Phil Jackson has made one thing abundantly clear throughout this monstrosity of a season: Next year will be different. And in order for there to be change, the 2015-16 New York Knicks will have a very different roster. There will be trades, cuts, draft picks and free agency signings. Whether it all works out is a much bigger concern, but out of the current members of the Knicks, who suits up next season?
Carmelo Anthony will obviously be a Knick. He inked a five-year mega-deal that makes trading him an incredibly difficult thing to do. Anthony is likely involved in the Knicks’ rebuilding plans, so he’s probably the only player who’s a 100 percent lock for returning. When Jackson signed him he claimed teams need stars to win. Anthony is definitely a scoring star, but he obviously can’t do it alone.
A fan favorite this season was former D-Leaguer Langston Galloway. After a series of 10-day contracts, Galloway was rewarded with a longer deal. His contract situation has him signed to a partially guaranteed pact for next season, making his return somewhat expected. In reality, Galloway has shown the skills of a bench player in this league, and bench players in the NBA can often get traded at the drop of a hat. Galloway should remain a Knick due to being a bright spot in a pitiful season, but players like him get traded or cut all the time.
After that, no one on the Knicks’ roster is safe. It’s conceivable that they could all be canned. But there are a few players who have particularly interesting situations, one of them being Andrea Bargnani. His contract ends at the conclusion of this season, but when healthy, Bargnani is one of the few Knicks who can provide consistent scoring. His defensive abilities as a seven-footer are horrific, but would the Knicks reward Bargnani for his scoring this season? It would probably be a bad decision, but the Knicks may feel inclined.
Two years ago, Tim Hardaway Jr. was a fan favorite with his electric three-ball and athleticism. This year, Hardaway seemingly dropped off a cliff. His stats, however, beg to differ. Hardaway has put up similar numbers this season whilst practically playing the same amount of minutes, and the Knicks have to determine if he’s a part of their future plans. The Knicks picked up the option on his rookie contract for next year, but it’s plausible that the team will shop him around. While he’s young and cheap, his inconsistent shooting (38.6 percent) and sub-par defense could wind up kicking him out the door.
The list of current Knicks with contracts that expire at the conclusion of this season is quite high. Shane Larkin, Quincy Acy, Cole Aldrich, Travis Wear, Lou Amundson, Alexey Shved and Jason Smith are all about to hit the market. There’s a fat chance that any of them re-join the Knicks for the 2015-16 season, although perhaps some of them are brought back on cheap deals for the end of the bench.
Had the Knicks known this season would be this dreadful, it’s plausible Anthony wouldn’t have even been re-signed. The Knicks are essentially starting from the bottom up, with the one asterisk being Anthony’s current contract. The Knicks need a ball distributor and a big man who can score. They need multiple guys who can play defense. New York didn’t finish with the worst record in the NBA (second-worst), but there’s still a 19.9 percent chance to land the top pick and they can’t pick worse than fifth, so there’s an opportunity to draft a player who can make an immediate impact. Then of course there’s free agency, where the Knicks will have a boatload of cap space.
Knicks’ fans wish they could say this season was fun, but it was anything but fun. With the incoming roster dump, Jackson will have his hands full this summer. Odds are the Knicks will be better (it can’t get much worse), but knowing just how much better will remain to be seen.