The New York Knicks are nearing their maximum players limit, but still could add another player or two or three prior to training camp. The question is, would that player be a veteran, like Caron Butler, or another younger player.
Pro Basketball Talk is reporting that Butler recently told Anthony Donahue on the “33rd and 7th” podcast that he would be interested in joining the Knicks. The 36-year-old forward is way past his prime and likely would add very little in terms of on-court production. But he is a good locker room guy and would be a role model for the younger guys. Butler is almost exclusively a spot up shooter.
Butler appeared in 17 games for Sacramento last year, averaging 3.7 points, along with 1.3 rebounds in 10.4 minutes of action. He shot 42.4 percent from the field and knocked down just 16.7 percent from the three-point line (3-for-18). For his career, Butler averages 14.1 points along with 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor and 34.8 percent from beyond the arc.
If the Knicks do sign Butler, he would likely battle Lance Thomas for the backup small forward job behind Carmelo Anthony. Thomas is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, producing 8.2 points and 2.2 rebounds. He shot a career-best 44.2 percent from the floor, as well as 40.4 percent from beyond the arc. Thomas is also a high-energy defensive player, who has the ability to defend multiple positions.
Stephen Jackson has also expressed interest in joining the Knicks this summer, per Raul Barrigon of HoopsHype. The 38-year-old has not played in the NBA since the 2013-14 capaign, which is cause for concern. Jackson also told Barrigon that several Chicago Bulls’ players have been trying to recruit him.
Jackson averaged 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 steals a game for his career. He is also a career 41.4 percent shooter overall as he makes 33.3 percent of his three-point shots and 79.8 percent of his free throws.
Thomas was one of 14 players the Knicks have already added this offseason. The 28-year-old re-signed with the team for four-years, $27.5 million – the last year of the deal being non-guaranteed. New York also re-signed Sasha Vujacic and signed free agents Joakim Noah, Marshall Plumlee, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Brandon Jennings, Courtney Lee, Maurice Ndour, Ron Baker, J.P. Tokoto, and Chasson Randle. Derek Rose and Justin Holiday were acquired via trade, while the team brought over draft-n-stash prospect, Guillermo Hernangomez.
Overall, New York has 14 players with fully guaranteed contracts and three players with non-guaranteed deals – Randle, Baker and Tokoto.
The rest of the article will look at the Knicks’ positional depth chart.
Rose and Jennings.
Rose and Jennings are both high-profile acquisitions with health issues. Rose is the starter and will likely play 30-to-35 minutes a game, if he can remain healthy – which is a big question, as he appeared in 66 games last season, the most in five years. Jennings will likely be the first backcourt player off the bench, as he can play either the one or two. He also has missed several games the past two years due to an Achilles tendon injury.
It is conceivable that the Knicks will add another point guard before camp though Randle, Holiday, Lee, and Vujacic can also play the position. Randle, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Stanford, had a sensational summer league campaign for the Knicks. He averaged 18.3 points, along with 5.0 assists, 3.0 steals, and 4.3 rebounds in three Summer League contests. The 23-year-old shot 47.6 percent (20-of-42) from the field and 55.0 percent (11-of-20) from beyond the arc.
Randle is likely ticketed to start the season with the Knicks’ D-League team in Westchester.
Lee, Holiday, Vujacic, Tokoto, and Baker.
Lee is the starter. Holiday is a rotational player, while Vujacic will likely see sparse action. Tokoto, a second round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2015, spent last year in the D-League. He averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds, as well as 1.4 assists and 2.0 steals with the Knicks’ Summer League in 2016.
Baker showed off his scoring and all around ability that made him a potential late second round pick out of Wichita State this past draft. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard had 14.0 points and 5.6 rebounds during Summer League action with the Knicks.
Tokoto, Baker, Plumlee, and Randle will likely battle for the team’s last roster spot unless New York signs a veteran or two. In any case, Tokoto and Baker will likely spend most of the year in Westchester.
Anthony and Thomas.
See above. Lee and Holiday also can play the three.
Kristaps Porzingis, Kuzminskas, and Ndour.
Porzingis had a fabulous rookie campaign and is a star in the making. Kuzminskas had an outstanding Summer Olympics and has a chance to be a rotational player. Ndour could battle Kuzminskas in training camp for the right to backup Porzingis. Anthony and Thomas could also see time at power forward, if new coach Jeff Hornacek decides to go small ball.
Joakim Noah, Kyle O’Quinn, Hernangomez, and Plumlee.
How much does Noah have left in the tank? Noah only appeared in 29 games this past season though he showed he is still an elite rebounder, averaging 8.8 boards a game in 21.9 minutes of action. The 31-year-old only averaged 4.2 points a contest as he shot 38.3 percent from the field.
O’Quinn will likely start the season as Noah’s backup. The 26-year-old had a very good season a year ago, producing 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in only 11.8 minutes a game.
Hernangomez also played extremely well in the Olympics. He is a work in progress, but could work his way into the Knicks’ rotation, wrote Fred Kerber of the New York Post.
Plumlee’s contract is fully guaranteed (over $543,000) this year, but will most likely spend a lot of time in Westchester.
[Photo by Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo]