Keith Schlosser, Lead WriterBy waiving veteran Shannon Brown last month, the Knicks freed up their fifteenth and final roster spot, likely opening the door for the official signing of second-rounder Cleanthony Early.
After acquiring a handful of valuable young assets from the Mavericks earlier in the offseason, it makes sense that New York desires to see a return on such an investment. As the thirty-fourth overall selection in this year’s NBA Draft, there’s no doubt Early stands to make an impact relatively soon. As Phil Jackson optimistically looks ahead, the future for his team is now.
Of course, if and when they do sign the Witchita State product to a contract, the Knicks will once again employ the maximum fifteen players. The team now has the flexibility to sign Early, but what if Jackson and co. want more?
With a plethora of guards already on the roster, Brown proved to be the odd man out. His mediocre showing at NBA Summer League likely didn’t do much to help his cause, either. But what’s more, he was one of two Knickerbockers with a non-guaranteed contract for this upcoming season. This certainly added to the likelihood of his impending release.
Who’s the other player with a non-guaranteed contract? That would be known other than big man Jeremy Tyler, whose own respective showing at NBA Summer League garnered more praise than Brown’s, to say the least. Between the two, keeping Tyler is a smart move. He’s young, has shown a bit of promise already, and as a defensive-minded big, is able to provide New York with something they’ve lacked consistently in the past.
Alas, for now, Tyler is safe. He edged out Brown, but how much longer will such comfort last?
As reported by TKB last month, the Knicks have until mid-September to ultimately decide whether or not they’d like to hold onto Tyler and his potential $948,000 contract. At this reasonably cheaper rate, there’s little risk to keeping Tyler around. It’s just a matter of whether or not Jackson and co. foresee better options coming along.
Tyler proved to be a capable big man in the triangle offense in Las Vegas by looking to open things up for his teammates and expanding his court-vision. But nevertheless, he isn’t one of Jackson’s guys. Instead, the 23 year old is the easiest to cut, should New York’s otherwise full roster stand in the way of the thirteen-time NBA champion bringing another familiar player aboard. Tyler may simply not be to his liking.
There’s plenty to like about Tyler, however, and so much still to be seen. The potential is there. Still, as he heads into his fourth NBA season, it’s safe to say youngster hasn’t exactly hit his stride. There’s still plenty of time for him to find a rhythm, but the Knicks simply may not want to wait much longer if it means they miss out on someone else worth taking a chance on. For what’s it’s worth, the team was reportedly rebuffed by Summer League participant Cameron Moore, who opted to sign overseas after receiving just a camp invite from New York.
At this point in the offseason, one has to wonder, who, if anyone at all worthwhile, is still available. Would such a player be considered a better option than Tyler at this point? Would Jackson prefer to sign Thanasis Antetokounmpo, his own draft selection, instead?
It may be beneficial to hold on to Tyler initially, then trade/waive him later down the road, should something come up. The Knicks don’t have much to lose. Nevertheless, his contract still makes him the most vulnerable.