Do the Knicks need A deadline move?
Woodson has been criticized for having too long of a rotation and micro-managing lineups from the start of his tenure as head coach. Injuries to Tyson Chandler, Pablo Prigioni, Metta World Peace, and Raymond Felton have largely spared Woodson from the paralysis of choice, but the Knicks are on pace to have their entire lineup healthy within the next 2 to 3 weeks – ahead of the February 20th trade deadline. At full health, the Knicks figure to have to have 12 rotation-quality players:
SF: Anthony/World Peace/Smith
With the typical NBA rotation at about 9 or 10 players, a logjam is on the horizon. In the backcourt, the development of Hardaway Jr. coupled with the disciplinary troubles of J.R. Smith have thrown shooting guard minutes behind Iman Shumpert up for grabs (Smith was a conspicuous healthy scratch against Charlotte). A further complication in the distribution of backcourt minutes is Woodson’s tendency to play dual point guard lineups. In the frontcourt, the success the Knicks have had with Anthony at power forward creates issues dividing playing time between Bargnani, Stoudemire, Martin, and Chandler. Should the Knicks stay the course of standing pat on their roster or dangle a piece to see if someone bites near the deadline?
Any potential deal has to be weighed against the injury risk on the roster. Stoudemire’s fragility, World Peace’s recent history of knee trouble, and Martin’s age are worrisome factors. Depth is at a premium on the Knicks with so many players that are potential injury risks. However if a team, particularly in the west (thinking Phoenix), thinks they are a piece short of a playoff run, the Knicks should listen. Parting with any draft picks is a non-starter, as the Knicks have already traded away first rounders in 2014 and 2016.
Of course the elephant in the room is Anthony’s free agency. There has been no indication the Knicks are prepared to deal him, save one wild rumor involving a swap for Blake Griffin. If the Knicks can continue their winning ways and make a decent playoff run, Anthony will be swayed to stay. They should be exploring every possible avenue to improve the team, including a deadline trade – even if it goes against a decree from the owner.