There must be an echo in the NBA's rumor mill. It feels like we've heard that before.
Because we have.
Bleacher Report's Howard Beck has the details on the now nonexistent talks between the Knicks and Toronto Raptors:
Same story, different day.
According to the New York Daily News' Frank Isola, Knicks owner James Dolan previously vetoed a deal that would've landed his team Lowry for the same reason: He didn't want to part with a first-round pick. Or Iman Shumpert. Or Chris Smith. Or Tim Hardaway Jr. He also didn't want Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri making an asset-less punk out of him.
According to a source familiar with the talks, Dolan had second thoughts about trading for Lowry and was also — what else? — enraged that details of the proposed deal had been leaked to the media.
According to several reports, the Knicks were prepared to trade Raymond Felton and Metta World Peace plus Iman Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr. or a 2018 first-round pick. The Raptors preferred the first-round pick, but Dolan — who negotiated the Carmelo Anthony trade with Raptors GM Masai Ujiri when Ujiri was with the Denver Nuggets — got cold feet about trading a future asset. That could open the door for the Brooklyn Nets to acquire Lowry instead.
"Dolan didn’t want to get fleeced again by Masai," was how one Knicks source put it. "They had a deal ready."
Hard for me to say I blame Dolan here. Whenever the Knicks strike a deal with Ujiri, they come out the other end, wreaking of failure, preparing for an inevitable walk of shame as another first-round selection makes its way out of New York.
Thanks to the Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani trades, the Knicks don't have a first-rounder to offer until 2018, per RealGM.com, making Dolan's uncharacteristic trepidation understandable.
Desperate for some backcourt depth, talks with Toronto had to be revisited. Injuries to Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni, and the spotty play of Beno Udrih, forced New York's hand. Not even the controversial Knicks can afford to trot out Chris Smith with a straight face. They need someone else, especially when you consider Felton may battle hamstring ailments all season.
But Lowry isn't the type of player you mortgage your future on. He's an upgrade over Felton, but his contract comes off the books after this season.
With both eyes on summer 2015, when players like Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, among others, could potentially be available, the Knicks won't taint future financial plasticity for a top-20 point man.
Submitting to Ujiri's asking price could mean they're forfeiting a first-rounder for an essential rental, and that can't happen. Not when that pick could be used as part of a bigger trade later on. Or, go with me on this, not when that pick could be used on an actual selection in 2018. Crazy, right?
One other thing worth considering is the Raptors aren't exactly in a position of power. Offers obviously aren't rolling in, otherwise Lowry would be playing elsewhere and Toronto would be the proud owner of another first-rounder.
Ujiri's blatant tank job is also perched atop the feeble Atlantic Division, which is just the opposite of what he's going for. Rudy Gay wasn't traded to make Toronto better. He was shipped out to save money and enhance the value of the Raptors' draft pick.
Driven by a need to lose, Ujiri could be the one that folds this time. Maybe he lowers his asking price, hoping to make a division rival better so his Raptors can return to where they belong—near the bottom.
Seems unlikely, but if Dolan can suddenly understand the value of a first-round draft pick, anything's possible.