Daily Briefing: June 28, 2011

– Today’s biggest news is probably David West’s decision to opt-out of his contract and test the free agency waters.  Could the Nets be interested?  We reported on it a few months ago.  He’s certainly a great fit.  Kris Humphries is still fairly unproven.  Humphries coming off the bench would be great for the Nets’ depth.  That’s where the one-year-wonder belongs on a playoff team.  Now I love Humphries and have defended him since he was acquired.  But I’m just not sold he can be a consistent impact player.  Could he be?  Of course.  But I’d rather have him right now as my second power forward.

– David West leaving the Hornets will almost guarantee Chris Paul will not be a Hornet in 2012-2013.  There’s no way he would have stayed anyway.  Losing West is just another reason to leave.

– Contrary to West, Tim Duncan won’t opt-out of his deal.  No surprises there.  The Spurs are the Devils of the NBA.  They’ll still be good next year, and for years to come as long as Duncan is there.  Think of Duncan as Martin Brodeur.  Once either one of those guys leave, a massive rebuilding/retooling phase will be necessary.  But until then, their teams will be extremely competitive.

– According to sources, Dave Checketts, a former president of the Knicks, will serve as a basketball consultant to the Detroit Pistons.

– Derek Jeter resumed batting practice and running yesterday.  That’s good news for the Yankees.

– Deion Branch and Eli Manning both expressed optimism yesterday for a new CBA.  I think it’s safe to say a deal will be reached, probably within the next two weeks or so.

– I, as well as many others, wholeheartedly believe Brad Richards will be a Ranger come Friday.  I’ve said it multiple times.  However, the Leafs and Lightning still both think they’ve got decent shots.  Still, it will be a major upset if someone can prevent Richards from wearing red, white, and blue next season.

– Chris Drury was not placed on waivers today, which would have been the first step towards buying him out.

– Brooks Laich was signed to a ridiculous 6 year, $27 million per deal by the Caps this this morning.  Hilarious.

– The Penguins hope to reach a agreement on a one-year deal with former Ranger Jaromir Jagr before Friday.

As always, feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest breaking news on all things New York sports.

Three days until Brad Richards is a Ranger.

Dwight Howard Seen with Nets…

… Dancers.

Yeah, not what you were expecting.  Don’t look into this too much, but realize that Howard to the Nets is a serious possibility.  Along with the Knicks and Lakers, the Nets would present the best opportunity for Howard.  Dwight would be the man in Brooklyn, something he wouldn’t have anywhere else.  Deron Williams would be there, but Howard would be the main superstar.  He could be what Jason Kidd was for the Nets in the 2000s.

Also, the Nets would be pretty damn good with him.  They’d have Humphries and Deron Williams, and could likely attract some valuable swingmen to fill out the roster.  It’s going to be exciting to see the Nets good again.  I have a feeling they may make the playoffs as soon as next season if they have a decent offseason, with or without Dwight Howard.  But to take that next step, they’re going to need to get that second superstar.  I have a feeling Howard may be that guy.

I’ve said it all along, and I’ll say it again.  Dwight Howard and Deron Williams would be a better duo than Stat and Melo.  If the Knicks add a third star, they’ll obviously have a better core than the Nets.  But if the Nets were to acquire Dwight tomorrow, they may just be better than the Knicks right now.  I’ve always said if I were to start a team tomorrow and had to pick one player to be my franchise guy, it would be Dwight Howard.  “D12” is a once-in-a-generation talent at center, which in my opinion is the NBA’s premium position.

Knicks Targeting Dalembert and Redd?

While Kris Humphres frolics in Mexico, the Knicks are thinking about pursuing Samuel Dalembert and/or Michael Redd.

I think these are two good players, but you can’t sacrifice cap space for 2012.  If the Knicks can get Chris Paul, they have to try to sign him.  You can’t do that with the mid level exception.  Redd isn’t really needed, but it’s Dalembert that I really like.  The 6’11 center would fit exactly what the Knicks need.  Unfortunately, a multi-year deal could hurt your chances at Chris Paul.

But you could look at it the other way as well.  If you sign one of these guys and they play well, it’s another asset you have on the table.  Heck, either one could actually help you get Paul.  What team couldn’t use players like Dalembert and Redd?  On the other hand, if either gets hurt during their first year of a multi-year deal, you are in huge trouble.

It’s a complicated issue, but the Knicks have to do something.  I’m not in favor of a panic move or a move just for the sake of making one, but something has to be done.  I think Dalembert would be a great fit for the Knicks, although there is a bit of a risk with signing him if he costs a lot.  However, this is all just nonsense talk until we get the new CBA in order.  Once a new agreement is made between the league and the players, we can really start to seriously discuss free agency.

Where will Samuel Dalembert take his talents?

Could the Knicks Acquire Kenyon Martin?

On the day after justice was served on a much bigger scale, we now must move on and talk about justice in a different sense.  After a rather mediocre 2010-2011 campaign, the Knicks must go back to the drawing board and make up for this lackluster season.  Quite frankly, the fans deserved better than this after two years of tanking and a decade of losing.  In a perfect world, the Knicks would get Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, Deron Williams, and every free agent their hearts desired.  Unfortunately, you can’t re-build the Olympics team in the NBA.  So the Knicks must pick and choose.  One option according to LoHud is Kenyon Martin.

Often lost amidst the incessant talk of Dwight Howard this, and Chris Paul that, is the fact that the Knicks’ most glaring need this off-season is for players that come cheaply, understand their respective roles, and complement the existing roster.

And there isn’t much doubt that the player attribute that should be most sought after by GM Donnie Walsh is toughness.

A presence on the defensive end, a respected veteran that can that can hit a big basket when necessary. Someone who is entirely comfortable being just a piece of the puzzle at this stage of their career.

So might one of those pieces be Carmelo Anthony’s former teammate, and unrestricted free agent, Kenyon Martin?

It’s not so far fetched, if you believe what Martin told the Denver Post a few days ago:

“At this point in my career, I think winning and being part of a winning team is more important than starting,” Martin said.

Sure, Martin is no longer anywhere near the player he once was — and an argument can be made that he has always been overrated and under productive given his talent level (surprisingly just 13.5 PPG and 7.2 RPG for his career), but for 20-25 minutes a night, the Knicks could probably do worse.

Yes, he’s injury prone, and yes, he was something of a bad apple earlier in his career, but Martin does bring elements of intensity and “not in my house-ed-ness” to the table that the Knicks could use. And although Martin’s never been mistaken for an all-world defender, he’s better than any other Knick “big,” he’s is an above average passer, and he shot over 50% from the floor last season in Denver.

Much like how Bill Walker sometimes provided the 2010-11 team with an infusion of attitude, perhaps Martin can do the same.

Martin has ties to area — having been drafted by New Jersey 11 season ago — and he’s never been bashful about shooting, a quality that fits right in with Mike D’Antoni’s coaching philosophy. As a bench player capable of scoring when Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo are getting a breather or find themselves in foul trouble, why not?

Plus, he has lots and lots of tattoos.

If he’s willing to play for peanuts, and he truly just wants to be part of a winner — along with some like minded other players — Martin just might make some sense.

If Martin would take a one-year deal, I’d sign him in a heartbeat.  He not only would be a very useful player, but he would be a valuable trade piece in a possible deadline deal for CP3 or Dwight Howard.  Having watched Kenyon since his Nets days, I know what he’s capable of.  Obviously a lot has changed since then, but I think Mike D’Antoni could find a role for him on this team.

Could one of Melo's former teammates join him in New York?

Knicks looking to acquire Chris Paul or Dwight Howard?

Appropriately, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard finished their seasons an hour apart Thursday night, both of their teams exiting in the first round of the playoffs. That immediately kicked off speculation on whether the Hornets and Magic will attempt to trade their point guard and center, respectively, next season before they reach free agency in 2012.

The Knicks better hope not.

After dealing most of their assets in the Carnelo Anthony package in February, the Knicks likely will be ill-equipped to muster up a suitable package to land Paul or Howard via trade. Like they wished with Anthony, the Knicks must hope Paul and Howard reach 2012 free agency, when they will have plenty of cap spaceTeam president Donnie Walsh’s hopes of Anthony staying the course did not materialize. Anthony decided he did not want to test 2011 free agency because of fears of the new and yet-to-be determined collective bargaining agreement. The Knicks would have had maximum cap room this summer but were forced into the Anthony trade, costing them Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph, their 2014 first-round pick and two second-round picks.

Left to wheel and deal next season is Chauncey Billups’ $14.2 million expiring contract, rookie guard Landry Fields whomever the Knicks select with the 17th pick in the upcoming draft. That’s not much, and the cupboard of additional first-round picks is bare. The Knicks are not permitted to deal their 2013 first-round pick since they no longer possess their 2012 pick (Houston property) and 2014 selection (Denver).

Paul, who last July at Anthony’s New York wedding toasted to a union with Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, sounds as if he could be willing to stick it out next season in New Orleans, despite a shaky ownership situation in which the NBA owns the team. After the Hornets were eliminated by the Lakers, Paul said the club is “definitely serious about winning” and praised the administration and coaching. He clearly is a fan of Monty Williams.

“In the past, we had GMs and coaches that didn’t communicate, so not only do they communicate, they know basketball,” said Paul, who recently suggested he would think about heading back to his native North Carolina and play for Michael Jordan’s Bobcats. But the sentiment is he would prefer New York and make good on his wedding toast.

Paul’s agency, CAA, which also represents Anthony, figures to want to steer Paul to New York and must realize the advantages of doing so as a 2012 free agent.

Howard is a different story. He has given no signals the Knicks are a preferred destination, complaining about the cold weather. During breakup day yesterday, Howard was asked if he needed to play in a major metro market to maximize his visibility. Howard’s answer did not reflect well on the Knicks’ 2012 chances.

“The biggest market of all is outside of the United States,” said Howard, referring to China and India, where he visited on promotional tours. “In today’s NBA you can get anything you want [in endorsements] and you don’t have to play in a big market.”

Obviously  the Knicks should do everything they can to acquire either Paul or Howard.  If they could somehow get both, that would be unbelievable.  But unfortuantely, the cap will only allow them to barely get one.  If I had to choose, I’d take Chris Paul.  Dwight Howard is one of my favorite players, but you need that star point guard to run the show.

Take your pick.

Celtics Sweep Knicks

It’s over.  The Knicks have been swept by the Celtics.  This is obviously an embarrassing loss, but it should be a fun offseason ahead.  D’Antoni has to go, but we all know Dolan doesn’t have the guts to fire him.  Hopefully the Knicks can land Marc Gasol or convince the Hornets to trade Chris Paul, although the latter is a bit improbable.  I would like to say I’m sure it will all work out for the better, but honestly I don’t trust this franchise to do the right thing anymore.

For more on the Knicks and their future, see my rant this week on them.

The official New York Sports Today "Marc Gasol to the Knicks" campaign starts now.

Knicks to Trade Stat or Melo for Howard?

From Real GM:

It wouldn’t be shocking at all if the New York Knicks make a play for Dwight Howard next season, perhaps offering either Amare Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony at trade deadline.

Howard can become a free agent after the 11-12 season, and the Magic will be nervously waiting for the NBA’s most dominant big man to make a decision.

If they don’t want to wait and risk losing him without compensation, the Magic could listen to trade offers for Howard next season.

Don’t get this at all.  Why would the Knicks trade Amar’e or Melo for Howard?  They’ve worked this hard to lock up two stars.  The goal is to bring a third, not to just have two.  I ultimately think Howard will go to the Lakers and I think Chris Paul will come to The Garden.  I wouldn’t rule out Paul teaming up in Orlando with Howard, but I see Paul going to New York and Deron Williams staying in what then will be Brooklyn.

I love Dwight, but he's not worth trading for if it means giving up Stoudemire or Anthony.