Our 5-on-5 crew debates and predicts their next moves.
1. What do you foresee and advise for the Knicks this offseason?
Chris Herring,?FiveThirtyEight/ESPN.com:?I foresee the Knicks going out and trying to find ideal fits for their chosen style of play. But I would advise against that.
Just go find a young point guard who can really defend. Put Noah in bubble wrap and let him mentor younger guys. Let head coach Jeff Hornacek utilize whatever offense he'd like. Take Porzingis to dinner and a movie, and tell him you're sorry, and that you'll try to start acting like a normal franchise for the rest of his tenure in New York.
Amin Elhassan, ESPN Insider:?Absent the type of wholesale, top-to-bottom change required to fix the franchise, realistically the Knicks have to take a more cooperative approach to trying to unload Anthony rather than the current passive-aggressive tactic they've exercised.
Point guard continues to be an area of concern, and I'm not sure Rose is a satisfactory answer, absent a flexible and reasonable salary. If the need at PG can't be addressed via the draft, the remaining market for guards looks extremely thin, with many of the bigger names expected to stay with their incumbent teams.
The Knicks would be better off hoarding their cap space and doing a better job of searching for bargain players, much in the same way teams such as the Sixers and Heat have.
Ian Begley, ESPN.com:?My advice? Draft a point guard (the Knicks like De'Aaron Fox and Frank Ntilikina, among other PGs) and sign a veteran lead guard in free agency willing to mentor the rookie. The second part may prove difficult. The Knicks project to have about $19 million in cap space. So landing even a second-tier point guard without eating up most of the available cap space seems unlikely. (Rose remains an option.)
Of course, if the Knicks trade Anthony before the draft, they'll likely have to use either cap space or a pick to replace the 10-time All-Star.
Jeremias Engelmann, ESPN Insider:?The most important thing is to not re-sign Rose, whose impact has been in the red for several years now. I'd try to trade Anthony for young players or picks, although at this point one can't expect to get much for Anthony -- maybe a mid-first-rounder or so. Given that the 2018 draft appears to be extremely top-heavy, going into full-blown rebuild mode should certainly be considered.
Kevin Pelton, ESPN Insider:?At this point an Anthony trade appears the inevitable conclusion to his battle in the media with Jackson. I'm just not sure which team would be both (A) approved as a destination by Anthony with his no-trade clause and (B) willing to offer the Knicks real value in return.
Since I'd assumed Rose would move on, I was surprised by Jackson's comments suggesting Rose wanted to return. Perhaps Rose is a Plan B if New York doesn't jump into position to draft either Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz and can't sign one of the top free-agent point guards who might change teams ( George Hill, Jrue Holiday and Jeff Teague). Depending how much cap space an Anthony trade creates, that might be about the extent of the Knicks' offseason.
2. What's your take on James Dolan's decision to bring Phil Jackson back for two more years?
Elhassan:?Ludicrous. Again, I remind everyone that Jackson got this job after Dolan kept raising the salary until Phil couldn't say no to a job he'd never done before. That's not a recipe for success in general. Deciding to keep him around after three years of ineptitude is the definition of digging a hole deeper in an effort to get out of it.
They've done some good things in New York, mainly drafting Porzingis, but the big moves (signing Noah, trading for Rose) have been disasters, by and large. Worse, Jackson shows no signs of improvement on the job, as his mishandling of the Anthony situation continues.
Pelton:?It was a mistake. While Jackson's tenure has had some successes in the draft, his insistence on trying to fit ill-suited personnel into the triangle offense, his tendency to rip his own players in the media (sometimes indirectly) and questionable signings in free agency have more than offset the positives.
Begley:?It was a formality. Dolan and Jackson had a mutual option on the final two years of Jackson's contract. Jackson isn't ready to leave, so the options were picked up. So this transaction isn't an indication that Jackson has an infallible relationship with Dolan. For what it's worth: Some around Dolan pushed for him to make a management change earlier this season.
Herring:?Stupid. I get that he said he wouldn't meddle with Phil. But what was the point of having the out clause if the Knicks could perform this poorly -- with no clear turnaround or optimism in sight -- and the president still keep his job, with no questions asked? Holding someone accountable and saying, "Thank you for your service here," isn't meddling. It's business.
Engelmann:?Terrible. Jackson lacks almost everything that you want from the head of your front office. He's a terrible judge of player skill, forces the coaches into some ancient offensive scheme that worked only with two of the best shooting guards of all time, and alienates his players through derogatory comments in the media.
3.?Do you expect Carmelo Anthony to be traded this offseason?
Pelton:?Yeah, it feels like we've passed the point where the relationship between Anthony and the organization can be repaired. That may not necessarily result in a trade if he doesn't find the possible destinations to his liking, but it seems like that bar is set lower than it was at this year's trade deadline.
Engelmann:?I think so. Jackson doesn't want him to be there and, after a series of negative comments by Jackson, Anthony probably doesn't want to be there and is likely to waive his no-trade clause. That said, it'll be tough for Jackson to find a deal he's happy with -- a soon-to-be 33-year-old Anthony won't net you much in today's trade market.
Herring:?That's up to him. He obviously doesn't have to go anywhere, since he has the no-trade clause. But this feels beyond repair, even for an organization that has grown used to awkward makeups and resolutions. His chances of winning improve 50-fold if he leaves, even if it means swallowing his pride.
Begley:?Yes. Some around the team believe there's only one path to Anthony remaining on the team next season: If Jackson is fired. That isn't out of the realm of possibility, of course, but seems unlikely. Also possible but unlikely? Melo digs his heels in and says he isn't going anywhere. As difficult as it would be for him to leave New York, Anthony has to know that he needs to go elsewhere to pursue a title.
Elhassan:?Perhaps. While I don't believe that Anthony is in any rush to do the Knicks (and specifically Jackson) any favors, there comes a time when the constant disrespect coupled with the losing and lack of direction make spite an unworthy emotion. If the right situation comes up (hello, Miami!), I have to believe Melo would sign off.
From the Knicks' perspective, the onus has to be on not taking back toxic contracts at this point. They devalued their trade assets all year long. They can't expect to get back any real return in the form of players or picks.
4. If you were running the Knicks, which would you choose regarding Joakim Noah?
A. Keep him and pay him $55 million over the next three years.
B. Release him via the stretch provision and pay him $55 million over the next seven years.
Begley:?Your options are limited. You can waive Noah via the stretch provision, but that leaves nearly $8 million in wasted cap space on your books for seven seasons. Their best option is to have Noah finish out his contract and hope that he stays healthy and serves as a strong mentor to Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez.
Elhassan:?I'd be inclined to keep him, since stretching the deal without any real plan for the resulting cap flexibility seems foolhardy.
Pelton:?A. I can't think of any precedent for stretching a player making as much as Noah so quickly. Even Josh Smith was midway into the second season of his contract when the Detroit Pistons stretched it. To put dead money on their cap for so long, the Knicks would have to be convinced they could make excellent use of the resulting space this summer. I don't think that's the case.
Herring:?Keep him. The team isn't contending anytime soon, and if things do improve over the next year or two, there's no use in having additional cap limitations down the road because you felt the urge to rid yourself of his deal when the Knicks were going to be horrible anyway.
Engelmann:?A. Noah got a lot of flak this season, but most of the advanced stats say his impact was actually close to average. Irrespective of what his impact was, I think keeping him for another three seasons is the cleaner solution. Not to burden the franchise through 2024 should be the highest priority.
5. How many playoff appearances will the Knicks make in the next three seasons?
Herring:?If they're fortunate, one. Getting there a few years from now seems realistic as Porzingis gets older. But the organization -- or really just Phil -- needs to take a long, hard look at its offensive and defensive philosophies between now and then to actually make that happen.
Elhassan:?One, maybe, and that would be in the third season, after Jackson is gone and perhaps his successor can throw something together that brings the Knicks to quasi-competitive levels.
Begley:?At least one. If Jackson remains at the helm and Porzingis remains with the team, the Knicks should be able to crack the top eight in the Eastern Conference. New York has its first-round pick this season and in all subsequent drafts, which are key building blocks for what Jackson hopes will be a young, competitive team centered around Porzingis.
Engelmann:?I'd put the over/under at 0.5. I don't see a lot of good players tripping over themselves to sign with the Knicks, and Jackson has shown little ability to identify impactful role players. The only plus side is that they're playing in the Eastern Conference.
Pelton:?I think the line is at 0.5, and I'm not sure whether I'd take the over or the under. As excited as we are about Porzingis' potential, it's by no means clear he'll be good enough to lead a team to the postseason without a strong supporting cast that doesn't seem likely to materialize at MSG anytime soon.