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Free agent targets if the Knicks strike out in free agency: Bigs

The frontcourt may not be the most pressing need but there’s still work to be done

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In Parts One and Two of this series, we looked at potential guards and wings the Knicks could target if they sign just one or no star free agents. While wing and guard are certainly bigger problem areas for the team as currently constructed, they’re not completely set with bigs, either.

Mitchell Robinson certainly seems like a potential game-changing defensive player with some elite physical tools that allow him to make an offensive impact. Luke Kornet’s combination of size, shooting, and shot-blocking made him an interesting prospect, and one the Knicks would be smart to retain. DeAndre Jordan seems like somebody the organization wants to keep around, and even though he’s semi-washed, his rim running, high-post passing and defensive IQ — something he doesn’t really use on the floor himself much anymore — make him serviceable, and somebody that can help the younger bigs on the roster.

Still, there’s room for improvement. The Knicks could use more quality and diversity of skill in the frontcourt for sure. So who are some players who could be of interest if they have to find ways to use their cap space other than maxing out max players?


Nikola Mirotic: Mirotic is somebody I have long stanned for as a player who is worth more than what many believe. His ability to stretch the floor — even if his shot selection can be generously described at times as questionable — is what he’s known for, but Mirotic’s true value is in his ability not just to operate as a stretch four, but also to swing between defending other stretch forwards as well as true centers.

He did a fantastic job on Jusuf Nurkic in the Pelicans’ stunning sweep of the Blazers in last year’s first round. In the second round this year against the Celtics, Mirotic’s switch into the starting lineup has helped the Bucks turn around the series, and he’s allowed the Bucks an additional defender to throw at Al Horford, who was cooking venison in Game 1.

He’s no star (definitely not with that nasty ass beard) but his shooting, rebounding, and underrated defensive contribution would address many areas of deficiency that plague the Knicks.

Price Point: Two years, $34 million or three years, $48 million with a third year team option

Julius Randle: From one ex-Pelican to another. Randle really came into his own last year in Los Angeles, and this past season in New Orleans he ratcheted things up another notch, averaging over 21 points per game with a .600 true shooting percentage. This is where to show you how good that is I’d come up with some arbitrary list of players that did that last season, but suffice to say, it wasn’t many.

Randle gets most of his points inside. Using a combination of force, strength and plus handle for his position, Randle has turned into one of the better paint scorers in the league. He’s also quite useful as an additional playmaker on the floor, averaging 3.1 assists per game in New Orleans.

While most of his value certainly comes from his skills with the ball in his hand, Randle has improved from the complete defensive minus he was when he first came into the league. He’s not a plus, but he’s closer to neutral now due to his ability to switch out onto the perimeter.

At just 24 years old, Randle’s best may be yet to come.

Price Point: Two years, $36 million or three years, $50 million with a third year team option

Dewayne Dedmon: After attempting just one three over the first four years of his career, Dedmon has quietly developed into a legitimate stretch shooting center. Over his last two seasons he’s attempted 358 threes, connecting on 37.2 percent of them. Dedmon’s also an average rim protector who hoovers up a ton of defensive rebounds.

He’s better as a back-up than as a starter, but if Jordan decides to leave New York, Dedmon would be a nice option to provide some immediate depth behind The Blockness Monster.

Price Point: One year, $8 million or two years, $14 million with a second year team option

Richaun Holmes: Do you like Montrezl Harrell? If you do, think of Richaun Holmes as a discount version. Like Harrell, he plays with boundless energy and is an explosive leaper. Holmes is a superior defensive rebounder and had a better block rate than Harrell last season. However, unlike Harrell, he’s not particularly adept at playmaking as a finisher or passer when he catches on the roll, and is more of a pure lob threat.

At 25 years old, there’s reason to believe that Holmes could provide similar value to a contender off the bench. If none of them want to bite, though, the Knicks shouldn’t be shy.

Price Point: One year, $8 million or two years, $14 million with a second year team option

JaMychal Green: Green had his breakout campaign with the Grizzlies under David Fizdale during the 2016/17 season. A stretch shooting power forward, Green also proved he has the chops to play some small-ball center in the playoffs with the Clippers this year. Green’s another “nothing special” defender, but he’s capable of switching across positions fairly fluidly and has also established himself as a good defensive rebounder.

I mean, I know he’s not super exciting, but I think he’d be kinda fun with Mitch. Maybe more “fun” than fun, to be honest.

Price Point: One year, $9 million or two years, $16 million

Ed Davis: If you don’t put a body on Davis when a shot goes up, he will punish you over and over and over again, as many teams discovered this season. Davis is an adept screen-and-roll finisher, but that’s really all he’s going to do on offense, so don’t expect any floor stretching from him. He’s also not much of a rim protector, and entering his age-30 season he’s on the cusp of physical decline. Still, as an energetic bench big, Davis can fill a role for the Knicks.

Price Point: One year, $7 million

Jordan Bell: I mean, it’s not great that he can’t get minutes for the Warriors at the five over Andrew Bogut with DeMarcus Cousins out. There are rumors he’s hard to deal with, doesn’t work hard enough and is a bit immature. Still, the dude has an intriguing blend of athleticism and skill that, if he gets his head screwed on, could develop into a viable small-ball center.

Price Point: One year, $4 million or two years, $3 million with a second year team option

Kyle O’Quinn: OAKAAK. Kyle wanted to experience winning, playoff ball after spending the entirety of his NBA career on the Magic and Knicks prior to this season. Well, he experienced it with the Pacers — mostly as a benchwarmer, though.

Even after a year of not being used, it’s unlikely that KOQ’s game has completely atrophied. If he can still board, finish at the rim, shoot and pass from the elbows/high post, screen and provide legendary bench celebrations, bringing the Queens native home would be a run reunion, and a productive one to boot.

Price Point: One year, $5 million, or two years, $9 million with a second year team option, all complete with my undying love

I know. The bigs are kinda boring. It was really just an excuse for me to talk about Mirotic, Randle and KOQ. The next and final part of this critically acclaimed series will focus on various contracts around the league the Knicks could perhaps take on in exchange for draft compensation. If you got any suggestions tweet at me on Twitter dot com with ’em.

See you soon, losers.