Keep in mind that the New York Knicks will have very little money to use on free agents this summer. While the main focus for team president Phil Jackson will be to convince Carmelo Anthony to not opt out of his contract and return to Manhattan, adding necessary talent will no doubt be in the back of Jackson’s mind this offseason. If Anthony decides to leave town and signs with another franchise for the 2014-15 season, the Knicks will still be over the cap limit of $62.9 million, according to ESPN New York. Even though that they will only have $29.9 million in guaranteed contracts, both Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million) and Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4 million) plan on using their player options for next season, leaving the Knicks at an estimated $1.9 million over the limit.
Bringing in veterans that have had a controversial past during their careers isn’t a concern for Jackson if he feels that they can play a big role in bringing a championship back to New York. Along with Lamar Odom, another player that spent quite a few years working underneath the Zen Master, who could also jumpstart his career back in the right direction by reuniting with his former head coach, is Andrew Bynum.
Coming straight to the NBA fresh out of high school, Bynum saw a great deal of success with the Los Angeles Lakers. Appearing in the 2012 All-Star Game and helping the Lakers to two straight championships, Bynum finished his tenure in Los Angeles by averaging 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, including a career-high 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in 2011-12.
But after being dealt from the Lakers in a four-team deal that sent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles and Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets two years ago, things have spiraled downhill for the 26-year-old. Problems with his knees and a lack of motivation from the injuries hasn’t allowed Bynum to show his true potential as a dominating center. After not appearing in a single game while wearing a Philadelphia 76ers uniform, Bynum managed to play in 24 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers before being traded to the Chicago Bulls just to be amnestied for cap relief and only two games for the Indiana Pacers before experiencing swelling in the knee, which ruled him out for the remainder of the season. If there’s one person that Bynum would be motivated enough to prove that he can get back to full strength and be a frequent contributor once again, it would be Phil Jackson.
“His reputation and career seems to be in need of repair after the injuries and drama over the past two seasons. If anyone can get him back on track, it’s Phil Jackson, whom Bynum enjoyed success with in Los Angeles,” per ESPN New York.
Signing the 7’0″, 285 pound big man would come at the same price the Indiana Pacers paid towards the ends of the season. It would also be a low-risk, high-reward move for the Knicks. If Bynum’s lack of production or lack of inspiration continues, Jackson won’t have an issue getting rid of him and the veteran’s minimum contract that he’ll be expected to sign. However, If Bynum remains focused on the task at hand by improving his health and performance on the floor, then it’ll be a major victory for Jackson’s legacy as president of basketball operations. Jackson will have to wait a year in order to sign some of the top-tier free agents, such as Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic or LaMarcus Aldridge. But for now, adding a center that can do a lot of damage offensively and defensively in the paint when healthy can only be beneficial for the Knicks.