The Knicks have signed seven-year NBA veteran center D.J. Mbenga, the team announced (Twitter link). The team is limited to giving out only the minimum salary, but it’s unclear if any of it will be guaranteed for the 33-year-old who played under Knicks president Phil Jackson when he was coaching the Lakers. New York doesn’t have to let anyone go to make room, since the team had been carrying 18 players, two shy of the preseason roster limit of 20.
Mbenga hasn’t played an NBA regular season game since the 2010/11 season, but he was with the Mavs for the 2012/13 preseason. He spent the regular season that year playing in China and in the Philippines. The 7-footer’s greatest success came when he was with Jackson and averaged a career-high 2.7 points in 7.9 minutes per game for the title-winning 2008/09 Lakers. Mbenga has never seen more than 8.1 MPG in any NBA season.
The team made the signing with only training camp in mind, though it had been in the works for a while, tweets Marc Berman of the New York Post. There’s little opportunity for Mbenga or any of New York’s camp invitees to crack the 15-man regular season roster, since the team has 14 fully guaranteed deals and a partial guarantee with Samuel Dalembert, as I outlined Tuesday. Still, if the Knicks let him go and he’d like to play in the D-League, New York can retain his rights for its D-League affiliate.