[gets roused from deep August slumber]
Hey, a trade happened! Neat!
[peruses the details of the report from Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports]
Oh. Well, it's something, at least!
According to Amick, the New York Knicks have agreed to ship shooting guard Wayne Ellington and power forward Jeremy Tyler to the Sacramento Kings for forwards Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw. This ends Ellington's illustrious Knicks career before it ever actually began; he joined the team in the June trade with the Dallas Mavericks that brought Ellington, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin to New York in exchange for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. Oh, well. Once a Knick, always a Knick.
The deal also includes the Kings gaining full, free-and-clear ownership of the Knicks' 2016 second-round draft pick. New York originally shipped that selection to the Portland Trail Blazers in the July 2012 sign-and-trade that brought Felton back to the Big Apple (and essentially escorted Jeremy Lin out of Madison Square Guarden). It was later re-routed to the Kings in last summer's three-way deal that sent Robin Lopez to Portland, Tyreke Evans and Jeff Withey to the New Orleans Pelicans, and Greivis Vasquez to Sacramento. Before Wednesday, the pick was scheduled to stay with New York if it fell between the 31st and 37th pick in the 2016 draft; now, all protections have been lifted, and it goes to Sacramento no matter what.
Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson recently told reporters that he felt the New York roster was “short big and long in the guard corps," and said he had "to do roster management there." With Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. likely to sop up the bulk of the minutes at shooting guard, Ellington — something of a throw-in element in the Mavericks deal after playing just 393 minutes for Rick Carlisle in his lone season in Dallas — was the odd man out. He may soon be one again; Amick reports that the Kings "could use the stretch provision on Ellington, who is owed $2.77 million next season, to improve their salary cap situation," although a final determination on the former North Carolina standout's status hasn't yet been made.
Ellington's next team will be his fifth in six seasons, and while the last couple of years of free-agent market-watching suggest that a 26-year-old swingman capable of knocking down long range shots at a better-than-average clip (38.6 percent for his career, with marks of 39 percent or higher in four of his five seasons) will probably get another chance somewhere, his inability to do very much else with any regularity thus far in his pro career suggests that we shouldn't hold our breath for him to walk into a well-paid significant role on a team of consequence.
The Kings have, however, apparently made up their mind on Tyler. Amick reports that Sacramento is expected to waive the 6-foot-10-inch, 260-pounder, who showed flashes of offensive competence and rebounding aggression in limited minutes under head coach Mike Woodson last season. He's talented and young, but still very raw, even five years removed from his controversial decision to forgo his senior year of high school to play professional basketball in Israel and later Japan before returning to the U.S., getting drafted in the second round in 2011, and bouncing from big-league club to D-League affiliate for most of the last three years. After the Knicks brought in Dalembert and free-agent signee Jason Smith to go with retained backup center Cole Aldrich at the five and the incumbent pairing of Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, there didn't seem to be very much room for another big man, especially one who's foul-prone and hadn't blown the brass away last season.
Tyler's youth, size, athleticism and promise could still intrigue a suitor with some time to spend on his development, but for a Kings team staring down a payroll of just under $76 million and seeing precious little breathing room before the $76.8 million luxury-tax line, he's just a $948,163 unguaranteed contract that can be waived without worry.
Acy, too, is on an unguaranteed deal, though it's a slightly less expensive one slated to pay him $915,243 for the year ahead. New York has until Aug. 15 to part ways with Acy without paying him anything, but could conceivably look to keep the 23-year-old Baylor product around as an energy-defense-and-rebounding type, someone who can offer a bit of spark off the bench without needing the ball.
Acy is undersized at the four at just 6-foot-7, and doesn't offer a whole lot of offensive versatility or flexibility at the three, having shot just 36.5 percent on jumpers over the past two seasons, according to Basketball-Reference.com's shot charts; he's an interior cat who mostly subsists on dunks and put-backs. He is a hard-working dude with a big beard who will probably become a fast fan favorite at MSG if he sticks around, but more in the "this guy's a fun mascot" sense than in the "this guy is a remarkable difference-maker" sense.
Speaking of not-so-remarkable non-difference-makers: Hey there, Travis.
Outlaw might not be super thrilled at returning to the coast where he received derisive mock MVP chants from New Jersey Nets fans back in the spring of 2011 before getting the amnesty axe the following December, but with the still-paying-his-freight Nets now in Brooklyn, Outlaw at least gets the distinction of drawing simultaneous paychecks from two separate New York NBA franchises. That's neat.
From the Knicks' perspective, the about-to-turn-30-year-old Outlaw provides them with some additional depth at the three spot, where their only previous options behind Carmelo Anthony appeared to be second-round pick Cleanthony Early and, in small-ball configurations, Shumpert. There are, however, a couple of problems with this.
For one thing, new Knicks head coach Derek Fisher should not be playing Anthony at small forward to begin with, as we now have a couple of years' worth of evidence that Anthony is best deployed as a power forward, and that the Knicks are capable of rolling out some pretty serviceable lineups (especially on the offensive end) with either Shumpert or Smith at the three for stretches. For another, we have several more years' worth of evidence that Outlaw isn't a very good option anywhere in the lineup. He's shot 38.2 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from 3-point land over the past four years, the already brutal Kings performed even worse with him on the floor than off it over the past couple of years, and he hasn't sniffed a league-average Player Efficiency Rating since 2009. That said, he's a small forward, and the Knicks had fewer of those than they did anything else, so he comes back.
Outlaw's $3 million salary comes off the books this summer, so his import doesn't impact New York's cap situation next summer, when Jackson and company will reportedly go shopping for another max-level difference-maker to pair with Anthony. If New York keeps Acy after the two-for-two swap, their roster will still have a maximum 15 players, which could mean another move is in the offing. New York Daily News beat reporter Frank Isola continues to hear rumblings that backup point guard Pablo Prigioni might be on the move, which seems like a really bad idea, considering he's a mistake-averse, knockdown-shooting guard who looks to be a very good fit in the Triangle offense. (Seriously, as a Knicks fan, I really hope these rumblings are more indigestion than information.)
If not, though, this swapping of positional deck chairs and similar salaries seems ... I don't know, kind of pointless for both sides? Or, at least, not entirely pointy. Then again, maybe the Knicks' and Kings' front offices were just kind of bored. It is the beginning of August, after all.
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