5 Players the Knicks Could Take a Flier On

Jonathan Macri

The countdown continues.

We're still a month and a half away from the return of NBA basketball, and although the Knicks won't be a part of the action, that doesn't mean they won't be busy in other areas.

Aside from the pressing matter of hiring a permanent head coach, per Adrian Wojnarowski, the league will have a "transaction window" starting on June 22 for all 30 NBA teams to make roster moves. 

As of right now, the Knicks don't have any open roster spots, but that doesn't mean that they can't. Since their season is now over, they should be able to waive any players on the current roster. This would allow them to covert a two-way player like Kenny Wooten into an NBA contract or sign eligible free agents to contracts that extend to next season and beyond.

Given that the new head coach will get time with the current roster during activities the league has tentatively proposed for the eight non-returning teams - workouts in July, minicamps in August and OTA’s in September - there's a chance the front office may not want to cut bait with anyone just yet. 

If, on the other hand, there is an available player the team feels like it can't pass up the chance to sign, maybe they move early and waive someone like unrestricted free agent Moe Harkless or decide now that Bobby Portis is not worth his $15.5 million team option.

Is there such a player on the market? Sam Amico recently compiled a list of all the players eligible to be signed, and there are definitely a few worth noting. Here are five Leon Rose should consider when the window opens.

Shamorie Ponds

Local fans probably know the name well after Ponds had three strong years for St. Johns before going undrafted in 2019. 

He signed two-way contracts with both the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors but couldn't stick with either. This could be a case of a player simply not being good enough to stick in the pros (Ponds is just 6'0" and shot only 32 percent from deep in college), or maybe he just needs to go to an organization that isn't as stacked with talent.

Either way, he's not yet 22 years old, is from Brooklyn and plays a position of need.

David Nwaba

Nwaba is the kind of player who every fan should want on their team. 

He's a high energy pest that screams "coach's dream." As Nolan Jensen wrote for Nothin' But Nets last month, his presence in Brooklyn may have had a significant impact on their defensive turnaround this season. There was a chance he'd finally found his NBA home after bouncing between four teams in four years.

Unfortunately for Nwaba, he tore his Achilles in January and was waived. Thankfully for the Knicks, they're not contending for anything next year and could afford to have an injured player taking up space on the roster for a few months as he finishes his rehab.

At some point Nwaba is going to catch on with a team. If his former coach Kenny Atkinson winds up being the coach here, New York might be the perfect fit.

Malik Newman

For someone who recently turned 23, Newman has had quite an eventful young career.

After being a McDonald's All-American and the No. 10 recruit in his high school class, Newman played a year at MSU before transferring to Kansas and being forced to redshirt his sophomore season. After scoring 32 points to lead KU past Duke to make the 2018 Final Four, he went undrafted and spent portions of his rookie season with the Lakers, Heat, and most recently the Cavs.

We have no idea what Newman is as a pro (or if he even is a pro at all), but if the Knicks want to make a bet on young talent, they won't find much better.

Jordan Bell

It seems like Bell has been around forever, starting with the moment the league was up in arms over the Bulls selling his rights to the Warriors for $3.5 million, and yet he is still just 24 years old.

Ever since then, the idea of Bell routinely surpassed Bell the player, which is part of the reason he finds himself out of a job after spending portions of this season with Minnesota, Memphis and Houston.

Still, it's rare to find someone this young with NBA Finals experience, and Bell's got it. Maybe there's more to be uncovered.

Lance Thomas

The list of players who have taken pride - genuine, bleed-orange-and-blue-pride - in wearing a Knicks uniform over the last two decades can probably be counted on one hand with fingers left over.

Lance Thomas is one of them. He was always considered the consummate pro and a locker room leader when he was here, and although that never translated into winning, it doesn't make the contribution any less valuable.

Thomas probably doesn't need to be signed now, as there likely won't be much (if any) competition or his services, but it would be nice to see him back at the Garden at some point, even if it is in a role other than a player.

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