COMMENTARY | Despite a roster that underwent minimal turnover, the New York Knicks were busy this offseason. Without the cap flexibility to be big players in free agency, they focused their attention on re-signing their own players and scouting the trade market for upgrades.
The only player the Knicks whiffed on was restricted free agent Chris Copeland, who signed with the Indiana Pacers. A defensive liability that provided instant offense off the bench, the 29-year-old rookie earned a new deal that New York simply couldn't afford. While he'll be missed, the Knick' bench projects to have no problem scoring this season.
The Knicks did make a splash with a big trade, as well as a few veteran signings. Which of their moves will help New York the most this season?
5. Trading for Andrea Bargnani
The definition of a risk-reward proposition, the Knicks acquired a big man who has constantly fought the label of being "soft" and makes $12 million in each of the next two seasons. To get Bargnani, the Knicks moved Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a future first-round pick and two second-rounders north of the border to Toronto, which was overjoyed that a team was willing to give it something for a player it was considering using the amnesty clause on.
In the end, the only real asset the Knicks lost was the first-round pick that will likely land outside the lottery if they remain a playoff team. Non-lottery picks end up as role players more often than not in the NBA, so the reward of Bargnani's upside far outweighs the downside of the acquisition, as I've previously discussed.
While Bargnani isn't much of a rebounder or a defender, he will fit well into the Knicks' offense as a stretch-4 who can give Carmelo Anthony room to operate in the middle of the court. If he completely busts, the Knicks can shop his expiring contract next offseason to recoup something of value or, in the worst-case scenario, wait a year to use the extra cap space themselves.
4. Re-signing Kenyon Martin
After the Bargnani trade, it was apparent that the Knicks needed to find another defensive presence in their frontcourt to play behind Tyson Chandler. Once Elton Brand was out of the picture the Knicks turned back to Martin, who played well in New York last season and will provide the rebounding and defense that Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire won't.
Martin signed for just the veteran minimum and while bringing him back is far from flashy, it's a great fit for a team that needs some interior muscle. The veteran forward filled in extremely well when Chandler was injured and should be a key contributor off the Knicks' bench.
3. Re-signing Pablo Prigioni
With Jason Kidd retiring to coach the Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks were at risk of losing both of their backup point guards from last season. Re-signing Prigioni was important for a team that struggled to keep the ball moving without him or Kidd on the floor last season.
I wrote last week about why Knicks fans should also be Prigioni fans, and it's telling that New York's best lineups last season included Prigioni at the point and Felton playing off the ball. Prigioni is one of the only Knicks on the roster who can't be considered a serious liability on either end of the court.
2. Signing Metta World Peace
The Knicks infamously passed on Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest) in the 1999 NBA draft, opting instead for Frederic Weis, who never played a minute in the NBA. While that may have been good for World Peace at the time, it was a horrible move for the Knicks that partially defined their futility in the early 2000s.
Everything has come full circle now that World Peace has returned to his hometown to provide perimeter defense and toughness to a roster nearly devoid of both. The signing does carry some risk as World Peace is not the player he once was, but the Knicks could not have found a better player for $1.6 million.
As long as World Peace stays out of the Madison Square Garden crowd, he should be a fine addition to the Knicks' bench. He also may start over Bargnani, giving the Knicks a solid defensive starting five with Chandler and Iman Shumpert.
1. Not Trading Iman Shumpert
Speaking of Shumpert, it's the move the Knicks didn't make involving him that was their best. After considering moving Shumpert for Jared Dudley at last season's trade deadline, owner James Dolan apparently still thought trading the Knicks' best two-way player was a good idea in the offseason because he didn't want to play for the Knicks' Summer League team.
My piece from a few weeks ago details why Shumpert is so important to the Knicks, as their only young player with the potential to take a leap that could make them a serious threat in the Eastern Conference. Trading Shumpert would have been one of the biggest mistakes in the franchise's recent history, which speaks volumes when you consider the managerial ineptitude that has plagued the Knicks for the last 10-15 years.
Chris Tripodi lives in New York and has been a Knicks fan since the days of Patrick Ewing and John Starks in the early 1990s. He has written for numerous online sources, namely Draft Insider, Optimum Scouting and Jets 101.
Follow him on Twitter @christripodi.
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