When a trade/free-agent/ambiguous-player-acquisition rumor pops up, legions of online basketball fans raise a collective eyebrow, see their curiosities piqued or share a dismissive scoff. But when a trade/free-agent/ambiguous-player-acquisition rumor pops up connecting a theoretically good player to the New York Knicks, all hell apparently breaks loose.
Case in point: a report from Ian Begley of ESPN New York that Lamar Odom may have some potential interest in making the Knicks his newest basketball home. Kudos to Odom and the Knicks if they could engineer such an outcome, but from where we sit now, there seems little reason to approach this reported interest with any vein of optimism.
Let's break it down.
Why Linking Lamar Odom to the Knicks Makes Sense
Because Lamar Odom Says So
Considering that this particular report is only expressing interest (in the hypothetical case that Odom does become a free agent), Odom's preferences certainly come into play. It's worthy of note in today's media cycle that a player with an uncertain future would like to land with some franchise or another, if only to establish a better concept of what said player might be looking for in a prospective team.
Because the Knicks Need Help
There's no way around it; health and stability will go a long way in setting New York up for success, but even a fully unified Knicks roster doesn't exactly have the makings of an elite club. Odom may not fit any of New York's specific needs (save for makeshift playmaking in the case that each and every one of their guards becomes injured), but he's an incredibly useful player when in the right mental and basketball space.
Why Linking Lamar Odom to the Knicks Doesn't Make Sense
Odom Isn't Yet a Free Agent
Odom isn't the only person around who loves NYC, but so long as he's playing out the terms of his current contract, Odom lacks the capacity to sign with the Knicks or any team whatsoever. Odom is—if in name only—a Dallas Maverick, and though it may eventually behoove the Mavs to formally part ways with Odom in order to claim salary-cap savings, the Mavs stand to make potentially even greater gains if they choose to trade Odom as a way of clearing his salary off of their books entirely.
The Knicks Don't Have Any Cap Room Whatsoever
Even before accounting for the potential re-signings of Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak and Baron Davis, the Knicks are committed to almost $62 million in salary for the 2012-2013 season. We won't know next season's official salary cap until the conclusion of the July moratorium, but based on the information available, it seems safe to assume that the line will be below $62 million—thus affording the Knicks only the mid-level exception (starting at $5 million) to complete the majority of their offseason signings.
New York Definitely Doesn't Want to Use its Mid-Level Exception to Sign Odom
Considering the impact that Lin has had on the Knicks franchise and its economics, I'm going to handicap the probability that New York willingly uses its MLE on Odom rather than Lin at just about zero.
Odom Doesn't Fix New York's Positional Problems
Although Odom could be seen as an interesting forward compromise that could theoretically function alongside either Carmelo Anthony or Amar'e Stoudemire, we run into a bit of a problem when we start breaking down the playing-time specifics. Plus, for all of Odom's offensive value, he can be a bit of a flighty defender; does playing him alongside Anthony and Tyson Chandler really rectify so many of New York's issues?
The Knicks are but one team among 30, and yet their movements—no matter how hypothetical or microscopic—attract all kinds of attention. Good for them, even if it forces us to rifle through reports like this one just for the sake of a necessary dismissal.
It's great that Odom has an idea of where he'd like to end up and where he might again make himself comfortable. But a lot would need to happen for him to land in New York—too much, in fact, for us to lend this notion any legitimate weight.