NBA PM: NY Knicks Trade Fix
Earlier this week we talked about the possible contenders for the 2012 NBA championship, and while the list for the Western Conference was lengthy, things got a little shallow in the East. The Chicago Bulls and Miami HEAT were the easy picks, but beyond that there are a large number of questions to be answered by teams like Orlando, Atlanta, Boston and . . .yes . . .you picked them: the New York Knicks.
I asked readers to sound off on which Eastern team should be added to the HOOPSWORLD poll about Eastern contenders (on the main page), and the overwhelming favorite was the Knicks. I didn’t automatically include them because they have a lot of issues to resolve between now and the start of the 2011-12 season, but they’re on the poll now and we’ll take a realistic look at how the Knicks might push beyond the first round and possibly deep into the playoffs.
There’s been a great deal of talk about how the Knicks might land Chris Paul or Dwight Howard in free agency next summer, but there is a fundamental flaw in that plan. It seems highly unlikely that either of those players are free agents next summer, as if the New Orleans Hornets and the Orlando Magic, respectively, have any notion that their franchise players might bolt they will be forced to think long and hard about getting the best offer they can find and trading them at the trade deadline. In that event, the Knicks don’t have the pieces to offer in trade. Chauncey Billups’ expiring contract is the Knicks’ only real bargaining chip, and neither the Magic nor the Hornets need to make a trade if they just want cap space. They could just let their own players opt out and have that.
That’s all about the summer of 2012. What we’re talking about now is how the Knicks get into a position to possibly contend between now and then.
Sources close to the situation tell HOOPSWORLD that New York’s focus for now is on acquiring a big man, though they’re reluctant to commit a lot of long-term dollars to landing one. As HOOPSWORLD’s Tommy Beer wrote a couple of months ago, that means the Knicks are probably out of the running for players like Tyson Chandler or even Samuel Dalembert, who will certainly command multi-year deals. One possibility Tommy presented was sending something like $3 million and a second round pick to the Phoenix Suns for Robin Lopez, who fell out of the rotation after the team acquired Marcin Gortat. The Suns always seem to be looking for ways to cut costs, and this move would accomplish that for Phoenix and also give the Knicks a serviceable big man who doesn’t eat up the long-term cap space the Knicks covet.
An additional concern for the Knicks is the fact that Stoudemire played a career-high in minutes last season, something that may have lead to his back issues. The Knicks don’t want to use Stoudemire at center and they don’t want to have to put that heavy of a minutes load on him, either.
Even if the Knicks do manage to find a big man and also keep Billups’ expiring deal, it’s still not a given that they will be in the running for Howard or Paul. The era of the big three, three players earning in the neighborhood of $20 million each, is likely to be over before it really got started if the NBA owners have their way in CBA discussions. A hard cap or even the elimination of exceptions would make it very hard to commit that much money to just three players when teams have 15 spots to fill.
Are the Knicks contenders in 2011-12? It’s possible. The team is determined to instill a defensive mindset using the expertise of new assistant coach Mike Woodson and probably the extensive input of Billups, who has long been known as an elite defender. Still, without a better defensive presence in the middle the Knicks have their work cut out for them, and it may take them another year to put together a core group that can compete with Derrick Rose’s Bulls and Dwyane Wade’s HEAT.
Nets’ New Home Overcoming Hurdles
The New Jersey Nets’ proposed move to Brooklyn has not been without its controversies. In fact, they have had to weather 40 lawsuits and numerous community protests in their effort to first build and then relocate to Barclays Center. Brett Yormark, CEO of Nets Basketball and president and CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, spoke with Big Lead Sports about basketball, Brooklyn and the Barclays Center. He says the way is finally clear for the Nets to begin play in their new venue in 2012-13.
“From a litigation standpoint, there are no major hurdles remaining. From a construction standpoint, we are on schedule. We will officially open the building Sept. 28, 2012 with a celebration of events that will run through mid-November . . . There will be a check list of things I will want to look at, and if you know me it will be a long one. But we will be ready.”
One advantage of moving to New York is that the Nets will have no problem finding corporate sponsors. In fact, Yormack says they may wind up turning potential corporate partners away.
“We have an incredible base of partners. But we are still aggressively marketing and selling. There are some key categories that we are finishing off: insurance, auto, airline, to be specific. We should be able to close those out and make announcements within the next 30-40 days. That said, our philosophy in Brooklyn when it comes to the commercialization of the building is that less is more. So we are not going to overdo it.”
Lately it seems that everything in the NBA is sponsored by one corporation or another. Teams seem to be working overtime to find ways for corporations to sponsor everything from timeouts and replays to coaching substitutions and even free throws. One thing Yormack is very aware of is that his partners do not want to be part of an overcrowded, diluted message hitting patrons of the new facility.
“Partners want value. They don’t want clutter and they certainly don’t want their message to be diluted. With that in mind, and with the understanding that we want to give each of our partners a sense of ownership, there will be very little static signage. It’s all dynamic. We are giving our partners a lot of creativity and flexibility to reach their target market. Not only during Nets games, but throughout all our events. [Our strategy is] that we are not really selling signage as much as we are selling time. So we have a street-to-seat brand domination platform, where there are moments when any one of our key partners will own that building. They will be seen in every area. That has been a platform that truly resonates with the corporate community.”
Naturally, with the team leaving New Jersey the name of the team will change. Don’t except it to be all that different, or much of a surprise.
“The working title for some time has been the Brooklyn Nets. At some point, though, we will make an official name change. But for many people, this has been the assumed name, and the name Bruce Ratner [former majority now minority team owner] has used for years.”
You can read more of Big Lead Sports’ exclusive interview with Brett Yormark, CEO of Nets Basketball and president and CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, by linking here!
More Chinese Nuggets
Earlier this summer Denver Nuggets free agent guard J.R. Smith signed the most lucrative contract ever offered by the Chinese Basketball Association, but his record didn’t last long. Former Nuggets teammate Kenyon Martin became the highest-paid player in CBA history today when he agreed to a contract with the Xingiang Guanghui Tigers.
“It’s a great opportunity for him to stay in shape and stay fresh,” said Andy Miller, Martin’s agent. “And it also gives him an opportunity to expand his name globally.”
Martin’s contract will pay him $2.65 million and does not contain an NBA opt-out, meaning he is committed to play in China until the CBA season ends in March. The team is also paying all agent fees, so the contract is worth a bit more than a similar deal signed with the NBA.
Martin is the third Nuggets free agent to head to China, following Smith and Wilson Chandler, who will play for the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions.
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