Donnie Walsh Admits Trading 1st Rounder For McGrady Was A Mistake
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- If Donnie Walsh hadn't traded a 2012 first-round draft pick to Houston last February when he was in salary-dump mode, he might have possessed enough a.ssets to acquire Carmelo Anthony before the start of training camp.
But that pick is gone, and the president of the New York Knicks can't stop wondering whether he made a monumental mistake.
"I'll second-guess myself forever on that," Walsh said Wednesday in a sitdown with reporters who regularly cover the team.
Walsh sent the Knicks' 2012 first-round pick, plus the right to swap first-round picks in 2011, to the Rockets along with Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill in the deal that brought Tracy McGrady to the Knicks.
Walsh made the trade to clear enough cap space to make a run at two max-salary free agents, but the Knicks struck out in their attempts to land LeBron James and Chris Bosh, settling instead for Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton.
With Anthony now on the trade market, and with the Knicks one of his preferred destinations as ESPN.com's Mark Stein and Chad Ford are reporting, Walsh has all the a.ssets the Nuggets are seeking -- a large, expiring contract, belonging to Eddy Curry, and young talent such as Anthony Randolph, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas -- except for the future No. 1 pick(s) that Denver desires.
(New York cannot trade its 2011 or 2013 picks because of an NBA rule prohibiting teams from going consecutive years without a first-rounder, so the best Walsh can offer right now is a 2014 first-round pick.)
"I think we got something out of it that allowed us to bring in 10 new players. But I didn't like it when I did it. I don't like doing financial trades. They're not basketball trades," Walsh said.
"I was going back and forth on that deal, and I guess I thought the ability to have enough money to get two stars, or get one star and one or two other players, that worked. We got Amare and Felton, so that worked," Walsh said.
"But you always want to keep first-round picks. The '12 pick I didn't like doing. I remember the night before we did it, thinking, 'I don't like doing this, but we're going to do it.' And I'll second-guess myself forever on that."
Walsh was upbeat on most other fronts, with the notable exception of Curry -- and the mystery of what kind of shape he'll be in when he shows up for his physical Thursday. (All the other members of the Knicks already have been taking part in informal practice sessions.)
Walsh said he had not had contact of any kind with Curry over the summer, but had been told through third-party sources that Curry was working out. Walsh then made the following comparison, one that very well might infuriate a certain member of TNT's national broadcast team:
"Players don't have to come in. It's their choice. And what I've tried to do over the years is not make any kind of judgment on that. Don't get mad at them because they don't come, but when they come they've got to be in shape. So we'll see when Eddy comes. I'm going to be optimistic and think he'll be ready to play," Walsh said. "I know this, when I was in Indiana, Reggie Miller never came back in the summer. He came back the day before training camp, got his physical, but he was in shape ready to go. He had worked out all summer."
Walsh and D'Antoni were most effusive in their praise for Anthony Randolph, raving about his ability to rebound the ball and bring it up court with the skills of a point guard, as well as his ability to defend any position on the court (or so D'Antoni claimed), 1 through 5.
D'Antoni also came up with a mouthful when he said incoming rookie free-agent center Timofey Mozgov is "maybe our most athletic guy," and Walsh said he signed free agent Patrick Ewing Jr. in large part because of his ability to defend opposing shooting guards.
Walsh and D'Antoni said guard Kelenna Azubuike will miss the start of training camp as he continues to rehab a patella tendon knee injury, but he could be ready for the beginning of the regular season.
Both men set expectations somewhat low, saying making the playoffs will be the team's No. 1 goal this season.
But throughout the 30-minute meeting, the underlying current was whether the Knicks were confident of their chances of landing Carmelo Anthony.
"Part of my job is looking out there to see if there can be a deal in order to get a player like that, [a top-10 player] who you know can fit with your team. And not give up too much. You don't want to basically bring the team back where it was by making a big trade that takes the majority of the players you have," Walsh said.
"There's trades you'd make and there's trades you wouldn't make. That's about as good as I can do. I've traded people that were very good and I've traded people who weren't so good. It just depends on how you see your team and what they need, and if that player is available and you don't have to destroy the whole team, then you consider it."
And if you have a first-round pick to throw into the deal, it makes it that much easier. Hence, the regrets over including the 2012 pick in the McGrady deal, and the ensuing conundrum of figuring out how one can be obtained.
"So I need to go out and see if I can get one, and I don't know how to do that yet," Walsh said.
[pic - click to view] New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh knows T-Mac trade could cost him a shot at Carmelo Anthony - ESPN New York
Certainly a mistake, but most people didn't think McGrady was AS done as he is. I know AF thought he still had a lot of great ball left to play.