Making the Call on NY Knicks' 5 Toughest Offseason Decisions
On Tuesday night, we bore witness to the best NBA Finals game in 10 years.
It was an amazing display: two titans with an insatiable will to win, giving maximum effort in regulation and beyond. Someone had to win, so Miami did, forcing a Game 7 and a chance to be the first team to win consecutive NBA titles since Kobe’s Lakers did so in 2009 and 2010.
So, where do the Knicks fit into all this hoopla?
Well, it just made their offseason decisions that much tougher to make.
If the Knicks are to avoid being a footnote in NBA history in the early stages of this millennium, company brass has some moves to make.
Decision No. 1: Trade Carmelo Anthony?
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.7 points (first in NBA), 24.8 PER (fourth), 35.6 Usage Pct. (first), 9.5 Win Shares (14th).
Why? In every dating relationship, you reach a point where you have to ask the serious questions: Can this relationship go the distance? As you ponder this question, you spend most relationship nights biting your fingernails and staring blankly at the goldfish tank in your tight city apartment.
But in most instances, you know. The relationship has maxed out.
Unpopular opinion alert! New York has maxed out its relationship with Carmelo Anthony. He’s a really good scorer who plays an offensive game counter to the offensive direction of the league (too many mid-range jumpers and ISOs, with a league-leading usage rate).
It’s been a fun run, but the truth is unavoidable: Carmelo trade exploration must be an offseason consideration.
Consensus: Hold onto Melo until the All-Star break while quietly entertaining offers for his services. You don’t want to drive the asking price down for your perennial MVP nominee.
Decision No. 2: Trade Tyson Chandler?
The Move: Trade Tyson Chandler for parts (lesser big man, young point guard or a draft pick). Food for thought: Tyson Chandler ($14 million) for DeAndre Jordan ($11 million) and Eric Bledsoe ($3 million in 2013, with restricted free agency looming).
But has Tyson worn down? Check out his regular season splits:
Before All-Star Weekend: 11.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, 67 percent shooting.
After All-Star Weekend: 7.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 50 percent shooting.
It’s not a stretch to consider Tyson’s best days are behind him, having started his career from high school and coming off two long seasons (62 games in 2012, 66 games in 2013) with a London Olympics appearance sandwiched between them.
However, Tyson’s a great player who has earned the respect of the Knicks locker room and is a defensive stalwart during a time in the NBA when having a sleek rim protector is a priority.
Consensus: Actively explore trade options; only consider deal if it nets a young big man with potential (DeAndre Jordan, Nik Vucevic, Serge Ibaka, Al Horford).
Decision No. 3: Re-Sign J.R. Smith?
The Move: Re-sign J.R. Smith with the Early Bird Rights and pray that no one overbids to steal him.
Why: The Knicks need offense, and J.R. represents said offensive punch. Sure, J.R. has only done it on this level for one full season and did fall apart in the postseason, but he represents the only inexpensive piece of scoring that can be had given the Knicks salary structure. Otherwise, you’re looking at old retreads like Corey Maggette or a calculated risk with the No. 24 pick (Archie Goodwin from Kentucky?).
Consensus: Re-sign J.R. The Knicks can always deal him if things go bad because of his salary-friendly contract.
Decision No. 4: Who Should Get Scooped Up with the No. 24 Draft Pick?
The Move: Draft Archie Goodwin from Kentucky.
Why? At this point, in a highly disregarded draft, it’s best to look for guys with high potential. Although Goodwin had a lackluster year with head coach John Calipari in Kentucky, he was a lottery-bound player last year. NBA scouts are raving about his upside as a talented athlete and defender, and Goodwin can be another piece put toward a much-needed youth movement.
Consensus: If available, take Archie. Otherwise, scoop up a young guard with game (Nate Wollers, Josiah Turner, Tim Hardaway Jr.).
Decision No. 5: Make Amar’e Stoudemire a Starter?
The Move: Insert Amar’e Stoudemire back into the starting lineup to work alongside Carmelo and Tyson.
Why? Small ball was fun while it lasted, but it’s time to get big. As shown by the rise in physical play this postseason, the Knicks need big bodies who can pound the rock and finish strong in deep.
Before the Knicks start panic shopping and working out college guys like Mike Muscala and Jeff Withey, why not look inward at their $20 million man? Amar’e may not be the player he used to be, but he's a polished big man who has the opportunity to make a difference.
Last year, Amar’e put up solid per-36 numbers (21.8 points, 7.7 rebounds) in limited play, which could boon with more playing time.
Consensus: Give it a try—go with Amar’e. This is why New York paid him the big bucks. If he’s strong, he’s trade bait (if weak, he’ll make a great seventh man).