Tagged: 2010 Free Agency

On LeBron’s Nike Contract

So apparently it doesn’t have a bonus clause for the King should he choose to switch to a big market. But it does have a royalty clause.

New York is a larger market than Cleveland. The larger market would lead to increased sales. Increased sales would lead to a larger royalty.

Marc Berman also notes that Kobe Bryant sells more shoes in China than LeBron. Berman never wants to cut the Knicks even a modicum of slack so he says it’s because of Kobe’s rings. If that’s the case, why doesn’t Tim Duncan, who has as many rings as Kobe, also outsell LeBron (I’m assuming he does not)? Could it have something to do with the large market Kobe plays in, with its large Chinese population?

Let’s disregard market size though and just assume that winning is the primary driver of shoe sales. I’m with Tommy Dee in the sense that I don’t see how anyone can say just yet that the Knicks won’t be capable of winning a title next year with LeBron. It just depends on the type of team they put around him.

I would have liked to hear that LeBron’s Nike contract has a specific incentive for New York. It apparently doesn’t, but I’m not ready to lower the LeBroptimism meter because of that.

League Source: LeBron Wants To Team Up With Joe Johnson

Ric Bucher has some interesting news from the ubiquitous “league source”. For those who can’t watch the video, I’ve transcribed the most important part:

“Joe Johnson may not be the big free agent signing Knicks fans have in mind this summer, but if it’s LeBron James they want, a league source says the Hawks’ shooting guard is a very good place to start. While the general public doesn’t seem to regard Johnson on par with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh…James apparently does, which makes sense: Johnson wouldn’t battle LeBron for marketing dollars the way Wade might, and yet is a proven closer, which Bosh, for all his talent, is not.”

Interesting bit of news, especially considering that Johnson has expressed potential interest in joining the Knicks as a free agent, provided they add another star player.

Joe Johnson To Knicks A “Done Deal”. Bosh On His Way Too?

Frank Isola provides us with some insight into the forthcoming monster summer. He spoke to an Eastern Conference GM who said that the Knicks’ pursuit of Joe Johnson is a “done deal.”

Isola continues that sources have informed him that the Raptors would be open to parting with Bosh in a sign and trade that would include, at least, David Lee. Of course David Lee would have to agree to go to Toronto, but I think he’ll follow the money.

Johnson himself sees New York as a palatable situation as long as the team can sign “another player”. Bosh and Johnson are a formidable duo and an instant contender with Gallinari in the mix (I’d trade Chandler for a PG and hold onto Bill Walker or TMAC if there’s a couple mil left over).

Now, this is an obvious outcome that we’ve all speculated about numerous times, and it isn’t beyond Isola to pass off speculation as breaking news. He once “broke” a trade that was completely made up by a commenter on Tommy Dee’s www.theknicksblog.com. I’m not sure if his source for the Bosh information is a message board rant on UltimateKnicks or a legitimate source, but hopefully it is more accurate than his Google-FAIL assertion (one of a steady stream in his articles and posts) that “the Knicks are the league’s biggest losers dating back to the 2001-02 season”.

In fact, at least the Hawks have a worse winning percentage than the Knicks over the period he defines at  37.9%. The Knicks come in at 38.08%.

Not that hard to fact check these things. Just saying.

With Jordan Hill Emerging, Stakes On Donnie’s Gambit Increase

Jordan Hill’s last two games for the Houston Rockets have been pretty productive. Averaging 25 minutes, Hill has had 11 and 12 points, and 8 rebounds in both games.

We were never in the “Jordan Hill is a bust so Donnie Walsh is a washed up hack” boat. It’s funny to see many of the folks who pushed that line so aggressively now argue that “Jordan Hill is an all-star so Donnie Walsh is a washed up hack.”

I think Hill projects as a borderline starter or productive rotation player. But as he proves that he can be productive, the pressure increases on Walsh to justify trading him. The better Hill gets, the more crucial it will be this summer for Walsh to make sure Hill doesn’t turn into another good-asset-squandered for the Knicks. In the highly unlikely event that Hill does turn into a in-his-prime Jermaine O’Neal, or the next Amare Stoudemire, the trade will be looked at as a colossal mistake if Walsh doesn’t score big time in free agency.

There are so many possibilities this summer, and that’s the main reason Donnie was willing to add Hill and his $3 million to Jeffries $6.5 million. If Hill continues to play well, the pressure on Walsh to replace him with something better is going to intensify.

Who Would Want To Play For THAT Team?

It’s getting a little tiresome trying to defend the Knicks from the same old criticisms. I mean, the Knicks have 21 wins and just lost to the 7 win Nets for the second time this season. But as often as folks keep bringing up the same arguments (and it’s become even more fashionable, somehow, to pile on), I’ll keep responding the same way.

The latest volley comes from Mitch Lawrence who posits:

Once he saw the score from the Garden Saturday night, LeBron James must have said to himself, “That’s it. There’s no way I’m leaving Cleveland for that disaster.”

Once he saw that the Knicks had allowed 113 points to a Nets team that’s dead last in scoring in the NBA, Chris Bosh must have thought, “How am I going to turn that team around at the defensive end?”

(emphasis mine).

What is that hypothetical team Lawrence writes about? Is he referring to Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Toney Douglas? Because those players are the only ones with more than just a coin toss’ chance to be around after the summer.

In response to LeBron’s hypothetical dismissal, I think the team is certainly a disaster, but in part it’s because LeBron or another star caliber talent isn’t on it. To illustrate, last night LeBron James sat out, and the Cavs, who have the best record in the NBA, couldn’t beat the Bucks, who, at 4 games over .500 currently occupy the 6th seed. Even with LeBron though, the Knicks wouldn’t have Shaq to protect the paint, or even Anderson Varejao for that matter.

To answer Bosh’s question, I’d say something like “Fake Bosh, I never realized you had such a low opinion of your defensive abilities.” I think it’s likely that Bosh would answer Fake Bosh’s question by saying, “Well, if someone gets by LeBron on the perimeter, I’ll contest the shot inside.” Obviously that’s if Plan A prevails. But the concept remains the same if its Joe Johnson outside and Marcus Camby and/or others inside.

But Lawrence’s article is more about Mike D’Antoni. The thesis is that free agents are scared that if they join Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks, their defensive abilities are going to wither, brown, and crumble to dust. I think they know that’s not true.

Earlier this week, Frank Isola took a shot at D’Antoni’s coaching by asking hypothetically whether the Bucks have so much more talent than the Knicks. Maybe, but what they definitely do have is Andrew Bogut. A legitimate 7 footer who blocks shots and protects the paint, and abuses guys like David Lee on the offensive end too. And they have Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who actually takes pride in his defense and doesn’t care about his numbers. [1] And yes they have Scott Skiles, who has made a career out of squeezing 5 or 6 extra wins out of low-talent teams by employing a no-nonsense boot-camp strategy that inevitably grates on players who in turn quit on him after about three years.

I’m trying to make the point that when someone smokes Eddie House or Nate Robinson or Sergio Rodriguez or Al Harrington or Chris Duhon, and then David Lee just stands there, what is Mike D’Antoni supposed to do? Yell? Make practice 2 hours longer? Replace Lee with Bender or Eddy Curry?

D’Antoni has a reputation as an offensive innovator whose style doesn’t translate into wins in the playoffs. Two trips to the conference finals say differently. In one of those trips, the Suns lost to the eventual champion Spurs in 7 games in a series where game three was horribly officiated by Tim Donaghy. [2][3] Also the numbers say differently. The Suns, when D’Antoni coached them, were always near or at the league average for points allowed per 100 possessions, a statistic that adjusts for pace.

But that is also besides the point because the only opinions that matter are those of the marquee players in this summer’s free agency bonanza. And they already know what kind of coach Mike D’Antoni is. They’ve all already won a championship playing for him.


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[1] The Knicks did have Jeffries, but he was getting paid too much. Plus, they looked a lot better with him on the defensive end didn’t they?

[2]From Bill Simmons: “Congratulations to Greg Willard, Tim Donaghy and Eddie F. Rush for giving us the most atrociously officiated game of the playoffs so far: Game 3 of the Suns-Spurs series. Bennett Salvatore, Tom Washington and Violet Palmer must have been outraged that they weren’t involved in this mess. Good golly. Most of the calls favored the Spurs, but I don’t even think the refs were biased — they were so incompetent that there was no rhyme or reason to anything that was happening. Other than the latest call in NBA history (a shooting foul for Ginobili whistled three seconds after the play, when everyone was already running in the other direction), my favorite moment happened near the end, when the game was already over and they called a cheap bump on Bruce Bowen against Nash, so the cameras caught Mike D’Antoni (the most entertaining coach in the league if he’s not getting calls) screaming sarcastically, “Why start now? Why bother?” What a travesty. Not since the cocaine era from 1978-1986 has the league faced a bigger ongoing issue than crappy officiating.”

[3] Judge for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvkKdXLwt0U

Note To Peter Vescey: Easy To Second Guess, Harder To Propose A Better Alternative

It’s easy to second guess.

I think most people are on board with the 2010 plan, recognizing that the team Isiah constructed was going nowhere fast anyway. There are differences around the fringes, such as, did the Knicks give up too much to clear Jeffries and Hill when they already had max cap room? Fine. Fair enough. The New York Post‘s Peter Vescey makes the point in his typically carmudgeony way:

Judging by their reaction, Walsh’s latest moves had gone over big with New York’s renowned “sophisticated” fans. Potentially, he had traded three pristine picks to the Rockets for a micro-surgically repaired 30-year-old (Tracy McGrady) in order to build for the future, yet they anointed him with oil.

It’s fine to disagree with the Jeffries move. There is an intelligent and rational way to do it. We have a great reader/commenter (Italian Stallion) who does it all the time. But the way Vescey did it is just wrong. The Knicks traded a single pick: the 2012 one, which is protected. They also traded Jordan Hill, who may or may not be a contributor in this league. They also gave Houston the right to swap 2011 picks. Depending on how things go, this right may or may not be exercised.

But the Post has taken its penchant for revisionist history to new levels with a decidedly faulty outlook at what-might-have-been:

Despite the reality, had Walsh selected his draft picks more prudently and chosen a path of resistance vs. concession, the Knicks’ current starters would be Randolph, David Lee, Brook Lopez, Brandon Jennings and Crawford . . . and they would own their own first-rounders in 2011 and 2012 instead of the distant hope of landing James, Wade or both.

But wait a minute Peter, surely an astute basketball mind like you would realize that a playoff caliber squad like the one D’Antoni inherited [sarcasm] wouldn’t have had a lottery pick two drafts ago, so they wouldn’t have had a chance to draft Lopez, the “dominant” center on a 6 win team.

But playing Vescey’s game, Lopez would only improve the Knicks with his dominating play and therefore they surely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to draft the amazing Brandon Jennings [sarcasm]. If you want to be completely honest rather than trying to have it both ways, I’d grant you that the Knicks could have been Ty Lawson, Crawford, Lee, ZBo, and Roy Hibbert. AWESOME!!! Move over Raptors!

Anyway, the completely mythical lineup that Vescey proposes has Lee as a small forward (surely he’s capable of containing athletic NBA wings out on the perimeter), two ball dominating guards with poor shot selection and another ball hog at power forward. Surely the recipe for success right?

I dont know as much about Lefty McCorish, Patches O’Barnaby, Solomon “One Foot” Bilzheimer, or Moishe “48-minute clock” Rothman as the venerable Vescey does, but to my novice mind, if my options were Vescey’s impossible fantasy line-up or a roll of the dice coupled with future cap flexibility that has value well beyond Plans A-C that Vescey purports to be privy to, I go with the latter.

If You Think The 2010 Plan Is Just About LeBron, You Don’t Know How Deep This Rabbit Hole Goes

Updated 12:04

In a little less than two years, Donnie Walsh did what everyone thought was impossible. He traded away the likes of Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford and Jared Jeffries, all grossly overpaid. Was he able to improve the team in his tenure? Well, the record will most likely not improve from last year’s, but Donnie’s presidency has so far been about accomplishing two goals. One was cleaning away the messes of the previous regime. Another was making his own mark.

The first is a precursor for the second. Just as Isiah systematically removed every Layden player from the Knicks roster and then remade it, Donnie Walsh has wiped out all remnants of the Isiah era except Lee, Chandler and Curry, the latter not for a lack of trying. He told you all along that he would do this and that he would do it in time to sell the idea of playing at the Garden to arguably one of the best players to ever play the game. Even if that one player does not choose to suit up in the orange and blue, the Knicks will be able to make a run at other guys who would be at home amongst legendary forerunners. This is where the imagination of many Knicks fans probably ends. Anything short of nabbing one or more of the big 3 free agents would be a failure to them.

But this terminal point in the imagination of some is also probably where Donnie’s imagination starts. If Donnie doesn’t execute plan A, I have no idea what he will do. But there is one thing I doubt he will do and that I hope he does not do: overspend for lesser “stars”. Donnie Walsh should not give Joe Johnson the max. He shouldn’t give Rudy Gay $10 million. He shouldn’t give Carlos Boozer $11 or $12 million. He shouldn’t spend all his money for the sake of spending it.

I know what you’re thinking: If the Knicks don’t spend every single penny they earned through the trades (about $10 million) then they wasted Jordan Hill and a draft pick (some in the blogosphere and in the media sensationalize and assert imprecisely, that the Knicks will have wasted “three picks”). To an extent, you might have a point. Obviously the Knicks could have let Jeffries simply come off the cap in 2011 and retained Hill and the one future pick they traded. But that would have given them less of a chance at LeBron James and a max buddy. It would have diminished the chances for the plan to succeed.

There are reasons to maintain the cap space instead of spending it unwisely aside from just the welfare of plan A though: The benefits of cap space do not vanish if you don’t use it all at once. Sure, the gamble in the trade was primarily about 2010 but if 2010 doesn’t work out it doesn’t follow that Donnie should sabotage 2011 and beyond. If the alternatives are to preserve cap space or spend it all on Rudy Gay the Knicks would be better off preserving it, regardless of the heavy sacrifice they made to get that extra $10 million a year early.

Detroit lost the gamble last year. They traded Chauncey Billups for cap space. They didn’t come away with any star free agents. But instead of preserving the cap space that they freed, they felt they needed to justify the trade. They compounded their gambling loss by taking on two long term contracts for role players (Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva). It destroyed their cap flexibility and gave them little room to improve. Had they been patient they could have had max money this summer. Instead they’ll be at the cap.

So then where does that leave the Knicks?

Even without LeBron, the cap space gives Donnie infinite options. The Thunder used their cap space this year to absorb Matt Harpring’s contract and for their trouble were able to pry Eric Maynor away from the Jazz. Would the cash-strapped Hornets part with Darren Collison to lose the last year of Morris Peterson’s contract? Conceivably. How badly would the perennially in-the-red Pacers want to shed TJ Ford’s last year? Enough to part with a lottery pick? I’m sure Detroit would like to get out from under Tayshaun Prince. Would the Warriors be desperate enough to unload Vladimir Radmanovic that they would let go of…who am I kidding on that one (a man can dream, but I think they realize they have a superstar in the making at the 1).

A lot of people rag on James Dolan and deservedly so. He’s clearly been a destructive force for most of his reign. One good trait that he possesses from a fan’s standpoint though is that he has never been afraid to spend money if he’s convinced it will help the team win. In the past he’s been convinced that it was a good idea to spend it on Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry and Steve Francis, but it wasn’t Donnie doing the convincing. And that’s why its also a blessing that Dolan swims around in cash like Scrooge McDuck. With cap flexibility the Knicks can be a predatory team like the Thunder that turns cap space into first round picks by absorbing a year of Kurt Thomas, or into Eric Maynor by absorbing a year of Matt Harpring. Donnie has been distinguished from the likes of Sam Presti but the two may have more in common that a facial glance might reveal.

There are so many other options too including Lee sign and trade scenarios, thousands of combinations of outright signings, and other possibilities that I can’t list because only a seasoned hand like Donnie Walsh can fathom them.

Don’t be short-sighted by declaring this summer the end-all-be-all of the Knicks rebuild. There’s the simple plan. But if that fails, there are other plans. When it comes to those other plans, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Donnie is one of the few people who knows his away around the rabbit hole.

***“[W]hat I do not know I do not think that I know either.” –The Apology of Socrates***

Framework For TMac Deal In Place

The unparalleled Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has sniffed out a significant scoop. Apparently the Wizards, Rockets and Knicks have the framework of a deal in place that would land Tracy McGrady in New York:

The centerpieces of the trade would include the Washington Wizards shipping forward Caron Butler and center Brendan Haywood to the Rockets. The Knicks would send Al Harrington to the Wizards. For the Wizards’ part, they would still need another player, as well as a draft pick and cash to make this a workable scenario, sources said.

The first thing I’ll note (as did Wojnarowski) is that this trade doesn’t work. http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yk2aly2. One variation that does: http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yjyflq6.

The next item of note is that, assuming Jeffries is not going to be included, it seems like someone at MSG thinks the Knicks are going to make the playoffs this year. But if the Knicks have the chance to shed Jeffries in this deal, it would be the height of folly not to pull the trigger. Is it possible that TMac will return from his year off and average 27 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds, and lead the Knicks to the playoffs? Anything is possible, but don’t hold your breath.

Besides McGrady, hopefully the Knicks have something else in the work to address some of my other grievances.

Walsh Says Again Knicks Won’t Make A BAD Deadline Deal

[UPDATE: I mistakenly attributed they NYPOST blog entry referenced below to Marc Berman. In fact, Brian Lewis wrote the post. An unfortunate bit of irony in a post about someone else’s lack of reading comprehension skills. I regret the error.]

Marc Berman Brian Lewis caught up to Donnie Walsh today and somehow came away with the impression that the Knicks’ GM has ruled out a deadline deal. This based on Donnie’s comments:

I’ve said this a lot, and it’s always the same: It’s you’re always looking to see if there’s something that can make you a better team. You’re not going I [sic] make a trade that’s a bad trade because there’s some idea that you should make a trade. Any time there’s a good trade you look into it.

I’d like to conduct a little experiment. I’m going to reprint that quote below but darken certain words. Tell me if it’s possible to agree with Berman’s Lewis’ interpretation:

I’ve said this a lot, and it’s always the same: It’s you’re always looking to see if there’s something that can make you a better team. You’re not going I [sic] make a trade that’s a bad trade because there’s some idea that you should make a trade. Any time there’s a good trade you look into it.

Yet Berman Lewis blogged: …”president Donnie Walsh reiterated that he won’t make any deals.” I’m no Supreme Court Justice or literary scholar, but I definitely think Donnie was saying he would make a trade. In fact, Donnie said he’s “always” looking to make a trade, if “there’s something that can make you a better team.”

He continued, “You’re not going I [sic] make a trade that’s a bad trade because there’s some idea that you should make a trade.” If you ask me he’s rejecting the notion that he should just make a trade, any trade, as long as it’s a trade. Who thinks like that anyway? Oh right, Berman the Post does.

But Berman The Post isn’t the GM. Donnie is. And according to my perhaps sophomoric interpretation, Donnie actually would make a trade at “[a]ny time”, as long as the trade is a “good trade”.

Sorry if I had to unrouse the rabble here a little but there will be plenty of time for our favorite publication to incite the impulsive masses if the Knicks don’t wind up making a deadline deal, even though they could have made a bad one.

Knicks Active In Trade Discussions

According to Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee, who polled sources from around the league, the Knicks have been among the most active teams in trade talks. Unsurprisingly, the Knicks, according to Amick, are primarily looking to trade Jared Jeffries.

Everyone knows the importance trading Jeffries has to the Knicks’ offseason. As an added benefit though, by accomplishing a trade, management would satiate Marc Berman’s mindless demands for a shake-up to preserve the season, as if anything management could do at the deadline, including a T-Mac trade, would help the Knicks make the playoffs this year.

The season is pretty much over for the Knicks [1, 2, 3], and the right move for the team to make would be a cap slashing move to open up more space this summer. That could be a McGrady trade, but it makes little sense to just rearrange the deck-chairs because Berman says so, with an exclamation point.

Just a reminder that the last major move Berman advocated for the Knicks with an exclamation point was to sign Iverson. He called Knicks’ management “Turkeys!”. About six or seven weeks later, he recanted. I’d like to see him admit when he’s wrong more often, but that might require double the amount of space than the Post currently allots him.