It's tough to really gauge what option is best for the Knicks, both now and in future seasons, but the one thing we're all certain of is there are gonna be some changes, some we agree with and some that have us shaking our heads.
So I've given thought to three separate trades that could each give us different outlooks on this season and after. So let's get started!
#1. "DOLAN HATES SHUMP" Package
First off, this trade is a win by just getting Chris Smith off the team, and second, this finally brings a competent point guard to the Knicks, despite costing New York's only valuable young asset in Shump. We'll all be sad to see him go but a starting PG that isn't Raymond Felton is more than worth it. The Knicks pick up some insurance at center in Kravtsov, but he won't see many minutes and may very well be cut after this trade anyway.
For the Suns, they'd be adding talent and depth to the SG/SF positions that don't really have much, with Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker getting most of the playing time, with the back-ups being two rookies, one undrafted. The Suns also seem to have their future at the point in Eric Bledsoe, who looks to be an absolute steal for just Jared Dudley, so their need for Dragic is lessened. They also get Raymond Felton who, while not a starting caliber player, could be a great addition to the Suns bench and could possibly be started in a two-PG backcourt with Bledsoe if the Suns prefer.
This trade strengthens a position of weakness for both teams, and with Chandler close to returning for the Knicks, it gives them an improved team for the rest of the year while not really changing the plans for the future (2015 free agents Rondo and/or Love)
#2. "2014 Free Agency With One Eye On The Future" package
Things get a little more complicated in this scenario.
This trade is for those that don't believe in the Knicks with Melo as their top guy, and want to build for the future in free agency again, but this time have more assets and a wiser strategy to fall back on then just signing the next best guy available. The Knicks get considerably worse this season, and may miss the playoffs, but this is all about free agency... but not just the coming one. The team will still have talent and the ability to make a run of sorts, maybe to get in the playoffs with a slim chance of knocking off their first round opponent. Even though the season is basically thrown away, it would still be very interesting watching Kobe and Pau play for the Knicks for the last half of the season. It also gives the Knicks a potential lottery pick in this year's loaded draft class, and could leave the Knicks with a possible impact player. And who knows, maybe Kobe continues to play like a top ten player and is more than just a half-season declining superstar fling (ex. Tracy McGrady)
For the Lakers, they improve drastically, and depending on where they are in the standings when this trade goes through, have a chance to make the playoffs as well. The true reason for this trade though is to sell Carmelo on playing in LA, and they may have their work cut out for them with Melo's not-so-beloved former coach Mike D'Antoni on the sidelines for the Lakers. It also reunites Amar'e Stoudemire with the coach that he was most successful under, and Tyson Chandler with the man who coached him through about three quarters of his DPOY-winning season, so the Lakers would be hoping that D'Antoni could try to get the most out of these guys again.
Looking forward, this trade leaves the Knicks with about 28 million dollars to play with this off-season, and that is with Metta World Peace picking up his option for close to 1.7 million. The Knicks could use that money on a superstar in this free agency, but the only player more appealing than Carmelo would be LeBron James, and that seems highly unlikely at this point, unless something goes horribly wrong in South Beach this season. That's more than okay in this scenario though, because the Knicks have the next year's free agency class to fall back on, have even more cap space and could sign two of Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol and Roy Hibbert, with other options that are solid and some young talent to make sure they don't fall into the abyss again if they don't sign any major FAs.
#3. "Who Needs Free Agency When You Got TRAIDZ" package
Knicks trade Amar'e Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton and a future first-round pick (as if we have any of those left) to the Boston Celtics for Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace and Marshon Brooks in early January
For those thinking, "Why would the Celtics ever trade Rondo for a package that nets them Amar'e Stoudemire?!", the reason they'd do that is because they rid themselves of a player with a contract arguably just as bad as Stoudemire's in Gerald Wallace, at least in terms of whats left on the deals. Stoudemire has 2 years, about 48 million left, but his huge expiring contract could become a big trade chip come this off-season, while Gerald Wallace has three years left, with about 30 million remaining, and that third year makes a huge difference. Both players have been playing well below average and neither have very much trade value so it's a relatively even swap, and Marshon Brooks hasn't really shown the ability to do anything in the NBA besides score a little, so his value is virtually nothing also. So it essentially comes down to Rondo for Shump, Felton and a first rounder. Could the Celtics get more value than this? Probably, but then again the Celtics trading their best player to the Knicks doesn't really seem that likely in the first place anyway. It isn't awful value for Rondo, and considering he probably won't even be playing when the Knicks trade for him, his value may be slightly diminished, so it's not completely fantasy that the Celtics accept this offer. If this trade were to happen, the Knicks would be focusing on the second half of the season, and more importantly, they'd be focusing on loading up this off-season for a championship run next year.
Okay maybe the last two trades aren't likely to actually happen, and the Knicks probably aren't smart enough to actually call up the Suns about Dragic, but how many trade scenarios actually come to fruition? It's a fun way to manage your Knickerbocker-caused insanity, and it's interesting to think about what I'd be like if the Knicks did actually try to make some sensible moves that don't completely handicap us for the future. Would definitely love to hear everyone's opinion and own trade scenarios!