It was just last Friday when Justin Brownlee accepted a training camp invite by the New York Knicks. The team officially announced the signing Monday. However, as predicted his career in New York was short lived. Wednesday, the team announced it had waived Brownlee and signed veteran Chris Douglas-Roberts. The man known as CDR will now come to training camp hoping to impress and make the final roster.
Chris Douglas-Roberts is a 6'7", 210 pound shooting guard/small forward from Detroit, Michigan. He played along side Chicago Bulls superstar point guard Derrick Rose at Memphis and was drafted 40th overall in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets.
He played for the Nets from 2008-10, the Milwaukee Bucks from 2010-11, for Virtus Bologna in Italy from 2011-12, the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League in 2012, the Dallas Mavericks from 2012-13 and is now hoping to continue his NBA career with the Knicks. However, with few open roster spots to be had and 20 players coming to training camp Douglas-Roberts will have to impress the coaching staff if he has any hope of latching on with New York this season.
Thus far, Douglas-Roberts has had a disappointing NBA career. It isn't that he doesn't have skills. It's that he hasn't found a way to translate them to the NBA level. More then anything, he's held himself back.
Douglas-Roberts had a very impressive college career at Memphis. He looked athletic, crafty an equipped with a mid-range jumper that should have made him an NBA role player at worst. However, thus far his career hasn't quite panned out. Instead he's gone from college star to nearly an NBA wash-out.
Some have said Douglas-Roberts has failed to develop his game. Others have simply called him an immaturity young man. At 26, he's had plenty of time with NBA teams, overseas and in the D-League to work on his skill sets and he's too old to blame his attitude on being a youngster.
It's time to put up or shut up. Either show he has the goods to play in the NBA or start looking into another career. The Knicks are giving him that chance.
However, there's a catch. First of all, this is a make-good type of contract. Meaning, it's a training camp-only contract. If he doesn't impress the coaching staff he'll be unemployed before the season. Second of all, the fact he's primarily a shooting guard could mean he's bring brought in as nothing more than a camp body.
The fact is, the Knicks have every intention of using Iman Shumpert as their starting shooting guard. On top of that, they have the Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith coming off the bench as his backup. Looking deeper than that, they also have rookie After that they have Tim Hardaway Jr. they intend to develop.
The Knicks are likely not looking to add a swingman. In fact, even if they are it's likely only as insurance because Smith will begin the season on a five-game suspension and will be returning from off-season knee surgery.
Al Iannazzone of Newsday reports the Knicks leader Carmelo Anthony is familiar with Douglas-Roberts' game but has to wait to play with him in training camp to see if and where he might fit in with the Knicks.
"I saw him play a lot actually in college," Carmelo Anthony said. "He was in the league. He can score the basketball for sure. He can definitely do that. So I really don't know where he's going to fit or what's the deal with him coming. But we look forward to having him here in training camp. Hopefully he can make a name, make a mark and make the team. We'll see what happens."
The way Douglas-Roberts can make this team is by showing versatility. If he can show the coaching staff that he's valuable because he can provide depth at shooting guard and small forward it might give him a chance, all be it a small one, to make the Knicks final roster. However, that would likely have to be at the expense of C.J. Leslie.
While the Knicks appear set at the shooting guard position, small forward makes more sense if you're looking for a reason to keep Douglas-Roberts on the roster. Right now the Knicks have a depth chart of Anthony, Metta World Peace and Leslie. Now, that list looks a bit similar to the shooting guard depth as there's two veterans and a rookie to develop. However, there's more to it than there is at shooting guard.
Anthony played power forward last season. It's still not guaranteed he'll be moved back to his natural position. It makes sense to start Andrea Bargnani at power forward and have Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin off the bench behind him. However, both Bargnani and Stoudemire have proven to be untrustworthy health-wise in the past couple seasons and so relying on either to give the Knicks major minutes may not be realistic. That could mean Anthony remaining at the four.
Then there's World Peace in his first year with the team who is 33 years old and probably needs to keep his minutes under a certain amount in order to stay affective night in and night out. That brings us to Leslie. He's only 22 years old and the Knicks liked him out of NC State so much they almost drafted him in the first round. They considered signing him as an undrafted free agent as a steal.
However, Leslie's play on the Knicks' summer league team was unimpressive at best and many in the organization have expressed disappointment in his play around team facilities thus far. His roster spot may not be as secure as many thought. That might open up the chance for Douglas-Roberts to make the roster.
However, what may give Douglas-Roberts his best chance at finding his was on the floor for the Knicks could be his defensive abilities. At 6'7", he has great size for a shooting guard and can defend small forwards as well. He also has a wingspan somewhere between 6'9" and 6'10" which makes him difficult to shoot over and helps him create turnovers.
He doesn't have great lateral quickness but that hurts him more as a guard than it does as a forward. That being said, he's a tough player who could provide the Knicks with a nice backup behind World Peace and give Mike Woodson an emergency option if he's in a pinch at small forward. We all know Woodson loves those defenders. Especially perimeter defenders.
"We had him in earlier in the month," Mike Woodson said. "We brought him back. He’s been around the league. He’s a kid that can score the basketball. we know that. He’s going to be a part of our training camp, see how he fits in."
If nothing comes about this signing in the long run it at least gives the Knicks additional talent in training camp. Brownlee had no shot at making the team at all. At best he'd be hoping for a D-League contract. Douglas-Roberts is a player who can put pressure on a few players and at least pull the best out of them instead of just being a body.
Douglas-Roberts played six games with Dallas last season, scoring 2.8 points per game. During his NBA career, he averages 7.5 points, 1.2 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 20.3 minutes per game.
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