Ray McCallum is a Nice Low Risk Option for the New York Knicks

February 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Ray McCallum (3) moves the ball up court against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
February 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Ray McCallum (3) moves the ball up court against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Knicks are in a pickle with point guards at the moment. Lost, waiting out for the 2017 free agency class while stuck with bad options in the present.

Jose Calderon, once an excellent offensive stalwart, has cratered defensively, to the point where he is most suitable as a backup. Langston Galloway is fine as a secondary ball-handler, but not as a lead guard, and Jerian Grant isn’t playing much and a ticket to Westchester could be in his near future.

With the trade deadline having come and gone, the Knicks can’t make a trade. That means no chance they trade for Jeff Teague or Ty Lawson, two popular Knicks choices. Lawson is in the process of being bought out, but without that additional year of control, I don’t think he makes sense for the Knicks.

If the Knicks want to make one more push toward the playoffs this year, they’ll need an upgrade in the backcourt, and they’re going to have to do it in among market of unknowns.

The San Antonio Spurs might’ve let one option go.

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Late Saturday night, the Spurs made room for the eventual addition of Andre Miller by waiving point guard Ray McCallum. McCallum is a third-year guard from Detroit and spent his first two seasons in the league with Sacramento, before getting traded to the Spurs this summer.

McCallum had several issues with him, namely, Tony Parker and Patty Mills ahead of him and Kyle Anderson providing solid ball-handling and playmaking as a reserve, rendering him useless.

One team’s trash could be another team’s treasure.

As a result of being stuck on the bench, McCallum is only averaging 2.3 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 1.1 assists this season.  However, he averaged 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in the 2014-15 season when he was getting more minutes for the Kings. As a rookie, he shot 37.3% from beyond the arc as a rookie, but 30.6% in his second season. In a small sample, his PER 36 numbers – career 11.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists – suggest that McCallum could provide a bit of everything.

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McCallum will never be a great defensive player, largely because of his profile. McCallum has a wingspan of six-foot-three and he isn’t the fastest guard in the league. Wingspan doesn’t mean everything, but it means more than you think. It affects his overall ability to defend the likes of Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, even someone like Jeff Teague or Emmanuel Mudiay who will have an advantage and could attack him.

He doesn’t have the size to even defend shooting guards, limiting his time on the floor, and will most likely have trouble when teams go small, I.E., quicker and with larger guards out there.

And when it comes to New York’s biggest weakness on offense this year, McCallum doesn’t exactly fill the bill at the moment. The Knicks need someone who can drive to the basket, but McCallum has two years of so-so numbers. Over his three-year span, McCallum has struggled to properly finish at the rim, registering under 40% shooting in all three seasons. However, I do wonder if this is something that can improve. This season, McCallum is shooting 60% at the rim this season and shot 62% the year before.

New York Knicks
New York Knicks /

New York Knicks

That’s something that can improve with time. More pick and roll plays and more shooting options outside to make the defense hesitate from doubling down could help McCollum go from a bad driver, into a perfectly fine driver.

Lastly, the Knicks could probably get him for cheap and that’s good for a handful of reasons. The first is that with the position up and arms, adding another potential role player at the price McCallum will come in wouldn’t hurt. Second, the Knicks need more guys like McCallum, and if they could land him on a cheap deal for two or three seasons, it gives them more positive value for less than the market rate.

Even though the cap is jumping towards $92 million next season, having two or three young players, locked in for cheap is the way to go. It allows the Knicks to not have to worry about spending on the smaller pieces while adding the premium resources.

McCallum isn’t proven, but he had some success last season and while I have questions about whether he can be good enough on defense to ever truly get big minutes, the Knicks are slowly slipping further down the Eastern Conference standings and he’s better than Jimmer.

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I’d consider making the move.