The New York Knicks signed center Jason Smith for a one-year deal yesterday and have now almost filled their roster. They have 13 players under contract and four others that have been playing in the summer league with realistic chances of making the roster. Jeremy Tyler (team option for next year) and Cleanthony Early (unsigned draft pick) will probably be those two remaining names. The problem is they still have Wayne Ellington on the team, inherited from the Dallas Mavericks trade. Ellington is not bad, but he isn’t good either. Phil Jackson and the front office need to make some kind of trade to move him and clear one roster spot in order to re-sign Shannon Brown, who is a free agent this summer.
I know, the Knicks already have a very guard-heavy roster, but Brown’s value is not exactly straight up about his game. A two-time champion under Jackson, he has two important characteristics that neither Ellington nor any of the other guys have: Leadership and deep knowledge of the triangle offense. Pau Gasol could have been this guy, but as you probably know he signed with the Chicago Bulls.
Last season Brown was very scarce on the court, getting two 10-day contracts to fill the roster and then being signed full time after the Knicks bought out the contracts of Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih. He played very limited minutes under Mike Woodson, but those who saw him in Los Angeles can attest to the fact that he is a great off-the-bench combo-guard. He handles the ball pretty well and passes even better. His jump shot is flawed, but it’s never too late to improve on that.
Despite not being the PG in the summer league, flashes of his leadership on the court are apparent. That could come in handy in a roster filled with so many youngsters. A long season can also take its toll on young players, and Brown seems to have the same mentality Derek Fisher had when he was a player — being a great teammate. Having played alongside Kobe Bryant and won two championships, he could be great in dealing with Carmelo Anthony as well.
Oh, and Jackson likes him. If the guy signed and hoped for Lamar Odom to come play for the Knicks, why not Brown?
The Knicks need to make something happen in order to further adjust their roster, and Brown could be an important piece in the process of installing the triangle offense and building team chemistry in their effort of establishing a winning culture at Madison Square Garden.