As you all know, I have a great deal of respect for Tommy Dee, but I have to disagree with his negative take on an article Chad Ford posted this morning suggesting that the Knicks should make the following trade:
3. Knicks send David Lee, Malik Rose and Jared Jeffries to the Bulls for Tyrus Thomas and Larry Hughes.
• View this deal in the ESPN Trade Machine
Why should the Knicks do it?
It would help the Knicks tremendously in the summer of 2010. Not only would it clear the last $6 million of Jeffries’ deal off the books, but it would ease the Knicks’ worries about losing Lee for nothing this summer in free agency.
If Thomas were to keep developing, they could pay him in the summer of 2010 along with LeBron. If he were to struggle, they could let him go and bring in two big free agents with all of their cap room. In the meantime, Hughes would help shore up a big hole at the 2 and he too would come off the books in 2010.
Why should the Bulls do it?
Lee would bring a change in culture to the franchise. He’s a double-double machine and a good locker room guy. They’d have to pay him this summer, but given the horrific financial market, it probably wouldn’t cost them a fortune. It also would save them some money heading into the summer; getting Hughes off the books would clear an extra $7 million or so under the cap.
Will it happen?
Maybe. The Knicks don’t want to lose Lee for nothing and they would love to move Jeffries’ contract. The Bulls need a shake-up and adding Lee would help get the team back to its winning ways.
Tommy thinks Lee is worth more and, the truth is, he’s probably right. But that’s only one piece of the story. The problem is that the Knicks simply cannot pay David Lee and get Lebron James in 2010.
Chris Sheridan posted an article over on ESPN.com this morning explaining that the cap is going to be lower in 2010 than expected. The highest it will be is $60 million but it could be as low as $54 million. If the Knicks want even *one* max free agent, let alone two, they’re going to either need to unload Curry and Jeffries (and it just doesn’t look like there’s going to be a taker out there for those guys, especially if you’re not packaging their deals with Lee or Nate) or allow Lee and Nate to walk away this summer.
Now, Donnie can choose to wait until the summer to see if he gets better offers for Lee and Nate in a sign and trade but, if anything, I’d expect the offers in the summer to be worse. Those guys won’t be under contract then whereas a team that acquires them now would at least have the option to match an offer from another team.
Frankly, I think this is a fair return for Lee because the trade also eliminates Jared Jeffries from the 2010 books. The Knicks aren’t getting as much proven talent back as they’re giving up, and they’re clearly giving up the best player in the trade (at least at present). But the truth is the Knicks are faced with a choice, and it’s time that we all faced that and reconciled it in our minds. Do we want a shot at Lebron (and the other elite 2010 FAs), or do we want to keep David Lee? Because, realistically, we can’t have both. To me, it’s an easy decision. Lebron 20 times out of 10. But, however you come out, if we’re being real about it, this is the choice the Knicks face.
I think Chad’s trade is a good deal for the Knicks in that accomplishes several of the team’s goals. My only quibble with it is that I’d prefer Joakim Noah to Ty Thomas because his deal runs past 2010 (we’d have to figure out a way to bring back Thomas in the summer of 2010 whereas Noah would still be on his rookie deal). Check out Noah’s per 40s. In time he’d replace 80-85% of Lee’s production (plus defense and shotblocking) on a summer-of-2010-friendly contract.