The New York Knicks need guards and plenty of them if they want to compete in 2016-17. And since this summer's crop of free agent guards doesn't exactly inspire, the front office may have to have to expand their search and get creative. In that spirit, let's discuss an off-the-radar candidate (on this continent, anyway) in Nando De Colo.
If you remember the Frenchman, it is probably as one of the approximately 11,243 foreigners who have played for the Spurs over the past decade. The 6'5" combo guard broke in as an end-of-the-bench player for San Antonio in 2012-13, then was traded to Toronto at the 2014 deadline. He has been out of the league ever since the end of the 2013-14 season.
So what has De Colo done in the subsequent two seasons with his latest club, CSKA Moscow? He was named second-team All-Euroleague in 2014-15 and backed that up by winning this season's MVP award. He averaged 17.9 points per game on 52.8 percent shooting, 43.9 percent shooting from three, 93.4 percent from the line to go along with 3.4 rebounds 4.8 assists per game in all competitions.
Upside & Motor's Trevor Magnotti provided a nice scouting report on the new-and-improved De Colo:
De Colo's shooting was never very consistent in the NBA (36.3 percent from 3), but he's improved that with CSKA. Even though he will have to adjust back to the NBA three-point line, this is something that he should be comfortably asked to do in the NBA. De Colo also has really matured as a point guard, and that could be even more important. One of the knocks on him in his first campaign was that he was rather reckless, especially when tasked with running an offense. De Colo had a turnover rate of 23.7 percent as a member of the 12-13 Spurs, and he's really improved his decision-making out of the pick-and-roll and on the break, allowing him to post a career-high assist total. He still isn't the strongest defensive player, but he does still have some residual Spurs wiring, and if he can be a more controlled player, he'll make a nice piece in an NBA rotation as a secondary ball-handler.
You can see some of that improved playmaking in these Euroleague highlights:
De Colo brings the size that Phil Jackson loves to see from his guards and can play anywhere from point guard to small forward. Unfortunately, the Raptors still technically own his rights, which would make him a restricted free agent. The Nuggets are allegedly hot on his trail and have one of the best European scouting departments in the league. And there's always the threat of CSKA Moscow ponying up a huge wad of cash to convince him to stay. The odds may be slim, but I wouldn't mind seeing the Knicks kick the tires on this one.