Where there's a trade rumor, there's the New York Knicks.
Despite being low on assets and available cap space, the Knicks always find a way to eek into discussions, however long or impossible their chances actually are. So naturally, when the Denver Nuggets made veteran point guard Andre Miller available, in came the Knicks, barreling into talks like they always do.
From ESPN's Marc Stein:
You’ll recall that the Knicks were originally at the front of the queue trying to trade for (Kyle) Lowry in mid-December when the Raps were shopping him hard in the wake of the Rudy Gay deal with Sacramento. The Knicks are now said to want to work their way into the bidding for Denver’s very available Andre Miller, but the same problem that doomed New York in the Lowry chase a month ago—limited assets to offer—doesn’t bring much hope.
Miller, 37, is actually a realistic target by New York's standards. The Knicks are typically linked to players far outside the realm of possibility, like Rajon Rondo. Or Batman.
But the fact New York is after anyone is of concern. James Dolan's Knicks are known for devaluing prospects and overpaying for household names (Carmelo Anthony) or players teams are desperate to be rid of (Andrea Bargnani).
Are we to believe that a potential deal for Miller would be any different?
Do the Knicks Need a Point Guard?
The first question we need to ask ourselves anytime the Knicks are linked to anyone is: Do they even need him?
Laugh now, but it's protocol in New York where Knicks fans have been treated to years of impractical planning and unnerving impulsivity pawned off as good vibrations.
So, do the Knicks need Miller? Yes. Or rather, they need a point guard.
Injuries have destroyed their point guard corps, claiming Pablo Prigioni, Beno Udrih and Raymond Felton, sometimes simultaneously, forcing the Knicks to rely on rookie Toure' Murry and players like Anthony, J.R. Smith (I know, right?) and Iman Shumpert to provide interim playmaking.
Mostly, the results have been disastrous.
Winners of four straight, the Knicks rank 19th in assists per game and 17th in offensive efficiency. Insufficient ball movement and offensive camaraderie have contributed to their 14-22 start, leaving them a half-game outside the Eastern Conference's playoff picture, a shell of the 54-win team they were last season.
In fact, of all the point guards they've fielded this season, Prigioni is the only floor general helping these Knicks post a higher offensive rating than the team average (102.2):
Their offensive mediocrity and, at times, futility is a problem.
A problem that needs solving.
Could Miller Be the Answer?
Simply put: yes.
Even at his age, Miller strengthens New York's attack considerably, if only because he's historically durable.
Until this season, Miller had missed five games for his entire career. Five. Through 14 seasons. The Knicks could use someone who's known for, you know, actually playing.
Bringing in Miller also gives the Knicks a clear offensive upgrade compared to what they're running with now. Look at how his offensive rating stacks up against New York's point guards:
Only Prigioni's is higher, indicating that, at the very least, Miller isn't going to hurt them. He knows how to initiate the pick-and-roll, which could be particularly beneficial to Amar'e Stoudemire, who's at his best as a roller these days.
Though his outside shooting is horrendous—21.6 percent from deep for his career—the Knicks need a pass-first point man more than they do a shooter or scorer. They already have plenty of those.
"We're starting to believe in one another again," Anthony said following New York's win over the Miami Heat Thursday, Jan. 9, via ESPN New York's Ian Begley. "We're starting to trust each other again, communicate on the court."
Perhaps they could communicate even better with a healthier, capable point guard.
These are the Knicks. Even when they're chasing the right target, things could go wrong. Terribly, terribly, Dolan-repeats-Carmelo-Anthony-negotations wrong.
This writer won't tell you to trust the Knicks. Or Dolan. Ever. But the Knicks, Dolan in particular, have shown some restraint this season.
According to the New York Daily News' Frank Isola, Dolan vetoed a trade that would've landed Lowry in New York, because he didn't want to fork over a first-round draft pick, like he did in the Anthony and Bargnani trades.
"Dolan didn’t want to get fleeced again by Masai [Ujiri]i," was how one Knicks source described it to Isola. "They had a deal ready."
Fine by me. However irrational Dolan's reasoning was, it's a step in the right direction, because if he wasn't willing to relinquish a first-rounder for the 27-year-old Lowry, chances are he won't suddenly have a change of heart with regards to Miller.
So rest easy, people of New York. The Knicks aren't going to overpay for an aging, disgruntled point guard.
Prospects like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Shumpert—who isn't exactly Dolan's favorite player—are still fair game. Out of desperation, be it because of another injury or losing streak, the Knicks could dangle either of them in trade talks, knowing full well one alone won't match up to Miller's $5 million salary.
Never thought I'd say this, especially this season, but have a little faith.
The Knicks are chasing the right player for once, and are unlikely to get screwed in their pursuit of said player.
What Denver is looking for in exchange for Miller remains unknown. CBS Sports' Ken Berger wrote that the Sacramento Kings floated the idea of constructing a package around Jimmer Fredette or Marcus Thornton. Neither proposal sets the world on fire.
Building a package around Felton wouldn't be unreasonable, since parting ways with the oft-injured point guard frees up additional salary for summer 2015. Convincing the Nuggets to take on Smith's contract would be ideal, and works financially, but is beyond unrealistic.
Problems will be had if Shumpert or Hardaway enter negotiations. You don't give up blossoming swingman for rentals—especially old rentals. The Knicks have to know this, as we have no indication they've made either available in talks.
If someone brings word a first-rounder, Shumpert or Hardaway has been made available, that's when you panic. For now, call this pursuit unrealistic at worst, because it's not desperate. The unhappy Miller is a logical target.
More importantly, the Knicks seem smart enough not to make another team's wish their command.