The 2012-2013 Knicks have been stripped to the core, as many mentioned yesterday. Only Carmelo Anthony remains from the last competitive New York roster. Melo anchored that team along with high-usage offensive players like J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire and the all-court defense of Tyson Chandler. Still, I think the players who defined that team-- the slow pace, low turnovers, the three-point monsoon-- populated its margins.
Pablo Prigioni was one of several players the Knicks scouted out of relative obscurity to join them on a small deal. He, along with guys like Chris Copeland and Steve Novak, typified what I think a good, high-priced team needs from its minimum contracts. Pablo was a specialist-- a positive influence because he obeyed his limitations. He could do exactly two or three things on the basketball court: shoot open threes, throw nice set-up passes, and poach sloppy ball movement without compromising the whole defensive operation. He did only these things, and he did them near-perfectly, which limited his production, but kept his impact neutral at worst. Pablo missed few shots, committed few turnovers, and initiated few defensive breakdowns simply because he didn't take risks to invite those possibilities. This is not the portfolio of a well-compensated star, but it's perfect for someone in his orbit. Only so many players in any lineup can use possessions.
With a high pick in the draft, and with multiple substantial free-agent contracts, the Knicks must add versatile players who can work big minutes, take big risks, and contribute in almost every way. These guys will get paid. Hopefully not too much!
Then they need specialists, and this is where we hope Phil Jackson's regime can scout as well as its 2011-2013 predecessor (much of which remains). They may have already turned up a couple helpers in Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas-- guys who will defend, rebound, finish plays with easy baskets, and otherwise stay the hell out of the way. (Langston Galloway, incidentally, does not strike me as this kind of player-- he controls possessions when he's on the floor, which makes him more likely to break out, but also more likely to hurt the team.)
The Knicks will also need a guy who can shoot the fuck out of the ball. They'll need someone who can take a few minutes defending an opposing star. They'll need a ball-handler who won't make mistakes. As long as a Knick playing light minutes does one or two of those sorts of things well, he needn't-- shouldn't!-- attempt much else.
Not every player is a star, and not every player can become one. A good role player acknowledges this, finds a specialty, and sticks to it. A good organization adds players of this ilk-- the right ones, not the most talented ones-- cheaply. Pablo Prigioni typified all of the above. Since the Knicks decided not to keep him, they must find someone else like him.