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That $2.5M exception burning a hole in Knicks pocket

The Los Angeles Clippers' Baron Davis (5) looks

The Los Angeles Clippers' Baron Davis (5) looks for a teammate to pass to after picking up a loose ball against the Orlando Magic. (Feb. 8, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

The "room exception" that the Knicks have at their disposal once was considered way too small to attract free agents such as Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford and Shawne Williams. Now to use it may result in overpaying for a player.

Let me put it in a more acceptable term: out-bidding.

There are still several options for the Knicks to consider to add some needed depth to the bench, especially on offense. Though Mike D'Antoni and the two star players, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, feel the roster is fine the way it is, let's agree you really can't legitimately talk championship until you prove to have a bench that can go the distance. Right now, the Knicks bench is shallow and inexperienced.

So here are some options that we believe should be on the radar:

 Baron Davis: Yes, call me Captain Obvious. Davis cleared waivers on Friday night and is now an unrestricted free agent. The Knicks can sign him at any time, but what's the rush if, as his agent said, he has a back injury that could potentially keep him out until March? Why? Because the Lakers and Heat also have their eyes on Davis and there are a lot of people winking at the idea that this back injury isn't really as bad as reported. Miracles happen every Christmas, you know.

James Posey: He also cleared waivers and would be an idea fit for the Knicks for his three-point shooting ability and defensive reputation. Posey also has two championship rings (Miami and Boston), which is always a nice element to add to a team with such aspirations. Why was he amnestied by the Pacers? I've got friends there who say Posey can still play, but was caught up in numbers game on a young roster, behind Danny Granger. The Knicks will have competition here because the Celtics are very interested in bringing Posey back.

Travis Outlaw: Amnestied by the Nets after a very disappointing season in New Jersey. Suffered a broken hand during the offseason, but has been cleared to practice. Outlaw is a scorer and, aside from last season, has a reputation a a good three-point shooter. He may be a bit too erratic for Mike D'Antoni's system, but off the bench might provide the scoring punch this team needs. I'd still check out the hand, though, and make sure it doesn't impact his shooting ability.

Troy Murphy: At this stage in his career, he could be a terrific stretch-4 player to fill in the role Shawne Williams had last season. Murph is a good three-point shooter and a better-than-average rebounder. Defensively? Yeah, did we tell you that he's a good three-point shooter and rebounder? The Lakers had him in for a workout recently.

Michael Redd: He once had one of the league's sweetest jumpers and could create off screens very well. But after two knee injuries, is his career over? He's never been the catch-and-shoot kind, so its debatable that he'd fit that well into Mike D'Antoni's system. In fact, D'Antoni, who has worked with Redd with USA Basketball, already suggested that he isn't that high on the wish list. Why? D'Antoni feels the Knicks need another big, not another guard. Why? Because Mike Bibby can pretty much do the same things Redd can do at this point in their respective careers and Bibby brings a point guard's mentality. Plus, the coaching staff is that high on rookie Iman Shumpert.

Peja Stojakovic: Have not heard his name come up much connected to the Knicks, but he did prove in the Mavericks' championship run that he can still knock down the open three. And hey, maybe he and Bibby can have a few nostalgic moments from their days with the Sacramento Kings? Yeah, probably not.

DeShawn Stevenson: The LeBron Stopper. Need we say more?

Kobe Bryant: Stephen A. Smith says he believes Kobe is so upset with the Lakers moves (trading Lamar Odom) and failed moves (Chris Paul) that he will demand a trade. You can just smell the ESPN Trade Machine already overheating from Knicks fans attempting to pull off a Kobe-for-Renaldo Balkman blockbuster....

* * *

What to watch for in today's preseason game against the Nets:

* - Limited run for the stars, but they'll get a good sweat. Don't expect to see much of anything that will reveal the Knicks' plans with the offense, either. But defensively, yes, Mike Woodson will probably want to get the foundation laid early and maintain the standard all the way through the lineup.

* - Last season there was the Andy and Landry Show, this year, it's Shumpy and Lumpy. Shumpert's debut will be interesting to watch, just to see how the kid's obvious swagger in practice with his teammates translates in the setting of a live NBA game. And we've overlooked another rookie, second-round pick Josh Harrellson, for too long.

Though he has the build of a dude that you might see playing offensive tackle at C.W. Post, Harrellson -- who is known around Kentucky as "Jorts" but we'll go with "Lumpy," the kid from Leave it to Beaver (before my time, yes, but I had the benefit of re-runs) -- has been a revelation so far in camp with a very soft, accurate touch from long range and a high basketball IQ. 

* - Hey, enjoy the game. A month ago we were talking about missing an entire season. 

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