The New York Knicks will have a new starting lineup next year but still has some work to do in order to fill out its rotation.
New York currently has just seven players under contract and four of those players have been acquired this offseason – Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Justin Holiday. The Knicks acquired Rose and Holiday in a five-player trade with the Chicago Bulls, while Lee and Noah were free agent pickups. Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle O’Quinn are the other players currently under contract.
Breaking news: Knicks have agreed to a one-year contract worth $5 million with point guard Brandon Jennings, according to Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago.
Jennings, 26, has been plagued by injuries over the last two years, having missed about half the season in both 2014-15 and 2015-16. He struggled last season with Detroit and Orlando, averaging 6.9 points as well as 3.5 assists while shooting a 36.8 percent from the floor and 32.9 percent from beyond the arc.
The seven players currently under contract with the Knicks account for over $83 million in cap space, per Basketball Insiders — meaning that New York had about $8 million left to spend before going over the cap prior to signing Jennings (not including the players with cap holds).
New York also made a $2.72 million qualifying offer to Langston Galloway, though the Knicks did lose Arron Afflalo in free agency to the Sacramento Kings. Lance Thomas, Lou Amundson, Cleanthony Early, Derrick Williams, Kevin Seraphin, and Sasha Vujacic are still on the open market.
Speaking of Thomas, Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote that sources told him that Thomas’ chances of staying with the Knicks are “better than 50-50.”
“He still wants to stay,” the source said. “He likes the moves they’ve done.”
Berman added that Thomas’ representatives and Knicks general manager Steve Mills met Sunday to discuss his free agency courtings. Thomas has also drawn interest from the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and New Orleans Pelicans. He reportedly already turned down an offer from the Clippers.
New York has the ability to go over the salary cap to sign Thomas as they have a cap hold on him. Since the Knicks own his early Bird rights, they can only offer him salary of around $6 million for next year.
Thomas is coming off a career year in 2015-16, averaging 8.2 points in 22.3 minutes per game. The 28-year-old shot 44.2 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.
The 6-foot-8 forward is known for his individual defense and toughness. He has the ability to get to the hoop off the dribble but is not a good rebounder.
“One thing, it looked like he was starting to make that 3-pointer,” New York head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “That extends your abilities when you make that shot and when you’re a defender. People don’t just give you shots anymore. He saw that and was able to use his athletic ability to drive to the basket. He’s a good player.”
Thomas has played five years in the NBA with the Knicks, Pelicans, and Thunder. He has posted career averages of 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds a game while shooting 43.5 percent for the floor.
In addition to cap holds on Thomas and Galloway, New York has a cap hold on Williams. The Knicks will relinquish their rights to Seraphin in order to sign Noah and Lee, according to Berman on July 3.
With the addition of Jennings, the Knicks will now have to relinquish their rights to two of the three players that they have cap holds on.
The Knicks biggest concern right now is finding a capable backup point guard.
“It’s going to be that backup point guard — that’s the question right now,” Hornacek said at the Knicks summer league. “That’s one of the tough positions to fill in the NBA. There’s a lot of backups, but you’re always looking. Can that backup step into a starter’s role if something happens to your main guy, your starter? That’s the big thing that there’s not that many of those guys out there that can do that. We got our eyes on a couple who can do that. That’s what we’ll aim for.”
Ian Begley of ESPN reports that one of the point guards that the Knicks have their eyes on is Tim Frazier. Frazier, a restricted free agent, appeared in 47 games for the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans. Frazier played very well after being dealt to Pelicans, producing 13.1 points along with 4.4 rebounds and 7.5 assists in 16 contests. Frazier also shot a career-best 45 percent from the floor and 41.9 percent from beyond the arc with New Orleans.
Other possible options for the Knicks include Aaron Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Randy Foye, Raymond Felton, Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers, and Seth Curry. Farmar, Curry and Chalmers are the most plausible options of the bunch.
Farmar has been an infrequent participant in the NBA recently but performed admirably in his 12 appearances last year for Memphis. The 29-year-old averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 assists while shooting 42.0 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Farmar has played in 503 career games but only 128 of those appearances has come since the start of the 2011-12 campaign. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder also has played for the Los Angeles Lakers, New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers.
Chalmers was having one of his best season with the Memphis Grizzlies before having his season come to a premature end after rupturing his Achilles Tendon. The 30-year-old averaged 10.8 points and 3.8 assists in 22.8 minutes over 55 contests. He shot 41.7 percent from the floor and 32.6 percent from three-point land.
[Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP]