It's almost cuttin' time. Not Mike Woodson's oft-invoked "nut-cuttin' time", but cuttin' time. With the regular season looming (next week!!!!), it's nearly time to trim a roster of 20 men down to no more than 15. Woodson's been intermittently candid about the eight non-guaranteed guys and the cutting process, and he got candid again today. A few clues:
- Cole Aldrich seemed like a front-runner for a roster spot early on, but fell out of the exhibition rotation. I wondered early on if he'd already secured a spot, but perhaps that's not the case. Either way, he'll play in Green Bay:
Woodson says Aldrich will get more minutes tonight to see how he matches up against MIL's bigs.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) October 23, 2013
- Ike Diogu would seem to have jumped Aldrich in the non-guaranteed big man rankings, though Woodson included him in a critique of the all-around preseason big man performance:
Woodson identifed concerns with the 3 invited bigs - Aldrich-Diogu-Powell. Not playing with enough "pace'' in pick-and-roll game.— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) October 23, 2013
I don't know quite what that means, but okay.
- The point at which Woodson really got candid was when Chris Smith's name came up. Smith's been underwhelming in his preseason minutes to the point that he's pretty much stopped receiving minutes. He's a Smith, though, and Woodson understands that:
Woodson, on whether JRs tie to Chris Smith comes into play for a roster spot: "Sure it does." Said he has great respect for the Smith family— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) October 23, 2013
I'm choosing not to let that alarm me. I could see nepotism being a tiebreaker if two guys were close in skill level, but the Knicks probably aren't going to add two guards, and Toure' Murry has vastly outplayed Smith since the beginning of Summer League. I like to think that even the Knicks can find a way to reward the right person without offending the Smith/CAA family. They could cut Chris out of camp and arrange for him to play with the Erie BayHawks. They could even-- I think-- keep him on the roster past October 29 so his contract gets guaranteed, THEN cut him and send him home (or to Erie) with a bunch of cash. Kinda sketchy, but plausible and ultimately harmless...I think.
So, where does that leave things? Remember that Jeremy Tyler-- who's still working his way back from foot surgery-- is still widely perceived to have a roster spot reserved. Taking it all in, my hopeful/realistic signings are Murry, Diogu, and Tyler. The Knicks don't appear to need another guard, but I think Murry is talented enough that he's worth locking in to a contract, even if you assign him to Erie. And shit, the Knicks'll probably need another guard at some point, right? Aldrich is the tallest of the bunch and has had his moments in preseason, so he's got those things going for him, but I'd still pick Diogu and Tyler as my two extra bigs. I think they play tall enough. C.J. Leslie looks Erie-bound to me, if he's amenable. Leslie seemed to have an inside track as one of the first guys to get an invite, but he's contributed little of note from Summer League to preseason and doesn't do any one thing well enough that I could imagine him ever getting emergency minutes. Same goes for Josh Powell, who has played a lot without really distinguishing himself (well, unless you ask Clyde). Chris Douglas-Roberts never got much of a shot, but I'm not sure he would have made this team anyway. Chris Smith is Chris Smith, and I understand if the Knicks want to throw him a bone. I just hope that bone isn't one of fifteen precious spots on their NBA roster.
With two exhibition games left to change my mind (one tonight at 8 PM), I'm taking Tyler, Diogu, and Murry for now. You?