The New York Knicks have their sights set on getting at least one bona fide superstar this summer. They already may have landed one.
New York (19-35) made three salary-shedding deals prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, creating about $32 million in salary cap space to prepare for a free-agent spending spree in July with LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) expected to headline the list.
The Knicks acquired McGrady in a three-team, nine-player deal Thursday, as his $22.5 million contract expires after this season. However, the seven-time All-Star has claimed he’d take a big pay cut to stay in New York. He’ll have to prove he can come back from microfracture knee surgery that kept him sidelined for all but six games for Houston this season.
McGrady, a two-time scoring champion, made a strong case that he’s well on his way to a full recovery, scoring 26 points on 10-for-17 shooting in a 121-118 overtime loss to Oklahoma City. He was in the starting lineup for his first game in a Knicks uniform and played 32 minutes, but McGrady was on the bench for nearly all of overtime.
“He kind of ran out gas towards the end,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Not having played all year, a couple of years almost, 26 points, kind of not bad.”
His debut put a charge into Madison Square Garden, and there should be another one Saturday as the Knicks honor the 40th anniversary of their 1970 championship team.
Maybe the presence of those players can inspire New York to snap its season high-tying six-game skid, which started with a 114-107 home loss to the Bucks on Feb. 5.
The Knicks haven’t endured a seven-game losing streak since Feb. 29-March 10, 2008. They’ve dropped six of seven to Milwaukee (26-28), including both matchups this season.
David Lee(notes) can’t be blamed for New York’s recent struggles. The center had 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists Saturday, and he’s averaging 25.0 points and 11.2 boards during the losing streak. Lee had 32 points and 15 boards against the Bucks earlier this month.
Milwaukee, winner of five of seven, is also looking to continue getting production from a new addition.
John Salmons(notes), acquired from Chicago in a three-player deal Thursday, had 19 points with seven assists and five rebounds Saturday while making a key steal late to secure a 93-88 win over Charlotte. That came a night after Salmons had 19 points and hit the winning 3-pointer in a 91-85 victory at Detroit.
“He’s been a proven scorer in the NBA and we know what he’s capable of and that’s why we traded for him,” said center Andrew Bogut(notes), who had 18 points and 13 rebounds against the Bobcats. “He knows how to make plays, just look at the steal at the end of the game. That’s really a four-point play and put the game away for us.”
Brandon Jennings(notes) might welcome another meeting with the Knicks after scoring 22 points and handing out eight assists against them Feb. 5. In six games since, the rookie guard is shooting 30.6 percent while averaging 12.0 points and 4.3 assists.