Both the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls knew they had to be active before the trade deadline if they were to put themselves in prime position for the “2010 All-Star Offseason.” Well, it’s safe to say that both teams met their objectives by each pulling off multiple deals. I’ve listed the incoming and outgoing players for each team through the deals they made this week. Before y0u look at the names and wonder who the heck would want to acquire some of these players, just know that all of the incoming players to each team have expiring contracts, making them very attractive to teams that are planning on being active upon season’s end. Here they are….
IN: Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick (from Milwaukee), Acie Law, Flip Murray, and a protected first-round draft choice (from Charlotte)
OUT: Tyrus Thomas (to Charlotte) and John Salmons (to Milwaukee)
IN: Tracy McGrady(from Houston), Sergio Rodriguez(from Sacramento), Eddie House, J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker (from Boston), Brian Cardinal (from Minnesota)
OUT: Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries (to Houston), Larry Hughes (to Sacramento), Nate Robinson and an additional player to be named (to Boston), Darko Milicic (to Minnesota)
What all of these moves do is clear cap space at the end of the year for the Bulls and Knicks, respectively. While most of the incoming players for either team won’t make much of an impact, the fact that the players are in the final year of their contracts means the teams won’t have to worry about reserving salary cap space for them next season. Most of the names you see will most likely not return to the Bulls or Knicks next season.
Many say that these moves show that the teams are giving up on their seasons and only planning for 2010-2011, but I don’t know that that is completely true in the case of Chicago. The Bulls still have a decent core of players (Rose, Gibson, Noah, Hinrich and Deng) and barring any huge letdowns, they will still make the playoffs in the East (not hard to do, I know). However, Bulls executives know that the Eastern Conference is a 4-team race between the Magic, Celtics, Hawks, and Cavaliers. Believe me, Bulls GM Gar Forman won’t be kicking himself too hard for trading his players to other playoff contenders in the East.
Although the Knicks won’t admit it publicly, they’re pretty much looking ahead. They currently sit only 7 games off the pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but the roster they have after all these moves is basically just a jumbled-up, random collection of mediocrity. Even if McGrady does return to his old form, which is unlikely, the Knicks will still be hard-pressed to go .500 the rest of the year.
On to NBA All-Star Offseason 2010…
Both franchises have desirable metropolitan areas on their side. New York and Chicago are arguably the two most pure American cities. For New York, the fame, fashion, celebrity lifestyles, and international appeal is sure to woo some of the NBA’s biggest stars. For Chicago, the die-hard sports fans, the food, the lakefront, and oh yeah…following in the footsteps of Michael Jordan are all likely to stand as convincing factors in an NBA star’s decision this summer.
Basketball-wise, it’s clear that the Bulls have been experiencing more success on the court recently. The team is easily just one piece away from becoming a legitimate Championship contender. They have an incredible point guard (Rose) in place as well as a dominant rebounder (Noah). For the Knicks, well…they have some work to do. The product they’ve put on the court the last few years has been the punch line of many jokes. Even if Lebron James went to New York, there isn’t enough in place to put them even close to an NBA title.
The Bottom Line...
The Bulls have cleared enough space to make a serious run at two major free agents. With Derrick Rose running the point, Chicago is a very desirable destination for the likes of Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade (Chicago native), Joe Johnson, and yes…Lebron James. The Bulls did an impressive job today clearing out space and making it known to the rest of the league that they are committed to getting a superstar in the offseason.
The Knicks did an excellent job of clearing space, especially with the acquisition of Tracy McGrady’s monster contract. However, they don’t have any bait to lure in a big-time player. The only way this is going to work for the Knicks is if they acquire two superstars. If they can somehow package together two stars like Bosh and Wade, for example, then it is likely they will finally be able to emerge from their rebuilding period. This is it for the Knicks. If they screw up this offseason, they could be left down in the dumps for a long time.
Man, this is fun! This year’s trade deadline and upcoming offseason has me as excited about the NBA as I’ve been in many years…like since the Bulls were throwin’ down 3-peats. We’ll see how aggressive everybody gets!