Carmelo Anthony has come out and said that he will not be traded at the NBA Trade Deadline next week and that he also wants to remain with the New York Knicks. He went as far as even saying that he will take a pay cut to stay with the Knicks if it meant getting some more talent around him. That is quite possibly the best thing that has happened for Knicks fans this season, as the Knicks already have more losses this season before the All-Star break than they had all of last season.
Even with what Anthony has said, the Knicks will be hard pressed to make changes to the roster. The Knicks are not holding a strong hand from the asset position, having no draft picks to trade until 2018 and not many players other teams want. For this season the Knicks will need a turnaround from the players they currently have to sneak into the post season.
The Knicks can shop Iman Shumpert around again, but his stock is at an all-time low currently; the Knicks have already had trades with the Denver Nuggets for Kenneth Faried and Timberwolves for Derrick Williams, who was traded to the Sacramento Kings, declined. At this point it may be best just to keep Shumpert and hope he can rekindle some of the magic he had during last season’s playoffs. There are no other players on the roster currently that would bring back much in the way of trades, as players like Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace would just bring back filler or maybe a second round draft pick.
Instead the Knicks should just hope their players can get it back on track this season. Injuries have decimated the Knicks throughout the first half so getting healthy through the All-Star break would be a big plus. The Knicks can then start shaping the roster to appease Anthony. The Knicks need to stop making short-sighted moves and hold onto the young assets they have like Tim Hardaway Jr.; trading him for a rental such as Kyle Lowry, a free agent after the season, would deplete the Knicks assets further and could dig into the cap space they are saving for 2015. The fact the Knicks could have had Lowry earlier in the season before he got on a roll and the Raptors started winning makes trading for him now that much worse of an idea; the Raptors are now dealing from a position of strength and will once again take advantage of the Knicks short-sighted decision making and quick trigger.
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This summer the Knicks can be big players in the trade market. They will be armed with massive expiring deals when Tyson Chandler, Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire all come off the books after the 2014-2015 season for a total of more than $48 million. Contracts of that size could be attractive for teams looking to get anything for players who may leave for free agency, such as Rajon Rondo or Kevin Love.
It would not be a problem and could even be the smartest move for the Knicks to just hold onto the players and let them expire off their salary cap. It would give the Knicks loads of cap space and the ability to hold onto players such as Hardaway Jr. and building around the players they have, instead of stripping down the roster again and taking on bad contracts. There have been too many examples of the Knicks giving away expiring contracts to bring back bad ones, a practice that has not worked well for them.
Signing the younger players they have now to team-friendly contracts would be a smart idea as well. Jeremy Tyler looks like he can be a solid big man off the bench, providing energy, scoring and a presence in the rebounding department. He is only 22 years old, so locking him up as soon as possible would be smart before he out-performs what the Knicks’ budget is. Toure’ Murry is another player that would be worth a look as a third or fourth guard. He is still learning the point guard position but is already a strong defender with the capability of becoming lockdown once he gets more experience.
But what if Anthony ends up not staying? Nothing is official until he signs on the dotted line so there is still a chance that he leaves the Knicks and if he does it would be a big blow to the franchise.
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With how the New York Knicks have been playing this season it is fair to think that Carmelo Anthony will bolt from the Knicks. They have been underachieving all season and with each passing loss the possibility of missing the playoffs becomes more and more of a reality. Who could blame him for leaving the Knicks as a free agent this offseason when he opts-out of his contract? He has stated that the main goal for the remainder of his career is to win a championship (shouldn’t have been that from the very beginning?).
If Anthony would leave the Knicks this team would be on a fast track to the top of the lottery. They are losing with him having quite possibly the best season of his career, imagine the team without him? If he walked as a free agent it would be catastrophic for the Knicks. They would lose their best player with little to no chance of replacing him. Being cash strapped already above the salary cap and with no draft picks not much would be able to be done to replace Anthony leaving as a free agent. Depending on where he decided to sign the Knicks could attempt working out a sign-and-trade but there is no guarantee that would happen. Walking as a free agent would be the worst outcome for the Knicks because of how limited their resources would be to even make the feeblest attempt at filling his shoes.
The only way the Knicks would be able to field a competitive team for next season without Anthony would be trading him. They would be able to add some pieces to help kick-start the rebuild process, but who would be willing to trade major assets away for Anthony without the guarantee that he will stay with the team long term? The landing spots for Anthony are far and few between as teams with the combination of cap space to re-sign him and assets the Knicks would want are slim. Add in the fact that there seemingly so few places Anthony even wants to play makes it that much more difficult. It would not be easy trading Anthony, but if it is something the Knicks decide needs to happen they could pull it off. More than likely the Knicks will have to take back less than what Anthony is truly worth.
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One landing spot that has been mentioned that Anthony wants to play is the Los Angeles Clippers. Infamously at Anthony’s wedding it was proclaimed that Chris Paul would be joining him in New York with Amar’e Stoudemire to make their version of a ‘Big 3’. Because of decisions made by the Knicks that was never able to happen, so why not unite in Los Angeles together? The idea of a trade centered on Anthony and Blake Griffin sounds good but has little chance of happening. Griffin is 24 years old and coming into his own while Anthony is about to hit 30 and is pretty much set in his ways. The other landing spot that has been mentioned for Anthony is the Chicago Bulls. They have plenty of assets the Knicks would be glad to take back, such as up and coming wing Jimmy Butler and 2013 first round draft pick Tony Snell. The Knicks would have to be willing to take on a contract such as Carlos Boozer to make the money work, but that should not be a hindrance.
If the Knicks are in fact going to trade Anthony before next week’s trade deadline it would not be surprising to see them then unload virtually everyone on the roster. Next in line would most likely be Chandler, who off his reputation alone could fetch the Knicks a first round draft pick from a team looking to get over the hump as a contender; possibly the Oklahoma City Thunder or Portland Trail Blazers. It would be smart for the Knicks to also attempt including albatross contracts they no longer want, such as Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith in any moves they make.
If they do end up going down the path of trading Anthony, it would be a successful trade deadline if they can get back some picks to replenish the ones they have traded away and move the contracts of players that no longer would fit into the rebuilding process. This would be a forced rebuild for the Knicks, something they have avoided doing with quick patch work trades to take on veterans on bloated contracts and disregarding draft picks. It would also mean that Dolan admitted it was a mistake to move so many pieces for Anthony, so the chances of that happening are minuscule at best. With or without Anthony the 2015 offseason will be when the Knicks can truly start remaking this roster, hopefully into a title contender.