Fixers are gripped with fear of the doomsday scenario that involves all of the big names either re-signing with their home teams or going elsewhere. One of the most common questions in my live chats involve Plan Bs and what other players the Knicks could potentially target to fill other places.
As we get closer to July 1, as much as the hype builds up around the Pick 6, there are some other names starting to emerge that the Knicks should focus on with the rebuild. Here are a few situations to monitor:
- For Tyson Chandler to even be considering walking away from $12M to become a free agent, he either really miserable playing for Larry Brown or knows he can make up the money elsewhere. Chandler is unquestionably a potential target of the Knicks because, when healthy, he can be a defensive presence, he can run the floor and can finish up high on pick-and-roll plays.
- We've been talking about the New Orleans Hornets for almost a year now, mainly Chris Paul's situation. He has an opt-out in two years and the ownership situation there isn't very stable. Though there are rumors that the Nets want to package their No. 3 pick with Devin Harris to make an offer for Paul (thus making them more attractive to LeBron, who is tight with CP), for New Orleans to make this move would be incongruent to what I've heard and been told about the Hornets' plans going forward. Despite his opt-out, there is apparently little interest in trading Paul at this time, especially when owner George Shinn is still trying to complete a majority ownership transfer to Gary Chouest. The last thing Chouest would want is for his investment to immediately lose value by giving up the franchise's one marketable asset.
That doesn't mean the Knicks haven't made a call. But I do know that if Paul is considered off-limits, rookie Darren Collison is the next name to come up in the conversation. Collison played so well in Paul's injury absence last season that he opened a lot of eyes around the NBA. His ability to score both inside and out and distribute makes him a prime candidate to run Mike D'Antoni's system.
- However, would he be a better choice than Tony Parker? Fixers that name remains prominent on the trade front and not only for the Knicks. Parker does want out of San Antonio mainly because he knows he has become expendable with George Hill's emergence. And with the Spurs making the financial commitment to Manu Ginobili, Parker knows the cost-conscious Spurs won't ante-up for him come 2011, when his contract is up. Collison is younger and much cheaper and may have more potential, but Parker has championship experience. Collison would probably come at a cost, meaning the Knicks would have to absorb an unwanted contract from the Hornets, such as Peja Stojakovic or Emeka Okafor. This is where the Knicks have to be cautious because while cap space is good to build a team, you don't want to take too many risks out of desperation. That's why Parker might be a better play, especially if you don't sign him to an extension right away. It opens up options for 2011.
- Whether it's Parker or Collison, or someone else (Jordan Farmar, for instance, is looking to be a starter, which means he could be looking to leave the Lakers for a new opportunity), the Knicks will need to find a strong point guard who can score and run an offense if they aren't able to land LeBron, Wade or Johnson. They'll need size, as well, which is why Chandler is an intriguing option. I know a lot of Fixers think Brendan Haywood would be a free agent target at center, but I actually believe Fabricio Oberto might fit better. He'd certainly be cheaper than Haywood and, with his passing skills, decent mid-range game and toughness, he could fit better. Everyone has warts so it's not like Oberto is the absolute answer at center, but he's a name to consider. As for bench support, I expect the Knicks to reach out to Kurt Thomas, who would provide needed toughness, veteran smarts and leadership.
- The Knicks will also need snipers, so consider the names Kyle Korver and Mike Miller as obvious ones on the list. I think the Knicks would also love to make a play for Ray Allen, who might consider leaving Boston at the right price and the right circumstance.
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* - Meanwhile, what I'm hearing is the Knicks are looking to use the two second round picks on players they feel will be able to immediately contribute at the NBA level; meaning: no projects. I won't pretend to know who is highest on the list of players they've seen so far, though Iowa State's Craig Brackins and Duke's Brian Zoubek has caught their attention. The Knicks on Monday will work out six more players, including Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, New Mexico wing Darington Hobson and intriguing Brit big man Ryan Richards.