The New York Knicks are set up for a difficult offseason, with Carmelo Anthony potentially leaving and limited money to spend in free agency.
Still, there are some moves we can expect New York to make to improve the team in the free-agency period if it spends wisely and makes the most of having a respected name like Phil Jackson in charge.
There are plenty of needs, and it's hard to believe the Knicks will fill them all in this first year of Jackson's tenure, but here are a handful of moves they're likely to make this summer.
Re-Signing Carmelo Anthony or Completing a Sign-and-Trade
The biggest part of the Knicks' free-agency plan is convincing Melo to stay in New York, which will be pretty difficult after their horrible 2013-14 season.
At this point, the Knicks' best selling points are the fact Jackson—who has zero front office experience—is president of basketball operations and that they can offer him around $140 million for five years with a max contract.
If Melo is focused solely on winning as soon as possible, it appears it's in his best interest to leave and join forces with an already talented squad.
Ultimately, money and loyalty make New York the favorite for Melo's signature, but it's anything but a sure thing, and there needs to be a contingency plan.
Not all teams in the running for Anthony can afford to sign him outright, so if he leaves, the Knicks need to work on a sign-and-trade, ideally with the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, who have a lot to offer.
It's difficult to see the Knicks leaving completely empty-handed in this situation given that they have Anthony's Bird rights, so we should expect them to start next season either with Melo or a few more assets.
Adding a Defensive-Minded Wing
In free agency, the Knicks will have to balance improving next year with improving long-term, but there are certain players that can help a team regardless of the situation.
The Knicks are in particularly big need of perimeter defense and frankly have been for the past couple of years.
This is something that could be addressed fairly easily in a Melo sign-and-trade, but in free agency it's a need they can't spend much more than the veteran's minimum on.
Luckily, there are a fair amount of options in free agency, including Thabo Sefolosha, Al-Farouq Aminu and Marvin Williams, who may be convinced to sign for cheap by the allure of Jackson.
Even if they end up settling for a lesser name, it's hard to see Jackson overlooking a need like this in free agency having seen the team play over the last few weeks of the season.
Finding a Backup for Tyson Chandler
The Knicks have gone three years now without a true backup for Tyson Chandler and paid the price last year when he went down with injury early on and Andrea Bargnani had to log big minutes at center.
It's a major need, but frankly New York isn't in need of a great player here—just someone who can hold their own on defense and make it through the season without getting injured.
Height doesn't come cheap in the NBA, but there are actually a lot of veteran options out there this summer that may be willing to sign for the minimum if they believe the Knicks are going to be a playoff team next year.
The likes of Jermaine O'Neal, Chris Kaman and Emeka Okafor are all in New York's price range, and the absolute worst-case scenario is having to split the taxpayers' mid-level on one of them.
Replacing Raymond Felton at Point Guard
Jackson has been in New York for only a matter of months, but it appears he's seen enough of Raymond Felton with rumors that they're looking to trade him this summer.
Point guard was already their biggest need, but a trade would confirm that the Knicks intend to add talent at the position this summer from the free-agency pool.
Even if they spend the full taxpayers' exception, the Knicks aren't going to get a huge upgrade at point guard, but it's a position that plays a limited role in Jackson's offense, and there are some decent options that fit the bill of spreading the floor and providing solid defense.
Mario Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich and Mo Williams are all realistic options, especially with Jackson in charge, and with a bit of luck a more dynamic player like Darren Collison or Shaun Livingston may be affordable.
No matter what happens this offseason with Melo or potentially trading Tyson Chandler, it seems fairly clear that they won't go into next season with Felton starting at point guard.
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