The Nets and Knicks are sucked dry of cap space, mostly thanks to the numerous contracts that run at least eight figures per year. But thanks to their ability to offer veteran’s minimum contracts, each team has the capacity to plug the few remaining holes on their respective rosters.
Here’s a look at each team’s needs and the players that might be willing to accept minimum deals to play in the five boroughs.
This team is chock full of guards and looks pretty set at small forward, too. What Brooklyn could use is another big man.
Five power forwards or centers — Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Mason Plumlee, Mirza Teletovic and Cory Jefferson — currently are under contract. But given age (Garnett), injury (Lopez) and experience (rookie Jefferson) concerns, another pivot player wouldn’t hurt.
The best buy-low candidate on the market is Emeka Okafor. He’ll be 32 by the preseason and missed all of last season with a neck injury, but his track record as a double-double center with a good shooting percentage could yield a similar return on investment as the Nets got with Shaun Livingston — another former lottery pick who caught the injury bug — last year. During his most recent season, 2012-13, Okafor contributed 9.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 0.97 blocks across 26 minutes in 79 games and 77 starts.
Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are the only true forwards on the roster, although one also could argue Andrea Bargnani shouldn’t be listed as a center. Still, that’s not nearly enough.
Kenyon Martin, 36, could be brought back again, but his skills are in decline and he hasn’t played in more than 50 games since 2009-10. Rashard Lewis could fit into the triangle offense as a 3-point specialist, but he failed his physical with the Mavericks recently and isn’t a guarantee to pass one in New York.
Elton Brand and Jermaine O’Neal could be more viable options if they are willing to accept the minimum. Both are far removed from their All-Star days but were productive in reserve roles for playoff teams last season. O’Neal averaged 7.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 0.91 blocks over 20.1 minutes in 44 games, while Brand posted numbers of 5.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.21 blocks over 19.4 minutes in 73 games.