Schmeelk: Knicks’ Offseason Plan Must Not Compromise Future

Moving Melo And Possibly Lee For Useful Pieces A Priority, But Jackson Shouldn't Spend To Fix This Mess

By John Schmeelk
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With the Knicks locked into the eighth pick in the NBA Draft, they have a better idea of what they’re offseason is going to look like.

Any hopes of jumping up in the lottery to get a transformational player like Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball are gone. In the order of importance, here’s what the Knicks need to do to put the team on a solid course moving forward.

Draft the best player available

It’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. The Knicks are in a long-term rebuild and the only thing that matters is for them to get the player with the most talent and best chance to succeed as a pro.

The only exception is to consider how said player would fit with Kristaps Porzingis, which would eliminate Lauri Markkanen. Anyone else, including Jonathan Isaac, should be a consideration. Fit with the triangle should not be part of the evaluation whatsoever. It would be shocking if the Knicks are still running it three seasons from now. Acquiring another draft pick late in the first round for cash or a player should also be a possibility here.

Don’t get a bad return for Carmelo Anthony

Recent reports indicate that the market for Carmelo Anthony has dried up. Others contend Anthony might purposely play hardball with Phil Jackson using his no-trade clause to force James Dolan to choose between the two of them. Whatever the case might be the Knicks cannot compromise their future no matter what they decide to do with Anthony.

That means they can’t take back an older player with a contract that’s just as bad, such as J.J. Redick. They also can’t cave in and just buy Melo out. That would leave $50 million either over the next two seasons, or next five seasons if they use the stretch provision. It would cripple the rebuilding effort moving forward. It can’t happen.

MOREKeidel: By Crushing Melo’s Trade Value, Phil Jackson Further Proves He’s Not The Cure To Knicks’ Decadeslong Ills

Ideally, the Knicks would like to get back either a young player or a pick for Anthony, but they might have to settle for a mere salary dump when all is said and done. Jackson might also decide to play hardball with Anthony and not trade him if they can’t get a good return. The point would be to weaken his will enough so that he would accept a trade to a wider variety of teams or decide to become a free agent next summer. Despite Jackson’s insults, he doesn’t have to trade Anthony if the right deal doesn’t come along. These final scenarios would be most beneficial for the Knicks and it should be their goal.

Courtney Lee

The Knicks’ Courtney Lee reacts against the Brooklyn Nets during their preseason game at Barclays Center on Oct. 20, 2016. (credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Get something for Courtney Lee

Lee is still a valuable commodity and could be very useful to a lot of teams that could use his “3 and D” skill set. The Knicks should be able to get either a younger player, or another draft pick if they can find the right deal. It might hut the Knicks in the short term, but winning significantly in the next two years is a pipe dream anyway. Revisiting a deal for Ricky Rubio might be possible here, too.

Don’t waste their cap space

The Knicks will have close to $20 million in cap space this offseason. They do not have to spend it all. In fact, if the right young player isn’t available to constitute a good investment, they shouldn’t spend any of it in long-term fashion. Throw out a couple of one-year deals to some veterans to fill whatever holes there still are after the draft. They can also spend money on young players that are available that they think they can develop long term.

Mind the future, not the present

If a move presents itself that helps in the Knicks in 2019 at the expense of 2017, they shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. It’s all about the future for the Knicks right now, and the only way they’ll get anywhere is by growing a group of young players together. They need to gather as many future assets as possible to accelerate the process and make it more likely to succeed. WINNING SIGNIFICANTLY IN 2017 IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN NO MATTER WHAT MOVES THEY MAKE THIS OFFSEASON. The sooner the Knicks accept that fact the better off they will be.

Schmeelk’s Snippets

  • I’m officially nervous both conference finals are going to be huge snooze fests. The Celtics got hammered on Wednesday in a game where the Cavs could have been rusty coming off such a long rest. Instead, they looked rejuvenated and blasted Boston in every way possible. The Celtics have to win game two or it is going to be a boring week and a half waiting for the Cavs-Warriors Finals.

For everything Knicks, Giants, and the world of sports, follow John on Twitter at @Schmeelk

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