Coming home from work yesterday, I thought I had my night planned. I had some painting I needed to do, which I would finish by 7:30. At that point I would kick back a few beers, order some dinner, and give my full attention to the Knicks-Mavericks game. Of course my best laid plans were thwarted by two foes. The first being my wife who had the “we need to get out of the house look on her face.” Her request was understandable. The weekend storm had brought a handful of weary traveling friends and family to our house. For a few days we were the keepers of an impromptu hostel.
The second interruption to my planned evening was an email from Henry Abbott. The email said that there was a group of bloggers representing their teams in a post-season online bid for Kevin Garnett. My job, should I accept it, was to come up with a deal that would get the Big Ticket in blue & orange. However the trade would be compared to the other offers by different bloggers, and the best one accepted. With an opportunity to play the Knicks GM, I felt as if I couldn’t refuse.
The first question I asked myself is would the Knicks want Garnett? On the negative side of the ledger, Garnett is going to be 31 by next year. Certainly his best years are behind him. Currently his PER is at 25.5, which is lower than last year’s PER. In fact should that number stay, it would be his fourth straight year in decline. Garnett has been in the league since he was 19, so his body has seen its fair share of wear and tear.
On the other hand Kevin Garnett is still a fantastic talent. He is a perennial All Star, earning a berth every possible year since he was 20 years old. Additionally Garnett has been named to 7 All NBA Teams, 7 All NBA Defense Teams, and won an MVP award in 2004. Even with his dwindling PER, Garnett is 6th overall in the league, still among the league’s best. And although he has played over 30,000 minutes Garnett should age well. He has been extremely durable, and hasn’t missed more than 6 games in any season. The 6’13” forward has another advantage: taller players age better than ones that are dependent on their speed & quickness.
It seems quite obvious that Garnett is the type of player that the Knicks could use at this stage. Since arriving in New York, Isiah has been looking for a star to mold this team around. Originally it was Stephon Marbury, and now it seems to be Eddy Curry. However neither player seems to be talented enough to be the core of a winning team. Currently the Knicks have a host of talented players, but lack the superstar that will take them to the next level. No Knick on the roster has a ceiling as high as Garnett’s over the next 2-3 years. New York seems to have made baby steps, but they’ve failed to show any major improvements over that span. While Thomas has escaped the guillotine this year, another 30-something win season won’t cut it next year. The pressure will be on to win in 2008.
So with my sights set on Garnett, I have to wonder how he would fit in on this team. His shooting touch doesn’t extend to the three point line, but he can score from inside or outside. But Garnett isn’t just a scorer, he is a consummate player that can rebound, handle the ball, and most importantly defend. None of the current trio of front court players (Curry, Frye, and Lee) are particularly good defenders. Garnett would mask Curry’s weaknesses on defense and under the glass, and the duo would create defensive nightmares for opponents. Meanwhile a Frye and Garnett duo would present the Knicks with a quick a versatile front court that can score from anywhere inside the arc. Both of these Knicks can play center, which would allow Garnett to stay at his preferred position at power forward.
Unfortunately for Knick fans, that means David Lee would be my odd man out. While Lee is the most productive Knick, he doesn’t mesh well with Garnett. Both are strong rebounders, so the team would see diminishing returns, much like adding Ben Wallace to an already strong defensive Bulls team. Additionally Lee’s ability makes him the most coveted Knick, which would increase the chances the Knicks would receive Garnett. While Lee has the most potential of any Knick, at this point it’s still just that. He’s a wonderful rebounder, finishes well around the hoop, and has a nack for passing. But he’s still a bit off from being an All Star caliber player, nevertheless a franchise player like Garnett.
If Minnesota were to trade their franchise player, it would mean that they have finally comitted to rebuilding. Looking at their salary cap situation, it seems that taking Marko Jaric off their hands would be most helpful. Jaric’s contract runs until 2011, and is 5th highest on the team. Unfortunately the Knicks won’t have any expiring contracts this summer, so they can’t offer any instant relief. Malik Rose is the closest the Knicks can offer in cap relief. His contract expires in 2009, a year before Blount, Hudson, James or Hassell. To make contracts match I would have to add either Steve Francis or Stephon Marbury. Considering that trading for Marbury would be a huge public relations hit in Minnesota, I chose Francis. And to sweeten the pot I’ve thrown in Nate Robinson.
So my offer would be Lee, Francis, Robinson, and Malik Rose to the Timberwolves for Garnett and Jaric.
When I first got Henry’s email, I did a little brainstorming and Brian Cronin wrote back “The SLIGHTEST chance the Knicks have would be a package of Frye, Balkman, Crawford, Richardson, Robinson and the next draft pick they are allowed to trade (maybe some second rounders, too). It works cap-wise, but would the Wolves even slightly consider it?” However this would leave the Knicks with a lineup of:
This would give the Knicks a front court duo of Curry & Garnett, with the option of using Lee off the bench or at the 3. But we would have no depth at any of the other positions. An injury at any the guard or swingman spots would doom the team. And who knows if Francis’ “tendonitis” will flair up again, which would leave us without a shooting guard. By trading only Lee & Robinson the lineup is a more palatable:
In this version, the Knicks are solid at the center & both forward spots, with quality and depth at all spots. Both guard spots could use some more depth, but I left the Knicks with their first round pick and the MLE to get a pair of guards here. More importantly a Garnett led Knicks, with this supporting cast would be among the top teams in the weak East. For the first time in years, Knick fans would have their sights set a bit higher than jockeying for that last playoff spot and a first round kick in the ass.
I could live with this trade, but the question is would the Timberwolves accept? I’ve given Minnesota a bit of cap space (Rose), a possible future All Star (Lee) that the fans will love (much like they do here), a former All Star (Francis) and an exciting young player (Robinson). Check out TrueHoop (now at ESPN) to see.