This is a big week for the Knicks. Tomorrow, August 28th, Zach Randolph trade throw-ins Dan Dickau and Fred Jones become tradable, which equals $6.1 Million in expiring contracts. This is the last shot for the knicks to make a move and turn a borderline playoff team into an actual contender. As a season ticket holder, I've gotta hope (and assume) that something can still be done before the start of the season.
It looks like Kobe has accepted the fact that he'll be playing in LA next season, unhappy or not, and I'm sure that the Lakers aren't feeling any pressure to move him anymore. THAT SAID...next year's free agent class is a big one, and IF the Lakers were willing to sacrifice one season for the greater good, this would be the year to do it. Unforch, if the decision is made, the Knicks simply don't have enough to get the Lakers off the hook. While the 6.1 mil, plus Balkman and Lee would be a start, there's no way they're taking back anything else the Knicks have to make up the salary difference. So barring some magical NBA level intervention to re-establish the league in the east, that one's not even worth discussing.
That basically leaves Artest as the guy to get, and it is this blogger's opinion that it's a move the Knicks would be foolish not to make. We're not going to get the Kings to bite on a Jerome James or Jared Jefferies that easy, but the expiring contracts plus a Nate Robinson and a draft pick is a deal any Knick fan must take in a second. I'm a little bit torn on Balkman and Lee, because while I love both players, they just don't fit on this team anymore. Especially Lee, who will demand big money when he becomes a free agent, or will level out this upcoming season and lose value. I mean, Lee simply doesn't fit into this team's future plans. We've got 2 big men signed for a long time. He can't play the 3. So we're either gonna overpay him to be a backup into his 30s, (remember...he's got 4 years on many of the kids in is draft class as he graduated College,) or let him go somewhere for free. The only move is to trade him. Sooner rather than later. Maybe he'll have more value at the deadline, when some new players might become available, but that's a crapshoot.
3 options for getting Artest:
1. Try and get the Kings to bite on the 6.1 plus a Robinson and a pick.
2. Give them the guy they really want, Lee, but force them to take back a player to ease up on our contract burden (James or Rose or Q or something). Save the contracts for a potential deadline deal (or just let them go)
3. Bite the bullet and just give em Lee or Balkman and filler for Ron.
I'm hoping we can trick them into the first 2 options, but I've accepted I'd be OK with #3. I just don't understand the "Lee is offlimits" Camp. Why??? He's not a 19 year old project. He doesn't fit into the teams current or future plans, he's probably reached his peak as a player and he's got that weird nagging injury which doesn't seem 100% healed yet. Plain and simple, he won't help this team win a single game they wouldn't already win. Artest probably gives them 5 wins himself. Maybe more. That could be the difference between a borderline 8th seed to a 4 or 5. I love Lee as a player as much as the next guy, but he has no place in New York. Not with Curry and Zack up front. Not this year, not next year and not after a large FA contract. It sucks, I know, but it's the fact.
I think Balkman is a great guy off the bench to backup at the 2/3. Jefferies grew a beard in the off-season and bulked up, so I'm willing to give him a shot. Rose is a capable backup. Collins is a solid backup PG in the NBA. The Rookies can be end of the bench guys who might have a reason to prove something. Richardson and Robinson seem a bit excessive at this point, but I'm not sure what to do with them. I guess we'll have to suck it up. Same goes for jokes like James. The Knicks aren't perfect. But they could be better. Even if it takes an unpopular move.
UPDATE: Another point...The best thing the Knicks have going for them this decade is that any player who is not a complete and total bust gets hyped to no end. WE NEED TO START TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THIS! Anyone still wishing we held onto that core of Frank Williams, Make Sweetney, Trevor Ariza and Madje Lampe? Remember all these highly touted kids who got a lot of nice things written about them while the Knicks limped to another 35 win season? Renaldo Balkman and David Lee might have nice careers, but I can assure you that these players will never come back to haunt us. Our best assets are the young and unproven kids that get a ton of articles written about them before their faults are exposed. Move them now. I'm telling you. We're lucky we got something for Channing after his pedestrian second season. Remember when he was untouchable? And was a great draft pick and all that? Well is anyone worried that 5 years from now we'll be saying "Man...how did we give him up?" No way. This cannot be repeated with Balkman and Lee. ESPECIALLY Balkman. He is an exciting, but very flawed player. This year his faults will be more exposed. Remember this, Knick fans, when we're either trying to salvage something for Lee next season or trying to dump Lee's contract in 3 years. Like we're doing with Nate now.