5 Potential Trades NY Knicks Would Be Forced to Think About
The first month of New York's 2013-14 campaign has already proven that the team's 54-win stretch last year—characterized by stability and level-headedness—was nothing but an anomaly amidst James Dolan's tumultuous reign of chaos.
After a rocky beginning, which some would characterize as predictable considering the lengths New York took to shake up its winning formula, the owner already seems to be calling for bizarre trades and lineup shuffles.
With Dolan and coach Mike Woodson seemingly set on shipping third-year swingman Iman Shumpert out of the Big Apple, a deal could be upon us in the coming weeks—or sooner if New York continues to slide.
Trading Shumpert could bring the Knicks help in regard to their weaknesses, such as size and point guard talent. You could, then, logically bring up the point that New York would be trading its only legitimate perimeter defender; you'd be right. But logic has never been part of Dolan's thought process when it comes to his basketball product.
There are a number of deals the Knicks could explore to sure up their shortcomings, some of which would keep Shumpert a Knick. But Shumpert is undoubtedly the team's most attractive asset, and would likely be the centerpiece of any scenario in which the Knicks receive something of value.
*Note: Some of these purposed trades wouldn't be able to go through until Dec. 15.
Adding Point Guard Help by Trading for Sacramento's Greivis Vasquez
Knicks trade Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton to Sacramento for Greivis Vasquez and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
With Raymond Felton hobbled and struggling to start the year, the Knicks have relied heavily on third-string option Beno Udrih and efficient-but-limited Pablo Prigioni to handle their point duties. Considering the Knicks have already engaged the Sacramento Kings in talks involving Iman Shumpert, according to Frank Isola, there may be a potential fit for a trade.
Sacramento has a bit of a logjam in the backcourt at the moment, with Greivis Vasquez starting at point, despite sixth man Isaiah Thomas averaging more minutes, shots and points for the Kings. Through 13 games, Thomas has put up superb shooting numbers of .460/.422/.857—it would be understandable if management tried to carve out space in the depth chart for the 24-year-old to take over the starting job.
This could make the 26-year-old Vasquez expendable, and worth a look for the Knicks.
If the Knicks are, in fact, set on dealing Shumpert, they could dangle him to Sacramento with point guard Raymond Felton. Here, the Kings could shift Thomas into the starting rotation immediately and have Felton man the backup duties. They'd be able to insert Shumpert on a wing and bolster their spacing, and upgrade their defense along the perimeter.
Felton, while limited this season with injuries, has shown to be effective in the pick-and-roll, and can get hot from beyond the arc. Off the bench, he could have value for Sacramento.
In Vasquez, the Knicks would be receiving a distributor who finished third league with nine assists per game last year. He's struggled shooting from distance thus far in 2014, but has posted a sparkling 57-percent clip from the field and is shooting 92 percent from the line.
According to NBA.com, he's created 21 points per 48 minutes through assists this season. New York desperately needs somebody at the point who can avoid stagnancy by promoting ball movement, and Vasquez brings that to the table. Also, with a 6'6" frame, he's able to get to the rim and create looks for himself, when opportunity calls. He's shooting 58 percent on drives this season, which ranks seventh among players who've driven at least 40 times (NBA.com).
New York could also try its luck and attempt to bring back Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in the deal (if Sacramento's latest deal with Minnesota falls though), to help fill the defensive void Shumpert would leave. Over his career, the 6'8" Mbah a Moute's teams have allowed nearly 2.5 points less per 100 possessions with him on the floor, per Basketball-Reference.
It'd be tough for New York to bring back equal value in terms of fit in a Shumpert trade, but this swap could help revive the Knicks' chances this season. Both of New York's incoming contracts expire prior to the summer of 2015, so this would fall in line with its strategy of preserving cap room for that offseason.
Knicks Take a Gamble in Trading for Late-Season Interior Help
Knicks trade Andrea Bargnani and Tim Hardaway Jr. to Phoenix for Emeka Okafor
Any deal involving Andrea Bargnani would be tough for New York to pull off, but this one might just be weird enough to be considered: flipping him for a player that won't suit up for another few months.
If the Knicks pull the plug on the Bargs experiment once Tyson Chandler returns in December, it'll definitely be hard to deal his remaining two years and $23 million. But if packaged with promising, cheap talent, he could garner a look.
Emeka Okafor was traded to the Phoenix Suns just before the season, and won't be able to play in games until January at the earliest, according to CSN Washington. He's on the books for $14 million this season, and, if healthy, represents a dire need for the Knicks: a reserve enforcer down low.
Phoenix could be intrigued by the idea of adding 21-year-old Tim Hardaway Jr. to their youthful backcourt. If the Knicks decline to deal Iman Shumpert, trading Hardaway would help eliminate some clutter at the shooting guard slot.
As their roster stands now, 35-year-old Kenyon Martin is the Knicks' lone defensive body behind Chandler on the depth chart. With Chandler missing from the lineup for about another month, Martin will be receiving much more burn than New York had hoped, heightening the possibility that he could be hobbled by playoff time.
It'd be a risk on both sides: New York would be bringing on a player who could be a non-factor after a neck injury, and Phoenix would be adding a former 24th overall pick at the expense of a $23 million, two-year commitment. Though burdensome in the short-term, Bargnani's deal would still fall short of putting Phoenix into tax-territory.
In an ideal situation, Okafor returns for New York in time for the regular season's home stretch and finally provides the Knicks with reliable relief for Tyson Chandler. Hardaway's progression would be treated with patience, while Bargnani and Channing Frye could open up space for Eric Bledsoe to drive into.
This would be a last-resort deal that New York would consider only if they view Bargnani as a lost cause in its current system. But, at the very least, it'd free the Knicks' books of Hardaway's four-year and Bargnani's two-year commitments.
Bringing Back Two Pieces from the Pre-'Melo Knicks
Knicks trade Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani to Denver for Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov
It's safe to say the Knicks never wanted to deal with as much as they did in 2011 to get Carmelo Anthony. Point guard Raymond Felton has found his way back to the Garden after being dealt in the infamous deal with Denver, but the other three Knicks dealt to the Nuggets have remained there since February of 2011.
Maybe it's time to snag some of them back.
Swingman Wilson Chandler has battled through numerous injuries since leaving New York, and is now playing on a semi-bloated contract that runs through the end of the 2015-16 season, but only $2 million of his $7.2 salary is guaranteed for that final year.
Even when the Knicks were at their best last season, they failed to find a suitable small forward to play beside Anthony at the 4. Anthony's positional breakdown numbers (via 82games.com) show that it'd be in the Knicks' best interest to keep playing 'Melo at that bigger spot, and bring in a player that compliments his skills at the 3.
New York has brought in Metta World Peace, which accomplished this to an extent, but at 34, World Peace is merely capable of a reserve role. Bringing Chandler back from Denver would help fill this void full-time.
Chandler has the ability to defend both forward positions, with a 6'8" build similar to Anthony's. Since being dealt, he's developed into a fairly reliable three-point shooter, making 41 percent of his treys last season, and 37 percent over the course of his Nuggets career.
The 26-year-old Chandler would promote spacing at the 3, just as Shumpert does. Chandler isn't able to provide the same sleight of hand that Shumpert can on defense, but isn't a liability on that end, either.
The Nuggets impractically employ three centers at the moment, so they'd presumably swap one out if the right deal came along. Timofey Mozgov was reportedly on the Knicks' radar last summer, according to the New York Post, so you could suspect they'd be interested in giving the 27-year-old another New York go-around considering the Knicks' lack of size.
At 7'1", 250 pounds, Mozgov has legitimate center size with a fairly polished offensive repertoire. He's averaged 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocks per 36 minutes over his NBA career.
On Denver's end, the Nuggets could run Shumpert at the small forward presumably until Danilo Gallinari's return from knee surgery, at which point the 23-year-old would likely take over Randy Foye's starting job at the 2. Shumpert could give Denver another young asset to build around, with a skillset some say makes for star potential.
Taking on Bargnani's contract is, of course, a burden, but it's a shorter-term deal than Chandler's. As a power forward with the Nuggets, the Italian 7-footer could prove to be an effective role player, running with Foye, Nate Robinson, Andre Miller, Evan Fournier and JaVale McGee.
Sacrificing Shumpert for a Draft Pick
Knicks trade Iman Shumpert to Oklahoma City for Nick Collison and a 2014 first-round pick
If the Knicks do deal Iman Shumpert—their most attractive trade asset—the best course of action could be to garner a draft pick for him. New York has given away every pick it's allowed to between now and 2017. Contrary to what they may have led you to believe over recent history, the Knicks are, in fact, allowed to get draft picks in trades.
The most realistic option, should the Knicks choose this route, may be dealing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are in possession of all but one of their picks until 2019. (Ironically that one pick, a 2014 second-rounder, was dealt to the Knicks last season. The Knicks traded it to Toronto four months later.)
Shumpert follows OKC's business model almost perfectly: young, athletic, affordable, hard-working talent. The 23-year-old will be under contract through 2015-16, at which point he'll become a restricted free agent.
He's worked to improve his jumpshot into a tangible weapon since being drafted. He never shot better than 33 percent from downtown in any of his three collegiate seasons, and posted a lousy 30.6 mark from there during his rookie campaign. Last year, however, after returning from knee surgery, Shumpert sunk over 40 percent of his treys.
His unquestionable motor and lockdown on-ball defense would undoubtedly contribute positively to the Thunder's title hopes.
The Knicks need help on the inside, and throwing Nick Collison into the paint as a reserve would help their interior woes. But the primary mission is to secure at least one selection in the famously deep 2014 draft class, and the Thunder may be willing to help the cause.
It's improbable that teams with higher selections in the '14 draft would be willing to deal them away, considering the talent of this year's class. The Thunder's pick likely won't be any higher than the mid-20 range, but a pick in this draft could end up being a more productive return than whatever veteran scraps the Knicks view as valuable as Shumpert.
As one league official said, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, “The rest of the league seems to value Iman more than the Knicks do. And his value is high."
Calling It Quits: Getting a Return for 'Melo—In the Form of Cap Relief
Yeah, this one is the most unlikely of all. The chances of James Dolan signing off on dealing away his top-billed ticket-seller are slimmer than those of New York winning a title under his catastrophic rule. But if the Knicks continue to struggle so mightily, the front office should absolutely gauge the trade market for Carmelo Anthony.
At first glance, this doesn't seem like an easy task, however. Of teams contending for a 2014 title, none seem to be desperate enough to sacrifice a package of young players and/or draft picks in exchange for a half-season of 'Melo.
But... wait one second. That word up there. Desperate. Hmm. Maybe there's one team that would be willing to make a move to land one of the league's biggest names.
And before you say to yourself, "Well, that doesn't seem to make much sense. Carmelo could just sign with the Lakers over the summer. Why would the Lakers trade for him?," remember that the difference between offering Anthony $130 million and $96 million lies in his Bird rights. Anthony has never left money on the table: Not in 2006, nor in 2011.
There's little evidence that'd lead you to believe he'd pass up on $35 million. 'Melo's probably re-signing with the team that has him at the end of the year. That's all the leverage the Knicks need in trade negotiations.
Now, peering up and down the Lakers assets, there's little they have to offer in terms of players or picks. They can't trade a first round pick until 2019, and their current roster is comprised almost solely of one-year, bottom-of-the-barrel stopgaps.
However, there's still one way Los Angeles could make this deal worthwhile for the Knicks. It could bring back Amar'e Stoudemire's contract along with Anthony.
Clearing New York's books of Stoudemire's two-year, $45 million commitment—and not dumping an even more massive albatross on the Knicks—is perhaps the biggest favor any team could offer. In doing so, Los Angeles would land its star, who'd all but be forced to re-sign in Hollywood for more money than any other team could offer; and New York would have successfully dealt away one of the biggest financial handicaps in the history of the league.
L.A. wouldn't care less about the players outgoing in the deal. All but Steve Nash's are set to expire after this year, and would be renounced by the Lakers to create cap room—room they plan on using to sign Anthony anyway.
The Knicks would be taking on Nash's contract, which, while not as obtrusive as Amar'e's, is still a handicap in its own right. But the other four players New York would receive would open a whopping $28,337,850 in space, once they expire after the season.
This would slide New York under the salary cap for the summer of 2014, with a core of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler still in tact.
So, is this a deal that New York would have to consider, should it be brought to them? Sure. Would James Dolan ever consider trading his superstar to a rival market, no matter how beneficial it'd be for the team's future? Not a chance.
Anthony will likely end the year with the Knicks after a best-case-scenario early-round exit. He'll re-up with the team for the maximum $130 million over the next five years, and he'll take up the majority of the team's salary cap until he's 35, in pursuit of the first championship that's eluded him for a decade.
And to Jim Dolan, it's all business as usual.