-- Should -- and will -- the New York Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose? Is Kristaps Porzingis untouchable?
Our NBA Insiders debate what moves New York should make before the trade deadline.
1.? Where are the Knicks on the buyer-seller scale?
Ian Begley, ESPN.com:?Rationally, this club should be selling assets at the trade deadline and looking ahead to the 2017 draft. But unless Carmelo Anthony decides to waive his no-trade clause, I don't think the Knicks will behave rationally here.
Several people in the organization believe that the Knicks have the talent to compete in the East and are a few defensive tweaks away from figuring it out. So it seems that it will take a few more losses before the Knicks go into full sell mode.
And then there's the Phil Jackson factor. He built a roster that he thought could win immediately. Will Jackson's ego allow him to admit he's made (another) mistake and that it's time tear it down?
Jeremias Engelmann, ESPN Insider:?Probably somewhere in the middle. They aren't looking to trade many of their players -- except for, probably, Derrick Rose -- but they don't have a lot of cap room or picks to work with, either. I think they'll stand pat at the trade deadline.
Bradford Doolittle, ESPN Insider:?As long as Carmelo Anthony is under contract and remains adamant about invoking his no-trade clause, you might as well buy. Getting a backcourt upgrade could go a long way in aiding a push for a low playoff seed in the East. As always with the Knicks, pointing out what they should do is kind of pointless. They'll drift where they drift.
Kevin Pelton, ESPN Insider:?More buyers than sellers. At some point, it may become obvious that the Knicks aren't going to make the playoffs this season barring a miracle, but we're not there yet with them just a game and a half out of eighth. So while I think the chances of a major shakeup are low, I would expect New York to be thinking about players who help now.
2.?Will and should the Knicks push for a Carmelo Anthony trade?
A. They will and should
B. They will but shouldn't
C. They won't but should
D. They won't and shouldn't
Begley:?C. They should, but it doesn't really matter how hard they push for it. Until and unless Carmelo waives his no-trade clause, any discussion about moving him is moot. If Phil Jackson hadn't handed Anthony a no-trade clause, I believe that he would have traded him at some point last season.
At this point, it would make sense for all parties involved if Anthony waived the clause and asked for a trade to a contender (to the Clippers with his buddy Chris Paul? Cavs with his pal LeBron?). But there are several factors, including his family's comfort in New York, that may prevent this from happening.
Engelmann:?C. I think the chances they'd pursue such a trade are slim to none, because Anthony is too big a name. Should they? According to advanced metrics like Real Plus-Minus, which currently ranks him as the 15th best small forward, Anthony's impact has always been somewhat overrated. Thanks to his market value being high, though, the Knicks would almost certain get several good players and/or picks in return.
Doolittle:?C. Without question they should push to trade Anthony. But if they can't get a clear assurance he won't block a deal, then shopping him could make a bad situation even worse.
I suspect Phil Jackson won't aggressively shop him, and I don't see Anthony waiving his no-trade clause, in part because I just don't know how badly Anthony really wants to win a title at this point. I'm sure he does, but it has to come in New York, and it has to happen because of him, which limits the possibilities.
Pelton:?Somewhere between C and D. I don't think it makes sense for the Knicks to try to trade Anthony unless he's on board, and I don't know that he'll be talked into it. So my strategy would be to focus on adding younger players who can grow with Kristaps Porzingis. If that leads Anthony to change his mind on a trade, so be it.
3. What would it take for the Knicks to trade Kristaps Porzingis?
Pelton:?Given that the Knicks would lose the potential leverage of a designated player extension for Porzingis if he grows to All-NBA level in his prime, I'd only trade Porzingis for a player as good now as we can reasonably expect Porzingis to be in four or five years. They'd have to be one of the top 15 players in the league, at minimum.
Engelmann:?Porzingis is very good, just 21 years old, on a great contract and with an almost limitless ceiling. These types of players usually don't get traded unless they request it, which I don't see happening. I'm sure the Knicks just slam down the phone on any trade requests involving Porzingis unless the other side is offering a top-10 player.
Begley:?Hahahahaha. This one isn't happening. There are maybe four players that could even spark a conversation among Knicks execs about moving Porzingis (Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook). But those players aren't being moved.
Furthermore, the Knicks know that Porzingis is the key to their future; he's the player they need to build around to put themselves in position to contend in a post-LeBron-Warriors NBA. Not only are they enamored with his unique skill set, but they also love his work ethic. He's not going anywhere.
Doolittle:?Some kind of viral-induced insanity? Only being partially sarcastic here. Right now, drafting Porzingis is the one standout move Jackson has made. I don't see Jackson moving on from him. And I can't see Knicks owner James Dolan signing off on that trade, either. To get the Knicks interested, it would have to be something like the Warriors parting with Kevin Durant or the Thunder sending Russell Westbrook.
4. What should the Knicks do about Derrick Rose?
Pelton:?Unless another team wants to overpay to get Rose as a rental, the Knicks would be best off playing this season out and seeing whether they land a promising point guard in the draft before deciding how aggressively they want to pursue a veteran point guard in free agency to replace Rose.
Engelmann:?With his contract expiring, the biggest mistake would be to extend him, especially at a high price. There are reports he's seeking a max contract, but according to his Real Plus-Minus rating of -2.6 he should be making the minimum. Trading him would be ideal, but I'm not sure what they'd get in return.
Begley:?This may sound crazy given what's happened this week, but I think they should get comfortable with the idea of re-signing him. I don't think the Knicks will offer Rose an extension, so both parties will hit free agency looking at all of their options.
My guess is that the Knicks won't be able to secure a commitment from another top point guard on the market, so they'll end up paying Rose enough to bring him back. Defensive and accountability issues aside, Rose has given New York something it hasn't had in years: a point guard that can get to the basket at will.
Doolittle:?Buy him out. He's not worth the headache and not going to fetch much of value in the marketplace, though you have to at least try the trade route to see if you can snag a draft pick.
Here's the thing: Rose just is no longer that good. The core problem will always be that his injuries cost him not only some of his athleticism but also the chance to develop the soft skills he needed to compensate for a physical decline. That's all underscored by his apparent need to think of himself as a superstar player, when he simply is not. He's 28 -- it's not going to get better from here.
5. What's a trade the Knicks should consider?
Pelton:?I would look to see if I could get a second-round pick and an expiring contract for Brandon Jennings from a team in need of point guard depth and turn over the backup spot to rookie Ron Baker. The Atlanta Hawks (for Kris Humphries) seem to make the most sense if they decide they are playing to win now.
Doolittle:?I'd target a good-shooting combo guard for the backcourt who can step into Rose's position. The ideal would be someone like Lou Williams. You'd play Porzingis in the middle and Melo at 4 and hope that you can get adequate defense on the wings.
Engelmann:?Joakim Noah is actually playing decent basketball -- except when it comes to scoring -- so I'd probably look to trade Courtney Lee and especially Anthony. I'm assuming the Knicks want immediate help, so I'd try to trade him for two top-100 players, preferably a point guard and small forward - players such as Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum, if the Hornets were willing to make a deal.
Begley:?In the short term, New York needs a wing defender who can guard multiple positions. Some in the organization see Phoenix's P.J. Tucker as a potential trade target. Would Tucker aid what ails the Knicks on defense and put them back in position to contend? Maybe. He also may give Anthony the chance to spend more time at power forward, which is a bonus for the Knicks on both ends of the floor.
Something worth noting when you think about the Knicks and the trade market: Jackson told teams last year that he was fundamentally opposed to dealing a first-round pick. The guess here is that he takes the same stance this time around.
Bonus: Do you see Phil Jackson remaining as president of the Knicks after this season?
Pelton:?If Jackson picks up his option on the final two years of his contract, I don't see the Knicks declining their option -- even if they perhaps should.
Doolittle:?I think he'll go for another year, at least. It's hard to see him (or Dolan) admitting failure until he absolutely has to. Besides, it's not like he's going to get tired of answering questions from the media when he barely takes any.
Engelmann:?Phil Jackson hasn't made good decisions when it comes to trades, signings and what to say to the media regarding players, but he's too big a name for the Knicks to fire after this short a stint, so I'm assuming he stays.
Begley:?Yes, though it might hinge on the Knicks' ability to make the playoffs. A fourth straight season without a playoff appearance wouldn't sit well with owner James Dolan.
My educated guess is that part of the reason Dolan would be upset is because he has a policy to not raise ticket prices after seasons in which his teams miss the playoffs. So this would be four straight years of Knicks ticket prices remaining static, which would upset any owner.
If the Knicks miss the playoffs, I think Dolan tells Jackson to head back to Montana. But I think the Knicks do enough to get into one of the lower seeds in the Eastern Conference, allowing Jackson to remain in place.