The New York Knicks are starting to finalize their roster but at it stands right now they have a need for a backup small forward and seven guards. As a result, the Knicks and Phil Jackson are actively looking to trade one of their guards. Who will it be?
The New York Knicks current roster consists of three centers (Samuel Dalembert, Cole Aldrich, Jason Smith), three power forwards who can play center (Amare Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Jeremy Tyler), three forwards (Carmelo Anthony, Cleanthony Early, Thanasis Antetokounmpo) and seven guards (Jose Calderon, J.R. Smith, Wayne Ellington, Pablo Prigioni, Shane Larkin, Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert).
Incase you didn't notice, that's 16 players. That means one has to go automatically. Although his skills seem ready to translate to the NBA it seems like Antetokounmpo is destined for a season overseas.
The obvious burden on the roster is the surplus of guards. There are three point guards and four shooting guards. That's not taking into account the fact that the team has expressed a desire to bring Toure Murry back.
What that all adds up to is, someone needs to go. That's led to the Knicks looking to trade one of their guards.
Ian Begley of ESPN New York reports the Knicks are looking to make a move in the backcourt.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has been deemed virtually untouchable, per a source.
The first thing to note is that Tim Hardaway Jr. isn't for sale. The organization, like the fans, recognize that Hardaway Jr. is one of the strongest offensive players on the roster and should have a bright future in New York. He's not going anywhere.
Some may wonder why J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin are the only ones named. Jose Calderon is the starting point guard. The Knicks aren't looking to move him. Wayne Ellington and Pablo Prigioni aren't players the Knicks would be upset about parting with but they don't have trade value.
Smith is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. It was a season riddled with knee troubles and on and off court antics. In fact, Ian Begley of ESPN New York reported that Smith wouldn't have been surprised if he was traded last season.
Smith appeared on ESPN2’s "First Take" on Wednesday, talked about the Knicks’ glut at shooting guard and said he "wouldn’t blame" team president Phil Jackson and the Knicks if the team had decided to trade him last season.
"No. Absolutely not. The way I was playing, I was playing like a person who didn’t want to be there," Smith said. "Not looking as focused as a person should be in that situation that we were, in the trenches. I wouldn’t blame them at all."
Smith is scheduled to make $5,982,375 next season. However, his $6,399,750 salary for the 2015-16 season is a Player Option. That means that he could very well opt-out of his contract after the season and leave the Knicks with no compensation. That makes him someone worthy of shopping.
Smith is actually on a fairly team-friendly contract. He also has the skills to score in bunches. After all, he is a former Sixth Man of the Year. He clearly has value and could thrive in the triangle offense. However, his immaturity can make him nearly unbearable. When you combine that with his ability to opt-out next off-season he becomes a worthy trade option.
Iman Shumpert simply hasn't lived up to expectations. There's probably no one who has worked harder this off-season to learn the triangle offense. For that he should be commended. However, he's probably taken a step back defensively and hasn't developed his offensive skills since entering the league.
The Knicks are looking to become more defensive-minded moving forward so keeping Shumpert around when he has a Qualifying Offer for the 2015-16 season for $3,898,691 isn't the worst idea. However, his lack of development and the fact that he's seemingly bought into his own hype makes him expendable.
Shane Larkin was basically a throw-in in the trade that sent Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks. However, he's thrived during the Summer League competition learning the triangle offense. He's a good passer, plays some very nice defense and has speed for days.
When Larkin was traded here many thought he might simply get released. He had very little value. He was undersized and since he was thrown in to the trade many assumed he couldn't play on the NBA level and would find himself looking for a job. Instead, he has many Knicks fans excited.
However, the fans aren't the only ones to have noticed. Because of his play in the Summer League he's built his value up. That's why the Knicks are looking to trade him.
Otherwise he'd be in the same category as Ellington and Prigioni. Instead he has value and could potentially bring something back to New York via a trade. If not, New York will enjoy developing his skills while paying him if and when they want after this season because of his rookie contract.
Financially, the Knicks should look to trade Smith. Both Shumpert and Larkin are relatively cheap and Smith has the ability to walk away after 2014-15 season.
However, Smith is arguable the second-best player on the roster. If the Knicks intend on having Smith around past this contract trading him now doesn't make much sense.
Shumpert is getting to the most expensive part of his contract and isn't increasing his production. That being said, he has the reputation around the league as a better defender than his reality. It may be time to trade him before it's too late and the rest of the league wakes up to Shumpert's reality.
With Larkin, the Knicks have options. Either he represents a young point guard they can develop on a cheap contract or they can sell him while his stock is high and bring something back for him.
Who would you trade? Who would you keep? Is anyone else besides Hardaway Jr. considered untouchable for you?
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Tags: Basketball, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, NBA, New York, New York Knicks, Shane Larkin, Tim Hardaway Jr.