Thursday, February 09, 2006

Don't kill yourself at the deadline
By John W. Schmeelk

I can hear the quiet thoughts of Knicks fans everywhere… culminating in a soft druidic chant that goes something like this….

Isiah…. Isiah…. Don’t make it worse… don’t make it worse… Isiah… don’t make it worse…

Trust me, it’s catchy.

And now, one might ask, if the Knicks have the second worst record in the league AND don’t have their first round pick this season how could it possibly get any worse?

It’s simple.

They could trade for Kenyon Martin. And no, I don’t just mean trade Channing Frye for Kenyon Martin. Trading ANYONE for Kenyon Martin would be a mistake, including a straight up deal for Penny Hardaway, whose contract is up after this season. Under no circumstances should the Knicks trade for Kenyon Martin. He is 28 with a bad knee, bad back and a brutal contract through 2010. He’s had two broken legs in his career. He will be like Alan Houston and retire by the age of 32, but his skills will deteriorate well before then.

Plus consider this. His entire game is related to his physical prowess. He is quicker than most big men, and can jump out of the building. He doesn’t shoot particularly well (though it has improved) and he doesn’t have any real post moves that don’t rely on his quick feet. With leg injuries, back injuries and age those are going to slowly, or not so slowly disappear. Keep in mind his numbers are down for the second straight season – only scoring 13 points a game.

Not to say Martin wouldn’t bring any immediate benefits to the Knicks. He would add toughness, rebounding, a defensive presence and much needed shot-blocking. But he would take time away from Channing Frye, and add another bloated contract to the payroll. Despite all the bad news – after next year the Knicks will be down to a lot more flexible 50-something million-dollar payroll (mo Penny Hardaway, Jalen Rose, Mo Taylor – and the contracts of Shandon Anderson and Alan Houston all come off the payroll), depending on a few factors too difficult to project right now. The Nets were right to let Martin walk two years ago, and the Knicks would be making a mistake to bring him in now. Big shock he isn’t the player he was anymore without Jason Kidd setting him up for 3-5 dunks a game in transition.

Isiah can screw up in a couple other ways, but not many. The only players the Knicks shouldn’t trade are Eddie Curry and Channing Frye. Two big men like that you hold onto for dear life. Both are young, Curry 23 and Frye 22, and more importantly compliment each other very well – Curry being a bruiser Frye a good shooter. It lends to a good floor balance. As raw as Curry is, and HE IS RAW, despite the fact he has been in the league five years, he still gets 15 points and 6-7 rebounds a game. If he ever figures out how to score in the post without committing an offensive foul every other possession he can be a very good, if not great center. It would also help if the Knicks could throw a decent post entry pass. Frye on the other hand is very polished, but needs to get a little stronger and work on his post game.

But these are the ONLY two people the Knicks shouldn’t trade. In fact they should try and trade everyone else as long as it doesn’t destroy their cap until 2010. Trade Crawford for anyone. Trade Richardson for anyone. Even though Richardson has been surprisingly solid playing defense and rebounding, his offense has been as bad as I’ve ever seen from a two guard. And while Jamal Crawford can sometimes get hot and win a game for the team he epitomizes EVRYTHING the team does poorly. He chucks, doesn’t pass well, is turnover machine, and can’t play defense. If they trade him, the whole team benefits. In fact – if I could trade either or both of these guys for someone who’s contract is up after next season I would even throw in a draft pick or a raw young guy to get it done. You clear these two contracts you have some serious cap space. But let’s not expect any gifts from heaven.

Trade Ariza if you have to, he’ll never be anything more than a roleplayer, unless he finds some kind of offensive game. Did he practice at all in the offseason? Even David Lee and Nate Robinson – say bye bye in the right deal. I don’t think either will be an impact player in this league as a starter. You’re either looking at a good roleplayer or an average starter at best.

Jerome James? What’s the chance he has a heart attack and dies?

Even Marbury, if you get a good fit with some decent players coming back with shorter contracts or a lot of young talent and draft picks you make the deal. I honestly don’t believe he is the problem with his team, but trading him, providing you get good players back could be a part of the answer.

So what should the Knicks be looking for, besides the chance to dump a salary? Their needs are many. Here are a few players they can use.

Earl Watson – Solid point guard – nothing special but doesn’t fit with Denver. I think setting up a Crawford/Watson swap can work for both teams. Their contracts aren’t a perfect match so a player or two on each end would have to be included – like the Knicks taking back Byron Russell.
Brevin Knight – Another very good point guard, in a situation in Charlotte where they want to go young. A swap could be worked out here sending Nate Robinson south.
Al Harrington – If the Hawks get convinced they won’t be able to sign him they will deal him. He is a good three, with post up ability and a decent jumpshot. Not a great player that the Knicks would give a HUGE contract in the offseason, so there is a downside – but the thought of a Curry/Frye/Harrington frontcourt for the next decade aint bad at all. If the Hawks want cap space the Knicks can send them Penny Hardaway one of the rookies not names Chaning Frye, a draft pick, and even take back another bad contract back. The chance of this going down during the season is low. After the season a sign and trade is a little more likely – but smart money has Harrington heading to Chicago.
Paul Pierce – This is a stetch too – and won’t happen but Im honestly struggling to find people the Knicks could actually use. They need a true two guard, and while his contract is BIG in terms of cash per year he only has 2 years left on it after this one. Not too bad. Knicks could get him for almost nothing if they took back Raef Lafrentz. (could you find a more overpaid player if you tried?)

More importantly who not to get:

Kenyon Martin – see above
Theo Ratliff – As bad as Jerome James has been you have to give him a little more of a chance – you’re stuck with him try and make it work. Ratliff can block shots but not much else.
Steve Francis – It’s intriguing, it really is – but him WITH Marbury. Yikes. I don’t think he is a better player than Steph either.
Drew Gooden – There’s a reason despite all his skills he can’t find a home and be very productive. And again he’ll take time away from Frye.
Anyone else from the Sonics that isn’t named Ray Allen. Please no Reggie Evans or Flip Murray. Jerome James is enough, I’m begging you.

Only one tidbit from me today – I don’t get anyone who doesn’t like the Jalen Rose trade. Regardless of whether you like Rose as a player, the Knicks got a first round draft pick for nothing. Yes Rose’s deal is one year longer – but the Knicks are over the cap next season anyway. And now you can deal him next year when HIS contract is expiring. The only argument against this deal is taking minutes from Woods, Lee and Ariza. And those guys aren’t going to be the answer at the three, so I’ll live with it.


Blogger Bryan Koch said...


I've been of the mindset for a while now that the Knicks should hold onto Curry, Frye, and less rigidly Lee and Robinson (neither will ever be a starter but both could serve well off of the bench), and just dump all of the other contracts and/or let them expire. Let's remember, the King is a free agent in two years, and the Knicks won't have a shot at the postseason before then, anyway. I really believe every move should be made with the intention of eventually signing Lebron James. It's the quickest way to revive this franchise.

1:04 PM  

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