In the wake of the new CBA in the NBA, fear not, big market fans. The war between have and ‘have not’ owners has passed, and there can be no better indicator that the big markets made out smashingly well than the Knicks’ acquisition of C Tyson Chandler, the prize of this free agent class. The amnesty provision that the Knicks employed to gain the maneuverability to sign Chandler to a 58M contract when they were totally tapped out by walking away from the 14M contract of Chauncey Billups, provided they were willing to write him a check for that amount, is surely a clause that deep pocketed teams will be way more willing to use to their benefit than the smaller market teams who took such a hard line during the lockout that they forced.
Begs the question: why such histrionics in the first place? Well, as astute observers of labor disputes in sport, we did kind of agree with Billy Hunter’s assertion that the league was trying to break the players, behind a core of small market owners like Michael Jordan, lead hypocrite, who wanted the lockout to stretch on to the point where the players were feeling the impact of missed paychecks. So why abandon course in favor of a compromise that more favored the Knicks than the Kings, Celtics than Cavs?
Because Stern’s public stance that 15 or so clubs were losing money was so obviously no more than just a posture. If the Charlotte Bobcats aren’t willing to pay Ray Felton 7.5M per for 2 years, the 27/28 truly healthy teams around the league can not pay the price for it. If Lebron and Bosh won’t re-up or up with Cleveland, then Stern in his infinite wisdom can not negotiate a CBA that alters Cleveland’s geography and ethnic demography.
Look at the Memphis Grizzlies. They heaped money on Rudy Gay and Mike Conley, absorbed the huge deal of Zach Randolph, and are poised to now lavish 70M or more on Marc Gasol. They aren’t exactly hurting.
The new CBA did as much for small markets as it could have. By making top tier free agent movement essentially prohibitive financially to the player by limiting salary and term, the deal ensures that most sensible players will be traded for prime assets rather than seeing them flee in FA, getting way more in return than they would in an after thought sign and trade. That’s as far as they can go. The league does not have the ability to restrict player movement beyond that.
They put franchises in places like Minnesota in the first place, and were happy to carve up the franchise initiation fees, but they can’t make players want to be there. As for the Knicks, you have to respect the Chandler move, which brings to the club the elements they lack: size, toughness, shot blocking, rebounding and post defense. You’d have to respect the move for both the creativity and the cost, when compared to say, Nene, at 70M for 4 years. And for their ability to recognize that Paul wasn’t getting done and for seamlessly and successfully changing gears and getting this done.
The Knicks do have a passable player in Toney Douglass at the point, and with Billups out a good bit, TD has plenty of experience in the lead. He should see a lot of open looks, and with he and Chandler starting, they look like a better defensive club. Iman Shumpert, drafted on the strength of his defense, may now see some time at point guard as well, which we’d prefer to Bibby getting significant minutes.
Weak at two guard, the Knicks are in talks to bring back Jamal Crawford, who would be a great addition. Should that trade go down, expect Landry Fields to go the other way. Knicks GM Glen Grunwald just told Mike Francesa that the team will soon announce the signing of Jerome Jordan, and that they are still hoping to bring back Shawne Williams, who resuscitated his career with the Knicks. Grunwald also boasted that NY will have a 5M and a 2M exception available next season, and a 2.5M exception available right now.
As for the Nets, if they did speak to Dwight Howard on Thursday without permission, the Magic should file tampering charges. Can’t the Nets simply text D12’s entourage, like every other team?