At one point in time, it was easy to see the logic behind the New York Knicks trading backup point guard Pablo Prigioni.
The Knicks were dealing with a very crowded backcourt, and getting rid of a guaranteed salary and guard in Wayne Ellington made sense. The thought process was that the Knicks wouldn't be able to do that without including a more valuable piece like Prigioni.
NOT a case of Knicks not liking Prigioni. It's more NYK being unable to move Ellington unless they attach likes of Prigioni or Shane Larkin— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 6, 2014
However, that didn't end up being the case. The Knicks were able to move Ellington and Jeremy Tyler to the Sacramento Kings for Travis Outlaw and Quincy Acy, giving their roster much better balance overall.
Here's Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:
Knicks president Phil Jackson had said during Summer League last month in Las Vegas that the team was heavy in guards, and they have been seeking to alleviate that glut.
'One of our goals was to find ways to balance the roster out from a position standpoint a little better and then also to provide us depth across all positions,' GM Steve Mills said on a conference call, adding that recently signed second-round pick Cleanthony Early likely will compete with Acy and Outlaw for minutes as the Knicks’ backup small forward behind Carmelo Anthony. 'We obviously like Cleanthony, but he is a rookie, and we wanted some veteran help at that position.'
Pablo Prigioni also reportedly had been discussed in deals alongside Ellington, but the veteran point guard was not included in the trade.
While there was plenty of reason to think that Prigioni would no longer be shopped after this trade, that might not be the case.
RT @FisolaNYDN: Hearing rumblings Knicks may still trade Prigioni. (HEARING SAME)— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 6, 2014
This, of course, could be a case of old rumors lingering out there in the wind. That seems to happen a lot, and while no one is questioning the reporting of Marc Stein or Frank Isola, it just doesn't seem like the Knicks have clear incentive to trade Prigioni at this point.
Aside from the fact that he's a great fit in the triangle as an efficient spot-up shooter, the 37-year-old guard's contract is non-guaranteed for next season. If he fits on this year's team and doesn't take up cap for next year, what's the point of moving him?
While maybe it would make sense if the Knicks could get a great asset for him or clear a spot for a younger player with upside, the fact that we haven't really had any updates on the trade market in the last week may signal that the Knicks have either lost interest in a deal or haven't been able to find a piece that makes sense.
One player that might have provided incentive for the Knicks to trade Prigioni was backup combo guard Tour'e Murry, who has the size and defensive ability Phil Jackson has coveted in the past. That didn't exactly work out, however, as Murry signed with the Utah Jazz.
Here's Marc Stein of ESPN.com with more on Murry:
The Knicks, sources say, have been trying this month to convince Murry to hold off on signing elsewhere as they try continue to sort out their roster, with New York hopeful of bringing back the athletic combo guard after allowing Murry to become an unrestricted free agent at end the June.
Even though the balancing of the roster should have sapped away the desire to move Prigioni, let's work under the assumption that the Knicks are willing to let go of their backup point guard in order to get a future asset of some sort, whether it be a young player with potential or a draft pick.
Unfortunately, it's not so easy to find a potential trade partner quite yet. Point guard is one of the league's deepest positions, and any team that has left a hole there after free agency probably doesn't have designs on contending, like the Philadelphia 76ers, for example.
Prigioni's advanced age probably won't help matters, either. There are younger point guards like Ramon Sessions available in free agency still, so forfeiting a legitimate asset to acquire Prigioni instead of outright signing an equal or potentially superior player just doesn't make sense.
Basically, a team interested in Prigioni would need to be a contender that needs shooting and guard depth and has shown they are ready to win now.
A team like the New Orleans Pelicans might fit the bill, as they could potentially use Prigioni's savvy play behind Jrue Holiday. Still, with New Orleans having a hole at small forward and with young players like Austin Rivers, Jimmer Fredette and Russ Smith in need of minutes, would it really be worth it to bring on Prigioni?
More importantly, it's hard to find a piece that New Orleans would be willing to give up and that New York would covet in order to make the salaries match. The Pelicans wouldn't give up Rivers, and there are few other reasonable pieces worth going after.
Another team that could use a backup point guard might be the San Antonio Spurs. Patty Mills should be sidelined with shoulder surgery until about February, which would leave the backup duties to Cory Joseph and draft pick Bryce Cotton.
The Spurs typically tend to trust their backups, but maybe Prigioni could join the veteran squad. Prigioni has plenty of experience with backcourt mate Manu Ginobili from their time on Argentina's national team.
Again, though, finding a match that makes sense is difficult. A player like Aron Baynes could help solidify the middle for the Knicks, but it's hard to tell if San Antonio would give up his size behind an aging Tim Duncan. Mills will be back for the stretch run, which as we've seen, is what really matters to the Spurs.
An expiring contract like Austin Daye and a second-round pick would probably work from San Antonio's side, but acquiring a pick in the 50-60 range and leaving an unproven player like Shane Larkin as the undisputed backup point guard probably doesn't justify that deal for New York.
It's just difficult to find a team that would really be interested and could pay a fair price for Prigioni. If the Knicks are out of the playoff picture around the trade deadline, it would make much more sense to deal Prigioni then and hand the keys over to Larkin at that point. The demand should be higher at that point as well, with injuries creating the market and need that isn't currently present.
While it might make sense to turn a 37-year-old backup point guard on a middling team into something of future value, now would probably be the worst time to try and do so. It's just hard to imagine the Knicks getting anything substantial, as Dan Favale of Bleacher Report broke down here:
Trading Prigioni won't send the Knicks into a decade-long downward spiral. But trading him also won't solve anything. It won't yield them a high-impact player. It won't drastically elevate their immediate ceiling.
All it could do, at best, is help the Knicks offload one of their unsavory cap hits. And it might not even do that.
And when there's no obvious benefit to trading Prigioni, and no guarantee it doesn't make the Knicks even slightly worse, there's only one logical course of action: taking no action at all.
As is the case with any player not named Carmelo Anthony on the current roster, the Knicks should be willing to listen to offers. Prigioni can be shopped without any real serious intentions, as New York can set the price high and hope someone gets desperate. For now, though, he's needed behind Jose Calderon, who probably shouldn't be playing massive minutes in order to preserve him going forward.
The chances of New York finding a killer deal at this stage are incredibly slim. With that in mind, don't be surprised if the silence on the Prigioni trade front continues into the season until around the deadline.