The New York Knicks have 20 players invited to training camp. While most of the roster is set there are still a handful of players fighting for roster spots. Those non-guaranteed contract players will battle for the three final roster spots on next seasons roster. Who will the team keep to round out the roster as the team looks to defend its Atlantic Division title?
The New York Knicks have three open roster spots up for grabs. Jeremy Tyler, C.J. Leslie, Toure Murry, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Cole Aldrich, Ike Diogu, Josh Powell and Chris Smith will all be fighting to grab one of those three available jobs. The question is, who will show enough in training camp to warrant a roster spot?
Now, there are some clear-cut favorites to make the roster. First of all, there's Jeremy Tyler. He's a young promising big man who the Knicks think could be a very talented power forward in the future. He's only 22 years old, he's 6'10" tall and weighs 250 pounds.
He's a favorite of Mike Woodson's because of his defensive abilities and he's talented enough on offense to make the Knicks think he could be a starter in the future if he's developed properly. He's as close to a lock to make the roster as it gets out of all the non-guaranteed contract players coming to training camp. The only thing that could hold him back is his recovery from surgery.
Just Wednesday, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork reported Tyler was still out recovering from his injury.
Another favorite to make the roster is center Cole Aldrich. He's 24 years old, 6'11" tall and weighs 245 pounds. He's a former lottery pick who hasn't had much playing time or much of a chance to prove himself despite being drafted 11th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Aldrich is a favorite simply because he's the only true center bring brought in to camp. Ike Diogu and Josh Powell are both power forwards. Aldrich represents the only player that could truly be slotted behind Tyson Chandler and developed into a passable NBA level center.
Another favorite to make the roster is C.J. Leslie. Leslie is 22 year old, 6'9" tall shooting guard/small forward who weighs 205 pounds. Leslie was such a coveted player by the Knicks that they almost drafted him in the first round before selecting Tim Hardaway Jr. with the 24th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
As it turned out, Leslie went undrafted largely due to concerns over a hip injury he was still recovering from. From the Knicks' perspective, they got a steal. They were able to sign a player as an undrafted free agent who they thought was skilled enough to be a first round draft pick. He's got to be a shoe-in to make the roster right?
Not so fast. Leslie played for the Knicks' summer league and was highly ineffective. Many began to say that he looked more like an undrafted free agent than a first round prospect. That being said, the summer league roster played poorly as a whole.
However, Leslie then showed up at the Knicks' practice facility and continued his poor display of skills. It's clear that the Knicks must be disappointed to have to pencil Leslie into the roster instead of writing his name in pen. After all, they thought they got a steal by signing him. However, it's clear that Leslie's roster spot is not guaranteed and that he could very well have a future developing his skills with the Erie BayHawks.
The two players with an outside chance to make the roster are Toure Murry and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Murry went undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft. He primarily played shooting guard at Wichita State but played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League from 2012-13 before playing very well as a point guard for the Knicks' summer league team in Las Vegas this summer.
Murry is a player most Knicks fans had hoped the team would sign and develop as the point guard of the future. With a combination of scoring skills, athleticism and defensive skills he appears to have the skill set needed to be a good point guard at the NBA level. He's simply in need of further development and experience.
However, the Knicks are three-deep at point guard and there simply may not be room for Murry. However, something that helps his chances is his experience at shooting guard. J.R. Smith is returning from an off-season knee surgery and suspended for the first five games of the year for violating the league's drug policy program.
That leaves the team with Iman Shumpert at shooting guard with C.J. Leslie as his possible backup. Murry's chance to make the roster is to beat out Leslie for his spot and filling in as a player that can offer Mike Woodson further depth at both guard positions.
Chris Douglas-Roberts is a veteran. He's a 6'7", 210 pound shooting guard/small forward who was drafted 40th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. Despite the fact he's got a great build and wingspan to defend wingmen in this league and that Douglas-Roberts can score in bunches he's had problems sticking with teams. In fact, he's had to play in Italy and in the D-League as well.
However, Woodson loves veterans and Douglas-Roberts could give the Knicks a player with experience who isn't old (26 year old) and can give the team a scoring punch off the bench at two positions. It's clear that he'll have to earn his roster spot by beating others out for a job. With that in mind, Douglas-Roberts is certainly a player who could give the Knicks some nice depth if he can impress in training camp.
The other three non-guaranteed contract players are Chris Smith, Ike Diogu and Josh Powell. Smith is simply not an NBA level player. The one good quality he has is as a defender but if it weren't for his relation to brother J.R. there's little chance Smith would even be associated with the Knicks.
It would be a major upset if he were to find a place on the Knicks roster and he's more than likely destined to play for the Erie BayHawks. Even at that, he likely wouldn't be up for a spot on Erie if it weren't for the Sixth Man of the Year's status with the franchise.
That leaves Diogu and Powell. They're basically similar players. They're just about the same height, they're both very experienced and they're both natural power forwards who are tough and physical. For the most part they're camp bodies.
Their chance to make the roster comes from outplaying Aldrich for the backup center position. However, that would clearly mean they'd be playing out of position and that the Knicks would have to decide to carry a power forward fourth or fifth on the depth chart instead of a second string center.
It's very unlikely that either can show enough to make the roster. They'd have to greatly outplay Aldrich and with many in the organization already liking his skills it's hard to believe an additional power forward would get the roster spot over a backup center.
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