While most of the talk for the New York Knicks has centered around Chris Paul, Dwight Howard is the real prize of the 2012 free-agent class. The Knicks do have some assets to trade. All they need to do is use some creativity and make the right type of trade for the short and long term. A three-team trade with the LA Clippers and Orlando Magic makes a lot of sense.
LA Clippers send C Chris Kaman, SF Al-Farouq Aminu and 2012 No. 1 pick (via Minnesota, unprotected) to the Orlando Magic.
LA Clippers send SG Eric Gordon and C DeAndre Jordan (via a sign-and-trade) to the New York Knicks.
The Orlando Magic send Hedo Turkoglu to the New York Knicks.
The Orlando Magic send Dwight Howard to the LA Clippers.
The New York Knicks send PF Amare Stoudemire to the Orlando Magic.
The New York Knicks send SG Landry Fields to the LA Clippers.
Why Orlando makes the trade:
1. Amare Stoudemire is the new face of the franchise. A legitimate superstar who wants to be the No. 1 guy.
2. Trade-able assets. Kaman is not just another expiring contract. He can also play at a level that merits his contract. Holdovers JJ Redick, Brandon Bass and Jameer Nelson all have reasonable contracts that can be moved.
3 . Cap flexibility. When you add the Amnesty Exception applied to Gilbert Arenas, the Magic are left with only one long term contract—Stoudemire for an additional four years.
4. Competitive team. In a short season, if the pieces fit, they can make some noise. If they don't, you can always trade the assets.
Why New York makes the trade:
1. Eric Gordon is on the verge of being a household name. Only a wrist injury derailed him from having a breakout year. He would be a legitimate running mate with Carmelo Anthony.
2. DeAndre Jordan solves the Knicks major need at C. He's a defensive specialist who can run up and down the court. A four-year, $40 million deal would be ideal.
3. The Knicks can apply the Amnesty Exception on Hedu Turkoglu freeing up more cap space for 2011.
4. The Knicks can then make an offer to a PF like Kris Humphries to replace some of Stoudemire's production. A four-year, $26 million deal would be ideal.
5. The Knicks can then use the mid-level exception on someone like Grant Hill, Tayshaun Prince or Shane Battier to improve their depth and make a run this year.
6. The Knicks would still be able to sign PGs Chris Paul or Deron Williams in 2012. Better, the Knicks would also be able to re-sign Gordon as well.
The hard part for the Knicks is to convince the Magic and Clippers that the Knicks are a needed intermediary. Stoudemire and his star-power offer that reason.
Why LA makes the trade:
1. Dwight Howard.
2. Dwight Howard paired with Blake Griffin.
3. They still have cap room to make a splash with a swingman like Jason Ricahrdson.
4. Have the mid-level exception to add a glue guy such as Hill, Prince or Battier.
Alternatively, the Knicks could make a straight up deal with the Magic and offer Carmelo Anthony for Howard. Anthony would trump the Lakers offer, centered around injury prone Andrew Bynum.
Hard to see the Knicks offering Anthony after what they gave up to get him. That's unfortunate, because any time you can trade for a Top 5 player you do it.