Knicks 'zzone

Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.

Nate trade to Celtics 'close'; McGrady update

Nate Robinson #2 of the New York Knicks

Nate Robinson #2 of the New York Knicks reacts after winning the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night. (February 13, 2010) (Credit: Getty Images)

At this point, with less than 24 hours until the trade deadline, at least one scenario amid the endless chatter involving the Knicks is reaching the reality stage. According to multiple sources, Nate Robinson is headed to the Boston Celtics in a deal that is in the finalization stages.

UPDATE: In fact, according to an ESPN.com report, the Knicks and Timberwolves have agreed to a swap of Darko Milicic for Brian Cardinal, which might have had to happen first to open up a roster spot (ESPN says Cardinal would be waived) for another deal, perhaps to help make the Robinson trade go through.

Meanwhile, Robinson posted an Eminem lyric on Twitter earlier today:

N wen I'm gone just carry on don't mourn rejoice every time u hear da sound of my voice (word aapp)

As we reported in Tuesday's paper and followed up again Wednesday, the Celtics maintained a strong interest in Robinson and engaged the Knicks in trade talks. The deal could include a player such as Eddie House going to New York in return, though I was told by a source that House wasn't a given in the deal at this point (I also heard the Celtics were trying to get a third team involved to help make the trade work) and it definitely sounds like a draft pick -- the key element -- will be part of the package going to New York.

The Knicks would prefer it to be a first-rounder to either make up for the loss of this year's pick (which goes to Utah as result of the Jan. 2004 Stephon Marbury trade) or perhaps 2011 or 2012 to potentially cover including their own pick in the offer with the Houston Rockets for Tracy McGrady.

Meanwhile, that situation remains very much unpredictable at this point. The very public gamesmanship on this front has been amazing, with varying reports from all agendas. One report had Rockets sources are claiming they have decided not to trade Tracy McGrady, which is incredibly premature and not even close to anything I've heard.

While it's certainly possible that nothing happens with McGrady, we've maintained all along that this will go up until the trade deadline at 3 p.m. on Thursday. The Knicks obviously don't want to pay the hefty price of Jordan Hill, swapping a first rounder in 2011 and then giving up an unprotected 2012 just to clear Jared Jeffries' $6.8M off the cap. And they certainly don't want to do it if there is no other real competition. From what I know, Walsh is trying to lottery protect those picks so we don't have another Eddy Curry Trade situation (unprotected first rounders in 2006 and 07 went to the Bulls, who drafted Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas) here again.

And trust me when I say that the knowledge that Utah has the Knicks' first-rounder this year as a result of the Stephon Marbury trade from 2004 does not sit well in the offices at 2 Penn Plaza.

So it's really up to the Rockets to decide if they want to get anything or nothing before McGrady comes off their payroll on June 30. The Knicks are willing to give up something, but not everything if they don't have to.

Tags: Knicks , NBA , Nate Robinson , Boston Celtics , Tracy McGrady , Houston Rockets , Donnie Walsh , Stephon Marbury , Darko Milicic , Brian Cardinal

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