Written by Kevin Meng
Yesterday was part 1 of the free agent targets. And now here are the free agents that the Knicks should target in 2016. In order of importance.
#1) Hassan Whiteside
Projected average salary: 22 million per
Hassan Whiteside is the on the cusp of becoming the first player in league history to multiply his salary by 20 from one season to the next. Count Blockula went from being an obscure NBA misfit playing out contracts in Lebanon to a bonafide NBA star. He averaged 14 points, 12 boards, and nearly 4 blocks per game, all in under 30 minutes of playing time per contest. His rim protection is really what makes him so valuable, though. Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan will have nightmares of him for years to come. Had he not gone down, I’d have expect both of them to turn into raging alcoholics suffering from PTSD.
He gets lost on defense at times, lacks focus every now and then, and is still developing his offensive game, but scoring comes easy when you’re in the top .01% of humans in history in terms of size. Hassan get ball. Hassan dunk. His contract will be for less than the max for Batum or Conley, and the thought of KP AND Whiteside patrolling the paint together in their primes is so exciting that right-wing political groups would consider it scandalous, and it still isn’t legal in Mississippi. Despite our deficiencies at guard(which could be rectified through trades, especially if RoLo becomes redundant), this guy is priority #1. He isn’t so much a 2-t free agent as he is just a foundational franchise piece. He does happen to fit the age bracket we need.
#2) Kent Bazemore
Projected average salary: 15 million per
Bazemore isn’t going to blow anyone away or leave anyone’s jaw hanging low for too long, but what he will do is give the Knicks a reliable 12ish points every night, and, more importantly, the consistent three point shooting and stingy perimeter defense that this team so sorely lacked. He was only 36% from 3 this season overall (still solid), but he was a killer from the corners (a shot he will get plenty of), and he even shot well around the rim (60% from 0-3 feet). He was a net positive in every defensive metric this season for ATL, including being a +3.8 in defensive winshares, and at 6-5 he is lanky enough to guard multiple positions.
With Melo, KP, and hopefully an improved Grant at point guard, the Knicks won’t need someone to create offense, they’ll need someone to hit 3’s, get to the rim off of fakes, and play defense. He has improved every year, and at 26, he might still have a little more room to grow. He definitely isn’t the second most talented player on this list, but he is priority number 2 because of A) how he fits and B) how realistic of a target he is. The average NBA starter is going to get 15 per in this inflated market, so expect the bidding on him to start in that range. Giving him 15/16 per season would eat up only about half of our space, and leave us plenty flexible for 17’. Imagine KB at the 2 instead of he who shall not be named (that’s Sasha Vujacic, by the way).
#3) Evan Fournier Continue reading