Well, New York Knicks fans, it’s that time again: the start of the Knicks season. We’re a week into media day and there are many questions that must be asked as we begin the preseason. With a new General Manager, who will make the upcoming roster decisions and who will make the team?
Let’s do the math as only fifteen players will make the final roster. So, first let’s look at who’s assured a spot.
Metta World Peace
Tim Hardaway JR.
The above, barring injury, appear to be the top 12, as only 12 can dress for game day. This leaves three spots remaining for the final cut, but there are still eight players trying to make it.
So, let’s break it down, player by player and see who the last men are standing. Let’s start with the back-court. The Knicks currently have three point guards, Felton, Prigioni, Udrih on the roster and three shooting guards, Smith, Shumpert, Hardaway Jr. The back-court seems pretty locked up. There may possibly be one opening as J.R. Smith will be out come the beginning of the season and, depending on the severity of the surgery and his rehab, may not be ready until later in November. This will lead to one opening.
The battle will be between Chris Smith and Murry.
I attended every game in Vegas and Chris Smith, who has heart, just doesn’t yet have NBA talent. A year in the D-league is his imminent future to work on his overall game and his outside shooting. Murry, on the other hand, showed NBA potential. The Knicks may keep him to start the season as he can play the one or two and offers a great defensive presence and the ability to penetrate with the ball.
Now if the Knicks keep Murry to allow J.R. to take his time with rehabilitation, that leaves two roster spots open.
Cole Aldrich may be a favorite to make one of those spots. He is actually the only legitimate backup center on the roster and will be needed for the larger teams like Indiana, San Antonio, Brooklyn, etc. If Aldrich makes the team along with Murry, that brings us to the last roster spot available.
A guy who showed potential in Vegas was Jeremy Tyler. He was a tough, hard-nosed competitor and displayed his talent in Vegas. He reminded me in many ways of Charles Oakley, but a taller version, a guy who could play the 4 or 5, though this is likely getting ahead of myself. As I am not privy to his surgery, and foot surgery usually takes time to heal, I don’t know what the Knicks plans are for this talented young man. If they can keep him, let him heal, sign him to the D-league to get in game shape, he could be another great find from Glen Grunwald. Remember Grunwald also picked up Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, and Chris Copeland when nobody wanted any of those three. He had an eye for talent.
This puts Steve Mills in a predicament. As he has no true backup center with a fragile front line, he must make a difficult decision on the final roster spot. So who else is fighting for the final spot? C.J. Leslie is a candidate. He showed great athletic ability in Vegas; however he does not have a pure NBA outside shot. If he develops this he will be a presence in the future. I see the Knicks pushing him off to the D-league.
Josh Powell is a candidate, but he will be fighting with Ike Diogu. So who do I pick for the fifteenth and final spot? Ike Diogu.
At 6’10″ and 255 pounds, Diogu certainly has the body to bang down low for a defensive-minded Knicks team. Diogu crashes the boards well and plays tough defense. He will be a benefit for Mike Woodson’s defensive system. The fact that he can play the four or the five is something Woodson will like. With the injury history and the ages of Martin and Stoudemire, he will fill the void.
So let the battles begin and the exhibition games will show who really belongs in the NBA and as part of the Knicks. I am sure Steve Mills and Allan (soon to be GM) Houston will be watching the waiver wires. With the firing of Grunwald, it appears James Dolan was not happy with the roster as is, so the preseason should be a lot of fun with much to watch for. GO KNICKS.
Dr. Eric Kaplan is a Best Selling author www.drerickaplan.com