The New York Knicks have offered Jimmer Fredette a 10-day contract. Fredette has been out of the NBA for the 2015-16 season, playing for the Westchester Knicks in the D-League. But a NBA roster spot had always been the Fredette goal, to get back here anyway possible. Humbled by his NBA experience that didn’t go as planned, Fredette was the MVP of the D-League All-Star game less than a week ago, scoring a record high 35 points. He will appear in his first NBA game of the season sometime next week. The Knicks are anticipating signing Fredette on Monday.
If all goes according to plan, his perimeter shooting will open up the floor and help the Knicks with floor spacing. That’s how Knicks coach Kurt Ramis sees it.
“He’s obviously a very good shooter and somebody who can open the floor for us, so we’ll see how he fits in.”
Fitting in has always been the issue.
In his previous NBA life, Fredette had difficulty fitting in the right system for his abilities. His career had been dogged by a reputation of too slow to play defense which is not the same as not willing to play defense. But it all came down to the same thing. Fredette was easy to beat off the dribble.
Unfortunately for him, Jimmer was drafted by a broken franchise that was often clueless. Any place would have been better than the dysfunctional Kings that were in discussions to move the team. They fired their coach and Jimmer was a rookie: hello, kid. Welcome to the NBA. His role was barely defined. He played inconsistent minutes.
From Sacramento he went to Chicago and Tom Thibodeau who didn’t breathe offense so that was a bad fit. In New Orleans, he played for another defensive coach in Monty Williams. San Antonio gave him a shot and it was the same story over and over again. Who can he guard?
In a twist of irony, coming home to the D-League was a blessing in disguise for Fredette. He was back home among the folks who nurtured him into the best college player of 2011. He went back to the basics. The D-League affiliate for the Knicks meant a call up was possible and this Knicks team wouldn’t be burdened by the holy grail of defensive expectations that found Fredette lacking. In the triangle, it’s about moving the ball and making open shots. That’s what the Knicks want to see. But on the other hand….the Knicks are spiraling downward. Seven losses in a row. Fredette is entering another complicated situation.
Regardless of the aesthetics, this is the first step in trying to get back in. Jimmer is playing for a second 10-day contract. After that, if the Knicks want to keep him, they have to sign him for the rest of the year.
This summer is a big one for everyone on the outside looking in because every team is going to have a lot of money and there are only so many players to go around. Can Fredette take advantage of the situation?
For the Westchester Knicks, Jimmer scored 22.3 points and dished out 4.8 assists. Rambis, like Keith Smart, like Mike Malone, like Tom Thibodeau, like Gregg Poppovich, want to see more than scoring from Fredette. That is what is going to tip the scales for Fredette in this fork in the road. The NBA has changed since he entered the league as a lottery pick, drafted higher than Klay Thompson. Versatility is the key.
“We’ve got to see if he can actually handle the basketball and be able to create shots for himself and create shots for others within the team concept, so it will be an adjustment for him. It’s not going to be an easy transition and guys who are in the D-league…they’re not NBA ballplayers. So it’s a different level up here to make the step up.”
Not exactly an encouraging ring of endorsement from Rambis. But he added “sometimes it takes a few years to adjust to the game on the NBA level, so we’ll see if he’s made the adjustment.”
Sometimes means maybe yes, maybe no. Jimmer Fredette’s new life begins in few days.
photo via llananba