In the eyes of most, it was the fan base and the fan base alone which had big free agency dreams. A recent revelation tells an entirely different story about the New York Knicks.
Even Phil Jackson was shooting for the stars during the month of July.
"“Screen-roll and screen-pop with stretch-4s are all the rage. That means, on defense, big men must be able to either switch or step out and stop the guards from penetrating. Guys like Chris Bosh and [Nerlens] Noel can. Guys like David Lee and Greg Monroe can’t. So finding someone who is able and willing to fit our specific needs is more important than just having lots of salary cap money to spend. Plus, the kicker is that we can’t do anything in the free-agent market until we’re sure that either Marc Gasol or DeAndre Jordan are available or not.”"
As we all know, both Gasol and Jordan re-signed with their original teams.
Gasol ended up returning to the Memphis Grizzlies on a five-year contract worth upwards of $113 million. The former Defensive Player of the Year made an All-NBA First Team appearance in 2015 and doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
Not one to rely on his athleticism, Gasol’s near flawless fundamentals squashed any concerns about him turning 31 this coming January.
Jordan had one of the strangest periods of unrestricted free agency in NBA history. He agreed to the terms of a contract with the Dallas Mavericks, but backtracked, returned to the Los Angeles Clippers and secluded himself from the world in a way that was eerily reminiscent of Jodie Foster in Panic Room.
With Gasol and Jordan off the table, New York ended up signing Robin Lopez to a four-year deal worth just over $54 million. Some have criticized the deal, but New York saved what projects to be more than $5 million per season in doing so.
That could be money well spent in 2016.
As for the perimeter, Jackson also weighed in on Wesley Matthews. Matthews was originally one of New York’s top targets, but that came to an end when he tore his Achilles tendon.
"“Wes Matthews would have been perfect for us, but it’s a player’s recovery from a severe Achilles injury like the one he suffered that is always problematic.”"
Matthews is one of the league’s premier 3-and-D specialists, but it’s hard to blame Jackson for being skeptical.
Arron Afflalo, Matthews’ teammate in Portland, ended up receiving a two-year deal worth $16 million from the Knicks. His second season has a player option.
Things may not have gone according to plan for the Knicks, but one thing is undeniable: New York should be a significantly better team in 2015-16 than it was in 2014-15.
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