Perhaps the biggest move the Knicks made today was a transaction they didn’t make. With eyes around the league fixed squarely on cap space for the free-agent class of 2010, Knicks President Donnie Walsh reportedly passed on an offer from the Sacramento Kings that would have rid the roster of Jared Jeffries and the team’s $6.8 million obligation to him for the 2010-11 season.
The deal would have come at the expense of the NBA’s 2006 and 2009 Slam Dunk Champion, Nate Robinson, himself a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
While there is little chance that the team can afford to re-sign both Robinson and fellow restricted free agent David Lee this offseason while preserving their chances of landing one or two marquee players in the summer of 2010, trading Robinson now for little more than salary cap space would have been a clear signal to the fan base that the team is not serious about making a playoff push this year.
Instead, Walsh spoke loudly in the moves he did make, acquiring center Chris Wilcox from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Malik Rose, and swapping Tim Thomas, Jerome James and Anthony Roberson in exchange for Chicago’s Larry Hughes.
None of the players sent packing would have impacted the team’s cap in 2010, nor do the players imported improve the team’s payroll flexibility down the line. Rather, the finances of these maneuvers effectively equate to a wash, while the Knicks have acquired the shooting guard and post presence they have desperately lacked since shipping out Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph in November.
Blockbuster acquisitions? By no means. However the Knicks have improved their roster while remaining fiscally conscious—something we haven’t seen at the Garden in more than a decade.
Rejoice, Knicks fan. Your team is on the precipice of relevancy!