If the Knicks ultimately retain Carmelo Anthony, they should look to utilize him as their starting power forward.
Going into the NBA offseason, the New York Knicks top priority was finding a home for Carmelo Anthony. Despite reportedly coming close on a deal to send him to the Houston Rockets and also discussing a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Knicks have decided to “pause” Anthony trade talks — according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi and Ramona Shelburne.
With president Steve Mills and new general manager Scott Perry looking to engage in dialogue about potentially keeping Anthony in New York, it appears that he will be staying put for the moment.
If he ultimately isn’t dealt before the season begins, the Knicks should consider using Anthony as their starting power forward. Here are five reasons doing so would be beneficial for the playoff-starved Knicks.
1. Anthony Is Best Suited Playing The Four
Over the course of the last few seasons, Anthony has provided us with evidence that he’s best suited to play the four, as opposed to the three.
While he can still be a threat to score from the perimeter, Anthony has evolved into more of a post player, especially given the way he’s worn down a bit over the years. Doing so hasn’t hurt his game but actually has helped him modernize his style of play to remain the big-name player he is.
With the NBA adapting into a “small ball” league, the reality is that a player like Anthony cannot play the three if this Knicks team aspires to become a truly competitive force. While he doesn’t drag during play, he’s also no longer a physical specimen who can fly up and down the court consistently. Knowing his limitations though, Anthony has developed a nearly unstoppable post game, allowing him to force the issue in the paint and give himself the luxury of freeing himself for clutch turn-around jumpers.
By moving him to the four, Anthony can begin to play the position he’s cut out to play. However, that move also allows the Knicks to experiment with Porzingis playing center.
2. Porzingis Can Start At Center
For the duration of his career, Kristaps Porzingis has dominated as a power forward. With big men such as Robin Lopez, Joakim Noah and even Willy Hernangomez in the way, the 7-foot-3 Porzingis has been unable to play center on a consistent basis. By moving Anthony to the four though, the Knicks can finally give Porzingis the nod at center.
By moving the 21-year-old Latvian sensation to the five, Porzingis will finally get his opportunity to show whether he can be that unstoppable force in the middle for the Knicks – a challenge which he should be able to endure well.
While his 240-pound frame isn’t ideal for an NBA center, Porzings has the long wingspan and defensive grit to succeed beyond his weight.
The other reasoning for moving Pozingis to the five is how the Knicks would be adapting to the modern day “small ball” trend.
With Porzingis in the middle and Anthony at the four, the Knicks could finally begin to test out a potential “small ball” lineup where they can run up and down the court. Given how he thrives in fast break and transition, Porzingis and the Knicks could embrace running an uptempo offense that doesn’t feature any triangle-esque half-court sets.
However, if the Knicks aren’t thrilled or are at all skeptical about introducing such a drastic change to their offensive philosophy, they’ll still have Hernangomez lurking as the first man off the bench.
3. Hernangomez Can Be The 6th Man And Fallback Option
Last year, Hernangomez was a bright spot in what was a dark season for the Knicks. Averaging 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last season, Hernangomez showcased an ability to score in the paint and hit the boards hard.
His ability to do so has given many the belief that he could make the jump to becoming the team’s permanent starting center. However, with both Anthony and Porzingis moving up a position, Hernangomez would be out of a starting role but could still assume a beneficial niche.
Given that he would be bumped from the starting five, Hernangomez could serve as the teams 6th man. In that role, he would be the first man off the bench while also entering the game for Anthony, allowing the Knicks to test which method works best for them – “small ball” or a generic big man duo.
If the idea of playing small goes wrong for the Knicks, they could alter their lineup and plug Hernangomez at the five, bumping Anthony and Porzingis back to their previous positions. However, if all goes well, Hernangomez would proceed as the reliable 6th man for the Knicks.
Another facet of keeping Anthony though is how some players have endorsed him staying put.
4. Hardaway Wants Anthony Back
By keeping Anthony, the Knicks could experiment with a “small ball” lineup, but they’d also be accommodating certain players, such as Tim Hardaway Jr.
Last week, the Knicks agreed to a four-year, $71 million deal with Hardaway to bring him back to the Big Apple. After being dealt on draft night back in 2015, many believed Hardaway would never return. However, he opened his arms to the Knicks, but also to Anthony himself.
When he was made available to the media after his signing, Hardaway had some interesting thoughts on Anthony’s future in New York.
“Yes, we definitely want him back — no question,” Hardaway said. “Just having that veteran leader out there on the floor, a go-to guy who can get you a bucket any given moment of the game, it’s great. It’ll be tough for him to leave.”
Hardaway’s remarks were interesting given the way he and Anthony butted heads back in 2014 when the Knicks were in a dark place.
Regardless of the past though, it appears as if Hardaway is willing to look past what transpired three years ago and work with Anthony.
The Knicks though, may very well continue to pursue a trade to send him out of New York. However, holding onto Anthony for the meantime and then shopping him at the trade deadline could make more sense.
5. Anthony Could Up His Trade Value
While his departure from the Knicks appears to be what both sides have been pushing for throughout the offseason, holding onto Anthony until the trade deadline could be a smart way to go about the situation.
If the Knicks feel that forcing a deal that doesn’t make sense for them would be unwise, they could hold on to Anthony to further increase his trade value.
If the Knicks retain Anthony and he continues to play at the level he has been in year’s past, he could make himself even more valuable for a team wishing to acquire his services; that could help the Knicks get back a stronger haul for him.
At the end of the day, Anthony remains a Knick, but that could very well change on a dime. However, at the moment he remains on their roster regardless of rumors and speculation, so the Knicks should begin to look at how he could potentially fit into their 2017 plans. Making him their starting power forward would be the best way to do so.