Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Ghost of Isiah Lingers

Taking a total detour from our normal content, let's spend a few paragraphs discussing the embarrassment known as the New York Knickerbockers. Currently reported by every news source, blog, and taxi driver in America, the Knicks, who last won a playoff game when Heisman Winner Charlie Ward was a valuable asset are about to pull off a mega deal with the Houston Rockets. The parameters, as reported:

Knicks get: Tracy McGrady, Brian Cook, and Joey Dorsey.

Rockets get: Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill, Larry Hughes, the Knicks' 2012 1st round pick and the right to swap first round picks with the Knicks in 2011.

Because I've never heard of Joey Dorsey, know Brian Cook sucks, and am pretty convinced that T-Mac is a walking cadaver at this point, this is obviously not a basketball deal. As everyone knows, the point of this trade is to dump Jared Jeffries onerous contract so the Knicks will have more cap room next summer, when LeBronWade, Amar'e, Bosh, Joe Johnson, and a slew of others will be free agents.

We're not touching new ground by announcing any of this. We do want to make two points on this trade, should it happen.

1. Because Jordan Hill is essentially a lottery pick that's still developing, if they make this deal, the Knicks will be sending, in essence, their 2009, 2011 and 2012 first round draft picks to the Rockets for the right to rid themselves of a year of Jared Jeffries. This is a startling amount of chits to give up in general. To our knowledge, there have only been three times that a team has traded away three first round draft picks:

  • Warriors trade Penny Hardaway and 3 firsts to Orlando for Chris Webber.
  • Les Boullez trade Tom Gugliotta and 3 firsts to the Warriors for...Chris Webber.
  • Nuggets trade 3 firsts to the Nets for Kenyon Martin.
Note what's common in all of those deals--the team trading away the three picks received a player in return that, at the time, was considered a stud. Here, the Knicks are using 3 picks (at least one of which is a lottery pick) to get rid of a guy with a bad contract. And note that Jeffries contract, while poor, isn't even one of the 30 worst in the league. Imagine what it would cost Washington to dump Gilbert Arenas' deal.

2. What happens now with David Lee? The idea with this trade is that after this season, the Knicks will only have some younger players and Fat Eddy Curry on the books, giving them ~$35 million in cap room. That assumes, however, that they renounce David Lee, who currently, is their only player that's any good.

The best case scenario for the Knicks is that they can work out a sign and trade deal with Lee--for example, someone gives the Knicks a couple of picks or cheap young players in return for giving Lee a big deal. But that seems unlikely because it would require the Knicks to take on more salary, and besides, why wouldn't Team X just sign Lee outright? (Odds of him getting a "max deal": zero.) So let's look at the real options the Knicks are facing next summer:

(a) Let Lee walk, and sign two studs to free agent deals. Maybe the Knicks hit the jackpot and get LeBron and Bosh to come to New York. That would be awesome and worth everything they've done.

(b) Let Lee walk, and sign a stud and someone else. This is the most likely scenario, where the Knicks end up with something like Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson. That's not bad, but not that great either.

(c) Re-sign Lee and sign only one stud. This involves something like LeBron coming to the Knicks for the chance to play with Lee, Galinari, and Wilson Chandler. Doesn't seem likely, does it?

(d) Re-sign Lee and someone else. Uh oh. This would mean the Knicks have no more cap space after 2010 again, and have a core that looks something like Johnson-Lee-Galinari-Chandler-Sahil. And no draft picks of consequence until 2013. This is a winning strategy?

So bear in mind with these McGrady trade talks that almost by implication, the Knicks are also dealing away the right to sign David Lee in 2010, because they always could take options (c) or (d) without making the McGrady deal because they have Lee's "Bird rights". Suddenly, you're dealing away Lee, Jordan Hill, and two first rounders for the dice roll that LeBron may come here and can convince someone like Bosh, Johnson or Rudy Gay to join him.

How good does the McGrady trade sound now?

1 comment:

Corey said...

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