The Knicks could be trying to add another former No. 1 pick to their roster.
They have expressed interest in free-agent big man Elton Brand, according to his agent. David Falk said Brand, 34, the first overall pick in 1999, is interested in the Knicks also, but they're not the only team pursuing him.
The 6-9 Brand averaged 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 21.2 minutes for Dallas last season. He has career averages of 17.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks for the Bulls, Clippers, 76ers and Mavericks.
"Elton's from New York,'' Falk said Tuesday. "The Knicks have a really good team. He's definitely interested in New York. But it's early. He's exploring his options. We very much appreciate the interest the Knicks have shown.''
The Knicks could dip into their $3.18-million mini-midlevel exception to pay Brand, a two-time All-Star who went to Peekskill High. But it's more likely that they will offer him the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million.
The Knicks may use part of their mini-midlevel to keep restricted free agent Pablo Prigioni. Re-signing the heady point guard is a priority, especially after Jason Kidd retired. According to a Spanish basketball website, the Knicks offered Prigioni a two-year deal. Calls and texts to his agent were not returned.
The Knicks also hope to re-sign J.R. Smith, on a multi-year deal starting at the average salary of roughly $5.6 million. The Bucks, Pistons and Mavericks could make more lucrative offers to Smith, but he would like to stay with the Knicks.
Keeping Chris Copeland might be more difficult because he could get more than the mini-midlevel, the most the Knicks could give him, and they would like to split it up among multiple players. The Pacers have shown serious interest in Copeland, with the Lakers, Jazz, Nuggets and Mavs also interested.
The Knicks need another small forward and point guard for insurance even if they retain Prigioni. They have contacted the agents for point guards Will Bynum, Aaron Brooks, Sebastian Telfair and Earl Watson and small forwards Matt Barnes, Francisco Garcia and Carlos Delfino.
Brand would fill the Knicks' needs for rebounding and post defense. But Falk said many teams are interested in Brand. "When you get past the first wave of primo free agents like Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Andre Iguodala, he's probably the best big guy in the next tier,'' Falk said. "He's been a great player for a long time, the No. 1 pick in the draft, he's gotten two max deals. I'm trying to find the best fit for him. There's no rush.
"I'm just waiting for the right situation to manifest itself and then we'll pull the trigger.''
On Monday, the Knicks completed a trade with Toronto for 7-footer Andrea Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in 2006. They sent Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-round pick and two second-rounders to the Raptors. Because Richardson had to be signed and traded, the deal won't be official until the NBA moratorium ends next Wednesday.
The Knicks could start a front line of Carmelo Anthony, Bargnani and Tyson Chandler and bring Amar'e Stoudemire and Brand off the bench if they can acquire him. Having Anthony and Bargnani together would create tremendous floor spacing and matchup problems.
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