There are three days remaining before teams are able to start trading the free agents they signed over the summer. That means we’ll start seeing a lot of speculation about Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Hornets (Pelicans) getting traded because he’s a hot commodity.
But there’s one team that you shouldn’t expect to see connected to any trade rumors: The New York Knicks. They are built to win this year. They are not thinking about rebuilding. They are not thinking about draft picks; they picked the guys they wanted this summer and picked smartly. While other teams are trying to add “one more piece” to take them over the hump, the Knicks will be silent.
That’s because Donnie Walsh and Glen Grunwald’s strategy worked. When Donnie Walsh came in he turned things upside down, trading away players in exchange for players who were not as good. Walsh made all sorts of big and small trades so that when 2010 rolled around, the Knicks would be ready.
“The Knicks are back,” Amar’e Stoudemire said emphatically back in July of 2010.
While the Knicks didn’t get who they had originally wanted in LeBron James, they did get a marquee power forward to take the jump. Obviously the $100 million was a big part of why Stoudemire came to New York, but he embraced the city and in return, the city embraced him.
Later that season, the Carmelo Anthony trade went down, and while a ton of fans went into an uproar again because they loved Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton, it was a move that needed to be done. Hindsight is 20/20, but looking at the team today, it’s obvious that the trade made sense.
In 2011, Walsh drafted Iman Shumpert, a defensive guard who was still trying to develop his jump shot, and then retired from the GM position. This left Grunwald with a tremendous team on paper, but one that still had a lot of holes. The NBA lockout happened, players got hurt, and other players stepped up, but last season’s Knicks were still incapable of doing what they wanted to do: Win a championship.
That brings us to today. The Knicks are 16-5. They signed Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace over the summer. These old veterans have a ton of experience playing but they also have a ton of experience on their bodies. While the team could collapse at any point due to injury, this team is deep.
It’s because of that depth and the elite level of the majority of its players that there will be no trades. During the 13 years that Bill Russell played basketball—all with the Boston Celtics—they only made one real trade: Mel Counts for Bailey Howell. That was a team that was built to win year in and year out, so why trade?
The Knicks are in the same position this year. They are in the “win now” mode and built their team entirely out of free agency, so why trade?
Fans might argue that Amar’e Stoudemire needs to be traded, contending he should be traded to Los Angeles for Pau Gasol. But look at the record of Stoudemire playing with Carmelo Anthony after Mike Woodson took over: The Knicks went 18-6. That doesn’t sound like a system where Stoudemire and Melo can’t fit.
Stoudemire coming back will only enhance the team, not hurt the team. Will there be some chemistry issues for a little while? Yes.
But give the coach some credit, he’s turned this team around completely. More importantly, there is a very talented power forward on the Knicks who can help Stoudemire develop his game: Rasheed Wallace.
These Knicks are Built to Win: Will They?
This team is made up of veterans and has two stars—Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire—who will take this team places. While the team is now Anthony’s, Stoudemire will fill in exactly where he is told to be because he wants to win. There’s no reason to trade that away.
So, while other teams will start clamoring to make trades come Demember 15—the Lakers come to mind here—the Knicks won’t. Fans should be happy about this. At the end of the day, this is the best team the Knicks have fielded in years and this is their year. This is their chance. For the first time in years, there is no need to trade.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are your 2012-13 New York Knickerbockers. Learn to love them. They’ll be playing well into the spring.
Jacob is a New York Knicks fan, but has since evolved to love the NBA as a whole. He is the co-founder of Curave, a morning newsletter of the best NBA content from around the web.