If the Knicks start next season with Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer as their primary 2010 free agent additions I will be underwhelmed. I mean, they did give up a lot to be able to clear enough cap space this summer to be far enough under the cap to sign two max free agents. As loyal commenter Italian Stallion and Twitter agitator ( 😉 ) @LoveThoseKnicks often remind me, the Knicks could have kept all the assets they traded in the McGrady deal and still had max cap space in 2011 (assuming the cap mechanics stay the same) without giving Houston the right to swap ’11 picks, their ’12 pick and Jordan Hill.
The argument carries some weight. And I’ll admit that aside from the picks, losing Jordan Hill alone stung. My counterargument is always that:
- The Knicks lost a net of 1 draft pick in the deal, which is the 2012 draft pick. The Knicks retain their ’11 pick, and if the Knicks vastly improve this summer, there is a strong chance that Houston will not invoke its option to swap. And if that is how things play out, the Knicks won’t miss their 2012 pick too much either. (Here the argument devolves into Stallion and @LoveThoseKnicks saying something like, “But the Knicks lose a pick.” To which I respond, “They can just buy another one in the late round.” To which Stallion or @LoveThoseKnicks will reply, “Well then they could have had two picks because they can buy one anyway.” To which I respond, “Well then they can buy two picks.” And this continues for awhile.)
- Aside from everything in point 1, I still think clearing the extra cap space in the TMac deal was a worthy risk. A calculated risk. Some might say it was a gamble. Still worth it from where I’m sitting if it increases your chances of getting a better player than you otherwise might’ve if you just had room for one player.
But Stallion and @LoveThoseKnicks make a good point and I have to acknowledge it. If you think of the TMac trade as “mortgaging the Knicks’ future” or a colossal gamble then you have to wonder why Donnie did it. By all accounts Donnie is a shrewd, calculating, patient and opportunistic executive. If the TMac trade was just a roll of the dice then you have to wonder why he would do something so uncharacteristic.
I’ve often tried to think of it this way and I come to the conclusion that Donnie must know that he can do something special this off-season. At least I hope so. In a chat today, Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com expressed similar sentiments:
Any credence to the rumor that if Knick’s sign J Johnson, LBJ is more likely to come to MSG?
Chris Sheridan(3:20 PM)
No credence that that rumor, but you get the distinct impression that word was somehow passed to the Knicks that having enough cap room for just one max player was not going to cut it for a certain free agent, which was why they were willing to throw so much into the Jeffries deal to get McGrady’s contract. I ask this: Why would anyone in their right mind trade away what amounts to three No. 1 picks just to clear cap room? It’s just plain crazy … unless there is a confidence among the Knicks their Plan A will succeed.
So I ask you, if you’re Donnie Walsh, and William Wesley approaches you and says, “Donnie, enough cap space for one max contract isn’t going to cut it. You need to have room for two.” What do you do?
Oh, and Chris, the Knicks traded one draft pick.