The New York Knicks have gone through two weeks of training camp with less than a full roster, however, that is expected to change shortly according to Shams Charania of The Vertical.
Charania reported, on October 13, that the Knicks will re-sign Cleanthony Early. Charania added that Early will likely begin the season with the Knicks’ D-League team in Westchester as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury.
Since Westchester already owns his D-League rights, Early will not count as one of the Knicks four affiliate players if he is indeed assigned there.
New York renounced its rights to Early, as well as several others on July 7 in order have cap flexibility to sign free agents like Joakim Noah, Guillermo Hernangomez, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Brandon Jennings, Courtney Lee, and Lance Thomas.
Dana Gauruder of HoopsRumors wrote that the Knicks have been considering bringing back Early for quite some time, but with the veteran forward struggling to fully recover from his hamstring injury they were not in a hurry. The six-foot-eight forward’s injury reportedly occurred during a practice with the team prior to the Orlando Summer League getting underway.
New York selected Early with the No. 34 overall pick in the 2014 draft. The 25-year-old really struggled last season with the Knicks after showing some promise as a rookie. He was sidelined from late December until early April after getting shot in the right knee during a robbery. For the season, Early averaged 1.8 points along with 1.5 rebounds in limited action over 17 games.
The signing of Early gives New York another option at small forward. Early is a terrific athlete who has the ability to score, reaching double digits in eight of the 36 games he played in during his rookie campaign. He is comfortable playing with his back to the basket, while also having the ability to stretch the floor, though he is most effective from mid-range.
Early has yet to reach his full potential as a rebounder, particularly on the offensive end, or as a defender. While he can play the four on offense, he really can’t guard power forwards given his physical limitations.
Early’s signing means the Knicks will not be able to add another player for training camp unless they cut someone as their roster currently stands at the maximum 20 players. New York just inked free agent small forward Damien Inglis on October 11.
Maxwell Ogden of Fansided believes Inglis will begin the season in Westchester. The 2014 second round selection made his NBA debut last season, scoring 36 points and hauling in 31 rebounds in 20 contests. He shot 35.1 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from beyond the arc in 2015-16.
New York entered training camp with 15 players under guaranteed contracts and a pretty good idea of who was going to make the team. But the Knicks only have two true small forwards with Carmelo Anthony and Lance Thomas on the roster, though rookie Mindaugas Kuzminskas can also play the three position as well as the four.
New York is currently 2-1 in the preseason despite being without point guard Derrick Rose, who is in Los Angeles battling a civil case that is related to him being accused of rape. Rose will be away from the team as long as the trial is ongoing, reports ESPN.
Rose is not the only Knicks’ player to miss time during training camp as Noah, who has yet to play this preseason, is dealing with a sore ankle and did not practice on Thursday. Thomas also did not practice on Thursday due to a sore heel.
New York is loaded in the front court with 10 players capable of playing either power forward or center. The biggest question is whether veteran Lou Amundson will be one of those players to make the team. The 33-year-old, who is scheduled to make $980,431 this season after being re-signed in late September, has appeared in just one preseason game so far.
Amundson is probably a safe bet to make the roster as he provides toughness and rebounding. However, the six-foot-nine forward saw limited action last season, though he did make 35 starts during the 2014-15 campaign.
Chasson Randle, Ron Baker, and J.P. Tokoto are the players on the roster with non-guaranteed contracts. Each one of the three players have a portion of their deals guaranteed. And all three players are likely headed to Westchester to start the season.
Randle probably has the best chance of sticking on the team as Rose and Jennings are the only true point guards the Knicks have in camp. The 23-year-old rookie combo guard has shown excellent scoring potential during his stint with the team during the summer and through the first three preseason games. He is averaging 7.2 points while shooting 44.4 percent from the field (8-of-18), including 55.5 percent on three-point attempts (5-of-9).
Courtney Lee and Sasha Vujacic also can play point in a pinch.
Baker is in the same boat as Randle, as both are more used to playing off the ball than with the ball in their hands. The six-foot-four combo guard is averaging 5.6 points while making 4-of-11 shots (36.3 percent). Baker has made 3-of-5 attempts (60 percent) from beyond the three-point line.
Tokota, a second-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2015, is not much of a scorer, though his athleticism provides intrigue on the defense end and rebounding.
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