After the seismic news yesterday that Carmelo Anthony has approved potential trades to teams other than the Houston Rockets, a whole new can of worms has been opened as far as players that the Knicks could receive for their beleaguered star.
Whereas just a day ago the Knicks’ options were Ryan Anderson and Ryan Anderson and Ryan Sanderson... wait, no nevermind, the third one is just Ryan Anderson again. Anyway, with the Cleveland Cavs and the Oklahoma City Thunder now apparently on Melo’s list, there’s all kinds of options for some decent players and/or picks to come back to the Knicks!
I’d like to break down five potential players (not picks, although obviously the Nets pick looms as the nigh-unattainable white whale in this scenario) that the Knicks should be targeting, but first, let’s get two things out of the way real quick:
— The Knicks will need to bring back a bunch of salary to make this trade work — even if Melo waives the entirety of his trade kicker, the team the Knicks trade with will have to give up something in the neighborhood of $25 million in outgoing salary.
Some big-ish contracts on the Thunder that could realistically be used for salary purposes include Enes Kanter ($17.9 million) and Kyle Singler (inexplicably, $4.7 million). The Cavs might wind up sending some combo of OAKAAK All-Stars Iman Shumpert ($10.3 million) and Channing Frye ($7.4 million) to get a deal done. Either way, I’m not gonna highlight these guys because they’re just filler. I want to talk about players Knicks fans might actually want.
— Any players that were traded during this offseason can’t be traded in tandem with another player for two months after the deal. That rules out Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Isaiah Thomas on the Cavs (the Kyrie Irving haul) and Paul George on the Cavs (as if).
Similarly, any players signed during this offseason aren’t eligible to traded until December 15. That rules out Andre Roberson, Ray Felton, Patrick Patterson and Nick Collison on the Thunder, and Kyle Korver, Jeff Green, Jose Calderon (bummer!) and Derrick Rose (DOUBLE BUMMER!) on the Cavs.
Anyway, let’s get to the rosterbating already (in no particular order):
Target 1: Alex Abrines, OKC
The 23-year-old Abrines could be an ideal target in two regards — for one, he could immediately slot in to replace Melo as a small-ish small forward. And secondly, he actually makes $5.7 million despite being just a second-year player, meaning he could help balance salary better than some of the players on this list.
He averaged a modest six points per game a year ago in about 15 minutes per game for the Thunder. But he shot 38 percent from 3-point range in his rookie season, including a couple gems like this:
As you can see, he has a quick release and good form on his shot, meaning that his percentage from 3 should hopefully continue to improve during the years to come. On top of his scoring ability, he’s a Spaniard like Willy Hernangomez, so he’d already have a friend on the team! And at 23 years young, he fits the “timeline” of Kristaps Porzingis and the young Knicks core.
Target 2: Cedi Osman, Cleveland
Another Euro youngster, Osman is getting ready to begin his rookie season with the Cavs — but if we’re lucky, this season and beyond could be in orange and blue. Fresh off of an impressive EuroBasket campaign, Osman seems like he could be the real deal:
Osman probably doesn’t figure to be your primary ball handler or anything, but at 6’8” he could play small forward and bring the ball up the floor from time to time. That could be very helpful with rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina at the helm. On top of that, Osman has a pretty good 3-point shot, which is more or less a necessity in today’s league. In addition, he’s only 22, so he’d fit right in on a young team trying to find its way.
Target 3: Terrance Ferguson, OKC
From two sweet-shooting Euro players to an extremely raw rookie, Ferguson is basically a large, athletic lump of modeling clay right now. An explosive athlete and a promising defender, Ferguson skipped college and instead played for the Adelaide 36ers in Australia:
Ferguson is only 19 years old, so much like Ntilikina, he will probably require some patience to develop. But if he does, boy oh boy, we’d be in for a treat if it was in a Knicks uniform.
Target 4: JR Smith, Cleveland
Hey, stop rolling your eyes! Stop it! Don’t you remember how fun this dude was for most of his time in a Knicks uniform?
Look, JR’s neither young nor on a cheap contract. But damn it, I just can’t help but want him here. The Pipe God/Supercool Beas pairing calls to me like a siren song. I know there’s a chance that this probably won’t end well, but I can’t help but wander towards it.
Luckily for you buzzkills, Melo would probably insist on playing with one of his old buddies and nix a Cleveland trade if JR wasn’t staying with the Cavs. But should JR come in a Melo deal, I’d welcome him with open arms. He’s a changed man* these days.
*Read that profile if you haven’t already, it’s really good.
Target 5: Jerami Grant, OKC
I went back and forth between Grant and Doug McDermott for this last spot, but Grant being three years younger pushed the scale in his favor. Already a three-year pro at 22 years old, Grant survived “The Process” in Philadelphia and was traded to the Thunder early last season. Once there, he slotted in mostly as a defensive specialist off the bench, but had his moments on offense as well:
A lanky 6’8”, Grant played some time at the small forward and some at the power forward for the Thunder a year ago. On top of being a dunk machine, Grant managed to shoot 38 percent from deep (albeit on 1.5 attempts per game), building a solid foundation for him to someday become a stereotypical 3-and-D player. The only downside to Grant versus the other young guys on this list is that Grant is only signed for one more season at about $1.5 million — meaning, if he shows out in 2017-18, the Knicks would be responsible for his second contract.
Which player would you most like to see come from the new Melo contenders? Let us know in the poll below, and sound off in the comments!
Who would you most like to receive in a Melo trade?
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