Far from Los Angeles resides another dormant, historic NBA franchise in the midst of a massive rebuild while the rumor mill works at a rapid pace.
That franchise is the New York Knicks, fresh off a 37-45 campaign in the miserable Eastern Conference. For a bit of salt in the fresh wound, star Carmelo Anthony has officially opted out of his contract.
It is a tough time to be a Knicks fan, but, as frequent users of the subway surely know, there is a light at the end of every tunnel.
Here is a look at the latest rumblings surrounding the franchise in a state of flux.
Andrea Bargnani Will Return
A season removed from appearing in just 42 games (he misses an average of 38.5 over the past four years) and averaging 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds on 44.2 percent shooting in those contests, Andrea Bargnani is doing what is best for him first and foremost—laughing to the bank.
According to Spotrac, Bargnani is due $11.5 million next season after choosing to opt into his contract, per ESPN's Marc Stein:
Not exactly a surprise, but I'm told Andrea Bargnani has indeed informed Knicks he's opting in for next season just like Amare Stoudemire— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 22, 2014
That makes two players on the roster making entirely too much cash next season, with the hints that Amar'e Stoudemire will be back in the fold as well.
But the focus here is Bargnani, the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 who has fallen off in recent years and brings little to the table. That's bad news at face value, but the good news is that it matters little in the grand scheme of things as an expiring contract can be a very valuable commodity in today's NBA.
How the Knicks react will be telling.
Buyers Exist for Tyson Chandler
On the wrong side of 30, and a commodity that is actually worth something on the market, the Knicks may have a special trade piece in veteran big man Tyson Chandler.
Chandler's best days are behind him, but his prowess on the defensive side of the court is something teams still covet. One such franchise, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith (via Ian Begley of ESPN New York), is the Golden State Warriors:
Should the Knicks move Chandler in the rumored swap?
“I believe there’s a possibility that the Golden State Warriors would trade those two guys for Tyson Chandler,” Smith said. “I’m not saying it’s definite but I really believe in my heart they would do it. And if there’s a possibility that they would do it, the New York Knicks have got to investigate it.”
But for the Knicks, the real caveat in this tidbit is Barnes. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft out of North Carolina, Barnes has yet to blossom into a star, but anything is possible as the 22-year-old forward continues to develop.
Allowed to run free, especially after the loss of Anthony, Barnes might just be what the doctor ordered. Perhaps the Knicks should approach this one with an open mind.
Iman Shumpert on the Block?
Then again, the Knicks may want to go out and grab a young prospect of their own in the upcoming draft—if they had a first-round pick, that is.
Maybe that's why Iman Shumpert's name is currently making the rounds, according to Stein:
Hearing: Knicks have explored possibility of swapping Iman Shumpert for late first-round pick heading into Thursday's draft— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 23, 2014
A plethora of teams have multiple picks in the first round and may be willing to work something out, but Stein suggests one franchise in particular after past links between the two:
Links to OKC are inevitable when subject of Shumpert comes up after OKC showed interest in defensive specialist at trade deadline— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 23, 2014
It truly depends on how the front office wants to reshape its roster in the wake of Anthony leaving. A defensive stalwart like Shumpert is great, but there is a serious lack of firepower in New York at the moment.
Sacrificing Shumpert's great defense (and 6.7 points per game a year ago) is something president Phil Jackson seems more than willing to do at this point in an effort to rebuild a franchise in shambles, with little in the way of young talent.
Jackson has an eye on the future, and that may become even more evident in the coming days via trade, as he molds the roster to his liking.