From the beginning of free agency the New York Knicks have targeted Elton Brand to fill the teams need for frontcourt depth off the bench. At the same time they've kept in touch with Kenyon Martin. Brand has informed New York that they don't have enough money left for him and he'll be signing elsewhere. That caused the Knicks to enter negotiations with Martin in hopes of re-signing him. However, what happens if negotiations fall through and the Knicks can't get Martin to sign on the dotted line? Could the New York Knicks turn their attention to underrated big man Jason Maxiell?
The last we heard of Jason Maxiell he was missing the final eight games of the Detroit Pistons season because of a detached retina. He had successful surgery but was told to stay away from basketball-related activities which ended his season. It was a bad ending to an even worse season in Detroit.
Maxiell is a 6'7", 260 pound power forward from Chicago, illinois. He was selected 26th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Pistons and has played there his entire career. However, with the Pistons ready to start Andre Drummond full time, Maxiell's time with Detroit is over.
That being said, Maxiell had a very solid year last season. He started every game but one he played in, 71 of 72. Although he played for $5 million last season, Maxiell has gone relatively unnoticed in this free agent period and will clearly have to take a big pay cut.
That being said, Maxiell averaged 6.9 points, 1.3 blocks, 0.4 steals, 0.8 assists and 5.7 rebounds in 24.8 minutes a game. While those aren't mind blowing statistics they are solid, especially on such a challenged team as the Pistons. If he were give 20-25 minutes off the bench these numbers would be more than adequate.
Something else that should make him attractive for the Knicks is his consistent availability. Meaning, following his rookie season where he only played 26 games Maxiell has averaged 71 games a year for the past seven NBA seasons. The fact he's a lunch-pale player who will show up to work is a big deal for a team ravaged by injuries so often. Having someone like Maxiell in case Amare Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani or Tyson Chandler miss time could be very valuable for the Knicks.
You can't blame Detroit for moving on from Maxiell. After all, they have two centers — Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe — they want to get into the starting lineup together. They're on a youth movement in Detroit and they envision those two titans patrolling the paint for years to come. The other big men on their roster will just have to find work elsewhere. Maxiell is one of those casualties.
Maxiell is a bit short for a power forward but he makes up for it with his jumping ability, mass and body control. He's a blue-collar player. He plays with a high motor, is an extremely hard worker and plays basketball with passion.
The truth is, the Knicks aren't as old as they use to be. In fact, the only aging player on their roster at this point is point guard Pablo Prigioni. Besides him, all of the older players are gone. Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace are retired, Marcus Camby was traded to the Toronto Raptors and we know Martin remains a free agent.
Maxiell, known as Mad Max, is 30 years old. He could be a steady force in a group of big men filled with question marks. While it's not likely Maxiell would want to sign for the Knicks remaining money — somewhere between $1.5-1.75 million — or the veteran's minimum on a multi-year deal, he could sign with the Knicks and use next season to prove his worth and drive up his cost for teams next off-season.
Maxiell has everything the Knicks should be looking for this off-season. He can score a little bit in the post, he's tough and isn't afraid to use his brute strength and he has a terrific wingspan. On top of that, he's a good rebounder, he has very good leaping ability and has good hands.
He also has a mid-range jumper that he can make defenses pay with when he's open. He's also a good passer for a big man and will get the ball away from double teams without a problem. In addition, he's a solid free throw shooter which is a change for most of the Knicks big men.
On defense, he's a good shot blocker and even when he doesn't get his hand on the ball he alters a lot of shots in the paint. He doesn't have the best lateral quickness but Maxiell rotates really well on help defense which isn't the Knicks biggest strength on that end. He seems like a player Mike Woodson would fall in love with.
Overall, Maxiell is a big man who plays very hard, has the experience Woodson demands from his roster and is durable. When you add all of that up he seems to be the perfect fit for the Knicks needs. He may not be as sexy of a name as Elton Brand or Kenyon Martin but Jason Maxiell might be the best fit for New York coming off the bench.