Donnie Walsh took his best shot with Jason Kidd and he’s made two fairly substantial offers to Grant Hill in his efforts to give the Knicks some veteran leadership and bolster the team’s credibility. But with news emerging this morning that the Suns have improved their offer and are making a late recruiting push to bring Hill back into the fold, it seems very possible that the Knicks are going to miss out on both players.
Frank Isola wrote this morning that the Knicks could turn to Andre Miller next should Hill decide to re-sign with the Suns. While I don’t think that would be an awful move, it’s certainly not the Knicks’ best option (more on that below) and I don’t see Donnie landing him anyway. As is the case with the Knicks and David Lee, the Sixers’ position vis a vis Miller has come together beautifully. The teams with substantial cap space are seemingly unwilling to meet Miller’s asking price leaving him with no other option but to accept a deal from Philly or try to orchestrate a sign-and-trade. Barring a fantastic offer, the Sixers can just sit on their hands and wait this out, basically daring Miller to sign somewhere else on a mid-level deal. In the end, I think he goes back to the Sixers on a 3 year deal for $7-8 million per.
So if these are the Knicks’ only targets, it’s starting to look like we may just whiff completely in free agency. Now, there’s still plenty of time and none of the restricted free agents’ situations have been resolved, including Lee’s and Nate Robinson’s, so I’m not necessarily suggesting that Donnie will just rest on his laurels and go to camp with this roster (though he might).
That said, I don’t want to see the Knicks haphazardly trying to add veteran players anyway. While I understand the virtue of Miller, he doesn’t offer the same cache or credibility that Jason Kidd would have and I just don’t see the same value in the incremental improvement Miller would provide. While I do think he’d help the culture, the Pedro Martinez analogy certainly doesn’t apply here because he’s not going to be a major draw to the big-time free agents the way that Kidd might have been.
If the Knicks can’t add Hill, I’d much rather see the team target Ramon Sessions than Miller. I still think Sessions would be a great add and I just have a feeling that the Bucks’ financial struggles have been underestimated and their willingness to match a substantial offer (the full midlevel?) has been overstated. Sessions is 10 years younger than Miller and offers a similar skillset. He’s the kind of young, promising PG that can grow with the team and add long term value regardless of whether we land Lebron or Dwayne Wade.
Short of that, I’d even prefer to see Nate go in a sign-and-trade for a young PG who’s reputation is a little bit tarnished like Sergio Rodriguez or Jordan Farmar over a Miller signing. Each of those players thrive in the uptempo game (Farmar’s main problem is that he’s miscast in the triangle) and are young enough where, given an opportunity, they could still blossom into good players.
We’re all starting to come to terms with some of the biggest challenges the Knicks will face in executing a fast rebuild. If Donnie can pull it off and make us instant 2010 contenders, fantastic. But he shouldn’t force it. This is where his trademark restraint figures to come in handy. Because if the Knicks aim for the fast rebuild with third and fourth tier players, as we all know far too well, in no time we’ll just find ourselves back in the dumpster. It’s time to start getting our heads around the concept of “slow-and-steady”, even if it’s only a fallback.