New York Knicks did not do anything rash or imprudent ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline, like take on an onerous long-term contract. Given their history, it was always a possibility.
At the same time, they did nothing to improve their roster, and that might be a problem. The team that had a 21-33 record before the deadline will be the same team for the foreseeable future, so the viewing public might as well get used to it.
As their Eastern Conference rivals brokered deals Thursday with the goal of improving their playoff positioning (or building toward the future), the Knicks stood pat. The deadline came and went, as did the Knicks' flimsy chance of improving their backcourt. That means Raymond Felton, the team's underperforming point guard, still belongs to the Knicks, and he is expected to start against the Orlando Magic here Friday night.
Iman Shumpert was the Knicks' most marketable player, at least until he injured his left knee in the third quarter of Wednesday's victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Tests revealed a sprained medial collateral ligament, and the team said Shumpert was expected to miss about two weeks.
The Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder were believed to be interested in Shumpert, although the Knicks' desire to package him (post-injury) with Felton, whose contract runs through 2016, made a deal difficult, if not impossible.
While the Indiana Pacers made the biggest splash at the deadline by acquiring Evan Turner from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Danny Granger (and other pieces), of more concern to the Knicks were the moves made by teams contending for playoff spots.
The Washington Wizards, for example, acquired veteran point guard Andre Miller from the Denver Nuggets, and the Charlotte Bobcats landed a pair of experienced guards, Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour, as part of a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Entering Thursday, the Knicks were 3 1/2 games behind the Bobcats for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
After acquiring Marcus Thornton from the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nets did not make any moves Thursday, although general manager Billy King said he was open to adding a frontcourt player through free agency.
If nothing else, the Knicks maintained their future flexibility under the salary cap, which might be their greatest asset - although it will require some patience. Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani, who are due to earn a combined $50 million next season, will become free agents in 2015. That is important because the Knicks will no longer have to pay them.
Freed from that financial yoke, the Knicks hope to be players on the open market that summer, when several stars, including the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love and the Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo, could potentially become free agents.
In the short term, one of the biggest challenges for the Knicks will be convincing Carmelo Anthony to stick around to see all that come to fruition. Anthony intends to opt out of his contract in July so he can explore free agency. Last week, he said he wanted the Knicks' front office to show him a concrete plan for the future.
He desperately wants to win a title, he said. The team as currently constructed leaves a lot to be desired.
Since replacing Glen Grunwald as general manager in September, Steve Mills has made just two personnel moves of marginal significance, both of which involved Chris Smith, an unproven guard and the younger brother of J.R. Smith.
Amid leaguewide whispers of nepotism, the Knicks signed Chris Smith to a guaranteed contract out of training camp. He was released on December 31 to clear a roster spot for Jeremy Tyler, a center who has shown some promise in recent weeks. Smith now plays for the Knicks' Development League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks.
The Knicks are a fragile bunch. Stoudemire, who is in the fourth year of a five-year deal worth $100 million, did not play against the Pelicans because of soreness in his left knee. Bargnani (elbow) and Kenyon Martin (ankle) did not join the team for its current four-game road trip.
The Knicks also proved unable or unwilling to move Beno Udrih, a point guard who had requested a trade. Coach Mike Woodson indicated that Udrih could move back into the rotation in the absence of Shumpert. For better or worse, the same old Knicks are in this together.
New York Times