After the long-overdue regime change for the New York Knicks, new General Manager Donnie Walsh had a plan — do anything and everything to cut payroll, get the team under the salary cap and by 2010 start going after big time free agents to drastically remake the roster.
But there are 32 games to play first, and priorities to clarify: Do the Knicks want to make the playoffs at any cost? Or will they focus on developing their young core of Gallinari, Chandler, Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas? It is an internal debate that has been brewing for two years.
Coach Mike D’Antoni has been hyperfocused on buffing up the Knicks’ record for the sake of restoring the franchise’s credibility and making it more attractive to top free agents. So he has given major roles to veterans with no place in the Knicks’ future, including Harrington, Robinson, Larry Hughes and Jared Jeffries. Meanwhile, Hill and Douglas, the Knicks’ top two rookies, have been stuck on the bench.
The trading deadline will tell who wins the battle of wills in the front office. If they go out and get another veteran, the goal is clearly to close the 4.5 game gap and get themselves into the playoffs. (That’s a lot of ground to make up.) If they stand pat, expect to see a lot more of Douglas and Hill, wins be damned.
But what about any part of this process looks attractive to LeBron James?
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The Lakers took on the salary of Jose Calderon this year so they could get a couple second-round picks from the Bulls (Chicago got him from New York in the Derrick Rose trade), but even with the previous regime in Los Angeles the aging point guard was never part of the future.
Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears….
Sources say that Calderon, if he winds up hitting the open market, would instantly become a target for both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.
Cleveland may also have interest if their plan to land Deron Williams when he is bought out by Dallas goes awry.
Calderon, 35, was not part of the Lakers’ regular rotation, playing in just 24 games. He can still knock down a shot if he has space and can set his feet, and he still has a high hoops IQ and can see the floor, but his athleticism has faded, and that can leave him exposed. Particularly on defense.
Players are being waived now so they clear in time for teams to sign them by March 1, after that said players are not eligible for playoff rosters.
There are better players to hit the waiver wire in the coming days — D-Will, Andrew Bogut, Matt Barnes — but Calderon is going to land somewhere. He’d be a solid third point guard and veteran presence for a playoff run.
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The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.
The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.