Lee Trade Likely

The following comes from an article published this morning at HoopsWorld.com:

“Honestly, I don’t see them moving Lee this season. Over the summer maybe, but not now,” a league source close to the situation in New York told HOOPSWORLD.

“Lee is a key piece (for the Knicks). Every team in the league asks (Knicks General Manager) Donnie Walsh about him. A sure sign they should hold onto him.”

I love this quote because it’s exactly the kind of wrongheaded thinking that the typical, overly cautious (read: cowardly) NBA GM engages in as he stomps his team’s hopes and dreams of future competitiveness into the ground one unassured move at a time.

Other teams like my player so I like him too. (!?!?) I’d better not trade him in case these guys are right. (:-@!)

The warped logic displayed by Hoopsworld’s source leads me to conclude that the quote was offered by one of two people: (a) John Paxson, 8 time member of the All-NBA GM Paralysis Team or (b) Donnie Walsh himself, intended to serve as misinformation in an effort to boost Lee’s value. Either way I think Knicks fans win.

The very worst kind of GM is one who’s incapable of evaluating the merits of his own personnel and deciding for himself whether to trade or keep a player. Because you can’t ever make a shrewd or lopsided deal if you’re incapable of making your own evaluations. To rip someone off you have to recognize a) that your own player is overvalued and b) that the players you’ll be getting back in return are worth more than what you’re giving up. If a GM is incapable/unwilling to value his own players and instead bases his understanding of his players’ value solely on who other teams are calling about, he has no ability to exploit an inefficient market for one of his guys.

Of course, the best exemplar of this “deer in the headlights” management style has been John Paxson’s stewardship of the Chicago Bulls. With the exception of one terribly obvious and absurdly lopsided trade he pulled with Isaiah Thomas (hold…swallowing back the throw-up), Paxson has proven himself incapable of making meaningful moves to improve his team. At least twice (!) Paxson was presented with opportunities to acquire in-their-prime, championship caliber big men (KG, Pau Gasol) for somewhere in the vicinity of 60 cents on the dollar. And each time he passed because he was afraid to give up players like Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas and Kirk Hinrich (Kirk Hinrich! Seriously!). This season, in a major blow to believers in karma everywhere, Paxson struck oil once more when the Bulls won the draft lottery despite having only a 1.7% chance of doing so. Yet, because of Paxson’s past inability to capitalize on some incredible opportunities, the Bulls are currently 6 games under .500 and mere percentage points better than the Knicks.

Thankfully, everything in Donnie Walsh’s history suggests that he’s not this type of GM. A quick look back at Donnie’s time with the Pacers reveals that he makes his own evaluations, recognizes when his players’ are overvalued elsewhere and is able to capitalize with a lopsided trade. Two trades where he put this ability on display: (1) Dale Davis to the Blazers for Jermaine O’neal and (2) Jalen Rose and Travis Best to the Bulls (Paxson wasn’t there for this one) in exchange for (this one’s a doozy) Ron Artest, Brad Miller, Ron Mercer and Kevin Ollie. So we’ve got that going for us.

Which brings me back to David Lee. I love David Lee. He’s a true professional who has always played with great energy and passion under what sometimes seemed like impossible circumstances. But he’s incredibly overvalued around the league. It’s astonishing really. On offense, he’s good finisher on the pick and roll and a good passer, but he can’t post and he can’t shoot. On defense, he’s a great rebounder and strong outlet passer, but he’s too undersized to defend most 4s and 5s and not quick enough to guard 3s. In short, he’s an exceptional third piece of a big man rotation. If you disagree with me ask yourself this: Can you envision a team contending for a title that had David Lee as it’s featured big man? Because that’s how he’s being valued in certain corners of the league right now.

And that’s why the Knicks have to deal Lee at the deadline and why, in the end, Donnie will pull the trigger. Donnie knows what Lee is and what he isn’t. And if the bidding starts with packages like the ones being offered by the Nuggets and Blazers/Clippers (the Bulls are also lurking) for a tweener big man who’s contract is about to run out, history tells us Donnie Walsh won’t pass up the chance to rip somebody off.

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  1. Pingback: David Lee Wish List. | The Knicks FanBlog

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