Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy Trade Deadline Day!

The National Basketball Association's deadline for trading players is 3 p.m. EST. Today. So, it's on. Like popcorn. I'm excited. I'm nervous. During the Isiah Error you just never knew what was going to happen on this day. But you knew something would happen. And, that it would probably involve taking on bad contracts and worse players, like the famed Trevor Ariza for Stevie Franchise move of 2006. Which aside from the symmetrical book stacking at the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947 is the most traumatic thing I've ever experienced.

Sort of friend of WWOD?, Alan Hahn at Newsday is reporting that David Lee is no longer on the trading block. ESPN was reporting that Newsday was reporting that David Lee is off the market. And, this is how the game is played. Someone "reports" something somewhere and then someone else reports on that report and it eventually ends up being reported on Sportscenter. Does this mean Lee won't be traded? Probably. But not necessarily.

First of all, if any club shows a willingness to take on Eddy Curry's contract then you've got be willing to include Lee in the deal. This won't be happening because Curry hasn't played all year and is likely as emotionally fragile as sort-of-Hornets center Tyson Chandler is apparently physically fragile. After being traded from New Orleans to the StolenSonics (in a salary dump), Chandler was marked "return to sender" by OKC doctors, who are concerned about his left big toe. In his own words, he was "super shocked." Me too. I didn't know we had decided that 26-year-old shot-blocking and ally-oop dunking centers were things to move around as freely as Tim Thomas. I must have missed that memo.

The only other way I see that Knicks consider parting with Lee is if the Hornets feel like they have to trade Chandler after all that has gone down in the past few days. If that happens and the Knicks can send Lee and Malik Roses's expiring contract to NOLA then you've got to think about it. It's true that Chandler's contract runs one year past the Summer of 2010 and this might complicate things. But it might not. After all, he's a top-of-the-second-tier center and he will only become a more tradeable asset as each year rolls of his pact. Most importantly, he would give the Knicks a shot-blocking presence on defense and a center who makes his living getting points without having plays run for him. If Walsh doesn't think that he'll be able to retain Lee at a rate that makes sense going forward then this as about as good value as you good ever get back for him.

As far as other deals allegedly in the works, Frank Isola of The Daily News has reported that the Knicks and the Bulls have talked about a deal that would bring shooting guard Larry Hughes to the Big Apple. Malik Rose's expiring contract would again be the key component, as Isola tells it. This deal, though, would require the Knicks to include at least one additional player in order for the dollars to make sense. Ideally (for the Knicks) the Bulls accept Rose's expiring contract and injured bench warmer Jerome James in exchange for Hughes, who was told early in the season that he will not be playing for the Bulls. Both James' and Hughes' contracts run through next season but James's costs about half as much as Hughes's. This would give the Bulls some cap relief next season while also giving the Knicks the stop-gap shooting guard (with a 2010 friendly contract) that Cutino Mobley was supposed to be. I'm not sure if the Bulls have the roster flexibility to pull of a two-for-one deal (especially when you're replacing one guy that does not play with two guys who will not play) so it's possible that any Knicks/Bulls deal would need to get even more involved. To this point, Isola does mention the possibility that David Lee could be included if Chicago was willing to part with Tyrus Thomas or Joakim Noah. Frankly, I don't see that happening. I don't think you trade Lee for those guys at this point even though they both come off the books after next season. As I said above, I think that you have to hope to use Lee to move Curry (perhaps in a sign-and-trade deal after the season) or you have to get an All-Star caliber player in return rather than a rental with potential, which is all that Noah and Thomas are at this point.

In It's-Probably-Too-Good-To-Be-True-News, there was a report this morning in a Yahoo! Sports roundup that the Washington Wizards were interesting in bringing Jared Jeffries back to the District. A few hours later, Hahn at Newsday reported in his blog that the story has "no legs". I wish it had legs because moving Jeffries (and his contract that pays him $6.46 million next season and, cue ominous music, $6.88 million the year after that) would making retaining David Lee (or Nate Robinson) far more realistic (presuming we could convince one or the other to take a backloaded deal). A swap of Jeffries for combo guard Mike James would be a coup for the Knicks. James could provide some of the off-guard scoring that the club had acquired Mobley for, share the court with Nate in the second unit and has a contract that ends after next season. But if the deal has no legs than it likely won't sprint across the finish line by 3 p.m. this afternoon.

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