New York's 2010 game turns into a high-stakes gamble

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With talks between the Knicks and the Rockets as serious as any other trade discussions out there, Donnie Walsh’s 2010 vision may finally be coming into focus. On a very basic level, it’s golden: Walsh draws on using the biggest market and the biggest stage the NBA has to offer, not to mention some solid young complementary talent, to lure in two of the free agent class’ elite stars.

But if the Knicks end up completing a deal for Tracy McGrady with the other principles of the reported trade staying in place, the Knicks won’t have anything in the way of a back-up plan. From Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

It’s a great deal for the Knicks if they can get either LeBron James or
Dwyane Wade. If not, they wouldn’t have much to build around in terms
of young talent. Hill would be with Houston, the Jazz own the Knicks
2010 first round pick and the Rockets would get the Knicks picks in 2012.

While trading for McGrady would indeed open up the cap room to potentially sign two big-name, big-game free agents, what would be left of the rest of the roster? Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Toney Douglas are the only current Knicks under contract for next season, supposing Jared Jeffries indeed has one foot out the door and Eddy Curry remains glued to the bench. The Knicks won’t even have the promise of Jordan Hill, nor any future opportunities at a mulligan as they’re essentially forfeiting their involvement in the first round of the draft until 2013, with the sole exception being the 2011 first round pick of a consistently impressive Rockets team.

If the Knicks could somehow land LeBron, Wade, and/or Bosh, other free agents would follow. But without having two huge talents carrying the load on a nightly basis, how would the Knicks find a way to be anything other than middling? And considering that Walsh’s 2010 plan essentially boils down to gambling on the attractiveness of NYC and the Garden (the former of which means less than you’d think in the internet age) against actually competitive basketball cores in other free agent destinations, isn’t sending out all of the Knicks’ first-rounders for the near future a decidedly bad idea? The Knicks’ fans have been promised a shot in the 2010 free agent lottery, but the price Walsh pays for that opportunity could backfire and doom New York for years to come.