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Knicks making smart, low-risk moves

By: Bryan Encarnacao

Derrick Rose is a tremendous upgrade at point guard for the Knicks.

Derrick Rose is a tremendous upgrade at point guard for the Knicks.

Quick fixes have been tried and have failed in the city of New York time and time again. Phil Jackson is not making that this play this offseason. He’s simply going out and trying to upgrade the talent across the Knicks roster to compliment the few great pieces they do have to get them back into the playoffs and become relevant for a change.

His first step in this direction was when he pulled off the biggest trade of the offseason, sending Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and last year’s first round pick Jerian Grant to Chicago for Derrick Rose and Justin Holiday.

Some have questions whether the Knicks are a good fit for Rose as a high usage point guard next to another high usage player in Carmelo Anthony and last year’s rookie phenomenon Kristaps Porzingas. While this is a viable question to ask, the Knicks, after going 32-50 last season, are worried about acquiring as much talent as possible and then will worry about how they all fit together later. This trade gives hope to the fanbase that has been starving for success and gives them their most talented point guard since the mercurial Stephon Marbury.

Joakim Noah would be a perfect addition for the Knicks to provide toughness, defense and a veteran presence in the paint.

Joakim Noah would be a perfect addition for the Knicks to provide toughness, defense and a veteran presence in the paint.

While Rose started last season slowly, he picked up his play considerably in the second half of the season. In the new year of 2016, he averaged 17.7 points per game on 45-percent shooting from the field. The Rose trade not only gives the team more talent at the position by replacing Jose Calderon, who was arguably the worst starting point guard in the league last year, but also gives the team more financial flexibility down the stretch. The great part about Rose is that he only has one year left on his deal, so if he doesn’t work out, they can just get rid of him in the offseason.

Lopez was a very effective starting center last year and made a formidable duo with Prozingas, but while he is a relative bargain at 4-years, $54 million, he could have severely handicapped the Knicks in the 2017 offseason’s free agency when point guard Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin might be free agents for the taking. Rose is due roughly $21 million this season, but they don’t have to keep him around.

Lopez, though, was key to the Knicks squad as the inside enforcer with his toughness and defense. He was key in helping the maturation process of Prozingis by allowing him to play more minutes at power forward as a rookie, but also by giving him consistent defensive and rebounding help down low. Lopez will be a tough guy to replace, but if anybody can, it is the Knicks next big target this offseason: Joakim Noah.

The Knicks have aggressively pursued Noah this offseason and seem like a sure spot for him to land. Noah also has a great history with Rose from Chicago, where they were the one-two punch of some great Bulls teams.

Noah did only play 29 games last season and averaged only 4.3 points per game, but he also averaged 8.8 rebounds in limited minutes. That production does not quite making him worth the $18 million per year that he is probably going to get, but the increased salary cap from the TV deals will make it easier for the Knicks to shell out that sort of money. And even if he isn’t a huge offensive threat, Anthony and Prozingis are. Noah has to provide excellent rim protection and rebounding; which he does better than Lopez.

Adding Noah along with Rose gives the Knicks a win-now mentality with savvy veteran presence in the locker room with established chemistry on the court. And even with Noah signing a big deal, the Knicks will still have enough money under the cap to sign a shooter like Courtney Lee or Eric Gordon, along with somebody off the bench, like Jamal Crawford. That could make the Knicks a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

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Bryan Encarnação

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