Yesterday, news from various sources detailed the New York Knicks’ dogged pursuit of journeyman point guard Kyle Lowry, currently playing for the Toronto Raptors. The Knicks have had issues with the point guard position since Jason Kidd’s descent late in the 2012-13 season, and they just recently learned that a strained hamstring will keep out of shape lead man Raymond Felton out for up to three weeks. Acquiring Lowry, a dogged defender and solid floor general, would seem like the perfect fit for a team full of excuses.
The problem is that the Knicks are both capped out, basically asset-less, and bereft of draft picks after tossing them to both Denver and Toronto in previous deals. Those deals, for Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani, were both cobbled together by onetime Nuggets general manager and current Raptors GM Masai Ujiri.
According to Friday’s New York Daily News, though, Knicks owner James Dolan apparently put the kibosh on an agreed-upon deal for Lowry, for fears that he’d be embarrassed yet again by the 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year. From Frank Isola’s report:
According to several reports, the Knicks were prepared to trade Raymond Felton and Metta World Peace plus Iman Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr. or a 2018 first-round pick. The Raptors preferred the first-round pick, but Dolan — who negotiated the Carmelo Anthony trade with Raptors GM Masai Ujiri when Ujiri was with the Denver Nuggets — got cold feet about trading a future asset. That could open the door for the Brooklyn Nets to acquire Lowry instead.
“Dolan didn’t want to get fleeced again by Masai,” was how one Knicks source put it. “They had a deal ready.”
“There are two problems,” the source said. “Dolan didn’t like that someone from his group leaked it to the media, and the other problem is the Knicks seem to have too many (people) involved with making decisions.”
(That last part is kinda par for the course when you fire your GM just before the season starts, sort of handing the reins over to someone with no previous NBA player personnel experience, while claiming that this thing is normal and not a big deal in the slightest.)
Dolan’s reportedly tempestuous behavior might be a boon to both sides of the table, because nobody was really getting fleeced in a deal that wasn’t really a knockout for either side.
The Knicks have to make the postseason. Even after winning just six times in the team’s first 21 tries, they’re only three games out of the playoff bracket, and there’s no way MSG can argue away missing the next stage of the season with a payroll that vaults over the $100 million mark once luxury taxes are counted.
Adding Lowry could possibly help the team tread water for now and ascend later, and Kyle’s pugnacious nature could go a long way toward focusing a Knicks ship that has been long on excuses but short on execution so far this season. Or, as was the case at several other stops (including Toronto), Lowry could feud with both teammates and coaching staff alike, and further tilt things. Anything’s possibly with this team, and this city.
Lowry is a free agent this summer, so dumping a young asset like Tim Hardaway Jr. (whom the Knicks love) or Iman Shumpert (not so much) seems a bit rash. As does the inclusion of a 2018 draft pick, even if the deal allows for the team to make the playoffs and possibly re-sign a settled Lowry through his prime.
On Toronto’s side? Picking up that draft pick and possibly Hardaway (who is shooting nearly 42 percent from long range) would be nice, but they’d also have their cap cluttered by Raymond Felton’s contract. Felton, with two years and $7.4 million left on his deal, doesn’t exactly have a millstone of a deal; but the Raptors have done well to clear cap space for next season in the wake of the Rudy Gay deal. Toss in the potential for Metta World Peace’s $1.6 million to be around next year, and you’re lopping over $5.4 million in potential cap space just for the chance at a first round pick four and a half years from now, plus either Hardaway or Shumpert.
This is a long way of saying that there are benefits to this proposed deal for both sides, once you submit to New York’s low-level obsession from wringing anything out of 2013-14, but that nobody was getting “fleeced.”
Eh, maybe the Knicks were. Good thing this deal was leaked, New York.
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