The Knicks still have four preseason games remaining and they clearly have some decisions to make regarding their last roster couple of roster spots.
Twelve players have fully guaranteed deals. C.J. Leslie and Jeremy Tyler have partial guarantees.
But Tyler is rehabbing from foot surgery and Leslie hasn’t stood out through these three preseason games. He’s averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.1 minutes a game, and hasn’t shown the passion, energy or effort you would want from a rookie or anyone trying to make a team.
That said, it’s unclear if the Knicks will keep either or both at this point. They want to develop young players, but they also need guys who can help them now since they believe they can compete for a championship.
Mike Woodson wants to keep at least one big man, citing Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin are “banged up,” Though he continues to say there’s nothing wrong with Martin, and he’s just resting him to preserve him for the season.
Cole Aldrich seemed like a safe bet to make the team because the Knicks need a backup center. He had some good moments in the first preseason game, but was pulled quickly in the second one and Woodson got on him during a timeout. Then before the Knicks played the Celtics Saturday, Woodson told reporters he wanted to see more from Aldrich.
“I want him to be a little tougher,” Woodson said. “You’re trying to make somebody’s ball club, the bigs got to do dirty work. They got to be nasty, take hard fouls and rebound and do all the dirty work to try and win games. I’m not seeing that a lot right now so he’s got to pick it up some."
Aldrich didn’t exactly respond in Game 3 when he had two points and four rebounds in 16 minutes in what was an awful overall performance by the Knicks. They trailed by 37 and lost by 30 with Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih.
Ike Diogu and Toure’ Murry were the only two bright spots. Diogu had 21 and eight rebounds and Murry 16 points. He forced some shots, but at least he was aggressive.
Murry has good size for a guard and the Knicks like him. But with six guys with guaranteed deals ahead of him – Felton, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Udrih – it won’t be easy to find a spot for him on the team or in the rotation for that matter.
Diogu and Josh Powell are with Aldrich, in play for one of the big man spots. But Diogu and the physical Powell are power forwards and not centers. Powell, a veteran with an NBA body, might be more effective than one of the younger guys who haven’t shown that much.
But Woodson said the Knicks haven’t figured out if they will keep one or two big men.
“We haven’t addressed that yet,” Woodson said. “I know one has an opportunity to make it. There won’t be any decisions made soon because we’re still banged up with Kenyon and Amar’e. Those guys will get an opportunity and a fair shot to ride it all the way through pretty much. Then we’ll make a decision
“We still got four more exhibition games to go. It will play its way out in terms of who’s going to fill out our roster. I’ve got to get guys playing harder. That’s the name of the game.”