The New York Knicks have set their training camp roster at 20 players. Of those 20 players, 12 are signed to fully-guaranteed deals, leaving the other eight to battle it out for the remaining three spots on the regular season roster. Camp begins on Sept. 30, and the team will use that time, along with seven preseason games, to help them make their final cuts.
The eight players competing for spots are:
C Cole Aldrich
F/C Ike Diogu
F/C Jeremy Tyler
F Justin Brownlee
F/C Josh Powell
G/F C.J. Leslie
G/F Chris Smith
G Toure’ Murry
Knicks fans might recognize Alrich, Tyler, Diogu and Powell from their time as role players in the NBA. The others have all spent time with the Knicks’ Summer League team (Brownlee and Smith have participated twice).
The Knicks could use a little bit of extra depth on the wings, and an extra big man to serve as injury insurance for an aging frontcourt. Powell, Brownlee and Smith (who seems to be getting invites on the basis of being J.R. Smith’s brother) are all unlikely to make the final roster, meaning the real competition is between the other five.
Toure’ Murry entered the Summer League as a relative unknown, but he was a very impressive, active defender and he plays under control on offense. He’s not a major threat to score, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be a starting point guard in the NBA, but he can run an offense well, he plays under control, and he generally makes smart plays. He should be able to make for a very solid backup point guard, and he has enough size and length to defend shooting guards, if need be.
Leslie also has a great chance to make the final roster. He’s not quite “NBA-ready” just yet, but he has tremendous potential as both a dangerous slasher and as a perimeter defender. Veterans like Metta World Peace and Tyson Chandler could help accelerate his development. He has the highest ceiling of these eight players, and should be given a chance to make good on his potential.
Diogu is a solid player and he’s been great in international play lately, but he’s at a bit of a disadvantage here. The Knicks have plenty of power forward types on the roster, but only one “true center.” He’s a better player than either Aldrich or Tyler at the moment, but his lack of size could hurt his chances.
Out of Aldrich and Tyler, Tyler definitely has the most potential. Aldrich will likely never be a major contributor on offense, but he has good size and has shown good timing as a shot blocker. He’s a little slow-footed, however, and does not excel at defending the pick-and-roll. He’s also a subpar defensive rebounder for his size.
Tyler is still very rough around the edges and will need to refine his game considerably. He’s also currently injured, which will give him less time to prove to the Knicks’ coaching staff that he belongs on the team. He had a pretty good Summer League outing though, showing more hustle on defense (along with a tendency to commit silly fouls), a few nice offensive moves, and some good work on the offensive glass. The Knicks, ever in “win now” mode, might go with Diogu or Aldrich, but Tyler could either develop into a much better player than either of them, or flame out completely.
As camp approaches, the Knicks will have some decisions to make about the players on the fringe of their roster. The battle between the bigs, in particular, will be exciting to watch. With the recent general manager changeover, the dynamic may have shifted, and those last three spots are still very much up in the air.