As the New York Knicks enter the All-Star break, there is absolutely nothing positive to take from the first half of the season. And when they return from the break, there will be 30 games to turn the season around. For a club that is 12 games under .500 and incapable of beating a team that is 17 games under .500 (the Sacramento Kings), the Knicks need to cut their losses and think about the years ahead.
The Knicks have the second-highest salary in the NBA behind only the Brooklyn Nets. It’s time to blow it up and disassemble this roster that has gotten the team nowhere since it was mainly assembled three years ago. Carmelo Anthony would be foolish to stick around next year knowing that Knicks owner James Dolan is completely incapable of putting together a winning club. So in that sense, Dolan is probably just as incapable of realizing that Anthony might leave and that he should trade him before they’re left with nothing to show for his time in New York.
Plenty of teams would take on Anthony, even some who know he likely wouldn’t stay beyond the season. But there are teams Anthony would sign with, and those are the ones the Knicks should first target. Franchises like both Los Angeles clubs and the Chicago Bulls are the top three targets. But I believe a team such as the Golden State Warriors may even be a realistic destination. Pairing Anthony with Stephen Curry and giving the two a chance to win in the playoffs might be enough to entice Anthony to stay. The Knicks can find a taker for Anthony; how much they get in return is likely a lot less than they would hope, but it’s a lot more than nothing which is what they’ll get this offseason.
Next is Amar’e Stoudemire, who has the highest salary on the roster. He has been playing very well of late and has requested more minutes. He has one season left on his deal and could be a valuable asset to a winning team or a leader on a younger team. The Boston Celtics could be a potential suitor, though that would depend solely on whether Rajon Rondo requests a trade. Trading Stoudemire won’t be as easy as trading Anthony, but it certainly will be a lot easier now that Stoudemire is playing well again.
Next would be Tyson Chandler, who would have no shortage of interested clubs. The former Defensive Player of the Year is making a modest $14.1 million this season and has just one more season on his deal. The Oklahoma City Thunder could really use Chandler down low and should contact the Knicks with an offer of Kendrick Perkins and a couple draft picks. Imagine that, the Knicks getting draft picks in a deal.
Trading Andrea Bargnani seems impossible, though the Knicks did do just that this past offseason. But that is the Knicks. And no team is as poorly managed as they are, so they’re likely stuck with the Italian big man for another season after this one. He will be a lot more valuable next season when his contract is coming off the books. The Knicks can’t even move him alongside Anthony, Chandler or Stoudemire as the salaries would become way too much to make a deal work. But perhaps they could package him with a player like Iman Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr. who are young, talented and paid very little.
J.R. Smith has a very tradable contract, and the Knicks would love to get rid of him. He can likely be had on the cheap for a team like the San Antonio Spurs, but even they might not be willing to take on the enigmatic sixth man of the year.
The reality here is that the Knicks will not do any of this. They wouldn’t be in this situation if they were a team capable of such prudent decisions. The Knicks are more likely to throw in another overpaid, overvalued veteran into the mix hoping that it makes a difference both in their playoff quest and with keeping Anthony in orange and blue.
The Knicks’ season ended last night, and if anyone in the Knicks’ front office knew this they would start making every trade they can over the next seven days to rid themselves from financial doom.