Let's examine some strategies for a graceful descent into the lottery.
In previous recommendations, I suggested that Melo be shut down for medical attention. In the first third of the season he has been playing too many minutes and trying to do too much. He remains, for better or worse, a foundation stone for a better Knicks future. This already looks to be in process.
In that same spirit, the Knicks should eat Stoudamire's salary and release him to a playoff contender. He has played admirably and deserves an opportunity that he can never get here; to play for a ring.
Trade Period Strategy
I also identified likely keepers and likely trade assets that could and should be used to improve our chances of creating a more stable core of players with an eye toward a high lottery pick and a cost-effective FA rotation player signing.
Given that Rajon Rondo is now a Mav and that Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge will likely stay put, the summer FA pickings will likely be slim. That means that any Cap Space that the Knicks can free up this summer need not be enough to sign two Max deals since two Max players will not be there to sign. It's hard to imagine Jackson overpaying a mediocre talent just to make a signing. However, that makes our expiring contracts that much more valuable on the open market for teams who are in need of cap space relief.
Of the top ten teams who will be in the tank for cap space and tax relief next year, GS, the Cavs, Clips and the Bulls are most likely to tinker with their rosters surgically to improve their chances of winning.
GS and Chicago has nothing of interest trade-wise unless its a NY player for a pick.
Cavs/Knicks Trade Proposal
The Cavs have a problem child on their hands in Dion Waiters. They also have both a Heat and Grizzlies first-rounder that they can deal. Furthermore they need rim protection.
Larkin and Dalembert for Waiters, Amundson, and the Heat #1 pick 2015
Knicks will be rolling the dice on Waiters as a project, Amundson is pure filler, the pick useful.
Cleveland gets Dali as a capable backup and cleanup big, Larkin gives Cleveland a backup guard who can change the tempo and adds some defense.
Clips/Knicks Trade Proposal
Jordan Farmar and the Clippers 2015 first-rounder for Prigioni and Acey.
Clippers unload a headache and get a solid second wave PG and gritty PF.
Knicks open up a roster spot as well. Prigioni gets to play for a contender.
So now let's talk about the Nets, Denver, the Heat, T-Wolves,Wizards, Hornets and Pacers. Of that field only the Heat, Wizards, and Pacers may be trading to improve their playoff aspirations. And of those teams the only obvious trade conversation might involve Lance Stephenson. Talented as Stevenson is, it's unclear whether or not he would be welcome as a Knick. We'll leave that speculation aside.
The rest are also unlikely trade partners as they are in competition with us to land a lottery pick and most of their players who might be available are older or have contracts of less interest.