The New York Knicks need depth if they want to be serious contenders in the Eastern Conference next season. They are still fighting for a playoff spot this season, but if they had an improved bench, they might have already locked up a playoff spot.
Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire both have expiring contracts at the end of next season and they could both be possible trade pieces this offseason. Stoudemire isn’t the player he used to be and he can’t play 30 minutes every game. Chandler’s play has declined since winning Defensive Player of the Year two seasons ago, but he is still a haunting presence to opposing teams in the paint. Whether the Knicks have both Chandler and Stoudemire next year, they should solidify their play down low and sign Jermaine O’Neal.
O’Neal is currently signed to a one-year deal worth $2 million with the Golden State Warriors. The 35-year-old former first-round pick is playing in his 17th NBA season with his seventh team. He was once a dominant big man. From 2001-2010 with the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, O’Neal averaged 18.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG and 2.2 BPG. He was one of the best centers in the league, but as he grew older, his play declined.
O’Neal has battled injuries throughout his career and came back last season to play 55 games with the Phoenix Suns. He averaged 8.3 PPG and 5.3 RPG off the bench, showing he still had some worth. This season with Golden State, O’Neal again proved he can still play a valuable role with an NBA team. Off the bench, he’s scoring 7.5 PPG while pulling down 5.3 RPG. He’s also blocking a shot per game. The 6-foot-11, 255-pound O’Neal will be 36 by the beginning of next season. He’s not expected to be a star performer for the team which signs him. He is a backup center who will matchup well against an opposing team’s center.
The Knicks have no depth whatsoever. Once their starters come out of the game, it turns into a party for the opponent. We’ve seen that act many times this season. Coach Mike Woodson has no choice but to leave his starters in for the majority of the game or risk getting blown out. New York can begin their offseason by signing a solid backup in Jermaine O’Neal for cheap. If they can get him for $3 million or cheaper, it’s a worthwhile signing.