With so much uncertainty regarding the next Collective Bargaining Agreement and the system that will be in place, it is impossible to project what the Knicks will do in free agency this offseason. They have $60 million in salary already on the books for 2011-12, which means unless there is a soft cap and a mid-level exception in the next agreement, there aren't many options outside of signing veteran's minimum contracts to fill out their roster.
The team is playing host to a free agent minicamp in early June to look for a few diamonds in the rough. This was the strategy in the early 1990s, when longtime scout Fuzzy Levane unearthed two gems from the minor league circuit in John Starks (CBA) and Anthony Mason (USBL). One name to watch in this group is D-League veteran Vernon Goodridge, an athletic power forward who can block shots and rebound.
Then there is the NBA Draft, in which the Knicks hold the 17th overall pick in a draft that might be, at best, 15 players deep. That doesn't bode well, but the idea is to find a player who can, at the very least, crack the rotation. Most of their targets, such as sharpshooting guard Jimmer Fredette and skilled center Donatas Montiejunas, are expected to be off the board by the time the Knicks are on the clock. But you never know.
Plus, no one thought the Knicks would get anything out of the 2010 draft, when they had just two second-round picks, but their No. 39 selection turned into Landry Fields, who became an All-Rookie team selection.
Though the Knicks weren't in the draft lottery for the first time since 2007 (when the Chicago Bulls had their pick as a result of the Eddy Curry trade), this year's lottery might have provided another alternative for the Knicks' plans to upgrade the roster. If the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the first overall pick, opt to go with point guard Kyrie Irving, that could motivate them -- considering veteran Baron Davis' presence -- to trade 25-year-old Ramon Sessions, whom the Knicks targeted when he was a restricted free agent in 2009.
If the Cavs pass on Irving (although that doesn't seem likely) and go with Derrick Williams, then perhaps the Minnesota Timberwolves, who select second, would take Irving and finally consider trading Ricky Rubio, a Knicks target in the '09 draft. Rubio has an opt-out in his contract with Barcelona this summer, and it is believed his preference is to play in New York.
The Feb. 27 win against the Heat in Miami proved to be the high point of the season. It was only three games after the trade for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, but it offered a glimpse at the level at which this team could compete when at full health. The seven-game winning streak down the stretch was also memorable.
The blockbuster trade for Anthony and Billups on Feb. 22 turned the Knicks from a young, pesky team that played wide open to a team with two bona fide stars, a veteran point guard but otherwise not much depth.
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