Have the Knicks Already Signed Their Fifteenth Man?

From Tracy McGrady to Kenyon Martin, and now, Rasheed Wallace, the rumors surrounding which veteran(s) (if any) will ultimately be joining the Knicks as the team heads into training camp next week are swirling.

Though they will bring 19 players to Westchester, only thirteen of those guys will hit the hardwood resting assured they have guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season. Thus, two roster spots are potentially up for grabs.

Many believe Allan Houston (the General Manager of the Erie BayHawks, the Knicks’ D-League affiliate) is interested to taking time to develop talent in Erie that could potentially help the NBA squad down the road. As it stands, a couple of players from the Knicks’ training camp roster may be cut, only to end up with the BayHawks in the coming weeks.

With their eyes apparently on a veteran player or two, it’s not out of the question to suggest no one with a non-guaranteed contract makes the Knicks next month. An experienced player would likely only flock to the Big Apple under the assumption they’d be making an impact. The coaching staff would have to free up minutes in the rotation, seemingly leaving little opportunity for a young gun to squeeze through.

All this recognized, time to sign up an NBA vet for camp is indeed running out. Who’s to say the Knicks haven’t already found their fifteen man?

Though there are in fact two free roster spots, fans could be smart to envision Chris Copeland securing one of those. At 28 years old, the forward is not much of a project, rather a player with years of overseas experience.

He’s taken the time to hone his skills, and it showed during his impressive showing with the Knicks in Las Vegas this past summer. The big man is very quick and agile around the rim, and can finish nicely under the basket. If his hard work this offseason has been any indication, Copeland has done plenty to warrant, at the very least, an opportunity.

Assuming Copeland makes the cut, the Knicks will still have a bevy of other players to choose from for their fifteen and final roster spot.

John Shurma has been widely heralded as “the next Steve Novak,” Mychel Thompson displayed his skills for the BayHawks last season, and Chris Smith already has a good relationship with many members of the Knicks’ team and coaching staff. They represent only three options, but there are various others where that came from.

Still, the decision on the fifteenth man will come down to how content the Knicks really are with their roster. Is the front office confident enough in the abilities of the current players? Can the last spot simply be taken by a filler?

Or does the team need an extra jolt? If team officials believe the depth chart needs some bolstering, a veteran player would be the type to call on in order to fill a deeper void.

The final choice remains to be seen, but with so many non-guaranteed contracts on the payroll, and so many other NBA free agent veterans taking their time, it may be smart to keep a young gun in the fold through January before making the formal decision to bring a veteran in midseason.

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