The Knicks are looking to add more two-way players like Courtney Lee in free agency this summer, as the team has shown preliminary interest in players such as P.J. Tucker and Dante Cunningham, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.
Jeff Hornacek coached Tucker in Phoenix and praised the veteran forward for his leadership in the locker room and his intensity on defense. The 32-year old also shot 35.7 percent from the three-point line last season, including a 40 percent clip once he was traded to the Raptors.
Cunningham has developed a nice shot from long range, leading the Pelicans in 3-point field goal percentage last season at 39.2 percent. The 30-year old proved to be quite valuable to New Orleans this past season as the team went 13-8 when Cunningham played at least 28 minutes. To put those numbers in perspective, that winning percentage would have ranked among the top-10 in the league.
Another player many in the Knicks organization are high on is Spurs guard Jonathon Simmons. SImmons averaged 6.2 points in 17.8 minutes this season, but stepped up in the absence of Kawhi Leonard during the Western Conference Finals and averaged 15.3 points in 27.8 minutes per game against the Warriors.
However, Simmons will be a restricted free agent, thus giving the Spurs the opportunity to match all offers made to the 27-year old.
Begley goes on to mention New York's interest in retaining their own two-dimensional player, guard Justin Holiday, who is likely to garner a lot of interest this offseason.
The Knicks will have around $19 million in cap space to spend.
Even rebuilding and transitioning squads need veteran leaders to provide stability and guidance for their young players. Courtney Lee proved to be a terrific signing for various reasons. He has sound defensive fundamentals and his offensive role really flourished towards the end of the campaign, even averaging 13.2 points on 48% from the field in April. On the court, two way players are so valuable. Off the court, Lee absolutely served as a mature presence to help others benefit in the locker room.
Perhaps the Knicks are hoping for similar luck when it comes to options like Tucker and Cunningham. Cunningham is undoubtedly a poor man's option, despite shooting a career-high 39% from deep last season. Tucker doesn't own as much offensive prowess, but he's a high level defender who could be starting on any number of teams in the league, New York included. Having previously played for Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix, Tucker also showed the Knicks what he was made of all season long while frustrating Carmelo Anthony during the pair's respective matchups. The forward often handles the duty of defending an opposing team's best player and isn't someone opponents like to mess with.
Targeting Cunningham and Tucker obviously won't tell the whole offseason story for New York, as they are simply to be regarded as complementary players. Still, it's becoming clear that perhaps after reeling in a point guard via the draft, the Knicks will then turn to free agency in an attempt to shore up their defensive voids.