Who can the New York Knicks target from the small forward market that may not break the bank?
The New York Knicks are loaded with young talent at the small forward position, but as they continue to improve and contend for an NBA championship they need depth, veteran leadership and talent. The Knicks plan on spending on two max free agents and if/when they do, they will need to fill out the rest of the roster on veteran minimums and cheap contracts. Here are three free agents the Knicks could get for the low:
Yes, Vince Carter is old, like very old. Yes, he isn’t the same player he used to be before when he was throwing down high flying dunks. Yes, Father Time is chasing after Carter, but Carter keeps on running away.
He’s never averaged less than 17 minutes in his 21-season career and last season he averaged 7.4 points while shooting just a tick below 39 percent from long distance. Last season on the Knicks out of players who at least attempted more than 40 threes only one player had a better mark than that (Allonzo Trier). His 283 rebounds would’ve placed 5th last year squads as well and his PER last season was a respectable 11.8 considering he was on the Hawks.
Carter has shown that he doesn’t place winning high on his list of priorities when looking for his next contract, his last three teams were the Grizzlies, Kings and Hawks but a chance to end his career with a ring playing alongside two max free agents in New York may be too much to pass up on. Especially if the Knicks can give him 10-15 minutes a night.
Last offseason, Carter also gave serious consideration to signing with the Knicks before agreeing to a deal with the Hawks, according to SNY’s Ian Begley. Carter has a very good relationship with Knicks head coach David Fizdale, who coached Carter during his time with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Knicks have plenty of young talent with RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier and Dennis Smith Jr, and Vince Carter would be the perfect veteran to bring in and be a mentor for all the young Knickerbockers.
The Knicks will have to add bench options but money will be tights after bringing out the brink trucks for other high-end options. Luckily Carter won’t break the bank, he won’t even come close.
In 2018, Carter signed with the Hawks for the veteran’s minimum and that is expected of his next contract. He can provide the Knicks with a handful of quality minutes a night and an uncountable amount of veteran leadership.
In his first three seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson looked like a rising star, but this past season saw a steep decline in production. His awkward fit alongside Jarrett Allen and the inability to shoot three-pointers forced the Arizona product to the bench, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a free agent steal for the Knicks.
Before this season Hollis-Jefferson was improving steadily in points, rebounds, and assists. His best season in the 2017-2018 campaign saw Hollis-Jefferson average 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
When given a chance to play Hollis-Jefferson was able to perform. In Game 5 of Brooklyn’s playoff series in April, He went off for 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting in just 15 minutes.
Hollis-Jefferson has position versatility and would be a solid backup center for the Knicks who they can rely on for a defensive presence in a small ball line up or if Mitchell Robinson continues with foul trouble in his sophomore season. At just 24 years old, there’s still plenty of potential and room for development for him.
Hollis-Jefferson’s limitations to score from outside a few feet from the basket will drive away suitors, but for the Knicks, they can land a young wing who can score with his back to the basket with defensive upside.
Could the best under-the-radar small forward be someone who was on that disastrous 17-65 team? The Knicks are loaded with young talent at the small forward position with RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox, so perhaps the best option is to keep a veteran who already knows the Knicks system and has the ability to score in spurts.
At the end of the season, Mario Hezonja went on a three-game tear where he scored 29 points, 9 rebounds and five assists against the Magic, 16 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists against the Rockets, and 30 points, six rebounds and five assists against the Wizards.
Hezonja will only enter his fifth season in the league, and similar to last season the Knicks could take a chance on the Croatian forward for at a smaller rate.