When the New York Knicks shipped Tyson Chandler back to the Dallas Mavericks along with Raymond Felton, they were sacrificing their frontcourt presence. Samuel Dalembert is a serviceable center, but with only him, Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Tyler holding down the paint, the need for another big was paramount.
Enter Jason Smith, an unrestricted free agent who averaged 9.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game last season with the New Orleans Pelicans. According to RealGM’s Shams Charania, the Knicks signed Smith to a one-year deal worth $3.3 million.
None of Phil Jackson‘s offseason moves will turn the Knicks into a contender next season, but so far all signs point to him being able to at least make New York a more competitive team before Carmelo Anthony‘s prime is over. Smith is coming off knee surgery, but if he’s healthy, he’s an athletic big who can stretch the floor and rebound fairly well.
The Jason Smith signing is a smart move by Phil Jackson… Worth taking a flier on an athletic big who can shoot, score & board when healthy.
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) July 16, 2014
The $3.3 million deal represents New York’s tax payer’s exception and since it’s only a one-year deal, this is a brilliant signing that takes a chance on a decent seven-footer who could potentially end up being the Knicks’ starting center next season over Dalembert. That’ll depend on how head coach Derek Fisher chooses to use Melo, Stoudemire and Bargnani next season, but either way Smith bolsters the frontcourt at a bargain price.
The move is also a good one because even if injuries cut his season short again, that one-year deal won’t affect New York’s cap space next summer when the Knicks will need to be active in adding star talent to help Carmelo Anthony out.
Since taking over the Knicks as president of basketball operations, Jackson has worked his way into the 2014 NBA Draft and possibly nabbed the steal of the draft with Cleanthony Early; gotten rid of quite possibly the league’s worst point guard in Felton; brought in an upgrade in Jose Calderon, not to mention Shane Larkin; gotten Chandler’s contract off the books; re-signed one of the league’s best offensive players to a deal just under the max; hired a head coach he can mentor and tutor; and taken a chance on Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
Again, these moves won’t appease Melo’s desire to play on a championship-caliber team next season, but Knicks fans should like what they’ve seen out of the Zen Master so far, and this Jason Smith signing is just the latest in a series of positive signs.