Sam Amick of USA Today was first to report that the Knicks and Kings would be exchanging role players. The Knicks will trade Wayne Ellington, Jeremy Tyler and a 2016 second-round pick to the Kings for Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw.
On the surface, this deal means nothing. It's not even worthy of being called a splash. It's the Knicks dipping their bare feet into a puddle and swishing it around a little.
Nothing the Knicks gave up was noteworthy. Tyler fans will argue that he adds offense, but the Knicks have plenty of offense. Losing a foul-prone power forward who doesn't play defense and has a J.R. Smith-esque shot selection isn't going to hurt them.
Not even the second-round pick is a big deal. The Kings already owned that pick; the Knicks are just removing the top-seven (so, 31-37) protection on it.
This trade is about virtually nothing. Only it has to mean something significant, right?
Team president Phil Jackson doesn't make minor moves. He rocks the boat. He positions the Knicks for something bigger and better. Everything he does, however trivial in appearance, is about the bigger picture.
If you consider adding depth to be part of the "bigger picture," then, yes, that's exactly what this trade is.
Acy and Outlaw provide depth at the forward positions, nothing more, as MSG Networks' Alan Hahn explains:
The key area of need on the roster is support behind Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to see a bulk of his minutes back at small forward after spending the last two seasons playing primarily at power forward. But there will be times Melo lines up at the four spot, which means someone has to have the ability to play the three. Rookie Cleanthony Early showed in Summer League that he has the potential to fill that backup role behind Melo, but you can consider Outlaw -- a decent three-point shooter earlier in his career who has since become somewhat of a journeyman -- some insurance there.
Those inclined to dismiss Hahn as an inertia-backer only need look to The Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring for further confirmation:
Just getting off a conference call w Steve Mills. In a nutshell: Knicks like Acy's energy & see him and Outlaw as potential backups to Melo.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) August 6, 2014
Outlaw is a potential floor-spacer behind Cleanthony Early, who doesn't really space the floor anymore. Acy is energy—pure, unadulterated energy. Think of him as Reggie Evans, only his offensive game is a little less "Please, oh please, don't ever shoot."
That's it. There are no ulterior motives. This does not portend an unforeseen blockbuster. This is the Knicks, chasing depth, safeguarding themselves against Early's inexperience and their potentially ridiculous attempt to move Carmelo Anthony back to small forward when he's an elite power forward.
But we digress.
This is noise. Faint noise.
The best activity addicts can hope for as a result of this not-blockbuster trade is more faint noise, per the New York Daily News' Frank Isola:
Hearing rumblings Knicks may still trade Prigioni. Say it ain't so Phil.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) August 6, 2014
Say it ain't so, indeed.
Jose Calderon is perfect for Jackson's famed triangle system as a point guard who doesn't need to dominate the ball. Pablo Prigioni is almost an exact replica, except he full-court presses all day and night, and tends to pass up open shots.
Trading Priggy Smalls would be weird. The Knicks have extra depth at point guard with Shane Larkin, but he's not the shooter Pope Prig and Calderon are, making him an iffy fit when New York is expected to run the triangle.
Moving Prigioni would be, well, a move, though. That's what people are looking for here, isn't it? Underlying meaning to an otherwise insubstantial trade? Rumors like these would imply the Knicks aren't done wheeling and dealing.
And they're not.
"I think we're always looking at ways to improve the team and we'll continue to look at opportunities to enhance our ability to be successful," general manager Steve Mills said of the Knicks' plans moving forward, per ESPN New York's Ian Begley.
Loose, albeit incredibly accurate, translation: New York will continue to make trades, just not the earth-rattling swaps many seem to crave.
Although that's what rumor-mongers are after, they aren't going to get it. The Knicks already made a play for Kevin Love, dangling Amar'e Stoudemire, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert, but their offer was rebuffed, according to Herring.
Well for starters, this, from Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
Sources: Cavs have agreement for Kevin Love, including long-term contract commitment. Wiggins, Bennett, pick to Minn. http://t.co/r2KmO5owwY— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 7, 2014
But also this, from Brett Pollakoff of NBC Sports:
Phil Jackson is aged, but he’s not yet delusional.
He knew that New York had little chance of appealing to the Timberwolves here, and nothing would make the Knicks more immediately ready to build some semblance of a decent team than to unload the uninsurable final year of Stoudemire’s deal in trade; getting an All-Star back in exchange for doing so is so far beyond the realm of possibility that Jackson likely couldn’t get through pitching such a proposal with a straight face.
There is no fate-forming deal out there for the Knicks to pursue. Prigioni won't get it done. Shumpert won't get it done. Hardaway won't get it done.
Are the Knicks done trading this offseason?
Whatever the Knicks do from here on will be more faint noise. They will (possibly) execute deals that provide additional roster balance, exchanging role player for role player, pine-rider for pine-rider.
Maybe they move Prig, maybe they don't. Maybe they move Larkin. Perhaps some unwitting team even agrees to absorb Andrea Bargnani's expiring pact in a deal that nets the Knicks another unwanted contract and fried-tarantula recipes.
Other than that, there isn't anything to take away from New York's latest foray into the trade market. When you're the Knicks, barren of lucrative assets and biding time and cap space for summer 2015, this is as significant as it gets.
This is the kind of splash they can make.