The Knicks (23-34) return to action Thursday night at home against the Cavaliers. However, the squad that takes the court that night could look a bit different.
Depending on what happens before Thursday’s trade deadline regarding stars Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, the course of a team in considerable need of an overhaul could drastically change.
Failing to execute at least one trade by Thursday afternoon would slow the inevitable transformation of a struggling Knicks roster.
For example, Rose is in the final year of his contract, which will open up significant cap space sooner or later. But by hanging on to him, the Knicks could potentially miss out on useful draft picks. Teams reportedly in discussion for Rose — the Pistons and Timberwolves — both own their first-round picks for this year, and the Pistons own their first two picks in 2018.
Melo or Rose goes
While not a complete transformation, trading one of the Knicks’ two highest-paid players would signal a new direction for the roster. Still, the prospects are looking more unlikely for Anthony, as latest reports indicate he intends to remain in New York. Keeping Melo as a leader and top draw could still prove beneficial to young players like Kristaps Porzingis.
But rumors of a Rose trade continue to swirl. Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio, a potential trade piece, would provide a younger, cheaper alternative to Rose, albeit with his own injury history.
Both stars move on
If Phil Jackson pulls off the difficult feat of dealing both Rose and Anthony, it will mark the beginning of a new era for the Knicks.
Blowing up the roster and resuming the abandoned plan to build for the future would put the focus on 21-year-old Porzingis and other young players. From there, the Knicks, who’d be more easily forgiven for struggling, could focus on building a new team from the ground up.
But dealing Anthony would place most of the burden on the 7-3 Latvian, who has not yet proven himself ready to be the Knicks’ leader.