The ill-fated Phil Jackson era is over for the Knicks, and it remains unclear exactly what is the direction of the franchise.
They could continue the trend of retooling with veterans, as they did most recently under Jackson, but a better idea could be to enter a full-blown rebuild. That would mean unloading Carmelo Anthony and handing the keys to the franchise over to Kristaps Porzingis.
It may not be the worst idea. A long-term plan could make them a league threat as LeBron James’ Cavaliers and, especially, the champion Warriors, creep toward their prospective decline in the 2020s.
If rebuilding is the plan, these are a few free agents from other teams the Knicks should heavily pursue when the new league year begins Saturday.
Otto Porter Jr.
The Wizards forward has developed into an excellent 3-point shooter and wing defender. Washington is expected to try hard to keep the restricted free agent, who turned 24 earlier in June, but perhaps an expanded role with the Knicks could entice him to bolt.
Porter’s age puts him in the same range as Porzingis, 22 in August, and Willy Hernangomez, 23, and would give the Knicks one of the most talented young frontcourt trios in the league.
Unless head coach Jeff Hornacek thinks 18-year-old rookie Frank Ntilikina is ready to start at point guard this season, the Knicks will need a stop-gap. Spurs veteran reserve Mills, 29 in August, could be just the guy.
Again, a larger role would be the selling point, albeit one that forces Mills to forgo title contention he enjoys with San Antonio. He plays hard on both ends, can shoot from distance and doesn’t commit tons of turnovers. Plus, he knows how to win. What’s not to like?
Without Melo, the Knicks lack a proven source of explosive scoring. The 25-year-old Waiters would give them that in spades.
Improvements as a 3-point shooter are part of the reason the Heat were 27-19 in games he played last season, and he plays defense, too. He may command too much on the open market, but if acquired for the right price he would make a superb addition on a young team.