The New York Knicks have begun to make adjustments to their roster ahead of the new season, but considering their cap situation, it may be difficult to add major pieces.
As the face of the franchise, the front office will be looking for players to complement Carmelo Anthony's game, with a focus on helping him out on defense and giving him space to work on offense.
According to the New York Post, 'Melo wants the Knicks to add another scorer. It will be difficult to find a go-to second option for him in free agency, but there are certainly players out there who can help him on both ends of the floor.
Including some former teammates and players who could help to cover up his weaknesses while playing off his strengths, here are some realistic free agents New York could target to complement Anthony's game.
After Kenyon Martin joined the Knicks at the trade deadline, he and Carmelo Anthony have now played together for seven seasons and are great frontcourt partners.
Martin is a versatile defender, capable of guarding three positions, which helps 'Melo to avoid guarding the other team's best player if he happens to be a forward. This is particularly helpful when he lines up at the 4.
At this point, K-Mart is no longer a star player, but coming off the bench he can still contribute to the team and help Anthony defensively.
On offense, Martin has never been a fantastic player, but his positioning makes up for his lack of skill. He knows where to be, especially when Melo is drawing double-teams, and we saw him make plenty of open dunks last season as a result of that.
It's unclear whether Martin will return to New York at this point, but they can offer him $1.7 million with the non-Bird exception, which should be enough to get a deal done.
Though he wasn't given minutes on a consistent basis last season, Chris Copeland proved himself to be a great frontcourt partner for Carmelo Anthony every time he got the chance.
Copeland is a natural scorer, but he doesn't always need the ball in his hands to succeed, and he is capable of playing off 'Melo as a spot-up shooter.
Opposing defenses can't afford to double-team 'Melo with another forward when Copeland is out there, because he scores efficiently whenever he's given the opportunity.
At this point, Copeland doesn't give 'Melo much help on the defensive end, but he improved significantly over the course of the season. When injuries started to hit the team, he and Anthony did an admirable job of covering the center position together, proving they have the potential to be a capable partnership.
The only problem with bringing back Copeland is the cost. The Knicks need another forward, but it appears he will cost them the full taxpayers' exception, and that's if he doesn't get even bigger offers elsewhere.
Copeland is certainly a good fit, but that money may be better spent on a point guard or someone who is better defensively. At this point, those are much bigger needs.
According to ESPN, Matt Barnes has told the Knicks that he's interested in joining the team, and he'd be a perfect fit alongside Carmelo Anthony.
With the L.A. Clippers acquiring Jared Dudley, J.J. Redick and Reggie Bullock this offseason, there's a good chance he'll be looking for a new home in free agency.
Barnes is a fantastic defender capable of guarding three positions and can also spread the floor with a reliable three-point shot. Having him in the lineup would allow the Knicks to play small without hurting 'Melo on the defensive end.
He's the type of fiery defender that fears no one and will be able to take on the opponents' best player on a nightly basis, leaving 'Melo to go to work on offense.
The Knicks really lacked two-way players on the wing last year, but Barnes would help to fix that issue, giving 'Melo consistent help on both ends of the floor with defense and spacing.
Signing Barnes with the full taxpayers' exception would be money well spent, but if the Knicks would prefer to use the money on a point guard, they could offer him the minimum.
He's worth more than that, but he accepted the minimum to play in Los Angeles last year, and he may do the same to contend in another big market.
While Chauncey Billups may still have hard feelings about the Knicks amnestying him back in 2011, he could be a good fit if he was to consider rejoining the team.
Billups and Carmelo Anthony were teammates on the Denver Nuggets and for half a season in New York, and at this point he certainly knows just where 'Melo wants the ball.
Now that Jason Kidd has retired, there's an open spot for a veteran point guard who's capable of playing off the ball, and Billups would be perfect for that role.
He's a good spot-up shooter and a great teammate, and his experience can rub off on the team without him handling the ball on every possession.
Adding another injury-prone, aging player would be questionable, but there's no denying that Billups could help out 'Melo and the entire team if he stays healthy.
Mr. Big Shot is still a good player who always brings his best in the clutch. He's a winner and just the kind of player a contending team should want as a veteran presence.
If the Knicks can add Billups for the minimum, he'd be great for the dual-point guard backcourt and is the type of leader that can stop the team from getting carried away with isolation play. He wouldn't play many minutes a night (maybe 10-15), but his presence would still be felt.
As a player who can be effective at both forward spots, Shawne Williams would allow the Knicks to play small without it being an injury risk for Carmelo Anthony.
Williams spreads the floor with his three-point shot, but he also has the size and strength to guard bigs, taking the pressure off 'Melo on the defensive end.
Having said that, Williams has fallen off over the past two seasons, but if he has something left in the tank, he'd definitely be a good fit adding depth on the bench.
The Knicks already have a power forward who can spread the floor in the form of Andrea Bargnani, but Williams also brings tough defense to the table.
He's not as consistent on offense as Bargnani, but he'd work well as a situational defender who isn't a liability on the other end of the floor, like many defensive specialists are.
Williams wouldn't necessarily be a rotation player right away, but injuries are likely to happen to Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire, so it's important to have another forward capable of starting alongside 'Melo.
After making the move to become a full-time power forward, Carmelo Anthony faced a lot of physical matchups last season, resulting in a worrying shoulder injury down the stretch.
While it appears 'Melo should be fine ahead of the new season, the injury shows it might be time to move him away from the position, especially on the defensive end.
The Knicks will have Andrea Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire playing at the 4 next year, but considering their injury history and mediocre defense, adding a bruiser should be a priority.
Elton Brand would be perfect for the role. He's 34 now, but is still a productive player and averaged 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 21.2 minutes per game with the Dallas Mavericks last season.
Even at this late stage in his career, Brand is a very good post defender and will have no problem taking on the likes of David West when called upon.
On the surface, durability could be an issue, but Brand has actually managed to stay relatively healthy since his own shoulder injury in 2009. He's played at least 72 games in every season since then—excluding the lockout year, in which he played 60 out of a possible 66.
According to ESPN, the Knicks are preparing to make an offer for Brand. He's the type of player who could potentially demand the full taxpayers' exception, but the report says he's a New York native who wants to be part of a winning team. Combined with the fact that he made $18 million after being amnestied last year, he could be a candidate with the minimum salary.
While Carmelo Anthony is a dominant scorer, he doesn't consistently do the dirty work, so it might be useful to add an energetic forward capable of rebounding and playing tough defense.
Nigerian international Al-Farouq Aminu would be an ideal fit, as he was one of the NBA's best rebounders last year, while also improving his defense on the perimeter and in the post.
Aminu can't spread the floor and has a very ineffective jump shot, but his strengths in other areas are certainly intriguing. The Knicks were an elite offensive team last year, but their defense and rebounding need to improve significantly, and he can help that.
We also shouldn't underestimate how useful it could be offensively to have a player who cuts to the basket the way Aminu does. He gets high-percentage buckets without always having the ball in his hand and will find plenty of good looks while Melo is drawing double-teams.
Bringing Aminu to New York could be a problem, as he'd likely cost them the full taxpayers' exception and could well sign elsewhere for even more. He has a lot of upside, and an athletic player like him will get a lot of attention on the open market.
With that said, the New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly (via the New York Post) trying to sign Chris Copeland as their starting small forward, which could take away one potential suitor for Aminu, making it slightly more viable for him to end up at MSG.