With a week to go before the NBA Trade Deadline, February 20, the Knicks need to look at their current position. The biggest decision they need to make is whether to keep Melo on the roster and risk losing him to free agency or trade him and begin the rebuilding process. Although many felt that Melo would retire a Knick after he arrived in New York, the recent Knick struggles make fans worry that Melo will bolt this offseason to a team with more talent and a more optimistic future. Unfortunately for the Knicks, they have $50 million locked up in Andrea Bargnani, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. These three are vastly overpaid, which will make next season another tough year for Melo and the Knicks. If the Knicks trade Anthony, they will be looking for cap space, young talent, and draft picks. Since the Knicks do not have many future first round picks, they need to sign free agents at the end of the year. I have outlined 5 realistic trades that could give the Knicks more cap flexibility, young players, and picks. All of the trades are contingent on Carmelo Anthony signing a long term deal so that the Knicks can receive full value. Although next season will be a tough year, they will have money to sign big free agents like Rondo, Aldridge, Irving, Love, Marc Gasol, and other free agents that pick up their player options this season.
Trade number 1:
New York Knicks receive: Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Al-Farouq Aminu, and 2015 first round pick
New Orleans Pelicans receive: Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith
Why the Knicks would want this trade: If the Melo leaves, the Knicks would receive nothing for their best player. In this trade, the Knicks will garner a nice young player, a quality rotational player, minor cap relief, and a future first round pick. Although Gordon is not posting the same stats that he accumulated with the Clippers, he has a lot of talent and is still only 25 years old. This season, Gordon has been healthy. Although Gordon is not posting great numbers, he has not been given many shots because he is the third option on offense behind Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. However, his win shares are on pace to resemble his win shares during his best seasons. Also, it is well documented that he is not happy in New Orleans, which takes away from his effort. Gordon is set to enter his prime and should be an attractive option for other All-Stars to play with in New York. Along with Gordon, the Knicks will receive stretch forward Ryan Anderson. Ryan Anderson’s scoring numbers have improved during every season of his career. Before an injury this season, Anderson was averaging 19 points per game with 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 threes per game on 41% shooting from down town. Anderson would be a great role player on a playoff or championship team because he stretches the defense and can provide instant offense off of the bench. Although he is paid a lot, 17 million over the nest two season, he is a valuable player that the Knicks would want coming off of their bench during press filled situations. The Knicks will be gaining some cap space because they will be able to rid themselves of JR Smith’s horrible contract and Aminu will be a free agent after this season. The 2015 first round pick could be valuable for the Knicks because the rookies are cheap talent and the 2015 draft class looks pretty deep, although it is premature.
Why the Pelicans would want this trade: The Pelicans are a team on the rise and Carmelo Anthony could make them a legitimate threat in the West. Although the Pelicans are 6 games under .500, they have talent on their roster and one of the best young players in the NBA. This season, Anthony Davis has taken the biggest step forward of any player in the NBA. Currently, Davis is averaging over 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Davis has the potential to be a player like Kevin Garnett because he has great athleticism, has the ability to score on offense, and plays great defense that will win him a Defensive Player of the Year award in the future. Along with Davis, the Pelicans have Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. Holiday made his first All-Star team last season and is having another quality season this year. Tyreke has talent, but he has been unable to produce like his rookie season in the league. The addition of Carmelo Anthony will give the Pelicans another legit star to play with Anthony Davis. The duo has the ability to grow over the next few seasons, which will enable them to compete with the Thunder, Rockets, and Golden State. If Evans can return to his former form with the Kings, they have a chance to actually compete for an NBA championship. Also, if they can turn around JR Smith career, he could provide another weapon. The Pelicans may have a chance to sign Anthony because of the talent and opportunity that they could give him in the future.
Trade number 2:
New York Knicks receive: Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, Bradley Beal, 2015 first round pick, and 2017 first round pick
Washington Wizards receive: Carmelo Anthony
Why the Knicks would want this trade: Although the Knicks would not be receiving the same amount of talent in this deal, they will be given more cap space for the future and more draft picks. The center piece of this deal would be Bradley Beal. The second year shooting guard has a lot of talent and could be a future star in the league. After a strong rookie year when he scored nearly 14 points and shot 41% from the field, Beal has significantly improved this season while averaging 17.1 points, 3.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting a higher percentage from the field and over 40% from the three point line. Beal is only 20 years old and is on his rookie deal, which will enable the Knicks to sign other players to play around Beal while he grows into a superstar. The Knicks will be able to net two first round picks in the deal, which should prove to be beneficial as they rebuild and reshape the image of their team. Although neither pick will be for this draft, which has been labeled as one of the best crops in years, the draft picks should develop into at least rotational players, if the Knicks select the right players. The Knicks will gain two expiring contract totaling $15.5 million, which could help them sign a player this offseason. If the Knicks choose to save this money for the following offseason, they will have about $17 million in salaries which should give them about 40-50 to sign players in free agency. The Knicks could possibly sign max players in free agency, which could totally change the fortunes of their team.
Why the Wizards would want this trade: The Wizards have been an embarrassment and a horrible team for the last few decades. However, this season, they are showing signs of life because of John Wall. The fourth year point guard is becoming one of the best young players in the league and should become a superstar in the near future. This year, Wall is nearly averaging 20 points, 8.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game. However, Wall does not have another superstar player that could help him take the Wizards to the next level. Although Beal has talent, he is not a superstar yet. Anthony could be the player that pushes the Wizards from the 5th or 6th best team in the East to one that could compete with the Pacers and Heat. Anthony has never played with another player with the talent like John Wall. Wall is only 23 years old, which means his best basketball is still ahead of him. Along with Wall, Anthony would be reunited with Nene, who is a quality big man. Anthony would probably be willing to sign an extension with the Wizards because they have a good core and Washington is a big city where he can expand his brand. Also, he grew up in Baltimore, which is only 1 hour away from Washington DC. The Wizards would still be under the salary cap, which would enable them to sign another starter or quality player to help them contend with the other teams in the East.
Trade number 3:
New York Knicks receive: Lance Stephenson, Danny Granger, Luis Scola, Rasual Butler, 2015 first round pick, 2014 second round pick, and 2015 second round pick
Indiana Pacers receive: Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton
Why the Knicks would want this trade: Besides acquiring young talent, the Knicks can succeed by garnering more draft picks and drafting good players. The main piece that the Knicks would receive is Lance Stephenson. This season, Stephenson is competing for the most improved player of the year award. After playing well in the postseason last year, he has been great this year and does everything on the court to help a team win games and championships. This year, Sir Lancelot is averaging 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.1 assists while shooting over 50% from the field. Lance is only the fourth option on the Pacers, which makes his numbers even more impressive. Along with playing good offense, Stephenson is a great defensive player and ranks inside the top 8 in the league in both defensive rating and defensive win shares. Along with Stephenson, the Knicks would receive Danny Granger. Granger has an expiring contract, but the Knicks may be inclined to sign him to a low risk deal because of his past history and talent. After two years of irrelevance, he should be healthy and ready to become an All-Star again. Along with Granger, Scola is a very good player. The Knicks could use the first round pick to acquire more young players. If the Knicks are willing to be patient, they could draft two international players and stash them in the European Leagues until they are ready for the big leagues. In todays’ NBA, more second rounds picks are performing in the NBA. Also, international players, who were drafted in the second round, have a significant amount of value.
Why the Pacers would want this trade: The Pacers already have the second best record in the NBA, but that does not mean they do not need to improve. Although the Pacers have been great this season, they have shown vulnerability lately. The occasional problem with the Pacers has been their inability to score. If the Pacers add Anthony, they would be nearly unbeatable because they already have the best defense in the league. Although George has been great this season and has greatly improved his scoring ability, it has not been seen if he can consistently lead the Pacers and score enough points to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. Anthony would take a lot of pressure off of George down the stretch of games. Although the loss of Stephenson may slightly diminish their defensive metrics, they would still be a top three defense in the NBA. The Pacers could fit Anthony in their starting rotation because they could slide George to the two position. The Pacers would be able to put an extremely tall lineup, Hill, George, Anthony, West, and Hibbert, which would be difficult for opposing teams to match because they have athleticism, defense, offense, and versatility. The Pacers could also go to a smaller lineup by putting Anthony at the 4 to match other teams like the Heat or Nets. The addition of Felton will allow the Pacers to have another quality point guard, if Hill becomes injured or struggles. If the Pacers are willing to spend extra money because of luxury taxes, they will have a chance to be a dynasty because they have so much talent and physicality that other teams cannot stop.
Trade number 4:
New York Knicks receive: Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Kris Humphries, and 2015 first round pick
Chicago Bulls receive: Carmelo Anthony and Phil Pressey
Boston Celtics receive: Carlos Boozer and 2014 Bulls protected first round pick (via Sacramento)
Why the Knicks would want this trade: The Knicks are almost totally devoid of young talent, but this trade would net them two young players. Taj Gibson, 28, and Jimmy Butler, 24, are two players that have significantly improved their games since Derrick Rose went down with his second knee injury. Last year, Butler showed his ability as a good two way player, who could become a quality starter in the future. Butler is strong, physical, and big, which allows him to play defense against any offensive player in the league. This year, Butler is averaging 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 2.2 assists per game. If Butler was with the Knicks, he would be given more opportunities on offense to show his talents. Along with Butler, Gibson has taken a significant step forward this season. This year, Gibson is totaling 12.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. However, his numbers have dramatically increased lately because he has been given more time and touches during the game. Like Butler, Gibson is a good defensive player that could change the dynamic of the Knicks. The trio of Butler, Chandler, and Gibson would make the team more defensively oriented. This trade would change the team’s dynamic and attitude from a team that plays with more finesse to a team that plays physically and puts fear into their opponents. Along with the players, Kris Humphries’ expiring contract and the future first round pick will provide the team with more assets as they potentially build a championship team in the future.
Why the Bulls would want this trade: The Bulls may be able to get Anthony during free agency, which would make this deal unnecessary. However, if the Bulls want to guarantee Anthony and possibly make a run this season, they should make a trade during the deadline. Also, the deal will allow them to rid themselves of Boozer without using their amnesty and wasting $32 million. The Bulls will never be able to compete with the other powers in the NBA with just Derrick Rose. Although Noah is taking steps forward, he is not a superstar because of his limitations on offense. Although his passing skills improve his offensive value, the number of passing opportunities will decrease when Rose returns from injury. Also, the Bulls do not know whether Rose can return to his prior form. Anthony would take a lot of pressure off Rose to do everything on offense. The Bulls are constantly stagnant on offense, even when Rose is in the game. A second scoring option, who could shoot like Anthony, will open the lanes for Rose to drive and find cutters like Noah or shooters like Anthony and Dunleavy on the outside for threes or long jumpers. The addition would put the Bulls over the Pacers, who possess similar defensive intensity, but would not have the offensive skill to match Rose and Anthony. With Anthony, Rose, Noah, and Thibs, the Bulls could start their own dynasty again for the next few seasons. Although the Bulls will be losing young players and draft picks, they may not get another chance to acquire a top 15 player in the league again.
Why the Celtics would want this trade: The Celtics are in full rebuilding mode and will look to acquire draft picks through any means necessary. Although they would rather not have to surrender an expiring deal like Humphries for Boozer, who has another year and is owed $15 million, it is unlikely that they will sign any free agents this summer. With Boozer and Rondo, the Celtics will be at least respectable.
Trade number 5:
New York Knicks receive: Emeka Okafor, Klay Thompson, Miles Plumlee, Archie Goodwin, 2015 first round pick (via Warriors), and 2014 second round pick (via Lakers)
Golden State Warriors receive: Carmelo Anthony, 2014 second round pick (via Raptors), 2015 second round pick from the Suns, and JR Smith
Suns receive: David Lee, Marreese Speights, and Jermaine O’Neal
Why the Knicks would want this trade: The Knicks would be receiving a lot of assets through this trade. The most prominent player would be Klay Thompson, a member of the ‘Splash Brothers’. Klay is a 24 year old shooting guard that has improved during each of his first three seasons. This season, Klay is averaging 18.3 points, 2.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 41% from the three point arc. Last season, Klay is third in the league in three pointers, but this season he is second in threes, behind his teammate Steph Curry. Last season, Klay was able to succeed during the playoffs, which made him more of a household name. This year, Klay is averaging more win share per 48 minutes than any other season in his career. With the Knicks, he could become more of a star and move out of the shadow of Curry. Along with Klay, Miles and Archie would be good players that the Knicks could use to rebuild. This season, Archie has not been given a lot of time to play. However, he is only a 19 year old rookie with a lot of talent. The Knicks could give him more time to play and improve. Plumlee has been given more time with the Suns and has significantly improved since last year. Plumlee is averaging 9 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. Plumlee is a young big that could develop into a strong physical player that the Knicks desperately need inside the paint. The future picks and cap space will help them develop more players and become a championship contender.
Why the Warriors would want this trade: Although the Warriors are 9 games over 500 and have a lot of talent, they are ranked 8th in the tightly contest West. The Warriors need more help if they are going to come out of the West and compete for a championship. The Warriors have been looking for a top 15 star over the past few off seasons. Although Curry has developed into a top 15 player, they could use another superstar to beat the Spurs, Thunder, Pacers, and Heat. Anthony will make the Warriors offense nearly unstoppable. Since it is impossible to double Curry and Anthony on offense, they will both have open shots or their teammates will be given more shots. The Warriors will be able to play smaller and quicker with Anthony at the 4 instead of Lee. Also the second round picks will enable them to either get young cheap players or acquire foreign talent and wait for the players to develop into quality NBA talent. Lastly, JR Smith will have less pressure to consistently score and be a number two like on the Knicks. Smith would be a fourth or fifth option, which will give him more shots and be a more consistent player with the Warriors. If Smith plays at his best, he could replicate Thompson’s production.
Why the Suns would want this trade: The Suns have surprised the NBA this season and could use more talent in order to make the playoffs and succeed. The Suns have been looking for more talent before the trade deadline. Lee would give the Suns a legitimate scoring option inside the paint. Also, the loss of draft picks will not be bad for the Suns because they basically have every other pick in the first round. This draft, they have the possibility to have 4 picks if they do not trade a pick. With Lee, Bledsoe and Dragic would not pressured to score as often from the outside. The extra offense skill will significantly help the Suns and improve their chances of making the playoffs.
Pics and stats from ESPN.com