Beyond the Raptors: New York Knicks

How about we not deal another franchise player to a division rival? I'm supremely confidant that Colangelo is an idiot like Babcock, but I needed to say that out loud.

As I work my way through Bosh’s destination wish-list, I get the feeling that it was just something to keep people talking about our boy. I mean seriously, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami? That’s everyones list, not just NBA’ers, of where to work/play/live. Next up is the Knicks, and I must admit, I’m totally conflicted about this one.

Through the 90s, the Knicks were my favourite team, and if you liked a tough, bruising team oozing with heart, then they were the team for you. When the Raptors and Knicks were battling in the playoffs, I was never more torn; ultimately I cheered the Raptors, but had the Knicks got through….

While they don’t have great talent to surround LeBron and Bosh (for sake of argument), the team does provide the lure of being a God in New York if someone can deliver a championship. For the record, regardless of what they offer, I’m against any deal with the Knicks since they are a division rival. The last time we did that, we got BURNED in the playoffs; not looking for a repeat.

I spoke to Dan L. from The Knicks Fan Blog about the state of the Knicks, and got some interesting tidbits from him:

Sam Holako: There isn’t much to talk about the Knicks during the regular season since the last couple years has all been about making a run at two max free-agents this summer. Where do you realistically put the Knicks chances of landing LeBron this summer? A sign and trade with the Cavs will prove difficult (what kind of deal do you put together for the MVP?). Also talk about the LeBrostimistic graph you have on your site, I love that thing.

Dan L.: I think it’s impossible to say what the Knicks’ chances are to get LeBron without being part of the “inner circle”. But I think the Knicks have a couple of things working in their favor. One is obviously that the Cavs got spanked so hard by the Celtics. They clearly aren’t a championship caliber team and they’re also ham-strung by salary commitments with the likes of Jamison, Gibson, Varejao, and Mo Williams. They won’t be signing any meaningful free agents.

It is hard to see the Knicks and Cavs pulling off a sign and trade, but it could happen if LeBron told them he’s going to the Knicks anyway and unless they deal they won’t get anything in return. For example the Knicks can offer the Cavs a massive salary cap exception and future picks for LeBron. With that exception the Cavs could hypothetically trade for Elton Brand and the second pick (Evan Turner). Maybe they could even convince the Knicks to part with Wilson Chandler. Mo Williams, Turner, Chandler, Jamison, Brand. I could think of worse teams.

Ha. The LeBroptimism meter right now is at 0 because honestly, I just don’t have any kind of bearing of what LeBron is going to do. He and his team have done a masterful job of keeping everyone in the dark, and there are a lot of teams that have positioned themselves to get LeBron. I think the only realistic options for LeBron if he leaves are the Knicks and Bulls because I’d be shocked if he went somewhere that didn’t have a major media presence. I’d add the Nets to the mix but I think their young talent is vastly overstated. The Knicks’ young talent was better than 12 wins. Also LeBron won’t want to play in Newark, I don’t think.

If I was being completely honest with my own gut, I’d put that LeBroptimism meter somewhat higher than 0.

SH: That would be Step 1; Step 2 would be find a running mate for him. Chris Bosh recently put the Knicks on his wishlist. Make me an offer for him.

DL: he only offer really is David Lee. Not sure what Raptors fans think about Lee but you could do much worse. He’s a terrific rebounder (though he doesn’t get the tough ones) and due to his terrific work ethic he transformed himself into one of the best shooting bigs in the league. He’s also an elite finisher. He can get his shot off in the paint and make it with such frequency that it never ceases to amaze me. You’ll be losing out by trading Bosh but maybe not by as much as you’d think.

The downside for the Raptors is that their biggest weakness is also Lee’s, in that he couldn’t guard a lamp post. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he’s a PF and the Knicks had him at center all year. Still, I’d think that the Raptors want to address their D this summer, and Lee isn’t going to do that.

Financially, Lee is going to make less than Bosh because under the collective bargaining agreement, his max is about $13.5 million. The Raptors would therefore get a trade exception in the deal of about $4 million.

Another option the Raptors could consider is adding Calderon or Turk to the mix and taking back Eddy Curry. This would get the Raptors out from under the cap predicament they put themselves in by next year.

It’s all dependent on what Lee wants though. If he just wants money and the Raptors offer him his max I think he would agree to go to Toronto because he would get bigger raises in a sign and trade. If other factors are more important to him, like staying in the New York area, and the money is similar, I could see him signing with the Nets.

SH: Not sure how Raptor fans would feel about paying Lee $13.5; even though double-double machines are hard to come by, I was thinking a 5yr/$50mill deal. A front court of Bargnani and Lee would be the worse defensive unit in the league, potentially, but Lee is one of the better players we could hope for in a sign-and-trade.

Interesting you bring up a Calderon/Turkoglu swap for Curry. What is Curry’s status? Can he be looked too to play 20minutes a night? He’s still pretty young, and has great size/athleticism (well he did). I’m assuming with the financial problems he’s said to be having, that he will at least be motivated to play harder for the next contract.

DL: I’d think that Lee is going to get more than $10 million on the market this summer. But I guess that remains to be seen.

You’re right about the raptors defense. They’d have to slide Bargs over to the 3 and find a way to get a defensive 5.

That’s not Eddy Curry, even if healthy. The potential Curry deal would be solely a salary dump for the Raptors. Knicks fans have been waiting for the old Curry to come back for over 2 years. The fact is that he’s played only a handful of games in each of the last two seasons and just doesn’t seem interested in playing basketball.

You’re right that Curry SHOULD be motivated in a contract year. But I’d be shocked if he had the desire to. And even if he did, I’d be doubly shocked if he stayed healthy.

SH: I want to examine something you said about Calderon or Turkoglu for Curry. Even if the Knicks somehow manage to get LeBron and Bosh, they would still need to have people around them to you know, play basketball at an NBA level. In the worse case scenario that they don’t land anyone in the summer to line up beside those two, what will this team look like?

DL: Honestly I think that’s an issue that the national media has drummed up in their echo chamber because they are biased against New York (true New York perspective here, huh?).

The team WILL have players on it. Obviously Turkoglu or Calderon could be one of those other players. If not, the Knicks should try to move Curry for another team’s expensive mistake, like Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton or Corey Maggette.

But let’s look at who is on the team right now. Danilo Gallinari played essentially his rookie year last year since he missed most of his first season with a back injury. He only finished second in the NBA in three pointers made. Folks in the national media have called him a “one-trick pony” but those of us who watch the Knicks every game know that he’s much more than that. Even the most negative tabloid beat writers like the New York Post’s Marc Berman jumped on the Gallinari bandwagon by the end of the year. He’s a terrific passer, and has a great basketball IQ, and most surprisingly, was probably the Knicks best defender last year other than Jarred Jeffries, both on the ball and in help.

Wilson Chandler is another player that most people who don’t follow the Knicks tend to ignore. It’s because he’s very quiet and unassuming. My opinion is that he doesn’t have star potential like Gallinari does, but there are observers who disagree. At the very least though he plays D, has a great mid-range game, and is a superb finisher.

Toney Douglas inexplicably failed to get off of Mike D’Antoni’s bench for most of the year but when D’Antoni finally let him play the Knicks what I like to say resembled a young Gary Payton. Douglas is very disruptive on the defensive end, is a very good shooter from distance, and LOVES the ball at the end of games. He’s very clutch.

These were 3 very young and/or inexperienced players but all of them have a world of potential. Importantly, they’re all very good fits with LeBron. Gallinari will can countless open jumpers off LeBron drives, and Wilson will get plenty of open looks slashing off of those same drives. Douglas will also knock down open shots and defend the perimeter, but more importantly, both he and Gallinari will take the pressure off LeBron at the end of games, which seems to be an issue for the King. It’s a good starting 5.

Aside from those 3 the Knicks have Bill Walker, who, after the trade deadline really came into his own for the Knicks. He has great range and shoots a high percentage. He’s also extremely athletic and can jump out of the gym. Finally, where Chandler doesn’t really read the defense, instead focusing on just making one on one moves to get open, Walker knows where to be on the court to space the floor and get open looks for himself both inside and out.

The Knicks also have 2 second round draft picks.

Finally, if the Knicks are able to land the big stars, look for some veteran players to sign on for cheap for a chance at the title. For example, PJ Brown signed with Boston for the minimum to win a ring. Same with Michael Finley.

I expect the Knicks to be able to round out their roster in a similar way.

SH: I’m actually pretty high on Chandler. I’ve seen quite a few Knicks games, and the kid is nice (Gallinari too). If LeBosh doesn’t pan out for the Knicks, would a Joe Johnson/Boozer/Stoudemire combination satisfy Knicks fans? The team obviously wouldn’t be a championship contender (the best they could hope for is the Hawks), but they would be in the high 40s in terms of wins and MAYBE a second round appearance.

DL: hose guys obviously represent the second tier of free agents. They’d improve the Knicks vastly but I wouldn’t be too thrilled about it. That’s particularly true because I assume those guys would be getting the max (or something close) and I don’t think they’re worth it.

It’s not the first choice and there are some fans who go by the mantra “LeBron or bust”. Not me though. I think Donnie Walsh had to take his best shot at building a dynasty. It might not work out that way but the idea was the right idea. Either way the Knicks will be much improved, even if they don’t get LeBron.

Since I have nothing better to do than think up scenarios, I’ve previously written that there are other options available besides just free agents. The Knicks could look at Tony Parker, for example. A trade of Chandler, Curry and Douglas for Parker, RJ and McDyess would make some sense if the Knicks also landed Amare. Parker, RJ (who plays better in an open system), Gallinari, McDyess, Amare, with enough flexibility to sign Melo in ’11.

Another example is a trade of Curry for Biedrins or Maggette and Anthony Randolph, while re-signing Lee and signing Joe Johnson. You’d have Tony Douglas, Johnson, Gallinari, Lee and Randolph/Biedrins. Not too shabby in my opinion, and a team that can grow better over the next few years. Not a title contender though, and you’d lose your ’11 flexibility, which I’d like to see the Knicks keep if they lose out on the big names.

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