Will Phil Jackson free up Knicks’ current logjam in the front court?

Keith Schlosser

Amar’e Stoudemire. Andrea Bargnani. Jeremy Tyler. Cole Aldrich. Samuel Dalembert.

USATSI_7676265_110579513_lowresSuch players may not come together to represent the most talented bunch, but each one’s respective presence on the Knicks’ roster still happens to crowd the team’s front court. The signing of Jason Smith assumedly adds to such a log jam.

Along with Stoudemire and Bargnani, Smith represents yet another oft-injured big man who has failed to remain on the court for consistent periods of time in recent seasons. Should one of them go down over the course of this coming season, perhaps the Knicks are hoping they can alternate and watch the others step in to fill the gap in the interim.

That said, having all three (in addition to Tyler, Aldrich, and Dalembert) healthy at the same time would ensure Derek Fisher needs to be savvy with a balancing act of sorts.

That is, of course, if all of the aforementioned big men happen to be on the team’s roster come opening night.

With Carmelo Anthony finally retained and without much other flexibility to make improvements to speak of, one could argue the Knicks’ roster appears set. But it’s likely there simply won’t be enough minutes to go around. Guys like STAT and Bargnani are ones who have become accustomed to playing key minutes, if and when healthy. Throw Smith into the mix, and there’s certainly going to be some competition amongst the ranks.

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Tim Hardaway Jr.’s mid-range jump shot impressive in Summer League

Harris Decker

The summer league is in full swing and Tim Hardaway Jr. is continuing to develop his game as one of the leaders of the young Knicks squad.

With a 3-0 start for the Knicks, Hardaway Jr., a baby in the NBA, is turning into a leader right before our eyes in Las Vegas. In three games he’s put up 20.7 points per game while recording a trio of steels and a handful of assists and rebounds.

What has been most impressive about Hardaway’s play has been his ability to shoot from inside the 3-point arc. During his rookie season, 52 percent of his shots came from 3-point land. While this is a skill that he will continue to exploit throughout his NBA career, an ability to score from inside could turn him into an even better player.

There were two things that Hardaway Jr. showed he could do in 2013-14. The first was hit the outside shot and the second was get to the rim. In order for him to develop into the player that we all think he can be, he needs to develop that third level of offense: the mid-range jump shot. As demonstrated here, he seems to have a great feel for that shot this summer.

Hardaway Jr. is still years away from being an established scorer in the NBA, but we’ve seen signs that he has the skills. His 3-point shot has been locked in since his days at Michigan and now that he’s developing his ability to get to the rim and pull up inside, his game is rounding into form. I’m excited to see how he continues to develop under Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson.

knicks christmas jersey

Knicks 2014 Christmas jersey revealed

The design for the 2014 Christmas Day jerseys have leaked, thanks to Paul Lukas at UniWatch.

The concept art for the designs were taken from the adidas catalog, and Lukas has confirmed their authenticity.

Last season, the league wore sleeved uniforms, with large, monochrome logos on the front and numbers on the left sleeve.

To see the complete collection of 2014 Christmas uniforms, click here.

Ed. Note: Image pixelated due to size of leaked photos.


Knicks sign Jason Smith

The Knicks have signed power forward / center Jason Smith to a one-year deal, his agency announced.

Smith signed a one-year deal worth $3.27 million (Berman, July 15). He is listed at 7 feet and 240 pounds.

Smith scored 9.7 points with 5.8 rebounds per game last season for New Orleans. He averages 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game in his career.

He suffered cartilage damage in his knee in mid-January and was out for the rest of the season. Smith had surgery on his right knee in late January.

Keith Schlosser

This signing is a bit unusual, despite the fact that Smith had been a rumored Knickerbocker target for quite some time now.

On the bright side, Smith will give New York many things a team usually desires from a big man. He knows how to assert himself physically and fight for rebounds. What’s more, he can score the basketball in an efficient manner, and also does it a way that will help the Knicks spread the floor and keep defenses guessing.

Alas, the question surrounding Smith does not exactly surround his evident abilities, but rather, his health.

An oft-injured big man, Smith struggled to hit the hardwood as often as the Pelicans hoped in recent years. He may be able to contribute to a team’s success, but one has to wonder if he’ll be able to stay healthy for the Knicks. How often can he make a difference? That remains to be seen.

At the very least, perhaps this skilled big man will light the fire under the likes of Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire.

Though his talents are undeniable, it certainly could be argued that more sensible alternatives were available for the same price. Perhaps if he can stay healthy, Smith will end up being a bargain.

Andrea Bargnani

Jackson: Bargnani ‘will do well in the system we have’

Phil Jackson believes in Andrea Bargnani.

“He’s overlooked. We think he’s going to really do well in the system we have,” Jackson said of Bargnani (Botte, July 15). “We have a couple of guards he likes to play with, Jose [Calderon] and Pablo [Prigioni], and I think he’s going to be a surprise and a pleasant one for our fans.”

Bargs averaged 13.3 points per game last season, but appeared in only 42 games.

He is owed $12 million this season, the last year of his contract.

Nate Silver: Melo’s contract could doom Knicks

Carmelo Anthony’s contract could “doom the Knicks to mediocrity,” Nate Silver argues (FiveThirtyEight, July 15).

Carmelo’s stats and the value his contract show that, over time, he will not be worth what his contract is paying him. That could start in just the third year of his deal, Silver said.

“Anthony’s value is front-loaded — he projects to be worth about $7 million more than his salary next season. But by age 34 — in the 2018-19 season — he’ll be worth $9 million less than his salary. That’s inconvenient for the Knicks, who will have much more opportunity to improve their roster in the summers of 2015 and 2016 than they do this year,” he wrote.

Read More: FiveThirtyEight Sports

Fisher says Knicks will make playoffs

Rookie head coach Derek Fisher said the Knicks will make the playoffs (Berman, July 15).

“My opinion is, based on our roster and who we’re going to become, we can compete for playing in the playoffs and playing for a championship in the Eastern Conference,’’ Fisher said. “When that happens, putting dates on it, that’s not my job.”

Currently, the team is likely to start Samuel Dalembert at center, either Amar’e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani at power forward, Carmelo Anthony at small forward and J.R. Smith and Jose Calderson in the backcourt.

“I believe in our guys,’’ Fisher said. “Even if nothing else changes, we’re good enough to be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, but we have to go out and prove it.’’

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo’s deal expected to be for $122-123 million

Carmelo Anthony’s five-year contract with the Knicks is expected to be worth between $122-123 million (Berman, July 14).

That figure represents $6 million below the max value the team could have signed him for.

But, that represents a lot more than Chicago could offer: four years and $73 million.

“He did exactly what we kind of asked him to do,’’ Knicks President Phil Jackson said of the structure of Melo’s deal. “Give us a break in the early part of the contract when we have some wiggle room — hopefully big enough wiggle room — next year when we can exploit it.’’