The biggest headline for the Knicks at the trading deadline last week was not the acquisition of Tracy McGrady, but the clearance of enough cap room in order to sign two players to maximum contracts this summer.
This comes as a huge accomplishment, as it has been management’s goal all along. For a rebuilding team, being able to sign two max free agents is a huge plus, because if nothing else, at least the two free agents will know they have each other.
The Knicks, however, also need to focus on surrounding these two (potential) stars with productive role players who know how to win.
This is where Eddie House, another trade deadline acquisition via the Celtics, comes in.
After spending two and a half seasons in Boston, winning a championship on a team with three multi-year all-stars, House comes to the Knicks with a winning attitude. He has also proven, not only in Boston, but throughout his whole career, that he can mesh well with stars.
Players like House are vital to winning a championship. Sure, Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen, but didn’t he also have Steve Kerr?
Kerr was a popular player with the Bulls because it gave them a lethal shooting threat late in games that caused defenses to second guess themselves.
The importance and appreciation for House was demonstrated Wednesday night, when he and the Knicks were in Boston to take on his former team. Upon entering the game, House was met with a roaring ovation from the Boston crowd.
His impact never went unnoticed by his teammates, either. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett referred to him as their “brother “and “personal friend.”
Rajon Rondo, when asked about the trade, told NBA.com: “I hope it's for the best. Eddie House can drop 20, 30 [points off the bench] too.”
House proved Rondo right in his Knicks debut last week, scoring 26 points off the bench.
Since then, he has failed to live up to that same offensive production, but his leadership and winning mentality are two needed characteristics in this Knicks team.
It’s not just for the amount of points he puts up that makes him so valuable. House is a pressuring defender, and just having him come off the bench with the ability to hit the big time shots is crucial. When House is on the court, defenses view him as an instant threat.
It doesn’t hurt the Knicks that House experienced some of his best offensive success playing for Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix.
House told Knicks.com: "[I've always said] D'Antoni's one of the best guys I've played for. He lets you play with freedom. I've talked that up and then I ended up here so it's kind of funny. It's nice. It could be kind of difficult coming into a system you don't know, you have to try to pick up the plays and you are out on the court thinking. But I know the system here. I'm just playing. He lets you play and that feels good."
House’s feelings about D’Antoni gives the Knicks hope he will be back next season.
With the season’s outcome looking bleak, it’s nice to look ahead and know management has hopefully found another piece to a future successful squad.
Being a guy not opposed to taking a small pay cut for the right situation, House may become the Knicks’ No. 3 priority this summer should David Lee and Sergio Rodriguez play their way out of the Knicks’ budget.
Everyone knows Lebron James is the most coveted free agent this offseason. Along with him, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or plenty others could be donning orange and blue next season.
If they are smart, upon arrival in New York, two prospective stars will go to management and say: “You’ve got us. Now bring back Eddie House.”
If all that is eventually accomplished, a championship may be closer than we all think.