The New York Knicks have all but put the finishing touches on their roster for the next 3 years. They’ve locked into Chandler, Amare, Anthony (assuming he picks up his option or resigns), Felton, Shumpert, Kidd, Camby and Novak all for the next few years. While a lot of fans and basketball analysts have scrutinized the Knicks for regaining a desperate spending spree similar to the days of Isaiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury, many don’t give the Knicks credit for the little things they’ve done.
While the Knicks certainly got much older this off-season by adding Kidd (39), Camby (38), Prigioni (35) and Kurt Thomas (39) they also got a lot of role players necessary to be able to take that next step. Role players are hard to come by and is certainly something the Knicks have little history experimenting with, but this off-season is different.
The Knicks added someone who will be considered the best big man off the bench in Marcus Camby, you could make the argument that he could still be a serviceable starter in the NBA. Camby knows he is playing a reserve role behind Amare and Chandler, he will take the “mobb deep” bench of last year and make it that much more lethal, and well rounded (more importantly). People complain about giving him 3 years and over 10 mil, especially when they declined Jeremy Lin for “monetary purposes,” but they couldn’t have spent that money more wisely anywhere else had they not signed him and there is always the possibility of him retiring before the contract expires. And as an extra security for Camby, they quietly picked up a familiar face in Kurt Thomas who still has the ability to defend with the best of them.
The resigning of J.R Smith is far more valuable than anyone has given credit to. Smith, who was widely considered a selfish, ball-stopping, offensive minded guard during his Denver tenure showed the ability to really become a lock-down defender with an ability to pass the ball to his teammates. Yes, he will still go off on 3-15 shooting nights every now and then, but that is what you live with to benefit from his upside. Not only could Smith have signed a multi-year big deal contract somewhere else, but he resigned knowing that the bench was his most likely destination. This cannot be overlooked, having a player of his talent accept a bench position is what makes teams like the Knicks scarier than your typical NBA team. Say what you will about the Knicks non-guaranteed contract offer to Chris Smith, but they owed J.R a favor and this was the best they could do.
Jason Kidd wasted no time celebrating his new 3 year pact with the Knicks after he was brought on to be a “mentor” for Lin, but as we all know that didn’t work out too well. Even so, Kidd could still be very valuable to this Knicks roster. Contractually speaking, Kidd is in the same boat as Camby, they couldn’t have used the money elsewhere and he could very likely retire within a year or two. Money isn’t the issue though, Kidd has mentioned once or twice the idea of ending the games on the floor for the Knicks, which could be a problem between Felton and Kidd. Felton will need to return to his 2010 form where he and Amare had the Knicks fans on their feet every night. If not, Kidd will take over and Felton may relapse into the player we saw last year in Portland. This could be an ugly scenario, but if all goes well, Kidd will relish a reserve role and provide valuable defense and play-making for the second unit.The addition of Pablo Prigioni is similar to the addition of Kurt Thomas, if any injuries happen to the first or second string, the Knicks have options with Prigioni. Also, expect to see Kidd and Prigioni on the court at the same time when a small lineup is being featured, a lineup that has Carmelo Anthony at the 4 spot.
The Knicks will have familiar faces amongst the new, Steve Novak re-upped with a huge 3 year deal, which might be a little over market but MSG couldn’t lose two fan favorites in one off-season, even Dolan knows this. Iman Shumpert, won’t be back until sometime in the new year, but he will be back and he will be instrumental for the Knicks expected playoff run of 2013.
This is where a certain someone steps in; while many people expected JR Smith to be the opening night starter for the Knickerbockers, Glen Grunwald had another player in mind, his name is Ronnie Brewer. The antithesis of JR Smith, if there was one, would be Ronnie Brewer. He doesn’t look for his shot and he is all about defense (yes, I did mention that Smith has become an improved defender, but nowhere near the level Brewer is on). He can run the floor and get wide open dunks and shots for the Knicks, but they won’t need this out of him. The defense that Shumpert brought to the table last year will be replicated by Brewer. Together, Smith and Brewer will resemble what Shumpert may turn into. A 2 guard with the ability to knock down shots and defend the best opposing players in the league.
Will Ronnie Brewer be the reason the Knicks get past the first round of the playoffs? Probably not, but he will be a vital contributor to a successful team. A team that has Carmelo Anthony playing like we’ve seen him play for USA in the Olympics, a team where Amare Stoudemire yells “AND-1″ after every drive to the hoop because he’s regained his swag and is once again dominant with the reuniting of Ray Felton, a team that continues to get irreplaceable defense from Tyson Chandler. That is what will make the Knicks a legitimate contender, but what pushes them over the top? Players like Camby, Smith, Novak, Shumpert and most certainly Ronnie Brewer.
It is a long off-season for Knicks fans, with a few months to go until tip-off in Brooklyn and the Knicks roster all but set, waiting is the only option. There will be no excuses this year for the Knicks. They’ve had a full off-season, they’ve had a core group of players for over a year now and there is no lockout which will render a certain player useless. What you will get out of the Knicks for the next three years will be seen this coming year, this is it. The only improvement they can anticipate is that of their own future star in Iman Shumpert. Other than that, Go New York, Go New York, Go!