One of my favorite features over at ESPN.com is their NBA Trade Machine . It gives you a very sour taste of just how frustrating life as a GM in the NBA can be. Between the salary cap and the various amounts of restrictions on trading newly-acquired players, deals can be tricky to pull off, especially blockbusters.
Today, I am inspired by this article in Tuesday's New York Times—which confirms the Knicks' interest in Houston forward Tracy McGrady—to make my way back over the the trusty trade simulator.
McGrady was recently sent home by the Rockets so as not to cause a distraction to the franchise. The former All-Star has been very vocal about his displeasure with the lack of playing time he is getting from coach Rick Adelman now that he is completely healed from micro-fracture surgery.
The Knicks are no stranger to the disgruntled athlete who feels entitled to more minutes, yet is confined to Mike D'Antoni's bench. They have two of them riding the pine on a nightly basis, Eddy Curry and Nate Robinson. Curry has never been the type of player that D'Antoni likes to run with. He is overweight, slow to make decisions with the ball, and slows down the uptempo style that D'Antoni had success with in Phoenix.
Robinson seemed like a perfect fit for D'Antoni's offense at first. He has lighting-fast speed and can shoot the rock.
However, his outward displays of emotion quickly wore thin on the coaching staff. The team has gone 9-5 over the past 14 games. Robinson sat for the duration of the last eight of those victories and played just 11 minutes in the first -- the only minutes he has played for the entire month of December.
So, there you have it. McGrady for Curry and Robinson, right? Let's hit it!
Rats! As you can see, the trade doesn't work. The Knicks need to give up more in salary, as McGrady is bringing a $22 million dollar price tag with him. Curry and Robinson's salaries combine to equal $14.5 million dollars, not quite enough. You see, with both teams being well over the salary cap, the salaries they are giving up must be pretty close to equal to the salaries they are taking on.
The trade machine advises me to cut $7 million dollars from the Knicks incoming trade value. No can do. It's all on one player, and removing McGrady from the deal defeats the whole purpose. We don't want anyone else.
So what we need to do is actually add that amount to New York's outgoing trade value. Let's see, I'm almost afraid to ask, but who on the Knicks roster is making $6-$9 million this season?
Darko? Really? Well, he's got to be Donnie Walsh's first choice to move. The guy doesn't play more than nine minutes a game and has been talking about going back over to Europe. Let's send him to Houston instead!
By god, it works. The salaries are both right around $22 million dollars, all four contracts are off the books for their respective teams at the end of the season, and four miserable souls get a change of scenery. But wait, who is left to back up David Lee at the center position? F#@%! Back to the drawing board.
Lee is next on the list of guys making $6-$9 million dollars, but he's a big reason for New York's success as of late, averaging just under 19 points and 11 boards a game. We like him, we need him, we'll keep him.
Chris Duhon has been a steal of a deal for New York. The former Blue Devil is eating up 35 minutes per game as the floor general, and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 3.5-to-1. He's also capable of putting the ball in the basket, accounting for little less than ten points an outing. Plus, with Nate on the way out, he's the only true point guard left. He stays.
That brings us to Jared Jeffries . A leftover from the Isiah Thomas era and a guy who I always felt was brought on just because he and Thomas shared the same alma mater. What is it with former superstars who become executives and their fondness for marginal players from their alma maters ? So you strolled the same quad and left upper-deckers in the same toilets, get over it.
Jeffries plays about half a game each night out, but at 6-11 he's only pulling down 3.7 rebounds per game. McGrady averages nearly twice that much for his career. Not only does Jeffries not rebound, he also does not score. His 4.1 points per game this season is only a point below his career average.
He blocks about a shot per game, but again, so does McGrady. And I think the Knicks could do without his 56 percent success rate at the charity stripe. Yes, Jeffries is the guy. Let's make it happen!
Another success. And this time you're not really leaving any positions the worse for wear on wither side. Houston gets the big body center in Curry that it lost with Yao's injury. New York still has Darko to give Lee a breather every night in the post. Houston also gets a point guard who can give them an instant jolt on offense in Robinson.
Jeffries stinks, but he makes the deal work and allows the Rockets to unload the disgruntled McGrady. McGrady comes to New York and leads the Knicks to their first NBA championship in 37 years. Works for me.