New York Knicks: Proper risks taken for season’s final stretch

New York Knicks John Jenkins (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks John Jenkins (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks have made two low-risk signings, with roster room to spare amid a lost season.

Trade deadline passed and all, the New York Knicks continue to make roster moves. They don’t hold significance towards the long term free-agency aspirations but have some significance towards this season and next season’s rosters.

It started with Henry Ellenson, who will sign a 10-day contract. John Jenkins, who was also on a 10-day pact, agreed to a two-year deal with a partial guarantee for 2019-20 that has an early trigger date.

Rosters spots opened after the Kristaps Porzingis trade and the waiving of Enes Kanter and Wesley Matthews. Without more deals to make, there was room to operate, to give players chances in an 11-47 season.

Ellenson is a former first-round pick of the Detroit Pistons that failed to make an impression in three seasons. That included a career 8.5 minutes per game, despite entering the NBA with physical tools and the ability to stretch the floor.

Problems arose defensively and just not knocking down shots in his brief time with Detroit. Maybe that won’t change in New York, either, but as others have this season, players that previously had lost careers showed flashes in an opportunity under David Fizdale.

If it doesn’t work, the Knicks can move on and sign another 10-day player to fill frontcourt depth.

For Jenkins, he was watched in this organization since the fall, playing for the G-League’s Westchester Knicks. That led to a brief opportunity with the Washington Wizards, before the NBA’s Knicks signed him back, provided playing time and led to this contract.

With the recent roster moves and even before them, the Knicks were short on knockdown shooters. The closest was Luke Kornet, who’s playing time has fluctuated for the past three weeks.

Now, they can look at the former Atlanta Hawk for the rest of the season, without another team presenting an offer once the 10-day deal expired Wednesday. If it doesn’t work, the front office can move on at season’s end and prevent the second year’s guarantee.

Per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the 2019-20 salary is $1.98 million on the veteran’s minimum exception. It could bite into the team’s cap space for bigger names, but if the Knicks deem Jenkins fit for next season’s roster, that money is minuscule towards the payroll, especially if they can’t sign two max free agents.

For outside shooting off the bench in a 10-15 minute role, that’s not much, as the NBA continues to highlight the three-point line. What if he becomes a floor spacer for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or even Mitchell Robinson off the block?

Next. 2019 NBA Mock Draft, All-Star break edition. dark

These are only small risks for the New York Knicks to take in a lost season. They may exceed expectations or flame out within 10 days of six weeks, but are worthwhile attempts at seeing what Ellenson and Jenkins can do in new opportunities.