Yesterday Seth rocked our world with the Earth-shattering news that the Knicks invited a group of select veteran free agents to a pre-camp camp to audition for a spot in the post-pre-camp camp. I think we can say without a hint of hyperbole that this pre-camp camp is one the five most important events in the 68-year history of the Knicks franchise. I mean, we're talking about players who could possibly graduate to training camp, if not an actual spot on the regular-season roster. And lets face it: given the Knicks' disturbing history of suffering critical injuries at critical times, at least two of these guys will probably start a playoff game.
Sure, these players might be at the bottom of the barrel, but I've learned from recent Jim Beam commercials that it is now possible to extract juices from the bottom of the barrel and sell it at a markup. Just think of these players as the 2013-14 New York Knicks: The Devil's Cut.
1. Cole Aldrich
First thing's first: this guy is the ultimate example of small sample size. In three NBA seasons, Aldrich has played 142, 173 and 388 minutes, respectively.
That being said, the 24-year-old (25 on Oct. 31) has shown glimpses of developing into a decent reserve big, especially on the defensive end. He had a nice sophomore season for Oklahoma City, but struggled to fit in with Houston last season after being included in the deal for James Harden. He was traded to Sacramento at the deadline, where he picked up his game a bit.
If Aldrich were ever to find the floor for the Knicks, he might be able to help shore up one of the team's weakest facets: shot-blocking. The Knicks finished dead last in the NBA in blocked shots last season, and Aldrich's career block percentage (4.9%) would have led last year's team.
The Knicks certainly look like a team that could use a reserve center who can defend the paint and alter shots - this seems like a potential fit.
2. Ike Diogu
I've always had a soft spot for Diogu. His full name is ridiculously bad-ass - Ikechukwa Somotochukwa Diogu - and I enjoyed watching him play at Arizona State. Sadly, he was drafted by a team coached by Don Nelson, and like so many players before him, that Nellie stink has followed him throughout his career. He played for four teams in his first five years, lost a year to knee surgery, and hasn't played in the NBA since a two-game stint with the Spurs in 2011-12...all of which I blame on Don Nelson. Damn right, Nellie...it's been 17 years, and I still don't like you.
Recently, Diogu has been seen dominating the AfroBasket (awesome name!) tournament, leading the Nigeria D'Tigers (another awesome name!) with 153 points in 7 games. My only concern here is that Nigeria somehow lost to the Cape Verde Islands, which is barely even a country. In the last two seasons he has played for both the Xinjiang Flying Tigers and the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, which means he has only to suit up for my hometown Jilin Northeast Tigers to complete the rare CBA Tiger Treble.
Diogu is now 30 years old, but I'm still intrigued. He has that unteachable 7'4 wingspan, and he could crash the offensive glass in his younger days. That's something the Knicks could use. And if it doesn't work out, I could always show him where the Jilin Tigers play (their gym is across the street from my old apartment).
3. Renaldo Balkman
I know, I know - he hasn't technically been "invited." But I get the feeling Humpty might have just shown up anyway - ball in one hand, six-foot Italian sub in the other. We here at P&T will never give up on you, Hump...just save us a bit of that sub.
4. Josh Powell
5. Ricky Davis
The last time I thought of Davis was last April in reading this fascinating Grantland piece (just skip the Lance Stephenson parts if you're still sore about the Pacers series). I'm always rooting for these swaggy, gun-slinging, basketball crackpots to find their way back from NBA exile, but I just don't see the fit here. We already have the evolutionary Ricky Davis in one Earl Smith III. New York isn't the place for you, Ricky. Try the Sixers - they're already in tank-mode, and with Nick Young gone to the Lakers, they are in serious need of some swag.