Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Knicks trade doesn't not make sense

Monday night, the Knicks shipped Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to the Cavaliers for a mound of scrap metal, magic beans and a 2nd round pick.

The trade made it abundantly clear that the Knicks are looking forward to the offseason. While many fans were supportive of Phil's first move as president -- trading Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas -- reaction to this deal has been relatively negative.

The Knicks gave up two relatively well liked and talented players for almost nothing other than cap space. While fans are initially unhappy with the trade, I think they'll come to find this deal makes a certain amount of good sense.

At face value, it looks as the Knicks gave up talent -- albeit floundering talent -- for just about nothing. But one must consider three things. First, neither player was excelling in New York or in the triangle. J.R. Smith was a long ways away from his "Sixth Man of the Year" award and when Shump was able to stay healthy, his stats just were there. His shooting percentage over his career is pathetic. His defensive rating, while maybe not the fairest measurement of his talent, keeps getting lower.

These were two players that weren't wowing anyone and weren't really proving to be worth their paychecks. So moving them is no real loss.

Secondly, both of these players were leaving over the course of the next two years anyways. It was unlikely the Knicks were going to re-sign Shumpert to a new deal and the end of the season and J.R. Smith was gone by next season. We weren't going to retain them, we weren't going to re-sign them, so best to move them and get whatever the marketplace would provide. Which at this time was understandably not much. Don't delude yourself. If you were a GM, what would you want to give up for these two? Shumpert, brimming with potential, but routinely inconsistent and injured. Smith, a talented offensive player, but hasn't really shown that ability since his knee injury last year and has a history of taking bad shots and being a locker room problem. Would you give up a first rounder for these two? I probably wouldn't.

Finally, while getting a higher draft pick would have been nice, it isn't necessary. If the decision was between getting rid of J.R. Smith's contract and getting a late first rounder, I think the cap space is the most important thing.

Carmelo Anthony is 30-years-old and not getting any younger. He has a window. It's not clear what that window is, but it's there. It may be closing quick or may stay open for the length of his deal. But either way, the Knicks don't have time to live through the draft. While the Knicks' pick next season will be a nice addition, the team doesn't have a choice, they need to bring in a top free agent as soon as possible.

So the more cap space they can get, the better. The more money to throw at Marc Gasol (or whomever) and use to fill out the rest of the teams roster.

Also, this trade is something the Knicks' locker room needed. The deal helps scrub away some of the persisting problems from the former regime. Now, the only remaining players from the D'Antoni/Woodson Era squads are Carmelo Anthony, Amare' Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Pablo Prigioni and Tim Hardaway. Next season, it may just be Melo and Hardaway left. So this trade carries a breath of fresh air the team needs and the Jackson may want to help cultivate a new environment.

In the end, will this go down as Phil's greatest deal as president? Probably not. But this seemingly bad deal could put the Knicks in position this offseason to building a contender. And if not, then at the least it creates room to finish the tear down and start truly fresh. Likely, without Melo.

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