Tagged: Houston Rockets

Knicks Roster Rumors: TMac, Nate, Arenas

A flurry of roster rumors hit the press today. Lets analyze:

1. Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears reports that recently the Rockets have spoken to the Knicks about Tracy McGrady:

…the Rockets want to get a young, athletic big man to put alongside center Yao Ming next season. The Knicks would gladly part with seldom-used rookie forward Jordan Hill in a package for McGrady, but the Rockets don’t seem too interested.

Should the Knicks do it? It seems moot anyway, since Houston, according to Spears, is not interested in Hill. But if the Rockets change their minds, the Knicks should consider a deal contingent on who else the Rockets are taking back to make the contracts work. If it’s Larry Hughes and Darko Milicic, I’d say what’s the point. I’d rather keep the young prospect than rent T-Mac for half a season.

The only way the Knicks should make a T-Mac trade, especially if they are giving up on a young big man who can shoot from the outside, is if the Rockets agree to take back Eddy Curry, or more realistically, Jarred Jeffries. Hill, Mobley and Jeffries not only nets the Rockets a young prospect and a defensive specialist, but potentially tens of millions of dollars in savings. It would also save the Knicks almost $9 million in salaries (Hill and Jeffries) for this summer.

2. Spears also reports that the Lakers and the Celtics have interest in Nate Robinson.

The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams who have expressed some interest in New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson, league sources said. Robinson’s base-year status, however, makes it difficult for any trade and the Knicks are said to be reluctant to ship Robinson to an Eastern Conference team, further complicating the Celtics’ efforts to land him.

Seeing as how, according to Alan Hahn, the Knicks were willing to trade Nate to the Grizzlies for bench-warmer Marcus Williams and what Hahn subsequently reported was probably a second-round pick, it seems like a deal could possibly be arranged.

As to the base year status issue, it’s a hindrance but not a roadblock. Especially if the team trading for Nate has cap space, like the Grizzlies do. The only other team with cap space right now though is Portland (OKC used theirs in the Maynor/Harpring swap). Also, don’t forget about trade exceptions, many teams in the league have sizable ones (although any trade involving a trade exception would net the Knicks nothing other than cap space, as trade exceptions cannot be combined with anything else). This is key to keep in mind because as Spears reports the Celtics and Lakers are “among” the teams interested in Nate, meaning there are others.

Should the Knicks do it? Anyone who has read this space knows that I think the Knicks should cut ties with Nate and never look back. To recap, while Nate has tremendous talent on offense, can win a game single handedly with a heroic performance on any given night, and has unparalleled work ethic, he unfortunately plays the game – for lack of a better term – stupidly. His decision making is abysmal, whether he is looking to shoot or pass. His defense is nowhere to be found. He takes a full 52% of his shots in the first 10 seconds of possessions (the most of any Knick), and ties Darko for the worst winning percentage in games he’s played (33.3%), other than Eddy Curry. His assist/turnover ratio is 1.476, which ranks him below Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes, Andre Iguodala, Shane Battier, and at least 45 other point guards in the NBA (yet some fans out there think the key to the Knicks woes is making Nate the full time starter at the 1).

If the Knicks can land a real point guard like Jordan Farmar for Nate Robinson, they should try to make it happen.

3. Chris Sheridan asked Donnie Walsh if the Knicks are interested in Gilbert Arenas, because, hey, why not?

Should the Knicks do it? I mean, come on…

The first and by far most important factor to consider is that Arenas still has 4 years on his contract after this one, and by the end of that contract he’ll be making $22,346,536 (!!!). Most observers have noted that it is unlikely that the Wizards will be able to void that deal, but I don’t think Arenas was worth that kind of money even when healthy/not pulling stunts like the whole gun fiasco or taking craps in his teammates’ shoes (what a hysterical “prank”! That lovable prankster.).

Not to mention that he’s a classic ball pounder in the Starbury/Iverson/Francis mold, which doesn’t exactly work for the current coach. Which is one reason why the Sprewell comparisons are off base. Spree had the heart of a champion and was committed to defense. He fit with what Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks wanted to do. Can’t say the same for Arenas.

A telling quote from Sheridan’s piece:

“I don’t know if [Arenas] available, and I don’t know if he’s going to be able to play. There are a lot of questions, and we’ll have to see as time passes what the story is, but I know this: When I had guys [Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest] in the same situation, I traded all of them,” Walsh said.

Sheridan was using that quote to suggest that Donnie was able to develop a market for his sociopaths. But let’s put it in a different context: Donnie traded his sociopaths because he didn’t want them on his squad.

If the Wizards void Arenas’ contract, maybe the Knicks should consider signing him to a modest deal. Otherwise, pass.

T-Mac And The Rockets Reluctance To Save Money

Rumors continue that the Knicks are the most aggressive suitor for Tracy McGrady, but the Rockets aren’t biting.

As we’ve previously explained, trading away McGrady for role players and cap space would have the dual attraction for the Rockets of not disrupting chemistry and saving them money on luxury tax payments. In fact, if the Rockets take back Cuttino Mobley, they could save upwards of $20 million this year.

However, in an article on ESPN.com last night, Chris Sheridan stated that there might be “gray-area rules complications in trading Mobley”. Alan Hahn also wrote in today’s edition of Newsday that Donnie doesn’t plan to use Mobley’s contract as trade bait.

Still, even if the Rockets don’t save $20 million by trading with the Knicks, a trade of Hughes and Jeffries for McGrady would still save the Rockets $5 million between luxury tax and salary commitments, plus the Knicks could throw in another $3 million in cash to grease the wheels.

However, Sheridan writes that it’s Houston’s unwillingness to take back Jeffries that is killing the deal:

But what is killing the Knicks’ chances of landing McGrady, who would be a panacea for them next summer when they plan to be major players on the free agent market, is their insistence that Jared Jeffries be included in any deal with the Rockets.

As things stand now the Rockets, if they decline all their options (Dorsey, Lowrey, Chuck Hayes) would have $39 million in salary commitments this summer. That is enough space to sign a player to a $10 million to max deal, depending on what the cap number is. If the Rockets want to keep that cap space, their reluctance to take on Jeffries even in a deal that saves them a lot of money this year makes sense.

But if the Rockets don’t want to take back Jeffries, it makes little sense for the Knicks to trade for McGrady, whose sole appeal from my viewpoint is that in any trade for him, the Rockets could take back Jeffries and help the Knicks clear cap space. After all, prior to this week, McGrady hadn’t played since last season, has played totals of 47, 71, 66, and 35 games in the last 4 years, and is coming off microfracture surgery at the tender age of 30. Without accomplishing the task of moving Jeffries off the books, McGrady’s contract is not the “panacea” that Sheridan suggests. It is just another expiring deal that would leave the Knicks in the same position they are already in. That is also why, unless it is completely necessary to get a Jeffries deal done, it makes little sense to involve a third team in McGrady swap, which Sheridan claims is an option. If the Knicks can unload Jeffries to a third team, they should just do it and cut the Rockets out of the picture entirely.

Can Lebron Lure a Big Fish to Cleveland?

You’d think a title shot with Lebron would be a compelling draw but, at least so far, the Cavs are 0 for 2 in their efforts to convince free agent targets to sign with Cleveland. To date, the Cavs have swung and missed on Ron Artest (despite a recruiting pitch from Lebron himself) and Trevor Ariza, who signed with the Lakers and Rockets, respectively.

Money obviously wasn’t the issue because all three teams were offering their full mid-level exception and both Artest and Ariza ultimately ended up signing for the MLE. And you know that Lebron isn’t the issue because, well, he’s Lebron.

To me, the problem is obvious. These are young guys who were offered the chance to live in vibrant cities with significant nightlife and chose that lifestyle over living in a much colder, sleepier city. And, in Ariza’s case, he did so despite the fact that he knew he’d be going to a team that was much farther away than the Cavs are from competing for a title.

So while Lebron, a native Ohioan, may love Cleveland (and I have no doubt that he does), it seems like other NBA players might not love it so much. And if that means that the Cavs are unable to bring in the pieces they need to make a serious run at a ring this season, don’t think the King won’t take notice.

Knicks 104, Rockets 98

Huge win for the Knicks tonight to kick off a difficult stretch of the schedule, as they won for the first time this season when trailing after three quarters (1-21 now. Yes!). Not only did they beat yet another good team, but they did so with grit and precision, two qualities they’ve lacked down the homestretch of many of their losses this season. Here’s some highlights and other observations:

— The swap-in of Al Harrington for Wilson Chandler in the starting lineup did in fact go down and it turned out to be a positive for the team even though Harrington was only so-so tonight. The starters got off to a fast start as the Knicks took an early lead (the Knicks got their typical dose of strong and heady play from David Lee and Chris Duhon) and Harrington was a big part of that. The team’s production was much more balanced between the starters and the reserves and neither unit was especially exploited or shown to be a weak link (though the Rockets bench was excellent-more on that in a minute).

— Likewise, the move to the bench went swimmingly for Chandler. After a stretch of pretty lackluster play, Chandler came back strong with one of those great all-around games (18 pts on 6-10, 7 rebs, 3 assists, 1 blk) he puts together sometimes that get us fans so excited. Moreover, true to form, once Chandler got it going in the second half, D’Antoni rode him to the finish line (along with Lee and Duhon). One of the best things about Coach D is that he’s equal opportunity (unless your name is Steph – then he’s no opportunity) and strong play is almost always rewarded with more minutes.

— Nate Robinson played well off the bench yet again (with the exception of one absolutely horrific shot late in the 4th quarter) – his fourth terrific game in a row – as he continued to shoot the ball better and executed some really nifty back door cuts for layups and some clever dishes to guys flashing and diving to the rim.
The bench, in general, was solid once again. In addition to Chandler and Robinson, Tim Thomas made a nice contribution and Gallinari played more smart, solid basketball though the stats weren’t gaudy tonight.

— Even though the reserves played a good game, the Knicks really got worked over by the Rockets bench. Von Wafer, and yes, Carl Landry were particularly impressive as they brought hustle and energy. Landry especially had a stretch at the end of the first half where he just took over showing power, athleticism and a soft touch on the 15 footer. He notched 16 points and got to the line 6 times in just 19 (!) minutes. And I’m not just pointing this out because it proves my point…wait no, that is why I’m pointing this out.

That and because, if the Rockets had won the game, it would have been because their bench outplayed the Rockets’ starters and both units on the Knicks. In fact, they really only lost because Landry, Brooks and Wafer played too few minutes and T-Mac, Alston and Battier played too many.

— How frustrating was it to watch Knicks players defend T-Mac tonight? They kept giving him all this space. It’s like they got ready for the game by watching a Mcgrady highlight reel from 2002 and were terrified that he was going to blow past them and dunk on their heads. Meanwhile the poor guy just kept faking and jabbing over and over and over until somebody (anybody!) would jump in the air so he could lean in and beg for a foul. D’Antoni must have said something after that phantom call on Chandler because after that they finally started to crowd him and let him try to pop his contested j.

Anyway, another great win by the Knicks as they inch their way, little-by-little beyond mere competitiveness to quite possibly qualifying for the playoffs.

Just Asking…

David Lee averages 17 and 13 rebounds per 40 minutes while shooting .565 from the field and posting a PER of 18.02. He’s known for his hustle, rebounding, and solid finishing skills around the basket. Lee is expected to command an average annual salary in the range of $10 million a year when he becomes a free agent this summer.

Carl Landry is averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds per 40 minutes while shooting .565 from the field and posting a PER of 17.71. He’s known for his hustle, rebounding, and solid finishing skills around the basket. Carl Landry signed a 3 year contract this past off season at $3 million per year.

What’s the difference between David Lee and Carl Landry?