I was sitting in downtown D.C. this afternoon, enjoying a late lunch with some friends I hadn't seen in four years. The weather wasn't too hot, the chicken fingers were surprisingly tasty, and I had already finished my Knicks-related work for the day.
And then somebody messaged me about this shit.
The trade of Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant for Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round pick is straight-up garbage. I kept updating Twitter, hoping that at least two first-rounders were going to be added. No dice. As I rode home on the Metro, running these wretched terms through my brain, I could only take solace in the fact that this deal won't necessarily cripple them in the long run.
Make no mistake, however -- this deal will kneecap the team next season. The Knicks had roughly half of a pretty good roster in 2015-16. The frontcourt of Lopez, Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony was legitimately one of the best in the conference. Sure, they didn't have a starting-caliber guard, but the combination of Calderon, Grant, Langston Galloway and Lance Thomas could have formed a solid bench behind a better backcourt pair. There was at least a foundation to build on.
No longer. With one move, that half-a-team has been cut in half. Lopez, his solid all-around game and his extremely reasonable salary, are gone. Grant, who showed real promise toward the end of the season, is gone. Even Calderon, a deadly shooter and steady backcourt hand who was finally at the end of his contract, is gone. This is the list of players who will be paid guaranteed money by the Knicks in 2016-17:
- Carmelo Anthony
- Kristaps Porzingis
- Derrick Rose
- Kyle O'Quinn
- Justin Holiday
That's it! They will probably try to re-sign Langston Galloway and Lance Thomas, and they might bring over Willy Hernangomez. How many legitimate contributors do you see there? Even if Rose were to return to his MVP form of five years ago -- unlikely -- the Knicks still might not have enough to make the playoffs. I thought the Knicks could have been a postseason contender with a few tweaks; now I just can't see that happening. They needed to patch some holes this offseason; instead, they decided to punch a few more.
The silver lining here is that the team will have its 2017 first-round pick as a fall-back option, along with oodles of cap space. That may come as cold comfort for fans who are sick of incessant roster turnover and dying to see some playoff basketball but it's certainly better than losing out on that pick because a trade for Andrea Bargnani.
You see? It isn't so bad!