Carmelo Anthony might want to look around the locker room Wednesday and take note of who his teammates are because many of them probably won't be Knicks for much longer.
Phil Jackson began the housecleaning of the underperforming Knicks on Monday, jettisoning two of the players remaining from last season's 37-win campaign and the big man he acquired in the Tyson Chandler deal. It's part of what Jackson and Derek Fisher continue to call "changing the culture."
The Knicks, an NBA-worst 5-32, are officially rebuilding, shedding salaries and positioning themselves to be major players in free agency this summer. The Knicks have less than $33 million committed in salaries for next season after Monday's three-team trade.
They sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland in the deal that netted them Brooklyn native Lance Thomas from Oklahoma City, the Cavaliers' 2019 second-round pick and two trade exceptions for roughly $6 million and a little more than $2.5 million. The Knicks also waived center Samuel Dalembert, saving themselves $2 million.
The Knicks, who will try to avoid a franchise-record 13- game losing streak when they play Wednesday night in Washington, have two roster spots available, two trade exceptions, eight players in the last year of their contracts and six weeks until the trade deadline. They could remain active.
"I don't think this is the end of this process," Fisher said Monday after the trade became official. "Although right now we're losing some pieces, I'm hopeful that our front office is still being very aggressive to try to add some guys that can help us build this team."
The Knicks also received Lou Amundson and Alex Kirk from Cleveland, and will waive them. They have called up 6-2 point guard Langston Galloway from their D-League team in Westchester, a source said. Galloway will debut Wednesday night against Washington. The Knicks won't sign Galloway until Wednesday in order to start the clock then on his 10-day contract.
The Knicks need some of their injured players, in particular Andrea Bargnani, to get back on the court and prove they can play. Otherwise, it will be difficult to move them.
Shumpert apparently had to be included in the trade to move Smith, which was a major objective for Jackson.
Aside from Smith not being a good fit for the triangle offense, he has a $6.4-million player option for next season that he was expected to pick up.
His departure means the Knicks have four players with guaranteed deals for next season: Anthony, Jose Calderon, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cleanthony Early. Anthony isn't going anywhere, but there are no guarantees the other three will remain with the Knicks.
Calderon, who has two more years and $15.1 million left on his deal, hasn't lived up to expectations. Hardaway Jr. has had his differences with Anthony, and wasn't a part of the regular rotation early in the season.
By the Feb. 19 deadline, the Knicks have to decide whether to trade for some veterans with multiple years on their deals rather than put all of their eggs in the free-agent basket.
The Knicks' performance this season could be a deterrent for free agents. But they're hoping Jackson's championship history, Anthony, possibly a top-three pick and the cash they can offer would help players overlook their record.
The top players expected to hit the market in July are Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, Paul Millsap, Greg Monroe, Goran Dragic and Wesley Matthews.
Gasol and Aldridge are expected to re-sign with Memphis and Portland, respectively.
The big prize in 2016 is Kevin Durant. The Knicks plan to be in play for him, along with the Nets, Lakers, Wizards and just about every other team.
"We're not giving up on what we're trying to do at this point in terms of this season," Fisher said. "I think each move still symbolizes what we need to do in order to try to get better as we build this."