Suggested proposal for Knicks in free agency:
Trade Melo or Amar'e
Sports attorney Matt Tolnick gives a unique analysis of a suggested New York Knicks free agency strategy
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, “superteams” will have a harder
time forming than in the past. Regardless of system, it is hard for any “superteam”
to ever compete with the Miami Heat, a squad containing two top-5 players in the game.
With the new rules in place, the Knicks face the added challenge of needing to “catch
up” to Miami.
The following proposal could net the Knicks three superstars and an all-star-to-
be, giving them a chance of at least matching the firepower lining South Beach. At
the same time, there are risks that feelings could be hurt, promises broken, and a
Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Chris Paul, if you can unite the three all-stars, are not better
than Miami in the long-term. They would be more injury prone, would have one
fewer year of experience together, and would be behind in rounding out their roster.
I see them being the Stockton-Malone Jazz to the Jordan-Pippen Bulls. If it were
me, I’d rather go for (a) championship-level competitiveness if it meant possibly
winding up only a perennial playoff team over (b) a certain result that the team
would be a perennial 2nd or 3rd round playoff team.
Regardless of what the Knicks did in the past, the organization should make the best
move for the team as it stands today.
My proposal detailed below could result in disgruntled superstars, disgruntled
individuals playing the game that they love for fame and tens of millions of
dollars. Only two players in the league have no-trade clauses, the past two NBA
championship MVPs, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki. Everybody else knows (or
should know) that NBA trades can and do happen, and the players are compensated
handsomely for that possibility.
Without further ado…
The concept is for the Knicks to acquire three superstars, 1) Amar'e or Carmelo; 2)
Deron Williams or Chris Paul; and 3) Dwight Howard as well as some young talent
and/or draft picks. In Phase 1, the Knicks would trade Amar’e or Carmelo as well
as Toney Douglas and Renaldo Balkman for young talent, future draft picks in
2012 and 2013, and expiring contracts (where necessary). Any small-market team
looking for a superstar locked into a long-term deal will be interested, and they
would be encouraged to acquire 2012 and 2013 pick trade partners.
POSSIBLE PHASE 1 KNICKS TRADE PARTNERS:
Pacers: Expiring James Posey ($7,595,000), Tyler Hansbrough ($3,059,259 in ’12-13) and/
or Expiring George Hill ($1,540,463) + pick(s)
Clippers: Expiring Chris Kaman ($12,200,000) + Expiring Eric Gordon ($3,831,184) + pick(s);
could hold onto Gordon and sign Howard and D-Will/CP3 for less or could ship
Gordon to 3rd team for picks.
OKC: Eric Maynor ($2,338,721 in ’12-13) + Serge Ibaka ($2,253,062 in ’12-13) + Nate
Robinson’s Expiring ($4,500,000) + Kendrick Perkins ($7,800,531 in ’12-13) + Pick(s); then
deal Perkins elsewhere (i.e. to Boston for Jermaine plus 2012 1st pick(s)??)
Sacramento: JJ Hickson ($2,354,537 ’11-12 with QO of $3,357,568 in ’12-13 ) +
Jimmer + Pick(s).
PHASE 2: LET THE CONTRACTS EXPIRE
During Phase 2, the Knicks would let all of their contracts expire with the exception
of Amar’e or Carmelo (whoever wasn’t traded) and the one or two low-cost, high-
talent players who they will retain moving forward.
PHASE 3: SIGN CHRIS PAUL OR DERON WILLIAMS AND DWIGHT HOWARD
Having shed the contracts, New York will be able to
make overtures to Deron Williams/Chris Paul and Dwight Howard and it will be
up to them whether they will agree to take less money in order extend qualifying
offers, team options, etc. to the one or two promising young players who New York
could sign in Free Agency 2012. Either way, they would likely gain at least one
draft pick in dealing Carmelo or Amar’e. The beauty here is that there would be a
competitive “superteam” waiting for these two free agents in New York City. If they
agreed to sign for less than the maximum (as Miami’s superstars did), they would
have enough talent to be ultra-competitive long-term with anyone.
Here’s the bottom line. Ironically, during the “Melodrama,” the Knicks drove up the
price that superstars now trade for, and now that they want another one they can’t
afford to pay. So they should now become a superstar seller (rather than buyer)
and then re-sign Chris Paul/Deron Williams and Dwight Howard in Summer 2012.
Howard is key here. We know that Chris Paul wants to be in New York and with at
least one of his close friends. Howard, on the other hand, is more of an unknown
and may have a fancy for the tinsel of Hollywood. But, at the end of the day, if
Howard cares most about outdueling the other “Superman” (Shaq) for rings, he will
follow Paul/Williams into the cold of New York just as Kevin Garnett followed Ray
Allen to the Celtics. For Howard, there could be no better set of players to play with,
as any trade would certainly leave Howard’s destination team somewhat looted.
Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and maybe Eric Gordon? Lethal. And,
at worst, you would have Carmelo (or Amar’e), Chris Paul, and young player(s) and
draft picks. Not a bad end result if it gives you a chance at one of the best modern-
day teams ever assembled.
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