Potential Stars NY Knicks Can Pair with Carmelo Anthony in 2015

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2013

Potential Stars NY Knicks Can Pair with Carmelo Anthony in 2015

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    With the recent report that the New York Knicks will let Carmelo Anthony build his team in 2015, NBA fans now wonder: Who are the top candidates?

    Hoopsworld's Steve Kuyler explained how the Knicks plan to empower 'Melo in the future:

    On the Anthony front, there is a chance he looks at greener pastures in 2014, but sources close to the process say the Knicks have already let Anthony know that their books will be basically clear in 2015 and he can pick his teammates much as Wade did in Miami.

    There's a group of attractive unrestricted free agents who will be looking for a home in 2015, and a couple of them might be the kind of guys Carmelo would love to team up with. A few restricted free agents also have a chance to get paired with Anthony.

    We looked ahead to the climate of the NBA two years from now and found a group of the most attractive stars who could realistically be on the Knicks' wish list.

8. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies PF

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    Age and Contract Situation in 2015: 33, Unrestricted Free Agent

    2012-13 Statistics: 15.4 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 46% FG, 17.9 PER

    Zach Randolph already did one tour of duty in New York, but that was during the dark ages of the Knicks franchise.

    Now Carmelo Anthony is in town, so maybe this time Randolph would find more success wearing the blue and orange.

    "Z-bo" would undoubtedly snag a heap of rebounds, and he would be a paint enforcer on both ends of the floor.

    It wouldn't be a seamless transition to New York, as he and 'Melo would have to iron out their ball movement and spacing. As veteran players, they would figure it out and ultimately become quite the rebounding tandem and inside-out scoring threat.

    If the Knicks signed Randolph to a three- or four-year deal, it would put him in his late 30s by the end of the contract. That's something Glen Grunwald will keep in mind during negotiations.

7. Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavaliers C

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    Age and Contract Situation in 2015: 27, Unrestricted Free Agent

    2011-12 Statistics: 18.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 56% FG, 22.9 PER

    Andrew Bynum is a risk/reward player at this point in his career, but in two years, his stock might be high enough to earn himself a job as the New York Knicks' starting center.

    If he can keep his knees healthy for a couple campaigns, he might be one of the most attractive big men on the market.

    Unlike Tyson Chandler or even Amar'e Stoudemire, Bynum offers true deep-post capabilities. He can get position on the low block, utilize sound footwork and score over anyone in the game. Sending him to Madison Square Garden hardwood would make life so much easier for Carmelo Anthony as a rebounder and shooter.

    Right now, we don't know whether he's going to be consistently healthy and productive for the Cleveland Cavaliers, so asking him to be 'Melo's championship companion is probably getting a bit ahead of ourselves. 

6. Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets PF

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    Age and Contract Situation in 2015: 25, Restricted Free Agent

    2012-13 Statistics: 11.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 55% FG, 18.5 PER

    Unless he develops exponentially as a shot-creator, Kenneth Faried would only be the third or fourth scoring option on a New York Knicks playoff team.

    Nevertheless, he would be a colossal acquisition because he causes mayhem for opposing frontcourts. Faried can run baseline to baseline as fast as any power forward on the planet, and he can elevate with the best of them. He's also developing a mid-range jumper, which is a nice supplement to his game.

    New York is an aging and relatively un-athletic squad, so the arrival of Faried in 2015 would bring an infusion of explosiveness—something that's increasingly imperative in today's NBA.

    The Denver Nuggets might fork over enough money to retain Faried, but if the Knicks drive the price too high, he could be headed east.

5. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers C

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    Age and Contract Situation in 2015: 26, Unrestricted Free Agent

    2012-13 Statistics: 8.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 64% FG, 17.2 PER

    He's not a championship-caliber sidekick, but DeAndre Jordan could be a rock-solid role player to support Carmelo Anthony and Co. in a title run.

    The Los Angeles Clippers high-flyer averaged single digits in points and rebounds in 2012-13, but his offensive game significantly improved, and he became a more well-rounded post player. He has more confidence in his low-block moves, as his field-goal attempts and points per game both went up in 2012-13.

    If the Knicks play their cards right, they could actually be getting a younger edition of Tyson Chandler. Jordan is similarly explosive and dangerous on pick-and-rolls and lobs, and he's turning into a competent shot-blocker. By 2015, he could be a monster.

    Due to his age and upside, Jordan will be a high priority for the Clippers to re-sign.

    However, he'll never be the first or second-most important player on the roster. Therefore, the Knicks have a shot at luring him away from Lob City.

4. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies C

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    Age and Contract Situation in 2015: 30, Unrestricted Free Agent

    2012-13 Statistics: 14.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.0 APG 49% FG, 19.5 PER

    If the Knicks are looking for an explosive, exciting low-post star to pair with Carmelo Anthony, then they should look elsewhere.

    But if they're looking for an efficient two-way player who can defend, pass and shoot at a high level, then Marc Gasol should be at or near the top of their wish list.

    The Spanish standout doesn't put up jaw-dropping scoring or rebounding numbers, but he makes up for it with a tremendous knack for being in the right place and making smart decisions.

    Gasol would immediately replace the low-post defense New York would lose with the departure of Tyson Chandler, and he would significantly upgrade the offensive production of the center position.

    Anthony would need a third star teammate if he wants to win a title, but adding Gasol would be a huge piece of the puzzle.

3. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers PF

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    Age and Contract Situation in 2015: 29, Unrestricted Free Agent

    2012-13 Statistics: 21.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 49% FG, 20.4 PER

    The Knicks haven't had substantial frontcourt scoring outside Carmelo Anthony in a couple years, so Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge would be a superb pickup.

    His 6'10" frame, soft shooting touch and fundamental footwork afford him ample scoring chances every night. Aldridge is like clockwork from midrange, and he knows how to use his broad shoulders to create separation for turnaround jumpers and short hooks.

    In 2015, Aldridge will be in the second half of his career, and he'll likely be hungry for a title. A place like New York and a star like Carmelo Anthony would be an exciting option for him.

    He would be a better jump-shooter than Amar'e Stoudemire, and also a couple years younger. The move could turn out to be a major upgrade at the power forward position.

    While he's not the most athletic option, he remains one of the top five power forwards in the league.

2. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics PG

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    Age and Contract Situation in 2015: 29, Unrestricted Free Agent

    2012-13 Statistics: 13.7 PPG, 11.1 APG, 5.6 RPG, 48% FG, 18.1 PER

    He might be traded long before the 2015 offseason, but Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo could still be a premiere backcourt target for major-market clubs if he's unrestricted.

    Two years from now, he'll still be in the prime of his career. The Knicks would love to have a floor general of his caliber, someone who can create offense and constantly keep opponents guessing.

    Would Rondo be compatible with Carmelo?

    From a shot-volume standpoint, yes. Rondo's a pass-first player who's always looking to empower his teammates and make the entire offense more dangerous. New York doesn't have to worry about him taking too many shots and robbing 'Melo of opportunities.

    The probability of this acquisition isn't great, because Rondo may be traded and signed to an extension elsewhere before 2015. But it would certainly be an exciting pair.

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat F

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    Age and Contract Situation in 2015: 30, Player Option with Heat for 2015-16

    2012-13 Statistics: 26.8 PPG, 7.3 APG, 8.0 RPG 57% FG, 41% 3PT FG, 31.6 PER

    According to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, LeBron James will strongly consider signing with the New York Knicks if he opts out of his contract in 2015.

    If true, that's a boatload of good news for Knickerbocker fans.

    James and Carmelo Anthony have known each other since their high school showdowns. They've become good friends over the years as members of the same draft class and Team USA competitors.

    After having good times in South Beach with Dwyane Wade, LeBron might turn north for new adventures with a different comrade. James would serve as an exceptional facilitator and would likely make 'Melo a more dynamic weapon.

    Anthony would have to adjust to being the second-best player on his team for the first time in his career. As a veteran yearning for a championship, he needs to embrace the opportunity to win and not worry about being second fiddle to James.

    LeBron's arrival in the Big Apple would be met with excitement and joy, but also scrutiny and the expectation of championship hardware.

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