The New York Knicks still had one spot to fill by the time training camp starts next week and their latest addition is a bit of a surprise as it isn’t the big man many people expect the team to bring in.
The Knicks have extended an invitation to small forward Justin Brownlee for their 20th and final preseason roster spot, a move that was confirmed by Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling.
The 25-year old, former St. John’s product, accepted the team’s invitation meaning the team will only have Tyson Chandler and Cole Aldrich as the only true centers on the team.
Brownlee spent last season with the San Diego Surf of the American Basketball Association. He also has experience in the D-League and in Mexico. This is his first training camp invitation since he went undrafted in 2011, though he’s been in summer league with the Knicks the past two years.
During 2012-13 summer league play, Brownlee averaged 0.5 points, 0.5 blocks, 1.50 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 8.6 minutes over two games. During 2013-14 summer league play, Brownlee averaged 4.0 points, 0.2 blocks, 1.2 steals, 0.6 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 16.1 minutes over five games.
The 6’7″ forward played for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League from 2011-12. In 50 games with the Red Claws, Brownlee averaged 8.0 points, 0.5 blocks, 0.8 steals, 1.4 assists and 4.9 rebounds over 23.5 minutes a game.
The Knicks have only 12 players on fully guaranteed deals, but C.J. Leslie and Jeremy Tyler have partially guaranteed contracts. Aldrich, Ike Diogu, Toure Murry, Josh Powell, and Chris Smith are all on non-guaranteed deals, as Brownlee likely will be, so there will be plenty of competition for the open spots on the regular season roster.
Brownlee was signed over the likes of Hassan Whiteside, DeSagana Diop and other big men the team has been linked to over the course of the past months.
If this is Steve Mills’ first decision on the job, it certainly is a head-scratcher as I would give Brownlee next to no chance of making the team out of camp.