New York Knicks: Five early, defensive-minded free agents to target

New York Knicks (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Raptors Danny Green (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Raptors Danny Green (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

1. Danny Green (UFA)

Danny Green made a name for himself in eight seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, including the 2014 NBA championship. However, he became the salary casualty of the Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade in July 2018 and took his talents north of the border.

Starting each game he played, Green brought arguably his most efficient season yet, even beyond head coach Gregg Popovich’s masterful work in San Antonio. With 45.8 percent shooting and 44.8 percent on three-pointers for 10.1 points, this his offensive impact is there, when it fluctuated for the Spurs over his final three seasons.

Green’s value always started defensively, though. Starting lineups always featured him for a reason, despite the small points-per-game totals and sub-40 percent shooting. He guarded perimeter players admirably, leading to a 2016-17 All-Defensive Second Team honor. His career numbers have also hovered around one steal and one block per game.

A 103.7 defensive rating keeps the North Carolina product among the top defenders, and on a talented Raptors team at both ends of the court. It’s the same, standout work he did in San Antonio, and at a perfect time, before unrestricted free agency.

Green, a Long Island-born player, makes sense for the New York Knicks backcourt. They have offensive-minded point guards in Emmanuel Mudiay and Dennis Smith Jr., but they struggle at the other end and are inconsistent three-point shooters. Green off-sets both and provides an almost perfect complement to them, whether they both return. Even if it’s Kyrie Irving as the eventual starter.

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A three-year deal can take Green through his age-34 season, before a potential decline, if it does not happen before then. For now, that is not the case, and a spot in the Knicks backcourt for a few years can work.