The next four weeks will likely not just determine the fate of the rest of the season for the New York Knicks, but also could likely determine the fate of their short-term future.
Especially as it relates to Carmelo Anthony.
Similar to Dwight Howard’s situation, the hype surrounding Anthony’s pending free agency is getting out of control and the more the Knicks struggle, the more it stands to turn into a full-fledged circus. One week the Knicks are confident they can retain Anthony for the future, the next week it looks as if he already has a foot out the door.
That brings me to the February 20 deadline.
That day pretty much becomes D-Day for the Knicks organization as they either make the decision to trade Anthony and get as much young talent and future draft picks as they can in return. Or they decide to hold onto him and potentially watch him leave for nothing.
The question I ask is can the Knicks even afford to take that gamble?
The smart answer is no they can’t but the word smart and the name James Dolan are two things that have never really fit well together in the same sentence.
One option the Knicks have is to try and surround Anthony with the talent he wants now, hoping to convince Melo by February 20 that New York is indeed the place he wants to be for the rest of career.
One instance, as our Dr. Eric Kaplan looked at earlier on Monday, is Boston Celtics’ point guard Rajon Rondo, who Melo has been on record of wanting to recruit to New York in 2015.
Rondo would be a step in the right direction, but a deal would be next impossible as the Knicks don’t have the trade assets the rebuilding Celtics covet and Boston is not going to take back money that doesn’t come off the books this year. So while I would love to see Rondo in a Knicks’ uniform, a trade isn’t likely going to happen unfortunately.
That won’t stop the Knicks from trying though.
According to Al Iannazzone of Newsday, the Knicks are likely to try and make trades that will keep Melo in New York beyond this season. If they can’t secure trades that bring in players Melo wants to play with, the Knicks may be best off trading Melo before the deadline arrives.
Again, the problem the Knicks are going to run into is that it will be next to impossible to bring in any type of legitimate player that Melo covets.
The biggest issue is that the Knicks don’t have picks to deal and teams don’t want 90 percent of the current roster. When you have a team based entirely of high-priced bad contracts and next to nothing minimum contracts, it makes improving your team via trade almost impossible by the trade deadline.
Therefore I agree with Iannazzone that the best course of action would be to trade Melo for a huge haul, similar to what the Knicks gave up to acquire him.
However there are major problems with that scenario as well.
The first of which involves Anthony’s massive contract, which in itself is almost impossible to move. Even if the Knicks could, it would be hard to make any type of deal without New York having to take back bad contracts that could continue to hamper them for the next few years.
Then there is the fact that no team is going to be willing to deal for Anthony without the guarantee that he will re-sign.
Given the fact that Melo has been committed to testing free agency, that is something they won’t get. It’s simply too risky for any team to give up a big haul of young talent and draft picks knowing that they may only have Anthony’s services for 2-3 months tops.
However there is something else to look at and that is the year 2015, the year that the Knicks hope they can attract major free agents.
That’s also a gamble because even with Anthony still onboard, there is no guarantee that they will be able to bring in one or two major free agents.
But with Anthony gone, sure they will have more cap room, but what would they have as a selling point to max free agents?
An empty cupboard isn’t exactly an attraction to major players looking to win a championship.
That alone is a major reason why the Knicks can’t afford not to trade Anthony.
This team is not a title contender with him and will be even less of one for the foreseeable future without him.
Add it all up and as painful as it may be to Knicks fans, trading Melo is the only smart thing the Knicks’ front office can do at this point.
But unfortunately, while it may be their only saving option, I just don’t see it as a reality.
Anthony should be dealt, but won’t and the decision not to will impact this franchise not only this and next season, but for years beyond as well.