With two major New York City newspaper running what amounted to LeBron James recruiting pitches earlier this week, followed by conspiracy theorists pegging LeBron’s poor showing last night as the beginning of LBJ’s tanking process before bolting Cleveland for New York, obviously the 2010 free agency hype couldn’t wait until the end of the ongoing NBA playoffs.
All eyes will be on the Knicks — and to a lesser extent, the Bulls — and whether the big-market monster can snag LeBron, D-Wade, Dirk, Bosh, Amar’e, Joe Johnson or another superstar. But no matter how attractive a franchise might be to free agents, every team with salary cap space needs a backup plan in case their home run swings draw air.
In New York, Tony Parker and Rudy Gay could make up that “Plan B.”
While the Spurs aren’t believed to be actively shopping Parker, his contract and durability questions, plus the emergence of backup George Hill, has sparked rumors that San Antonio will at least listen to teams interested in trading for the 3-time champion point guard. Meanwhile, free agent Rudy Gay will most likely fall out of Memphis’ price range, and is said to be high on the Knicks’ list of targets. From the New York Daily News:
“Pop loves George and I could see a scenario where he would trade Tony,” said a Spurs source, referring to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. “Tony will be looking for a max deal and New York may pay him.”
Parker, who turns 28 this week, is under contract through next season and there are several factors that could prevent a trade from happening. With the Knicks having traded away their first-round picks for the next two years, they don’t have many assets to trade unless they are willing to part with Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler, the latter of whom is recovering from offseason ankle surgery for the second time in two years. Of course, if the Knicks are willing to take on Spurs forward Richard Jefferson‘s salary, they would increase their chances of acquiring Parker.
Another scenario is the Knicks recruiting a third team to complete a deal. The Spurs, who were just swept by the Suns in the second round, want to get more athletic and are said to be interested in restricted free agent forward Rudy Gay.
There’s also talk out there that Chris Paul would be available in a trade, basically for the same reasons Parker has become expendable — CP3′s high salary and Darren Collison‘s successful rookie year.
Why is it so important for the Knicks to pick up a star PG who isn’t a free agent? Because as strong as this year’s free agent class is, it’s actually pretty weak on point guards, which just happens to be the most important position in NY coach Mike D’Antoni‘s system. Among the best available are Ray Felton, Luke Ridnour, Steve Blake and Randy Foye. After that, you’re looking at career backups who may or may not be ready to breakout: Jordan Farmar, Kyle Lowry, J.J. Barea, Will Bynum and Shannon Brown. It’s a group with talent, but far from a sure thing and proven winner like Parker or Paul.
If you’re running the Knicks, which point guard are you going after this summer?