The New York Knicks open their exhibition season on Tuesday at Houston. Ron Baker’s spot on the 15-man roster is iffy, because the Knicks have 15 players on guaranteed contracts and there is competition at guard beyond those deals.
However, coach Jeff Hornacek is on record saying guaranteed deals don’t equal a roster spot if it’s not best for the team. So there is Baker’s chance.
We asked Seth Rosenthal of the Knicks blog postingandtoasting.com to assess Baker’s spot with the Knicks, and give us some Cleanthony Early info, as well.
Q: What does Ron Baker do that might be valuable enough for the Knicks to put him on the roster?
A: Ron's in a tough spot. The Knicks already have 15 guaranteed contracts (after camp, they'll have to cut the roster down to ... 15), so he'll have to play so well that the Knicks will be willing to cut someone to give him a spot.
That's possible, because the Knicks desperately need a good third point guard, but then there's the added variable of Chasson Randle's presence. The rookie from Stanford wasn't as sharp defensively as Ron in Summer League, but outplayed him quite a bit on the offensive end.
If the Knicks did end up cutting someone to sign a camp guard, I'd lean toward Randle.
Q: Cleanthony Early has fallen out of the plans for the Knicks. Is there any possibility in him getting another shot?
A: I would think so, but that doesn't appear to be in the cards this year in New York or elsewhere. Early looked pretty good playing as more of a slashing guard than a small forward last summer and in preseason, but his role with the actual regular season team never followed through, and that was before he was injured in that scary shooting last winter.
He's not the youngest of young guys, so I don't think he gets another shot by default, but perhaps after some strong performance in the D-League or overseas someone will be interested.
Q: What did Baker's performance in Orlando reveal about his NBA abilities?
A: He looked quick enough and smart enough to defend a variety of guards. His shots didn't really fall, and he looked pretty over-matched trying to get to the basket, but I get the sense that he's savvy enough to at least blend in on offense.
Q: The Knicks appear to have injury concerns at guard. Does that help Baker's position?
A: Definitely. Like I said, even without injury concerns, the Knicks are pretty light in the backcourt. I think there's some chance they cut someone to sign a guard out of camp. If Baker wins his battle with Randle, that very well could be him.