Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Evening Thought To Ponder: Is The Cliff Lee-Yankees Offseason Situation Influencing The Knicks?

Something I thought about last night at the bar while I watched Blake Griffin win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest as the announcers kept discussing the Carmelo Anthony trade situation was how similar it was to the Yankees attempting to trade for Cliff Lee last year.  This morning, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the latest moves made by the Knicks could have been in response not to the Nets making a big offer, but rather the Yankees and what played out for them after they failed to add Lee last summer.

Flashback to summer 2010.  As the Mariners put Lee on the trade block, the Yankees put together the best package with Jesus Montero, David Adams, and an unknown 3rd prospect.  The deal was agreed to and Lee was all but ready to put on the pinstripes until the Mariners saw Adams' physical, got concerned about his foot injury, and called the whole thing off.  While there was disappointment across Yankeeland for losing out on Lee, the general feeling was that it wasn't all bad because they were able to keep their top prospect and would still be the favorites to sign Lee when he became a free agent this past offseason.  As we all now know, Lee spurned the Yanks in favor of going back to Philly, leaving the rotation with a couple of gaping holes and plenty of salty feelings from fans and writers everywhere.

Now look at the current situation with Carmelo and the Knicks.  The Knicks are one of multiple teams in talks to trade for Carmelo.  They recently upped their offer this week to now include Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Eddy Curry plus his tits and contract, possibly multiple 1st round picks, and either Danilo Gallinari or Landry Fields.  Now on the surface that looks like a horrible deal to me.  The value of adding a player of Carmelo's caliber gets essentially cancelled out when you have to give up 3 of your 5 best players to do it and leave your roster depth in tatters.  And it's widely known throughout the NBA that Carmelo WANTS to play for the Knicks, so conceivably they could hold what they have and just sign him when he becomes a free agent in the offseason, adding him to their already solid core and becoming a legit contender in the Eastern Conference next season.

But as the Lee-Yankees situation showed us, it's never a foregone conclusion that the player you think you're going to sign is actually going to sign with you.  Sure Carmelo wants to be a Knick and sure the Knicks wants him, but once he gets to free agency it's anybody's game.  Maybe Carmelo gets traded to the Nets, hits it off with Jay-Z, and decides he wants to re-up there.  Maybe the Lakers get creative and find a way to sign Carmelo to come join Kobe and Pau Gasol.  The bottom line is, the Yankees didn't get their man through a trade and then didn't get him in free agency when everybody thought they were the favorite.  The Knicks are in the same situation with a guy they want right now and maybe the lesson learned from the Yankees and Lee is inspiring them to go all out in their latest trade proposal.  Is it a wise move?  Probably not.  But when you really want a player, sometimes you have to do whatever you feel it takes to make damn sure you get him.

P.S.- Check out Moshe Mandel's post on TYA about the same topic.  He focuses on James Dolan's meddling in the trade talks and compares it to another similar recent situation with the Yankees.