<
>

Opening Tip: Is Love the best option in '15?

3/6/2014

The Knicks got a glimpse of a player they hope will be a part of their future on Wednesday in Minnesota.

If Steve Mills clears enough cap space by the summer of 2015, the Knicks will likely be able to make a run at Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, who is expected to be a free agent.

We detailed what the Knicks have to do to create the cap space necessary to compete for Love here.

There will likely be other big-name free agents available that summer, including Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge and, possibly, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

So it's worth wondering: Is Love the Knicks' best option?

Here are some factors to consider:

1. How would Love fit with Anthony? Both have thrived as "stretch" power forwards who can hurt teams anywhere between the 3-point line and the rim.

So would Anthony and Love get in each other's way or be able to play off one another?

It's tough to predict how it would play out, but a look at each player's shot chart shows you that it's worth wondering if there will be spacing issues when Anthony and Love share the floor.

The highest percentage of Anthony's field goals (13 percent) have come from the top-left quadrant inside the arc.

Eighteen percent of Love's 3-pointers (by far his highest percentage) come from the left arc.

If both players are on the same side of the floor, does that allow defenses to "load up" one side? Again, it's impossible to predict, but it's worth considering.

Also, 21 percent of Anthony's shots this season have come from beyond the arc. Thirty percent of Love's attempts come from 3-point land.

Can both players maintain the same volume of attempts from beyond the arc? Will one or both have to adjust?

2. What about point guard? You can make an argument that signing Love would ignore the Knicks' biggest need in the summer of 2015.

If the Knicks re-sign Anthony, then their most glaring need would likely be at point guard.

If they pay Love and Anthony max money, they won't have enough to add another max free agent, as noted here.

Assuming the Knicks have Anthony, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Tim Hardaway Jr. and their 2015 first-round pick on the books, they’ll have about $3.3 million in cap room remaining. After that, they’d have the “Room” mid-level exception which will be about $2.8 million.

When that’s gone, their only option will be minimum-salary contracts. So they'd have to use that money to attract a point guard. Would it be more worthwhile to throw big money at a top-tier point guard like Rondo than a power forward like Love?

There's no easy answer here, but it's worth wondering just how well Love and Anthony would fit together, and if other potential partners suit Anthony better than Love.

Up now: The Knicks snapped a seven-game losing streak with a win over Minnesota.

What's next: The Knicks will not practice on Thursday. They play next on Friday against Utah at home.

Question: Should the Knicks pursue Kevin Love as a free agent in 2015 or should they go in another direction?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.