Heres the John Hollinger article someone requested:
The New York Knicks
aren't getting Chris Bosh
or Dwyane Wade
, and they probably aren't getting LeBron James
But at least the Knicks got somebody
Monday's announcement that New York agreed to terms with Amare Stoudemire
on a five-year, $99.74 million deal at least forestalls the Armageddon scenario for the Knicks. Their two years of self-imposed playoff exile in order to create cap space weren't for naught.
Stoudemire obviously comes with some asterisks. He's had microfracture surgery, and one bad hit to his eye could be a career-ender. He's not a great defender or passer and wouldn't win a most popular teammate competition.
That said, the pros outweigh the cons for New York. For starters, Stoudemire obviously has had success in coach Mike D'Antoni's system. This was probably the best landing spot for him careerwise if he couldn't return to the Suns.
More importantly, adding Stoudemire makes many other things possible for the Knicks. Now they inform other major free agents that they have a centerpiece to build around. That applies this summer and will apply just as strongly in a year, when the likes of Tony Parker
and Carmelo Anthony
could be on the market and the Knicks will have more cap space as a result of Eddy Curry
's expiring contract.
In the shorter term, the Knicks have a stronger selling point to make to James and Wade. Even if those pitches ultimately fall on deaf ears, which seems likely, they can make a stronger sell to the likes of defensive center Brendan Haywood
and pick-and-roll specialist Luke Ridnour
as well. Those types of pickups wouldn't be nearly as sexy but would enable to the Knicks to field a competent, playoff-caliber roster next season.
And, of course, they can sign-and-trade David Lee
. Keeping Lee is an option, but he'd make a terrible frontcourt partner for Stoudemire -- both thrive as the dive man in pick-and-rolls, and neither plays much defense (although Stoudemire will look like Bill Russell compared to Lee). Depending on how things go with other free agents, the Knicks might prefer to deal for future draft picks rather than current contracts. However, because they'll sign Stoudemire under the cap, the Knicks would be ineligible for a trade exception in such a deal. Another possibility is sending Lee to Golden State for Monta Ellis
, although that would swallow up much of the cap space available to sign other free agents.
Basically, signing Stoudemire gives the Knicks options -- realistic options, not the pie-in-the-sky stuff we've been hearing about for the past two years. For that reason alone, it's a good deal that enables them to finally turn the page on a forgettable last decade. Their financial strength makes it better. Unlike some other teams, they will be able to afford it if Stoudemire disappoints in the final couple of years of the contract.
As for Phoenix, losing Stoudemire leaves a major hole. The Suns obviously thought Stoudemire was leaving when they signed Hakim Warrick
and Channing Frye
, but their unwillingness to pursue a sign-and-trade leaves me puzzled.
The Suns, who have no general manager or assistant GM at the moment, apparently thought they had to renounce their rights to Stoudemire once they agreed with Warrick and Frye. Alas, that simply isn't true. It doesn't matter in what order deals are agreed to; what matters is the order in which they're signed. Phoenix could have received contracts worth slightly more than $2 million in a sign-and-trade provided they had executed that deal before Warrick signed his contract.
Here's how it works. Under a little-known provision, the Suns could have removed Frye's cap hold by signing him with their midlevel exception first, because they still would have been over the cap while Stoudemire's cap hold stayed on their books. Then they could have sign-and-traded him to another team and taken back just enough salary to leave them $4 million under, enabling them to sign Warrick under the cap.
The Suns weren't going to get a treasure trove out of this in any case, but they could have received a couple of minor assets for their trouble in getting Stoudemire and his new team a more favorably structured deal (a sixth year for Stoudemire, which could happen only in a sign-and-trade -- plus, the larger raises permitted in such deals would have let his new club spread the money out over a longer period to create more cap space).
Depending on how things go for the Bulls during the next few days, they also had the possibility of structuring a Stoudemire-for-Warrick three-way sign-and-trade to give themselves a massive trade exception. (They would have stayed over the cap in that scenario and thus legally could obtain the exception.)
Apparently nobody in Phoenix was thinking about any of this stuff, although the Suns still have three days to scramble. Instead, they'll have roughly $2 million in cap room to fill Louis Amundson
's slot in their rotation and a bunch of minimum contracts to fill out the roster. They were good enough last season that they might make the playoffs even without Stoudemire, but this is a major loss.