There are few things funnier than this late July story about Knicks GM Glen Grunwald refusing to open his Las Vegas hotel door because a Houston official was waiting on the other side with the Jeremy Lin offer sheet. In Grunwald's defense, this incident apparently happened only a few hours after the Knicks GM completed a trade with the Rockets to get back former Knick, Marcus Camby. Listen, I'd go into hiding too if I traded away Toney Douglas to a person who not only knew where I lived, but would also soon realize, "I started the off-season with Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry as my two point guards. Now, my backcourt belongs to this guy."
No, Houston wanted to chat with Grunwald about one of his other soon-to-be former point guards, and the GM pulled a move usually reserved for classic, fourth-quarter Carmelo: he isolated himself. He was essentially a ghost, off-the-grid, missing like one of J.R. Smith's ill-fated playoff threes. It's likely he wasn't passed out on his hotel rooftop as Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Bradley Cooper frantically tried to find him. However, is it utterly out of the question that Grunwald was, well, I don't know, enjoying Las Vegas instead of sitting in his room, watching television from a provider that doesn't blackout its own fans and avoiding room service food that could have cost just as much as Lin's backloaded, Year 3 salary? He wasn't in Oklahoma City; he was in Sin City, where the most recognizable Knick playing in the summer league was J.R.'s brother, Chris Smith. Chris probably wasn't exactly pulling out moves like his big bro (even though the Knicks did eventually sign him). So, let's not assume Grunwald was just hiding under his bed, teary-eyed, clutching a signed, #4 Harvard jersey, singing this song, and hoping that the big, bad Houston Rockets guy at his door would just throw out that garbage offer sheet where it belonged.
Recently, I reviewed the trade history between the Knicks and the Rockets over the last decade. Perhaps Grunwald was right to avoid Houston; had the Rockets been subtly getting the better end of deals with New York for the past ten years? Let's analyze:
February 18, 2010: Houston receives Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, and a future 1st round pick; New York receives Tracy McGrady. The Kings also played a part in this deal, and there were a lot of other players involved as well, including future Rockets centerpiece (and almost 2012 Hornet), Kevin Martin, and Sergio Rodriguez, who had a pretty brief yet nice stint for New York. McGrady's main contribution to the Knicks was his pricey contract that came off the books after the 2010 season and freed up money for NY's eventual run at LeBron, err, Amare. Jordan Hill, one of Donnie Walsh's questionable draft picks at #9 in 2010 over Brandon Jennings, never really developed his raw game with the Rockets. He was eventually traded to L.A. this year for Derek Fisher, where Hill would both improve and turn violent. The future 1st round pick that the Knicks dealt to the Rockets was for this year's draft; Houston used it on airplane hater and, at the time, potential Dwight Howard trade chip, Royce White. Jared Jeffries eventually came home to the Knicks about two years after this deal, and McGrady's massive expiring contract did help New York land their two current all-stars, Carmelo and Amare. We don't know what Royce White is capable of yet, but the fact that we're really anxious to find out probably makes him nervous. Edge: Knicks.
August 29, 2008: Houston receives Frederic Weis; New York receives Patrick Ewing Jr. Not only did the Knicks rid themselves of one of the biggest joke picks in NBA draft history, a decision that prevented MWP from starting his career in MSG, but they received the son of one the greatest players to grace their franchise. It doesn't matter that Ewing Jr. did nothing for the Knicks, or even that his father lost those finals to the Rockets in the early '90s. They got something in return for this! Edge: Knicks.
February 24, 2005: Houston receives Vin Baker, Moochie Norris, and a 2006 2nd round pick (Steve Novak); New York receives Mo Taylor. Yes, you are reading that correctly -- the pick that the Knicks traded to Houston in this deal was used on Mr. Steve Novakaine, himself. Nevertheless, Baker and Norris were uninspiring for the Rockets; Moochie's haircut was a lot cooler than the 2.1 points per game he averaged on the court for Houston, and Baker only played 3 games for the Rockets. However, Mo Taylor wasn't exactly an all-star for the Knicks, averaging 6.4 points and a meager 3.4 rebounds in his New York career. Plus, the fact that we traded away the draft rights to Steve Novak is inexcusable. Imagine if he was with the Knicks from the get-go? He could have been Jeremy Lin before Jeremy Lin. Instead, he was just a Rocket before Jeremy Lin. Edge: Rockets.
December 30, 2003: Houston receives Clarence Weatherspoon; New York receives John Amaechi and Moochie Norris. This trade occurred 8 days after the firing of Scott Layden and the hiring of Isiah Thomas. Weatherspoon, along with guys like Shandon Anderson, Othella Harrington, and Howard Eisley, was one of those classic, mediocre players Layden loved to acquire. Shipping him for Moochie Norris, who would later be traded for Mo Taylor, was a pretty wish-wash deal, and John Amaechi never played for the Knicks. Edge: Even.
June 11, 2003: Houston receives Jeff Van Gundy; New York receives a 2005 2nd-round draft pick. Dijon Thompson, who the pick was eventually used on, never played for the Knicks and was traded to the Suns along with Kurt Thomas for Quentin Richardson. The Knicks were lucky to get compensation for Van Gundy, who no longer coaches in order to focus on his new career as a crusader against players who flop. In this deal, the Rockets got a head coach for four years who had a regular season record of 182-146. You could say that the Knicks didn't really get a player in the 2005 draft that lasted as long. Edge: Rockets.
August 10, 2001: Houston receives Glen Rice; New York receives Shandon Anderson. The Mavericks were also involved in this trade, and the deal featured a couple of other moving parts. The Knicks traded the original N.Y. "little man," Muggsy Bogues, to Dallas, and the Knicks also received Howard Eisley, a player who would later be traded to Phoenix in the Stephon Marbury trade. Here, New York gives up the player who was the centerpiece of their '00 Ewing trade (Rice) for Shandon Anderson, a 3-year Knick who mostly played off the bench, never averaged more than 9 points per game, and for two seasons, shot below 29% from three. Rice wasn't exactly a stellar Knick, either, during his career in New York. In his first year with the Knicks, he averaged a career-low 12 points per game and never seemed to mesh with Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell. I'm giving the Knicks the edge here, as they got good value for Rice, a player at the tail-end of his career -- even if it was Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley that they got in return. Edge: Knicks.
Overall, it seems that the Knicks have gotten the better of the Rockets over the last decade in trades involving both teams. Factor in the recent Camby deal, and I believe the Knicks' success in Rockets-related trades is as strong as ever. However, no player listed above immensley affected either franchise. If anything, Van Gundy had the biggest impact out of any person mentioned above, so maybe that one transaction really does give the Rockets the overall edge. Eh, whatever. I choose the Knicks. And if you come to my door and want me to explain myself, I won't be hiding.