Written by Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
With Carmelo Anthony’s free agency still looming over the head of the New York Knicks, Phil Jackson has been busy at work attempting to clear more cap space for this summer. The quickest way to do so is moving big contracts, which he has done once with Tyson Chandler being shipped out to the Dallas Mavericks. Even more cap space could be had if he finds a taker for Amar’e Stoudemire and or Andrea Bargnani. But Jackson needs to continue being savvy in negotiations with both, just as he was with the Chandler trade with the Mavericks.
Like Chandler, Stoudemire and Bargnani both come off the books next season, so it is not of the utmost importance for either player to be moved this offseason. Both will be unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2015, giving the Knicks a ton of cap space to woo free agents next summer.
If Jackson does indeed intend of moving one, if not both of the power forwards, he needs to tread lightly. Like mentioned earlier, both are free agents next season so mortgaging future assets just to get them off the books this season would not be a smart decision.
Those future assets that have been mentioned most are shooting guards Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. Moving either player just to get cap space for this summer for the likes of Pau Gasol or someone of that nature would be short-sighted. Shumpert and Hardaway Jr. have two of the brightest outlooks of any player on the Knicks. If you were able to combine the two like something out of Dragon Ball Z, you would have the perfect basketball player. Shumpert’s tenacious defense has yet to be caught up to by his offense, while the explosive Hardaway Jr.’s offense is light years ahead of his defense.
The most recent rumor has the Knicks shipping Stoudemire and Shumpert to the Philadelphia 76ers for an unspecified package. The package would more than likely be some sort of draft pick compensation, as the end game for the Knicks in any deal involving Stoudemire or Bargnani would be to clear cap space. Including one of their young shooting guards would be more of a step backwards than forwards for Jackson and the Knicks.
The only scenario in which Shumpert or Hardaway Jr. should be included in a cap clearing move is if there is a deal in place that the Knicks are bringing in another superstar level player, such as LeBron James, with Anthony this season. Even then it would be a move Jackson and the Knicks hesitate to make, as they are confident right now they can move one of the high-priced forwards without sweetening the pot more than they need to.
The one move they have already made with the Mavericks should be enough to push the Knicks back into the playoffs this season as well. Jose Calderon running the point guard will be an immense upgrade, and Samuel Dalembert should bring the same production Chandler did, just more frequently as durability is better than Chandler’s. If the Knicks younger players can take that next step forward, this would definitely push them back into the postseason.
The Knicks have already learned the hard way what happens when you clear young assets to bring in a superstar level player, as they cleared the cupboard to get Anthony in town in the first place. That is a mistake the Knicks do not intend to make again, as Jackson’s steadying influence should help keep their heads on straight with an eye on the future, not just the present.