K-Berg: Balkman on the outs?
Check out my man K-Berg's blog for more details and of course check the print edition in the morning. Nothing imminent, but Berger heard on Sunday about talks between the Knicks and Denver Nuggets that involve Renaldo Balkman going to the Rocky Mountains in exchange for guard Taurean Green and forward Bobby Jones.
Though Green is a young PG with potential as a floor general, it's been suggested to me by someone in the know that both Green and Jones would likely be waived. If the trade went through as is, the Knicks would wind up with 17 contracts, two over the limit. But both Green and Jones are on one-year, non-guaranteed contracts that are easily waived with no salary cap hit.
Balkman has just one year left on his rookie deal ($1,320,960) with a team option of $2,036,920 for 2009-10.
We discussed it during the summer league here and I guess it rings true: Balkman seems like the odd man out here in the new regime, especially with the emergence of Wilson Chandler and the arrival of Danilo Gallinari. Balkman is a tremendous athlete who can play a decent energy/defense role off the bench. But I don't believe he has the basketball IQ to be successful in D'Antoni's offense. It may seem like a lot of running and shooting, but there is a great deal of thinking, anticipation and reaction that has to be done in order for it to work properly. You could see just in some practices and summer league games that Balkman was having trouble grasping it.
From the July 17th Blog: "Farewell to Vegas..."
His energy and athleticism are valuable assets, but Balkman might actually struggle in the D'Antoni philosophy because of one skill he hasn't yet developed: thinking the game. Renaldo is one of my favorite characters on this team -- you all know his Aw man, crazy is an all-time best quote -- but I've documented here before my concerns about his focus and mental approach to being an NBA player. Rey is a terrific athlete and clearly keeps himself in outstanding shape, which is a credit to his work ethic. But after spending the past few days watching Phil Weber install a few offensive sets that will be the foundation of what the Knicks do this season, it's quite apparent that if you can't think quickly, adjust on the fly and read what's happening on the floor, you're going to struggle here.
Again, the deal isn't done and it sounds like Donnie is involved in a lot of different discussions. This is one of a few, but one that makes sense.
It's essentially a way to dump Balkman's salary and cut the roster back down to the maximum 15 contracts after the signing of Anthony Roberson. Obviously there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to getting closer to cap compliance. As I said to a person I chatted with tonight who has some intimate knowledge of this potential trade, this kind of deal is very much nickel-and-dime compared to what really needs to get done.