However, it's the last roster spots that seems to be the most intriguing.
C.J. Leslie appeared to be a virtual lock to make the roster after the Knicks signed him as an undrafted free agent. However, his poor performances on the Knicks' summer league team and his lack of consistency and flash before and during camp and in preseason games has left his job in jeopardy.
In complete contrast, fan favorite Toure Murry has done nothing but impress. He's shown hustle,
coachability and improved skills in practices and preseason games. Murry has shown his ability to run an offense, his ability to score the ball and his defensive prowess. However, he is clearly fighting an uphill battle to make the roster because of the log-jam at both guard positions.
At this point, Murry would be a lock to make the roster if it weren't for the fact that the Knicks have three reliable point guards and three reliable shooting guards already under contract. Murry's ability to play either guard position is a bonus but with Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Beno Udrih at point guard and Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. at shooting guard the Knicks appear set in the backcourt.
However, like Tyler, Murry simply has too high of an upside and to bright of a future for the Knicks to cut him. Remember, Murry turned down a camp invite from the Miami Heat to come to camp with the Knicks. The last thing New York wants to see is him land with the Heat and haunt the Knicks for the next several years.
Furthermore, Felton isn't exactly a top point guard in the NBA. He'd be a very good backup but as a starter he's average at best. Prigioni has some very nice skills but he's headed towards the end of his career not the beginning of it. Udrih is a very nice signing to add depth but he's played in the NBA for nine years already and can't be looked at as their future.
Murry could give the Knicks additional depth at both guard spots and develop as a future starter for the Knicks. That's something the Knicks don't have without keeping him on the roster. If Murry can earn a roster spot he may be able to follow in the footsteps of Jeremy Lin and Chris Copeland as cheap, impact roster additions the Knicks have uncovered over the last few years.
Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork reports that both Carmelo Anthony and Coach Woodson are fans of Murry.
"He's a quiet guy, under-the-radar, [and] willing to learn each day. He comes in the gym, he works. His future is bright," Anthony said. "I'm a big fan of Toure'."While it's known that Murry can score, can be dangerous in the open court and is developing his point guard skills his most impactful abilities are on the defensive end. Murry can give Mike Woodson a player who can make an instant impact off the bench on the defensive end of the floor.
"This is two back-to-back games that he played great," Woodson said of Murry. "I think once he actually learns the league and what defensive concepts are about, he's going to be a pretty good player because he's got the knack to score as well. He's a big point guard, two guard that can handle it and make plays and that's kind of nice in this league."
His length, footwork and natural instincts allows him to be disruptive and defend the point guard, shooting guard and small forward positions. That's a valuable skill set, especially for a team like the Knicks that lack natural defenders.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that Murry knows he'll be able to get a chance elsewhere if things don't work out with the Knicks.
“After the summer league, Miami showed interest,’’ said Murry, who played with Houston’s D-League team last season. “That was the main team I was looking at. The Knicks were the most comfortable, playing with the same players and coaches and I knew the system. Mike Woodson offered me the invite after second the game. I stuck with it.Outside of Leslie, Murry's biggest competition is likely Chris Smith. The brother of J.R. Smith has defensive ability but hasn't shown he's an NBA level player. However, when J.R. changed representation and re-signed with the Knicks there were rumors that he and Chris were a package deal for the Knicks.
“I understand the NBA is a business,’’ Murry added. “If it doesn’t work out, another team will take care of me.’’
Is Chris better than Murry? No. Does that mean the Knicks won't make the typical decision of keeping Chris over either Leslie or Murry who both have higher upsides? Sadly, no.
That being said, rewarding a player that impresses during the summer and in training camp is the right thing to do. It's the correct move for the franchise for now and for the future of the team. In order to do that the team needs to keep the best players no matter who they may end up being.
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