Billups: If Knicks want to attract top point guard, have to ease up on triangle

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If you think elite point guards like the triangle, you should try asking Gary Payton about it sometime.

In today’s NBA, elite point guards want the ball in their hands and the chance to make decisions off the pick-and-roll — and teams need someone good if you want to contend. Think about the top six teams in the NBA right now and who they have at the point: Golden State (Stephen Curry), San Antonio (Tony Parker), Cleveland (Kyrie Irving), Oklahoma City (Russell Westbrook), L.A. Clippers (Chris Paul), and Toronto (Kyle Lowry). Those guys all have great talent around them (and other decision makers to share the load), but it’s not a coincidence elite teams in the modern NBA have elite point guards.

The Knicks want one — Mike Conley is at the top of their free agency wish list. Pair him with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis and you have something to build upon.

But former Knick and now ESPN commentator Chauncey Billups warned the New York Post that if Phil Jackson and the Knicks are wed to the triangle landing that point guard will be difficult.

“I will tell you this about that triangle,’’ Billups said. “If I’m a top point guard and a free agent, I’m not going to want to be playing in that triangle. A point guard needs more pick-and-roll, more freedom. It’s going to be restrictive to my play. I think that would be a good thing — if they are opening it up a little. It’s the only way to get a point guard.’’

The Knicks are going to swing for the fences again this summer, going after Kevin Durant, Conley, and the other big names on the market (Al Horford would be an odd fit, however). Anthony wants to be at that table. Style of play and how players will be used in the Knicks system is a big part of what will matter to them. The triangle will come up in discussions, and while it has won plenty of rings in the past it’s up for debate if it can do that the way the rules of the NBA are currently enforced (zone defenses, no hand checking on the perimeter).

The more interesting question in New York this summer will be if ‘Melo is willing to move on from the Knicks and allow a trade (he has a no-trade clause).