The New York Knicks should pursue some of these possible free agents and trade targets on teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia Sixers, writes Joshua Sage:
The Knicks continue to surge, led by the stellar play of Amar’e Stoudemire, while the Blazers, Hornets and 76ers all continue to stumble. To the joy of Knicks fans everywhere, the Houston Rockets have also played poorly this season [Editor's Note: this is particularly good because in the Tmac trade we gave Houston the right to swap 2011 draft picks if they want. So since they'll likely have a worse record, we won't have to give 'em nuthin' this summer]. If these trends continue, come time for the trade deadline, the records of all these teams could affect the futures of several quality players around the NBA.
When it became known that Carmelo Anthony wanted out of Denver, Portland and Houston jumped to the forefront of potential landing spots for him (at least in the opinion of some reporters) because of their assortment of tradable assets [Editor's Note: although, of course, talk of those destinations disappeared once it was revealed that Melo only would sign an extension in New York, Chicago or perhaps New Jersey]. Portland, in particular, seemed like a viable contender for Melo’s services because of their team’s talent, recent playoff success, and the presence of star wing Brandon Roy. With Roy now dealing with career threatening knee issues, and Greg Oden out another season due to injury, the Trail Blazers can’t seem to find a way to win. I highly doubt Melo would want to join a team whose odds of contending for a title are worse than the aging Denver Nuggets.
The Houston Rockets can also count themselves out of the running, as their 8-13 record won’t exactly warm Melo’s heart to the idea of going down south. Similar to Portland, Houston has a star, Yao Ming, that faces an uncertain future due to injuries, so why would Carmelo want to be the only star for the Rockets when he’s already playing that role for the Nuggets?
The New Jersey Nets … oh, those silly Nets. For all their billions, New Jersey cannot hide the fact that their team is terrible, dead last in the Eastern Conference with a 6-16 record. That’s right, people, they’re currently worse than the Pistons (7-15), Cavs (7-14), 76ers (7-14), and Wizards (6-14), for goodness sake. The Nets had their chance to trade for Melo at the start of the season, but the star small forward reportedly refused to sign an extension with them. Odds are that hasn’t changed since they started losing in bunches [Editor's Note: There also were reports that the reason the trade fell through was that Denver balked because they would've ended up not just losing Melo and getting worse, but also increasing their payroll. Recent rumors have also cropped up that Denver might purposely being holding off as long as possible to do the trade so that the Nets will lose more games, thus making the picks they'd send to the Nugs much more valuable and likely in the lottery].
Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the New York Knicks seem like the safest bet to land Carmelo Anthony, this season or in the off season. Melo isn’t the only player that the Knicks can net this season, or in the not too distant future, due to the number of teams in turmoil throughout the league. Let’s start things off with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are 3-11 over their last 14 games and clearly heading into the lottery. Cavs’ power forward/center Anderson Varejao has been having a pretty good season, averaging 8.1 points on 50% shooting, 8.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in just 30 minutes. He’s only 28, on a five year deal that’s paying him $7 million this year [Ed's note: fifth year is a team option, but that fourth year he'd get $9.1 mill]. The money’s a bit higher than I think he should be paid, but for a Knicks team that needs to tighten up its interior defense and improve its rebounding, Anderson wouldn’t be a terrible addition.
The Sacramento Kings are next on the list. Having lost 14 of 15, looking lost offensively, and with a log jam in the front court, the team seems ripe for a trade or two. 6’9″ PF Carl Landry, 6’11” FC Jason Thompson, and 7’0″ FC Hassan Whiteside could all be up for grabs as the Kings attempt to solidify their roster, something they failed to do last season [Ed's note: how about considering Sam Dalembert too? He's a defensive, shot-blocking, established center who's contract expires this season and could be looking for a fresh start in the summer with an up-and-coming team?]. In five seasons, 27 year old Carl Landry is averaging 12.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He’s currently getting paid $3 million on the final year of his deal. 24 year old Jason Thompson is averaging 11.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game over his three year career. Thompson has two years left on his deal, which pays him $2.1 million this season. Hassan Whiteside, 21, is the rookie of the trio, known for his stellar shot blocking and rebounding in college. In his one year of college ball, he lead the nation in blocked shots with 182, breaking the C-USA record for blocked shots in a single season. Hassan also made some noise for his stellar triple-double of 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 blocked shots on Dec, 2, 2009.
Next up are the Philadelphia 76ers, whose 7-14 record doesn’t exactly scream playoff contention. The oh-so-loyal Phillie fans have been screaming for Andre Iguodala to be traded for sometime now, hoping Evan Turner will take his place in the starting rotation. Andre is a do-it-all small forward and a quality defender, often coming within a rebound or an assist shy of a triple-double. At 26 years old, Iguodala is good at everything and great at nothing. That right there is the problem, because he’s getting paid $12.3 million to be great. His contract is too expensive and still has four years left, but the man is in his mid twenties. Plus, on a Knicks roster with an established star, Andre would only be asked to follow, not lead, and that is a role for which I believe he is perfectly suited. Defense wins championships, people, and few players play defense as well as Iguodala.
Lastly, lets move on to the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets currently sit in the West’s fifth seed due to their stellar start, but have predictably come back down to earth. They’ve lost six of their last eight games, including losses to the Knicks and the LA Clippers, the latter of which had only one win at the time. Their owner has thrown up the white flag and the team is now temporarily owned by the NBA, which leads some to believe that it wont be long now before the Hornets are no longer the New Orleans Hornets, if they’ll still even be called the Hornets at all. Chris Paul has alway passed himself off as someone that just wants to think about basketball during the course of the season, but how can he possibly do that now? I don’t believe he can and that must really bother him. Chris has always proclaimed himself loyal to New Orleans. Now his loyalties to New Orleans may be severed, not by his own doing, but by the decisions made by David Stern. How will all this affect his best friend David West, who is soon to be a free agent? I believe it’s become clearer than ever that the time is coming for CP3 to establish roots elsewhere. Hell, he may not have a choice.
Lots of moves for the Knicks to consider, but let me add a final thought before signing off. As improbable as a trio of STAT, Melo and CP3 seemed at the end of last season (remember everyone expected these three to stay with their Western Conference teams), it’s now actually possible for New York to end up with all three. All that seems to be needed now is time, as the Knicks wait for contracts to expire.
Tags: Amare Stoudemire Anderson Varejao Andre Iguodala Carl Landry Carmelo Anthony Chris Paul Cleveland Cavaliers Denver Nuggets Hassan Whiteside Houston Rockets Jason Thompson Joshua Sage New Jersey Nets New Orleans Hornets New York Knicks Philadelphia Sixers Portland Trail Blazers Sacramento Kings Samuel Dalembert