Smith: Anything less than title is 'waste'

At the end of last season, Iman Shumpert said the Knicks fell short of their goal to reach the Eastern Conference finals.

Looking ahead to 2013-14, J.R. Smith is already putting his stamp on what the course of action needs to be for the team. Friday on Twitter, he responded to a fan's question -- "expectations for this year?" -- with this:

Although the Knicks finished second in the East behind the Heat last season, most insiders believe they will drop in the standings based on upgrades by the Bulls, Pacers and Nets this offseason. Recently, ESPN asked 215 people who contribute to the network's NBA coverage to predict the records for Eastern Conference teams in 2013-14.

The outlook for the Knicks? ESPN's panel agreed they will take a step back this coming season. The panel predicted a 48-win campaign -- six fewer than 2012-13 -- and a fifth-place finish in the conference.

FREE AGENT OF INTRIGUE: Iranian center Hamed Haddadi worked out for the Knicks on Friday at the team's training facility, a league source confirmed with ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley.

"Even though he's 28 years old, he doesn't have a ton of miles on his tires," a source close to the player told ESPNNewYork.com. "He played sparingly in Memphis, sporadically in Phoenix, but there would be games where he would get close to double-digit rebounds. He won't wow you with his athleticism, but he's a high-volume energy guy and has good skills to be a good, solid defensive backup."

Three sources have told ESPNNewYork.com this week that the Knicks are eying a big man for their final roster spot heading into training camp.

"Haddadi makes sense for what they need," the source close to the player said. "I know they need another big, like a true center."

The 7-foot-2 Haddadi, according to the source, had been "in talks with the Knicks a bunch over the last few weeks." But he wasn't able to visit New York because he was busy in the Philippines participating in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, of which he was named MVP.

It's worth noting that Haddadi's agent, Marc Cornstein, also represents two of the latest Knicks acquisitions, Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih. Haddadi, like other experienced NBA free-agent big men available, might also have an advantage with the Knicks because Jeremy Tyler is signed to a partially guaranteed contract. That could allow a player such as Haddadi to become the main backup center behind Tyson Chandler and Chris Smith, J.R.'s younger brother, to lock up the 15th roster spot.

The source close to Haddadi believes that J.R.'s deal came with the understanding that Chris would make the team.

"I could still see Chris being on [the roster] at the end of day," the source said.

The question is: Would the Knicks give Tyler a shot -- developing a young big is not part of Mike Woodson's reputation -- or instead bring on a veteran player like Haddadi, who is open to signing for the veteran's minimum? That's all the Knicks can offer.

"I just don't see them not signing another big, whether it's Haddadi, Cole Aldrich, Earl Barron or someone like that," the source said. "I still think they're going to find another 5-man."

This week, a source close to Barron said he and the Knicks have strong mutual interest.

"He wants to be back in New York," the source said. "There has been a lot of interest, and that's with them and with them to us."

If it came down to Aldrich, Barron, Haddadi or Tyler as the main backup center, whom would you take? Leave us your comments below.

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