The New York Knicks’ free-agent wish list is starting to dwindle by the hour.
Earlier Thursday, the team missed out on center Greg Monroe, who pushed the Knicks aside to sign a max deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Both DeAndre Jordan and LaMarcus Aldridge are seemingly long shots to join New York this summer, and in a segment with ESPN, former Knicks player Antonio Davis said he couldn’t blame Aldridge.
“In LaMarcus’ case, I’d have a hard time with just this roster because it’s not filled in,” Davis said. “Everybody is turning you down for numerous reasons. If I’m going to lose, I don’t want to lose on the biggest stage in basketball.”
After Davis’ comments, host Jay Crawford asked Davis and analyst Tom Penn about what Carmelo Anthony’s role in free agency should be and if he is deterring stars from joining the Knicks.
“He’s a guy, to me, that’s driving this bus,” Davis said. “He needs to be more vocal to try and get a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge to buy into that something that may happen down the line.”
Added Penn: “He’s never won. Typically it’s been about ‘Melo.”
Between Davis and Penn, a couple of valid points were made.
Anthony should be recruiting players. And he did. It was reported that Anthony reached out to Jordan and Monroe and Afflalo about joining up in New York. To what extent those conversations got to remains a mystery, though.
Yes, when ‘Melo tries to sell the Knicks to these free agents, it’s a hard sell. It’s him, Afflalo, a rookie in Jerian Grant and in a few years, Krisaps Porzingis. It’s like selling a 2006 Explorer when there’s a host of 2016 BMWs in the same lot.
Penn brought up a good point, one that’s potentially very scary for Knicks fans as this free-agency period plays out and fans begin to look ahead to next year. Is ‘Melo’s presence deterring other stars from coming to town?
In Boston, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett all assumed lesser roles to win a championship. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had to put their egos aside to make way for LeBron James and win two championships.
There has been no indication that ‘Melo wouldn’t be OK with taking a backseat to another superstar, but is he selling that to his colleagues?
If I’m Anthony, that has to be the pitch. “Hey, LaMarcus, you be the guy, and I’ve got your back if you need it.” But don’t ask him to be your Robin here in New York.
The Knicks need a bit of good fortune to pull off any big splashes in free agency. They still have $19.8 million in projected cap space, and if ‘Melo can soften his pitch, perhaps the Knicks can salvage something this week.
Monta Ellis has agreed to a four-year deal with the Pacers, Chris Broussard of ESPN reports (July 2).
The Knicks were reportedly interested in signing Ellis (July 1).
Ellis, who met with the Pacers on Wednesday, was also drawing interest from the Hawks and the Kings.
It was reported on Tuesday that Ellis was in serious negotiations with the Pacers on a three-year deal.
Last season for the Mavericks, the 29-year-old Ellis averaged 18.9 points and 4.1 assists while playing 33.7 minutes per game.
Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
Heading into free agency, the Knicks were already long linked to Greg Monroe. There was mutual interest and though New York was said to be a front-runner for the big man’s services, he has reportedly agreed to join the Milwaukee Bucks instead.
Monroe isn’t the only forward/center signing a more lucrative contract elsewhere. Plenty of players have agreed to join opposing teams, meaning the options are already dwindling for the Knicks.
With that in mind, where does the team go from here?
As fate would have it, a new option may quickly be emerging, largely in part due to a separate previously missed opportunity by New York.
Though Draymond Green would have been a great fit on the Knicks, they likely didn’t have a shot at signing him. Still, the young gun’s decision to stay in Golden State (reportedly signing a new contract worth $85 million) arguably puts the pressure on the Warriors to trade away former Knick David Lee.
After starting the season off with an injury, Lee lost his starting job to Green and never got it back. Still, he logged a couple of solid performances off the bench in The Finals to help his team win an NBA championship. Lee’s contributions suggested he can still make an impact. In the interest of finding a situation that benefits both parties, the Warriors are shopping his near $15.5 million expiring contract.
Could a return to the Big Apple be in the works?
It just may be a possibility. A source close to the forward tells TheKnicksBlog.com and SNY.tv that, “The Knicks’ interest level in Lee was moderate, but is now growing due to the talent still available.”
Or perhaps better said, the talent not available. And rightfully so. Lee is still a very capable player. Acquiring him for the season, and then seeing where things go from there, may prove to be a safer option than overpaying another less deserving player for a longer period of time.
In addition to shooting 53% from the field over his career, Lee has consistently served as a double-double threat. A talented passer for a player his size, he’d help the Knicks open things up and spread the floor. The 32 year old could fit well in the triangle offense and would give New York the type of low-post scoring threat that may no longer be available otherwise. Of course, the team’s fan base would welcome him back as well.
Lee averaged 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in the 2013-14 season.
Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
When rookies are drafted into the NBA, it’s sometimes a gamble to see whether or not a certain player will prove to find success in his new team’s respective system.
For a player like Jerian Grant, playing in the triangle offense comes embedded within his DNA. In addition to being the son of big league veteran Harvey Grant, the 22-year-old guard is also the nephew of Horace Grant, who won four championships playing for Phil Jackson on both the Bulls and Lakers.
Speaking with TheKnicksBlog.com and SNY.tv, Horace Grant called last month’s draft a “wonderful day for our entire family.” He, personally, was even more elated after hearing Jerian would play for the Knicks, an organization now filled with individuals with close ties to his uncle.
He said the Madison Square Garden crowd and Knicks fans alike will quickly grow to love the Notre Dame product, asserting, “Jerian’s such a competitor. He has a quiet demeanor about him off the court. But when he steps onto the court, believe me, he’s carries himself with that fierce nature.”
More specifically, the longtime veteran revealed how he believes his nephew will be able to help the Knicks this coming season.
“His IQ as a basketball player is extremely high. I know that, with the tutelage of Derek Fisher and the coaching staff, he’s going to catch on to the triangle offense very quickly,” Grant said. “If he needs to pick someone’s brain about it, he has my number!”
There’s already been talk, following an underwhelming campaign from Jose Calderon, that Grant could garner consideration for the starting point guard position. While his uncle went on to praise his maturity level, he also believes that the younger Grant will make a positive impact either way.
“Jerian’s leadership, even as a rookie, will really help the Knicks. Whether he plays with the first or second unit, he’s going to push the tempo. He can control it,” he explained. “Jerian’s going to help his teammates get to the right places on the floor. He’ll also play that tough-nosed defense. The Knicks are going to be very, very happy with him.”
Perhaps he could be considered a little biased with his former coach drafting his nephew, but the NBA champion revealed he was not consulted beforehand. Still, he nevertheless went on to praise Jackson for the job he did on draft night.
“Phil Jackson picked the best two draftees in Jerian and Kristaps Porzingis to put around Carmelo Anthony. Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson want to implement the triangle, and now they have two more great pieces,” Grant said. “I’ve said this all along — Phil and Derek have a plan.”
As the Knicks look to target worthwhile free agents to frame their team around this offseason, many have downplayed the importance of a point guard in the triangle. Grant offered his own perspective.
“It’s false,” he said of the alleged perception. “But you need intelligent players to make the offense work. Each player on the court needs to have an understanding of the various positions from one through five. Every guy, even someone like Bill Cartwright on our Bulls teams, played the point guard position.”
The Knicks will meet with free agents LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez, separately, in Los Angeles, according to Ian Begley (July 1).
With Greg Monroe signing with the Bucks, a deal between Lopez and the Knicks is “gaining momentum,” according to Adrian Wojnarowski (July 2, 11:56 a.m.).
The Knicks are “definitely in play” for Lopez, Frank Isola of the Daily News reports (July 1). In addition to the Knicks and Lakers, Isola notes that the Mavericks are also expected to make a push for Lopez.
Last season, Aldridge averaged a career-high 23.4 points to go along with 10.2 rebounds and 1 block per contest. The big man hasn’t played in more than 74 games in any of the last four seasons.
Lopez, for Portland in 2014-15, averaged 9.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. He played in 59 games, and five postseason games, averaged 27.8 minutes per game.
The Knicks are contemplating making an offer to restricted free agent C/F Enes Kanter, Frank Isola of the Daily News reports (July 2).
Kanter, 23, averaged 15.5 points and 8.9 rebounds for the Thunder last season.
Greg Monroe, who the Knicks had been targeting, signed with the Bucks earlier on Thursday.
With the Knicks losing out on the Greg Monroe sweepstakes to the Bucks and a probable long shot to nab DeAndre Jordan or LaMarcus Aldridge, the team is doing its due diligence on Kanter, a restricted free agent.
First and foremost, the Thunder are widely known to want to retain Kanter, so it will be difficult to pry him away.
RealGM.com reported Oklahoma City is prepared to offer a deal between three and four years with close to a max amount of money with incentives included. Kanter is considered “a priority” this offseason.
The 6-foot-11 former Kentucky standout is only 23 years old and in 2014-15 averaged 18.7 points and 11 rebounds in 26 games with the Thunder. After being dealt from Utah to Oklahoma City, he saw his scoring, field-goal percentage, rebounding and assist numbers increase.
Even on some pretty lowly Jazz teams Kanter posted respectable numbers. As he continues to develop in the NBA he’s proving to have an even higher ceiling.
The Knicks can try to persuade Kanter with a similar pitch they had for Jordan – he can be the No. 2 option next to Carmelo Anthony, and paired with Arron Afflalo they could have a pretty solid trio. That’s going to be a hard sell, though, as Oklahoma City has championship aspirations with a healthy Kevin Durant in addition to Russell Westbrook.
While I do like the Knicks’ aggressiveness in the process and the way they have continually kept their options open, I do fear this free-agency period could wind up backfiring. In all honesty, it’s now highly likely they strike out on all of their big-man targets and have to settle for a handful of role players.
Then, yet again, the fans have to look forward to the summer of 2016 when more big fish are on the market.
Greg Monroe will sign a maximum contract with the Bucks, Adrian Wojnarowski reports (July 2).
Agent David Falk said the Knicks also offered Monroe a max contract (July 2).
The Knicks reportedly kicked off free agency by meeting with Monroe in Washington, DC early on Wednesday.
Monroe then reportedly met with Milwaukee representatives around 2 a.m., according to Marc Stein of ESPN (July 1).
The former Pistons center, 25, averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in 69 games last season.
What. A. Shocker.
Back in April, reports surfaced that Monroe was essentially a lock to sign with the New York Knicks. After meeting with the Knicks, Lakers, Celtics, Trail Blazers and Bucks, he ultimately chose Milwaukee to continue his career.
It was understood Monroe had a desire “to feel wanted” wherever he signed this summer, and of the teams he met with, many were also connected to big men like LaMarcus Aldridge and/or DeAndre Jordan. Perhaps the Bucks had an edge since they were not mentioned in conjunction with them.
Monroe will now man the middle for Milwaukee in a frontcourt that features Giannis Antekounmpo and last year’s No. 2 pick Jabari Parker.
That leaves the Knicks searching for options up front and perhaps sweating out free agency a lot more Thursday than they were 24 hours earlier. Aldridge seems like a lock to join San Antonio, while Jordan has been linked to a handful of other teams that seem to be ahead of New York in the race.
What hurts is that the Knicks did have the dough to dish out a max deal to Monroe. I imagine the team was a bit hesitant to do so as long they had a chance to sign Aldridge or Jordan. That, in my opinion, probably swayed Monroe away from New York and to Milwaukee.
What’s next for New York? The team probably needs a bit of good luck to wind up a winner in free agency. For now, there’s a high likelihood they wind up swinging and missing on a lot of their top targets.
Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
Monroe’s also a good for the Bucks, but there’s no doubt the Knicks needed him more. A bevy of free agent big men signed contracts on Wednesday as free agency opened. The options aren’t as vast as they once were.
Monroe might not have been worth a maximum contract, but there’s no denying he boasted a very favorable skill-set for the triangle offense, as it related to other fellow big men available. The fact that he’s only 25 and signed just a three-year pact (third year being a player option) would have softened any “blow” New York would have suffered by committing such a contract to him. The team wants to win now. The pressure is on. He would have helped.
The team obviously needs to continue improving. Arron Afflalo was a good start, but certainly isn’t good enough. The Knicks were assumedly hoping that his signing would be the domino effect that welcomes other free agents to town. With Monroe off the table, the Knicks will need to get creative with how they improve the front-line.