Why Are the Knicks So Committed To Jordan Hill?

Keith SchlosserAnalyst IJanuary 11, 2010

SACRAMENTO, CA - NOVEMBER 25:  Jordan Hill #43 of the New York Knicks fights for a rebound with Jon Brockman #40 of the Sacramento Kings on November 25, 2009 at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Leading up to June’s rookie draft, it appeared as though the Knicks and Stephen Curry were meant to be together, with both sides talking about the playoffs and Lebron James being a Knick in 2010.

Instead, the Warriors shattered those hopes, selecting Curry with the seventh overall pick, one selection before the Knicks ended up having to draft Jordan Hill with the eighth pick.

Hill, the former Arizona big man, has struggled to break into the rotation this season, appearing in just 11 games thus far.

While he does seem like a raw talent, he has shown some great aggressiveness on the court and could have a promising future. There is no denying the kid has skills.

The real question, though, is why are the Knicks so committed to him?

David Lee is a power forward playing out of position as a center. He, however, is having an all-star season and is still only 26 years old.

Lee is going to be a free agent next season, and the Knicks are faced with the daunting task of signing him to a long-term contract.

One theory is that the Knicks look at Hill as a cheap potential frontcourt partner to Lee, once he is re-signed, but why wouldn’t the priority be to pair up Lee with an upcoming free agent such as Amare Stoudemire or Chris Bosh?

The problem with just assuming Hill and Lee will be paired up next season is that the Knicks do not know how the two will fare together. The team, already on the cusp of the playoffs this season, is not going to want to waste time experimenting after restructuring the team during free agency for contention.

The other theory (one that Knicks fans dread) is that the Knicks miss out on re-signing Lee, and Hill subsequently becomes his replacement.

The Knicks need to find a good balance of focus for the present and future. They need to commit to the (still young) David Lee, and make sure he is a Knick for years to come.

If the Knicks hope to get Lebron James, and at the same time keep Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari in the fold, James would have to play at the power forward position, leaving center open for Lee.

The team’s worry over the last year and a half has been clearing enough cap room for two marquee free agents in 2010. I would be just as happy as anyone else welcoming in a second marquee star as Lebron’s 2010 running mate, but what if that running mate is really David Lee?

The Knicks could very well spend their cap space on a run and gun point guard, via free agency or trade, and then add him to a starting lineup of Chandler, Gallinari, James, and Lee.

Many successful teams in recent years have proven the right mix of players could be that much more important to winning than star power.

If the Knicks held onto Hill, it would give him a great opportunity to develop alongside a contending team with players that could play multiple positions, providing ample minutes for him off the bench in various lineups.

The alternative would be using Hill as a trading piece now to build on a successful season with a playoff push.

The Rockets have been dangling Tracy McGrady in front of the Knicks, with Jordan Hill in their sites in exchange.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey wants Hill or Toney Douglas in exchange for McGrady. While Morey has thus far not been interested in Jared Jeffries, Hill may be enough of an incentive for him to take on Jeffries, in effect providing the Knicks with even more cap room to build with over the summer.

Call me crazy, but a re-signed David Lee and a ton of cap room would help get over the loss of Jordan Hill very quickly.

Hill could also prove valuable as a trading piece over the summer should the Knicks not fare as well as everyone hopes in free agency.

For now though, Hill is sunken at the bottom of the Knicks’ bench. While fans appreciate the spark of promise he shows, no one is complaining about not seeing more of him. The team is winning ball games on a consistent basis, something the city’s basketball fans have not seen in a very long time.

I, for one, would watch Marcus Landry and the Knicks keep winning games any day of the week at Hill’s expense.