Quite simply, the rumored deal between the Knicks and the Raptors involving point guard Kyle Lowry would be a mistake for New York to consummate in any of its proposed iterations.
As presented, the trade is basically a variation of the teams’ previous Andrea Bargnani exchange — which I opposed here and here — not only for basketball reasons, necessarily, but more so for the sake of present roster management and long-term strategy. And yes, I recognize that there’s a major difference between the rumored Lowry deal and the Bargnani swap: Lowry is actually a useful basketball player capable of impact this year’s team.
But here’s the thing, we have to assume — yeah, yeah, assuming anything when it comes to the Knicks can be fatal to your health — that the Garden brain trust believed that Bargnani would have an impact on this year’s team, too. In reality, the long-term consequences and present-day opportunity costs of both trades are eerily similar, each potentially damaging to New York’s chances of winning a title anytime soon.
Hypothetically, if the Knicks trade Iman Shumpert and/or Tim Hardaway, Jr. plus a first round draft pick for Lowry, the team is likely to gain a short-term boost — presumably for the rest of the season, anyway. But even if New York re-signs Lowry after his contract expires this summer to a three-to-five year deal, they would have stripped themselves of players and a pick for future development or dealings.
It’s fair to ask just what kind of impact Lowry might have in New York, but does anyone actually think that he is going to significantly affect the team’s chances to win a title this season? How about next year? By 2015 — when the onerous contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Bargnani expire (the latter holds an early termination option after this season) — the Knicks’ ability to remake the roster will only be enhanced having the likes of Shumpert, Hardaway, Jr., and/or their 2018 first rounder on hand. Seriously, is it even possible to justify forsaking such future flexibility for marginal improvement now?
Knicks fans need a reality check. Even if the team improves upon its dreadful start to this season, it is patently unrealistic to expect New York to make it out of the East with the Pacers and Heat around, let alone beat a Western Conference power. And why? Because they have made foolish acquisition after foolish acquisition, and compounding their errors now will only make things worse. Lowry is a very good player, and he might be a useful piece for a championship caliber club, but 54 wins a season ago makes not a title contender.
The time has come for New York to take its lumps for the rest of this season and next, and rebuild in 2015 from a stronger position than the one they’ll find themselves in if they trade away their few legitimate assets.