Friday, December 16, 2011

The Bench Brothers

With the acquisition of Tyson Chandler this off-season, the Knicks constructed one of the most formidable frontcourts in the entire league. Simply having "a wondeful Christmas time!" Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Chandler gives the Knicks a legitimate shot to be one of the best teams in the league.
Photo by AP

Of course, in order to gain Chandler, the Knicks had to release their starting point guard, Chauncey Billups, and their backup center, Ronny Turiaf. Likewise, in their pursuit for free agent Jamal Crawford (who seriously considered the Knicks and would have been a great bargain at the offer they made him), they missed out re-signing Shawne Williams who went over to the New Jersey Nets.

Thus far in training camp, Mike D'Antoni and other teammates have professed full confidence in Toney Douglas as the starting point guard. Likewise, Landry Fields worked all summer long on his game, has put on a lot more muscle, and should once again be a good fill at the 2 spot.

However, as the roster is currently constructed, that leaves a bench of Mike Bibby, Iman Shumpert, Bill Walker, Renaldo Balkman, Jared Jeffries, Josh Harrellson, and Jerome Jordan. According to some media members, Harrellson has said to be impressive, so you could probably pencil him in for some gametime action, but Balkman and Jordan are unlikely to get consistent playing time. The only actual known quantities on the bench are Bibby and Jeffries, who while useful, are not players that would get major minutes on many other teams.

So with the first preseason game tomorrow, the Knicks are looking to make some last-minute additions to their team to help fill out a weak bench unit. Who are some candidates?

Travis Outlaw

Al Iannazzone and Howard Beck both noted today that there is mutual interest between the Knicks and Outlaw who was waived by the New Jersey Nets via the amnesty clause. It's up in the air as to whether he will actually clear waivers, but if he does, he could be a useful piece for the Knicks' bench.

Outlaw became sort of a joke last year around the NBA for his huge contract (5 years, $35 million) and for his poor play (9.2 ppg, .375 FG%, and .302 3FG%), but he is a skilled player. At 6' 9", he could play backup SF and even fill in as a stretch-4 to hit open 3's and provide some offense on a bench unit that is sorely lacking it.

Michael Redd
Michael Redd was once a bonafide star in this league, whether anyone remembers it or not. He was a scoring machine (posted 6 seasons in a row with +20 ppg) and shot great percentages from beyond the arc. However, over the last 3 seasons, Redd has been limited to just 61 games because of knee injuries, and I believe microfracture surgery.

D'Antoni seemed to dismiss the idea of adding him - SG is not the Knicks' primary need right now - but if Redd still has anything left in the tank, he could potentially be a good, cheap pick-up.

Leon Powe
It seems Leon Powe has been forgotten about since helping the Celtics win a championship four seasons ago. He's dealt with his fair share of injuries, but as another cheap option, Powe could be an energy guy to come in defend, and rebound at the 3 and 4 slots.

Troy Murphy
Murphy is another player that seemingly disappeared from the NBA. Last season he posted poor numbers with the Nets and Celtics, but prior to that he had many seasons where he averaged double-doubles. at 6' 11" he could play power forward or center, and he has great range from behind the arc. Whether or not he has anything left in the tank is another thing.

Likely many more names will be tossed around. I've already heard James Posey and Deshawn Stevenson's names mentioned. Whether or not those rumors have any ground to them is another issue.
The Knicks bench will need help: Photo by AP


The Knicks could also go for more reclamation projects by signing Devin Green and/or Chris Hunter, a SF and C who have been working out in training camp. Both have spent very limited time in the NBA - Green with the Lakers and Hunter with the Warriors - and were largely unimpressive, but then again, so was Shawne Williams before last year. If they're hungry enough, we know D'Antoni will give them chances.

Either way, look out for the Knicks to try and add a few more bodies to a very weak bench, that will play a pivotal role with such a short, but hectic schedule.





















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