Want any more evidence that the 2010 free agency derby is a perfect storm of craziness, especially when it comes to the New York Knicks? Consider this report from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.â†µ
There is a growing sentiment among opposing team executives that at the very least the Knicks will sign Atlanta's Joe Johnson, whose agent, Arn Tellem, orchestrated the Tracy McGrady trade to the Knicks and has been friends with Walsh for 20 years. It's called a "wink-wink deal," and even though it is against NBA rules, the practice does exist and is nearly impossible to police.â†µ
"I think that's a done deal," said one Eastern Conference GM.â†µ
The sad thing is this seems totally believable. Isola's well-sourced, so he's not just making this up out of thin air. The Knicks don't want their fans to flip out if they don't get LeBron, so they're leaking stories to the press about how great Joe Johnson is and how easily they could get him.â†µ
But the real story is that this whole "2010 free agency" thing can be really shady. We want to believe that tampering doesn't exist, but it's clearly everywhere. The NBA can't and won't do anything about it, because so many fans are following their product only to see how everything shakes out this summer. It's good business for the NBA to let this tampering and rumor-mongering fly, because it's what the customers want.â†µ
All the while, Joe Johnson is leading a really good Hawks to their best season in a decade, yet nobody wants to read about it. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.