Wayne Ellington's career with the Knicks lasted but a few weeks, though he certainly didn't expect much opportunity awaited him in New York with the presence of J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert on the roster.
The Knicks had been shopping the former first-round pick from North Carolina (28th overall in 2009) right after they acquired him to help make the money work in the five-player deal with the Dallas Mavericks before the NBA Draft. They found a taker in the Sacramento Kings, who were looking to unload Travis Outlaw and Quincy Acy, who both had similar depth chart issues. The Knicks and Kings completed the trade on Wednesday that sent Ellington and Jeremy Tyler to Sacramento for Outlaw and Acy.
For the Knicks, this is hardly a significant trade. What we have here is just a matter of making "the roster better balanced," as General Manager Steve Mills said on his conference call with reporters. Mills added, "and then also provide us depth across all positions."
Listen to the full conference call here:
The backcourt is still heavy, with the aforementioned trio at shooting guard and then Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni and Shane Larkin, who impressed Derek Fisher at the NBA Summer League last month. That’s six players for basically four spots in the rotation.
"We feel good about the core of our backcourt," Mills said. He did not rule out the possibility of another move or two to adjust the balance a little more.
The key area of need on the roster is support behind Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to see a bulk of his minutes back at small forward after spending the last two seasons playing primarily at power forward. But there will be times Melo lines up at the four spot, which means someone has to have the ability to play the three. Rookie Cleanthony Early showed in Summer League that he has the potential to fill that backup role behind Melo, but you can consider Outlaw -- a decent three-point shooter earlier in his career who has since become somewhat of a journeyman -- some insurance there.
"We really like Cleanthony, but he is a rookie and we wanted to make sure we had some veteran help in that position as well," Mills said.
"We were clearly heavier at the two and needed to strengthen up our situation at the three," he added. "So this clearly helps us there."
At 6-7, 225 pounds, Acy is built more like a small forward, but in Sacramento his most success was at power forward. He was a fan favorite in both Sactown and Toronto, which drafted him in the second round in 2012, for his boundless energy, enthusiasm and the effort he brought to games. Phil Jackson wanted more of this element within the team.
"Quincy, we've watched him and paid attention to him -- we obviously saw him a lot in the Summer League -- and he just adds a lot of energy," Mills said. "He's a high-energy player, he defends, he can play multiple positions, he runs the floor, blocks shots. I just think he adds a level of energy that we think is missing when we look across the roster. We think he can be helpful there.
"He's also a guy who is young and he's a guy that we think is going to give us everything he can, regardless of how many minutes he's playing."
In seven Summer League games for the Kings, who won the NBA Summer League championship last month in Las Vegas, Acy averaged 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game. He shot 53.8 percent from the field and dropped a few highlight film-worthy dunks in the process.
Neither Acy nor Outlaw are expected to be major contributors to this team, but their presence on the roster creates a better balance than what the Knicks had with Ellington and Tyler. It was a simple exchange of pieces that fit better elsewhere.
- Jeremy Tyler's NBA future is now uncertain as word is the Kings will likely waive his partially guaranteed contract. Tyler, who entered pro basketball overseas after his junior year in high school, is still a bit of a project, but has potential. There was no room for him, however, on a roster loaded with seven-footers. He's been through a lot in his young career, but he always maintains an enthusiastic, engaging personality that I enjoyed during his brief time here.
- Some added paperwork to the deal is a 2016 second-round pick the Knicks once owned, but traded to Portland in July 2012 for Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas that the Trail Blazers had since flipped to Sacramento in the three-team Tyreke Evans trade that also included the New Orleans Pelicans. The Knicks originally protected that pick up until 37th overall. As part of this new trade with Sacramento, the Knicks agreed to decrease the protection.