New York Knicks  v Philadelphia 76ers

Report says Knicks to shop Amar’e Stoudemire this summer, but reasoning is flawed


It’s no secret that the Knicks would love to rid themselves of the contract of Amar’e Stoudemire, and not just because he is due more than $23 million next season and his contract is uninsurable against any future injury.

That’s a huge chunk of salary that’s preventing New York from rebuilding quickly through signing star-level free agents, so anything the team could do to remove that contract from its books would almost certainly be open for discussion.

But offering Stoudemire to a team that hasn’t yet used its amnesty clause isn’t one of them, because that team wouldn’t be able to use it after acquiring Stoudemire under the rules of the latest collective bargaining agreement.

From Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

The Knicks have limited options to improve this summer but a move they are expected to make is offering the expiring contract of Amar’e Stoudemire to a team that has not already used its amnesty clause. That team in turn could trade the Knicks the long-term, unwanted contract of an impact player, such as the Pelicans’ Eric Gordon.

The Knicks would have no problem taking on Gordon’s deal, which is another that’s scheduled to pay out more than the expected level of production is worth. But the Pelicans (or any other team that trades for Stoudemire) wouldn’t be incentivized to make this trade by having the ability to then amnesty Stoudemire.

From Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ (Q. 68):

“For a player to be eligible for the Amnesty provision he must be on his team’s roster continuously from July 1, 2011 to the date he is amnestied, without any new contract, extension, renegotiation or other amendment to his contract in the meantime. Players who were waived prior to July 1, 2011 and are still receiving guaranteed salary are also eligible. Teams cannot amnesty players they sign, receive in trade, extend, renegotiate, or otherwise amend after July 1, 2011.”

Someone may find a reason to trade for Stoudemire this summer, because next season is the final year of that contract, which would then open up plenty of cap space the following season. And, the Pelicans have long been trying to deal Gordon, who is a solid player when healthy but hasn’t yet lived up to a contract that has more than $30 million remaining over the next two seasons.

But teams that haven’t used their amnesty clause yet won’t be a factor, because that provision only applies to players currently on the team who have been there since July of 2011.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.