We’re merely hours away from the start of NBA free agency. The rumor mill is in full effect already and many names are being linked to multiple teams.
The New York Knicks have emerged as frontrunners for a handful of top free-agent targets and as potential destinations for some of the marquee names on the market as well.
The question is whether New York can land some of these max-contract type of players, and if so, how many of them?
The Knicks have multiple needs across their roster, including in the frontcourt, perimeter shooting, wing defense and backcourt depth.
Here are six players the team could target in free agency this summer:
1. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF
Arguably the top free-agent player available this summer, Aldridge already has no shortage of suits. Among them are the Knicks, Lakers, Spurs and Mavericks.
Aldridge was Option A in Portland but reportedly wanted to leave town in hopes of joining a team that had better chances of winning a championship. Yet somehow, Aldridge is reportedly favoring the Lakers in free agency.
But perhaps Phil Jackson can convince Aldridge he can be a part of a new-look team with the Knicks, where it’s easier to become an All-Star and to advance far in the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
2. DeAndre Jordan, C
Let’s consider Marc Gasol a near-lock to stay put in Memphis, meaning Jordan takes the honor of the best free-agent center in this year’s class.
Jordan is in full demand this summer and will generate interest from the Clippers, Mavericks, Lakers and Knicks, among many other teams.
The Knicks’ pitch to Jordan is that he’ll be the No. 2 option behind Carmelo Anthony in New York as opposed to the third option after Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in Los Angeles. Apparently, a more significant role is what Jordan is looking for in addition to an easier route to the playoffs and being named an All-Star.
Both Anthony and Kobe Bryant have made phone calls out to Jordan, who has so far yet to reveal his hand. He could completely transform the Knicks from a defensive standpoint and add a nice flare on offense with his dominance around the rim.
3. Greg Monroe, C
If the Knicks can’t ring in Jordan, then Monroe is likely the No. 2 option to be the team’s center for 2015-16.
There is apparently mutual interest between Jackson and Monroe, and given the host of teams jawing after Jordan it makes it all the more likely the Knicks settle for Monroe.
Many consider Monroe a good fit for the Knicks’ triangle offense because of his ability to pass the ball. He also may not command the full max deal, which gives the team a little extra spending money to go after other players.
Whether he’s Option A or B, Monroe brings size and the ability to flourish on both sides of the ball to the Knicks, who lack any semblance of a true center on their roster right now.
4. Reggie Jackson, PG
While it is most certainly a long shot that the Knicks will be able to pry Jackson away from the Pistons, there’s no hurt in at least making a pitch to come to New York.
The Knicks tried time and time again to trade for Jackson while he was a member of the Thunder, but given the Piston’s recent trades it appears the team has the idea of Jackson being its main point guard going forward.
The Knicks traded for Jerian Grant last week during the 2015 NBA Draft, and although he’s considered an NBA-ready prospect, the team could benefit from having a proven player alongside him in the backcourt.
Both Jackson and Grant have combo guard abilities, and if somehow, someway the Knicks makes an offer Detroit won’t match, it could be well worth it.
5. Arron Afflalo, SG/SF
The Knicks are reportedly the favorites to land Afflalo, who would instantly add a scorer to the mix the team lacks since trading away J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Last season, the 29-year-old averaged 13.3 points and shot almost 42 percent from beyond the arc between stops in Denver and Portland. In his career, he’s averaged 11.4 points per game.
Afflalo is an upgrade to any player the Knicks currently have on their roster, but is nowhere near the top echelon of sharpshooters in this league. He is, though, a cheaper option that could potentially take advantage of his situation in New York if the team adds a number of frontcourt contributors to be the focal point of the offense.
6. Danny Green, SG/SF
If the Knicks wind up not chasing after Afflalo, perhaps the former champion Green would be an even better option.
Green, who we’ve seen in a handful of NBA Finals can drain it from downtown with ease, also has the ability to defend multiple positions. Not to mention that Green is a Long Island native.
Statistics suggest that that Green, 28, is just about the same player that Afflalo is, but with better defense. To be honest, between the two potential shooting targets, the Knicks should grab whoever they can get for less money.