Will the New York Knicks look to make an in-season trade or two in 2012-13? It sure looks like the Knicks have no room to maneuver, constrained by unrequited, bloated contracts and tax penalties that have eaten away at the salary cap and James Dolan’s (and your) wallet.
Also, the Knicks have the best, most all-around complete (from position to position with capable backups for each) roster in over a decade, coupled with a proper training camp and full season.
The organization has spent the last three years and literally hundreds of millions of dollars constructing today’s team.
Can they afford to trade? Why trade? Are we not yet afflicted with transaction fatigue?
Logically, it doesn’t make sense: any big trade would essentially be exchanging a talented, unproven squad for another. Why not just stick with the first talented, unproven squad and give it a rest?
I can think of two main reasons: patching a hole, or DEFCON 1.
Let’s look at some Knicks trade fixes, from a little bit of spackle to the nuclear.
The Knicks brought Raymond Felton back hoping to rekindle that old Amar'e Stoudemire flame. What if it just doesn't work out?
Felton was supremely effective as a pass-first point guard working with Amar'e two seasons ago; he had his career year, in fact. And he provided a stability at the position New York has been trying to recapture since his departure.
If he fails to get back into game shape, and New York's point guard woes continue, maybe GM Glen Grunwald can pick off Brandon Jennings from the Milwaukee Bucks.
Something's gone wrong out in Milwaukee, where the Bucks have balked at extending Jennings.
Jennings would be a nice upgrade over Felton at the point, especially in terms of scoring, so New York would have to throw in Iman Shumpert to sweeten the deal. In return, Milwuakee will have to throw in John Henson or Tobias Harris to balance the cap numbers.
If things move along mostly as planned for the Knicks, it is unlikely they will look to make moves with any one of their big three. That really does just leave the guard positions and bench players as places where New York can make some incremental improvements.
Take Jose Calderon, who, like Brandon Jennings, would be an upgrade at the point for New York over Raymond Felton.
According to the Toronto Star, there has been some "grumbling" regarding the Toronto Raptors' point guard plans. Calderon is unhappy on the Toronto Raptors and was looking for a trade after they acquired new starter Kyle Lowry.
But coach Dwane Casey awkwardly tried to put a lid on it:
'Jose’s one of the best,' said Casey. 'I know there was a lot of grumbling around but I expect nothing—whether he’s the starter or coming off the bench — no rumblings at all because his heart’s in the right place and he’s going to do the right thing for this team and this organization.'
That sounds like trade talk to me.
Here the Raptors would get some help and small forward (Novak) and shooting guard (Smith), two places where they definitely need it.
There is a great possibility Amar'e Stoudemire will continue to be the odd man out on the Knicks.
If that's the case, New York will look to cut their long-term losses, even at a temporary setback.
Stoudemire is more movable than is the typical impossible take expressed throughout last year and this offseason by the media and fans.
You just have to dig. And you have to look at the worst teams that are looking for a shot in the arm, or any way to fill some seats.
Rather than trying to find some equivalent talent/equivalent contract out there for Stoudemire, the Knicks could (and should) look to get themselves off the salary cap hook. Again, if and only if he's not clicking with the team and a reboot through free agency seems best.
How about an Amar'e Stoudemire-Anderson Varejao swap?
Varejao is not as talented and makes about $11 million less, but ESPN's Trade Machine shows this is doable. Stoudemire would instantly make the Cavaliers legitimate, and he might very well click with budding superstar Kyrie Irving at the point.
Varejao would take over for Amar'e at power forward and, likely to Carmelo Anthony's liking, play a more complementary role as a better rebounder and team defender. He comes with a contract more than half the size of Stoudemire's ($8 million to $19 million), saving the Knicks money for future free agents, and the Cavs have tons of cap room to cover the difference.
According to the Star Tribune, the Houston Rockets have been shopping Kevin Martin this offseason to the Minnesota Timberwolves amongst other teams. They wanted to dump the last year of his contract ($12 million) with dependable backup Carlos Delfino one-fourth the price.
The Rockets are also taking a flyer on Turkish center Omer Asik, who has a lot to prove. According to FIBA.com, Asik himself admits he needs to work on his game, "I know it looks like the offense is the missing part of my game now," Asik said, "but I believe in myself I can improve that."
Like the Stoudemire-Varejao scenario, this one is mostly a way to get some money off James Dolan's books.
Martin's last year plus Asik's three years at about $8 million apiece frees New York of two years each of $11M million worth of Stoudemire's contract, beginning in 2013-14.
The Knicks would love an upgrade at the No. 2 in the likes of Martin. Asik can help out at power forward and center.
Meanwhile, the Rockets get a huge upgrade at power forward over second-year starter Patrick Patterson.
New York throws in Ronnie Brewer to cover the shooting guard depth left more shallow by Martin's vacancy, and to cover the salary balance.
Chris Paul. A trade for the Clippers point guard, who has declined signing an extension with L.A. as of yet, and, according to the Daily News, "won't rule out Knicks," has to be on the list, as it's been the one most rumored about since the one that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York.
And this is the only possible way to get him, as precisely laid out here at Bleacher Report.
Why Tyson Chandler? The Defensive Player of the Year clearly made the Knicks a tougher team.
He is the only one of the big three that would fit in this deal.
Carmelo Anthony is the reason for this trade in the first place. It's Anthony and Paul that dream of playing together. He's out. And the Clippers have Blake Griffin, so Amar'e Stoudemire is out.
Since Chandler is only on the books for $13 million compared to Paul's $17 million, and because Paul is arguably the premier point guard in the NBA, the Knicks will have to throw in Iman Shumpert. Raymond Felton is automatic.
I doubt this will happen, but it could if the Knicks are flailing defensively and Carmelo Anthony flexes his already defined influential muscle.
What if things just go horribly wrong? Apoplectic.
In this doomsday scenario, New York struggles from the opening tip-off at the Barclays Center, and the great jelling Amar'e Stoudemire-Carmelo Anthony experiment finally unravels into a Knicks team spiraling out of control and a freefall in the standings.
Maybe Stoudemire comes back strong after his training with Hakeem Olajuwon, and takes over the team's offense from the post. He finds his 15-footer and mean-finishing slam again.
Carmelo Anthony begins with the worst season of his career, hogging the ball, yet sporting his worst shooting percentage. Several times he makes poor decisons that cost games. Fans call for his head. Will New York miss the playoffs?
With Stoudemire generally too difficult to move, and Chandler too effective on both sides of the ball, Carmelo Anthony is the best trade piece the Knicks have.
On the other side of the trade, say the Memphis Grizzlies feel they are stalling or backsliding, and have gone as far as they can with their current roster. Anthony for Rudy Gay would work for both teams just looking to shake things up.
J.R. Smith would be a fine back up for Tony Allen at the number two, while Marreese Speights would add some depth at the forward and center spots.
This all could happen, but check out your window for flying pigs first.
Any other Carmelo Anthony trade scenarios? Amar'e Stoudemire? Tell us in the comments. Check out ESPNs Trade Machine to get those cap numbers down.
Follow me on Twitter @VinGetz.