Tagged: trade

Lee and the Summer of ’09

Howard Beck of the New York Times offers some interesting insight this morning into how he understands the Knicks to be thinking about Lee and the prospects of him getting a huge deal in free agency this summer.

He breaks down each of the teams that are expected to have significant cap room and explains why the Knicks believe they’re not all that likely to break the bank for Lee.

I’m not sure I agree completely with this take on the market. It assumes that certain teams with cap room will just patiently wait for 2010 when all historical evidence suggests that NBA GMs would rather light money on fire than just put it away in their pockets. Also, 2009 is a very good free agent class. Not 2010’s caliber, but very good. If you were the GM of one of just a handful of teams with cap space in 2009, wouldn’t you try to use that to your advantage rather than waiting until 2010 when half the league will have space? In my view, the biggest threats to try to pluck Lee away this summer are Detroit Miami, and Portland (I’d bet on Joe Dumars spending his coin this summer).

That’s my main issue with this theory. But it does at least present a scenario where the Knicks might be able to re-sign Lee at a reasonable cost.

One thing to ponder: Beck’s piece also says that if Lee gets a huge offer, then the Knicks can envision a scenario where they just let him walk.

Is Nate Bait? Revisited.

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.

Is Nate Bait?

Nate Robinson showed up on a list posted this afternoon by Chad Ford over at the Worldwide Leader. It was a list of point guards that are candidates to be dealt at the deadline this season.

Chad put the odds of Nate getting dealt at 40%, stating:

It might surprise some to learn that Robinson is second only to rookie Danilo Gallinari in plus/minus for the Knicks at the moment. Watch a Knicks game and you’ll see why. Robinson is well-suited for head coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo style and has played a critical role off the bench this season.

The problem for the Knicks is that Robinson hits restricted free agency this summer and the Knicks aren’t inclined to pay him. They are trying to free up as much money as possible for the summer of 2010 and Robinson isn’t worth risking that flexibility to lose out on a shot at LeBron and friends. If the Knicks can get a future first-round pick for him or if they can use him to sweeten an Eddy Curry package for an expiring contract, they’ll have to consider dealing him.

This might be true in theory but Chad’s premise rests on a few assumptions he doesn’t bother to explain. Namely that:

  1. Nate has enough value around the league that prospect of what boils down to a three month rental and the right of first refusal in his restricted free agent year is sufficient to induce some team to take on one of the Knicks’ bad deals or give up a first round draft pick and;
  2. Nate will command so much money in free agency that re-signing him will hamstring the Knicks in the summer of 2010.

If both of Chad’s assumptions about Nate are correct then I would tend to agree that trading him is a good option. But I’m not sure Chad has an accurate read on Nate’s market.

While he is developing into a high quality sixth man, I seriously doubt that a team would give the Knicks anything too substantial for what basically amounts to the right to match another offer on Nate. Nate is a 5-9 combo guard. He’s very good at what he does (perhaps even better than most people realize) but he doesn’t offer the same kind of long-term value that David Lee does. I could see a team giving up substantial assets just for the option to match an offer on Lee much more that I can with Nate.

Also, I’m not sure Nate is going to command so much money in the free agent market that it would generate real pressure for the Knicks to trade him. Unlike Lee, there’s a good chance that the Knicks might be able to re-sign Nate on a below market contract (check out the deals Lou Williams and Leandro Barbosa signed and you start to get a sense of Nate’s market).

Add all this to the fact that Nate is Lebron’s favorite Knick and he starts to look pretty good.

Ford may be right and Nate may hold far more value around the league than I realize. But if he’s wrong, and Nate is going to fetch less than he should in a trade but also cost less than he should to re-sign, that’d be pretty much the antithesis of the problem this Knicks face with Lee. If that’s how things shake out, then Nate will be an absolute bargain and I think the Knicks would have to keep him.

A Knicks / Thunder Deal Could Make Sense

There is an interesting discussion going on over at The Knicks Blog right now. Basically, Tommy Dee has information pointing to Donnie Walsh attempting to extract a 2010 draft pick in any trade.

There is informed speculation that the Thunder are pushing Earl Watson hard right now, in an attempt to get far under the cap this off-season. Chris Alvino points out that the Thunder have 5(!) first rounders over the next two years.

Now, there are lots of potential trade scenarios whereby the Knicks could oblige the Thunder by taking Watson off their books. This could potentially be a boon for the Knicks because they would land the back-up Duhon desperately needs AND replace the draft pick that Isiah squandered for he-whose-name-must-not-be-spoken:

Stephon Marbury?
Stephon Marbury?

I doubt the Thunder want to add 5 more rookies over the next two years. They already have all the youth they can handle and will add more to their solid core in this year’s draft. Instead, they need veterans and they can sign them this off-season with sufficient cap relief.

Here’s a trade that might work:

Nate Robinson and Malik Rose for Earl Watson, Damien Wilkins, and the Suns first round pick in 2010.

Depending on how desperate the Thunder are, you might even be able to get two first round picks. Another proposal to expand their cap room further would be Nate, Malik and the Disabled Player Exemption (if the Knicks ever get it), for Watson, Wilkins, Sene and one or two first rounders.

It is true that the Thunder will have to re-sign Nate for this to make sense, so I’m assuming that they like Nate, that Nate would re-sign there, and that Nate will not command more than Earl Watson’s $6.2 million (at this point I don’t see him commanding more than the mid-level – which is around Watson’s salary – if that. Half the mid-level seems about right). These are big assumptions, but not out of the realm of possibility.

Lee’s Value Dangerously High

As it stood, David Lee was already the MVK (Most Valuable Knick). He’s been incredibly consistent this season in showing up every night, bringing energy and getting his numbers. Moreover, he’s demonstrated the ability to knock down the occasional 15 footer, and to do all sorts of other things on offense (finish, pass and screen) that a big-man has to do in Mike D’s offense.

Over the last several games, though, Lee’s numbers have begun to spike even higher. As Dan noted last night in his game recap:

It is getting harder and harder to argue that the Knicks shouldn’t keep David Lee as he expands his overall game, continuing to play himself into a monster contract. At the same time, I’d say he’s still not worth more than $10 million, and the more he plays like this, the more value the Knicks will be able to score in a trade. I’m talking established players and high draft picks now instead of undeveloped talent.

Italian Stallion summed up the conundrum really well:

Lee is improving, but the system is also enhancing his stat line. Unfortunately, now I’m not so sure we shouldn’t just give him the 10M. LOL

So, if this recent trend continues, and Lee is able to string together a 10 game stretch of excellent ball headed into the All-Star break, Donnie might be able to extract a king’s ransom for him. Or, the Knicks could decide based on this stretch to hold onto Lee and have to pay him (a lot! Maybe even more than the $10 million we’ve been debating in this space).

I’ve always favored dealing Lee at the deadline simply because I think he is worth so much in a trade and he’s the kind of player teams often regret giving a long-term deal to the deeper it gets into the contract. For a team with a 2010 strategy, it’s better not to get locked into any long-term contracts until you find out who your superstars are going to be so you can see the outline of the puzzle. That way, you can surround them with players you know will compliment their respective games.

Now though, the stakes are impossibly high because, on the one hand, it’s getting to the point where you have to get something truly outstanding to justify a trade but on the other hand, a long-term deal for too much money could really hamstring the franchise.

So what do you do? Do you trade Lee? If you do, what do the Knicks need to get back to justify the trade? Or do you pay him, and run the risk that you bought really, really high on a very good, but not great forward?

I don’t envy Donnie Walsh right now.

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?

Not Buying Lee Long Term

Alan Hahn’s other story and blog post today discusses rumors that it’s becoming increasingly likely that Donnie Walsh will sign David Lee to an extension instead of trading him. While I don’t doubt that Hahn’s sources are good and this is what they’re saying, I’m not buying it for a couple of reasons:

  1. Lee wants $10 million per and, while he fits in the system and continues to improve year after year, he’s not worth that and I think Donnie knows it. What’s more, in building a lasting contender, a team’s cap structure is very important. That is to say, it’s very important that players make what they should be making. The best player should make the most money, the second best player make the second most and so on. Not surprisingly, the teams that are best at maintaining a proper cap structure are the Spurs and, until the recent Iverson trade, the Pistons (of course, they made the Iverson trade to secure future cap integrity, a wise move indeed). Paying David Lee $10 million is the same as saying that you’re comfortable, in the long term, with competing for titles while having David Lee as the third best player on your team. I think Donnie knows this too and I doubt he’d be comfortable saying that.
  2. To me, this just sounds like posturing. Lee is an ideal candidate for a deadline trade because, if you’re a contender, you want to trade for a player that will give you something you need while not disrupting the chemistry that has put you in position to contend in the first place. Any team that needs a skilled, energy 4 is going to look at David Lee as the epitome of a player that can work himself in seamlessly. As a result, I believe that as we get closer to the deadline, the offers are going to improve markedly. But Donnie needs teams to understand that the Knicks don’t have to trade him. If the right deal doesn’t materialize, other GMs need to understand that Donnie isn’t just going to give Lee away. Unless they understand that, Donnie won’t see their best offer.

All in all though, assuming Donnie does get a good offer, I’m still expecting a Lee trade before the deadline and, frankly, if it didn’t happen I’d be a little disappointed because I think it’s the right thing to do for the long-term health of the franchise.

Update – For the opposite perspective on the Lee question, check out Tommy Dee over at the Knicks Blog. Tommy raises an important point noting that Lee, as a restricted free agent, has the ability to short-circuit a potential deal simply by telling the other team that he won’t re-sign there long term. It’s certainly possible that it could diminish Lee’s value although I still believe, when push comes to shove, there will be good deals out there to be made with teams that want to make that big playoff push. And the bottom line remains, I just don’t think you can re-sign Lee for $10 million per.

Trade of the Day.

Now, I don’t want to go all Chris Alvino on you and blog about every single trade that pops into my head, but I’ve been doing some thinking. (Just kidding, Chris, if you’re reading this 😉 . Chad Ford made his name on this kind of thing and we’ve done lots of it on this blog too.)

I thought of these deals after reading on RealGM.com that the Mavs are interested in moving Josh Howard. What is interesting is that the rumor involves Howard for Bargnani. Hell, the Knicks could beat that. I played around with trade machine and came up with these.

Curry/Jeffries/Lee for Stackhouse and Howard

Curry/Rose/Lee/Roberson for Howard and Dampier (Dampier’s deal is not guaranteed for 2010).

Howard’s deal runs past 2010, but as long as we’re trading away Curry and Lee, having it on the books won’t interfere with the long term plans. Trading Curry, Jeffries and Lee is even better cap wise.

I recognize the limitations of these proposals. In the first one, we have nobody up front. Our starting PF would probably be Chandler and Harrington would have to start at Center or something stupid like that. Also, and this applies to the second proposal, would the Mavs go for it? Are we dumping too many bloated salaries on them? As it stands now, come 2010 they’d be able to afford another superstar to pair with Nowitzki if they don’t sign or re-sign anyone from now until then.

Well, if they are willing to part with Howard for Bargnani, who is slightly less of a bust with the #1 overall pick than Kwame Brown, you’d have to think they’d give some thought to Lee, and maybe even Curry to compliment Dirk if Curry can prove that he can get in shape.

In the end, this is a day dream and I don’t think Dallas considers anything like this. But adding two superstars to Josh Howard in 2010 sounds good to me. What about you?

Lee Rumors Rampant

The David Lee trade rumors that have been swirling around turned into a veritable avalanche of speculation today coming from all corners of the mainstream media and blogosphere. The most important thing to bear in mind right now as we sift through all the bits and pieces of leaked information is that the sources very often have their own agendas. That means that sometimes when we read an article or see a quote about a trade rumor, it’s on us to put it in proper context and decide whether it’s good information or misinformation. Because sometimes reporters end up serving as dupes for teams that strategically leak information in their efforts to make the best possible deal. Basically, if something sounds really stupid, it probably isn’t true.

In my estimation, the best information passed on by anyone today came from Tommy Dee over at KnicksBlog. Tommy’s sources with the Blazers tell him that the team wants David Lee but won’t make a deal for him that includes Travis Outlaw. That’s because the Blazers are saving Outlaw for a trade that gets them an upgrade over Steve Blake at point guard. As KnicksBlog explains, this is why any trade with Portland will probably have to be a 3-way deal.

I’ve scoured the league looking for teams with point guard depth that might be interested in getting involved in a 3-way trade. Far and away the best fit looks to be the Charlotte Bobcats and Ray Felton. Felton appears to be readily available, is an upgrade over Blake and his deal expires at the end of the year. A three way deal built around Lee, Outlaw, Felton and Bayless is very doable under the cap.

But that’s not all. For better or worse, there was loads of speculation last month following the Jason Richardson for Raja Bell and Boris Diaw trade that one or both of Bell and Diaw might ultimately be rerouted to the Knicks before the deadline. So, if these teams were so inclined, things could come together from a couple of different angles.

Now, take this with a grain of salt because I’m just spitballin’ here (I should note that Dee thinks any trade Portland makes will be on the smaller side) but this is just one example of what a trade that incorporates all these pieces could look like:

Bobcats get Travis Outlaw, Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries; Blazers get Raymond Felton and David Lee; Knicks get Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and Jerryd Bayless.

From where I’m sitting, it doesn’t look altogether ridiculous.

Steph for J.O. trade?

Chris Alvino, via a Cleveland newspaper,  reports that the Raptors are willing to move Jermaine O’Neal. He throws out a Steph for Jermaine swap. This would indeed work under the cap. Toronto benefits because they get the cap space they wanted out of Jermaine a year early. The Knicks benefit because they get a defensive big man, even though he’s slowed down to a plodding crawl. Despite posted numbers far below hes career averages, O’Neal is still averaging about 2 blocks a game. Don’t forget the Donnie Walsh – Jermaine O’Neal connection. It wasn’t until Donnie left that the Pacers trade O’Neal. What would you guys think of such a deal?