The New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves tip off tonight in what is a far more important game for the T-Wolves than it is for the Knicks. At 30-29, the T-Wolves have a fighting chance to grab the final seed in the Western Conference playoffs, sitting four and a half games behind the 35-25 Phoenix Suns. The Knicks’ season is all but officially over.
While the two teams battle, there will likely be a lot of discussion about the future of the two teams and how they may end up being trade partners either this offseason or next year at the trade deadline. Knicks center Tyson Chandler has been the heart and soul of the club since he signed a four-year deal three seasons ago. He has also been the defensive anchor for the Knicks, who have made three straight playoff appearances, two with Chandler.
However, the Knicks look to be on the outside looking in at the playoffs this year, and Chandler has one more year left on his deal. The 7-foot-1 big man has voiced his frustration with the team and has spoken publicly about his uncertainty about his future in New York.
Hearing his disappointment is disheartening for Knicks fans who have always been able to rally around a spirited Chandler, so it seems now that the Knicks should give heavy consideration to trading the former Defensive Player of the Year. Regardless of the Carmelo Anthony situation, whether he re-signs with Knicks or not, trading Chandler while he still has peak value makes the most sense for the future of the franchise.
The Knicks have been linked to Timberwolves big man Kevin Love of late. Love is averaging 26.6 points per game this season and 13.2 rebounds per game, both top-five in the league. He will be 26-years old by the start of next season, and is knocking down 2.4 3-pointers per game this season. At 6-foot-10, he is one of the most versatile big men in the game. But despite all of this, Love wouldn’t be the player to turn the Knicks into a winning team.
If Anthony re-signs with the Knicks, pairing the two All-Stars would be a disaster waiting to happen. They are both power forwards who spend a lot of time on the perimeter. In Love’s career, 91.4 percent of his 3-point makes have come off of an assist, meaning he plays best with someone who is setting him up a la Ricky Rubio.
On the Knicks, Anthony is the main ball handler and dishes out 2.9 assists per game. But his usage rate is 32.6, which is the highest mark on the Knicks and third in the league behind both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Love is ninth in the league with a 28.7 usage rate.
While Oklahoma City is one of the best teams in the NBA, many have argued that Westbrook and Durant aren’t the best teammates. This is simply because of their ball-dominating tendencies. If it weren’t for the fact that Westbrook is a point guard, it would be a disaster in OKC. Anthony and Love would struggle to get each other the shots they need — especially considering the Knicks don’t have any semblance of a legitimate NBA point guard.
If Anthony leaves New York, which seems likely, Love could work on the Knicks. Chandler and Love’s contracts are essentially the same, but Love’s has one more year on it than Chandler’s. So it could be done easily if Love announces he won’t re-sign with Minnesota in 2016. But the Knicks would have to bring in a big-time point guard to get Love his shots, someone like Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, which would be another long shot type of deal for the Knicks to pull off.
And even if they get Love and a legitimate point guard, I don’t see it working out. That’s exactly what Minnesota has in Love and Rubio, and it hasn’t produced very successful results — so one has to ask if Love is really worthy of being appointed the next savior of the Knicks.