Following their first playoff berth in over eight years, the New York Knicks are hoping to ride the momentum of a winning season into the summer and free agency.
And with $53-million in cap space, they’re primed to make a splash this offseason.
The only question is which direction they’ll go, with the free agency market not necessarily brimming with star talent, and several apparent holes in the roster.
New York is hoping to repeat a playoff run in 2021-2022, but in order to do that, will have to improve the offense.
The Knicks finished the 2019-2020 season ranked 26th in points (107) per game, and in the postseason they finished dead last (97.5 PPG) among all 16 playoff teams.
It’s hard to think they won’t look to address those concerns in free agency, but the question remains as to who the New York Knicks may target to help them improve on that end of the ball.
The most recent name tied to the Big Apple is a familiar one, and coincidentally, an offensive specialist.
Schultz: Knicks ‘Targeting’ Carmelo Anthony
With free agency just over 24 hours from kicking off, reports of player/team interests are flying left and right.
The latest involving the New York Knicks is linking them to a player whose jersey number may one day hang in the rafters at Madison Square Garden.
ESPN’s Jordan Schultz tweeted out on Sunday afternoon that there’s team interest in Carmelo Anthony:
Anthony, who spent six and a half seasons as the face of the Knicks franchise, is coming off of a two-year stint with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he served as both starter and sixth man.
At 36 years old, he averaged 13.4 points per game last season and knocked down a career-high 40% of his threes.
There’s little doubt that Anthony, the 10th all-time scorer in NBA history, can still hold his own on the court.
But is there a role for him on this version of the New York Knicks? Is now the time for his inevitable homecoming?
What’s Carmelo Anthony’s Role in New York?
Going into his 19th career season, Carmelo Anthony is still firmly a double-digit scorer in the NBA.
He could likely score even more if put into a role similar to that of Michael Jordan’s last days with the Washington Wizards, but that’s proven as counterproductive for a team actively trying to win.
And that’s where the New York Knicks find themselves, walking into the 2021-2022 season with playoffs on the mind.
Can Anthony help them get there?
The future Hall of Famer spent last season coming off of the bench, for the first time in his career.
And the results were rather positive, as far as his individual performance goes.
But the Portland Trail Blazers placed him in the frontcourt next to (also former Knick) Enes Kanter.
Those two, never having been known for their defensive prowess, served as a floodgate to opposing big men scoring.
But it isn’t unrealistic to think that in New York, under the same head coach that established a top-five defense in his first season with the team, Anthony could be hidden on that end of the ball.
Especially if the Knicks can bring back Nerlens Noel, who started 41 games last year in place of Mitchell Robinson.
He was the only player in the NBA last season to average at least two blocks and one steal per game.
Reggie Bullock is another name New York is hoping to bring back, and after starting all of last season, would likely be relegated to a bench role should he return next season.
He’s another solid defender, and reason to be optimistic about Anthony’s fit on this second unit.
What Would This Mean for Obi Toppin?
For the New York Knicks to bring in Carmelo Anthony, or any power forward capable of scoring at will, would only hamper the already uncertain future of lottery pick Obi Toppin.
After being selected eighth overall in last year’s draft, the 23-year old averaged just 11 minutes per game.
And despite the flashes he showed towards the end of the season, it seems his future is likely elsewhere.
His name has been featured in trade rumors aplenty, particularly for point guard Collin Sexton, and Marc Berman of the New York Post reported last month that Toppin wouldn’t mind a trade away from the Knicks.
Take the Carmelo Anthony rumors for what they’re worth. A reunion with the New York Knicks always seemed inevitable.
But if it does happen, don’t look for Obi Toppin to have a prominent role on this team next season.