Who's New?: F Kristaps Porzingis (draft), G Arron Afflalo (free agent), C Robin Lopez (free agent), G Jerian Grant (draft), F Kevin Seraphin (free agent), F Kyle O'Quinn (trade), F Derrick Williams (free agent), F Thanasis Antetokounmpo (draft rights), G Sasha Vujacic (free agent)
Who's Gone?: C Andrea Bargnani (free agent), G Tim Hardaway Jr. (trade), G Alexey Shved (free agent), C Jason Smith (free agent), C Cole Aldrich (free agent), G Shane Larkin (free agent), F Quincy Acy (free agent), G Ricky Ledo (waived)
Off-season Grade: B+. Holy transactions, Batman! Obviously the Knicks would've loved to have a top-three pick in the draft, but they did the best they could with Porzingis and he might have a higher ceiling than anyone but Karl Anthony-Towns anyway. I was also high on the trade for Grant and feel that Lopez is one of the more underrated bigs in the league. I just see a lot of smart, under-the-radar moves here and some low-risk/high-reward gambles.
2015-16 Slogan: "Make us an offer for Carmelo Anthony."
What Else Is New?: All the ridiculousness. So many contrary reports. Stephen A. Smith (ahem) reported that Anthony felt "betrayed" and "hoodwinked" by the Knicks draft moves and Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported similar things. Anthony, perhaps sensing blowback, quickly praised Porzingis on social media, calling him "a steal."
Oh, and then Phil Jackson compared Porzingis to Shawn Bradley, which uh, isn't a good thing. (On a far smaller scale, R.C. Buford compared his first round pick, Nikola Milutinov to Rasho Nesterovic, which, no, don't do that.) To his credit, Porzingis quickly deduced that the comment from Jackson might have been a psychological ploy and took it as such, saying he was "fired up."
There's been speculation all summer long that 'Melo will be dealt, including this report from the totally credible MovieNewsGuide.com that has him joining his good buddy LeBron James in Cleveland for Kevin Love in a trade that would make zero sense for either team. Anthony told the New York media he's "here to stay" and that they're "competing" for a championship.
Don't ever change, Knicks.
Your Likely Starters:
C Robin Lopez
PF Kristaps Porzingis
SF Carmelo Anthony
SG Arron Afflalo
PG Langston Galloway
Three new starters! Can't imagine that will be too problematic for a maestro like Derek Fisher.
Lopez, 27 is generally regarded as a slightly-above-average starting center, but this will already be his fourth stop in the league. Everyone goes from coveting him to thinking they can do better once he's there. He's thought of mainly as a defensive specialist --though Dwight Howard killed him in the playoffs two seasons ago-- but he led the league in offensive rating in 2013-14, according to basketball-reference.com. He doesn't have much of an offensive game, but he's an ace offensive rebounder and knows his limitations. Melo might get a lot of "Kobe assists" to him this season.
I'm not sure Porzingis will start, but there aren't any better options than the 20-year-old, and he's so slender that it makes more sense to view him as a wannabe Dirk Nowitzki than someone who's going to operate down low. The Latvian will probably fill out some, but his shot is too good for him to operate mostly as a perimeter player and he can launch over anyone they put on him. It's easy to make comparisons to Bradley or Bargnani, but I was pretty impressed by what I saw of Porzingis in Summer League. I'm not saying he's gonna be another Dirk, but I'd lean closer to the star end of the spectrum than a bust if I had to bet. How he handles the New York lifestyle and scrutiny is the question.
Afflalo is an interesting case in that he's been one of the more overrated players in the league for a while now. He had a couple of good months for the Nuggets near the end of the 2010-11 season, parlayed it into a nice contract and was dealt to Orlando when he plateaued. He played like an Eastern Conference All-Star for a crummy Magic team with a bunch of young dudes before regressing to his career norms and didn't do much for Denver last year either. The Blazers acquired him midway through last season, thinking he'd be a bench piece for a playoff run, only Wes Matthews immediately got hurt and Afflalo had to start. Then he got hurt too and they were done. His three-point shot has been wildly erratic from year to year, as has his defense, but the good news is he's due for a good year and should be an upgrade for the Knicks.
Galloway was a bright spot last year as an undrafted rookie, but it was also an indictment of the draft class that he made second-team All-Rookie last season for 11.8 points, 3.3 assists and 40 percent shooting on a simply awful team. (I'm not entirely sure he's going to start. It could be Jose Calderon.) 61 percent of his shots were long twos or threes and he really needs to get to the cup more while refining his playmaking. Yeah, it's safe to say I'm not high on Galloway.
Finally, there's Anthony, presumably healthy after knee surgery on Feb. 20. I have no idea what kind of year he'll have and you can talk me into anything. He can average 30 and lead the Knicks to an 8th seed or put up the kind of season that would make Kobe blush and talk his way out of town by the trade deadline. He can get people open shots if he wants to, and holding the ball for a few beats could actually help in that regard, but passing it off has never been his game. I'm curious how he'll fit with all the pieces around him.
Your Likely Bench:
G Jose Calderon
C Kevin Seraphin
F Kyle O'Quinn
G Jerian Grant
F Cleanthony Early
F Lance Thomas
G Sasha Vujacic
F Derrick Williams
Calderon is still the best pure point guard on the team and their best shooter, but he's also a 34-year-old non-driving defensive abomination. You almost have to play him off the bench because of those limitations. Seraphin has been a hidden asset on Washington's bench for years and he should help the Knicks in a similar role, as long as they don't overextend him. O'Quinn is a bit more talented, a bit less experienced, but both of them are really solid mid-range shooters that could theoretically thrive in the triangle. Grant is a rookie I like a lot and he kind of reminds me of George Hill. He's more of a combo guard than a point, but he does a lot of things really well and could wind up being a starter for them soon. I was disappointed Early was so poor as a rookie. He's a tweener with some skills and I thought he'd be a lot better. If he doesn't show major improvement in year two, he'll be out of the league quickly. Thomas, 27 is a guy who keeps getting shuffled around and I don't understand why. He's consistently been one of the worst forwards in the league. Williams, a former second overall pick (and 18th in Win Shares out of that draft class, with Kawhi Leonard leading the way) is the most talented reserve they have but also a bust. Finally, they signed "The Machine" back from his overseas stint. For stability.
Your Coach: Derek Fisher
Bottom Line: There's unquestionably some talent here, but Anthony is six or seven years older than most of their rotation and over 11 years older than Porzingis. It literally makes no sense for him to be on the team when they're doing a full rebuild and I think both he and the Knicks know that on some level. They could sneak into the playoffs if everything breaks right and they get a healthy season out of Anthony and solid rookie contributions from Porzingis and Grant, but they'd be better off getting more young assets and cap room.
For more nuanced Knicks coverage, please visit PostingandToasting.com.