The New York Knicks continue to look for ways to improve for the future, but the one thing that is clear is there is no easy solution.
A 31-51 record this past season marked the fourth straight losing year in a row, and there doesn't appear to be much hope in a quick turnaround for the 2017-18 season. Even the ping-pong balls failed to help, leaving the Knicks with just the No. 8 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
Of course, what happens between now and the draft could help shape the franchise for the next few years.
A deep class of point guards could be exactly what the Knicks need to improve in the backcourt. Although Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and even De'Aaron Fox could be off the board by the time the team is on the clock, Ian Begley of ESPN noted the team's interest in French point guard Frank Ntilikina.
While there are plenty of possibilities for the first-round pick, the excitement comes from a potential trade. Not only did team president Phil Jackson admit the No. 8 pick could be moved in a deal, Begley added the team "also discussed the option of acquiring another first-round pick through trade."
North Carolina star Justin Jackson could be a possibility with that second pick in the middle of the first round.
So what do the Knicks have that would be worthy of a first-round pick? How about an embattled superstar small forward.
Carmelo Anthony has seemingly been on the trade block for years, but only recently has management been forcing him out.
"We'd just like him to have success somewhere," Jackson said last week, per Steve Popper of USA Today. "We're not going to be there. Hopefully, we'll be maybe a playoff team next year. It would be tough to consider us possible champions."
This sounds like someone trying to convince a player to waive his no-trade clause. The problem is Jackson is hurting Anthony's value with his recent quotes.
"He essentially said, 'I want to dump this guy.'" an Eastern Conference executive told Fred Kerber of the New York Post. He added Anthony would be worth "a protected first-round pick. It sure sounds like the Knicks want to get rid of him, so teams won't give up any of their core to add him. That would be defeating the purpose."
As embarrassing a haul as this would be, perhaps moving on from Anthony and starting over with a young player and more cap space could benefit the Knicks. Kerber listed the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers as potential suitors.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported in April the Celtics were interested in a trade at the deadline but general manager Danny Ainge backed out. A new deal could reemerge in the offseason once Boston clears more money off its books.
Conversely, the Knicks need to avoid any deal involving Kristaps Porzingis, despite the fact a trade could bring a lot of assets in return.
As his brother explained recently, "Kris wants to stay in New York," per Begley. However, teams were also calling about potential trades after the Latvian big man skipped his exit meeting. There is friction there after two losing seasons and no sign of improvement.
Porzingis proved to be one of the most talented young players in the league after averaging 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game this year at just 21 years old. New York needs to build around this franchise cornerstone regardless of his current feelings.
The team isn't in great shape going forward, but a deep draft class offers opportunities to bring in high-upside players who can help for the future.
Any chances to acquire picks outside of dealing their top asset should be encouraged.