Tagged: chris bosh

The Centers Of Attention

We previously examined what point guards [1, 2] could be available this summer. Let’s turn our attention to the pivot-men.

Marcus Camby would have been perfect but I didn’t envision the Knicks competing with a 2 year, $20 million offer for a 36 year old. But the fact that Camby banked that much cash speaks to how thin the market is for legitimate defensive centers. Alan Hahn put together a list of bigs for the Fix yesterday and it’s pretty exhaustive. The list included was populated with power forwards and centers and included Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Amir Johnson, Ty Thomas, Chris Kaman, Brendan Haywood, Sam Dalembert, Emaka Okafor, Tyson Chandler, Brad Miller, Shaq, and Jermaine. I’d add the Warriors’ Andris Biedrins, the Rockets Luis Scola, and Tiaggo Splitter, the Argentinian center currently playing in Europe whose rights belong to the Spurs, to the list.

Marc Berman wrote that the Knicks fallback could be Brad Miller. Miller is slightly younger than Camby but is still a very slow 34. Unlike Camby, he does not block shots and he does not accumulate rebounds. It’s true he’s a gifted passer and shooter but so is David Lee. Those weren’t the Knicks’ problems last year. The Knicks need defense in the front court and if the Knicks do come away with only Miller, Berman is going to kill Miller and Donnie Walsh once he realizes that signing Miller accomplished nothing to address that need.

I won’t address every player on the list above but here is my take on a few of them:

  • I’d be happy with either Amare or Bosh. Amare isn’t much of a defender either but he brings an intensity and a nasty demeanor that the Knicks have been lacking.
  • Amir Johnson would be a good get for the bench. He oozes potential and was once compared to a young Kevin Garnett. We’ll see. He can’t be the only guy the Knicks get for their front court.
  • I could see the Knicks addressing their two main needs in one fell swoop by trading for Kaman and Baron Davis. I wouldn’t make the trade unless Eddy Curry was a part of it so that the Knicks retain some flexibility.
  • Haywood is a tough, shot blocking, rebounding defensive big. I’d like to see him here.
  • If it is unlikely that the Knicks would give Camby $10 million I can’t see them being willing to give it to Dalembert unless the Sixers really make it worth the Knicks’ while somehow.
  • I like the idea of trading for Tyson Chandler who will be in the final year of his contract so concerns about his injury history are somewhat mitigated. I’d try to expand the package and get Gerald Wallace. A front court of Chandler, Wallace and Gallo would be pretty nasty.
  • Splitter belongs to the Spurs but he isn’t signed to a contract. According to DraftExpress, Splitter has a reputation as a ferocious defender and rebounder who is nice around the basket on offense. He has an opt-out this summer with his European team and if the Spurs can’t put together a financially impressive deal they might lose him for many years if he chooses to sign an extension overseas. The Spurs are over the cap and can only offer Splitter their mid-level exception. That may very well be enough to get him to the States but if it isn’t the Spurs could explore moving him to a team that is under the cap rather than getting nothing for him for several years or maybe ever. That begs the question though, not having played in an NBA game, how does one gauge whether he is worth more than the mid-level?
  • Don’t forget about Eddy Curry…[vomit].

While it seems like the market is slowly drying up and certainly its discouraging that the Knicks won’t be able to woo the likes of Manu Ginobili or Marcus Camby, there remain options to improve the team.

When The Story Becomes The Story

I wish this post was about the Knicks gearing up for a playoff run. It’s not. It’s the twilight of yet another miserable Knicks season and instead of the team, the story has become the story. It has been a bitter year on many fronts: A lot of consternation has flowed in a dizzying array of directions: Players to coach; coach to players; players to media; coaches to media; media to management; media to coaches; blogs to all of it. Losing will bring out the worst in everyone pulled into the franchise’s orbit.

From a fan’s perspective, the most despicable aspect of the last decade or so has indisputably been the play on the court. The next is the mismanagement. Then comes the press corps. At its best, the Knicks’ beat is intelligent, analytical, honest. At its worst it is defensive, dishonest, demeaning to its readers, hypocritical. Some of the writers fall consistently into the first category. Others into the second. Sometimes, rarely, they change hats.

This is a theme that has recurred in this space. It has been touched upon elsewhere but judging by some comments and tweets, I’ve probably developed a reputation as the guy who takes the writers to task when I think they deserve it. I call them out when they publish propaganda, when they fail to fact check, when they fail to recognize obvious truths to suit the predetermined direction of their coverage, and when they lie to get start a controversy in an effort to get a sound byte that will help them sell papers. For example, when:

It should come as no surprise that certain publications are featured prominently in this list while others are conspicuously absent. That makes it all the more puzzling that of all the writers who cover the Knicks, it was Alan Hahn of Newsday who was the prickliest about Tracy McGrady’s assertion that “you guys”, e.g., the press, will keep players away from New York. Hahn took exception, writing:

Apparently NBA players prefer hero worship over raw honesty and unfettered opinion. They prefer the big fish/small pond ratio in smaller markets, where the coverage has the intensity of a street light.

NBA players who relish a challenge should most definitely be willing to subject themselves to the spotlight. But what about the interrogation lamp? That’s why I’m not sure it’s really Hahn that McGrady had in mind. Hahn continued:

How should this team be covered at this point? Should we just shrug when Eddy Curry continually gets injured and yet still makes every single road trip, pocketing per diem and enjoying the free travel?

I can’t disagree with Hahn that if players are upset about the coverage that exposes:

  1. Eddy Curry for failing to properly condition himself for the rigors of the NBA despite collecting an $11 million salary; or
  2. Larry Hughes for pouting the night of a monster 43 point win over the Pacers; or
  3. Darko Milicic for wanting the Knicks to cut him, and let him return to Europe while still guaranteeing him his full paycheck; or
  4. Nate Robinson likely instructing his agent to complain in the midst of the Knicks’ best month in a decade; or
  5. their general and individual poor play in a losing season;

then that is a problem with the players and not the writers. But I think McGrady may have been referring more to the unfair treatment some writers bestow on some players (and the coaches, and management), the most glaring examples of which I’ve referenced above.

You better believe it’s a circus.

And McGrady isn’t the only one holding that opinion. Hahn points out that Ron Artest said that players are “scared of the fans and the media”. And Chris Bosh stated his distaste for the Knicks’ beat too.

It’s hard to tell if Hahn was sticking up for his colleagues or just himself. Without naming names, probably as a professional courtesy, he wrote:

I can’t speak for everybody in this business, but I can say there is not supposed to be agenda in any of this. It’s merely unbiased observations from those closest to the team without being part of the team. Most of us ask questions not because we don’t know the answers, we ask them because we DO know the answers.

Look, some of that is true. For Hahn, it certainly is. But even if Hahn asks honest questions seeking honest answers, let’s not pretend that there aren’t others who carefully engineer loaded, indefensible questions to solicit a frustrated response – to make news. You can’t honestly suggest that no writers have an agenda. Not when we’re still getting updates about what Stephon Marbury thinks about the Knicks. Not when they are openly calling for the Coach’s head (are journalists supposed to report the story or be a part of it?). There are plenty of fans who recognize that Mike D’Antoni has not been perfect, not even close, but are tired of reading diatribes, insulting to their intelligence, positing that all of the blame falls at the Coach’s feet. Will Berman, who had D’Antoni up in slings when he benched Nate Robinson refer to Nate’s latest benching with the Celtics as “Nate-Gate”? Will he recognize, as every single one of Nate’s pro coaches has that Nate’s best spot may be the end of the bench?

The Knicks are out of the playoffs because D’Antoni didn’t play Darko? Really? Is it truly a meaningful issue that Mike D’Antoni didn’t coddle Larry Hughes and Eddy Curry enough?

Marc, we know you’re worried that people aren’t going to pay attention to you if the Knicks aren’t good, but don’t you have some sort of professional responsibility as a journalist?

And as for Isola: look, we get it, the Knicks have PR people who follow you around with blackberries and take notes. Get the hell over it already. You’re a journalist, don’t let it taint your coverage. Fans want intelligent, honest coverage, not someone with a vendetta pledging to make things right for the time the Knicks “screwed me over.”

For all of the professionalism supposedly absent from the Knicks organization, from the coaching staff to the players (and yes, some of the players don’t know what that word means), the last ones to judge should be those who call their assignment “a gulag”, or “depressing”, and who pine for the old Checketts days when the Knicks treated the beat writers to a catered trips on yachts. Guess what Frank? I don’t get catered trips on yachts at my job either but I don’t elevate that grievance over my duties.

Granted, the good one’s like Hahn, Steve Adamek and Howard Beck are honest. They’re professional. They can have their negative opinions of the organization, as immortalized in the New York Observer article, without letting it cloud their work product. Marc Berman and Frank Isola are driven by personal issues and it’s a waste of time to argue otherwise.

These are circling vultures waiting to twist words and parse statements and misrepresent them, and take them out of context. They do this in order to generate enough controversy to satisfy a decade old grudge, or satiate some narcissistic thirst for attention/sell papers for News Corp. Despite their presence, you can understand why a player like LeBron James would put up with it anyway. He has an empire he wants to build and New York may be the best place to do it.

For an average or even above average player though, all other things are more or less equal. So what is there to gain by subjecting yourself to the daily dishonesty and mind bending disingenuousness? I have some news for the writers on the beat that hate their jobs and take it out on the organization. LeBron might not come, and if McGrady, Artest and Bosh represent the feelings of the rest of the players in the league, you’ve got a number of “depressing” years left in this “gulag”.

Joe Johnson To Knicks A “Done Deal”. Bosh On His Way Too?

Frank Isola provides us with some insight into the forthcoming monster summer. He spoke to an Eastern Conference GM who said that the Knicks’ pursuit of Joe Johnson is a “done deal.”

Isola continues that sources have informed him that the Raptors would be open to parting with Bosh in a sign and trade that would include, at least, David Lee. Of course David Lee would have to agree to go to Toronto, but I think he’ll follow the money.

Johnson himself sees New York as a palatable situation as long as the team can sign “another player”. Bosh and Johnson are a formidable duo and an instant contender with Gallinari in the mix (I’d trade Chandler for a PG and hold onto Bill Walker or TMAC if there’s a couple mil left over).

Now, this is an obvious outcome that we’ve all speculated about numerous times, and it isn’t beyond Isola to pass off speculation as breaking news. He once “broke” a trade that was completely made up by a commenter on Tommy Dee’s www.theknicksblog.com. I’m not sure if his source for the Bosh information is a message board rant on UltimateKnicks or a legitimate source, but hopefully it is more accurate than his Google-FAIL assertion (one of a steady stream in his articles and posts) that “the Knicks are the league’s biggest losers dating back to the 2001-02 season”.

In fact, at least the Hawks have a worse winning percentage than the Knicks over the period he defines at  37.9%. The Knicks come in at 38.08%.

Not that hard to fact check these things. Just saying.

Who Would Want To Play For THAT Team?

It’s getting a little tiresome trying to defend the Knicks from the same old criticisms. I mean, the Knicks have 21 wins and just lost to the 7 win Nets for the second time this season. But as often as folks keep bringing up the same arguments (and it’s become even more fashionable, somehow, to pile on), I’ll keep responding the same way.

The latest volley comes from Mitch Lawrence who posits:

Once he saw the score from the Garden Saturday night, LeBron James must have said to himself, “That’s it. There’s no way I’m leaving Cleveland for that disaster.”

Once he saw that the Knicks had allowed 113 points to a Nets team that’s dead last in scoring in the NBA, Chris Bosh must have thought, “How am I going to turn that team around at the defensive end?”

(emphasis mine).

What is that hypothetical team Lawrence writes about? Is he referring to Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Toney Douglas? Because those players are the only ones with more than just a coin toss’ chance to be around after the summer.

In response to LeBron’s hypothetical dismissal, I think the team is certainly a disaster, but in part it’s because LeBron or another star caliber talent isn’t on it. To illustrate, last night LeBron James sat out, and the Cavs, who have the best record in the NBA, couldn’t beat the Bucks, who, at 4 games over .500 currently occupy the 6th seed. Even with LeBron though, the Knicks wouldn’t have Shaq to protect the paint, or even Anderson Varejao for that matter.

To answer Bosh’s question, I’d say something like “Fake Bosh, I never realized you had such a low opinion of your defensive abilities.” I think it’s likely that Bosh would answer Fake Bosh’s question by saying, “Well, if someone gets by LeBron on the perimeter, I’ll contest the shot inside.” Obviously that’s if Plan A prevails. But the concept remains the same if its Joe Johnson outside and Marcus Camby and/or others inside.

But Lawrence’s article is more about Mike D’Antoni. The thesis is that free agents are scared that if they join Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks, their defensive abilities are going to wither, brown, and crumble to dust. I think they know that’s not true.

Earlier this week, Frank Isola took a shot at D’Antoni’s coaching by asking hypothetically whether the Bucks have so much more talent than the Knicks. Maybe, but what they definitely do have is Andrew Bogut. A legitimate 7 footer who blocks shots and protects the paint, and abuses guys like David Lee on the offensive end too. And they have Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who actually takes pride in his defense and doesn’t care about his numbers. [1] And yes they have Scott Skiles, who has made a career out of squeezing 5 or 6 extra wins out of low-talent teams by employing a no-nonsense boot-camp strategy that inevitably grates on players who in turn quit on him after about three years.

I’m trying to make the point that when someone smokes Eddie House or Nate Robinson or Sergio Rodriguez or Al Harrington or Chris Duhon, and then David Lee just stands there, what is Mike D’Antoni supposed to do? Yell? Make practice 2 hours longer? Replace Lee with Bender or Eddy Curry?

D’Antoni has a reputation as an offensive innovator whose style doesn’t translate into wins in the playoffs. Two trips to the conference finals say differently. In one of those trips, the Suns lost to the eventual champion Spurs in 7 games in a series where game three was horribly officiated by Tim Donaghy. [2][3] Also the numbers say differently. The Suns, when D’Antoni coached them, were always near or at the league average for points allowed per 100 possessions, a statistic that adjusts for pace.

But that is also besides the point because the only opinions that matter are those of the marquee players in this summer’s free agency bonanza. And they already know what kind of coach Mike D’Antoni is. They’ve all already won a championship playing for him.


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[1] The Knicks did have Jeffries, but he was getting paid too much. Plus, they looked a lot better with him on the defensive end didn’t they?

[2]From Bill Simmons: “Congratulations to Greg Willard, Tim Donaghy and Eddie F. Rush for giving us the most atrociously officiated game of the playoffs so far: Game 3 of the Suns-Spurs series. Bennett Salvatore, Tom Washington and Violet Palmer must have been outraged that they weren’t involved in this mess. Good golly. Most of the calls favored the Spurs, but I don’t even think the refs were biased — they were so incompetent that there was no rhyme or reason to anything that was happening. Other than the latest call in NBA history (a shooting foul for Ginobili whistled three seconds after the play, when everyone was already running in the other direction), my favorite moment happened near the end, when the game was already over and they called a cheap bump on Bruce Bowen against Nash, so the cameras caught Mike D’Antoni (the most entertaining coach in the league if he’s not getting calls) screaming sarcastically, “Why start now? Why bother?” What a travesty. Not since the cocaine era from 1978-1986 has the league faced a bigger ongoing issue than crappy officiating.”

[3] Judge for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvkKdXLwt0U

If You Think The 2010 Plan Is Just About LeBron, You Don’t Know How Deep This Rabbit Hole Goes

Updated 12:04

In a little less than two years, Donnie Walsh did what everyone thought was impossible. He traded away the likes of Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford and Jared Jeffries, all grossly overpaid. Was he able to improve the team in his tenure? Well, the record will most likely not improve from last year’s, but Donnie’s presidency has so far been about accomplishing two goals. One was cleaning away the messes of the previous regime. Another was making his own mark.

The first is a precursor for the second. Just as Isiah systematically removed every Layden player from the Knicks roster and then remade it, Donnie Walsh has wiped out all remnants of the Isiah era except Lee, Chandler and Curry, the latter not for a lack of trying. He told you all along that he would do this and that he would do it in time to sell the idea of playing at the Garden to arguably one of the best players to ever play the game. Even if that one player does not choose to suit up in the orange and blue, the Knicks will be able to make a run at other guys who would be at home amongst legendary forerunners. This is where the imagination of many Knicks fans probably ends. Anything short of nabbing one or more of the big 3 free agents would be a failure to them.

But this terminal point in the imagination of some is also probably where Donnie’s imagination starts. If Donnie doesn’t execute plan A, I have no idea what he will do. But there is one thing I doubt he will do and that I hope he does not do: overspend for lesser “stars”. Donnie Walsh should not give Joe Johnson the max. He shouldn’t give Rudy Gay $10 million. He shouldn’t give Carlos Boozer $11 or $12 million. He shouldn’t spend all his money for the sake of spending it.

I know what you’re thinking: If the Knicks don’t spend every single penny they earned through the trades (about $10 million) then they wasted Jordan Hill and a draft pick (some in the blogosphere and in the media sensationalize and assert imprecisely, that the Knicks will have wasted “three picks”). To an extent, you might have a point. Obviously the Knicks could have let Jeffries simply come off the cap in 2011 and retained Hill and the one future pick they traded. But that would have given them less of a chance at LeBron James and a max buddy. It would have diminished the chances for the plan to succeed.

There are reasons to maintain the cap space instead of spending it unwisely aside from just the welfare of plan A though: The benefits of cap space do not vanish if you don’t use it all at once. Sure, the gamble in the trade was primarily about 2010 but if 2010 doesn’t work out it doesn’t follow that Donnie should sabotage 2011 and beyond. If the alternatives are to preserve cap space or spend it all on Rudy Gay the Knicks would be better off preserving it, regardless of the heavy sacrifice they made to get that extra $10 million a year early.

Detroit lost the gamble last year. They traded Chauncey Billups for cap space. They didn’t come away with any star free agents. But instead of preserving the cap space that they freed, they felt they needed to justify the trade. They compounded their gambling loss by taking on two long term contracts for role players (Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva). It destroyed their cap flexibility and gave them little room to improve. Had they been patient they could have had max money this summer. Instead they’ll be at the cap.

So then where does that leave the Knicks?

Even without LeBron, the cap space gives Donnie infinite options. The Thunder used their cap space this year to absorb Matt Harpring’s contract and for their trouble were able to pry Eric Maynor away from the Jazz. Would the cash-strapped Hornets part with Darren Collison to lose the last year of Morris Peterson’s contract? Conceivably. How badly would the perennially in-the-red Pacers want to shed TJ Ford’s last year? Enough to part with a lottery pick? I’m sure Detroit would like to get out from under Tayshaun Prince. Would the Warriors be desperate enough to unload Vladimir Radmanovic that they would let go of…who am I kidding on that one (a man can dream, but I think they realize they have a superstar in the making at the 1).

A lot of people rag on James Dolan and deservedly so. He’s clearly been a destructive force for most of his reign. One good trait that he possesses from a fan’s standpoint though is that he has never been afraid to spend money if he’s convinced it will help the team win. In the past he’s been convinced that it was a good idea to spend it on Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry and Steve Francis, but it wasn’t Donnie doing the convincing. And that’s why its also a blessing that Dolan swims around in cash like Scrooge McDuck. With cap flexibility the Knicks can be a predatory team like the Thunder that turns cap space into first round picks by absorbing a year of Kurt Thomas, or into Eric Maynor by absorbing a year of Matt Harpring. Donnie has been distinguished from the likes of Sam Presti but the two may have more in common that a facial glance might reveal.

There are so many other options too including Lee sign and trade scenarios, thousands of combinations of outright signings, and other possibilities that I can’t list because only a seasoned hand like Donnie Walsh can fathom them.

Don’t be short-sighted by declaring this summer the end-all-be-all of the Knicks rebuild. There’s the simple plan. But if that fails, there are other plans. When it comes to those other plans, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Donnie is one of the few people who knows his away around the rabbit hole.

***“[W]hat I do not know I do not think that I know either.” –The Apology of Socrates***

Players See Logic In Donnie’s Plan, Even If Some Fans Don’t

It’s a year and a half into Donnie Walsh’s two year rebuild and the Knicks’ record isn’t substantially better than it was last year. But it was never supposed to be. The primary goal all along, according to Donnie, was to clear out cap space. The secondary goal was always to try to be competitive. By definition, when the priorities clash, the first takes precedence. That’s what’s happened in Donnie’s reign so far. Otherwise the Knicks would still have Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford, and maybe Ramon Sessions.

And as we’ve noted for some time, another year of sub .500 basketball is and has been a difficult pill to swallow for some people. For the folks who want the Knicks to spend money and take on contracts so they can try to win now, the main flaw in the Knicks’ plan is that star free agents aren’t going to want to join a perpetual lottery team.

We’ve always argued that when a star joins a team, that team stops being a lottery team. For example, is Miami without Dywane Wade any better than, say, the Nets? Are the Nets with Dywane Wade better than the Knicks? How would the Cavs do minus LeBron? This isn’t an untestable hypothesis. Two short years ago, a hobbled Dywane Wade played in just 51 games for the Heat. They won 15 games that entire year. In 1996-97, David Robinson played in 6 games for the Spurs. They won 20 games. This type of logic has always been lost on certain fans, and oddly, media outlets like ESPN.

But it isn’t lost on the players.

Last week, Chris Bosh said of the Knicks 2010 roster:

…in order to get certain guys you have to make room…So there’s no telling what kind of team will be here next year.

But even if the same core takes the floor next year, if a player like LeBron comes – as we’ve said over and over in this space – he’ll be joining a squad superior to the current Cavs. The Cavs squeaked by the Lakers on Thursday. Without LeBron they would have been blown out. The Lakers edged out the Knicks in the 4th quarter the next day, and even though the Lakers were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, if LeBron was on the Knicks, the Knicks would have dismantled the Lakers.

But don’t take my word for it. In another example of how players understand that stars make all the difference, and that supporting casts are just different degrees of mediocre most of the time, Ron Artest said [via Hahn]:

“Actually, I thought about that yesterday…If you take LeBron off [the Cavs], no.  They’re not [a playoff team]. No.”

Of course, even without LeBron, the Knicks still might be.

Chris Bosh Loves MSG. NYPostDailyNewsNewsday, Not So Much.

Courtesy of Raptor’s Republic (via National Post (I think it’s “Canadian”)):

“I like the Garden. The Garden has always been a fantastic place for me to play,” Bosh said. “It was sort of the first big stage I ever played on in the McDonald’s [all-star] game when I was in high school. I’ve been there every year since then. It’s kind of special to me. A lot of greats have played there. It’s just one of those special courts.”

That sounds nice doesn’t it? But hold your horses. Bosh also spoke in not so glowing terms about the renowned New York media that probably makes so many athletes shrug their shoulders about the possibility of playing in New York:

“Who is ready for the New York media?” Bosh asked rhetorically. “Who knows?”

Monta Might Make Some Sense (or Take Monta Home Tonight)

I think Dan framed the Monta Ellis situation very well earlier with respect to the impact an Ellis acquisition would have on the 2010 cap and the Knicks’ cache of tradable assets. And I agree with Dan that, despite the $1-2 million extra it would cost to bring Ellis into the fold, it might be worth it simply to add another player to the roster that other teams might value in the future.

In addition to all that, I’d just like to propose the following:

Let’s assume for a moment that the Knicks are only able to add one max free agent this summer for whatever reason (two or all of the big 3  sign with other teams; remaining players out there don’t warrant the max or don’t want to sign with the Knicks etc.).

1. If Monta Ellis were a free agent in the 2010 market, would you be happy if the Knicks got him for 4 years, $44 million?

2. If Monta Ellis were a free agent after this season, would you prefer to see the Knicks  give him 4 years, $44 million, or would you prefer to see the Knicks give Rudy Gay, say, 5 years, $60 million?

3. If Monta Ellis were a free agent after this season, would you prefer to see the Knicks pay his deal or give David Lee a 5 year deal for $45-50 million?

I think these are the types of questions the Knicks should be asking  in weighing the virtue of an Ellis trade. I remain guardedly optimistic that the Knicks will get a crack at Lebron, but I have my doubts that they’ll be able to create enough cap space to sign two max free agents this summer. It’s more likely that the team will add one max guy and a second player of lesser caliber.

As things stand at the moment, the Knicks can afford to add a max player and then another player with a first year salary of $7-8 million.  This means that, to acquire a second player making even Ellis’ salary, the Knicks will have to find a taker for Jeffries or Curry and in that deal clear at least $6 million more in salary.

Now take a look at this list:  Of the players on this list that the Knicks could realistically acquire and won’t command the max, do you see any that would be better to add than Ellis? Possibly Rudy Gay, but since he’s restricted the Grizzlies could potentially match. Plus  Gay will cost more money over a longer deal and Ellis might be the better player anyway. That’s really it.

I want to stress that I’m not necessarily advocating for the Knicks to trade for Monta. If Donnie truly believes he can trade Jeffries or Curry for cap space before free agency starts this summer, I think he should definitely go that route and try to get a Lebron-Bosh combination.  But if he knows he can’t trade those guys for expirings, I think the Knicks could do much worse than swapping Jeffries, Duhon and Chandler for Ellis and Speedy Claxton. It would still leave the team with enough space to add a max player this summer (plus a $5-6 million guy) and another max player in 2011 when Curry’s deal comes off the books.

Getting two max guys this summer has to be Plan A, but if Plan A proves unrealistic, that’s a pretty damn good Plan B.

LeBron James Now Eligible For Extension – Wouldn’t Leave A Lot Of Money On Table By Switching Teams

Today is July 18 and that means LeBron James is eligible to sign an extension with the Cavaliers. So far he hasn’t, though it hasn’t been a full day yet. Wade has been eligible for some time now and hasn’t signed, instead opting to put the pressure on the Heat to improve.

A lot has been made over the alleged $30 million difference that LeBron and other max free agents can bank if they stay with their own teams. Ken Berger explains that that is not the case. In reality, switching teams will only cost them a maximum of $5.2 million over the next four years (because first year salaries under a new contract must be either 30% of the total cap, a 5% increase over the previous years’ salary, or $11 million, whichever is greater):

Based on their current salaries, collective bargaining agreement guidelines, and the NBA’s projection of a cap as low as $50.4 million in 2010-11, James, Wade and Bosh would cost themselves between $2.7 million and $5.2 million apiece over the next four years by opting out next summer and signing new deals — either with their current teams or new ones — as opposed to signing extensions this summer.

With two years left, including a player option for 2010-11, James, Wade and Bosh are eligible to sign three-year extensions this summer; only Bird free agents and players on rookie-scale contracts can sign six-year deals. Based on their current salaries and provisions of the collective bargaining agreement, each would make $79.4 million over the next four years by signing an extension with his current team before June 30, 2010. By waiting until next summer and opting out, they would make $74.24 million over the next four seasons by signing with a new team or $76.72 million if they re-signed with their current teams or participated in a sign-and-trade. Re-signing with their own teams or doing a sign-and-trade also would be the only way to get a sixth year. But for the sake of an apples-to-apples comparison, looking at the next four years illustrates the impact of the shrinking cap on their decisions.

For James — and likely for Wade and Bosh — a few million spread over a $100 million contract is significant, but might not be a deal breaker. This would be especially true if the new contract were with the Knicks or Nets, where millions could be recouped through endorsements in the country’s advertising mecca. For all three, some factors are more important than money. Wade received his extension offer Sunday, but stated emphatically last week that he wants to measure the Heat’s progress toward contending for a championship before he signs it.

“The obvious caveat is that ‘Bron will likely be OK with leaving a bit of cheddar on table,” one rival executive said. “The cap going down makes it worse for the Cavs, because that makes an even louder case for more endorsement money to offset. Madison Avenue or Maple Street? I say ‘A.’ “

Donnie Has a Secret

What could it be?

The Associated Press got an email from Donnie Walsh cryptically stating:

I have a little leeway which will leave me in good position for next year…I know what it is but do not talk much about it.

The context of the article was speculation that the Knicks would offer Jason Kidd a multiyear deal this summer, with a view as to what that would do to the Knicks cap situation. Without this “leeway”, a full MLE deal with Kidd would jeopardize the 2010 plans.

Unclear from the article is whether Donnie was responding to a specific question or whether he sent an impromptu, unexpected email.

If Donnie has a deal in place for Eddy Curry or Jeffries, signing Kidd would be a 2010 salary wash or better. If there is a deal, expect to hear more about it after the free-agent moratorium next week.

I also want to address the Kidd situation. If Donnie can clear the salary necessary to make the Kidd signing a wash for 2010, I think Knicks fans should be very pleased. First, Kidd, even in his old age, instantly becomes the best player on the squad. Second, the Knicks get credibility, a chance to show the other players in the league that they are a serious destination again. Third, it could be a harbinger of things to come: remember Kidd said in January that he thought the Knicks could get “two and a half” free agents for 2010. Well, if Kidd, who played on the same Olympic team as LeBron, Bosh, and Wade, comes, you have to think he is the half.

[Finger point to Slumdog Baller and Virgil]