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Knicks roster taking shape as deals can become official Thursday

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks at

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks at a press conference at the MSG Training Center on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Phil Jackson's second offseason as Knicks president hasn't had nearly the drama or tense moments as his first when everyone was waiting for Carmelo Anthony to make his decision.

This time, with Anthony locked up long term, Jackson focused on putting pieces around the Knicks' franchise player and worked quickly doing it.

Jackson reached agreements with center Robin Lopez, shooting guard Arron Afflalo and forward Derrick Williams and acquired Queens native Kyle O'Quinn from Orlando in a sign-and-trade. The Knicks essentially used up the $27 million they initially had on those four players, and maintained flexibility for next summer when Kevin Durant will be a free agent.

But the NBA salary cap was more than projected so the Knicks could have another $2.8 million to use.

Those deals can be signed and the moves can become official Thursday when the moratorium ends. They don't guarantee that the Knicks will go from 17 wins to the playoffs in 2016. A lot will depend on whether Derek Fisher can mesh the Knicks into a more balanced, defensive-minded competitive team.

With five spots open, the Knicks' front office still has work to do, and has the additional cap room, the $2.8 million room exception and minimum salaries to offer free agents

But the roster is taking shape -- albeit in a far different way and with different names than expected. Like most of last season, though, Anthony is the only marquee player as the big-named free agents were never really an option for the Knicks.

Marc Gasol re-upped with Memphis. LaMarcus Aldridge canceled his meeting with the Knicks and ultimately chose to join the Spurs. DeAndre Jordan also was a long shot before he spurned the Mavericks to return to the Clippers.

The Knicks didn't have enough to sign Wesley Matthews Jr., and even Greg Monroe, who many thought would call Madison Square Garden home, spurned Jackson for the Bucks.

That led Jackson and general manager Steve Mills to go to alternate plans, and put more of an emphasis on defense and hustle -- two of the many areas the Knicks were weak last season.

Afflalo was first, agreeing to a two-year, $16-million deal. The second year is a player option. A good defender, Afflalo has averaged at least 15 points three times in his eight-year career.

Lopez, Nets center Brook Lopez's twin brother, will get $54 million over four years. He's not the offensive player his brother or Monroe is, but Robin is very active. He averaged 10.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks as a starter the past two seasons for Portland.

The Knicks hope they can light a spark under Williams, who will sign a two-year, $10- million deal that includes a second-year player option. Williams has averaged 9.3 points since being drafted second overall in 2011.

The 6-10 O'Quinn is a burly big man who plays physically and can knock down open shots. He averaged 5.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 15 minutes in three seasons with Orlando. The Magic will get cash and the rights to swap 2019 second-round picks for O'Quinn, who will sign a four-year, $16-million contract.

They join returning Knicks Anthony, Jose Calderon, Langston Galloway and Cleanthony Early, and rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant.

Free agents Lance Thomas, Lou Admunson and Cole Aldrich remain candidates to return.

Notes & quotes:The Knicks are scheduled to hold their first summer league practice in Las Vegas Thursday.

Porzingis, Grant, Galloway, Early, Ricky Ledo, Travis Wear and last year's second-round picks Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Louis Labeyrie are among those on the team. The first game is Saturday against the Spurs.

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