With the NBA's trading deadline 12 days away, teams will have to start making some difficult choices while determining if they are contenders or pretenders. For some teams, however, the decisions should be relatively simple. The Knicks and Blazers fall into the latter category.
These two teams could not be much more different. Among the ways:
*New York sits 4.5 games out of eighth in the East while Portland finds itself 5 games behind Denver for the second seed in the West.
*New York overspent wildly and finds themselves in a nightmarish cap situation. Portland transformed themselves from the JailBlazers in five short years with a series of shrewd moves which changed the culture and outlook of the franchise.
*New York's best (and some would argue only good) player, David Lee, will be a free agent at season's end. Portland has a bevy of young talent surrounding franchise player Brandon Roy.
*The Knicks have a glut of centers while Portland has none.
To me, this deal would make perfect sense:
The Knicks trade Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill to the Blazers for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw.
Pro: If the Knicks are serious about being big spenders in the offseason, they need the cap room to get deals done. Both Blake ($4m) and Outlaw ($3.4m) come off the books this summer while Jeffries would cost another $6.5m next year and Hill another $2.4m.
The deal probably makes the team better in the short term as Jeffries can be replaced and Hill does not play much.
Outlaw, 25, also has a bit of long-term potential. This would be an extended tryout for him.
Con: Hill was the team's first round pick this year. Trading him would be admitting mistake as they could have gotten a better return for Hill (or the 8th pick the team used to select him) on Draft Night if they planned on trading him at all.
Pro: Despite being decimated by injuries at the center position, Portland would be the 7th seed in the playoffs if the season ended today. However, the team would have no chance of competing in the West against the likes of Pau Gasol and Amare Stoudemire. At 6-11, Jeffries would provide a defensive presence that the team does not currently have. The 6-9, 15-year vet Juwan Howard has played adequately, but he alone will not do the trick.
They add another high first round pick to the mix in Hill. (Hill and Jeffries would be the ninth and tenth members of the Blazers drafted in the top 11 picks of their respective drafts. Pretty amazing.)
The Blazers would probably struggle to afford re-signing Outlaw anyway. With the depth they have at small forward (Martell Webster, Nicolas Batum), money could be better spent elsewhere.
They really don't need Steve Blake with Andre Miller in town and Jerryd Bayless waiting in the wings.
They actually improve in the short-term and the long-term.
Con: This probably takes the team out of the free agent market next summer. Is Jeffries a big enough upgrade that Kevin Pritchard can justify this? [Even when they had cap space, they botched it (see Miller, Andre).]