Rarely do we catch a glimpse into the New York Knicks' soul, but when we do, what we see is never pretty.
According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the usually guarded Knicks, who relay information about as well as Andrea Bargnani plays help defense, are planning to pry Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics before he hits free agency in 2015:
According to league sources, the Knicks' first prong is to try to attract the Celtics' Rajon Rondo. This idea has been tossed around in various forms for a while now, it's not shocking. But the way the Knicks are hoping to get Rondo is a little unusual.
It's not in free agency in 2015 but later this season or next summer when he comes back from a torn ACL. The Knicks are hoping Rondo will be interested in making a maneuver similar to what Anthony did back in 2011 and eventually try to force a trade to the Knicks, sources said.
Call this what it is: Ridiculous. A half-assed plan worthy of owner James Dolan, who, along with his front office minions, is known for never getting it right.
This is one of those times. At 9-19 and falling fast, the Knicks need something. They need someone. And that someone, that point guard could be Rondo.
But they're not going to land him. Not right now. They're not going anywhere special, either. Not like this.
Not when those in charge are untenable beyond reason, and delusional beyond comprehension.
Will They Ever Learn?
Something in particular Windhorst wrote caught my attention. Not in a good way. More like an exasperated, are-the-Knicks-for-real way.
"That may seem contrived, yes, but this isn't a made-up scenario," Windhorst wrote. "It is a genuine option. You have to give the Knicks this: It has worked before."
I don't doubt Windhorst's sources on this one. Not even for a minute. But two things catch my attention here: him calling it a "genuine option" and writing "it has worked before." That last part is especially harrowing, because it's both right and so, so wrong.
This type of misappropriated bravado isn't atypical of the Knicks. They've always been confident. Self-assured. Cocksure.
In 2010, their fanbase was sold on them landing one or two of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. When that didn't happen, the Knicks spun a different storyline, fueled by Amar'e Stoudemire's arrival, Chris Paul's wedding toast and hope that one day, Carmelo Anthony would join those two in New York.
Too bad almost only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and rancid milk-filled water-balloon fights.
Paul turned into Tyson Chandler, which isn't so much an indictment on Chandler as it is New York's grotesque planning. Instead of trying to find a home for Chauncey Billups' expiring contract, the Knicks amnestied him, ensuring the injury-prone Stoudemire would remain in New York unless they moved him. Good stuff.
But they got Anthony. Score...for the Nuggets.
Almost three years later, that trade can go either way, but as I wrote previously, there's no debating how it's turned out:
Worked when? You mean the Anthony trade? Yeah, let me briefly recap how that's worked out.
In an effort to obtain Anthony at all costs, the Knicks actually paid every cost imaginable, sending prized assets likes Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Raymond "Bad Penny" Felton and their 2014 first-round draft pick to the Denver Nuggets. Nearly three years later, the Knicks have won a single playoff series and descended into their own private financial purgatory, exceeded only by the fiscal quagmire the Brooklyn Nets find themselves in.
You might still be, or inevitably gotten, on board with that deal, which is fine. But facts are facts. The Knicks mortgaged the farm on Anthony, and it hasn't worked out like it was supposed to. Even 'Melo knows the Knicks gave up the world for him.
Now they want to go through that again? Trading for a star who would cost them every last asset they have?
Rondo's good. Great, even. But we've read this story before and already know how it ends: Not well.
So Rondo's supposed to exert his leverage over Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, is he? Tell me, what leverage might that be?
Next season Rondo will have some power. The thought of losing him for nothing could compel Boston to trade him, but it won't necessarily be to New York—especially this season.
Assuming Rondo is interested in joining the Knicks (not impossible), forcing his hand too early sets him up for disaster. Ainge may in fact trade him immediately, but it could be anywhere. Knowing they have all of next season to sell Rondo on staying, some team will assemble a better package than New York and roll the dice. Count on that.
Waiting until summertime, when he actually has leverage, won't necessarily help either.
Denver isn't Boston. The Nuggets weren't in the midst of a full-fledged rebuild when they dealt Anthony. Though they made out like bandits—they can thank Jimmy D for that—there weren't endless options.
'Melo wanted to play in New York then, just like Rondo could now. But unlike Denver, Boston can afford to risk Rondo walking away for nothing.
Not only have the Celtics never indicated they're planning to re-sign him anyway, they're the Celtics. Cap space is equally valuable. Players will want to play in Boston, so the Knicks front office is wrong if it plans to capitalize off a franchise in potential ruins.
Not to say this should surprise us. It failed to take advantage of a desperate small-market Nuggets team back then, so it's only fitting it fails to extort a desirable destination like Boston out of its best player, who has little leverage, now.
Picking Your Spots
The Knicks simply won't let Rondo alone.
Long before this latest dose of casuistry, the Knicks were bobbing-for-Rondo. First, there was Anthony's request that New York make a run at Rondo this past July, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman. Because the Knicks are the Knicks, they snagged Bargnani instead. Sounds about right.
Whispers of a November plan to land Rondo in a "complex" deal using Iman Shumpert and Stoudemire inevitably reached the New York Daily News' Frank Isola. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? That the Knicks would dangle a slumping Shumpert and tattered Stoudemire for one of the NBA's best point guards?
Soon after, Rondo's high school coach, Steve Smith, told Jason Jordan of USA Today 'Melo was already recruiting Boston's point man. How coy of him.
Rondo denied that rumor, though, to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn:
Delusional Knicks fans, along with their front office, are thinking "Of course he denied it. Can't come out and admit to tampering, after all." This is true, but has it occurred to anyone that Rondo might actually like it in Boston?
"Me and Brad [Stevens] have become best friends," Rondo told Boston.com's Gary Dzen. "We talk every day, we laugh and joke. We just had dinner the other night. I'm going to help him, he's going to help me."
For the first time, Rondo is The Man. If the Celtics have no plans to trade him, he's not guaranteed to force an exit from what is now his team, just to play second fiddle alongside Anthony.
Feel free to focus deranged, half-baked schemes on a star that isn't becoming besties with his head coach, New York.
'Melo and the Knicks need a superstar point guard. We get it.
Rondo, a crafty playmaker and incisive ball-handler, has caught their attention. We get that, too.
But it's these maddening birdbrained schemes we don't. If you want to disregard everything we just discussed, go ahead. Fact is, the Knicks have nothing to offer the Celtics now.
In the post-Festivus spirit, I'll even say that's going too far. Maybe the Knicks can strike a deal with Boston.
Here's a trade I outlined previously:
- New York Knicks receive: Kris Humphries, Courtney Lee, Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace
- Boston Celtics receive: Tyson Chandler, Kyle Lowry, Amar'e Stoudemire, 2018 first-rounder (from New York)
- Toronto Raptors receive: Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert
You shouldn't like that deal. Not for the Knicks. They're giving up too much.
It's like Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal wrote when specifically evaluating this:
It's a lot for the Knicks to give up, but at least they'd be getting another All-Star who can create on offense alongside Carmelo Anthony. That alone trumps all costs, as this team desperately needs new ways to put up points.
Desperate? A lot? Sound familiar?
It's like the 2011 Anthony fiasco all over again. The Knicks are dealing away present and future assets in that scenario for one player and a couple bad contracts.
That's if Boston even says yes.
Save for financial benefits, this trade isn't exactly gold for the Celtics. Just because Rondo could attempt to force his way out, doesn't mean they will accept what the Knicks offer. On the off chance they do, it will cost the Knicks a fortune, stripping them of what little assets and future flexibility they have.
It's not that Rondo isn't worth the trouble, or that New York shouldn't pursue him—it's the way they're courting him.
Any franchise of sound mind and leadership wouldn't rest all hope of landing a star in something like this. Strapped for cash, barren of assets and any sort of intangible bargaining chip, the Knicks are once again attempting to sell fans on false hope and flawed dreams using unearned arrogance.
Should they, against all odds, acquire Rondo at a reasonable cost before 2015, we can bow our heads and tip our caps to a job (finally) well done. I'll be first in line, happily admitting I was mistaken.
Until then, let's all stick with what we know. Let's all remember the Knicks front office is more delusional and pretentious than its makeshift Rondo chase ever could be.
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