New York Knicks: 5 Low Key Moves That Help In the Long Run

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5 Moves To Improve In Long Run

 5 Moves To Improve In The Long Run
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

A report emerged this week that Carmelo Anthony wanted his team, the New York Knicks, to add another scorer. Yet, because of the Knicks' salary cap situation, they would be lucky to get a third or fourth-tier scorer (Elton Brand anyone?). Yes, it is dire in Knicks land and free agents will be hard to come by this offseason. Even in the NBA Draft landscape, where New York holds the 24th pick in the first round, the pickings look about as slim as Chris Rock’s Pookie character in the film New Jack City. They would be lucky to acquire a guy who can step into the rotation and immediately contribute.

Fact is, Anthony won’t get his wish, which means barring massive injuries to other Eastern Conference contenders like the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, a trip to the NBA Finals next year is not likely. Now, if the Knicks can land Chris Paul via a sign-and-trade deal that would change everything.

But that isn’t happening either. And if it were, the Knicks would have to do some serious maneuvering to get under the salary threshold in order to conduct a sign and trade. The Los Angeles Clippers would have to be willing to take back salary for players like Tyson Chandler, if the Knicks can even cut enough salary in order to be able to participate in sign-and-trade deals. And who is to say that the Clippers would even want Chandler, considering that they have a younger and cheaper option like DeAndre Jordan, who offers a similar skill set.

Knicks fans, I hate to break it to you like this, but your team will essentially look the same except for a few minor tweaks. The only major difference is that J.R. Smith, who has a player option to remain with the team, will likely go elsewhere if a bigger payday is offered.

So, what should the Knicks do, in lieu of dreaming about Paul in a Knicks uniform? Here are five solutions rooted in reality that will – in the long run – help this team return to health, fiscally. Just don’t expect immediate dividends. And these are not sexy solutions by any stretch.

Tacuma R. Roeback is a New York Knicks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TacumaRoe, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+

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5. Keep Calm and Carry On – With the Same Club

Keep Calm and Carry On – With the Same Club
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The best thing for the Knicks is to wait. What that means may not be pretty. Teams that spend too much money, trade away draft picks and neglect to develop young talent, have to pay the price sooner or later. That usually means spending offseasons being hamstrung by the lack of salary cap space. It may also mean being stuck with an aging roster that is beginning to outlive its usefulness.

The only solution for New York is to wait until Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract comes off the books (he will be paid $21.6 and $23.4 million) in 2015, which would provide substantial relief to the cash strapped club. Only then will it have the kind of roster flexibility to attract marquee free agents like Rajon Rondo and LaMarcus Aldridge. For championship-starved Knicks fans, that may mean having to put up with a team that is likely a first or second round playoff club at best.

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4. Improve From Within

Improve From Within
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Perhaps sensing that his career is on the decline, Stoudemire is taking proactive action by again training with Hall of Fame Center Hakeem Olajuwon. He seeks to improve his post play on the offensive and defensive ends. The Knicks can only hope that Stoudemire fully incorporates a post game into his repertoire. It will allow him to share the court with Anthony, which in turn can make the Knicks more potent on offense.

Yet, the player on the roster with the most promising future is Iman Shumpert. If the 22-year-old wing can add a more consistent jumper to go with his ability to slash to the basket, look out. Right now, he is the one guy who has significant upside, whom with a little patience, can develop into that scoring complement Anthony desires.

Add to that, the improvement of Chris Copeland, who is already a potent shooter. Copeland would need to improve as a defender in order to see substantial minutes on the court. The Knicks have talent, but the majority of it is old and on the decline.

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3. BPA, All Day

BPA, All Day
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When the Knicks draft at the number 24 pick, they should go with the Best Player Available (BPA). These are the names being bandied about as possible draft targets for the Knicks: centers Gorgui Dieng, Rudy Gobert, Lucas Nogueira and Jeff Withey, forwards Glenn Rice, Jr. and Dario Saric and guards Shane Larkin and Lorenzo Brown, among others.

As the Pacers playoff series showed, the Knicks need size. It would be smart to go big, by drafting one of those centers. Yet, those aforementioned centers, along with Saric and Brown, are considered projects, with Dieng and Withey being the ones who can step in and contribute immediately as backups.

The Knicks could also use an infusion of youth at point guard, with Jason Kidd mulling retirement and Raymond Felton a borderline starter at best. University of Miami (FL) Point Guard Larkin is indeed a sexy pick for the blue and orange. That’s if he’s available at 24.

Whatever the case, it would behoove the Knicks to disregard need and go with the player who titillates them the most in terms of potential. As long as they are not waiting too long for that potential to mature. It would be thrilling for the Knicks to draft a kid like Nogueira, who possesses a nice combination of athleticism and size or Larkin, a breathtaking athlete who could give the Knicks plenty of sizzle despite his relatively short stature (he’s 5’11”). Regardless, BPA may be the best and surest route to acquiring a talented baller via the draft.

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2. Go Young, Cheap and Athletic

Go Young, Cheap and Athletic
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Knicks brass has demonstrated, rather convincingly, that it knows how to acquire talent, particularly when it is of the minimum-salaried variety. Kenyon Martin, Rasheed Wallace (when he was healthy enough to play), Copeland and Pablo Prigioni were great finds. The Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas signings, not so much. The guys mentioned above are all ancient by NBA standards, save for Copeland. Nevertheless, the Knicks' front office has the opportunity to add young talent at minimal prices -- think TJ Maxx except with humans.

There are a plethora of young, athletic players out there who are available via free agency. They are talented, unproven and -- most of all -- affordable, like 22-year-olds Al-Farouq Aminu of the New Orleans Pelicans and Josh Selby of the Memphis Grizzlies (most recently). There’s also 24-year-old guard Charles Jenkins of the Philadelphia 76ers and young power forward DeJuan Blair of the San Antonio Spurs. Any of the above players would be an elixir to an aging roster with waning athleticism, particularly at the point guard, forward and center positions. If New York acquires one or more of these young guys, it could be a potential boon for the club. They could see a talented youngster bloom to become a solid rotation player, like a Copeland or Prigioni. It's worth the risk, considering the minimum price tags of these guys.

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1. Resign Copeland, Ease J.R. Down the Road

Resign Copeland, Ease J.R. Down the Road
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Copeland, a restricted free agent this offseason, should see offers from rival clubs looking to secure his sweet shooting. The same also applies to the mercurial Smith. Yet, the decision here should be to stay with the former and let the latter walk. It may not make sense in the short run, because Smith is a tantalizing talent, who has the ability to change games and be that complementary scorer that Anthony desires. But is it really worth resigning J.R.?

Smith regressed during the playoffs. His shot was maddeningly inconsistent and he simply freelanced too much on offense, creating shots for himself at the expense of his team. If the Knicks let Smith walk, it may struggle to win the Atlantic Division, much less secure a top-four seed in the playoffs. Yet, it is very necessary if the team wants to enhance its chemistry and streamline its salary cap number. If the Knicks want Smith, they would have to pay him considerably more than the $2.8 million he earned this past season.

Though Copeland is considerably older than your typical NBA-er entering his second year, he is in the sweet spot of his career at 29-years-old. At the right price, the Knicks would be securing a solid rotation player who can score. He would play within the offense and – here’s the key thing – come at a much cheaper price than Smith.

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