What has been the New York Knicks modus operandi for what seems like the entire decade has now become official. With the acquisition of Tracy McGrady’s expiring contract and the departure of Jarred Jeffries and maybe a couple of draft picks, the Knicks are hoping to put all their eggs in a couple of baskets in the summer of 2010.
The Knicks, Houston Rockets, and Sacramento Kings completed a three-team swap, highlighted by Kevin Martin heading to Houston. With McGrady coming off the books at seasons end and Jeffries cleared, the Knicks can sign two of the talented players of this years free-agent class to max contracts. James Dolan, Donnie Walsh, and Mike D’Antoni are already planning a press conference for Lebron and Bosh, or Lebron and Wade, or Wade and Bosh, or some combo for the middle of the summer.
On the surface, it seems like the Knicks got exactly what they wanted out of this deal. But the inclusion of draft picks in the package to Houston places an extra emphasis on signing two of the top free agents this offseason. As the deal stands, the Rockets will swap first-round picks with the Knicks in 2011 (protected if the Knicks land the first pick) and can take the Knicks first-round pick in 2012 (protected if it is a top-five pick). Maybe Walsh is assuming that with the Knicks signings they will be better than the Rockets over the next couple of years (if there is no lockout, which there probably will be, but that’s for another story) and those picks won’t matter as much. The Knicks have had a spotty record with drafts this decade (only David Lee, Nate Robinson, and Wilson Chandler have had an impact) so you could assume the Knicks would have botched the picks if they kept them.
McGrady, who was always an overrated player who could land on a highlight reel but never make his teammates better, won’t make the Knicks better. The season was already finished with or without him. For the Knicks, the real season starts in July.