Tony Parker to the New York Knicks, rumored again

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Another day, another Tony Parker trade rumor.

The NY Daily News is reporting that Tony Parker and Amar’e Stoudemire have hatched a plan to play for the Knicks. Parker through a trade, Stoudemire through free agency.  For that it’s worth, I’m not putting any stock in the rumor, but I want to indulge it, if only for a moment.

Since Parker is under contract with San Antonio, the Knicks would have to work out a trade, which would likely require the club taking back a big contract. A sign-and-trade with David Lee is a possibility, but not likely….The Knicks have several trading pieces, including Wilson Chandler and Eddy Curry, the latter of whom has an expiring contract. Curry could have a role on the team with Lee likely gone and Stoudemire stepping into the power forward position.

This business about the Spurs taking back a big contract is not necessarily true. Since the NY Knicks are under the cap, they can technically absorb Parker’s contract without matching salaries–the Spurs would not have to take back Eddy Curry to satisfy the CBA. Furthermore, the Knicks might want to hold onto Curry’s expiring contract, giving themselves a February trade chip or cap space next summer.

If the Spurs sent Parker to the Knicks, they could, as one example, take back Toney Douglas (adding depth behind George Hill at point guard) and a whopping big trade exception. Nothing more. NY is under the cap. Salaries don’t have to match.

The Spurs could then use the trade exception to shop the free agent market, effectively giving themselves cap space to play with. Of course, the Spurs couldn’t sign players outright with trade exception money, but, in this market, there are plenty of contracted players or free agents who could be had through a trade or sign and trade.

In a similar manner, the Spurs could sign and trade Richard Jefferson to a team under the cap and take back a large trade exception for him as well.

Trade exception money can be split amongst multiple players, and the Spurs would have a year to utilize the funds.

But beware, the math gets complicated. If the Spurs move Parker for nothing, or close to nothing, their cap situation shifts. It’s difficult to project those shifts without something more concrete than what the NY Daily News rumors provide.

Again, I’m not suggesting the Spurs are interested in trading Tony Parker. I doubt there is any validity to the NY Daily News rumor. But the required take-back in any hypothetical Tony Parker trade looks a lot different now than it did one week ago.

In a recent L’Equipe interview, Parker rehearsed a post-draft conversation he had had with Gregg Popovich. Popovich confirmed that the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers were talking with San Antonio about a possible Parker trade in the days surrounding the NBA draft.  But now that New York–and several others–are officially operating with a new salary cap number (July 1 marked the start of the offseason), the trade landscape is more flexible. This doesn’t make Tony Parker any more likely to be traded, but it does allow for greater front office creativity.