Oh yes, this is the good stuff. This is the pure Colombian. This is the braindead, dogshit, dick-in-the-wall-socket-type Knicks experience that's been missing for the last, uh—fuck it, the last couple months, at least. Welcome back, assholes.
Monday evening, word broke that there was a trade afoot. The Cavs pulled Dion Waiters and a few other players out of the lineup, and everyone but the Twitter-scoop jockeys stuck a thumb up their butts and waited for Woj.
Holy shit, J.R. to Cleveland! He's going to be so obnoxiously useful there! Are the Knicks getting ... Waiters? Waiters is OK!
HELL YES EVEN BETTER!
At this point, Twitter actually breaks. (Not from anything so gauche as overwhelming interest in the Knicks and Cavs and Thunder shuffling combo guards or some outside force like a foreign coup or a surprise Apple announcement, mind you; I suspect this is the cosmos sucking its teeth and giving sports reportering Twitter the only form of wedgie it's equipped to dish out.) For the remainder of the evening, the usual channels are one step slower or two steps dumber than normal, which is how everyone holds onto hope when something goofy like this happens as feeds limp back online:
But there's a first round pick floating around somewhere in the deal, which helps.
Marc Stein goes on TV around 8:45 and repeats that the pick goes to the Knicks, which, if true, would be a pretty good outcome—remember, the Thunder tried to give the Knicks a first rounder last February for Shump, and New York cold refused. Holding out another 10 months just allowed them to take advantage of a desperate Cleveland team to drop J.R., right? No, fuck you.
After Twitter finally keeled over and fucked all the way off, here's how most us got the rest of the details, from ESPN.com:
As part of the deal, Dion Waiters will go to the Thunder, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert would go to the Cavs and three players with nonguaranteed contracts — Alex Kirk and Lou Amundson from the Cavs and Lance Thomas from the Thunder — would go to the Knicks. As part of the deal, the Thunder are sending a protected future first round pick to the Cavs and the Cavs are sending their 2019 second-round pick to the Knicks, sources said.
It was such a perfect progression from the respectable, maybe-they-won't-fuck-it-all-up posture the team's adopted under Jackson to the mask dropping one revised Tweet at a time that a Deadspin chatroom full of Knicks fans and Knicks observers and especially Knicks fan observers actually nodded along with each step down the gradient like this was going to make sense. Like: Yeah, Reggie Jackson is a great get. Or: Oh, a first rounder makes more sense I guess, but still good news. And: Oh for fuck's sake, Amundson and Alex Kirk? Fine. Whatever. Then: Of course they're paying J.R.'s fucking trade kicker! It's a wonder no one from MSG elbowed onto the line and stapled on a couple first-rounders while they were at it.
And then, hand-to-God, I look up in the middle of writing the previous paragraph and NBA TV has the details up on screen—I hear, And the Knicks get three players they're likely to waive and ... and glance up for a quick spell check on "Amundson"—and notice for the first time that the second rounder isn't until 20 fucking 19. BREAKING: KNICKS TRADE SHUMP, J.R. FOR NINTH GRADER, CAP RELIEF.
Never mind that this is the perfect dipwad NBA media story, as clear a pantsing of breaking Twitter news in sports as you'll find. (Twitter scoops are precisely as useful as setting the @NYKnicks Twitter account to SMS alert, only if clicking confirm triggered an algorithm that scrambled every eighth message into something comically wrong. The Twitter scoop itself is an early precursor to the rush on native social content.) The funniest part is watching these flopsweating doofuses manage to fuck things up before the trade takes place, while it is taking place, and after it takes place.
(Testosterone. Christ. Cavaliers acquire Shumpert, Smith, Smith's DMs.)
Just go with it, though; pay no attention to the idiots behind the curtain. Because a bottle episode with Twitter going dark and the Knicks' meltdown arriving piecemeal like a Raymond Chandler whodunnit is surely the only joy you're going to get out of this team for the remains of the year. The Knicks are the Sixers now, and the Sixers are bullshit.
None of these fuckers are even going to be here in 2019! Not Melo, who has a player option in the summer of 2018 and who will surely re-up under the new, much higher cap; not Derek Fisher, who if an entertaining offensive set hit him in the face would try to bicep curl it; and certainly not Big Chief Triangle-Fucker, who is 69 years old and can't even pick out a Manhattan apartment without fucking it up, let alone an NBA frontcourt. (I mean, really, what kind of sucker signs a $60 million contract and decides, Yep, 57th and 7th seems about right. For God's sake, man. This asshole is so rich as to make currency an abstract construction, more a source of potential conversational faux pas than a day-to-day concern, and he's gonna live in a co-op on top of a Cafe Europa.)
But as I was saying, Christ, what a day. On balance, the Knicks gave the Cavs two players who are, systemically at least, direct upgrades over Waiters, let Cleveland snatch the OKC pick it could have had last year for Shumpert, and got back about $10 million in cap space next year (Smith's player option and a qualifying offer to Shump) and the unnamed 13-year-old. Word is that Phil Jackson wanted J.R. and Sam Dalembert out of the locker room ASAP—Dalembert called the Knicks' season "a tragedy" and "a tragic thing" not long back—and after waiving the latter he'll have cleared them out at the cost of Shumpert and with the benefit of having cleared cap space two years before the summer that's expected to see the largest increase in player salaries in recent memory. The upshot is that the Knicks just might have a chance to lock in players at what will be below-market salaries going forward. The more practical reality is that no one who's any fucking good is going to sign next year.
The lasting image of this trade, though, is, as usual, the grotesque institutional incompetence at work. The Knicks got themselves Masai'd again, basically. Remember how in 2011 Masai Ujiri told the Knicks, "Hey, trade me everyone on your team," and how the Knicks said, "We probably shouldn't, because Melo is definitely coming here no matter what," and Masai said, "No, seriously, just give it," and the Knicks said, "OK fine"? Well it happened again! Both the Cavs and Thunder were interested in Shumpert in the last year or so, and that's not even to mention the many and varied other deals that never quite came off, like Shump-for-Faried. New York turned down OKC's offer of a first rounder, and backed off of Cleveland's trade exception ("Give us Shump for our nothing!"). And now a few months later they have circled back to, "OK, fine."
The Knicks will be fine, in the context of being the Knicks, because this is what the Knicks do. They overburden promising role players and shuffle them out of town; they bank on branding and free agency pollyanna; and mostly they hump the blue-balling regime-change layaway program. The Knicks are no fun, and they are perfectly OK with that.
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