The New York Knicks acquired Derek Rose from the Chicago Bulls for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon. This means that the Knicks only have 5 players under contract going into next year. The NBA’s free agency period begins on July 1st and all eyes are on one player, Kevin Durant. The 4x scoring champion will automatically make any team he signs with an instant contender. Durant averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5 assists last season. Knicks forward, Carmelo Anthony is trying to recruit Durant while the two play together on the USA Olympic Basketball Team. I have a different approach to what the Knicks should do this off-season. Here are 3 ideas that would make New York and instant contender.
1) Don’t even try and sign KD– Going after the Oklahoma City Thunder forward is like trying to pick up a perfect “ten” at a bar. If you can do it, you are a hero, but the odds are, it won’t happen. You have too much competition around you. The Knicks have to fulfill a ton of roster spots and with KD demanding a max contract it wouldn’t be the wisest move. Instead, the Knicks should go after a few “eights” so to speak. Make these players who are an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10… feel like tens by showing them attention right off the bat.
Image: © Matt Slocum/Associated Press
2) Nicolas Batum- The NBA is a guard/forward league. If you look at all the final four teams in last year’s NBA Playoffs, all the leading scorers were either guards or small forwards. Batum would be a perfect complement to Anthony. He is 6’8, 28 years old and was one of just four players to average at least 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 three-pointers per game. The other three players were Durant, James Harden and Stephen Curry. With Rose, Kristaps Prozingis, Anthony and Batum, you now have 4 players who can score 20 points per game on any given night. Batum would be my first meeting in free agency and I wouldn’t let him leave the building until he signs a deal.
3) Joakim Noah- The former Bulls Center has struggled lately with injuries. Last year he only played in 29 games. But, if he can stay healthy he would be a perfect fit in a Knicks uniform. Noah is a physical presence down low and doesn’t need to score the basketball to be effective. With Porzingis on the outside and Noah in the paint, New York would have a perfect inside/out combo. Also, Noah has gained a ton of weight and muscle since entering the league. He is a “gym rat” and that would bode well for Porzingis who needs to be more physical and get stronger. Noah would be a great mentor for the young protégé out of Ventspils, Latvia. I can also see Noah, if heathy, leading the league in rebounding. His physical presence would be a welcomed addition to New York and the fans would love his passion for the game. The Knicks haven’t had an imposing presence in the paint since Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason. Early rumors have New York signing Noah for about $18 million per year.
Phil Jackson is making almost $12 million per year to run the Knicks. Over the past two seasons, New York has missed the playoffs. Jackson was brought here to acquire these types of free agents. He hit a home run picking Porzingis in the draft last year and now it is time to build a legitimate contender. If Jackson can’t assemble a competitive team for the 3rd year in a row, he will be on the “hot seat” and his time here in New York will be considered an epic failure.
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