May 16, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Chris Copeland (14) celebrates with New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) on the court against the Indiana Pacers during the second half in game five of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Knicks win 85-75. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks Must Protect Their Assets

With training camp a few weeks away, we can say the New York Knicks got younger, but did they get better? In New York, there is a standard: teams play for championships and fans expect championships. With the New York Giants treading water and the New York Yankees all but eliminated, this is an important year for the Knicks.

The team as constructed, to date is actually better than last year, but are they as strong as the Indiana Pacers or Brooklyn Nets?

To grow, the Knicks must protect their assets in order to maneuver during the season. Having the flexibility to make a trade mid-season could net the Knicks another scorer or center, two currently unfulfilled needs.

The first thing Glen Grunwald has to do is stop horse trading with Daryl Morey from the Houston Rockets. It began with the Tracy McGrady trade. As TNT’s Steve Kerr recently pointed out, the “T-Cap” trade opened up cap room for two maximum contract players, but the Knicks only got one. T-Mac turned into a bust. Beyond giving up lottery pick Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries and their 2012 first-round pick, Walsh also gave the Rockets the rights to swap picks, which they did. At the time, Hill was a rookie with a ton of potential and looked like a future starter in his time as a rookie with the Rockets. He’s been a disappointment since, but the Rockets still managed to get a first round pick for him from the Lakers. What did the Knicks end up with? Nothing. For a guy that was not even allowed in the building, who Houston was dying to dump….

It seems the Knicks would learn their lesson, but no. Last year they traded for Marcus Camby. The Knicks acquired Camby in exchange for Toney Douglas, Jerome Jordan, Josh Harrellson, plus a second-rounder, a 2015 second-rounder, and $2 million. This was supposed to help offset the Jeremy Lin contract.

Instead, New York allowed Morey to then pick up Jeremy Lin, for nothing, following Linsanity. So, in essence, the Knicks gave Houston Lin, Douglas, Jordan, Harrellson, plus two second round picks, and only got Camby in return. And Camby is now back in Houston. The Knicks wasted contract money and assets on Camby when they could have targeted a younger, more productive player.


Is it any wonder the Knicks have no picks to wheel-and-deal with? Compound the above with:

– 11/21/2008: Knicks acquire Al Harrington in exchange for Jamal Crawford, who has been lighting up defenders each year.

– 11/21/2008: Knicks acquire Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley in exchange for Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins. Another all-star and no picks in return

– 7/9/2010: Knicks acquire Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike, and Anthony Randolph exchange for David Lee. Who’s been the more valuable player over the past few years: David Lee or Amar’e Stoudemire?

It amaze me the Knicks gave up David Lee as well as Anthony Randolph, Crawford and Nate Robinson and didn’t receive one first round draft picks for two key all stars and one or two productive bench players.

Now, I don’t want to linger on the Carmelo Anthony trade because I love ‘Melo. But he was coming to the Knicks at the end of the season, anyway. The Knicks gave up so much talent, and the concept is why they don’t ever get draft picks. Why do they always give them away when they don’t have to. Were Danillo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Timothy Mozgov not enough for the Nuggets?

Compound this by losing last year’s sleeper player and offensive weapon Chris Copeland, who shot 47.9% from the field and 42.1% from three-point range.

Basketball calculates if Copeland played 36 minutes per game he would have averaged 20.3 points per game. In the games missed when Carmelo was hurt last year, he added the offense to a team that needs a second and third scorer. Metta World Peace cannot fill this offensive void. C.J. Leslie has a good first step and goes hard to the basket, but he lacks a respectable outside shot.

So, after many years, the Knicks are still making the same mistakes. Please, protect the assets, Knicks, and stop giving them away for nothing.

Dr. Eric Kaplan is a national best-selling author:

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