First, the players on the second unit consisted of the veteran guard Mike Bibby, the veteran forward Jared Jeffries and several rookies and free agents. Not much depth there. And when Jeffries, a notoriously poor shooter, and the 6-foot-10, 275-pound rookie Josh Harrellson began launching outside shots, it was apparent that there wasn’t much offense on the second unit, either.
Things can change before the season starts on Christmas, but for now the Knicks clearly remain in need of an outside shooter to alleviate the defensive attention that and Amar’e Stoudemire can expect to draw. “We need shooters,” Anthony said bluntly.
Stoudemire echoed that. “When you have two guys that demand a double team,” he said, “you’ve got to surround them with shooters.”
Or as Coach prefers to call them, “makers.”
As in a shot-maker like the 6-9 Shawne Williams, who led the N.B.A. in 3-point shooting accuracy at the outset of last season with the Knicks, then faltered because of knee and finger injuries. On Thursday, he turned down the Knicks to sign with the Nets, for whom he could be the starting small forward.
Williams joined the Nets for a two-year deal worth $6.1 million — about $1 million more than the Knicks could offer under salary-cap rules. The Nets also offered Williams a greater role, having waived Travis Outlaw.
“It came down to money and minutes,” said Williams’s agent, Happy Walters.
Williams was out of the league until the Knicks signed him last year. This was his first chance at a big payday. “It’s at least a million-dollar difference for a guy who last year didn’t even make a million,” Walters said. “He loved New York, and he loves the coach and he knows they gave him his opportunity.”
The Knicks had also pursued Jamal Crawford, whom D’Antoni coached for 11 games before he was traded in 2008. Like Williams, though, Crawford could be offered only a $2.5 million salary-cap exception by the Knicks, and he signed for more with Portland.
That leaves the Knicks to troll a diminishing free-agent pool of guards and perimeter shooters that includes Maurice Evans, Willie Green, Troy Murphy and Michael Redd.
Baron Davis is also part of that group, but he has been declared out 8 to 10 weeks because of back problems, prompting Stoudemire to say, “He’s not our concern at all.”
But shot-makers could be, whether from the presumed backcourt starters Landry Fields and Toney Douglas, or off the bench from the likes of Bibby, swingman Bill Walker (sidelined with a groin injury) or the first-round draft pick Iman Shumpert.
“We’ll see,” D’Antoni said when asked if he had enough shot-makers. “I don’t know. Amar’e can shoot, Melo can shoot, Toney can shoot, Landry can shoot.”
Tyson Chandler can score inside, Shumpert probably can outside and “Billy Walker can shoot it,” D’Antoni continued.
“I’m thinking yes,” he said of having enough shooters, “but we’ll see.”
From 3-point range, however, a significant component of D’Antoni’s offense, the Knicks (eighth in the league last season behind the arc at 36.8 percent) lost a 40.1 percent shooter in Williams.
Last season, Anthony shot 42.4 percent from 3-point range with the Knicks (averaging 4.6 attempts a game), Douglas (4.7 attempts) 37.3 percent, Fields (2.7 attempts) 39.3 percent and Walker (2.5 attempts) 38.6 percent.
“On this team we get a lot of open shots,” Anthony said. “It’s just a matter of them making it.”
“We’re ready to rock,” he added optimistically.
Not shoot rocks, he and the Knicks hope.
Jerome Jordan, a 7-foot center who played parts of the past two seasons in Serbia, signed with the team Thursday.