It sounds like the Sacramento Kings are in serious dump mode before the trade deadline. The Maloofs, who apparently lost hundreds of millions in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, need to cut costs and, as one Western Conference-based team executive said, "Everyone is available."
The Kings aren't the only NBA team looking to dump salaries by Thursday, but they may be the most desperate. The "everyone is available" is likely to include high-scoring two-guard Kevin Martin, who is averaging 24 points per game this season and has four years and $46.1M left after this season on a six-year contract he signed in Aug. 2007.
Donnie Walsh has said he doesn't want to take on contracts that go beyond 2010, however
there are exceptions to every rule. The Martin contract extends to 2012-13 and climbs to a max of $12.9M. But it costs $11.1M in 2010-11, which is almost exactly the salary Eddy Curry will command that season. They'd still have a year to move Curry.
So far the Knicks have passed on oft-injured diva Tracy McGrady and weren't able to get into the Amar'e Stoudemire sweepstakes, which may now turn into the Shaquille O'Neal sweepstakes.
There are even fewer teams who can afford to get into that kind of a deal.
The Knicks could offer Stephon Marbury's expiring $20.8M contract as a possible chip if they really wanted to take on the luxury tax burden of Shaq's $20M in 2009-10, which would actually wind up costing the Garden $40M in salary and tax next season. In today's economic climate, it might not be a reasonable venture.
But Shaq's allure would give the Knicks a short-term boost, though it's arguable that it would be enough to make a playoff push. O'Neal would be open to New York and D'Antoni certainly loves the Diesel . . .
Warning...more absolute speculation ahead.
And maybe the Knicks could also consider offering the Kings a package of crowd-favorite Nate Robinson ($2M) and the expiring contract of Malik Rose ($7.6M) for Martin ($9.2M). For the Knicks, they get the scoring 2-guard they so desperately need and a player who fits perfectly into D'Antoni's system (though his passing and defense will need some work, for sure and dude's gonna have to show a little bit of durability after some injury issues over the past two seasons). The Kings get serious payroll relief and also an entertaining player who can score the ball and won't come close to what Martin is making even after you re-sign him this summer.
Those two moves would dramatically change the look of the Knicks.
But so far, when it comes to the Sacramento Kings, the Knicks have been reportedly linked to talking a deal involving center Brad Miller and perhaps John Salmons. Miller makes some sense because he is a center and has a contract that expires by 2010. Salmons, however, has a contract that goes into 2010-11 at a cost of $5.8M. Rose and Robinson have been named as pieces that could come the other way, along with Jerome James' contract (one year left at $6.8M).
One high-ranking Knicks official, however, responded to this report by saying there have been no conversations involving Miller. And including Salmons doesn't make sense because you're giving up contracts that expire before 2010 and adding one that extends beyond it.
Plus, trading Robinson right now would be a tough sell on the Garden faithful, which thoroughly enjoyed KryptoN8s 32-point, 10-rebound performance in 38:19 off the bench of the 112-107 win over the Spurs. Gregg Popovich came away impressed with the energy boost Nate provided off the bench and said Robinson "kind of does for them what Ginobili does for us."
Mike D'Antoni thoroughly enjoys Robinson's enthusiasm, but you can tell there are times he drives his coach mad. Which is what prompted this out of D'Antoni after the win:
"The best thing about Nate is he can get a shot any time he wants. The worst thing is he can get a shot any time he wants."
Clearly D'Antoni would prefer he be a little more balanced as a scorer and facilitator, but right now he'll take the offense where he can get it.
And right now that's three straight 30-point games from Robinson, who went into the game ranked third in the NBA in scoring off the bench and clearly a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year honors.
(By the way, Nate's 33 points, 15 assists, 9 rebound and 5 steals against the Clippers last week was the first time a player hit for as many as 30-15-9-5 in an NBA game since Magic Johnson had 33 points, 17 assists, 15 rebounds and six steals against the Denver Nuggets on March 29, 1981. Or at least so said the Elias Sports Bureau.)
I'd say stuff like that - far more than some Slam Dunk title - makes him a valuable trade commodity in the right kind of deal. There's little you can do straight up for a player who makes just $2M -- the Knicks can not take on a bigger salary -- so you have to package him with another contract, such as Rose's expiring deal -- to make something work.
Same goes for David Lee ($1.7M) if you planned on moving him.
Again, that's IF
you plan on moving either.
The good news is, the internet is here to make sure no trade rumor goes unwritten.