Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Assessing Potential Knicks-Rockets Trade

Today's reports indicate that the Knicks want to trade Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill, and Larry Hughes, plus a couple draft picks, to Houston for Tracy McGrady.

If completed, this would be an excellent deal for New York. Hill has not shown much promise in his first 50 pro games. Jeffries is a versatile defender, but probably replicable, and at a cheaper salary. Shedding the $6.88 MM contract of Jeffries and the $2.67 MM contract of HIll would shave $9.55 MM off the Knicks' salary roll for 2010-11, leaving them with just $17.78 MM in committed player pay for next season. Looking at a salary cap of approximately $53 MM, the Knicks would have approximately $35 MM of uncommitted cap space to sign free agents in July. With a maximum allowed salary of approximately $16 MM annually, the Knicks could bring in two top-level players from the pool of James/Wade/Bosh/Johnson/Stoudemire, and possibly sign a third top performer to boot. Perhaps McGrady would re-sign with New York at a low rate. Let us not forget that T-Mac has earned All-NBA honors six times, including two seasons on the First Team. And he is only 30 years old. If he can perform at 50% of his peak, that's still better than anyone else presently on the Knicks.

Under this scenario, the Knicks would have only four signed players for 2010-11: Chandler, Gallinari, Curry, and Douglas. Only the first two guys of that list are good, and they both play small forward. Thus, signing LeBron James seems unlikely. A likelier combination would be plucking (i) one top guard: Johnson or Wade, and (ii) one top big: Stoudemire or Bosh.

Of course, Miami, Chicago, New Jersey, Oklahoma City, and the L.A. Clippers will compete to sign these same free agents. Also, the Knicks would have a troublesome time filling in the rest of the 15-man roster after signing two studs. (They have no first-round draft pick in 2010, having traded it away in 2004.) It would help if Eddy Curry could get in shape and return to his form of 2006-07, when he averaged 19.5 points and 7 rebounds on 58% field-goal percentage. This seems unlikely, though.

UPDATE: Somewhat relatedly, I just became aware of this New York Times article, an interesting analysis of the financial fortunes of Madison Square Garden Inc., parent company of the New York Knicks. On February 9th, Madison Square Garden Inc. became a separate business entity from its parent, Cablevision.

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