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Cruel, Cruel Summer: Our Free Agent Options at Center

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The trade deadline came and went this year, shuffling out old, bad players (Hughes, Jeffries) as well as young energy guys (Robinson, Hill) and getting in return more young energy guys (Walker, Rodriguez) as well as a 30-year-old, two time scoring champion who, medically speaking, is suffering from a "bad everything." Why would we acquire this glorified voodoo doll, you ask? Young moolah, baby!

Let's start the show!

(Note: This article is quite lengthy. Just giving fair warning)

Because of these trades, we’ll have very little financial obligation next year bringing our overall payroll to around 17 million (everybody say it with me; "Thanks Eddy Curry!"). Cunningly assuming we exercise the $800,000 option on Bill Walker ("Thanks Donnie!"), we will have bodies to put on the floor in the form of:

- Danilo Gallinari

- Wilson Chandler

- Bill Walker

- Toney Douglas

- Eddy Curry

One of these guys seems out of place, but I can’t tell which. Hmmm…

Let’s look at it by position:

Gallinari: "Hey, I’m a 6’10" Leo from Italy. I like walks on the beach, tight jeans, women, man as well as help defense and pressure situations. I can conceivably play the 2-guard in a piss-poor, ill-advised, hyphen-filled line-up, but that would be a bad idea. Anyone who suggests this is riding my dick a little too hard, which is quite a feat! I am best suited for the small-forward position, especially considering my history of back woes, but get me an athletic, shot-blocking big man and give me another year of weight training and you can slide me to the four!"

Gallo: 3, 4

Wilson Chandler: "What’s up? I’m a 6’8" Taurus from Michigan. I like tattoos and bowling, but I don’t like confrontation or any general emotion. I have been known to play at the 2-guard but, like Mr. Gallinari, I am bad there. I am a DIY defender who has been stuck on a bad team for a few years, so I’ve never realized my defensive potential. I am best fitted for the small-forward position for different reasons from Gallinari; he is the Yin to my Yang. While he excels at shooting the basketball and passing, I am a middling shooter with virtually no 3-point shot. I make up for it in drives to the hoop (or at least I should!), and, like Gallo, I am excellent at drawing fouls. I can be slid over to the four if there is a special shooter playing the three, and have not created a problem for anyone on any team in my whole life."

Chandler: 3, 4

Bill Walker: "What it is? I’m a 6’6" Libra from West Virginia. I like to take pisses and I don’t like to be benched. I can dunk like no one’s fucking business and am more of an untapped resource than ANWR. I am a 2-guard with ball skills and dastardly talents around the rim, but I can also spot up and shoot the ball. I’m improving. Oh yeah; and I’m so athletic it should be illegal. Call me a shooting guard, but if you want me to be your small-forward in a small-ball line-up? I probably wouldn’t say no. Holla."

Walker: 2, 3

Toney Douglas: "Toney Douglas is a 6’1" Pisces from Georgia. Toney is the Ghostiest in his spare time, but also enjoys locking down guards who think they some shit. Toney spends much of his work time developing, and has no true weakness in his game. While he does excel at the dribble-drive, he can spot up for a three or drive-and-kick to teammates. It’s just what Toney Douglas do. Toney can play either guard spot because he’s a Ghost-of-all-trades. Let Toney spin bitches."

Douglas: 1, 2

Eddy Curry: "I’m Eddy Curry. I have a terrible track-record with damn near everything, and could never stay healthy because I could never stay in shape. I want to get this paper then bounce."

Curry: Bench, sign-and-trade scenario

Everyone caught up?

Good, now we can start talking about the meat-and-potatoes of this article: Need.

With these four (actual) players, we could march out a line-up of:

Toney Douglas

Bill Walker

Wilson Chandler

Danilo Gallinari

TBA

Now, that line-up would not win any games, but it’s a very young, competent squad filled with either strong back-ups or developing starters. Let’s operate under the assumption that every player will get minutes next year, no matter what (sidebar: Wilson Chandler is the most likely to get traded out of the four, but we’re going to operate under the assumption that he sticks with the Knicks because wild speculation is dangerous). If this is the case, we still have needs in every area. Let’s do them in order.

Center

There is no such thing as a good professional basketball team without a competent player at the center position. Hell, most of the real good ones have two (Lakers, Magic, etc.)! But this roster lacks one, and David Lee is out of place defending them. For this reason, let’s look at our options at center for next year, with their ages parenthetically noted.

Unrestricted:

- Eddy Curry (I would rather die)

- Jason Collins (31)

- Randolph Morris [Let Dolph Spin! (24)]

- Tyson Chandler (27)

- Nazr Mohammed (32)

- Big Snacks

- Brad Miller (33)

- Shaquille O’Neal (62)

- Johan Petro (24)

- Ben Wallace (35)

- Yao Ming [not happening (29)]

- D.J. Mbenga (29)

- Jamaal Magloire (31)

- Jermaine O’Neal (31)

- Primoz Brezec (30)

- Jonathan Bender (29)

- Francisco Elson (34)

- Jarron Collins (31)

- Marcus Camby (35)

- Ian Mahinmi (23)

- Rasho Nesterovic (33)

- Fabricio Oberto (34)

- Brendan Haywood (30)

Restricted:

- Hilton Armstrong (25)

- Joel Anthony (27)

- Nathan Jawai (23)

- Aaron Gray (25)

- Kyrylo Fesenko (23)

And that’s the list. I would type up the 2011 list due to its significance, but I figure we should cross that bridge when we come to it. Moving on verily.

What should the requirements be to narrow the list? I have subjectively decided to take every player off the list who is full-blown terrible at defense, as well as anyone whose last name is "Collins." Additionally, 33 years old or higher, and you’re gone. I know there will be clamoring for a stronger youth movement, which makes sense, but it should also be understood that this is a particularly shitty batch of young centers on the market, and age should not be equated with eventual worth. Having said that, the list should now read:

- Randolph Morris

- Tyson Chandler

- Nazr Mohammed

- Johan Petro

- D.J. Mbenga

- Jamaal Magloire

- Jermaine O’Neal

- Primoz Brezec

- Ian Mahinmi

- Hilston Armstrong

- Joel Anthony

- Nathan Jawai

- Aaron Gray

- Kyrylo Fesenko

- Brendan Haywood

To further narrow the list, let’s take away the guys who could never start for a professional basketball team, as we are looking for a starter and not just a patchwork back-up.

The list now reads:

- Tyson Chandler

- Brendan Haywood

- Nazr Mohammed

- Jermaine O’Neal

- Ian Mahinmi

- Kyrylo Fesenko

Not as bad as it could be. We trimmed the fat and ended up with six names; four are full-blown veterans with health exclamation points, two are young centers who just need a chance. Let’s break it down.

Tyson Chandler: 27 years old, 569 games wear ‘n’ tear, 7’1"

Chris Paul’s bro from a couple years back, Tyson Chandler has been hurt the past couple of years, even failing a physical that would have been the finishing touch (pause) on a trade to OKC. His body of work is as stellar as possible for a wire-thin string bean; very solid defender, able shot-blocker, decent defender, middling back-to-the-basket game, alley-oop supreme. He has kept his FG% in the mid-50s and low-60s the past few years, which should be a prerequisite for any center.

The bad thing about Chandler is almost solely his injury history. The second overall pick in 2001 has played in about half of each of the past two seasons, but seems to be healthy now. For how long is a mystery.

Chandler is an excellent character guy and has appeared in relatively few games (by comparison, LeBron James has played in 535 games). He is currently paid $11 million per year, though he would be highly unlikely to receive that type of money on the open market this su mmer.

My opinion: Tyson Chandler should lead the race for Knicks Starting Center in 2010, in my opinion. He has battled injuries the past few years, but seems to be healthy and would be come relatively cheap (pause). If he can be had for a couple years at $5 million per year or so, I would not protest.

Brendan Haywood: 30 years old, 591 games wear 'n' tear, 7'0"

A defensive force who spent his years wallowing in the Wizards mess (they were alright for a couple years, I know, but still), he was recently liberated and sent along with Caron Butler to the Mavericks, where he has been thrust into the spotlight and exposed for the excellent defender he is. He is only 30 years old and is pretty much exactly what we'd be looking for.

The only question mark? Well, you could nitpick and say health because he was hurt almost all of last year, but I'd say the bigger question is money; how much is he going to command on the open market this summer? He currently earns about $6 million and will probably get a raise, depending on how he plays in the playoffs.

My opinion: Definitely a guy to keep an eye on, he can pull down 10 boards a game and, like I said, defends with the best of them. Pending finance, he may be the best option of all.

Nazr Mohammed: 32 years old, 692 games wear ‘n’ tear, 6’9"

Nazr Mohammed has played for nearly every team the NBA has to offer. He is an undersized center because he’s sort of slow and isn’t the most able scorer or defender in the world. The reason I included him on this list is because he was having a great season up until getting hurt recently, although that would do more to dissuade New York brass than anything, seeing as he would come at a mirage money for stepping it up in a contract year. Being 32 can’t help, either. He's a role player through and through, which are always useful in today's NBA.

My opinion: I wouldn’t be too happy with a Nazr Mohammed signing, seeing as he already played in New York and was traded for Malik Rose (seriously). He has looked pretty good in the few times I saw him this year, but barely making my age-cut at 32 and getting hurt recently make him unappealing. Despite the shit-talking, Mohammed would not have made this list if I didn't think he was a capable NBA starting center. Something to keep in mind.

Jermaine O’Neal: 31 years old, 853 games wear ‘n’ tear, 6’11"

For some reason, Jermaine O’Neal will get attention this offseason. He is having a an okay year for a 31 year old with an alarming amount of wear and tear who makes $23 million per year, but is probably going to have to shut it down relatively soon due to his physical style of play (Ben Wallace started to fail physically at around this point in his career, just to use as a barometer).

O’Neal has always been an excellent defender, which is the main reason I put him on this list. He was an elite defender for about 10 of his 13 years before beginning to decay with age. He, like Wallace, still has some defensive prowess left in the tank due to smarts and size, and I suspect he might try a little harder if he were playing on a truly good team (R.I.P. 2004 Pacers).

My opinion: I know I’ll get crucified for it, but I wouldn’t be too averse to a deal for Jermaine O’Neal. He’s got a pretty good midrange game, and if you’ve seen him play this year at all, you can tell he’s still got an okay first step when playing face-up basketball. He’d be an able defender for probably about two more years, and if he could be enticed to come to New York for about $4 or 5 million a year, I’d have to think about it before I flipped out. I would not give him more than a two year deal, however; and I suspect that would be a deal-breaker for him.

Now to go over the young projects.

Ian Mahinmi: 23 years old, 17 games wear ‘n’ tear, 6’11"

Don’t know a whole lot about this guy. He was drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft out of France by the Spurs, which actually speaks volumes to me. He seems like a big motherfucker, and he’s only 23. He could be had for extremely cheap and would be another name to put on the roster.

My opinion: Sure, why not? The last two syllables of his last name are "In me." Seriously, here?

Kyrylo Fesenko: 23 years old, 67 games wear ‘n’ tear, 7’1"

This guy is gigantic. He is 300 pounds and pretty good around the rim. I’m pretty sure he’s a foul magnet, but stuff like that goes away with age a lot of the time (see Noah, Joakim). He has gotten extremely spotty minutes all year for the Jazz, but their brass seemed to be high on him for the past few years, so he’s obviously got a lot of potential. Similar story to Mahinmi to me, just needs a shot in the league to see if he’s a bust or not.

My opinion: Not as big on this guy (pause, no pun intended) as I am on Mahinmi, but he could be another body on the cheap (pause), so it’s obviously in the cards.

That’s what I have for now guys. If you’ve read this far, you really need to get a life or do a better job at work. As for me, I’ll continue to think about nothing but the New York Knicks and talk to you guys about it. Lemme know what you think, or if there’s anyone major I missed for the 2010 market, in your opinion. If you say Aaron Gray, I’ll get Seth to warn you. I have this power.

Piece.