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OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 28:  Chuck Hayes #44 of the Houston Rockets dribbles the ball during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on October 28, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Probably not going to be a Knick.

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The Knicks Have Begun to Shop

NBA business is gradually coming back to life, including yesterday's announcement that teams could make contact with agents. The Knicks do not currently have the assets to make a trade for, say, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, but they'd like to remain in contention when and if those fellows become free agents. So, the Knicks did make some inquiries, but they weren't beating down Nene's door or anything. The Knicks have little to offer beyond one-year contracts at minimum salaries, though it seems they'd be inclined to dip into the $5 million mid-level exception for certain folks. That being the case, here are some of the free agents the Knicks have reached out to, and who might receive offers when free agency opens in earnest on December 9.

From Howard Beck of the Times:

Knicks officials made the requisite calls Wednesday, contacting the agents for Caron Butler, Grant Hill, Kwame Brown, Shannon Brown, Shawne Williams and Jared Jeffries, among others. But their efforts may be hampered by the franchise’s fixation on Chris Paul and the free-agent class of 2012.

Marc Berman adds in Aaron Gray and the famously scrappy Chuck Hayes, whose agent has reportedly already rebuffed the Knicks' modest offer. (Which is a shame. He would have fit nicely.) Speaking of great fits, Jeff Foster's agent has also gotten calls, though his client is reportedly considering retirement after consecutive seasons marred by injuries.

So, we're still a week away from formal offers being made, but the names listed above give you a sense of who the Knicks like and what kind of money they're able to spend. Again, save for free agents who were Knicks last year, like Williams and Jeffries, most of these folks are likely to follow meatier offers from other clubs. New York may be confined to picking through the scraps when the teams with more money to dispense (for now) are filled to their content. At the very least, the Knicks will have made the necessary calls when that time comes.

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Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images