Fake Trade Alert: New York Knicks Finally Press “Self-Destruct”
Back from his extended hiatus, @SuperSperb96 is here to master the NBA Trade Machine…
It is midterm season at Horace Greeley High School. It is that time of year; dreadful weather, immense cramming after missing half a years worth of material, and of course immense procrastination. I woke up at 10am yesterday and vowed to be studying by 11, however 11 became 12 and 12 became… well you get the picture. I was able to save myself at 1 and got some solid hours in, but that’s beside the point. What we really need to focus on is what transpired during this procrastination period. Somewhere in-between randomly researching what happened to the TV show Hey Arnold! and listening to whale noises I found myself on ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, also known as a procrastinator’s worst nightmare. I quickly became fascinated with how many different Carmelo Anthony trades I could make. And that is how we got here…
Before we delve into the fake trade itself, let’s recap any Carmelo Anthony-related thoughts. First off, I am one of the few remaining members of the “Carmelo Anthony can be a franchise player and can win a title on his own” club. I firmly believe that with the right pieces Carmelo can succeed; he is a top-5 offensive talent and can still make opposing fans sweat when the ball is in his hands late in the game. With that being said, unless Carmelo is willing to commit this season to being part of the Knicks’ long-term plans I would trade him. If you let Carmelo Anthony test free agency you are playing Russian Roulette with the future of your franchise. If he bolts and the Knicks get no compensation, the team is set back at least 5 seasons. So if Melo doesn’t give any indication that he is staying during the season, I say you need to try to recoup some assets and start working toward a brighter future. To start things off, here is the mother of all fake trades this season.
The Knicks Receive: Emeka Okafor, Alex Len, Archie Goodwin, two first round picks and a second round pick.
The Suns Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, and Amar’e Stoudemire.
The Pistons Receive: Kris Humphries, JR Smith, Avery Bradley, and a first round pick and the right to swap picks with the Celtics in the future.
The Celtics Receive: Andrea Bargnani, Greg Monroe, Eric Bledsoe and a second round pick.
Why the Knicks say yes: The Knicks say yes because this is how you logically build a broken team. They will effectively dump every large salary they have (except Tyson Chandler), giving them oodles of cap space this offseason. They also recoup a young asset in Len who was the #5 pick in last years draft (although Anthony Bennett was the first pick in that draft, so yeah), and they get two first round picks which have as much value as cheap talent. Finally they get Okafor’s large, expiring contract. The Knicks will have accomplished three things – gaining young assets, draft picks and a salary purge all in one trade. If you are trading Carmelo Anthony you are essentially rebuilding, this would be an outstanding way to begin that process.
Why the Knicks say no: Because there the freaking Knicks and this move is way too smart for them to make. The Knicks always need to have a superstar and are never willing to admit that they need a rebuild. This has been a constant cycle for the Knicks under Dolan. They sign big names to big contracts and eat up all there cap space in a few players. When they realize that it isn’t working they wait till those contracts expire and go out and get the next set of big name free agents. The last time the Knicks actually built through the draft was when they took Patrick Ewing 1st overall in 1985. The Knicks also would be taking a step backwards this season in terms of production. After this trade the team will be awful, however, sometimes you need to take a step back to take two steps forward.
Why the Suns say yes: Because they get two perennial All-NBA Players in Anthony and Rondo. The Suns are already a surprise team out of the West; this move makes them instant Western Conference contenders. With a starting five of Miles Plumlee, Melo, Gerald Green, Goran Dragic and Rajon Rondo the Suns would be a dynamic team offensively. They also get Stoudemire, who would definitely be somewhat rejuvenated by his return to Phoenix, and while Stoudemire is an atrocious contract the Suns would be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel as next season he becomes a huge asset as a huge expiring contract. Many thought that this would be a year of tanking for the Suns, however, they have proven to be a legitimate team as they are just 4 games behind the Clippers for first place in the division. In a conference that includes dynamic tandems such as Steph Curry and Andre Igoudala, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant and whoever the Lakers pair with him down the future, the Suns could use some star power to match.
Why the Suns say no: They would be getting ahead of themselves. Sure the rebuilding process has gone quicker then some think but do the pieces that would surround Melo and Rondo really make them an instant contender? They also have cheap young talent and a lot of it, which is very difficult to come by in the NBA. The Suns right now seem to be doing everything right if this move doesn’t pan out then they have minimal young assets and are capped out for the next 2 years. Furthermore, they would not have any commitment from Carmelo Anthony beyond this season as he could just up and walk. History has proven that teams that stay the course with rebuilding generally have favorable results. This move would almost certainly spell the end for rebuilding.
Why the Pistons say yes: The Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe trio has been awful. Monroe is averaging career lows in every statistical category. Josh Smith is so much more effective playing the 4 then the 3 and trading Greg Monroe would allow Smith to slide into that spot. While Monroe has proven to be a superb offensive talent, he is simply a mediocre defender. However, the real reason to trade Monroe is his impending free agent status. While he is a restricted free agent, the contract he is going to demand is almost certainly going to cap out the Pistons and the fact is that this current group of Pistons is not that good. At 17-24, using your last big contract on Monroe might not be the smartest thing. So while it might be a tough pill for the Pistons to swallow trading Greg Monroe here would allow them to have the extra cap space and recoup some picks. Without having to worry about the Monroe extension in the offseason and having Charlie Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey and Kris Humphries come off the books the Pistons can continue to tinker with their roster through free agency. They have a solid core in Andre Drummond, JSmoove and Brandon Jennings, also let’s not forget the impending Drummond extension next season as he certainly has more value to the Pistons then Monroe. Not to mention, JR Smith won the “Sixth Man of the Year” award last season and while he has bombed in New York this season, maybe a change of scenery in the Motown would be good for him. If the Pistons went and signed Danny Granger next offseason and threw him alongside those three (with Drummond further improving) and the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope/ JR Smith combination, along with the other young assets, the Pistons would be well on their way.
Why the Pistons say no: The return they are getting for a player of Monroe’s caliber is pretty week. Avery Bradley has proven he can be a nice role player/ defensive specialist off the bench but he won’t push the needle for the Pistons to far. They also would have to assume the JR Smith headache, and JR Smith has given no indication that he is a professional basketball player this season. They would be taking a serious gamble that he could return to last year’s form when he won 6th man of the year. Monroe is also only 23 years old so he could still immensely improve. This move could be a huge gamble for the Pistons as their return would be determined by who they sign in free agency and who they draft.
Why the Celtics say yes: The Celtics say yes because they parlay Rajon Rondo, a star who has only a year after this remaining on his deal and is coming off major knee surgery, into two young assets who both have all-star potential. This move would give the Celtics a solid starting point as they instantly become better. Bledsoe is perhaps the most electrifying, tantalizing point guard in the league right now. At 24 years old he is not too far behind what Rondo could provide them and he is only getting better. They also get back Greg Monroe who would be the ideal post compliment in Brad Stevens’s system. The Monroe-Kelly Olynyk tandem would be stout in the post. The Celtics also have numerous picks stockpiled, the majority coming from the Brooklyn Nets who are almost certainly going to be abysmal in the future so they can continue to just piece talent together. The bottom line though is that there are not many opportunities presented to a GM where you can get two under 25 players with All-Star potential. Here Danny Ainge accomplishes just that.
Why the Celtics say no: They have to continue to cripple their cap by taking on the Bargnani contract. A team that has to pay both Andrea Bargnani and Gerald Wallace over 10 million dollars a year for the next two years should get some sort of prize, or a hug. They deserve something. With the impending Monroe-Bledsoe extensions it would be a squeeze to continue to add through free agency unless they used their amnesty provision on one of their atrocious contracts. This move also does not necessarily make them a playoff team so the Celtics would have extra pressure to hit their draft picks due to their inability to grab players in free agency. Not to mention that they still are trading a franchise player in Rondo.
Bottom Line: It really is a shame that this is only a fake trade, as it certainly would make every team better. There are only a handful of deals that really are a winner for both teams. This trade has so many components that a real winner could not be determined until years later. Maybe I am wrong, maybe this trade is a disaster for all parties; however, if you really let this trade marinate, you can see the light for all recipients. You’re Welcome Steve Mills, Danny Ainge, Joe Dumars, and Ryan McDonough, you can take today off.