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Written by Nicholas McGowan

The New York Knicks continue to explore their options when looking to upgrade the current roster. The laughable trade proposal for Kevin love had no shot of being accepted but it at least shows us that Phil Jackson is still looking to make improvements. There is certainly room for improvement as we inch closer to the start of the season. In particular there are two restricted free agents that would make a whole lot of sense on the Knicks roster. The first of these free agents is the disgruntled power forward/center Greg Monroe. Monroe averaged 15.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, shot 65% from the free throw line, shot just under 50%, and averaged around 1 steal and .6 blocks a game. Monroe has expressed his interest in leaving a crowed Detroit frontline that includes young and talented center Andre Drummond and the highly paid and overrated Josh Smith who apparently has the full support of Stan van Gundy. The other restricted free agent is point guard Eric Bledsoe of the Phoenix Suns. Bledsoe really came into his own last year as he made the jump from role player to starter. Despite only playing in 43 games due to an injury Bledsoe looked like a polished starter as he averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and shot a respectable 35.7% from three. Bledsoe is certainly a better option than any of our current point guards. He doesn’t have the three point shooting or knowledge that Jose Calderon possess but he has defense agility needed to stay with John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, and the other point guards of the East. The Knicks will have to give up quite the package to acquire Bledsoe seeing that the Suns have said they will match any offer. Monroe on the other hand should be easier to obtain. Let’s take a look at what it cost the Knicks and how Monroe and Bledsoe would fit into New York’s system.

Starting with Greg Monroe, it’s hard to see why the Pistons haven’t tried to convince him to come back. Monroe is one of only 12 players to average at least 15 and 9 last year and he is only 24 years old, his game will surely improve over time. Monroe does not fit in the front line in Detroit because of Josh Smith and Andre Drummond. Drummond is the best among the three and the franchise player. Josh Smith was involved in some trade rumors during the season but his contract makes him almost unmovable. This leaves Monroe as the odd man out. Obtaining Monroe would cost us Shane Larkin or Iman Shumpert. The trade would involve Andrea Bargnani, Iman Shumpert or Shane Larkin, and a draft pick for Jonas Jerebko, Tony Mitchell, and Greg Monroe. With this deal the Knicks could add Monroe, and two bench players while getting rid of Bargnani. Monroe would take up the cap room created but it’s worth it to add Monroe. The Pistons get the defensive stud Iman Shumpert, or the young promising point guard Larkin along with a first round draft pick. The draft pick would not be until 2018 but it’s a first round pick. Plus they get the rights to make Shumpert a restricted free agent and an extra 1 million in cap room for next year if they get rid of Mitchell. Besides Brandon Jennings does not look like a future starting point guard. Larkin gives Detroit another option. Monroe would be opening day starter and would be given the freedom to move around the paint, especially if Melo slides to the 4. Monroe gets the space he needs to operate and the role he deserves.

Eric Bledsoe is the more costly of the two for the fact that Phoenix seems hell bent on keeping him around. Phoenix wants to keep Bledsoe so that can roll out a lineup of Bledsoe, Dragic, Tucker, Morris, and Plumlee. A good lineup, and then you factor in the fact that the bench includes Thomas, Green, Goodwin, the other Morris brother, scoring rookie machine TJ Warren, Tyler Ennis, and Alex Len, their lineup is very formidable. Phoenix perhaps has the bigger need along the front line but if you were offer Shane Larkin, Iman Shumpert, and first round picks in 2018 and 2020. Then maybe you can add Bledsoe. Phoenix has the cap room to take on one of the Knicks large expiring contracts but then might not want to add it. Phoenix finds good value for Bledsoe in Shumpert and Larkin. Bledsoe is certainly harder to obtain than Monroe but he would help our roster more than Monroe would so giving up both Shumpert and Larkin is worth it. Bledsoe would start with Calderon in the backcourt and the two would play well off each other. Bledsoe is a terrific young player that Phoenix does not seem to want to give up but if Phil wants deal away draft picks and our own young players then maybe a deal could be struck.

I think the Knicks only have a real shot at adding Monroe and so far Atlanta is the only other team to pop up in sign and trade rumors. Bledsoe looks as though he will stay with Phoenix on a one-year deal and the same goes for Monroe unless something happens. If they do both end up signing one-year deals then there is always next year where Knicks could sign one or the other and give up nothing in return. I still think the Knicks need to improve the roster; these two players are best way to improve the roster.

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