As the season grows closer to starting up again more and more questions are slowly being answered. The draft came and went, and free agency is long gone. So, what is left? The roster is almost completely locked in, and how will the rotation shape up.
Let’s start with the remaining guaranteed roster spots. Already invited to training camp are Chris Copeland, Chris Smith, Oscar Bellfield, John Shurna, Henry Sims, and Mychel Thompson. Besides Chris Copeland or Chris Smith I don’t think it is likely that any of those names make the final roster, barring a stand out performance in training camp.
Copeland proved himself a capable player in the summer league, and even went as far as to out play James White (the athletic forward the Knicks signed early in the offseason). Chris Smith is the brother of J.R., and is a shooting point guard who went undrafted.
The team is rumored to be interested in back up power forwards, because that is our weakest spot in the depth chart behind Amar’e Stoudemire. Some names that have been linked to the Knicks include DJ White (signed overseas), Lou Amundson (signed with Minnesota), Andray Blatche (signed with Nets), Kenyon Martin, and even retired Rasheed Wallace.
I am rooting for Kenyon Martin, who is supposedly not in favor of signing for a veteran’s minimum contract. I don’t think Martin has any choice if he wants to sign with a contender, and have the possibility of playing with former teammates Marcus Camby, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, and Carmelo Anthony. He is a capable rebounder and defender, but his scoring has decreased along with his age. Does he need to score? No, because hopefully STAT will do enough scoring for the entire position.
Rasheed Wallace is rumored to have worked out with the team last week, and the Knicks are reportedly interested. He retired 2 years ago from playing with the Celtics. Wallace was one of the best power forwards in the last 15 years, and won a championship with the Pistons (a team which Mike Woodson was on the coaching staff). He is a decent shooter, and was an excellent defender during his career, but is now 38, and I doubt is ready to contribute.
Honestly, the most realistic result is that we sign one of those no-name players we invited to camp, and they probably won’t get much playing time. That is what typically happens when you are down to the 14th or 15th spot on the roster.
On to the rotation. The starting line up is all but set: Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Raymond Felton are the likely starters. The sixth man will probably start with Jason Kidd, but ultimately be J.R. Smith when Iman Shumpert returns to the starting line up from injury. Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Camby, and Steve Novak round out the rest of the bench that will get major minutes. After that comes Kurt Thomas, James White, Pablo Prigoni, and the other two players who have yet to be guaranteed.
The Knicks are a very deep team this year, and have some sort of insurance on their starting lineup if someone was to go down with an injury. A lot of people are seeing Pablo Prigoni as one of the players who may help the team a lot with his veteran play making.
Most of the role players have defined parts to play on this team. Marcus Camby: The enforcer. Steve Novak: The shooter. J.R. Smith: The chucker. Jason Kidd: The floor general. Ronnie Brewer: The stopper. Those are very simplified terms to describe what they will be asked to do this season, but overall these players are lucky to have such defined roles.
The Knicks have a stellar starting line-up, a great bench, and so much potential it could blow the top off the Garden, but will it all come together? The time will come soon enough that we will all, including the players, know what the Knicks are capable of.