If the New York Knicks want to get out of their current tailspin, they must at least consider dealing a present contributor or sacrificing future cap space.
Both on paper and by the eye test, the 3-8 Knicks are a mess right now.
They rank in the bottom third of the NBA in both points scored and allowed per 100 possessions. Why? Because Carmelo Anthony has no consistent scorers around him and Tyson Chandler has been sidelined with a broken leg.
New York is uncommunicative and slow to rotate on defense, struggling to defend the pick-and-roll without a capable rim protector on hand. Andrew Bargnani has held up in the post in one-on-one situations, but otherwise he has been harried.
On the other end, the scoring has been completely dependent on streaky shooters. When Bargnani or J.R. Smith is connecting, Melo has more room to operate, and the perimeter opens up more for spot-up shooters, but no one has stepped up to be that second scorer on a nightly basis.
Perhaps if Amar'e Stoudemire were healthy, he could help on both fronts, but he has shown little indication of his former stardom so far.
STAT is averaging 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game, shooting 39.3 percent from the field. Even considering the limited time, that production level is a historical low point for him, which only makes his usually putrid defense doubly detrimental.
Looking at this roster, two things are clear: The best thing for the Knicks in 2013-14 would be to turn Stoudemire's $21.7 million price tag into usable parts, and the backcourt is deep enough despite its inconsistency that it would not hurt New York to move a guard for a big.
James Dolan's Knicks have no history of making sensible decisions, but that's not going to stop us from thinking up what he ought to do.
Trade No. 1
Amar'e Stoudemire (two years, $21.7 million) to the Boston Celtics
Kris Humphries (one year, $12.0 million) and Gerald Wallace (three years, $10.1 million) to the Knicks
Because Kenyon Martin and Stoudemire are both on minutes restrictions due to their brittleness, New York's frontcourt depth looked like a potential problem area even before Chandler went down.
STAT's play has confirmed those concerns.
Unfortunately, Stoudemire's onerous, uninsured contract makes him borderline impossible to deal. A willing participant would logically want to offload even more long-term money on the Knicks while feeling comfortable tying up a ton of cap space in 2014-15.
Enter the Boston Celtics.
Per Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling, Boston has actually put this offer on the table, encouraging the Knicks to pay Gerald Wallace through 2015-16 in exchange for his and Kris Humphries' services now.
Not only do the dollar amounts match up, but evidently, Mike Woodson also eyed Humphries this past offseason.
On the Knicks' end, they've coveted Humphries since this past summer, and according to a source close to the player, if he was bought out by the Celtics—who landed him in the Brooklyn Nets' blockbuster deal—he would've signed with the Knicks as their fourth big man. But the buyout didn't happen because the Celtics weren't sure if rookie Vitor Faverani would pan out at the time, and the Knicks went on to re-sign Martin.
"He had an offer from (Mike) Woodson that if he got out of his deal with the Celtics, he would go and sign with the Knicks," the source said.
Keep in mind that Humphries is 28 and just two years removed from consecutive seasons averaging a double-double. He can't fill Chandler's role defensively, but his physicality and ability on the boards would be invaluable in New York. Ditto for Wallace, who would fit in the small-ball power forward role along with Metta World Peace.
According to ShamSports, every eight-digit Knicks salary comes off the books in the summer of 2015, so they could potentially afford to take on Wallace without sacrificing too much future flexibility.
In the great unknown of a potential post-Melo era, that might be a deal-breaker. But as this season circles the drain, the Knicks must mull over such a sacrifice.
Trade No. 2
Tim Hardaway Jr. (four years, $1.2 million) and Kenyon Martin (one year, $884,293) to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Steven Adams (four years, 2.0 million) to the Knicks
Now we're getting into some speculative moves. This one features two rookies who both could be more useful elsewhere.
Steven Adams is still raw, but he has already made an impact for the Oklahoma City Thunder with his size and athleticism. A true 7-footer, he's averaging 4.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in just 17.5 minutes per game, playing from Day 1 despite only having four years of organized basketball experience.
Though the Thunder love his ability, that newness does not suit a team with even more of an imperative to win now than New York has. Despite Adams' efficiency, he is still playing fewer minutes than Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins.
Meanwhile, OKC is still looking for another wing scorer, as it faces the same consistency issues of the Knicks. Outside of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, no Thunder player is averaging double digits in scoring, which leaves the team to rely on the occasional Reggie Jackson gem to complete the offense.
They'll need more firepower in the playoffs. So while Adams is a better prospect than Tim Hardaway Jr., the shooting guard has shown some talent as a bench scorer, which the Knicks don't necessarily need with J.R. Smith ahead of him on the depth chart.
In order to balance out the trade, both in terms of finances and player value, K-Mart has to go, too. His intimidating presence and bulldog mentality are exactly what OKC isn't getting from Perkins, so he'll fit into Scott Brooks' plans.
So will Adams in New York. He will give Woodson the center he desperately needs. Adams' height and shot-blocking ability will more than make up for Martin's tough approach to defense, and the Knicks would benefit long term from having a talented big man to train under Chandler's tutelage.
Martin can't be traded until after Dec. 15, so the Knicks would have some time to think on this one. If Hardaway shows some more flashes of scoring ability and Adams is still playing limited minutes, they should talk about a swap.
Trade No. 3
Iman Shumpert (two years, $1.7 million) and Cole Aldrich (one year, $884,293) to the Memphis Grizzlies
Kosta Koufos (two years, $3.0 million) to the Knicks
Iman Shumpert seems to be a pariah in the eyes of the Knicks front office, so we might as well figure out a Shump trade that makes sense.
Ever since those Kenneth Faried rumors surfaced, Shumpert's difficulties this season have intensified. He is shooting 13-of-35 from the field over that span, averaging 6.6 points even while playing 33.8 minutes per game.
With those offensive woes, it's no wonder Dolan and company believe the Knicks can carry on with Smith and Hardaway. And while Shump locked down Paul George when the Indiana Pacers came to New York, this, per @CJZero, will be the lasting image:
Shumpert just can't win right now, and it seems more likely every day that he'll get dealt. When it happens, at least it won't be for Faried.
While he's a superb rebounder with a relentless motor, Faried is just 6'8" and could not help with rim protection. Though his willingness to outwork and outhustle opponents is admirable, his defensive footwork and positioning are lacking, plus he doesn't have the jumper or pick-and-roll acumen to fit in the Knicks offense.
So call it a blessing in disguise that the Denver Nuggets shot down Shumpert-for-Faried. While not nearly as flashy a name, Kosta Koufos would be a much more sensible target.
The Memphis Grizzlies center is a solid defender who showed a knack for not getting in the way on offense during his Denver days. When New York is trying to keep the lane open for Anthony and penetrating guards, that's an actual skill.
Ed Davis might be the sexier name amongst the Grizzlies' assets, but there's a reason that Koufos is getting more playing time than the former lottery pick. There's nothing flashy about his game, but he is more productive, and he has one more year on his contract than Davis does, too.
Koufos won't get a ton of blocks, but he can alter shots in the restricted area, and he'll be around to battle on the offensive boards and get buckets when opportunities present themselves.
Again, New York would have to wait until Dec. 15 in order to include Cole Aldrich in the trade, which would give Memphis a replacement big.
The best-case scenario in that time would be for the team to come to its senses and recommit itself to Shump. In the regrettable, likely event that doesn't happen, let's hope the Knicks don't deal him for hype and instead get someone who would actually be useful in New York.