Now that the long awaited Kevin Love-to-Cavaliers trade is finally complete, the Knicks are once again left to reconsider their free agency plans come 2015.
With Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, and a slew of one-year contracts like Travis Outlaw, Samuel Dalembert, and Quincy Acy coming off the books at the conclusion of this season, New York will have an abundance of cash to splash around. With a much needed do-over thanks to the Amar’e quagmire, the pool for superstars has shrunk considerably with Cleveland locking down Kevin Love to start what looks to be a potential dynasty led by LeBron James. Now, the attention will be put on star center Marc Gasol as he prepares to be courted by just about every team with the space to handle the massively talented Spaniard.
But Marc isn’t the only quality free agent-to-be out there, I’ve listed a few stars that I think deserve a look as the Knicks kick-off their mild rebuilding stage:
Marc Gasol (’13-’14 stats: 14.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 3.6 apg) – The jewel of the 2015 NBA free agent pool could have his choice of the litter come next July. The Grizzlies don’t have the most ideal owner/front office situation but one thing they do do well is take care of their players and they pretty much treated Marc with as much respect as possible, so no surprise here if Marc stays. On the condition that he does leave, Fisher can only salivate at the possibility of having such a big presence with the ability to pass and score the way this 7fter does. Priority #1 should be Marc.
LaMarcus Alridge (’13-’14 stats: 23.2ppg, 11.1rpg, 2.6apg) – LMA probably won’t make it to the end of the season without signing an extension since Portland is a class organization who also takes care of their star players (Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Washed up Darius Miles). On the off chance that LaMarcus does make it to free agency, you’re looking at the best answer to Kevin Love if you’re one of the other unfortunate teams in the Eastern Conference. Knicks must pursue him at all cost, even with a mediocre center, you’re looking at one of the best front courts with Aldridge and Carmelo. He’ll be a dream in the Triangle, but that’s too far ahead in the future to get excited for.
Paul Millsap (’13-’14 stats: 17.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg. 3.1 apg) – Paul Millsap has managed to be one of the best under-the-radar power forwards for years with both Utah and Atlanta. There will be a big hole at the 4 next season for the Knicks but I believe the 6’8 man out of Louisiana Tech is more than capable of filling that role. At 29 (turning 30 this coming February) he should be available for a reasonable price, which could leave enough cap room for another quality player.
Rajon Rondo (’13-’14 stats: 11.7 ppg, 9.8 apg, 5.5 rpg) – Rajon had a quiet 2013-14 season, but he still managed to put up decent numbers while coming back from a gruesome injury and playing on a crap team trying their hardest to make it seem like they weren’t tanking. The Celtics committed to their future back court by drafting Marcus Smart & James Young (who they seem to be really excited for) and signing Avery Bradley to a big extension (Huh!?), which means Rajon will be allowed to walk if no trade materializes at the deadline. Although he doesn’t quite fit in the triangle, Rajon’s fire and talent is undeniable and would be a great second banana to Carmelo.
Omer Asik (’13-’14 stats: 5.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 0.8. bpg) – Omer will finally get a chance to start again, this time along side Anthony Davis — which will only see his stock rise the way it did for Jason Smith (now a Knick). Asik was once considered a hot commodity before signing with Houston and showed flashes of a potent rim protector before being banished to the bench upon Dwight’s arrival. Look for a strong season (baring injury) from the Turkish giant. SAD OMER IS SAD.
Reggie Jackson (’13-’14 stats: 13.1 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.0 rpg) – The Knicks are already committed to a PG with a huge contract (Calderon), they also have a PG who the Knicks are trying out for the future (Larkin), and of course they have Pablo! (Pabloooooo!) — but Reggie Jackson shows the type of explosiveness that Knicks desperately need and have been lacking since the Jeremy Lin days. OKC won’t let him go unless the Knicks over pay him but Jose Calderon is only getting older and slower.
Tobias Harris (’13-’14 stats: 14.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg,1.3 apg) – Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first; Tobias will be a restricted free agent, that most likely won’t matter since Orlando isn’t looking to splash any cash just yet in the middle of a rebuilding stage. At 6’9, he isn’t the most intimidating Power Forward but he’s 22 and has tons of room to grow. With a good year in Orlando, he’ll most likely justify a contract for 5-6mill a year.
Honorable mention: Brook Lopez (Player Option). Al Jefferson (Player Option), Gerald Green, Rudy Gay, Robin Lopez, Gary Neal
This is a critical time for the Knicks. Phil must go against what comes naturally to the Madison Square Garden circus by signing a player with putting butts on seats as the primary objective. One signing could determine the next 5 years and as a Knicks fan it’s gotta be a tough pill to swallow knowing Dolan could step in and sink a king’s ransom on a player that doesn’t deserve it. But, hey, Dolan said that he’s stepping away from all basketball operations and leaving that to Phil.
We can only cross our fingers and hope for the best, right?
Follow Argenys on Twitter at @Arrgenys.