With the NBA season steadily approaching, teams are still on the lookout for any more free agents worth adding to their roster. All of the premier players in this free agency class have already been signed to new teams or re-signed back to their respective teams, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the group is worthless.
If the New York Knicks were to pick up any free agents, their key focus should be to recruit players or a player that can bring a unique skill set to the team. If that’s not possible then at least someone better than one of the current primary options.
The only thing wrong with the latter option is that among the free agents left, their skillsets are relatively in the same range. In other words, it would be best to prepare for a role player that can grow accustomed to the team system, rather than a star in the making.
A player that fits that mold and can change the team dynamic instantly would be the Former Philadelphia 76er, Byron Mullens.
Mullens would be coming off the bench to substitute Samuel Dalembert at the starting center position, while competing with newly acquired Jason Smith. I assume that Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire will take on power forward roles. Dalembert’s role will mainly consist of being a defensive presence in the paint, he averaged almost 7 rebounds and about a block per game last season.
Mullens’ statistics from last season weren’t that impressive, maybe the lack of consistency with a single team played a role in this slump. On the other hand, the year before is when his stats weren’t too far off from Dalembert’s, averaging 6.4 rebounds and .6 blocks in the 2012-2013 season.
The point is that Mullens is producing around the same numbers in categories that qualify Dalembert to be the starting center. On top of that, Mullens has a soft touch around the rim and can shoot from beyond the 3-point line. This can give the Knicks an opportunity to space the floor, take the rim protector out of the paint at times and allow guards to drive more to the basket.
His 3-point field goal percentage reached .371 which topped the Atlanta Hawk center, Pero Antic. Antic is relevant to this conversation because of his play against Indiana Pacer, Roy Hibbert. When Hibbert guarded Antic from the 3-point line, he exposed their defensive flaws. Hibbert’s options were either guard Antic close, which will allow other players facilitate the key or leave him open, which allowed Antic to shoot 3-pointers. This could be a matchup plan that can help the Knicks get past the team that once ended their most recent playoff run.
The Knicks are already around $31 million over the salary cap so I doubt paying top dollar is even an option for Mullens, a more realistic offer would be along the lines of a minimum contract. The upside is that his past contract was a minimum salary of $947,907 so any offer higher would be an upgrade and not hurt the Knicks’ salary. He would also be making a positive transition from the 76ers’, who almost had the worst record in the NBA last season, to playing with a newly structured team.