The Knicks spent the hours before Thursday's trade deadline making inquiries but found nothing worthwhile on the trade market. Donnie Walsh will now turn his attention to the waiver wire and perhaps unsigned players who may be in the D-League.
Jared Jeffries, a favorite of the Knicks coaching staff who was playing his best basketball right before he was traded to Houston in the Tracy McGrady deal at last year's deadline, is a strong candidate to return to New York. Jeffries, according to a source, is working out a buyout today with the Houston Rockets.
Jeffries isn't a good shooter, but he was starting to find other ways to be productive on offense in Mike D'Antoni's system, by cutting to the basket and going after offensive rebounds. His ball-handling and passing skills, plus his ability to defend all five positions, makes him a valuable, versatile player off the bench.
We mentioned Troy Murphy as an option, but it appears Murph, despite living in New York City in the offseason, has his sights set on going to a championship contender such as the Celtics (what was up with that Kendrick Perkins trade?), the Heat or the Magic. It's unfortunate, because Murphy would get a ton of open looks from the corner three in D'Antoni's system and he would provide some much-needed rebounding. He doesn't bring much on defense, however.
It will be worth watching what happens with Joel Przybilla, who was traded to Charlotte in the Gerald Wallace trade and is reportedly considering retirement if he doesn't work out a buyout. If Przybilla is bought out, the Knicks would have some interest.
Along with Jeffries, the Knicks may also bring back 7-foot center Earl Barron, who had a successful seven-game stint with the team at the end of last season, with 11 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in 33.1 minutes per game and shot 44.1 percent from the field. Barron played 12 games with the Suns early this season and was abysmal from the floor (23.5 percent) and averaged 3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game. He hasn't played since, but is said to be keeping in shape and waiting for a call. A source close to Barron said the Knicks have expressed an interest recently, but no commitments have been made.
The Knicks do have 7-footer Jerome Jordan playing overseas, but the team isn't confident that a reasonable buyout can be arranged to get him free so he can join the Knicks in-season. It would be a lot to ask of a rookie big man, who is still a bit of a project, to jump into a playoff race and play important minutes.
As far as the backcourt, the Knicks have their eye on T.J. Ford, should he work out a buyout with the Pacers.
The roster is maxed out at 15 players, so the team would have to waive a player to add one. The most likely candidates include those on veterans minimum deals, such as Roger Mason and Anthony Carter. As we reported in today's Newsday, Carter played a major role in the Carmelo Anthony trade. The veteran point guard could have ruined the deal if he did not agree to waive his Bird Rights to allow the deal to go through. He agreed to do so because of an appeal from his agent, Bill Duffy, who also represents Anthony Randolph, the frustrated forward who was anxious to get out of New York and get a fresh start in Minnesota.
Renaldo Balkman's contract has two more years at $1.6M per, which is a relatively small number. The team could work out a buyout, though it likely wouldn't be cost-effective. The more likely move is to shop him in the offseason for a draft pick just to clear his number off the cap (the incentive for another team would be the $3M in cash considerations the Knicks would agree to throw into the deal).
Though it would be easy to waive rookie Andy Rautins, whose salary as a second-round pick is not guaranteed next season, but an NBA source said it is highly unlikely the Knicks would want to cut him ahead of unused veterans.