By Brett Malamud
When Knicks Owner Jim Dolan brought in Phil Jackson to be the President of Basketball Operations, Dolan expected Jackson to do two things:
A) Take the pressure of being a New York team off of Owner Jim Dolan
B) Attract marquee free agents to New York
Last June, Jackson attempted to do both, and the Knicks acquired three-time NBA All Star and 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls for Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez. The Knicks also received guard Justin Holiday and a 2017 2nd round pick in the deal. To take the words of former Knick Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks were back. At the time, the thought was that the deal would turn the Knicks into a new era, and all would be well in the Big Apple.
By trading for Derrick Rose, Jackson took a flier on a former MVP and a former number one overall pick. If it didn’t work out, that would be ok too, as Rose’s $21 million salary comes off of the books at the end of the 2016-17 season. At the time, the Knicks decided that if Rose isn’t worth the headaches, they can just let him walk at the end of the 2016-17 season, and go chase a marquee free agent player. That said, the Knicks set themselves up to have over $60 million in cap space for the summer of 2017, where player of the like of Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Paul Millsap, Gordon Hayward, Greg Monroe, Rudy Gay, Andrew Bogut, Jrue Holiday, Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala, J.J. Redick, Taj Gibson and George Hill would all be available. Or so they thought.
After all, the move created an attractive place for summer 2016 free agents, and Kevin Durant would be sure to look at the Knicks a little harder than he would have the week before. Players like Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Joakim Noah, who were all linked to the Knicks after the trade was made, were being mentioned as plan-B options if they didn’t get Durant.
Fast-forward a week, and they didn’t. Instead, Durant joined the Warriors, and the Knicks came away with two-time NBA All Star and former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, on a four year, $72 million contract. Suddenly, a pipe dream was gone. The Knicks were giving $72 million to a player coming off major shoulder surgery, and whose numbers declined in almost every category each season since he was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.
Fast-forward eight months, and that’s a contract that the Knicks wish they never handed out. In fact, it was totally unnecessary, because the big-man that they wanted was already on the roster. That was 22-year-old rookie Willy Hernangomez, who has averaged 11.0 points and 9.4 rebounds in the month of February, all well Noah tweaked his hamstring just five games before the All-Star break.
The Knicks find themselves without that $70 million in cap space for this summer, but rather anywhere from $20-25 million. Yikes. Yes, the Knicks still have their first round pick for this season, but with Russell Westbrook off the market, and reports that Chris Paul will stay in Los Angeles for north of $200 million, the point guard market is slim pickings. Sure the Knicks could always re-up with Derrick Rose, but do they really want to spend most of their remaining cap space on Rose? Rose apparently is seeking a max contract this summer, and after multiple knee injuries, paying him a max deal wouldn’t be a wise investment. Instead, the Knicks should seek a trade, so at least they can get something for Rose. One proposed deal sees Rose being shipped to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio. The move is intriguing from both sides. For Minnesota, the Tom Thibodeau-Derrick Rose reunion could work, as Rose attempts to rekindle his career in the hopes of landing that max-deal that he desires. If Rose leaves at the end of the year, Minnesota has rookie point guard Kris Dunn waiting in the wings. On the other side, the Knicks would get a solid player in Rubio, and wouldn’t lose Rose for nothing, The 26-year-old Rubio is also under contract for the next two and a half years, averaging a reasonable $14 million. Yes, the deal would take the Knicks out of the running for a marquee free agent in the summer of 2017, barring an extremely unlikely major cap dump. Normally the Knicks wouldn’t sign up for being out of the running (See Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and of course LeBron James) before the sweepstakes begins. But the timing is right and Rubio would be a good young piece to place with Hernangomez and Kristaps Porzingis.
But then we come to the bigger issue at hand:
The Melo Conundrum.
Yes, Carmelo Anthony has been shopped around by Phil Jackson. That much is confirmed. The Cavaliers, Clippers, Celtics, and Lakers are rumored destinations but it all hinges on Anthony waiving his no-trade clause, and at this rate, Melo has been stating his desire to stay in New York. But let’s explore the scenario for a bit, as Anthony is hungry for a championship, and clearly won’t get that scenario in the near future with the Knicks. The only realistic piece that would change the culture of the Knicks by trading Carmelo Anthony (if actually trading him at all) is Blake Griffin (sorry Austin Rivers fans). Of course, the Knicks would have to trade Rose first, because of the CBA rule stating that two players under a certain rookie contract extension can’t be paired on the same roster. That said, the Clippers are holding on to the hopes that Griffin stays with the team and does not view the Clippers as an aging team with a window closing fast. A fresh start with the new look Ricky Rubio Knicks on a max deal sign and trade wouldn’t be the worst thing for the soon to be 28-year-old Griffin, and as for Carmelo, he’d get a shot to go for a title with his good friend Chris Paul. The pipe dream reopens for Knicks fans, and the Knicks are back.
But it’s not looking as if Carmelo will be traded, and the idea remains—yes—a pipe dream. It’s still worth returning to the reason why all of this is happening: Phil Jackson. With a series of cryptic tweets bashing the team’s superstar, Anthony, the Knicks are quickly becoming a toxic wasteland, and as a result, the pressure is on owner Jim Dolan again. Jackson may have to make a few moves before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline to save the Knicks ship from sinking, or it could be his job on the line.
Brett Malamud is a graduate of Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy
By Alex Horowitz
The 76ers are a bad team. Everyone knows that by now. They own one of the worst records in the NBA, which included a historic 0-16 start to the season. However, the one bright spot they had was second year point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has the potential to be one of the next bright stars in basketball. The former Syracuse guard was averaging 15.0 points, 7.4 assists, and 6.2 rebounds for a struggling Philadelphia squad until he was dealt to Milwaukee in a four-team deal today. It is unclear at the moment what Philadelphia will be receiving in return. Other major pieces of this deal involved Isaiah Thomas heading Boston and Brandon Knight becoming the newest Phoenix Sun. In a separate deal, Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that another young Philly guard, K.J. McDaniels, will he on the move to Houston.
Now we are all left to wonder what Sixers management was thinking with these moves. Even if they were “tanking”, why trade their most valuable asset for basically nothing in return? They still have Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid in town, both who have loads of future potential, but with these deals it appears as if the timetable for a successful team in the City of Brotherly Love has been pushed back by at least several years.
Alex Horowitz is a senior at Briarcliff High School and is an aspiring sports writer. As a lifelong sports fan, he has rooted for the New York Knicks, New York Mets, and Detroit Lions. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhorowitz3
By Ryan Crawford
New York Islanders
Stick a fork in them because the Islanders are done. 12 points out with six teams to jump and 22 to play makes it virtually impossible to make a serious run. Throw in the injuries to Tavares and Nielsen and yesterday’s call ups of Strome, Lee and Halmo and it’s wait until next year for the talented but young and beat up Islanders. The top players available include:
Thomas Vanek- the best player on the market, Vanek can be had for a high-end prospect a mid level prospect and a first round pick. Can Garth Snow get that high a return is the question.
Andrew MacDonald- word on the street is a first round pick gets the top d-man on the trade market
Evgeni Nabokov- not mentioned often but with the team out and UFA pending, he could be cheap goalie insurance for somebody. Minnesota? St. Louis?
New York Rangers
The Rangers are in a tough spot. They are a playoff team with key players approaching UFA status.
Ryan Callahan- The team captain is looking for about 47 million over 7 years and the team is offering 30 over 5. Interested teams are rumored to include St. Louis (Anthony Stewart?), Tampa Bay (Martin St. Louis?), Buffalo for a long-term deal, Columbus and Toronto.
Dan Girardi- Also looking for more than the Rangers want to pay, he would be a prime chip if the Rangers make him available. Expect Boston, Toronto, Philly, Anaheim and Phoenix to be in the mix.
The team with the worst record in the league will make just about every veteran available. Three in particular are hot.
Ryan Miller- The top goalie on the market, the Sabres are looking to create a bidding war for his services. St. Louis heads the list of potential destinations but don’t count out Minnesota, Anaheim, San Jose or even Colorado.
Steve Ott- a gritty guy who could fit in with any of the top contenders. Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Chicago and Tampa Bay head the list.
Matt Moulson- acquired early this season for Vanek, Moulson will be flipped at the deadline for more young assets. With scoring at a premium, expect Los Angeles, Ottawa, Montreal and possibly Detroit to be in play.
Mike Cammalleri– smaller scoring winger could be looked at by Pittsburgh, New Jersey or Los Angeles to provide some jump.
Shea Weber- probably won’t be moved at the deadline but could be a blockbuster if the right team comes calling with enough goodies. Philly and Edmonton are always mentioned but teams like Buffalo, Florida, Dallas and the New York Islanders have plenty to offer and more than enough cap space.