Yes, trading Amare and the final four years ($81 million!) of his contract will be incredibly difficult. Nearly impossible. The Knicks cannot use their amnesty on him – burned it on Billups – and nobody who trades for Amare can use it on him, either. So they’ve got to find a willing taker for a once-explosive power forward who can still score, but doesn’t really rebound or play defense (and can’t really jump). That’s how you could describe Amare’s outlook for 2012-2013. Beyond that? Who knows how healthy he’ll be.
How can the Knicks get it done? They have to be wiling to take on awful contracts. Let’s try to identify some of the worst contracts in the league right now (years and money INCLUDE THIS SEASON):
Joe Johnson, Atlanta (5 yrs, $107 million left)
Tyrus Thomas, Charlotte (4 yrs, $33 million left)
Carlos Boozer, Chicago (4 yrs, $60 million left)
Brendan Haywood, Dallas (4 yrs, $34 million left)
Andris Biedrins, Golden State (3 yrs, $27 million left)
Drew Gooden, Milwaukee (4 yrs, $26 million left)
Emeka Okafor, New Orleans (3 yrs, $40 million left)
Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando (3 yrs, $34 million left)
I think we can cross Johnson off the list (regardless of what happens in the Boston series). Atlanta has Al Horford at power forward, anyway. While I think Chicago will entertain some offers for Boozer to tinker with the nucleus, my guess is they’ll do nothing and try to make one last run with their deep team next year. Everyone else on that list? Trade bait. The question becomes: If you want to take one of those bad deals and pair it with another bad contract, would it be worth adding Amare?
Here’s the kind of pipe dream the Knicks are looking at: Deron Williams passes on Dallas, but the Mavericks add Steve Nash as point guard. Remember how well Nash and Amare worked on the pick and roll? Nash, Amare, Dirk and Terry for one last run at a title … hey New York, do you want Brendan Haywood and Shawn Marion?
I tried like hell to ship Biedrins to the Knicks, but the salaries/talent don’t match up. Same deal with Milwaukee. I couldn’t find anything realistic. I didn’t bother mess with three-team deals. Too depressing.
Orlando is moderately enticing. What if Dwight Howard lobbied for Amare as his wingman? Would Orlando unload Hedo and Big Baby for Amare?
The reason you’ve got to get rid of Amare is because he and Anthony don’t seem like a good fit. Amare clogs the lane. Melo is reduced to being a jump shooter. Melo was at his best playing power forward in April. The Knicks lineup with Lin, Shumpert, Hedo/Matrix, Melo and Chandler is a winning one. Then you’ve got Jefferies, Fields, Novak, JR Smith and Big Baby/Haywood coming off the bench? That team wins a playoff series, right? Chandler can erase all the defensive mistakes Hedo makes, and you’ve got a team loaded with three point shooters, plus toughness off the bench.