Yesterday in this space we were debating whether the Knicks should re-sign Nate Robinson or trade him. After considering the available information, I came down on the side that the Knicks should re-sign Nate because I believe he’s likely to fetch less in a trade than he’s worth and he’s also undervalued in the free agent market.
However, this morning Tommy Dee over at The Knicks Blog passed along some information that radically changes the calculus. He wrote:
Call it an educated hunch based on several conversations that I’ve had, but I don’t think there is a chance Nate Robinson is in a Knick uniform next season.
Tommy later explains:
There will be no hometown discount here, and Nate’s confidence has him searching for a big, long term deal. He won’t accept the qualifying offer and Walsh will smartly let the market dictate value.
There is another layer here. We’ve caught wind of word that Nate may not be all too happy with Knicks management based on how they are handling the Stephon Marbury situation as, apparently, Nate was one of Steph’s few allies over the past few years. Add to that the attention Lee is getting and Nate could want out of New York. But that’s neither here nor there, Nate would stay here if he were paid.
So why doesn’t management look to trade him you ask? Good question. I think Walsh is having discussions but remember Nate has leverage. He doesn’t have to sign with a team he’s traded to. That knocks down his value. Now, does a team that needs a shot of energy off the bench for a playoff push make an inquiry? I’m sure. Is the possible rental worth a first round pick in 2010 or an expiring contract? Not so sure.
Within the post, Dee also addresses how maddening Nate’s antics are to D’Antoni.
Needless to say, this has to affect the way you analyze what to do with Nate going forward. In fact, it tilts my thinking in the opposite direction to where now I think the Knicks ought to be looking to trade him before the deadline. While I don’t think the Knicks can get a first round pick for Nate unless it’s way down at the bottom of the round, I do think it’s possible that they might be able to package him with Jared Jeffries (whose defensive versatility might also be of value to a contender) and free up some more cap room in 2010.
We’ve been discussing an Iverson for Marbury swap in the comments section. Here’s a variation on that trade that includes Nate and I think it might work for everyone:
Pistons receive Stephon Marbury, Jared Jeffries and Nate Robinson; Knicks receive Allen Iverson, Kwame Brown, and Aaron Afflalo.
I’ll explain my thinking: The Pistons traded for Iverson so they could have major cap room to make a big free agent signing this summer (presumably Boozer). This deal works because it doesn’t affect the Pistons’ cap situation at all for 2009. Iverson for Marbury is a straight swap of identical contracts and Kwame Brown expires in 2010 so his contract never factored into the Pistons’ plans this summer anyway.
By trading for Nate, the Pistons get a capable scorer to replace Iverson’s production and Nate won’t have any problem coming off the bench. In addition, Nate has a low cap-hold that would enable the Pistons to sign a max-free agent (Boozer) and then also re-sign Nate to be the third guard behind Stuckey and Rip. This would give the Pistons a strong core of Boozer, Tayshaun Prince, Stuckey, Rip, Nate and Maxiell (I feel like Chad Ford circa 2003 right now).
The Knicks would get Iverson (as a three month rental), a decent young rotation player in Afflalo and, by swapping Brown’s contract for Jeffries’, more 2010 cap room (what else?). And they’d be in the market for a starting guard (they already were) in this year’s draft. As an added bonus, by trading away Jeffries and Nate, it might (I haven’t done the math) clear a path for the Knicks to hang onto Lee without affecting their plans in 2010.
As always, criticize away and send us your ideas.