Last week, I posted about a possible scenario in which the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could connect the dots on a trade centered around Amar’e Stoudemire going to Brooklyn and a package headlined by Kris Humphries coming to New York.
It’s a trade scenario where, rivalries aside, I liked from the Knicks perspective because I genuinely believe that Humphries is a much better fit for this current group of players than STAT. And I thought it would be a positive from the Nets perspective as well because they’re still looking to add star power to their new brand, and Stoudemire is, if anything else, still a star in the NBA.
Over the weekend, buzz around the internet started generating another potential new home for Amar’e, and it would be a somewhat familiar home, at least personale wise.
With the Los Angeles Lakers continuing to sputter even under new coach Mike D’Antoni, a lot of trade options have been thrown out in regards to moving Pau Gasol (who is quickly becoming the scape goat for why nothing is working). Gasol has two years at roughly $19 million per year left on his contract, so there are very few teams that have the contracts to match up with the Lakers in a potential trade. To name a few options the Lakers have had currently, the Raptors (they could trade both Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani), the Timberwolves (a less likely scenario that would almost certainly include Kevin Love) and the Atlanta Hawks (the most talked about rumor that would include Josh Smith).
Now, it appears we can include the Knicks on the short list of teams that may be in the Gasol trade arena. There are two trade scenarios that could work in terms of getting Gasol to New York. The first, and more favorable option for the Knicks, would be a straight-up trade of Gasol-for-Amar’e. However, the salaries do work enough that the Lakers could demand Iman Shumpert from the Knicks as insurance in terms of talent for Stoudemire’s balky knees.
While I was on board for the Humphries package, I am completely off the bandwagon on the Pau Gasol rumors. Gasol may be an upgrade defensively from Amar’e, and the Knicks would be able to go bigger with a line-up including Gasol, Chandler and Anthony than any other team in the East, but it doesn’t solve any of the potential spacing problems Stoudemire may cause on the offensive end. Gasol is clearly not a fit for the D’Antoni run-and-gun, so it would make sense for the Lakers to seek a more athletic forward that could play within 18-feet of the rim. However, I would still be very worried about clogging up the middle of the lane with two big men that want to emphasize bodying up down low.
I would also hate to give up Iman Shumpert at any cost right now unless it was to bring in a player like Chris Paul. Shumpert is one of the best wing defenders in the league and would almost immediately provide the Knicks with more depth than few teams can compete with. Ronnie Brewer has been a fantastic addition, but Shumpert is a rich-man’s version of everything Brewer has been able to accomplish. He has the ability to spot up from beyond the arc and cut to the lane for emphatic finishes much like J.R. Smith, all while playing a much stingier defense on the other end. I don’t see how packaging him and Amar’e Stoudemire for Pau Gasol would actually make the Knicks a better team.
Instead, I think it would be a swap of one headache for another, with fans not totally realizing it at first because we’d be too excited about our shiny new toy.
Look, nobody will really know the impact of Amar’e Stoudemire’s return until he’s fully healthy, so we can play the game of skepticism as much as we want. What I do know is if I’m going to roll the dice with another big man on the floor with Carmelo and Chandler, I’d rather it be STAT than Pau Gasol.