Is anyone else feeling bored? The first few weeks after the early-July free agent orgy usually feel like a drag. This year the sensation is worsened by the fact that New York chose to participate in one of the earlier Summer Leagues. Bring back the Knicks, dang it!
With the salary cap money all but spent, this feels a good time to check up on the state of the roster. (Remember: New York can invite up to 20 players to training camp):
1. Derrick Rose (point guard)
2. Brandon Jennings (point guard)
3. Courtney Lee (shooting guard)
4. Justin Holiday (shooting guard)
5. Carmelo Anthony (forward)
6. Lance Thomas (forward)
7. Mindaugas Kuzminskas (forward)
8. Kristaps Porzingis (forward/center)
9. Kyle O'Quinn (forward/center)
10. Joakim Noah (center)
11. Willy Hernangomez (center)
12. Marshall Plumlee (center)
13. Sasha Vujacic (guard)
Training Camp Invites
13. Ron Baker (not yet confirmed, but they mentioned it during the Summer League broadcast, so it certainly feels like a lock)
OK, so there are still three roster spots open, and several more camp invites to hand out, if they so please. And the Knicks are still lacking in a few areas, in no particular order.
- Outside shooting. One would hope Jeff Hornacek runs a more three-happy offense than last year's crew, which finished 23rd in the league in three-point attempts. That said, the Knicks are still lacking in three-point shooting, even assuming a bounce-back year from Carmelo Anthony (33.9 3P% in 2015-16) and a step forward for Kristaps Porzingis (33.3 3P%). As much as I love Lance Thomas, he was totally useless from beyond the arc up until last season. Brandon Jennings and Derrick Rose are famously unreliable three-point shooters, and who knows what the hell the team can expect from Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Justin Holiday.
- Third-string point guard. Believe it or not, the injury hype surrounding Rose is probably overblown at this point -- he played 66 games last season, and most of the time he missed came from getting his eye socket crunked in preseason. That said, a good team should have at least three guards capable of running the point.
- Defensive-minded center. The Knicks have two great rim protectors in Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah. Beyond that? Yikes. Kyle O'Quinn is kind of a wacky defender -- he actually seems better at guarding the perimeter than he is at protecting the rim. Even the most optimistic Willy Hernangomez backers say he's a minus defender. And what can Marshall Plumlee hope to accomplish with those baby T-Rex arms?
- Perimeter defenders. A guaranteed Knicks weakness since the turn of the century.
Phil Jackson has done some nice work assembling this roster, but in some ways the overall makeup looks very similar to last year's team -- light on guards, heavy on big men, yet still somehow lacking in reliable bodies up front outside of Kristaps and the starting center.
Where can New York find some bodies? There are a few free agents left, some of whom may be available for the veteran minimum. As all the Summer Leagues wrap up, look for the Knicks to try to poach a fringe player or two for camp invites. And there are always the players from their own Summer League squad (hello, Chasson Randle!). The front office must stay vigilant; there's still some serious work left to do.