The New York Knicks need to rebuild their roster in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Heading into the All-Star break with a 20-32 record, it has become obvious that a change is long overdue. The Knicks can no longer move forward as is and expect to maintain Carmelo Anthony's desire to commit to the organization long-term.
The 2013-14 NBA season has been a tumultuous ride and the blame falls on the inconsistencies of Anthony's teammates. J.R. Smith has done little to remind fans of his award-winning season last year, and Raymond Felton has played like the outcast that was exiled from the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers in previous campaigns.
Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler also deserve criticism. The two lockdown defenders consistently fail to ignite their team defensively—in addition to being virtually useless on offense.
Chandler has never been touted for his scoring, but outside of his recent stretch to close out the first half of the year—when he went 6-of-7, 5-of-6 and 8-of-12 against the Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings, respectively—he's failed to impact New York's dysfunctional offense.
Shumpert has also done little to add to New York's bottom line. The young shooting guard is known for his defensive prowess—which is predicated on gambling more often than not—but his growth offensively has floundered, leaving pundits to ponder whether or not his offensive explosions against the San Antonio Spurs (Jan. 2) and Houston Rockets (Jan. 3) were simply aberrations.
According Al Iannazone of Newsday, "Iman Shumpert also has been a disappointment. Too often he makes little impact on the game, even defensively, which is his strong point."
He's also struggled in transition which is one aspect of the game Shumpert should thrive in, considering his athletic ability.
In order to turn this disappointing season around, Knicks general manager Steve Mills needs to cut the deadweight plaguing his roster instead of banking on hope.
As long as Mike Woodson has to rely on players like Felton, Smith, Shumpert and Chandler—players that fail to do their job and impact both sides of the floor as consistently as the team needs—New York will continue to toil in mediocrity.
The remedy to all this is simple: Package those that fail to bring it on both ends of the floor for players who will. A combination of Chandler, Shumpert, Felton and Smith could yield the kind of young talent the Knicks need.
Figuring the Boston Celtics would rather hold onto Rajon Rondo, instead of sending the PG to the Big Apple in exchange for Chandler, Shumpert and a future draft pick, there are some other options to upgrade at the 1.
One team that may be interested in what New York needs to move is the Phoenix Suns. A package of Chandler, Shumpert and Smith should be enough to receive Eric Bledsoe, Emeka Okafor, Miles Plumlee and Archie Goodwin.
Bledsoe would be the pugnacious 1 the Knicks are desperate for thanks to Felton's matador defense, Goodwin is a raw 2 with tons of upside and Plumlee is a young big man who is flourishing this season.
Mills could then turn his attention to moving Beno Udrih. A team like the Miami Heat should be interested in an extra playmaker and shooter off the bench, and considering the Heat have trade exceptions available, Udrih's contract could be dumped effortlessly in Miami.
Moving Felton may be challenging, but there are suitors present, despite the point guard finding losing to be boring.
Instead of looking to receive young talent or draft picks, the Knicks should ship Felton with intentions of dumping salary, and getting closer to some cap space. A three-team trade with the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks would free New York from two lousy contracts: Felton and Andrea Bargnani.
The Knicks would send Bargnani to the Mavs and Felton to the Pistons; Dallas would ship Shawn Marion to Detroit; and the Knicks would receive Charlie Villanueva and his expiring contract.
Those moves would leave New York with the following roster:
|Potential Knicks Lineup|
|PG||Eric Bledsoe||Pablo Prigioni||Toure' Murry|
|SG||Tim Hardaway Jr.||Archie Goodwin|
|SF||Carmelo Anthony||Metta World Peace|
|PF||Amar'e Stoudemire||Kenyon Martin|
|C||Miles Plumlee||Jeremy Tyler||Cole Aldrich|
These transactions leave the Knicks a little thin, but it puts them in position to succeed in the future by removing the deadweight that is eating up cap space and contributing to the L's that have been amassed this season.
In order to maintain Anthony's confidence in the organization, New York needs to adjust and retool its struggling roster.
Blame can be placed on Woodson's coaching and his ineffective schemes, but the players at his disposal limit what he can do. By bringing in a point guard that can effectively run an offense, as well as being a pest defensively, in addition to acquiring a young big man with upside, New York's rebuilding efforts aren't as insurmountable and gloomy as they currently appear.
Stats are accurate as of Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.