On Monday mornings after the Knicks pound the defending champion Celtics, it's hard to imagine doing anything to screw up the chemistry of a team that shows flashes of tantalizing ability. The fact of the matter remains that those flashes aren't going to add up to anything substantial for this year's team, and that temporary success can't stand in the way of growth for the future.
That's why we're talking about a potential trade of David Lee 12 hours after his double-double helped the Knicks to their biggest win in years. Lee's a restricted free agent after the season, and the Knicks passed on the chance to sign him long-term before the season started. That would seem to point to a willingness to deal, but the Knicks have thus far balked at deals, including one that would have brought them two first round picks and the backup point guard they need in the short term.
Now there's discussion about a deal with Portland that could expand to include the Clippers and bring the Knicks either Jerryd Bayless or Sergio Rodriguez, old chum Marcus Camby and, perhaps, a first rounder. Both Bayless, a 6'3" rookie point guard, and Rodriguez, also 6'3" and in his third year after leaving native Spain, have a lot of upside and could flourish playing in the point-friendly system of Mike D'Antoni. Camby would mean the Knicks wouldn't be making the cardinal NBA sin of trading big for small, and his shot blocking would be a welcome addition to an interior defense that doesn't really exist.
It's a nice package, but is it enough to deal Lee? There's a belief that Donnie Walsh would like to use Lee as a way to remove Eddy Curry's contract from the roster, although that's not likely to happen this season. There's also the not totally meaningless connection that MSG fans have with Lee, who was often the only bright spot in the last few seasons. It would be a tough sell, especially with Bayless and Rodriguez unknown to many fans.
Sentimentality doesn't win games, though. Lee's strengths are mitigated by his limited range and poor defense, and if he's not part of the future then he needs to be dealt for pieces that are.