player would be helpful to have stored on the bench.
3.) Center: Ronny Turiaf
January 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center Ronny Turiaf (21) runs down court after a basket in the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Outside of Chandler, the Knicks don’t have many big men who want to do big-men things. Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani are big players, but offensive-minded and defensively averse. Ronny Turiaf only wants to do big man things. He’s not the prettiest player to watch, but there’s no doubting how hard Turiaf plays. He’s a legitimately great shot-blocker (2.6 per 36 minutes), rebounds well (7.7 per 36), and helps his teams defensively. He can knock down a mid-range jumper, but won’t look to often. Instead, he’ll set picks, roll to the basket, and look to dunk it ferociously.
Best yet, Turiaf is the best bench cheerleader perhaps in the NBA. He waves towels like no other, dances, screams, and gets legitimately happy for his teammates. He doesn’t need minutes (he gets injured often, unfortunately) and doesn’t complain about his role. For a Knicks team that will probably go small when Chandler’s not in the game, Turiaf would be a nice, legitimate big man to have waiting on the bench.
Comment below and let us know who you think the Knicks should sign!
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