In last month's NBA Draft, the New York Knicks failed to land a big man to pair in the frontcourt with Amar'e Stoudemire.
Instead, they picked Iman Shumpert, a guard from Georgia Tech who might play a vital defensive role for the Knicks as they challenge for the Eastern Conference title.
The Knicks had one of the worst defenses in the league last year and are now on the lookout for a defensive-minded big man to toughen up the interior defense the way Tyson Chandler did for the NBA Champion Mavericks
The best center on the free agent market will be Nuggets center Nene, but he will command too much salary and the Knicks are still hoarding cap space in the hopes of signing Chris Paul or Dwight Howard to join Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony at the end of next season.
Assuming that the next CBA is similar to the current one and allows teams the Mid-Level Exception (MLE), here are a few discount big men the Knicks could target:
Samuel Dalembert, C, Sacramento Kings
While he can probably earn more on the free-agent market than the MLE, the Knicks might be able to convince Dalembert to sign for less to play with Stoudemire and Anthony for a chance at a title. He'd be a good addition to the Knicks frontcourt with career averages of more than eight points and eight rebounds per game to go along with close to two blocks per game. The nine-year veteran's size and defense would be an immediate upgrade at the center spot.
Greg Oden, C, Portland Trailblazers
Injuries have kept Oden from ever reaching the potential he displayed in college, and the former number one overall pick has been a disappointment thus far in his career. The Knicks could take a chance on him and hope he stays healthy because he would significantly improve their inside game. He's a good interior defender, clogs the lane, and can score around the hoop with both hands. The injury-prone label might allow the Knicks to snag him on a very reasonable price.
Kenyon Martin, PF, Denver Nuggets
Martin is a wily veteran and an excellent defender. The 33-year-old enforcer would be a solid addition to the frontcourt rotation and could spell Stoudemire at the power forward spot. Martin is an injury risk, but if he signs at a low rate and manages to stay healthy during the regular season, and more importantly the postseason, he could be a positive signing.
Nazr Mohammed, C, Oklahoma City Thunder
A decent contributor off the bench in OKC, Mohammed might have to play starter's minutes in New York. He's a decent center, and in a fairly weak frontcourt aside from Stoudemire and Anthony, Mohammed might see plenty of minutes.
Aaron Gray, C, New Orleans Hornets
Gray increased his free agent value with a decent showing as Emeka Okafor's backup against the Lakers. He will probably decide to decline the player option on the last year of his contract and test the market. At 7'0, he would bring much needed size to the Knicks and would probably be the starter from day one. He did a serviceable job defending the Lakers' big men and could improve the Knicks interior defense.