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Knicks will sign Mike Bibby for the minimum salary, but keep their point guard options open

Dec 10, 2011, 7:16 PM EDT

Mike Bibby Getty Images

The New York Knicks have gone to great lengths to find a talented center counterpart for Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. They used the amnesty clause to waive veteran point guard Chauncey Billups, and blew $14 million in the process. They chipped in another $3 million just to ensure the passing of the three-team deal that brought Tyson Chandler to New York. They gave away Ronny Turiaf in order to clear out salary to make Chandler’s signing possible, and handed over Andy Rautins to the Mavs so that Dallas would be able to create a traded player exception as motivation for a sign-and-trade.

And that was all just so the Knicks could have the opportunity to invest gobs and gobs of money in a lucrative contract for Chandler.

Those millions of dollars may not mean much for a team like the Knicks, but losing Billups — the team’s best point guard option — does. So much so, in fact, that the team has agreed to bring Mike Bibby to New York on a one-year deal for the minimum salary, according to Sam Amick of SI.com. Bibby is a quality outside shooter, but he’s hardly the playmaker — nor defender — the Knicks would need in their point man. Any offense featuring Stoudemire and Anthony should score with relative ease, but a quality playmaker could make New York’s offense transcendent. Bibby certainly doesn’t qualify, even if his three-point stroke will help space the floor for the Knicks’ stars to operate.

Yet the more obvious concerns come on the defensive end, where Bibby may be the single worst perimeter defender in the NBA. The Miami Heat were able to account for that deficiency last season with the collective strength of their smothering defense, but a Knicks lineup featuring Anthony and Stoudemire will have enough problems on D as it is. Chandler’s a skilled catch-all defensive center, but even the most talented bigs in the league can only cover so much ground and hedge against so many individual defensive weaknesses at once. The Bibby turnstile could put this team past its breaking point defensively, and put a lot of additional pressure on Chandler to adapt to his new surroundings quickly.

That said, the Knicks aren’t quite done reworking their point guard rotation, even after adding Bibby. According to Chris Mannix of SI.com, New York is also exploring the possibility of adding unrestricted free agent J.J. Barea. That’s not exactly a perfect fit, either; Barea can’t quite match Bibby’s defensive ineptitude, but his height (Barea is rather generously listed as six feet tall) makes challenging any shot problematic. Barea works hard defensively, but everything is made more difficult by the size advantage he surrenders on a nightly basis.

Plus, Barea’s successful playoff run has conjured up a mirage of offensive sufficiency. It’s true that Barea can dart around the court and create angles of penetration out of nothing, but he’s terribly inconsistent in his role as a shot creator. Upon reaching the basket, opposing defenses sometimes swallow Barea whole, and cut off his clearest utility as a player. He’s certainly useful, but his strengths aren’t nearly as pronounced as his recurring role on national television in May and June would have you believe.

It’s encouraging that the Knicks are exploring some more creative options, as signing Bibby and calling it a day could have been an otherwise predictable course of action. That said, it’s curious that Toney Douglas, the Knicks’ incumbent backup point guard, isn’t getting more public consideration. Douglas is clearly limited as a playmaker, but that flaw is seemingly universal among the Knicks’ options. The pool here is relatively dry, and in Douglas, the Knicks at least have a competent outside shooter with proven defensive effectiveness. That’s more than we can say of Bibby, who politely cedes ground to any opponent he’s tasked with guarding, and it’s more than we can say of Barea, too, who draws charges at a respectable rate, but at best is merely passable on that end.

Considering all that the Knicks have surrendered in order to make their dreamy frontline a reality, the point guard position will have its problems. Initiating the offense will be an issue on occasion. A lack of ball movement could be problematic at times. But at this point, the rotation should be designed to mitigate weaknesses, not enhance strengths. Bibby and Barea each have something to offer New York, but significant minutes for either could nudge an already fragile defense toward its collapse.

  1. 973yenots - Dec 10, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Why ? He’s like 80 yrs old! So I can only assume that they’re not thinking NBA finals. The Knicks organization are idiots!! What ever! LET’S GO HEAT!!!

  2. cantonbound13 - Dec 10, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    Interesting how Nash, Paul, Deron Williams or D. Rose don’t have rings but guys like Derek Fisher do. You don’t need a stud pg to win a championship.

    • 973yenots - Dec 11, 2011 at 1:38 PM

      Well bring Charlie Ward back, who’s gonna cover his ass when he get burnt by the quicker pgs ? Losers!

  3. 973yenots - Dec 10, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Fisher played with shaq and the best shooting guard ( Kobe Bryant )next to Michael Jordan. It’s gonna take more than melo, amare, and Chandler. Yeah they need a stud! Go heat

    • theghostofwillisreed - Dec 10, 2011 at 8:48 PM

      you mean like how apparently it will take more than lebron, bosh and wade? nice try.

      • 973yenots - Dec 10, 2011 at 9:08 PM

        Let me guess, Knicks fan?

  4. theghostofwillisreed - Dec 10, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    douglas is going to start, bibby backs him up. douglas is a more than serviceable defender when he stays disciplined and doesn’t obsess over playing passing lanes. the knicks’ first round pick, iman shumpert, is known as a very athletic defender and was acc defensive player of the year once. if the knicks get barea, he’s the spark-plug in the backcourt. in any event, toney douglas is going to run the show, not bibby.

  5. 973yenots - Dec 10, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    Ok, go knicks!! Lol!!!

  6. tolan04 - Dec 10, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    The Knicks had to make this move. Amare was breaking down physically playing against centers and let’s face it how far would they have gone without a true center like Chandler? Yeah Billups is gone but that’s the price you pay when you want to get better defensively and keep Amare at the 4. I applaud the Knicks getting Chandler. Whatever move the Knicks make is always criticized like giving Amare a max contract (how will he be without Nash?, yeah thought so) or giving up half the team for Anthony (omg they have no depth). Slowly the Knicks are making moves to be a real contender.

  7. 305phinphan - Dec 11, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    As a Heat fan I’m glad to see Bibby go. He was HORRIBLE in the entire playoffs and even worse in the finals. He had multiple open three’s and he never knocked them down. Bibby is well past his prime and should only get 2-5 shots per game at this point in his career.

  8. goforthanddie - Dec 11, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    Didn’t Bibby suck enough last year?

  9. a185 - Dec 11, 2011 at 3:45 AM

    The Heat and the Hawks really didn’t use Bibby right, his main roll was to jack up 3s. At his best on the Kings he scored off mid range jumpers off picks by C Webb. Back then he would at least heat up or see the ball go through the hoop before jacking 3s. I used to be a Kings fan but this Bibby ain’t that Bibby but the ability to hit mid range jumpers doesn’t change… they just need to have him shoot less 3s and run picks cause Amare can hit the mid range jumper like C Webb or finish better at the rim than C Webb so they can run Kings plays for Bibby, the only difference is Amare doesn’t have Webber’s passing ability. On defense he’ll have his hands full with D Will, D Rose, and Rondo, Wall… on the bright side a good defender couldn’t stop them anyway.

    • Kurt Helin - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:20 AM

      That Sacramento Bibby was a long time ago. These teams don’t use him like that because he can’t do that anymore.

  10. dysraw1 - Dec 11, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    you would think that with stat & melo it would easy to put up points wheres mark jackson when you need him

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