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February 18, 2010

Knicks Get Their Cap Space, But at a Cost

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 3:19 pm

Tracy McGrady is headed to New York after all, along with a whole lot of cap space, but the price the Knicks had to pay for the ability to sign two free agents to max contracts next summer was a steep one. In the hours leading up to the trade deadline, New York President Donnie Walsh agreed to give up Jordan Hill, the Knicks’ 2012 first-round pick and the right to swap picks in 2011 in order for the Houston Rockets to take on the contract of Jared Jeffries. The only question remaining is what kind of protection was placed on those picks. That’s still undetermined right now, and we’ll update as we hear more. Sacramento Bee report Sam Amick said the 2012 pick is top-10 protected, which would cover New York quite a bit, but ESPN’s Chad Ford (whose colleague Marc Stein first broke the completed deal) says the Knicks keep their 2012 pick if it is in the top five (while the 2011 pick is protected only if it is No.1 overall).’s Joe Treutlein and CBA guru Larry Coon both broke down New York’s cap situation earlier this week and showed that buying out Eddy Curry would be enough to get the Knicks enough cap space to sign two free agents to maximum contracts next summer.

The issue for New York is even if it gets those players, it’s going to be hard pressed to add much talent around them besides the existing core of Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas and Danilo Gallinari. The Knicks will have just one pick in the next three years, and depending on whether they or the Rockets are good in 2010-11, it will probably be a low one. For next year, the hypothetical scenario would have those three players, two max-contract superstars and seven guys making the minimum. Tough to see that kind of team making much noise.

By holding out until the last minute, Houston GM Daryl Morey drove a tough bargain. The Rockets are no longer in position to go under the salary cap, so Jared Jeffries is a useful if overpaid piece. (He might also spell the departure of Shane Battier, since Houston is flush on the wing with the addition of Jeffries and Kevin Martin and Jeffries has emerged as one of the league’s better perimeter stoppers.) Hill provides a complementary style up front and helps sop up some of the minutes Carl Landry was playing, while the Rockets get tons of assets going forward. In the context of this deal, I like adding Martin yesterday that much more.

One minor note: Adding Sergio Rodriguez helps the Knicks this season. He’s a very intriguing fit for the Mike D’Antoni system. I’ve always been high on Rodriguez’s talent, but he’s never really gotten the right chance to show his wares. The Portland style was too conservative, and he was squeezed for minutes in Sacramento. You could see him break out over the next couple of months.

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