Arenas-for-Curry actually makes some sense

After the Washington Wizards won the right to pick John Wall, the first question on everyone’s lips was what about Gilbert Arenas?

This is pure speculation, but one idea that is circulating is that the Wizards could trade Agent Zero to the Knicks for Eddy Curry’s expiring contract. This would have to happen after July 1, because Curry has to opt in to the final year of his contract. (And he will opt in.)

This should be a no-brainer for the Wizards because they can put Arenas’ tumultuous season behind them and start to truly rebuild around Wall. Arenas has four years and $80 million remaining on his contract, so if they were able to move him for an expiring deal, they’d have a ton of cap space in the summer of 2011.

For the Knicks, the decision is not quite as easy, but it is intriguing. A healthy Arenas could fit into Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system as a two guard who could also run the point if necessary. GM Donnie Walsh has the cap space to sign two big-name free agents, and he shouldn’t use this space to acquire Arenas. He should sign the two best players he can in July, and then think about adding Arenas to that mix, if he’s a fit.

As Alex David (of Buckets Over Broadway) writes, Walsh may be served to wait and see how Arenas looks at the start of the season.

If it were to happen at all, most likely it would go down during next season. That would enable Walsh to see if Arenas still has it, and similarly give Washington some time to see if perhaps Gil & John Wall can work as a dynamic duo. Also, hopefully Walsh would be smart enough to hold out for a draft pick too if we’re gonna take this huge contract off the Wiz’s hands.

So take a deep breath. This trade likely ain’t gonna happen. And if it does, it won’t be for a while.

I thought the deal that the Wizards gave Arenas was ridiculous even before the ink was dry, but the Knicks don’t care too much about payroll once they lock in their two big-name free agents this summer. Maybe it will be LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Or maybe it will be Rudy Gay and Carlos Boozer. Either way, Arenas, if healthy, is an All-Star caliber player that could be a very dangerous combo guard under Mike D’Antoni. Once the Knicks have their stars and are over the cap, it won’t matter if he’s making $10 million or $20 million a season.

Do I think that Gilbert Arenas will ever win an NBA championship? No. But he can help the Knicks become relevant again.

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The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

What are the Knicks going to do with David Lee?

During a chat yesterday, Chad Ford had this to say about David Lee:

Donnie Walsh is trying to find a home for Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries that frees up some cap space so that he can re-sign Lee. It sounds like that’s close to Mission Impossible, though I said the same thing about Zach Randolph this summer. If he can do that, I think Lee stays. If he can’t, he’d be smart to get something now instead of losing him in the summer. There is LOTS of interest in Lee both now and in the summer. He’s one of the few restricted free agents teams think they can steal away because of the Knicks cap situation.

Let’s be clear — the Knicks don’t have to trade anyone away to re-sign Lee. Ford is talking about clearing cap space so that the franchise doesn’t have to pay a luxury tax next season. They are currently on the hook for $69.3 million and that doesn’t count new contracts for Lee or Nate Robinson. With the the luxury tax threshold unlikely to change much from this season ($71 million), Walsh would need to move a contract or two to clear space for signing Lee and/or Robinson. Lee is the priority because he’s such a good fit in Mike D’Antoni’s up tempo attack. He is averaging 16.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, and is shooting almost 57% from the field.

Eddy Curry will make $21.7 million over the next two seasons but has only appeared in one game this season. The Knicks desperately need to get him some minutes if they hope to trade him before the Feb. 19 deadline. Jeffries is getting some minutes, but he has been horribly unproductive (PER: 7.39), though he was never much of a stat guy.

The bottom line is that if the Knicks want to re-sign Lee, they can. Their projected payroll goes down to $18.2 million for the 2010 season, so they would only take the luxury tax hit for one season if they chose to sign Lee to a multi-year deal (or matched another team’s offer this summer, when he becomes a restricted free agent).

What’s he worth? I’d say his play this season has put him into the range of $10-$11 million per season. I’d be careful not to pay too much more, because right now he’s putting up great numbers on a bad team that plays at a blistering pace.

Jeff Van Gundy to stay in the booth…for now

Jeff Van Gundy says that he isn’t going to return to coaching for the foreseeable future.

“Without question, I miss coaching,” Van Gundy said. “I miss the competitiveness, the camaraderie there is no doubt about that. With that being said. I’m just happier with what I am doing.”

He wasn’t afraid to criticize a couple of players in the same interview.

Van Gundy was mostly complimentary of the Knicks’ new regime during an interview for Friday’s NYP TV Sports, but did criticize a couple of players who are weighing down the team’s future.

“Where as Isiah Thomas believed in the post offense, Mike D’Antoni has a much different style, obviously and has little use for [Eddy] Curry,” Van Gundy, who turned 47 yesterday, said.

“Here you have a guy that has a bad heart and a big contract and he would be very hard to move to another team, whose plan he would fit into. And Jerome James Jerome James , I don’t know whose plan he would fit into. And they also drag down your work ethic. You have guys that are out of shape it’s a drag on your team. Because what’s that saying to the other players is that they don’t care as much about the team.”

Van Gundy has developed into one of the top color commentators in all of basketball. I don’t have much use for Mark Jackson, but Van Gundy is knowledgeable and self-deprecating, and along with Mike Breen, the trio makes for good announcing. Van Gundy and Jackson tease each other and argue about hoops, while Breen plays the straight guy. It works.

That said, I’d like to see what Van Gundy could do with a few of the teams on the cusp of success. His brother, Stan Van Gundy, is the frontrunner for Coach of the Year honors with what he’s doing in Orlando, and I think Jeff would have similar success.

Concerns over Mobley’s heart condition holding up Randolph trade

Zach Randolph has joined the Clippers, but he can’t play until Cuttino Mobley sees a heart specialist.

The source said Mobley would see a heart specialist on Tuesday.

When asked about’s report by reporters after the Clippers game on Monday, coach Mike Dunleavy said: “From the standpoint of Cuttino’s concern, there’s nothing they have or don’t have that hasn’t been known to us or hasn’t been approved by us and all the other teams he’s played for. Neither one of those guys has had any issues with any of the things that are even being talked about.

“All I know is that if Cuttino has anything, he’s been asymptomatic,” Dunleavy said. “He’s never had any issue with us. There’s never been one time that he missed a practice or missed a game or had any issues in any physical of any kind for us. I mean, I’ve been told by our doctors that the things that are under concern is not something that we haven’t known about or have had any issues with. So hopefully, it won’t be an issue.”

Another source told that Mobley’s condition has been present throughout his career and has never been a grave concern, although the Knicks were prudent in their diligence.

On the surface it would be hard to imagine the Knicks wanting to void the trade because they achieved their goal of clearing Randolph’s contract (which carried two more years and $33.3 million after this season).

No disrespect to Cuttino Mobley, but why would the Knicks even care if he has a heart condition? This trade is mostly a salary dump, though there is the possibility that Mobley and Tim Thomas may see some minutes this season. But really, if Mobley weren’t able to play, would the Knicks really take Randolph (and his salary) back?

If your goal is to free up cap space to make a run at LeBron James in 2010, and you’ve successfully found a sucker to take on Zach Randolph’s contract, then why would you jeopardize it by holding up the deal?

Click here for an in-depth analysis of how the Randolph trade affects the Knicks’ future salary cap flexibility.

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