Carmelo Anthony gave New York Knicks president Phil Jackson his thoughts on the state of the team when the season ended. His conclusion: It's not that bad.
What a glowing endorsement.
"In our meeting at the end of the season, Carmelo said, 'Really, it's not that bad. I think we have the best frontline guys in the game in the Eastern Conference in Robin [Lopez], myself and Kristaps [Porzingis],'" Jackson told WNBC's Bruce Beck. "I have to agree with him: Yes, those are three real potent figures, but we still have guard roles to have to play. So we've got some positions to fill, but not a lot. Not that many."
Not that bad, not that many positions to fill. Do Anthony and Jackson really see something in this roster after winning just 32 games this season?
Let's be as charitable as possible, especially since New York could look completely different in a few months. Anthony is correct in saying that the frontcourt is solid. He, Porzingis and Lopez have skill sets that complement each other well. Kyle O'Quinn, a solid backup power forward, is under contract, too. If the Knicks retain Lance Thomas in free agency and are comfortable using Porzingis as a backup center, they do not need to make many changes here.
New York's backcourt is a major concern, though, as Jose Calderon should no longer be asked to start at point guard when he's 35 years old. Arron Afflalo will almost surely leave in free agency. Langston Galloway will be a restricted free agent, and Jerian Grant had an uneven rookie year. Jackson should be looking at major moves this summer to strengthen both guard positions on both ends of the court.
The Knicks' biggest weakness is obvious, and if Jackson adequately addresses the backcourt situation in free agency, perhaps he can get them back to the playoffs, where they have only been three times in the past 12 years. With Anthony, an improving Porzingis and a relatively weak Eastern Conference, that is not unreasonable.
The question, though, is how much that would actually mean for the future of the franchise. New York is far from being a legitimate title contender, and it would need incredible fortune to become one before the 32-year-old Anthony and the 28-year-old Lopez's skills decline significantly. The Knicks could be pretty good next season, but there is no clear path here to becoming an elite team.