With the New York Knicks roster just about complete, there's a handful of players fighting for the three open roster spots. The Knicks could use depth down low but otherwise they need to fill out their roster with the best talent available. Ike Diogu, Josh Powell and Cole Aldrich all tried to prove they were the guy the Knicks need to have behind Tyson Chandler. Jeremy Tyler hopes his performance this summer is enough to overcome the fact he missed camp while recovering from surgery. Veteran Chris Douglas-Roberts and rookie C.J. Leslie tried to prove they could give the Knicks depth at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Toure Murry and Chris Smith hoped they showed enough to force the Knicks to keep them despite their strong depth at both guard positions. Now the question is, who should make the final roster?
It's decision time for the New York Knicks. It's that time where they no longer get to sit back and watch 20 players run around in their jerseys and see who performs. It's time to narrow the roster down to 15 roster spots. It's time to decide who will fill out those three last non-guaranteed roster spots. Who will fill out the final spots on the roster?
First lets talk about the big men. Jeremy Tyler had to miss training camp after needing surgery. However, the simple fact is that the Knicks love Tyler. They think he's learned a lot and has come a long way since leaving high school early. Is he a finished product? No, but the Knicks know that and are willing to bring him along slowly.
“My hopes are high,’’ Tyler told The Post in his first interview of camp. “It would be great if they did. Certain circumstances, I totally understand. I’m not expecting it. I’m just here to work every day.’’
The Knicks have not told Tyler definitively if he will remain on the roster, but he said he’s gotten good vibes. On Tuesday, at a workout at Humber College, coach Mike Woodson said he is leaning toward keeping Tyler.
“I think we owe him that,” Woodson said.
The Knicks see Tyler as a prototypical power forward who may have enough skills to start at the NBA level. If he reaches that level or not remains to be seen but unlikely the Knicks will take that chance. They don't want to let him leave and watch him develop into a real player on the NBA level. Instead, it's extremely likely that the Knicks will keep Tyler and develop him behind Andrea Bargnani, Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. Those are some good role models and coaches.
Tyler will also give Mike Woodson another player who can give the Knicks minutes behind Tyson Chandler if needed. He's far too valuable and the Knicks predict far too bright of a future for Tyler to cut him because he needed a relatively minor surgery.
That means there's only two spots available. Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork reports one will likely be a big.
Mike Woodson has said that the Knicks will keep at least one of the three big men they invited to camp.
With Cole Aldrich showing very little despite his chances, that spot will likely belong to either Ike Diogu or Josh Powell. Between the two it would seem Diogu has the advantage. He's shown some surprising scoring ability but most importantly he's shown toughness and rebounding ability. While he's undersized height-wise (6'8"), he makes up for that with a wide and muscular frame.
Powell hasn't played quite as much as Diogu but he's also shown promise. However, he's made his impact as a shot blocker. Now, we all know coach Woodson loves defense so that's definitely a plus for Powell. He's also an inch taller than Diogu.
This battle could really go either way. However, based off playing time and performance it appears like Diogu has the upper hand. That being said, Diogu allowing an easy score at the end of regulation against the Toronto Raptors the other day could make the Knicks think hard about his value versus Powell's.
That leaves the final roster spot and the battle between Chris Douglas-Roberts, Chris Smith, C.J. Leslie and Toure Murry. First thing first, Douglas-Roberts wasn't anything special and his lack of playing time probably tells you he'll be looking for a job very soon.
Chris Smith is simply not an NBA level player. Quite frankly, if he makes the team it's not only ridiculous but a blatant side-deal with J.R. Smith and Leon Rose. Would it be a typical Knicks move? Unfortunately yes, but it would also be a wasted roster spot.
The real battle for the last spot is between Leslie and Murry. Now, if this decision was being based strictly on performance the job would definitely belong to Murry. However, it was made very clear following the draft that the Knicks thought they hit a homerun when they were able to sign Leslie. On top of that, he signed a partially guaranteed contract.
That being said, Murry has played very well and Leslie has garnered very little playing time this pre-season. Beyond that, Murry's shown developing point guard skills and NBA-ready defensive ability. Keeping Murry is the right thing to do for the franchise. He gives them a point guard of the future they can develop and whom can also give them solid depth now.
Furthermore, it appears like the NBA game is a bit too fast for Leslie at the moment and he'd benefit from playing in the D-League. Ideally, the Knicks would be able to sign him to a deal with the Erie BayHawks and develop his skills. Murry has been down that road already and is simply further along in his development than Leslie. That should result in Murry wearing number 23 for the Knicks this season.
If things go as predicted, the final three spots should go to Tyler, Diogu and Murry. Who would you keep if you were in Steve Mills position? Is Leslie's $200,000 guaranteed money worth keeping him over Murry or should James Dolan eat that money knowing he's getting a better player?
With the Knicks season only a week away these decisions will have to be made very quickly. The positive thing about that is both the fans and the players will learn about the final roster cuts much sooner than later. Then everyone will know who the Knicks will got to war with for the upcoming season.
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