With the announced re-signings of J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni on Thursday, the New York Knicks have decided to keep their main core from their 54-win team from last year intact. Prigioni and the Knicks agreed on a three-year contract will pay him about $1.5 million in 2013-14, eating into a good part of the team’s $3.18 million mini-midlevel exception.
Because the exception can be split up, the Knicks will have about $1.7 million to use on another player. In addition, they have an unlimited number of veteran minimums they can hand out. So how will they fill out the rest of the roster?
Chris Copeland, a restricted free agent, is the Knicks’ next top priority. The team extended him a $988,000 qualifying offer, but they are aware that he could receive higher offer sheets from teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. Should he leave, the Knicks could possibly look at Carlos Delfino, Dahnthay Jones and Francsico Garcia, all of whom should be in their price range, to replace him at the small-forward position.
Beyond that, the Knicks would like to sign two affordable point guards and two affordable big men. At point guard, some of the more talked-about names include Brooklyn native Sebastian Telfair, Aaron Brooks, and John Lucas. As for big men, Elton Brand has been the Knicks’ No. 1 target since the start of free agency, but, like Copeland, is weighing higher offers.
Kenyon Martin, who saved the Knicks’ injury-ravaged frontcourt after initially signing a 10-day contract in February, is a top target as well. Other likely names in the mix include Samuel Dalembert, Shavlik Randolph, Lamar Odom, and Chris Wilcox. Jerome Jordan, who was on the team’s roster in 2011-12, will also get a look during Summer League action.
There are still numerous holes on the Knicks’ roster at the moment. In the end, they will likely need to sign cheap alternatives who will need to play bigger than their contract and step up in a big way next season if they have any shot of competing with the upper-echelon teams of the Eastern Conference.