Striking Out in Free Agency

Donnie Walsh took his best shot with Jason Kidd and he’s made two fairly substantial offers to Grant Hill in his efforts to give the Knicks some veteran leadership and bolster the team’s credibility. But with news emerging this morning that the Suns have improved their offer and are making a late recruiting push to bring Hill back into the fold, it seems very possible that the Knicks are going to miss out on both players.

Frank Isola wrote this morning that the Knicks could turn to Andre Miller next should Hill decide to re-sign with the Suns. While I don’t think that would be an awful move, it’s certainly not the Knicks’ best option (more on that below) and I don’t see Donnie landing him anyway. As is the case with the Knicks and David Lee, the Sixers’ position vis a vis Miller has come together beautifully. The teams with substantial cap space are seemingly unwilling to meet Miller’s asking price leaving him with no other option but to accept a deal from Philly or try to orchestrate a sign-and-trade. Barring a fantastic offer, the Sixers can just sit on their hands and wait this out, basically daring Miller to sign somewhere else on a mid-level deal. In the end, I think he goes back to the Sixers on a 3 year deal for $7-8 million per.

So if these are the Knicks’ only targets, it’s starting to look like we may just whiff completely in free agency. Now, there’s still plenty of time and none of the restricted free agents’ situations have been resolved, including Lee’s and Nate Robinson’s, so I’m not necessarily suggesting that Donnie will just rest on his laurels and go to camp with this roster (though he might).

That said, I don’t want to see the Knicks haphazardly trying to add veteran players anyway. While I understand the virtue of Miller, he doesn’t offer the same cache or credibility that Jason Kidd would have and I just don’t see the same value in the incremental improvement Miller would provide. While I do think he’d help the culture, the Pedro Martinez analogy certainly doesn’t apply here because he’s not going to be a major draw to the big-time free agents the way that Kidd might have been.

If the Knicks can’t add Hill, I’d much rather see the team target Ramon Sessions than Miller. I still think Sessions would be a great add and I just have a feeling that the Bucks’ financial struggles have been underestimated and their willingness to match a substantial offer (the full midlevel?) has been overstated. Sessions is 10 years younger than Miller and offers a similar skillset. He’s the kind of young, promising PG that can grow with the team and add long term value regardless of whether we land Lebron or Dwayne Wade.

Short of that, I’d even prefer to see Nate go in a sign-and-trade for a young PG who’s reputation is a little bit tarnished like Sergio Rodriguez or Jordan Farmar over a Miller signing. Each of those players thrive in the uptempo game (Farmar’s main problem is that he’s miscast in the triangle) and are young enough where, given an opportunity, they could still blossom into good players.

We’re all starting to come to terms with some of the biggest challenges the Knicks will face in executing a fast rebuild. If Donnie can pull it off and make us instant 2010 contenders, fantastic. But he shouldn’t force it. This is where his trademark restraint figures to come in handy. Because if the Knicks aim for the fast rebuild with third and fourth tier players, as we all know far too well, in no time we’ll just find ourselves back in the dumpster. It’s time to start getting our heads around the concept of “slow-and-steady”, even if it’s only a fallback.


  1. chris

    Maybe its all a ploy to get teams to over pay and thus limit their sign capabilities. So far it seems most teams have little cap space so not much interest in David Lee except in a sign and trade.

    I mean who really wanted any of the previous FA. Kidd to late in his career, Hill like we really need another wing. I think things have worked out well.

    Except I would love to get Rubio cheap.

  2. Italian Stallion

    I agree on Sessions.

    I think I am even more patient than Walsh. :) I want to bring guys here with potential upside that can be part of the long term future (like Sessions) even if a guy like Kidd/Hill can add more in other ways over the short term. I think once we build a solid core, it will be easier to attract a “serious” FA next year or in 2011. WE are in a difficult position right now. We can’t blow anyone away with money and we stink so no one wants to come here for the rebuild. Once we are further into the rebuild, then we will look more like we are 1 or 2 pieces away.

    I think a team of Duhon, Hughes, Chandler, Gallo, Harrington, Lee, Robinson, Douglas, Milicic, and Hill has a chance to be close to .500 club if everyone stays healthy. We’ll get crushed by the elite teams, but a ot of other teans got worse. If we can tweak that with a trade here or there, that will be better. But I want kids and picks.

  3. virgil


  4. slumdogballer

    @Virgil – The lack of action on the part of Walsh is frustrating that’s for sure. We would all like to think that Donnie has something up his sleeve and that he’s waiting for the right moment to strike.

    However, it is very difficult at this point to not think that both Plan A, B and C have simultaneously been exhausted with the inability to sign Kidd, Hill or Nash.

    Patience is indeed hard to have – especially have over a decade of mediocrity.

    So where do we go now?

    Miller – will not accept less then the MLE
    Sessions – likely his team will match whathever offer he gets
    M. James – band-aid solution
    Watson – band-aid solution
    Ridnour – band-aid solution
    CJ. Watson – possibility and can be had cheap
    Bayless – staying in Portland now that Sergio is gone
    Lue – band-aid solution
    Brevin Knight – can’t shoot but can distribute, steal and push the ball
    Tinsley – can he still play? Might be a NICE low-risk/high-reward player.


    Maybe we can start looking at the trying to acquire:
    S. Curry from Warriors since their deal with Phoenix fell through.
    How about Ty Lawson from Denver (Warkenstein is high on Lee)

    And if that fails….

    Another possibility is to look to see who doesn’t get picked up during summer league….

    What I do know is that Walsh HAS to get us a decent backup PG to spell Duhon. I cannot see Duhon being signed for $6 million for next year……

  5. Jon

    I think everyone might be overestimating the Bucks’ willingness to match Sessions. At the very least I hope we test them with an offer.

  6. virgil

    Yea we must test them but jeez he is the best thing going right now. That is the scary part. Hell at this rate we almost have no other choice but to bring back nate

  7. Italian Stallion

    I think Kidd and Hill refusing the Knicks is saving Walsh and D’Antoni from themselves. I’m not the least bit unhappy about losing out on those two. It’s at least 50-50 Hill is going to be on crutches before the all-star break and Kidd’s game is in a death spiral anyway. These were nonsensical bandaid solutions to make us more competitive this year, but they have nothing to do with our ultimate success or failure in this rebuilding process. In fact, just the very fact that we went after those two when we are a million miles away from a championship has crushed my confidence in this management team. The should use the MLE for a young guy with upside. I don’t care if it’s on a totally speculative situation that turns out to be a total bust, it’s better than renting a has-been for a year or two just so we can make the playoffs.

  8. Dan L

    I’m with you Stallion. I’m not too broken up that the team lost out on Kidd and Hill, though I was a little excited at Kidd. I do recognize that he’s not the future, and there isn’t even anyone for him to groom. I do disagree a little about the lack of faith in the go for short term glory plan.

    We don’t have a draft pick this year. I really don’t want to surrender a lottery pick in the 2010 draft, especially if it winds up being a top 5 pick.

    I wouldn’t give up on the 2010 plan over this, I’m just saying if signing a short-term band-aid who can help us make the playoffs this year doesn’t damage the cap situation, I’m for it.

  9. auggie

    maybe DONNIE”THE GENIUS”WALSH keeps falling asleep in the meetings,he sure is asleep at the trigger.ok weve tried to sign all of the 38 year olds,are there any 39 year olds ? 40?

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