HOOPSWORLD.COM: Whether trade rumors involving Kevin Garnett are based on solid facts or not, one thing is certain – the Knicks are surely in the mix. Whenever a big name comes out on the market, the Knicks are always the first to be mentioned by media members and other speculators as potential buyers. That’s because they are. Especially Knicks president/coach Isiah Thomas, who is always trying to improve his roster, always looking for ways to spend Jim Dolan’s money.
An early riser, Thomas already has his team linked to two possible mega-trades, one involving Jermaine O’Neal and the other involving the ever-elusive Garnett. Like everyone else, the Knicks will try to get one of the two. Unlike other teams, Thomas has been preparing for chasing those two for quite some time now.
But before he starts exchanging possible trade scenarios with fellow GMs, Thomas must make a decision – where is this franchise headed? If they go with Jermaine O’Neal they may be on a different path then if they choose KG. Which way should he go?
The O’Neal trade may be the easier one for Thomas. Not only can he bring in good value to close the deal (Channing Frye, David Lee, and Jamal Crawford), he also is known to have strong relations with his former player. O’Neal has what Thomas is looking for – strength, athleticism and talent, and will fit in a team that idolizes their coach. It will be hard, however, to convince Larry Bird to give up his best asset to his conference rival.
That may be for the best for the Knicks after all. O’Neal is indeed a great player, but he has two problems –
1. He has been injury-prone in the last few seasons, missing 44 games since 2005. If there’s one thing New York doesn’t need is another player who may or may not finish the season. They’ve had enough of that with Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson, and David Lee.
2. His personality and ego may not fit in with other personalities around the locker room. There is so much space for leading men on one team, and it’s already crowded in New York.
Unless they need to make room for Kevin Garnett; for him they can find a spot. After all, which player will not want Kevin Garnett on his side? He has already proven to be one of the elite players in the league, averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds throughout his career. He has also proven to be a loyal teammate when he refused to demand a trade during all his years with sinking organization in Minnesota. There are only so many players who would do that.
Garnett is just what the Knicks need – he is a tough leader, he played with Stephon Marbury before and would work well with him, he knows how to close games and can teach them a thing or to about staying consistent. And more than that – he is someone younger players can look up to. Thomas has put in quite some work to make his team more athletic and younger. Now the Knicks youth – Mardi Collins, Renaldo Balkman, even Eddy Curry – would welcome Garnett and enjoy learning from him.
Despite having the highest payroll in the league ($139 million), the Knicks will have some options as they clear $62 million off their payroll next year, paying off Allen Houston, Jalen Rose, Maurice Taylor, Shandon Anderson and Jerome Williams. They can make place not only for KG, but for the $22 million due to him next season. Thomas should forget about O’Neal and try to come up with a way of getting the player who can take them to the post season and beyond.