Tracy McGrady against Chris Duhon of the New York Knicks on January 26, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
It's finally done and the Knicks have gotten what they wanted before the NBA trade deadline. A three-team deal with the Kings and Rockets is bringing Tracy McGrady and Sergio Rodriguez to New York, and sending Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill, Larry Hughes and a couple of first round picks out of town in order to clear enough cap space to sign two free agents to maximum contracts come the summer.
There's no doubt that it's a lot to give up for that chance, but there's also no doubt that it was a move Donnie Walsh had to make to see his plan to save the Knicks come to fruition. With a lockout looming in 2011, there will be major changes to the way the NBA does business and that means the Knicks had this window and this window only to make a move toward radically rebuilding their roster with the leverage provided by cap space.
That puts a lot of pressure on Walsh to make the moves everyone wants to see this summer -- LeBron/Wade/Bosh -- but that's the kind of pressure the general manager of the Knicks should relish. There wasn't any other reason to take this job, there wasn't any other reason to make any of the other personnel moves he's made in the last two years and there's no better route to take to completely obliterate the Isiah Era from the Garden.
You have to remember that was always the plan. A general manager with a track record of great success teamed with Mike D'Antoni, a coach that players love to play for, in a city that has more cache than Indianapolis, Memphis or Salt Lake City. That's what the Knicks have going for them, they just needed to clear the money to actually offer it to prospective players. They've done that and now they'll let 'er rip full steam.
If you want to dwell on the reasons why it can't work, go right ahead. Argue that even with LeBron and Bosh, the team would be made up of those two, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and table scraps. Or that the team will be very bad if they don't land any of the big ticket targets and, thanks to the loss of the picks, they'll be bad for a good long time.
Make those arguments because they are both true. After you make them, though, explain how that's a worse situation than the one they faced before making this trade. No first round pick in 2010, enough expiring contracts to gut the team of talent but not enough to provide space to make a splash in free agency and Jordan Hill doesn't exactly inspire great thoughts of a spectacular team come this time next year or the one after that and so on and so on.
It's a huge risk, but those are the kinds of risks you take when you're trying to win big. We'll see how it plays out, but it's pretty tough to like the Knicks' chances less after this deal than you did before they pulled the trigger.