Fueled by the re-signing of Carmelo Anthony and the new management strategy, the New York Knicks are looking forward to getting back to championship contention, something that hasn’t happened since the Patrick Ewing era in 1999. President Phil Jackson has already made moves to the roster that only got 37 wins last season, but further moves will be necessary in order for the team to be competitive next season.
Currently, the Knicks have a very guard-heavy roster, a product of the recent trade completed with the Dallas Mavericks; and if the team wants to keep the two draftees Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo on the team, a few guys will have to go.
Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin are the two point guards who arrived from Dallas. Calderon is set to be the starting PG for the team next season as a veteran who can move the ball pretty well and shoot threes pretty efficiently. Larkin, a first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, has shown great potential in the Summer League and will probably make the final cut as well to complete the PG depth chart alongside Pablo Prigioni.
The problem is the reserve shooting guards.
The two-guard position is filled with talented players: J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert, Shannon Brown and Wayne Ellington. If you take into account the type of player Smith can be when he is inspired, one can only imagine that he will be the starting SG for the team next season.
Hardaway Jr. and Shumpert are also guaranteed spots on the bench, each with his own unique characteristics — Hardaway Jr. a spot-up shooter with great athleticism for transition plays, and Shumpert the go-to guy when it comes to defensive efforts.
Brown has won championships with Jackson in Los Angeles, but never managed to solidify his position as a starter. He signed with the Knicks last season and might be a valuable piece for the locker room due to his knowledge of the triangle system. Ellington has been in the league for five years and has averaged 6.4 PPG and 1.o APG playing 17.9 MPG.
The fact is that there are too many guys who can play the two who lack the necessary vision and passing skills to be included in the PG rotation, and this surely means that some of them will have to go.
The Knicks also need further help in the frontcourt, and Jackson has hinted that he will keep his eyes open until the trade deadline. Antetoukounmpo and Early are talented but too green for the NBA at this point, meaning that they will not be able to take the pressure off of Melo’s shoulders right away.
At center, Cole Aldrich and Samuel Dalembert are the only real options, and Jackson could be looking to upgrade the position via trade. At the four, it is still in the air if Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani will be able to handle the new system and demand the double-teams needed from them for the wings to be free to perform a little better.
The front office still have much thinking to do in order to adjust the roster and make the team competitive with the pieces they have. In the end, some guys will have to go either by getting waived or traded — it’s just the nature of the game.