With a record of 21-33, eight games back in the division, and three and a half games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference in the NBA, the New York Knicks are stuck in neutral.
Star forward Carmelo Anthony can become a free agent at the end of the season due to an early termination option in his contract, which Anthony has all but guaranteed he will exercise. Because of this, the Knicks future is in peril.
Do the Knicks let Anthony leave or do they make a push to resign him? If they resign him, whom should they add to help improve an aging roster? These questions haunt the team’s front office and their fans.
Since being traded to the Knicks in February of 2011, Anthony has been nothing short of great for the team, averaging 26.3 points, 7.1 total rebounds, and 3 assists per game in that time. Using the advanced metric “win shares”, which approximates how many wins a player has been worth, Anthony has been worth about 6.45 wins with the Knicks.
The team around Anthony however, has faltered. Amar’e Stoudemire, the big acquisition in the summer of 2010, has been hurt constantly since signing a five year $99.7 million contract. Aside from Carmelo, the roster and front office have turned over so much that it’s difficult to keep track.
While it is no guarantee that Anthony returns, he has stated that he would accept less money to help bring another player to New York. So if Anthony does return, what should the Knicks do? The logical answer is to sign another big star, but when should they? While there is some payroll flexibility this offseason, summer of 2015 is what the Knicks should be focusing on.
This offseason the Knicks have about $30 million freed up in various expiring contracts including Anthony. But after the 2014-2015 season the Knicks have $50+ million coming off the books, when Amar’e Stoudemire’s, Tyson Chandler, Andrea Bargnani, and Iman Shumpert contracts expire.
Because the Knicks have very little draft picks in the coming years, it is key the Knicks build their team through free agency.
Rajon Rondo has been front and center in trade discussions for years with the Knicks being one of the teams rumored to be interested. Rondo is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2014-2015 season. The Knicks have been in desperate need of a point guard since the departure of then phenom Jeremy Lin to Houston.
Rondo fills that void very nicely averaging 8.3 assists per game in his career, and averaging 5.5 win shares in his eight year career with Boston.
Like Rondo, Love has also been in the middle of trade rumors for what feels like his entire career. Love has been linked to many teams including the Lakers, Warriors, Clippers, etc. Love also has yet to make an appearance in the playoffs since being drafted by the Timberwolves back in 2008.
If Love is not traded between now and when his contract expires, he would be another ideal fit for the Knicks potential roster. At power forward, Love averages 18.6 points 12.3 total rebounds per game, and 7.1 win shares in six seasons in Minnesota.
With these two additions and the return of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks should make a championship run, hopefully for many years to come.
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