Are you comfortable with this Knicks roster as presently constructed?
If you are a skeptic and you believe that the core of this team is fundamentally flawed, then perhaps you can stop reading. If that is the case, no addition – especially one to come off the bench – will help to put this team over the top.
But if you think like me and you believe that this team has the potential to surprise a lot of people, then let me ask you again. Are you comfortable with this Knicks roster as presently constructed?
From where I sit, I can see the flaws that can ultimately lead this team to belly flop. First and foremost, we have yet to see any true chemistry between Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony on the offensive end. The Knicks cannot afford to have one player excel while the other is on the bench. They must (MUST) be a dual force on the floor. Second, this team clearly has some age. Third, this team does not have a lot of pure perimeter shooters. Steve Novak is fantastic from deep. Jason Kidd has become a more reliable as his career has entered the twilight years. JR Smith is streaky, but worth mentioning in this discussion. That is about it.
But there is plenty to like. This team will be deep. This team will be tough. This team will defend. This team will (should?) rebound. This team will have experience. And this team will be focused. Assuming Iman Shumpert comes back to form, the Knicks will go at least two, and in some positions. three deep with quality players – except for one position. That is why I believe Glen Grunwald should go out and bring in a quality backup PF.
There are at least 3,936 minutes in an NBA season. Assuming Amare Stoudemire plays in 75 games at 35 minutes per game, there will be 1,311 minutes left open at the four spot. With the current roster, there are three options on how to fill those minutes.
1) When Amare or Tyson sit, Melo can slide over and play the position that many believe is his best. Tommy wrote a piece on this yesterday, and my thoughts are simple. Carmelo Anthony has made a career – a career in which he has become one of the best in his profession – by playing SF. Offensively, Melo transcends position. Defensively, I do not trust Melo defending bigger, stronger post players on a consistent basis.
2) Steve Novak can play some minutes at the position as he did last year. Perhaps Grunwald and Woodson see him as a real option. To me, he is best suited as a situational player. He is an elite 3 point shooter, but he does not play like a PF. He is not a strong post defender or rebounder. He plays hard, but he does not get paid to mix it up with the other team’s bigs in the paint.
3) A combination of Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby can conceivably play alongside Tyson Chandler. At this point in their careers, both are far better suited to play the five. Both are also pushing towards 40 and an injury to either one could derail the idea of either playing meaningful minutes at the four spot.
Coach Woodson has publicly said that he is not opposed to playing traditional lineups based on position. Because of that, I expect all three of the options above to be used at some point during the upcoming season – regardless of whether an extra body is brought in here or not.
But let me ask you again, are you comfortable with this Knicks roster as presently constructed? My gut still says that a backup PF is necessary. In an ideal world, Amare will last all season. Both Camby and Thomas will do the same. Novak will improve his lateral quickness and bulk up to bang with the bigs. But as we all know, ill will seems to find the Knicks and at this point, it is better to be safe than sorry. Why go into a season with band-aid solutions at the backup PF spot when it is possible to bring in a more traditional option? Grunwald has done a good job of building this roster to be locked and loaded for a run this coming postseason. However, the season is a marathon – not a sprint like the playoffs. Minutes have to be filled.
For what it is worth, my top options left on the FA market are:
1) Kenyon Martin – Not an outside shooter, but a guy who has been on my radar for a while. This team is built tough, and Kenyon would fit right in from that perspective. He defends the post as well as any PF in the league and he is a good rebounder as well. Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, JR Smith, Raymond Felton and Melo have all played with K-Mart in the past. However, Martin last year reportedly was upset with his playing time in Los Angeles. Martin played about 22 MPG, and probably would not get much more than that here.
2) Shawne Williams – Was Steve Novak before Steve Novak. Not quite as good from beyond the arc, but was a much better defender and rebounder than Novak while in New York. Williams plays both the three and four. While on the floor, Williams could serve a couple of purposes. He would be a legit outside threat to add to the mix I mentioned above. He would also alleviate some of the defensive pressure on Melo by sacrificing his body and defending the other team’s four. He also has familiarity with Amare, Felton and Melo.
3)Anthony Tolliver – He had a down season in Minnesota last year, but I have liked his game since he has gotten into the NBA. He has the ability to stretch the floor out to the 3 point line and he is a good rebounder. He is more of a traditional PF than Williams, but not as strong of a shooter.
Of course, Grunwald probably has his eyes on someone I have not even considered. Maybe even Chris Copeland is the guy he thinks can fill the role.
Regardless of who it is, an extra PF would fill what I see as the only remaining positional hole on the roster. It is still only July and I think some of these options will start to settle in August. I am curious to see what Grunwald does.