Following the season, one of the New York Knicks priorities this offseason was to upgrade their point guard position through free agency and the plan apparently hasn’t changed since Jeff Hornacek has become the head coach.
New York ranked 27th in the NBA in scoring with 97.5 points a game and was 26th in assists with 20.5 a contest last year. A lack of playmaking ability by the Knicks point guards was a big reason for the Knicks’ struggles offensively. Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant were the main point guards for New York in 2015-16 and combined to average 13.2 points along with 6.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds as well as just 2.3 turnovers.
Calderon’s best years are well behind him. That doesn’t mean the 34-year old can’t be a useful backup, as he is still a good distributor and a fine three-point shooter. Calderon also doesn’t turn the ball over much.
Grant performed better as his rookie season wore on, averaging 7.5 points and 2.1 assists while shooting 46.4 percent from the field in 25 games following the All-Star break. Where the 23-year old really shined was in his six starts in April, averaging 14.5 points along with 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc.
“Jose and Jerian are kind of on opposite ends of the spectrum,” Hornacek told Adam Zagoria of SNY.TV “But we’ll work with either one of them. If there’s something out there in free agency or whatever, these guys [Phil Jackson and Steve Mills] can bring in that guy that can help a younger point guard or lend some assistance to the older point guard, that would be making our team better.”
Tony Wroten, who is on a non-guaranteed contract for next season, and Langston Galloway, who will likely be a restricted free agent, are also options. Neither Wroten or Galloway are true point guards, and both struggled shooting the ball last year.
Mike Conley will likely be the Knicks’ primary target but the question is whether they will be willing to give the 28-year old a max contract. Conley only played in 56 games during the 2015-16 season and has not played 80 games in any of the last three years. He also shot just 42.2 percent from the field, the lowest of his professional career, and there is expected to be a plethora of suitors for his services.
If New York is not able to sign Conley, the Knicks will have other options such as Rajon Rondo, Jeremy Lin, Brandon Jennings, D.J. Augustin, Ty Lawson, Jeremy Lin, Tyler Johnson, Aaron Brooks and Mario Chalmers.
According to the New York Daily News, Carmelo Anthony has already made a pitch for the Knicks to bring in Rondo. Rondo, 30, is coming off a fine season with the Sacramento Kings where he led the league in assists with 11.7 dimes a game. He produced 39 double-doubles, as well as six triple-doubles, and had his best assist-to-turnover ratio (3.02-to-1) since the 2011-12 campaign.
However, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that some people in the Knicks organization don’t believe Rondo is a good fit due to his propensity to hang onto the ball too long. Berman also said that the Knicks likely won’t consider Lin, due to his defensive inadequacies, or Lawson, as a result of his offcourt transgressions.
Jennings is a good floor general but doesn’t shoot well and is prone to putting up bad shots. He struggled this past season with Detroit and Orlando after coming back from an Achilles injury.
Augustin is a fabulous player to have on a squad, though he is only an average playmaker as he rarely penetrates. The 28-year old thrived after being traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 11.6 points along with 4.9 assists while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor and 41.1 percent from beyond the arc in 28 games with the Nuggets.
Johnson is an intriguing youngster. The 24-year old is fast and athletic and is a promising shooter. He has only played 68 games over the past two seasons and is a restricted free agent. Johnson is not a natural point guard.
Chalmers and Brooks are veterans who can shoot but aren’t really distributors or defenders.
Another possibility is early draft entrant Isaiah Whitehead, who the Knicks are reportedly high on according to Ian Begley of ESPN. The Knicks would have to acquire a draft pick in order to acquire the 6-foot-5 point guard out of Seton Hall as they don’t currently have a selection in this year’s draft. Whitehead worked out for the Knicks in front of Phil Jackson on June 4.
[Photo by Hannah Foslien/Associated Press]