Bad trade. All the way around.
In the NBA, trades are made with the pocketbook in mind [one of the best and worst things about NBA economics].
In the NBA if you are over the salary cap [or would be if the trade was made], you must trade salary for salary. Hence the reason Penny Hardway was a powerful card on trade day. You see, Penny's $15.7M salary number this year comes off the books when his contract ends this summer. In the NBA, you could either keep that piece....let it expire....and use that money saved on some new blood. Or, you could deal the piece away for an expensive guy already under a contract.
The Magic want the expiring contract. The Knicks want the new expensive guy.
Orlando is essentially admitting it is starting from scratch again. Call it The Curse Of Shaq or whatever...but the mighty Magic plan of 6 years ago is gone. The big, big money they had to bring in Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill has turned into waiting for Penny Hardaway [via the trade to Houston to get Francis and the trade to New York to get rid of him] and Grant Hill to leave their cap numbers and walk out the door. That would mean $15.7M this summer.....and $16.9M next year.
Of course, this is par for the course in Orlando. After Shaq left, the Magic has seemed to continually be a big player in the free agent market, even netting big fish, but getting nothing concrete from it. Grant Hill's career essentially ended once he got to Orlando while T-Mac's became more scrutinized. While the deal to bring Francis in, many felt, was a bad one for Orlando.....it got worse when you figure that their big free agent summer at the millenium ultimately netted them a playoff appearance, Trevor Ariza and another shot at spending their newfound cash.
Orlando is building around their new star, Dwight Howard who they selected with the #1 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. They also got Darko Milicic [the #2 pick in the 2003 Draft] in an earlier deal, Carlos Arroyo [in the same deal] and have young guys like Jameer Nelson, Trevor Ariza and, most likely, a lottery pick in the June draft. So, they have a potential superstar big man....a so-called bust who is just 20 years old....and a young backcourt with promise....with a high pick coming up and a ton of money to throw out there in the next TWO free agent summers. Oh, and with a state without tax.
That, at least, is called a plan.
So what of New York??
The Knicks have Steve Francis [3 more years, $48.5M], Stephon Marbury [3 yrs, $60.3M], Jalen Rose [1 yr, $16.9M], Mo Taylor [1 yr, $9.7M], Eddy Curry [5 yrs, $48M], Quentin Richardson [4 yrs, $33.6M], Jamal Crawford [5 yrs, $43.1M], Shandon Anderson [1 yr, $7.2M] and Jerome James [4 yrs, $24M] in contracts just added in the last two years.
There are all-star contracts with no all-star players. Sure, if Francis and Marbury get their crap together, they can become a lethal backcourt combination. But what says that they could function that way??? Francis has been a coach killer everywhere he's gone and refused to (a) feed it to Yao and then (b) move from the point in Orlando. Marbury's had numerous chances to lead a team and has failed pretty much every time. And Larry Brown demands so much from his floor generals.
Regardless of any of this....the Knicks are barely a playoff calibar team. They could get there in the weak bottomed East.....but there is no way they can compete with Detroit, Miami or Cleveland. Even Indiana and New Jersey have much brighter futures. This team costs $130M to put out on the floor....nearly $1.6M of salary per game....to be a sub-.500 also ran. That is FOUR times more than what the Charlotte Bobcats are paying their roster. It is double the price for the defending champion Spurs. In fact, you could buy the Spurs and the Pistons for $121M....and still have $10M left over for concessions.
So what is the Knicks plan?? To make the playoff in NBA Live '07??? This expensive roster may be good for a playoff cameo but still doesn't make them worth anything on the elite scale of the Eastern conference.
At least they still have Channing Frye.