With the way they parted ways in the summer of 2017, most people didn’t expect veteran small forward Carmelo Anthony to wear the New York Knicks‘ jersey again before he permanently retires from the NBA. However, after the Knicks hired Leon Rose as the new president of basketball operations, Anthony’s return to New York suddenly became a possibility in the 2020 offseason. According to Ian Begley of SportsNet New York, Anthony, together with two other stretch bigs — Danilo Gallinari and Christian Wood — would be among the Knicks’ potential targets in this year’s free agency.
“If the Knicks decide to look for a forward via free agency who can shoot, Danilo Gallinari, Carmelo Anthony and Christian Wood are potential options. Some members of the Knicks front office were enamored with Wood over the course of the season. Regarding Anthony, prior to free agency last summer, the Knicks strongly considered signing the ex-Knick if they were able to land two other stars. They missed out on the stars in free agency, which took Anthony out of their plans. Rose, the current team president, was Anthony’s agent. The two remain close.”
Compared to the previous offseason when they were very aggressively targeting every NBA superstar available, the Knicks’ plan is expected to change under Rose’s leadership. Right now, Begley revealed that the Knicks’ focus this offseason is to find players that complement RJ Barrett, whom they selected as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Knicks may have yet to see Barrett play one full season, but it seems like they already view him as the player that they want to build around.
When it comes to building a competitive team with Barrett at the center, an opposing front office member who spoke to Begley suggested that the Knicks should go after players who could space the floor. Aside from targeting guards, the unnamed league exec said that the Knicks should also surround Barrett with big men who can shoot the ball from the perimeter and make things easier for the 19-year-old shooting guard. This is why the names of Anthony, Gallinari, and Wood come to Begley’s mind as possible targets for the Knicks.
The Knicks may currently have stretch fours like Julius Randle and Bobby Portis, but they don’t seem to be part of the team’s long-term plan. Though he managed to post impressive numbers in his first season as a Knick, Randle doesn’t mesh well with Barrett on the court. As Begley noted, in the 1,400 minutes that the Knicks used a lineup featuring Randle and Barrett, they were outscored by seven points per 100 possessions in those minutes and out-assisted by 3.5 per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, despite hitting 36 percent of his three-point attempts this season, the Knicks are reportedly not expected to exercise the team option for Portis in the 2020-21 season.
Of the three potential free-agency targets for the Knicks, Wood proved to be the best option for New York. Aside from his age, Wood doesn’t seem to have a problem taking on any role, unlike Gallinari and Anthony, who may not agree to the idea of serving as Barrett’s sidekick next season.