With trade season in, its that time for certain teams to take a hard look at themselves. The Hawks already have, well, kinda. Thats a whole ‘nother story. But there’s two teams in particular that could, and should, make some major moves.
The Knicks have fallen into the trench of despair and mediocrity, exactly where we expected them to be at some point this season. Carmelo Anthony got upset, and met with Phil Jackson. Derrick Rose has been atrocious and even went AWOL for a game. Joakim Noah’s contract might be the worst in the league. Hey, at least they have Kristaps Porzingis to save this team. Oh wait! They’re not giving him much of a chance!
The Clippers haven’t been this bad at all. They’re still 4th in the West, but are slowly falling backwards into the mess of the 4th-7th slots in the Western Conference. Blake Griffin has been hurt most of the year, and as he’s making his comeback, Chris Paul goes out for two months with a torn thumb ligament. The Clippers deal with this stuff every season. But they’re going into their biggest Summer ever, and this type of stuff is what hurts them in the postseason every Spring.
So what should the Clippers and Knicks do? Well, we’re gonna use some common sense (which both front offices lack) and the handy-dandy ESPN Trade Machine to cook up some solutions.
We’ll start with New York. I should make it known that Melo and Phil Jackson have both came out and said Melo will remain in New York, and won’t waive his no-trade clause. This is a terrible decision on multiple fronts. First, the Knicks aren’t winning, which means Melo is pretending to be upset just to cause drama. I think its clear by now that he doesn’t care about winning. He signed that massive max contract in New York a couple Summers ago, when he could have easily left for a contender like Houston or a better situation in Chicago. He was against the drafting of Porzingis, which was clearly the best move. And he watched Phil Jackson establish this “win-now” team which was destined to be a disaster from the start. That could have been predicted by anyone with the slightest bit of basketball knowledge.
Then last week, Melo reads (What athlete is reading any column about themselves or their team?) Charley Rosen’s terrible column, which appeared on FanRag Sports (which I had never heard of until this whole thing blew up), and throws a fit to media and questions whether Phil Jackson wants him here. They meet and decide he’s gonna stay. Because of course he will. Melo just wants his own team, and Jackson actually thinks this is a quality basketball team.
If the Knicks were smart, they’d start here.
The Knicks would clear Melo out of the way, turn the team over to Porzingis, and insert Blake Griffin as the top post-up threat and a knock-down midrange shooter. Luc Mbah a Moute gives the Knicks a short-term replacement at small forward if they aren’t ready to upgrade Mindaugas Kuzminskas’ minutes (which I’d understand even though I love him).
New York then needs to move Joakim Noah, who’s value is little to none right now. Its hard to find a team that would take on that contract, but there might be someone desperate enough.
This is completely insane, because its a trade of two players who neither team wants, but also makes sense because it addresses needs and is so hilarious that it makes it good. In Turner the Knicks get another ball handler to replace Derrick Rose. Turner has his deficiencies, but if he’s used right he’s an upgrade over Rose. The Blazers solve their rim protection issue, though Noah has struggled on all ends this year. Its a change of scenery for both, which could lead to success.
At this point with Rose, you probably let him leave this Summer and reboot next season. He’s lost everything he had. He’s not at Rajon Rondo’s level yet, but over the next season or two it’s gonna head that way. Brandon Jennings has been fine; he’s probably not the next guy for the Knicks. Ron Baker has shown flashes, but once again he’s not the future at point guard. They’ll find or draft someone, but remember: Anyone is an upgrade over Rose.
Courtney Lee is a fine piece to keep around if the Knicks completely undue this team. The Knicks new lineup could look something like Jennings-Lee-Mbah a Moute-Griffin-Porzingis. Its not great, but puts them in a better situation than they are now.
A Clippers blowup involves only one move, but the name involved is so much more valuable than anyone the Knicks would deal.
Blake Griffin is about to return from another lengthy injury; he’s had one every season in the past three. And now Chris Paul has a thumb injury, the guy who runs that team and makes them go. Who knows what seed they’ll be in by the time the playoffs come around. And even if they don’t lose any ground, who says they’re making the title anyways? Los Angeles has had the same problem for years. They lack that 5th crunch-time guy who can score or hit a big shot. They lack that quality starting small forward. Blake and Chris are both free agents this Summer. They’ve never made a Western Conference Finals. Its hard to say this without sounding like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith, but its time for the Clippers to take a hard look at themselves. This threesome of Paul, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan is good, but its not beating the Warriors or Cavaliers. Are they really okay with losing in the 2nd round every year?
So here’s what you do: Rather than let things play out this Summer, and maybe lose Griffin for nothing, put him out there now, see what the Knicks, Celtics, Thunder(?) and Raptors(?) offer, and then consider moving him. I know he’s expiring, but the haul would be huge. And I think Griffin considers resigning with all of those teams. The Knicks have the market, the Celtics have the talent (Really, Griffin would be the final piece), the Thunder are home and would have a nice team adding him, and the Raptors might have what it takes to beat Golden State and Cleveland with Griffin.
A trade would give the Clippers better depth, young assets (something they complete lack right now), and a better answer for the small forward position.
I highly doubt the Clippers and Knicks will make moves this drastic. But to take the next step, they might be necessary.