Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Potential McGrady deal: More upside or downside?

When the Knicks were involved in three-way trade talks with the Rockets and Wizards to acquire Tracy McGrady, all they would've had to give up would be Al Harrington and a contract, likely Jared Jeffries and his $6.9M cap number (more proof that the mid-level exception is essentially useless).

With Washington dealing Caron Butler to the Mavericks, that trade fell through. But the Knicks are still going after McGrady, this time in a deal that could move Harrington or Larry Hughes along with Jeffries and 2009 first-round pick Jordan Hill to the Rockets for McGrady, Brian Cook and Joey Dorsey. The teams would also swap 2011 first-round picks and the Knicks would give the Rockets their first-rounder in 2012.

The real question is, why? I understand that unloading Jeffries' contract would be beneficial and McGrady's expiring deal would allow the Knicks to offer two max contracts, something they've been trying to make happen since they knew about the 2010 free agent class. But outside of that, the Knicks are getting next to nothing for the future in this trade.

McGrady will be gone, Cook is bench fodder and Dorsey's potential is nowhere near that of Hill's. The Knicks will essentially be trading three first-round picks (Hill and their 2011 and 2012 picks) for one (Houston's 2011 first-rounder) and cap relief. Do the risks outweigh the benefits?

I think they do. I was a fan of the three-way trade that would've netted the Knicks McGrady, because we wouldn't have had to give up any important pieces to our future. I know Hill looks out of place in the NBA right now, but players are allowed to develop on the job, right? I'm not the biggest Jordan Hill fan you're going to find, but to give up on the kid after 50 games (most of which he hasn't even seen court time in) seems ludicrous.

Everyone can see now that once Golden State took Stephen Curry with the seventh pick, the Knicks should have taken Brandon Jennings over Hill. But does making the wrong pick warrant giving up on the player you thought highly enough of to pass on Jennings for? It would be one thing if the Knicks got a pick back in return, but instead they are giving up their 2012 first-rounder as well, and for what? A little bit of cap relief?

I'm all for opening up cap room to sign two high-level free agents, but not at the price this deal would cost. The Knicks would have just four players left on their roster for next season: Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas and Eddy Curry. And with the Cavs pursuing Amar'e Stoudemire (and in the process, convicing LeBron James to stick around), the free agent pool could be missing two of its biggest fish.

No free agent wants to go to a team who has mortgaged their future, and that is essentially what the Knicks are doing in this trade. Even if it goes down, you can't judge the deal until after the summer ends and we see who ends up wearing blue and orange. The only reason this deal isn't already done is because Donnie Walsh is reluctant to give up on Hill so soon, as he should be.

The Rockets say they have better offers, and I find that difficult to believe. They lose nothing from their current core, add a future draft pick and get a recent top-10 selection in Hill. I'm all about trying to go after two big names, but at this price the Knicks better get two of the big boys (James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Stoudemire and Joe Johnson). If they don't, they're going to be looking like fools with their pants on the ground.


  1. I disagree with your take. I do not think the picks are that big of an issue. They are going to be lottery protected or at least top 7 protected. In addition, this is a once in a lifetime chance, to go for one of the best players in NBA history. Lebron is not coming here if all we can offer is the bright lights of NYC and David Lee and Galinari. I think Lee is one of the most overrated players in the league, he plays no def, can not create his own shot and at times is not even on the floor for the Knicks in the 4th quarter. He is putting up great stats because of Dantoni's system and because the Knicks do not have much else. He is a nice player,above average but he is going to want 10-12 million dollars and he is more like an 8 million dollar player and on a title contender should be like the 4th best player on the team.

    It has always been all about 2010 and the free agents and now we are so close to being able to say here, we can offer 2 max contracts to come to NY and be an instant contender.

    Why I think the draft picks are not that relevant is, the Knicks are going to get a few good players this offseason even if it is not Lebron or Wade. Maybe it is Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Rudy Gay, Raymond Felton, Ray Allen for a year or two. There are a lot of really good players out there and with all that money, they are going to get a few good players that in the East should make them a playoff team, so swapping picks in 2011 is not that big of a deal. I think its entirely possible they have a better record next yr than Houston, so the swap never happens. Then 2012 pick will be another yr later, Eddy Curry's 11 million dollars comes off the books, so we can add another piece that offseason, so I think we will even be better that year and that pick to Houston will be in the 20's. Also like I said, they will be protected in someway.

    We have been bad and mediocre for way too long, we finally have a shot to be relevant again, you do not let Jordan Hill and 2012 first rd draft pick end your chances at 2 max free agents.

  2. You make some interesting points, let me touch on a few of them.

    -David Lee: I love Lee, as do most Knicks fans, but you're right. The rebounds will always be there and he has developed a great mid-range game, but he might never be a true threat with his back to the basket. His defense is well below average and he probably should not be a contending team's top frontcourt player. If we could keep him and get a player like Bosh to complement him, that would be a dangerous frontline.

    As for the fourth quarter argument, coaches play the hot hand. I don't buy that argument as a reason he is not a good player. If the team is rolling (which is rare with the Knicks), why re-enter Lee and potentially disrupt a good run?

    With the numbers he's posting, he may request even more than 10-12 million and that is definitely inflated. If we can't pull off a trade, it may be worth signing him for that price and grabbing a max player, but if we can afford two max players he will be gone.

    Draft picks: If we are good next season and the year after, the picks won't be in the lottery anyway, so I like your point there. But why would a player like LeBron want to come to New York when we have no picks (and no avenue to bring young, exciting players to the team to surround him with talent)? Wouldn't he want to go to a team with picks and the potential to improve through the draft and get younger around him?

    Then again, losing Curry's contract would open up the cap space to sign an impact free agent that would essentially replace the draft pick (and be ready to play at a high level much sooner).

    I guess what it really boils down to is whether Jordan Hill and the 2012 pick are worth the extra 7 million dollars we'd save by including Jeffries in the trade, allowing us to pursue a max free agent rather than a $10 million player. Looking at it that way, the trade isn't awful.

    Forgive my skepticism, but I don't think we get LeBron. The Cavs are on the verge of acquiring Amar'e Stoudemire, which will almost surely keep him in Cleveland. There are definitely other players worth signing, but will we even get two of the guys who are worth max contracts?

    I'm not convinced, meaning all this postering to open up cap space could be for nothing. And if it is, we gave away a young player who was drafted in the top 10 and a mid-first round pick, and for what? NOTHING.