Carmelo Anthony used the NBA All-Star break to make his wishes known. The New York Knicks star will likely test out free agency this summer, when he can opt out of his current deal that would otherwise pay him $23.3 million in 2014-15. Anthony is doing so with a priority of re-signing with the Knicks on a long-term deal and, hopefully, with an adjusted salary that will allow New York to bring in some help.
At present, the Knicks (20-32) will be well over the luxury tax threshold, even if Anthony takes a pay cut.
Only minimum salary players will come off the payroll following this season, and Anthony's pricier teammates, Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, are poised to pick up their own options worth $23.4 million and $11.5 million, respectively.
Knicks general manager Steve Mills has a lot on his plate and will have to get crafty in proving to Anthony that the help is coming. In the meantime, he and the Knicks can have hopes at the trade deadline, but it seems they're in little position to do anything significant.
Nothing to give, no room to receive
New York doesn't just have few assets, but unimpressive ones at that. The Knicks used 2014 and 2016 first-round picks in trades, and it's as if dealing one of the most important trade chips in the NBA has become a borderline obsession. This isn't good for New York considering the high price teams would pay for a first-round pick.
The majority of the Knicks' roster is unsavory because it includes so many older players on bloated deals. It seems that even though the Knicks don't value their picks, they did seize the opportunity to use last year's draft pick on a good player, Tim Hardaway Jr. Don't expect him to be dealt.
Because New York has neither assets nor cap room to take on a big contract another team wants to unload, any major deal is next to impossible once Anthony is out of the equation. At All-Star Weekend, he assured media members that he won't be traded. So if you hadn't already, strike out the Rajon Rondo rumors.
There were rumors in December of interest in Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, but the turnaround north of the border has seemingly taken the point guard off the trading block. The Knicks remain committed in upgrading at point guard, and Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague is a potential target.
New York is probably open to trading one of its shooting guards to make room for Hardaway's growth.
J.R. Smith's drug suspension to begin the season, injury history, tensions with coach Mike Woodson -- though they have subsided -- and on-court antics give the reigning Sixth Man of the Year too many red flags to find a taker.
Iman Shumpert could be intriguing with a fresh start, but teams may be worried about his ceiling. As ESPN's Marc Stein reported last week, the Knicks are attempting to engage the Denver Nuggets in a swap of Shumpert and forward Kenneth Faried, but Denver wants to unload contracts in any deal.
Perhaps the most suitable trade involves point guard Beno Udrih, who might be drawing interest from the Washington Wizards or any other team in need of a backup point guard. Udrih would be a less expensive but less desired option compared to Nuggets guard Andre Miller, who is also on the market.
The Knicks don't have many tradable assets and don't have the wiggle room to do much at the trade deadline. If they can work out a trade that even helps the team a tad, it could make a big difference in the unimpressive Eastern Conference, where New York is just 2.5 games back of the eighth seed.
The cap situation hurts, but New York has the money to spend. The most important thing for the Knicks is this summer, when wooing Anthony back will be priority number one.