The Knicks are all in. With $175 million committed to Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler over the next three years and a roster replete with aging veterans, they are looking to win now.
Any changes the Knicks' general manager Glen Grunwald makes this coming season will be geared towards that goal. Unfortunately, New York's excessive payroll and a lack of valuable trade assets will make it very difficult for him to make moves, but that won't keep him from trying.
Grunwald has demonstrated the ability to be creative in the pursuit of talent during his first year on the job, using the amnesty clause to release Chauncey Billups and sign Tyson Chandler in December and structuring sign-and-trades to acquire Raymond Felton and Marcus Camby this summer.
The Knicks are set in the frontcourt. Anthony, Chandler and Amar'e aren't going anywhere and Camby and Novak are solid backups. If Grunwald makes a move it will be to bolster what is just an average backcourt.
His best assets may be future draft picks, though there are some potential trade chips on the roster. Here are the Knicks' five most expendable players.
Shumpert was a revelation for the Knicks last season. The 17th pick in the 2011 Draft far outplayed his draft position, becoming one of the best on-the-ball defenders in the league during his rookie season.
The Knicks would love to see their young shooting guard continue to blossom in New York, though his youth, talent and low salary make him their most valuable trade chip. While they won't actively look to deal him, they demonstrated their willingness to do so this summer by reportedly including him in an offer to the Suns for Steve Nash.
The Knicks could get by without Shump, who is expected to miss at least the first two months of the season while recovering from knee surgery, with J.R. Smith and defensive standout Ronnie Brewer in the fold.
Grunwald won't hesitate to include him in a deal for an All-Star caliber guard who can help the Knicks contend for a championship now.
The Knicks aren't sure what to expect out of Raymond Felton this season. The veteran point guard played the best ball of his career over 54 games with the Knicks during the 2010-2011 season, averaging career highs in points and assists, with 17.1 and nine per game.
He followed that up with a disastrous 2012-2013 campaign in Portland. He was out of shape, feuded with coach Nate McMillan and shot a dismal 41 percent from the field.
If he steers his career back on course, the former North Carolina Tar Heel would become a valuable trade chip for the Knicks. Sill just 28-years-old, he has a very reasonable salary (a three-year deal with a fourth-year player option that could make the contract worth about $18 million overall, via Newsday.com) for a steady, if not spectacular floor general.
Felton was never the Knicks' top choice. They pursued Steve Nash and turned to Felton only after the Rockets re-worked their offer sheet for Jeremy Lin. They would love to trade for Chris Paul or another top tier point guard and would almost certainly have to include Felton in such a deal.
Kidd was pursued by several teams this summer and though he chose New York, the Knicks may not be a great fit. His minutes will be limited by the presence of Felton and the future Hall of Famer will not be pleased if he is riding the pine in the closing minutes of games.
A market will develop for Kidd at some point during the season, when a veteran team loses its point guard to injury. Sure, he is 39-years-old, but the 10-time All-Star is just one year removed from leading the Mavericks to an NBA championship and can still log 20-25 minutes a night.
The Knicks also have a cheaper alternative to Kidd in Pablo Prigioni. The 35-year-old rookie has played against elite competition as a member of the Argentinian National Team and was not rattled by the intense ball pressure applied by Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook in the Olympics.
J.R. Smith will be an important part of the Knicks' attack this season, most likely providing scoring punch off the bench. However, the erratic shooting guard will be expendable once Iman Shumpert returns from injury.
New York will be three deep at the 2-guard with Smith, Shumpert and Ronnie Brewer and on a team that emphasizes defense, Smith is the weakest defender of the three. His ability to create his own shot and cap-friendly contract of $2.8 million this season will attract several teams.
The Knicks would miss Smith's long distance shooting, though they would still have Steve Novak to spread the floor. They're also grateful to him for accepting less money to return to New York, but Glen Grunwald would part with him in a heartbeat if he thought it would improve the team.
Brewer may begin the season as the Knicks' starting shooting guard, but he is just a stop-gap until Shumpert returns from injury. At that point, he will drop to third on the depth chart behind Shump and J.R. Smith and Steve Novak will gobble up the backup minutes at small forward.
Brewer's game is actually very similar to Shump's—both are rangy defenders, with offensive limitations—and Coach Woodson will be reluctant to play the two at the same time because of their poor outside shooting.
The former Chicago Bull would garner plenty of interest from other teams if the Knicks dangled his name prior to the trade deadline. He is an athletic wing man who can defend multiple positions and comes with the cheap price tag of the veteran's minimum salary.
The Knicks could choose to keep Brewer for insurance, but if he is rotting on the bench they would be better off flipping him for an asset.