Apparently Isiah Thomas has been considering trying to bring Ron Artest back to New York (he grew up in Queens, went to LaSalle High School in Manhattan, then to St. John’s for college), but in order to do so will have to give up a fan favorite and significant puzzle piece. Possible trade proposals would involve Knicks energy and rebounding machine David Lee, along with either Malik Rose or Jared Jeffries heading to Sacramento for Artest.
Though I believe Ron Artest is an extremely talented defender, and an above average offensive player, giving up David Lee would be extremely detrimental to the Knicks. Despite playing sub-.500 ball for the last couple of seasons, Lee has given Knick fans something to cheer for, as his constant hustle and tenacity constantly bring the Madison Square Garden crowd to its feet. Renaldo Balkman has similarly begun to get this reaction from New York fans, but Lee is the centerpiece of the energy.
Drafted #30 overall in the 2005 NBA Draft out of the University of Florida (he played ahead of Joakim Noah), Lee was one of a handful of players in the NBA last season to average a double-double, finishing with 10.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Many people give Isiah Thomas credit for drafting Lee, a steal at #30 considering how he has played since he entered the league, but it is clear that Lee was an afterthought in a draft that saw the Knicks take Channing Frye (who has since been traded) #7 overall and Nate Robinson #21 (via the Suns, who got Kurt Thomas in return). It is believed that the Knicks were deciding between Lee and former Pittsburgh power forward Chris Taft, but the five-minute video that Thomas saw on draft night of Lee was enough for him to take a wild guess on the pick. Who knew it would work out so well for him in the end?
When asked for comment, former Knicks employee Morgan Laird said “we should have just drafted him 8 years ago,” referring back to the 1999 NBA Draft when the Knicks selected 7’1″ French center Federic Weis with the 15th pick, allowing Artest to be picked #16 by the Chicago Bulls. Weis went on to become famous for having Vince Carter dunk over him during an international competition.