The New York Knicks will add more depth to their backcourt after coming to an agreement with veteran Beno Udrih on a one-year minimum contract for the 2013-14 season. Udrih, a 31-year-old point guard originally from Slovenia, has spent nine seasons in the NBA and has career averages of 9.1 points, 3.6 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game.
Udrih joins the Knicks in an effort to further improve their chances at becoming a true title contender this season and Udrih himself has experienced the pinnacle of the league as a member of both the 2005 and 2007 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. His willingness to accept the veteran’s minimum to play in New York is a sign that Udrih believes the Knicks truly can contend for an NBA title; he had a number of other suitors and will take a significant pay cut from the $7.3 million he earned last season.
In the 2012-13 season, Udrih played a total of 66 games, averaging 8.2 points, 4.6 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game as he split time with the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic. It was after his trade to Orlando, which also included Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb in exchange for Gustavo Ayon, J.J. Redick and Ishmael Smith, that Udrih really began to regain some form. In his 27 appearances for Orlando, nine of which he started at point guard, Udrih averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 assists in a little more than 27 minutes per game. Taking control of the offense on a young Magic team, Udrih provided a steadying influence and was heavily involved whenever he was on the court.
Udrih will give the Knicks another option at point guard alongside starter Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. As we saw last season, coach Mike Woodson would often use two point guards in the backcourt at the same time and perhaps this is where many of Udrih’s minutes will come from. He is a willing passer who will have no problem deferring to volume scorers such as Carmelo Anthony; however, he is crafty enough getting into the paint and shooting from mid-range that defenses will have to honor his offensive abilities. With reigning Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith potentially on the sidelines to start the season, there will be a significant number of minutes to fill in the backcourt and Udrih, along with rookie shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., will be doing their best to make an impact before Smith returns to the court.
The Knicks have made a number of changes to their roster since a disappointing second round loss to the Indiana Pacers in the 2012-13 playoffs. Some, like the addition of former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani, have understandably raised some question marks. However, the addition of a veteran point guard of Udrih’s caliber for just the minimum is a tremendous pickup. Whether he simply provides injury insurance or carves his way into a significant role during the season, Udrih is a proven commodity in the NBA that coach Brown can rely on whenever required.
As the Knicks continue to search for ways to improve their roster in an attempt to win an NBA championship, the signing of Beno Udrih on such a miniscule contract is a significant, under-the-radar pickup that will allow management to turn their focus towards rounding out the team’s big man rotation.
Topics: Andrea Bargnani, Beno Udrih, Carmelo Anthony, Championship, Doron Lamb, Free Agency, Indiana Pacers, Jjredick, Knicks, Mike Brown, NBA, New York, Orlando Magic, Pablo Prigioni, Playoffs, Raymond Felton, Signed, Title, Tobias Harris