If Jeffries Is Out, So Are Knicks’ Hopes For Season And Off-Season (And A Note On Nate’s Tech)

Jared Jeffries isn’t exactly Willis Reed, but he’s clearly the captain of the Knicks’ defense. And after he hyperextended his knee, it was clear that the defense struggled at times in his absence, inside and out (he might have been on Turkoglu instead of Harrington who inexplicably basically hand-checked the saavy Turk, who rose up into the contact for a shooting foul from beyond the arc with 1:39 left in the game).

And so the Knicks’ chances of making the playoffs will fade into oblivion if Jeffries isn’t around to make heady and unheralded plays.

But the team’s odds at the playoffs were already minuscule before Jeffries’ joined Nate, Wilson, and Al in the triage. And if Donnie is smart he probably realized this. And he was probably looking to trade Jeffries to a contender who could use him down the stretch and in the playoffs in exchange for an expiring contract. Not going to happen anymore. At least not straight up.

The result is it will be much harder to clear away his contract for a big run at free agents this summer. Their options have narrowed. The Knicks can now either package Jeffries with Nate or some other asset as the price to extract that asset (good luck), or they can buy out Jeffries this summer and save $2 million.

Hopefully Jeffries MRI will show that he’s fine, but if not, the Knicks’ potential for success both this season and in the summer have taken a major hit.

[Update: According to Tommy Dee and Bandwagon Knicks’ twitter, Mike D’Antoni told ESPN radio that Jeffries has a bruise and is day to day. Phew.]

***
Last night Nate got a technical for hanging on the rim. I thought it was an idiotic play by Nate, just like I thought Al was an idiot for doing it twice last year against the Clippers and costing the Knicks both games.

For those of you who follow me and/or Tommy Dee on Twitter, you probably noticed that Tommy and I have, shall we say, differing opinions on who to blame for that tech. Not to put words in his mouth, but Tommy thinks the taunting tech for hanging on the rim is a stupid rule and that at any rate, it isn’t consistently enforced, since stars get away with it all the time. If stars get away with it all the time, then lesser players shouldn’t be called for it either.

To me, whether it’s consistently called, or whether it’s a dumb rule, isn’t really the issue. The issue is that it is a rule on the books and if you break it, you risk the penalty. I came up with some analogies on Twitter last night that Tommy didn’t like but here’s one more: Jay-walking is a law on the books. Yes, it’s a stupid rule, and yes, almost nobody get’s a ticket for it (at least in New York), but let’s say you did get a ticket for it. If you go in front of the judge and say, “Come on, guy. Nobody else got a ticket for it, and it’s a stupid rule anyway, buddy, and the cop is a freaking a-hole for giving me a ticket for it, guy”, you’d get thrown out of court, and you’d have to pay the fine. I suspect most people wouldn’t even try that argument in court and would just pay the damn fine because they know they got caught jay-walking.

Nate broke the rule against hanging on the rim. Stupid rule? Yes. Affects the game to do it? No. Inconsistently called? Yes. A rule nonetheless with a potential penalty for breaking it that can cost you a point and maybe the game? You bet.

Until they change the rule, I think it’s on the players not to break it.

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