The joke is that the New York Knicks spent the entirety of the team's post-Isiah Thomas run clearing cap space for the ability to bring in LeBron James(notes) this summer, along with some other max-makin' stud. Ever since Donnie Walsh was brought in to run things in 2008, and Mike D'Antoni was chased down to coach things a few months later, that's been the plan. LeBron, plus some other guy.
Then Steve Nash(notes), oft-mentioned as the "other guy," extended his contract with the Phoenix Suns last summer. And James, not sure if you've heard, agreed to sign with the Miami Heat on Thursday night. And the Knicks, those buffoonish Knicks, struck out again.
That's what they'll tell you, at least.
They also, earlier this week, agreed to terms with Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) on a contract. And, I'm sorry, I much prefer Amar'e Stoudemire on my front line should the ball go up to start a seven-game series tomorrow night than I would Chris Bosh(notes). For all his faults, for all his history, Amar'e can play. Amar'e can dominate, offensively.
And according to numerous reports, the team just turned a superfluous and signed-and-traded David Lee(notes) into Ronny Turiaf(notes), Anthony Randolph(notes) and Kelenna Azubuike(notes). That's a fantastic deal for New York.
It's not going to win them a championship, any time soon. They still don't have a clear No. 2 for Amar'e, and that's assuming that Stoudemire is a "No. 1" to begin with. But to grab three quality players who will thrive in D'Antoni's system? Three guys who (mostly) think defense-first, but can also flourish in transition? Getting it all for Lee, who wasn't much help once Stoudemire hit town?
Great deal. Great, great deal.
And I'm writing this whilst not completely smitten with the promise of Randolph, a source of optimism that we all were drinking from a few years ago. Randolph has all the potential in the world, but I'm not making this judgment based on what he could do. What he can do. What he, with a coach that might actually deign to work with him, might do.
No, I'm bringing this up because the Knicks need a center. And Turiaf, though he's shorter than Lee or Stoudemire, can play center. Ably-enough, when healthy (which is, admittedly, a significant caveat for him). He's one of this league's best shot blockers per minute, and he's a sound enough rebounder to get by. Not in Lee's league, mind you, but then again few are.
I'm bringing this up because Azubuike is a fantastic all-around talent when he wants to be, and can sop up big minutes at the shooting guard and small forward position. And both these players actually deign to defend.
And, yes, I'm bringing this up because if D'Antoni doesn't let his frustration and ego get in the way of things, and really, really, really, really, really tries with Anthony Randolph? He could have a game-changer on his hands. It hasn't been the best start with Randolph, but his potential flies through the roof. And the thing that separates a good coach from a great coach is what you get out of a player like Anthony Randolph. And Don Nelson, over the last few years, hasn't been a great or even adequate coach. Especially in Randolph's regard.
D'Antoni? If he works at it, and takes the long view of things, this could be his No. 2. This could be his guy.
The Warriors just traded three bench guys, essentially, for someone who averaged over 20 and 11 last season, and will help shore up the team's rebounding while still being able to score at will in a D'Antoni-like offense. And yet, I'm not as keen on their end as I am New York's. In getting rid of Azubuike and Corey Maggette(notes), the team is still incredibly thin (and short, while we're at it) at the wing position, and will need to address that. It's still July, though. Early in this particular run.
Lee can play, though. He's no system player, no fluke, and there's no reason why this guy can't put up another 20 and 11 year in Golden State. Unless Nellie messes with him, and that's always an unfortunate possibility. But six years and $80 million to pay this guy until he's 33? He relies mostly on hops and athleticism, but yeah. I'm down. Which means I'm high on it. Because I'm Mr. Hipster.
Sound move for both teams, two squads that still have quite a bit of work to do. I love these sorts of trades, and I hope the respecting coaching staffs on either side of this transaction dig it as much as I do. Because they could do some great things with this deal.