Moke Hamilton, NBA Analyst
As he closes in on his just his 23rd birthday, the book on Jeremy Tyler’s career as a professional basketball has quite a few chapters, but he is hoping that the current one — set in New York City as a member of the Knicks — is the longest.
“It’s been a great experience, being a part of such a high-profile organization, it’s such a great team, it’s been fun and a fun experience and I’m glad I’m here,” Tyler told TheKnicksBlog in a one-on-one interview.
“Hopefully, it’s an extended experience and things work out this summer.”
Tyler’s route to New York has been unconventional, to say the least. He has taken a path similar to the ones taken by some of his predecessors including Gary Neal of the Charlotte Bobcats, Brian Roberts of the New Orleans Pelicans and even another former Knick, Chris Copeland of the Indiana Pacers.
Those three are a few of many examples of current NBA players who excelled overseas before earning opportunities and multi-year contracts with NBA clubs.
Tyler is hoping to replicate that formula, and he is hoping to remain a part of the Knicks.
“I definitely learned a lot from being here from all the veterans that we’ve had and all the experiences that we’ve been through,” Tyler said of his experience as a Knick. “I definitely learned, I feel like I’m going into my summer a different player than I was last year.”
And moving forward, Tyler hopes to be a part of the organization, though widespread changes are expected with Phil Jackson recently being charged with rebuilding the 37-win team into a contender.
As mentioned on the April 17 edition of the TKB Podcast, a source within the Knicks front office recently told TheKnicksBlog that quite a few of the team’s players and coaching staff are unsure of what their summer holds, and that is an account that was echoed by the New York Daily News on April 18.
To this point, Tyler is one such player who is in the dark in terms of whether he will be a part of the future in New York.
“No,” Tyler told TheKnicksBlog when asked whether he or his representatives have had any conversations with the Knicks as to whether or not the Knicks will exercise the $948,000 option they have on his contract for next season.
“It’s kinda early for that,” Tyler said. “I will just take this season, play hard, have fun and take a little time off and maybe once the time is right, we’ll get back into those conversations.”
Back in 2009, at just 17 years old, Tyler made national headlines when it was learned that one of the nation’s top basketball talents would forgo his senior year at San Diego High School to begin his professional career overseas. The thought was that Tyler’s development as a pro would not be enhanced by playing out his senior year and then spending a token year in the NCAA before declaring for the NBA.
So, with his father’s advisement and blessing, Tyler perused his opportunities and eventually packed his bags for Haifa, Israel after signing with Maccabi Haifa of Israel’s Super League. Although his one-season stint with Maccabi Haifa was brief and uneventful, Tyler found an opportunity with the Basketball Japan League’s Tokyo Apache. He seemingly found himself as a professional there, as well.
Enamored by his potential, the Charlotte Bobcats drafted Tyler with the 39th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft before immediately trading him to the Golden State Warriors. Over his two-year stint with the Warriors, competing with the likes of Andris Biedrins, David Lee, Ekpe Udoh, Andrew Bogut, Carl Landry, Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes, Tyler was unable to carve out a consistent place in the team’s rotation.
He was eventually traded to the Atlanta Hawks and eventually accepted an offer from the Knicks to compete in the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada.Tyler opened eyes in Las Vegas before an unfortunate injury to the fifth metatarsal in his right foot eventually led to the Knicks waiving him in October 2013.
Back in December, though, after Tyler had progressed along in his recovery, the Knicks re-signed him and slowly but surely, he has shown the flashes of potential that once had him thought of as being a top-flight prospect.
At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Tyler has the build and girth of a true power forward. He has good timing and hands and is not afraid to throw his body around on the interior. He is deceptively quick for a man of his size and possesses both an ability to make a midrange jumper as well good off-ball cutting instincts. He is a strong finisher around the basket and has a high, tight release-point on his shot.
Though he may botch a rotation or get lost on defensive switches, Tyler works hard when he is on the floor and that is an asset to any team. He admits that he has a way to go to fulfill his potential, but he believes that he has learned valuable lessons here and will continue to progress.
“It makes me feel good,” Tyler told TheKnicksBlog when asked how he feels about being mentioned by some as a capable future building block.
“I put a lot of hard work in, a lot of hours in the gym, working on my game, but I think it’s just the beginning. I think I got a lot more work to put in,” he said.
“Every year, continue to get better… the dreams I envision for myself, it’s not gonna happen overnight, it’s a process.”
And as far as what Tyler needs to carve out a place for himself in this league?
“With me, it’s more mental,” he told TheKnicksBlog. “Working on my mental aspect of the game, continue to just stay focused when I’m out there and don’t let things bother me and just have fun,” he said.
Having worked with and prepared alongside Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire this season, Tyler believes he has had the opportunity to learn from a trio of All-Star performers who epitomize professionalism, and he believes he is better for it.
“Yes, absolutely,” Tyler said when asked if he learned new lessons this past season.
“Getting in the zone and staying focused and staying in that zone,” he said. “These guys, I’ve seen arguably one of the best scorers in the NBA in a zone where he had the utmost focus where nothing could take him out of it and to see that first hand and to be around that guy… I can see how once he’s in it, how to stay in it.”
As the Knicks embark upon their summer of uncertainty, and as well close in on Mike Woodson’s expected dismissal as head coach, the team and franchise is at a crossroads.
Moving forward, though, Tyler has the look and feel of a young prospect—again, he is just 22 years old—that could become a big-time contributor if given the opportunity and repetitions.
Figuratively and literally, Tyler has come a long way since relocating to Haifa back in 2009. And while he still has a long way to go toward fulfilling his immense potential as a professional, he hopes that he can spring some roots and settle into a role with the Knicks.
Over the final few weeks of the 2013-14 season, Tyler has found his rhythm in New York.
He is hopeful that he has found his home, as well.