What Roles Will Knicks Incumbent Veterans Play?
  • Andrew Hughes

What Roles Will Knicks Incumbent Veterans Play?


The New York Knicks added two veterans on minimum deals in Ramon Sessions and Michael Beasley this offseason. I recently discussed what their roles would be on their new team.

Essentially, Sessions is insurance for Frank Ntilikina's learning curve while Beasley is either a hedge for Carmelo Anthony's departure or a scoring spark off of the bench.

The Knicks added young talent as well this offseason. Damyean Dotson, Ntilikina and Nigel Hayes will all add youth to the potential rebuilding effort. Ron Baker was brought back and Tim Hardaway Jr. was signed to a larger-than-expected deal.

What do all of these additions mean for New York's incumbent veterans? For starters, it most definitely signals a reduction in minutes.

Courtney Lee has lost the job as the Knicks' starting shooting guard. Though he will be making $12 million for the next three seasons, the Knicks investment in Hardaway Jr. likely means the former Knicks first round draft pick will be getting the lion-share of minutes at the 2-spot.

Lee's only hope for starting would be a Carmelo Anthony trade. Even then, the Knicks would have to receive a haul that doesn't feature any high end talent on the wing. Lee, if he isn't traded himself, is likely to be a featured member of the second unit.

Lance Thomas may see his role increase or decrease depending on the Anthony situation. With Michael Beasley on board to either replace or complement Anthony's scoring, it may be tough for Thomas to earn many minutes in Hornacek's rotation. Injuries have prevented Thomas from having much of an impact with the Knicks the last two seasons.

Kyle O'Quinn is likely to reprise his role as the first big off the bench. Knicks fans have grown accustomed to O'Quinn's grittiness on the boards and his underrated passing ability. O'Quinn has shown the ability to find Anthony for alley-oop lobs, which is as impressive as it is surprising.

The man who will likely see his role decreased, if not downright eliminated, this season will be Joakim Noah. Noah dealt with injuries all year last season and hasn't been right since his fifth place MVP finish in 2013-14. He was largely ineffective when he did play last season and was outplayed by rookie big man Willy Hernangomez.

Hernangomez will be the team's starter and is likely to be a major component of the team's future. His salary is a fraction of Noah's but Hornacek wants to see what the Spaniard could do with a full season as the team's starting pivot.

Noah will miss the first 30 games of the season because of a suspension due to using an over-the-counter steroid. That could doom Noah's year, and perhaps his career, for a number of reasons.

If the Knicks have a good start in their first 30 games, the team is unlikely to tinker with their rotation. Noah would become a high-priced reserve in that scenario. If the team struggles, the focus will shift to rebuilding.

Noah is on the wrong side of 30 and his career is on the decline. He doesn't fit in with the Knicks rebuilding plans.

The Knicks offseason will have a great effect on the team's veterans. Some will have their roles reduced. For others, that may actually be the best case scenario.

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