The New York Knicks made a total roster overhaul this offseason and it paid off. You can give all the credit to general manager Glen Grunwald. With Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler all having max deals, Grunwald had little cap room to work with. We now know the impact these players had on the season and the role they will have in the playoffs, so let’s grade them.
First here’s the list of the players who were on the 2011-2012 team that weren’t brought back for this season:
PG Mike Bibby 2013 Team: None
PG Baron Davis 2013 Team: None
PG Jeremy Lin 2013 Team: Houston Rockets
PG Toney Douglas 2013 Team: Houston Rockets/Sacramento Kings
SG Landry Fields 2013 Team: Toronto Raptors
SG Bill Walker 2013 Team: D-League
SF Renaldo Balkman 2013 Team: Philippine Basketball Association
PF Josh Harrelson 2013 Team: Miami Heat/Puerto Rican League
PF Jared Jeffries 2013 Team: Portland Trailblazers
C Dan Gadzuric 2013 Team: Venezuelan League
C Jerome Jordan 2013 Team: Philippine Basketball Association
When you really look at this team last year, they weren’t that talented. Besides your big guns, these weren’t players that translate into a championship roster and it showed when only four out of the 11 former Knicks are playing in the NBA. Grunwald knew he had championship players in Melo and Tyson and he did a masterful job bringing in the pieces to propel the Knicks. Let’s grade the Knicks offseason moves:
PG Jason Kidd: 6.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, 37 FG%, 35 3P% 2012 Team: Dallas Mavericks
Jason Kidd wasn’t brought to New York and expected to put up his former All-Star numbers. He was brought here to do exactly what he is doing now, and that is to be a leader. Anthony has given Kidd full credit on how Kidd has shown him to mentally and physically prepare for games and to also have that championship mentality. Kidd started out hot this season but cooled down for a while. Kidd is still a threat on the court that rarely makes mistakes, will make the smart play, is unselfish, and isn’t a player you want to leave open. This signing worked out just as Grunwald envisioned it.
PG Raymond Felton: 13.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.2 RPG, 42 FG %, 36 3P% 2012 Team: Portland Trailblazers
After being dealt away from the Knicks in the blockbuster trade that brought Anthony to New York, Felton was brought back after a forgettable year in Portland. Felton played the best basketball of his career in New York pre-Melo and Knicks fans were excited to hear he was coming back after the team decided to let Lin walk. We saw how much he means to this team when he was injured and the Knicks’ got into a losing slump. Felton has been a great manager this season and is a huge part of this team’s success. I believe he will play a huge part in the Knicks’ playoff success. Grunwald hands down made the right decision signing the cheaper and more effective Felton over Lin.
PG Pablo Prigioni: 3.5 PPG, 3.0 APG, 44 FG%, 38 3P% 2012 Team: Spain
The 35-year old Argentinean rookie was very durable for Mike Woodson this year, playing in 78 games. Knicks fans didn’t know what to expect out of the unknown Prigioni, but it’s hard not to like him. He might be a NBA rookie, but he is a seasoned basketball veteran. Prigioni rarely makes mistakes, plays solid defense, and fills in his minutes nicely. Pablo’s game doesn’t jump off the stat sheet, but he does his job, no matter if it’s 18 minutes or eight minutes.
SG James White: 1.9 PPG 2012 Team: Italy
It seems like White was just roster filler but Woodson found something in him to start 15 games. White doesn’t bring much to the table and doesn’t have the capability to be an impact player on the Knicks. White’s time to shine was the Dunk Contest and he failed pretty miserably. Not much was expected out of White so he pretty much did what we all thought was going to do.
SF Ronnie Brewer: 3.3 PPG 2.2 RPG 2012 Team: Chicago Bulls
Brewer was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the trade deadline but as a Knick he was featured in Mike Woodson’s starting lineup. Brewer is known for his defense, but his lack of offensive production and being any sort of offensive threat drove him out of town.
SF Chris Copeland: 8.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG 47 FG%, 42 3P% 2012 Team: Rookie Season (Played five seasons in Europe)
It took a while for Copeland to fully get into Woodson’s rotation because of defensive and rebounding reasons, but the kid is a scorer. Copeland is going to get his minutes in the playoffs and I think he will make them count. We know defense is a huge difference maker come playoff time but if Copeland can come off the bench and get double digits, that’s all Woodson needs out of him. He is coming along now, but it was an up and down season for Copeland with his low playing time for a majority of it. Copeland fits his role well, not too high and not too low of a grade.
PF Kurt Thomas: 2.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG 2012 Team: Portland Trailblazers
The oldest player in the league started 17 games for the Knicks and played in 30 of them. Thomas had his moments during the year but wasn’t very effective and a serious threat. Thomas was cut just before the playoffs, so that gives you a feel of how much he really meant to this team.
PF Rasheed Wallace: 7.0 PPG, 4.0 PPG 2012 Team: Retired
Wallace became a fan favorite with his gritty play and his three to the dome move, but Knicks fans didn’t see much of it. Sheed couldn’t get the body into basketball form and battled with injuries for 75 percent of the season. Wallace recently retired so it’s hard to give him a good grade. He was fun to watch when he played, but his impact on this Knicks season was insignificant. Grunwald didn’t get much out of this signing when it comes down to it.
PF Kenyon Martin: 7.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG 2012 Team: Los Angeles Clippers
Martin wasn’t an offseason move, but I will include him anyway because he has had a big impact. K-Mart was signed after the trade deadline partly because of injuries but he has asserted himself quite well. Martin is a tough dude down low and when he and Chandler are out there together, not many teams are going to out rebound the Knicks. Martin will play a big role for the Knicks and if he’s healthy, he will become a fan favorite for a long time if he can help the Knicks make a deep run.
C Marcus Camby: 1.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG 2012 Team: Portland Trailblazers
Camby is a shell of his old self, but that still isn’t a valid excuse of his lack of production. His minutes and role on this team is obviously much less than he is accustomed too, but when he played it wasn’t like he was noticeable. Only playing in 24 games doesn’t help his cause and Woodson seemed to be very hesitant to insert him into any sort of consistent rotation.
SF Steve Novak: 6.6 PPG, 41 FG%, 42% 3pt% Contract: 4-Years/$15 million
The Knicks couldn’t afford to let Novak walk after leading the league in three-point percentage in 2012 at 47 percent. Novak dropped out of the top 10 this season with 42 percent but it is very hard to duplicate success when it comes to shooting three’s. Novak feasts off open shots and he does well against below average teams. He rarely makes an impact in big games against stiff defenses, but for the price the Knicks got him for and the way he spaces the floor is a threat, it was a good deal.
SG J.R. Smith: 18.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 42 FG%, 35% 3pt% Contract: 2-Year/$5.7 million
It’s hard to picture the Knicks this year without J.R. Smith. Smith always comes off the bench but he plays starter minutes, with the third most played minutes on the team. He should win the Sixth Man of the Year award and is at times the Knicks best scorer on the court. Smith, along with Carmelo Anthony, carried the Knicks at the end of the year and were playing like the best scoring combination in the league at some points. Smith is sometimes a little wild with his shot, especially in the beginning of the season, but seemed to mature towards the end. He is a clutch player and is a leader on this team. For the money Smith is getting, his deal is one of the best in the NBA. He will likely opt-out after this season since his market value is pretty high so it will be hard for the Knicks to bring him back, but he has been one hell of a player in New York.
I understand that these are the types of players Grunwald was restricted to going after so you can’t knock him. The Knicks finished with the best record they have had in almost two decades so he obviously put together the best Knicks team in a while. Overall these acquisitions worked out and most of these players will play huge roles in the playoffs.