Friday, June 15, 2012
Could a Former Knicks Center Playing in NBA Finals Return to New York?
The NBA Finals are not only underway, but heating up to be an intense and electrifying matchup. Though the Heat and Thunder have three formers Knicks in total on their squads, none of those players are yet to hit the hardwood in the championship series.
Thunder backup big man Nazr Mohammad is best remembered by New Yorkers for beginning to fill the void at center left by Patrick Ewing. Though both players were obviously on entirely different levels, Mohammad performed respectively and stepped up to do the best he could to fill the once present massive void. After averaging 10.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in 54 contests, he was prematurely traded in 2005 to the Spurs for Malik Rose and a future first round draft pick that the Knicks ultimately used to select David Lee. Since, Mohammad's career has continued as he's served as spot starter for teams like the Bobcats and Thunder.
Though former Knicks big man Eddy Curry's career has been plagued with major injuries since 2007, the Heat took a chance on him this season. Curry, who still owns career averages of 13 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, has only appeared in 24 contests since the 2008-09 NBA season. His Knicks tenure was filled with headlines of unfulfilled and unreached potential. He actually came into the league alongside current New York center Tyson Chandler on the Bulls, with both big men expected to make major impacts. Though it's taken Chandler a little longer than expected, he's emerged as an intimidating defensive presence. While Curry was once heralded as "Baby Shaq," he's failed to reach a level of play similar to Chandler's.
Ronny Turiaf also joined the Heat this season, but his path to Miami was one much more traveled...literally. To make room for Chandler, the Knicks quickly jettisoned Turiaf to the Wizards in December. The big man struggled with injuries, but still managed to play in a few contests before breaking his hand. Closer to the trading deadline, Turiaf was later traded to the Nuggets, who subsequently waived him, allowing the big man to sign with the championship contender. Turiaf is most known this postseason for his comical celebrates on the bench as his superstar teammates try to come away with an NBA title.
While Curry is almost certain never to don orange and blue ever again, both Mohammad and Turiaf will be coming off more lucrative contracts (Turiaf was more recently let out his upon being waived. Mohammad will be concluding a two-year contract in Oklahoma City at the end of The Finals). The Knicks could use an extra big man on the roster, with only the raw and unproven Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan under contract for next season. Jared Jeffries is expected to be back as well, but it's unknown what the market for him will be next month.
Given their lack of playing time and the missed opportunity to prove themselves this postseason, Mohammad and/or Turiaf may be open to returning to the Big Apple for the veteran's minimum. Both were well liked in New York City, and could easily see playing time while filling a void at a reasonable price. Both the Knicks and either player would surely benefit from a low risk/high reward type reunion.