With few assets, a lack of draft picks and salary-cap space, the New York Knicks will need creativity and luck to build a contender in one offseason.
At the moment, New York's future is contingent on Carmelo Anthony's decision. Whether he re-signs with the organization or leaves for another franchise will dictate which direction New York's fortune will go.
Let's take a look at some of the best- and worst-case scenarios the Knicks could face this offseason as Phil Jackson attempts to rebuild the ballclub.
It would be in New York's best interest if Anthony returned to the organization and signed a discounted contract.
Melo signing a max deal wouldn't destroy the Knicks' future, but it would limit some of the flexibility management will have as the proper pieces are put in place to ensure consistency. Signing for a few million less will reserve that money for either another star or twoor a couple of pivotal role players.
Trading away the inconsistent athletes on the roster—such as Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler—for players who will do their jobs consistently well will also put New York on a more lucrative track.
The Dallas Mavericks are supposedly interested in Chandler. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, "the most interesting whisper, at this early stage, is that the Mavs intend to be at the front of the line to try to reacquire Tyson Chandler should the Knicks make their defensive anchor available via trade."
The best-case scenario may be Mavericks owner Mark Cuban using his deep pockets to take on additional salary—such as Smith's, perhaps—in order to reacquire Chandler.
Finding takers for Andrea Bargnani's and Amar'e Stoudemire's expiring contracts and receiving anyone of merit would benefit the organization mightily, but it's quite unlikely that anyone worthwhile will be exchanged for two overpaid and oft-injured role players.
Anthony signing elsewhere without the Knicks receiving some sort of compensation would be a brutal blow.
Melo's departure could be salvaged if he's moved in a sign-and-trade and New York brings back draft picks and young talent, but if he leaves on his own accord, the Knicks won't have much to brag about to prospective free agents when there's ample salary-cap space in 2015 and 2016.
Losing Anthony for nothing will make it difficult for Jackson to lure talent and, quite frankly, it may deter his coaching candidates from joining the franchise.
Steve Kerr has been linked to New York's head coaching vacancy, but the Golden State Warriors recently fired Mark Jackson and have expressed interest in Kerr, according to Marc Stein, via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com:
NBA coaching sources have maintained for weeks that the Warriors have strong interest in Kerr should they elect to part ways with Mark Jackson after a 51-win season, given Kerr's strong relationships with Warriors owner Joe Lacob, son Kirk Lacob (who works in Golden State's front office) and Warriors president Rick Welts, with whom Kerr worked closely in Phoenix.
If Anthony parts ways with New York, Kerr has even more reason to take his talents to Golden State, which possesses a promising roster.
Missing out on Kerr may or may not be devastating, but struggling to find a competent replacement for Mike Woodson would be.
If Kerr goes to the Warriors, Mark Jackson may receive some consideration by New York—but will he want to lead a team with a dull future?