Thursday, February 20, 2014
Knicks stand pat at deadline
By Ian Begley
The Knicks couldn't pull the trigger on a deal for Iman Shumpert.
The trade deadline passed without the Knicks making any moves. So New York will try to make the playoffs with the same roster that went 21-33 in its first 54 games.
They will also maintain their cap space for the summer of 2015, when they hope to be major players in the free-agency market.
Whether their inactivity today was a wise move or major mistake is open to interpretation. We'll let you decide.
In the meantime, here's a breakdown of what happened -- and didn't -- in the days leading up to the deadline:
Shump's sticking with the Knicks: New York's biggest trade piece heading into the deadline was Iman Shumpert. The Nuggets and Clippers had expressed strong interest in acquiring Shumpert in the days leading up to the deadline. Denver and the Knicks talked about swapping Shumpert for Kenneth Faried with Beno Udrih and Jordan Hamilton also in the deal.
Talks halted late Wednesday night when Shumpert suffered what league sources told ESPN New York and ESPN.com's Marc Stein was a mild MCL sprain of his left knee.
Teams were likely scared off because Shumpert tore his left ACL and MCL in the 2012 playoffs and didn't return to the floor until January 2013.
Shumpert is in New York on Thursday undergoing further tests. The team hasn't announced any results yet, but league sources tell ESPN.com's Marc Stein and ESPN New York that Shumpert is likely to be out roughly seven to 10 days.
Once that information trickled out, the Knicks and Clippers re-engaged in talks shortly before the 3 p.m. deadline, sources told Stein. But the Clippers ultimately balked.
One league source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that a final deal on the table included the Clippers sending Collison, Willie Green and Barnes to the Knicks for Shumpert and Felton. The Knicks wanted to push the deal through but the Clippers backed away minutes before the deadline, the source said.
The Thunder, sources confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com and ESPN's Chris Broussard, had also expressed interest in Shumpert prior to his injury.
The Thunder have an extra pick in the 2014 draft from Dallas via the James Harden trade, so they could have sent that to the Knicks for Shumpert.
But talks with the Thunder, whose interest in Shumpert was first reported by the New York Post, did not pick up after the guard's injury.
ESPN.com's Stein reported that the Knicks told teams interested in Shumpert that they wanted a first-round pick in return for the third-year guard. If the team didn't have a first-round pick to offer, the Knicks wanted it to take back Felton, who is struggling this season and has two years left on his contract.
No upgrade at point guard: The Knicks' biggest hope prior to the deadline was to upgrade at point guard. That didn't happen. The Knicks talked to Toronto about Kyle Lowry. Those talks fell apart because Toronto was unwilling to part with Lowry because of the team's success, and the Knicks didn't want to give up a first-round pick or Tim Hardaway Jr. for Lowry.
The Knicks also talked to the Hawks about Jeff Teague. But the Hawks didn't want to take back Felton in a deal and the Knicks were hesitant to take on Teague's 4-year, $32 million contract.
So the Knicks will continue, for now, to play with Felton and Shumpert in the backcourt.
What about Beno? Aside from Shumpert, Udrih was the next most likely Knick to move before Thursday's 3 p.m. deadline. The Wizards and Nuggets had expressed interest in Udrih leading up to the deadline. But Washington and Denver executed a three-team trade along with the 76ers shortly before the deadline that sent Andre Miller to Washington.
In a separate deal, the Nuggets sent the aforementioned Hamilton to Houston for point guard Aaron Brooks.
So both teams interested in Udrih satisfied their need at backup point guard. Udrih is left in New York for the time being.
Earlier in the season, ESPNNewYork.com reported Udrih requested a trade due in part with his frustration with a lack of playing time and the public criticism of his game.
Udrih hasn't played in the Knicks' last 11 contests.
What does standing pat mean? Steve Mills and the Knicks kept their 2015 cap space in tact. But they did little to improve their chances to make the playoffs in 2014.
They are currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, 3 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Charlotte Bobcats.
It's fair to wonder if the Knicks' inactivity at the trade deadline is a sign that they are waiving the white flag on the 2013-14 season.
It's hard to see the Knicks piecing together enough wins to jump into sixth place or higher in the East. That's where the prime real estate in the conference is. Teams that finish in seventh or eighth will likely have to face Indiana and Miami in the first round.
The Knicks are currently five games back of sixth-place Brooklyn.
For what it's worth, four teams in close proximity to the Knicks in the standings (Brooklyn, Washington, Cleveland and Charlotte) made trades on Thursday to try to improve their roster.