The New York Knicks are in a state of disarray. The Mecca of Basketball is no longer a location that teams fear traveling to, but instead one that has shined a spotlight on just how dysfunctional the Knicks have become.
It’s time that the Knicks acknowledge how much of a disconnect there is between the front office’s dream roster and the proper direction of the organization. Despite achieving success as an elite defensive unit, there seems to be a stronger dedication to high-profile players than there is to athletes who properly fit the current system.
It may be early in the season, but the Knicks need to act fast and commit a trade to right the ship.
The Knicks are currently 5-14 overall, 2-8 at home and 3-6 on the road. Most recently, New York fell 114-73 to the Boston Celtics. That brings their current stretch to 10 losses in 12 games, which defines the team’s 2013-14 failures.
Due to the fact that the Knicks have a world-class head coach, the only rational option is to shake up the roster. Unfortunately, poor management and injuries have led to New York’s inability to shake up the rotation.
Something needs to change, and executing a trade is the perfect way to make that happen.
Can’t Shake Up the Rotation
Much has been said about the Knicks’ supposed need to fire head coach Mike Woodson. Those people who want to see Woodson gone either forget or conveniently pass over the fact that this is a locker room filled with players who have previously given up on a head coach.
It’s time New York acknowledges the unfortunate truth: the biggest issue is with the players. Not the coach.
The Knicks are playing slow and uninspired basketball. Some of that blame deserves to be placed upon Woodson, but this isn’t the first time that the Carmelo Anthony era Knicks have given up on a coach. Even if Mike D’Antoni was the wrong man for the job, that doesn’t mean the Knicks should ignore that truth.
Keep in mind, this is the same coach Woodson who led the Knicks to their most success in over a decade. For that reason, Woodson deserves the opportunity to shake up the rotation and attempt a turnaround.
The issue for the Knicks at this juncture is that both Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin are out due to injuries. Chandler and Martin are New York’s top interior defenders, and without them, the Knicks are putting forth a number of different offensive-minded rotations.
With this in mind, it’s impossible for New York to shake things up without executing a trade.
New York’s Greatest Needs
The Knicks shouldn’t execute any potential deal that makes a single shred of sense. Instead, New York needs to focus on its specific needs, and that all starts with finding players who can maintain the pace of the offense.
With all due respect to the reigning scoring champion, the Knicks are at their worst when the offense falls into its long spells of ISO-ball.
As it presently stands, the Knicks have three quality point guards in Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Beno Udrih. All three are capable of facilitating the offense, but none have the necessary level of clout to take control and dictate where the ball heads on a possession-by-possession basis.
Jason Kidd served as that player in 2012-13, helping to keep the ball moving along the perimeter. Kidd is now the Brooklyn Nets‘ head coach. Thus, the Knicks need a player who can take over and limit the number of irresponsible shots by two of the game’s most polarizing scorers: ‘Melo and J.R. Smith.
Rajon Rondo‘s high school head coach Steve Smith told Jason Jordan of USA Today that Anthony is recruiting the Celtics’ point guard to join the Knicks. Rondo won’t be a free agent until 2015, but that hasn’t stopped the basketball community from speaking of what could transpire.
The Knicks are without an available first round draft choice to trade due to the Stepien Rule, but do have attractive guard options in defensive specialist Iman Shumpert and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks also have Amar’e Stoudemire‘s contract to make the financial aspects work, but it’s unclear whether or not Boston would view that as adequate compensation.
There aren’t many other point guards who are rumored as available on the open market, but if this is a sign of anything, it’s the acknowledged need for a true franchise point guard.
If not a point guard, then the Knicks need to find defensive depth along the interior. Chandler and Martin are effective players on that end, but the Knicks need athletes who can defend the rim and make a difference along the interior. The question is, what is the most realistic deal to make that work?
It all starts with Amar’e.
The Less Glamorous Route
According to Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report, the Knicks and Celtics could be involved in a trade that has nothing to do with Rondo. Instead, the Knicks could potentially send Amar’e Stoudemire to Boston in exchange for Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace.
That may not be the high-profile deal that fans are looking for, but it’s what the Knicks need.
Stoudemire is currently making $21,679,893 in 2013-14 and has a player option to haul in $23,410,988 during the 2014-15 season. That massive contract is a major reason that New York is financially handcuffed entering a 2014 period of free agency in which a number of star-caliber players are set to become free agents.
Stoudemire may be improving as a player, but he’s also receiving limited playing time. Fortunately, this potential deal would help the Knicks in the short-term and long-term.
Financially, Humphries is making $12.0 million and Wallace will haul in $10,105,885 in 2013-14. Wallace will make a similar amount in 2014-15 and 2015-16, but Humphries has an expiring contract. By executing this deal, the Knicks would cut their costs in half from STAT’s contract for next season.
Say what you will about Humphries and Wallace’s current level of abilities, but both are heralded for their energy and effort on the court. For a lifeless Knicks team, that’s exactly what needs to be infused into a dying rotation.
Humphries isn’t a defensive specialist, but he’s a physical player whose strength and tenacity on the glass would inspire life in a lifeless interior. As of December 8, the Knicks rank 28th in total rebounds per game and 22nd in rebound differential. Humphries has averaged at least 12.0 rebounds per 48 minutes in four straight seasons, including 2013-14.
In games in which he’s played at least 20 minutes in 2013-14, Humphries is averaging 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in 22.5 minutes.
Wallace isn’t playing a high number of minutes, and his numbers won’t blow anyone away, but he’s your quintessential energy player. He still plays a quality brand of defense, and his level of energy and physicality would be a welcome addition to a team that’s strong along the defensive perimeter, if nowhere else.
The harsh reality is that the Knicks are unlikely to find a star on the open market. With an undeniable need to shake things up, however, something must be done.
New York must execute a trade to turn thing around and salvage a dreadful season.