18 February 2010
It’s been an acquisition two years in the making for the New York Knicks and has nothing to do with Tracy McGrady.
Believe it or not, it has everything to do with Sergio Rodriguez.
Ever since arriving in New York, head coach Mike D’Antoni patiently implored Donnie Walsh to get him Sergio – a guy D’Antoni helped draft during his days in Phoenix (27th overall) before immediately trading the flashy Spanish point guard for cash that same draft day in 2006.
D’Antoni truly wanted to keep Sergio back then. The Suns ended up taking Portland’s money instead.
Now Mike finally has his man.
With the another NBA trade deadline behind us, Sergio arrives in New York along with McGrady in a three-way trade between Houston, Sacramento and the Knicks. But back in 2008 – D’Antoni’s first in New York – Rodrigeuz was a wanted man and priority, even while fighting in Portland for minutes in Nate McMillan’s stacked backcourt which then included a since departed Steve Blake and rookie Jerryd Bayless.
According to one source close to the Knicks, New York wanted Sergio in a multiple player trade that would have included David Lee going to Portland back then. The Blazers wouldn’t bite. Discussions continued to no avail.
Sergio remained in Portland while Knick fans stomached watching Chris Duhon run the point.
A season later, representatives for Rodriguez asked that their client be traded due to a lack of playing time and the on-going conflict between Sergio and McMillan. Local and national media ran with the story of overseas reports about Sergio’s mounting frustration. Emotions came to a head that next day when McMillan printed off the story and detailed at a team practice – with paper in hand nonetheless – that if players were unhappy about their roles, that his door was always open.
On draft night the following June, Portland showed Sergio a different door.
He was traded along with the 38th pick (Jon Brockman) in the 2009 NBA Draft and cash considerations (reportdly $1.9 million) to the Sacramento Kings for the 31st pick (Jeff Pendergraph) in the draft. Basically, the Blazers paid the Kings to take Rodriguez off their hands.
While talks with the Knicks for Sergio resurfaced the weeks leading up to the ’09 draft, Portland wasn’t willing to move the one player New York also asked for in return according to multiple sources: Rudy Fernandez – another player D’Antoni helped draft, only to ship him to Portland in the 2007 NBA Draft along with James Jones.
Portland was apparently only willing to offer Sergio and Travis Outlaw. That’s when Sergio became a King.
Sacramento however admittedly had buyer’s remorse.
Back in mid-November when the Kings were in town to play Portland, a source within the Kings front office privately confessed, if management had to do it all over again, the Kings wouldn’t have done the deal for Rodriguez. They were torn between going after DeJuan Blair – who went 37th overall to the San Antonio Spurs – and getting a pile of cash, Brockman and Sergio.
Sacramento wished they had to do it all over again. Three months later, they did.
The Kings packaged Rodriguez – who was averaging 6 points and 3 assists in 13 minutes per game, appearing in 39 games for the Kings - in a trade deadline deal that lands him in New York to finally be reunited with D’Antoni and the chance for Coach Mike to perhaps regain a “7 seconds or less” offense.
Who knows how long Sergio’s stay in New York will be.
But for now, he is right where he wants to be.
Right next to Mike D’Antoni.
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