Though Washington Wizards guard Rod Strickland has acknowledged he would like to play for the New York Knicks, the likelihood of him being dealt any time soon, if at all, is unlikely, sources said.
Strickland would be hard to trade, if for no other reason, because of complicated salary-cap rules instituted in the recently ratified collective bargaining agreement.
"He is going to be very, very tough to move," said one Eastern Conference general manager who declined to be identified.
Wizards General Manager Wes Unseld declined to comment. Strickland's agent, David Falk, was said to be out of the country and unavailable to comment.
The Wizards, according to league sources, are not actively shopping Strickland or receiving many inquiries. The Toronto Raptors, who are interested in acquiring a point guard, have no interest in Strickland, a team source said.
Reasons for the lack of interest in obtaining Strickland, according to three league sources and several agents, are his $10 million annual salary, his age (33) and the new rules that complicate a trade.
When Strickland signed his three-year, $30 million contract last February, he got such a substantial raise that he fell into a special compensation category under the collective bargaining agreement.
Until Feb. 2, 2000, Strickland's salary counts for just $5 million in a trade, which means the Wizards would get a player or players making only $5 million in salary in return--questionable compensation for a player of Strickland's caliber.
Complicating matters, the team acquiring Strickland would have to be $5 million under the salary cap to make legally a trade. The Knicks are more than $20 million over the NBA's $34 million salary cap.
Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers are the only teams with enough salary-cap space to absorb Strickland's contract. Both are unlikely suitors because they want to preserve as much room under the salary cap as possible to sign free agents after this season.
Teams over the salary cap interested in trading for Strickland would have to unload enough player salaries to create the adequate space under the cap or work a three-team trade with the Bulls or the Clippers. A three-team deal with either of those teams would be the most likely scenario. However, moving so many players, making all the salaries mesh and making everything worthwhile for all parties is complicated.
"Three-team deals are hard enough to do as it is, and with these type of numbers, it would be hard," another NBA general manager said. "Not only that, nobody that has worked to save up that cap room wants to give it away."
Wizards guard Mitch Richmond falls under the same salary parameters as Strickland and would be equally difficult to trade. However, unlike Strickland, who has clashed on occasion this season with Coach Gar Heard, Richmond wants to remain with the Wizards.
When Strickland's contract is one year old on Feb. 2, 2000--three weeks before the Feb. 24 trading deadline--his base-year value increases to $7.5 million, which could make a deal slightly less difficult because a team obtaining him would need to be only $2.5 million under the salary cap. Plus, the Wizards potentially could receive better quality players in return.
"It still would be hard to do," another GM said.