Yesterday, the New York Knicks signed center Jason Smith to a one year $3.3 million contract. A few days after Phil Jackson stated that he may not use the Tax Payer’s MLE, he opted to use it to help balance out the Knicks’ roster at the forward position.
Does this signing make a significant impact with the Knicks? Probably not. Smith brings toughness and rebounding to the Knick frontcourt, although he is coming off knee surgery that limited him to only 31 games this past season. A history of injuries has kept Smith off the court for most of his career as he has only played in 122 games the last three seasons. That isn’t even including the 2008-2009 season which he missed entirely with a knee surgery.
So the Knicks added a big man with a long injury history. It almost seems like a requirement nowadays for Knick forwards. When healthy, he can give the Knicks good energy at the center position and active hands on defense. He has had underwhelming rebounding numbers throughout the course of his career, especially for a seven footer, but definitely could have an impact off the bench. His soft touch will give the Knicks a possible pick and roll option off the bench or simply just a corner jumper. The least Smith will contribute is a physical body at the end of the bench to go in and smack around the opposing center.
Since he was given the $3.3 million MLE, it is hard to see him not getting any playing time when there were other centers to be had at the veterans minimum if Jackson was simply looking to fill a roster spot. The signing could also be eluding to a potential upcoming trade that would send one of the Knicks’ current forwards packing. Maybe someone will take on Amar’e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani? Personally, I’d rather keep STAT but Jackson called the Melo-STAT combo “clumsy” a few years back if you remember.
Overall, the signing is not very exciting. The Knicks are most likely now finished signing free agents as they only have the veteran’s minimum to offer, and they are already over the roster limit (unless they send Thanasis Antetokounmpo over to Europe for the year). If anything, look for the Knicks to make a trade to help cut down on the overwhelming amount of guards they have on roster.