Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.
How Eddy factors into LeBron Plan
Two weeks before The Big Day and the talk is dominated by players the Knicks would like to get. Meanwhile, at the MSG Training Center remains the small group of players they actually still have a contract with the team.
Let's start with Eddy Curry, who may be the most talked about of these players mainly because he is viewed as a possible trade asset with an expiring contract. But is it a given the Knicks will look to move Curry this summer just to get him off the team? I'm told no. When I replied with a stammering, "Why not?", here's what I was told:
"Did you see how Quentin Richardson looked in his contract year?"
But Eddy has already undergone a tremendous physical makeover that saw him get under 300-pounds for the first time since he arrived with the Knicks in 2005. The issue with him remains the ability to play without getting injured. Curry is still waiting for clearance to resume basketball activities, as the torn myofascial band in his right calf must be fully healed.
It wouldn't be a Fix without a Curry injury update.
But as disgusted as Fixer Nation may be with Curry's myriad physical issues, which have limited him to 10 games and 73 minutes in the last two seasons, there has to be some consideration to the fact that this is a player in his contract year and, considering his off-the-court financial issues, you have to believe he has a little something to play for at this point. You know, only his career. That could be the kind of motivation the Knicks can benefit from for a season.
Sure, the Knicks would be amenable to dealing Curry in the right kind of scenario, but as much as they'd love to make a huge splash on draft night and perhaps work a trade that brings in Tony Parker and makes a loud declaration to prospective free agents about how serious they are about winning (this means you, LeBron), it seems highly unlikely that the Spurs would have any interest in Curry as a player. But if you package him with Wilson Chandler or Toney Douglas, perhaps it makes a little more sense for San Antonio, which generally aims to avoid paying luxury tax. Curry could come off their books in 2011 (like Parker would have), to give the Spurs serious cap space to rebuild their team. The bonus would be getting a good, young and inexpensive player in Chandler or Douglas as the throw-in.
A sign-and-trade for David Lee for Parker might make more sense personnel-wise for the Spurs, but then they would have to commit to Lee long-term when they still have Antonio McDyess signed - though relatively cheap at $5M per - through 2012. Signing Lee doesn't help their goals to be under the tax threshold and well under the cap in 2011, but it does get them younger and faster.
But for the Knicks, trading Lee's cap hold for Parker ($12.6M) rather than swapping Curry's already used slot eats up precious cap space which essentially means no chance of landing two max players. So perhaps in that scenario, you hope Tony can then talk his friend Amar'e Stoudemire into joining him in New York. An NBA player told me recently that Amar'e has reached out to Parker with an interest in talking about the summer and the options that exist.
But that's enough of the Plan B talk. The Knicks are two weeks away from July 1 and Plan A is still very much in effect. And Plan A involves LeBron James and a big to go with him, such as Amar'e or Chris Bosh.
Plan A involves Danilo Gallinari as a third piece to emulate the Boston Big Three, which is becoming the prototype for building an immediate contender. The Knicks feel strongly that Gallinari, though young and relatively unknown, has great potential and could fit dynamically with a talent such as LeBron and a high-end big. The intention is to emphasize this point with LeBron by outlining the D'Antoni offense and detailing Gallinari's skill set (This would be the part of the recruiting visit where Donald Trump can be excused, Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan are told to hush up and Spike Lee is asked to dim the lights).
And Plan A, believe it or not, also involves Eddy Curry. The desperate, hungry and determined Curry who, at 27, the Knicks feel has no choice but to play for his career - and his financial well-being - this season. The Curry who has it in him to be a dominating low-post scorer, but more importantly, a very effective pick-and-roll player. The critical issue is that Curry has to want it and, just as much, the coaching staff has to want to work with him to fit him into the offense without allowing it to disrupt things as it did last season. The Knicks can't run a traditional stack post-up set just to favor Curry's desire to do a pin-down type post and instead need to work it into the motion of the offense. It can work.
Of course it only works if Curry can actually get back on the court and play meaningful minutes.
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* - Curry has been at the MSG Training Center regularly and working out at the facility along with the few other Knicks actually under contract. One player who showed up about a week ago is Bill Walker, who has apparently already dropped about 10 pounds. The Knicks want him around 220 and word is Walker was playing at about 240 during the season.
* - Saw the recent rumor about Ty Lawson possibly being made available by the Denver Nuggets, with the Indiana Pacers and the No. 10 pick reported as interested and the Knicks also mentioned. Lawson isn't going anywhere so let that one die on the vine.
* - True Hoop transcribed an interview the elusive William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley did recently on Jerry Stackhouse's satellite radio show. Wes was true to form as he absolutely said nothing. In fact, Wesley insisted he's had no interaction with LeBron James about his free agency decision and that LeBron hasn't asked him for any input.
"I haven’t even conversated with him about this process because this is his family and that’s their process," Wesley said. "So, you know, I haven’t talked to him about that.”
* - It is impossible to predict who the Knicks will target with their second round picks because it's impossible to predict who will be available at that time. The draft always has surprises and always has that one player who goes higher than expected and the one player who slips. What I know is that the Knicks are working out as many prospects as possible and will likely bring a few back next week before the draft for one last look. Then they'll compile a list and rank them in order of value and when picks No. 38 and 39 come up, they'll see who is still available and go from there.