Most of what is on the minds of New York Knick fans so far during the brief free agency period has been whether or not their team will keep Carmelo Anthony and/or bring in Pau Gasol to help their team. Well, with just around $5 million available if Anthony goes and even less if he stays, the Knicks won’t have much room to work on improving their team through the market.
One player whose name probably isn’t going through many of those minds is center and unrestricted free agent Cole Aldrich. Aldrich just finished his fourth season in the NBA with the Knicks, the fourth squad he has played for in as many years. He appeared in just 46 games during the 2013-14 season and started two, while averaging a minuscule 2.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. So you might ask why is this guy talking about Aldrich? Well, because the Knicks could use a guy like him.
First off, Aldrich will be a cheap get that won’t put too much of a dent in the small funds the Knicks have for this summer. After making just $800,000 last season while not having much of an impact, his value probably will stay around that number. They can add him and see if he could make an impact, and if he doesn’t then that number they are paying him will not have much of an impact on future spending. It won’t be too hard to convince a guy like Aldrich, who probably doesn’t have too much of a market out there for him, to rejoin the Knicks and newly appointed president Phil Jackson because of the winning culture they are installing. Aldrich has some winning on his resume as well from his days as a Kansas Jayhawk, winning a national title in his freshman season there. He probably wants to get back to his winning ways, and there isn’t anybody better to learn from Jackson.
The Knicks have already addressed their guard struggles by trading away Raymond Felton and bringing in Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington and Shane Larkin along with drafting Thanasis Antetokounmpo. After losing starting center Tyson Chandler, the current Knick roster is guard heavy and thin on the post. Aldrich, a center, would help that, and so would his play. Even though his numbers don’t show much, the seven-footer had a player efficiency rating of 19.11 last season, which is not too bad. In games where he played 15 or more minutes, he averaged 9.2 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game. In his first career start against the Boston Celtics in March, he had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards. Oh yeah, and the Knicks won all five of those games. That makes me wonder why this guy didn’t get more chances on a team that was struggling to find its identity all year.
Re-signing Aldrich is a low-risk move for the Knicks, but if he earns a chance he has the potential to make some noise and have an impact on both ends of the court and on the glass. He will add depth in the frontcourt, which the Knicks need, and will not affect their financial flexibility in the long run. They should give him another chance and a better one than the last time.