What To Expect From The Knicks New Talent


We’re nearly a week into Phil’s second offseason as the move-maker of the Knickerbockers, and it’s safe to say that things are finally starting to look, well, different if nothing else.

After boldly selecting the 7’3” European big man Kristaps Porzingis much to the chagrin of well, everyone within an earshot of New York City, and picking up Jerian Grant in a draft night trade, the Knicks swung-and-missed on a handful of marquee free agent names such as LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, and Greg Monroe, as they attempted to solidify their post play.

Enter Robin Lopez.

Apr 25, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) reacts after being called for a foul against the Memphis Grizzlies in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

A year removed from easily his best season as a pro since being drafted in 2008, Lopez comes in as what many consider to be the teams consolation to losing out on the aforementioned marquee big men to western conference title contenders, and the Milwaukee Bucks. Lopez is a versatile big man who’s an extremely underrated rebounder and shot blocker.

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While he struggled to ever find his niche during his four season with the Suns, his 2013-2014 campaign which led him to an All-Star Game, was a breakout season for the former Stanford Cardinal.

Posting the best numbers of his career in a plethora of categories including blocks (139), rebounds (699), and coming just shy of tying his career-high mark in points with 908, Lopez cemented himself as the perfect compliment alongside annual All-Star and now San Antonio Spur LaMarcus Aldridge.

Lopez isn’t a franchise-building cornerstone by any means, and that’s okay. After all, the Knicks are paying Carmelo Anthony a gazillion dollars for that, anyway! I think I just threw up in my mouth.

Lopez is a player who can come in and scrap underneath, he passes well for who he is from the post, and can command double teams in certain situations. Especially with a lack of inside talent around him, assuming Porzingis plays a true stretch-four like most expect.

Don’t expect double-doubles from Lopez for 82 games, it’s just not the player he’s going to be, definitely not in this offense. Lopez is good for anywhere from 8-14 PPG and 8-12 RPG. After all, as per ESPN, his career averages are 8.2 PPG and 5 RPG, so it would be a much welcomed improvement if he met those numbers previously mentioned.

On top of just individual numbers, Lopez’s mere presence should be good enough to warrant a 1-3 win improvement. Think sabermatics in baseball when trying to make sense of that last sentence. I promise I’ll break it down more in-depth in the future.

Phil Jackson is trying to play defense. So he signed Aaron Afflalo.

April 3, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Arron Afflalo (4) shoots against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Afflalo quickly agreed to terms with the Knicks once free agency opened, signing a two-year, $16 million contract with a player option for year two. Essentially making this a one-year deal for both sides.

Afflalo, a former first-round pick in 2007 by the Detroit Pistons has had what some would call a significant drop in production over the last few years. He was once considered the most promising up and coming perimeter defender, being discussed in the same breath as Tony Allen and Shane Battier, two of the top in the league in that regard over the last decade.

Afflalo opted out of the final year of his five-year, $36.7 million contract that he signed with Denver in 2011, after being traded to Portland at the trade deadline. Afflalo played in 25 regular season games for the Trailblazers, averaging 10.6 PPG, and 13.3 overall in 78 appearances between the Nuggets and Blazers last season.

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While Afflalo isn’t the promising player he once was, and while he may be just using the Knicks situation to cash in where he likely wouldn’t have elsewhere, the Knicks could use the talent he does have to take pressure off of Carmelo offensively, and be a mainstay against top wing shooters on the defensive side of the ball. Either way, it’s a bargain deal at best for Phil, and one he can easily get out of if it doesn’t work. With a contract like the one he signed, he’s easily trade bait come February if he’s not fitting in. Good work, Zen.

The Magic had a restricted free agent on their roster by the name of Kyle O’Quinn whom they essentially had no use for moving forward, and so the Knicks signed him to a four-year, $16 million contract. Instead of matching, the Magic decided to work a sign-and-trade and stack a draft pick and some cash from New York.

O’Quinn is the player to shine from this offseason for New York in the future. He’s 25, stands 6’10” and weighs around 260, but can move – something Phil is going to thoroughly enjoy barking at Derek Fisher to have him do.

There’s not much to say here really regarding the signing. It’s quite simple, actually. You hone what he was very well, and you get him to do it even better, and then you focus in on what he doesn’t do well, and you put him in positions to where he’s not forced to do that. But if it were that easy, the Knicks would’ve actually gotten their money’s worth from Andrea Bar… let’s just not go there.

Simply put, it can either be really fun or completely abysmal watching O’Quinn suit up for his hometown team over the next four years. It all depends on how Fisher and Rambis maneuver his growth. That’s extremely important, and will be watched closely by a lot of important eyes.

Next time, we’ll take a look at just how the new Knicks fit into the triangle, and what their specific roles will be. We’ll also be sure to include Porzee and Jerian Grant.

Loved it? Hated it? Let us know! Comment what’s on your mind below and always be sure to follow Chris on twitter, where he’s tweeting through it @bloggingknicks and probably cussing out Reggie Miller. It’s all love though… we think.