Add the New York Knicks to the race for DeAndre Jordan

When the list of teams expected to meet with DeAndre Jordan to recruit the big man in free agency emerged, I was a bit surprised the New York Knicks weren’t listed (for those wondering, it was the Clippers, Mavericks, Bucks, and Lakers).

Given what Phil Jackson has said the Knicks want to do in free agency — improve the NBA’s third worst defense — Jordan, who proved capable of being a defensive anchor, seemed ideal for New York’s ongoing rebuild/compete in the East plan. My first guess was fourth overall pick Kristaps Porzingis, the 7-foot-1 Latvian who was booed by many on draft night, would immediately start off playing the center, with the team focusing on a power forward and wing (Greg Monroe, David West, Danny Green, etc.) in free agency.

But it appears Knicks are a just an early omission as Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv, reports the franchise will have an opportunity to meet with one of free agency’s top unrestricted free agents.

Center DeAndre Jordan will visit the Knicks, among other teams, in his free agency search (June 26).

Whether the Knicks enter the season with Porzingis or Carmelo Anthony at power forward, Phil Jackson’s need for a last-line rim protector will be huge if he wants the Knicks to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference next season. Jordan fits this profile despite not being the best in the league while providing the Knicks one of the best pick-and-roll finishers at the rim and rebounds in the league.

An interesting question of fit will be how Jordan operates in the triangle offense Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, head coach, are hellbent on running. With Jordan unable to create for himself in majority situations (doesn’t qualify for listing in Synergy’s isolation data), if the Knicks aren’t set on running tons of pick-and-roll with Jordan as the dive man to create space for outside shooters and receive alley-oops as he did with the Clippers, how Jordan operates in the halfcourt could decrease his overall value of a player.

In regards to finances, the circumstances are the same: like 28 other teams, the Knicks can only offer Jordan a max contract over a four-year period — the Clippers, owners of Jordan’s bird rights, can offer five. And in regards to winning, the Knicks — like the Bucks, Mavericks, and Lakers — are better with Jordan in the picture, but not better than what the Clippers have shown to be in the past three seasons with Jordan playing third fiddle aside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Again, at this point there’s little the Clippers can do to increase their odds of re-signing Jordan. Money, they can offer the most. Winning, of the teams listed LA provides the best opportunity to compete for a championship. The ball is in Jordan’s hands now.

Free agency begins on July 1st.