It was shortly after hearing that the Rockets and Kings completed a trade sending Tracy McGrady to Sacramento that we finally realized why we've been obsessing so much about the trade deadline this season.
It's about the possibility of increased space under the salary cap after the season, sure, but it's also the last chance to make the rest of this year's NBA season remotely interesting for the Knicks.
Wednesday night's loss to the Bulls, their second loss to Chicago in the last two days, made it clear that there won't be much joy provided by the characters currently on the team. Wilson Chandler has been playing well, although it is hard to tell if he's improving or just getting tons of chances on an awful team. Danilo Gallinari, the other player who matters, can still shoot the lights out, but his bizarre habit of tossing up the occasional airball makes watching him an often frustrating exercise.
Otherwise, there ain't much that made the prospect of adding McGrady an appealing one for the final set of games. At least it's something different than watching Chris Duhon pass instead of shooting open layups or Al Harrington doing whatever it is Al Harrington does. The only interesting thing about loss number 34 was seeing Charles Oakley rocking some distinguished grey hair from his sideline seat.
Otherwise, bupkis, and that's why this trade has been such a nice idea to cling to for the last few days. Ten years of hopelessness could be replaced by a few months of hopefulness simply by trading an overpaid small forward for a broken-down guard. That's how bleak things are in Knicksland and, even if that hopefulness never pays off, it's a nice feeling to imagine having.
Hence the negative reaction to the news that McGrady would be heading to Schwarzenegger country. The three teams are still working on getting McGrady to the Big Apple, although there are varying opinions as to how likely such a move will be, with Jared Jeffries still believed to be the key man on the move on the Knicks end of things.
The deadline is 3 p.m. and it's looking like it will go down to the wire before we know whether or not Donnie Walsh has pulled off his big gambit. We're hopeful that he does because it means we can keep being hopeful a little while longer.