The New York Knicks went on a shopping spree in recent days, picking up a variety of knick-knacks and tchotchkes for their weekend home in Westchester. First they signed former Buck Damien Inglis, who will likely start the season with their D-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks. Then on Thursday the team announced the re-signing of Cleanthony Early, who will also ply his trade for the W-bockers.
This is all well and good. Both are athletic forwards who played for Westchester last season and could really use a few months of consistent playing time after being jerked back-and-forth from the D-League to the show. Neither is likely to ever play for the Big Knicks, but they can help their own pro careers while helping Westchester compete.
Next stop: Westchester County Center. pic.twitter.com/He7kHNFSwG— Westchester Knicks (@wcknicks) October 14, 2016
But where does this leave the three non-guaranteed players who have been with the Knicks all preseason? If Ron Baker, Chasson Randle and JP Tokoto don’t land a spot on the 15-man, will the Knicks be able to send them to Westchester? The D-League assignment rules are still a bit confusing to fans — myself included — so I consulted with Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor:
“Each team can send up to 4 affiliates who are cut from camp to their D-League club. Some guys will have rights owned by other teams though. For example, JP Tokoto's NBADL rights are held by the Thunder’s D-League team. The W-Knicks would have to make a trade for him to play there.”
Barring a trade, Tokoto is as good as gone, since there’s no way the Knicks keep him on the big club. Early and Inglis are taking two D-League spots. Early was a close call, since he played for Westchester as a Knicks assignee last season, but unfortunately he didn’t play there long enough:
@ChinaJoeFlynn yes he would be affiliate. Only played 7 gms for WCK in 15/16. If he had played 10 he would be RR guy. Now will be affiliate— Chris Reichert (@Chris_Reichert) October 14, 2016
So there are two left for any Knick cut from camp, guaranteed contract or no. If they wanted to cut Randle or Baker (or even a guaranteed guy like Marshall Plumlee or Maurice Ndour), they could sneak them onto their D-League roster, provided no other NBA team picks them up.
This is a tough decision. Plumlee has played decently and the coaches seem to love him, though I’m not sure how much interest he would draw from other teams. Ndour has the most athletic upside, but Baker and especially Randle would fill an area of more pressing need. Or the front office could just man up and cut one of their lesser veterans.
What will the Knicks decide, and will that decision end with these young players suiting up for Westchester or another NBA club? We’ll find out soon enough.