May 1, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guardRaymond Felton
(2) and forwardIman Shumpert
(21) and centerTyson Chandler
(6) and guardJ.R. Smith
(8) and forwardCarmelo Anthony
(7) huddle after a timeout during the fourth quarter of game five of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
When Tyson Chandler fractured his fibula a couple of weeks ago it put the Knicks in a tough spot. Their two back up big men, Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire, were on minutes limits and barred from playing in back to back games and the team lacked many valuable trade assets. The Knicks could ill afford to lose their best defender and arguably their most important player though.
Since then we have heard the rumor of Iman Shumpert for Kenneth Fareid (which would have been a huge steal for the Knicks) and also Shumpert, Raymond Felton, and Amar’e Stoudemire for Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, and Gerald Wallace. Neither trade ever actually materialized mostly because the Knicks don’t have the pieces to make it happen.
This team as currently constituted are not going to win a championship. Their defense is not nearly good enough and their once elite offense looks unlikely to repeat last year’s levels, especially from three.
The problem is the Knicks don’t have many moves to make. The team is actively shopping its best trade chip, Iman Shumpert, but doing so in unrealistic trades. The Knicks’ draft history is also not very good at all but they have also traded away a number of picks to the point that the next time they have two first round picks in consecutive years will be 2017 and 2018. 2018 is also the next available draft pick the team can trade.
With a 5 year $129 million contract, which escalates every year, for Carmelo Anthony looming over the Knicks future plans, it is unclear what this team can do to improve itself. If the Knicks did that Rondo trade Wallace’s $10 million would be on the books when Kevin Love is a free agent all but guaranteeing he wouldn’t come to the team for salary cap reasons
There is also the fact that Love and Anthony would hardly mesh well, both excelling at the same position and neither being great defenders. Players on the block now, like Omer Asik, who could help, especially in Chandler’s absence, are worth more than the price of Iman Shumpert and a draft pick five years in the future.
The Knicks roster makeup is a bit older, typical of teams trying to win now, which means the hope for the future on the roster is hard to find. Tim Hardway Jr. has caught the eye of many fans but his shot selection and ball handling need a lot of work.
The NBA is currently a point guard league and the Knicks do not have a point guard good enough to compete with the other teams vying for a championship. Only some team in Florida with Lebron James and Dwyane Wade had a point guard arguably worse than Raymond Felton.
The Knicks have to look at this summer and think long and hard if giving Anthony that massive contract is really worth it. Hitching their wagon to a player who likely is in his prime now but is bound to be on the decline for the last two-three years of his extension as his salary gets higher is hardly a start for a bright future.
Anthony though is still a very good player and if he can be signed to a more team friendly deal, say around three years $54 million the Knicks would be in much better shape for the future as they can reevaluate Anthony’s status with the team in three years on a lower salary or can opt to deal him at any point since his contract would not be seen as bloated.
Unless they find a team with valuable assets that for someone reason loves what the Knicks have to offer, the team is really stuck with the roster it has and the chances to improve the team to a championship level in the future look less than promising. Stranger things have happened and the season is still young so maybe in April we are sitting here having a very different discussion but as of now things don’t look great for the New York Knicks.