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One quarter through the NBA season, we know two things about the 7-11 New York Knicks: they look even more disjointed than last season and management appears to be willing to shake things up.
Assuming that Stephen A. Smith is on the money again (remember he was the first pundit to guarantee ‘Bron was going to Miami) then the Knicks could be shipping Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire to Orlando for Dwight Howard, once Chandler’s restriction is lifted on March 1.
It’s hard to argue against the soundness of that trade, assuming Orlando also gets rid of Hedo Turkoglu’s horrendous contract (another $11 mil next year and $12 mil the year after). Orlando would get back star power AND a legitimate center. Wouldn’t a big man rotation of Chandler, Stoudemire, Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson suddenly be the strongest in the conference? The Knicks would lose the chance to go after Deron Williams, but by pairing Howard, someone who can score from rebounds in a way that Stoudemire doesn’t, with Carmelo Anthony, the pieces would suddenly fit a lot better.
But a long of things can happen from now until March 1. Orlando could send Howard to Los Angeles, New Jersey, or maybe a team we’re not even considering (Boston?) and leave the Knicks in free-fall mode.
Say Baron Davis comes in and disappoints, Anthony continues to hog the ball, and Stoudemire gets frustrated seeing his numbers decline so dramatically (17 ppg this year, down 8 from last season)- couldn’t you totally see Glen Gunwald panic and flip Stoudemire in an attempt to clear enough cap space to make a run at Deron Williams or Howard this summer?
With that in mind, let’s look at a few deals that would accomplish just that. Obviously, trading Stoudemire out of conference would be a priority for Grunwald, but ultimately, cap space trumps all.
New Orleans trades Chris Kaman ($14 mil, expiring) and Jarrett Jack ($5 mil this year, one additional year) for Amar’e Stoudemire.
Due to a restriction in Kaman’s contract, this trade can not go through until Feb. 12- Hence the lack of Trade Machine linkage.
In this situation, New York would hedge its bets by clearing some of its cap space, but also get a competent, and perhaps peaking, point guard in Jarret Jack. Six years into his career, it Jack appeared to be little more than a competent back-up. Always solid, Jack’s career numbers (10-4) aren’t exactly staggering. This year, however, Jack has hit his stride on the Commissioner’s team, averaging nearly 17 points and 7 assists. He would be an immediate upgrade and provide insurance in case an enigmatic, 32-year-old Baron Davis disappoints. (Don’t worry Knicks fans, it’s not like he hasn’t had a relevant moment since ‘07 or anything. I’m sure things will pan out just fine.)
And then, if they strike out with Williams or Howard, they still have a solid point guard, cap space to go after Nash, and oh, Anthony and Chandler. New Orleans gets a star in Stoudemire that will make Eric Gordon’s life a hell of a lot easier and could entice him to stay. A core of Gordon-Ariza, Stoudemire-Okafor could compete for a lower playoff seed even if that hinges on Greivis Vasquez growing up- fast. Plus, don’t forget the Hornets acquired Xavier Henry, the 12th pick of the 2010 draft. Sure, the 20-year-old hasn’t done anything yet largely due to injuries, but he certainly has potential. They’d still have cap space this summer; you don’t think Steve Nash or Raymond Felton would seriously consider signing with that team?
Houston trades Luis Scola, Courtney Lee, Goran Dragic, Jordan Hill for Amar’e Stoudemire
Viola! New York is suddenly a team. Courtney Lee can step in and make life easier for basically every guard currently on the team. Toney Douglas gets to stop masquerading around as a shooting guard and focus on becoming a competent backup point guard. Landry Fields can visit the bench every once in a while (33.7 minutes minutes a game over the last ten). Baron Davis can continue to deceive the national media into believing he is actually working towards getting back into game playing shape for at least two extra months, and Mike Bibby can quietly retire! Everybody wins. All that, and Courtney Lee isn’t even the best player in the trade.
Scola could realistically step in and put up 85% of Stoudemire’s offensive output, and wouldn’t represent much of a change defensively (especially with Chandler playing weak-side defensive, covering up a fair portion of the errors either way). However, he has exactly zero of the star power.
Jordan Hill and Goran Dragic could also each step in as key role players; Hill as an extra big man to complement (supplant?) the current backups, Josh Harrellson and Jared Jeffries and Dragic as the spark-plug scoring point guard, a position that has seen it’s value increase tremendously over the last few years (See: J.J. Barea’s recently inked four year $19 million dollar contract).Houston finally gets to swap out some of their small change in for a dollar bill, something Daryl Morey has been working towards for more than a year (and would have accomplished this off-season if not for the newly invented Stern Veto). Though on the surface it might not appear to be a great fit, upon closer examination it makes quite a bit of sense.Yes the team just drafted Patrick Patterson, a power forward with sky-high expectations. And yes, they just signed Samuel Dalembert to a two year deal, and he surely expects to start. But Patterson is already in the mindset of coming off the bench (and rightfully so, he clearly needs time to develop)…couldn’t a lineup of Kyle Lowry – Kevin Martin – Chandler Parsons – Amare Stoudemire – Samuel Dalembert compete out west? Look at it again, but this time keep in mind that Kyle Lowry became a top-10 point guard while none of us were paying attention. Then consider that the second team would be Johnny Flynn – Chase Budinger – Marcus Morris – Patrick Patterson – Hasheem Thabeet. Everyone likes to emphasize the importance of depth during the shortened season…wouldn’t that be one of the strongest benches in the NBA?
We recently looked at a Stoudemire-KG swap that would have given New York just as much cap space. Don’t think Gilbert would also bite? Think again. Crazy as it may sound for an NBA owner in a small market, Gilbert has shown a willingness to dole out big money to accelerate the rebuilding process. In addition to the trade that swapped Mo Williams’ $17 million in remaining salary for Baron Davis’ $29 million (and eventually netted the Cavs the first overall pick), Gilbert attempted to trade for Richard Hamilton (again, acquiring both an undesirable contract in exchange for a 1st round pick as compensation) last year only to have the Pistons back out.
Yes, Amare’s contract is a huge gamble, especially considering his un-insurable knees. But with that said, he is a borderline top-15 talent in the league, a commodity usually not available for the low-low price of an expiring contract. IF the Knicks continue to struggle into March and IF Dwight Howard is still chilling like a villain (without an extension, that is) in Orlando…if you can buy into the Knicks looking to dump Stoudemire, the Cavs would be the perfect fit.
New Jersey trades Deron Williams for Amar’e Stoudemire
Outside of the Orlando scenario, doesn’t this one make the most sense for both parties? Have you seen Deron Williams’ body language this season? Disinterested doesn’t begin to describe it- the man should be on suicide watch.
After Mikhail Prokhorov took the Williams gamble last year (giving up Derrick Favors and two first round picks in the process), the hope was Williams would re-sign this summer and be the face of the franchise for the big move (finally) to Brooklyn.
Instead, it’s basically turned into Howard-or-bust for the Nets. If they somehow manage to lure Howard, then they become a top-3 team in the East. If they don’t, then Williams heads to Dallas and the Nets continue living in the lottery (without picks!), albeit with a trendier address.
We know the big Russian likes to gamble, but you really think he feels confident with the odds? He shouldn’t. By flipping Williams for Amar’e, the Nets have their star (for at least three more years after this one) and the Knicks get a top-5 point guard who could make them their offense look functional.
Williams-Melo-Chandler. Wouldn’t you rather have that as your core?
Check out other “Sources Should Say” pieces on Paul Pierce, Steve Nash, Josh Smith, Michael Beasley and DeMarcus Cousins.
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