Knicks: 5 best free agent signings since 2000

JR Smith, New York Knicks (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Jul 14, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves Summer League head coach Pablo Prigioni yells to his team during an NBA Summer League game against the Brooklyn Nets at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

5. Knicks best free agent signings since 2000: Pablo Prigioni

As New York Knicks fans are well aware, the patience and diligence needed to develop a rookie is often too much to bare. When will they fully realize their potential? Is this as good as they’re ever going to get? What if they never mature coming out of college, international competition, or high school?

The Knicks got to skip all of that frustration and agony when they signed 35-year-old Pablo Prigioni to a one-year contract in the summer of 2012. Prigioni, who is the oldest rookie in NBA history, played professionally in Spain for 12 years before coming over to the NBA, and developed his crafty but effective game overseas.

Prigioni averaged better than a steal per game in ten out of his twelve professional seasons in Spain, and he would continue his pickpocketing ways in the NBA by averaging over a steal per game in his three seasons with the Knicks.

He was a part of the golden age of Argentina international basketball, playing with legends such as Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola. While playing in two Olympics for his home country, Prigioni averaged close to 30 minutes a game during the 2008 and 2012 Games, playing a large role.

Scola recalled this about his Argentine teammate in May 2013 after Prigioni finished his first NBA regular season.

"“He doesn’t play with his body; he plays with his head. There was one year in Spain where he got a problem with his knee, but he kept playing. He could barely run, but he still played. The reason why is because when his head is in the game, he’s effective. In today’s basketball where it’s about jumping high and being strong and all that, he plays the game with his head. That’s a little edge that he has.” Via"

Prigioni was never the most athletic or fastest player, but he made an impact during a few seasons where the Knicks were relevant in the Eastern Conference playoffs. At the time, there was a lot of commentary that head coach Mike Woodson did not utilize his services enough, especially during their playoff run in the 2013 NBA Playoffs.