The New York Knicks possess a broken roster that needs to be addressed immediately for the franchise to rise to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Although it may seem like an arduous challenge due to their lack of salary cap space, there are plenty of soon-to-be free agents that can impact the team positively if pursued.
Let's take a look at the players available that could potentially put New York on a winning path.
Eric Bledsoe and Kyle Lowry are the two most talented 1's on the market, but it isn't very likely that either of them sign with the Knicks seeing as they'll command more money than NY can allocate. Sure, a sign-and-trade could be arranged, but if that conclusion can't be reached, the Knicks would be best off luring Shaun Livingston away from the Brooklyn Nets.
Livingston is a skilled passer and competent defender that would be an immediate upgrade over Raymond Felton. His wingspan and length next to Iman Shumpert would give NY one of the better defensive backcourts in the league.
The biggest knock on Livingston has been his inability to stay healthy in previous seasons, but this year, the 6'7" point guard played a career high 76 games for Brooklyn.
Without a doubt, Lance Stephenson is the best shooting guard on the market. The drawback to signing him, however, is his maturity level and whether or not he could continue to develop in his hometown.
NY won't be able to sign Born Ready outright, but a sign-and-trade could be arranged. Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani might be enough to bring Stephenson to the big apple.
To some, it may seem like a sideways move to trade Shump, but Lance has displayed his passion and all-around game emphatically this season. Shumpert could eventually develop into a more competent scorer, but it's unlikely he becomes the playmaker that Stephenson has been for the Indiana Pacers.
If Stephenson can keep his head on straight, he's a must have. NY currently does not possess anyone on the roster with Lance's motor and his heart could light a fire under his perspective teammates who were stung by complacency and a lack of enthusiasm.
If Vince Carter decides to part ways with the Dallas Mavericks, the Knicks ought to pursue him to help bolster its bench.
Even at 37-years-old, Carter is still a productive player that can occasionally change the course of a game. His performance in Game 5 of the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs—when he scored 28 points and shot 7-of-9 from the three point line—showed that he could still rise up and keep his team competitive.
Despite Dallas coming up short in that game and the series, Carter played with a kind of hunger that hadn't been seen in a long time. Since he's made over $161,663,315, via Basketball-Reference.com, throughout the course of his career, Carter could be had for around the veteran's minimum. If that's the case, he would be a steal coming off the bench for NY.
You could never have too much rebounding and signing DeJuan Blair would remedy some of NY's front court problems.
Although he is a little undersized and has a history of knee issues, he's a gritty player who loves to crash the glass.
The Knicks need more defensive-minded players on the roster that aren't afraid of throwing their weight around, and Blair fits that mold.
If he could be signed on the cheap, he'd be the kind of player that can change the culture in the locker room. Blair is the antithesis of soft, and bringing in a bruiser like him off the bench would be a great compliment to some of the finesse players currently on the roster.
Out of all the 5's on the market, Pau Gasol makes the most sense due to his connection with Phil Jackson.
If NY does hire a head coach that wants to run the triangle offense, a skilled veteran like Gasol will be needed to help facilitate the transition.
He may not be the stud he was in years past, but Gasol can still contribute on a daily basis. His passing and low post scoring abilities would benefit the flow of NY's offense and its consistency.
Without a true scorer down-low, the Knicks were forced to rely too heavily on low percentage shots from the perimeter. Having someone like Gasol—who can be fed the ball on the block and either make a move and score, or find the open man to kick out to—would correct some of NY's flaws offensively.
Signing Pau on the cheap would give the Knicks more depth up front in addition to veteran leadership that knows what it takes to win a ring in the NBA.
Each of these aforementioned athletes would transform the NY Knicks and lead them closer to the promised land—just as long as Carmelo Anthony re-signs with the organization.
Without any cap space this offseason Jackson will have to be creative to rebuild the franchise, but there are plenty of skilled players available that can help revitalize basketball in New York City.
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