Tagged: Jared jeffries

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.

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.

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.

Knicks Fan’s EPIC Poll

We’ve gotten a lot of demand to bring back our defunct confidence rating. We’ve wanted to, but we also wanted to do something different. Well here is what we’ve decided to do.

We are going to have many polls designed to gauge the fans pulse about various and specific Knicks topics. Rather than just a confidence rating (which we’ll still have), we are going to assess and track your thoughts on the following categories:

  • Overall direction of the team
  • Backcourt
  • Frontcourt
  • Starters
  • Depth
  • PG
  • SG
  • SF
  • PF
  • C
  • Specific players
  • Coaching
  • Management
  • Media coverage

We’ll update the polls once per week and track them graphically. You have until Friday of each week to vote on the previous week.

If you ever need to find the poll page, you can click the “POLLS” in the page links above or the new “Knicks Fan’s EPIC Poll” link on the sidebar.

Let us know in the comments if there is anything else you’d like to see measured.

We’re kicking off this ambitious project right…now!

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Knicks Roster Rumors: TMac, Nate, Arenas

A flurry of roster rumors hit the press today. Lets analyze:

1. Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears reports that recently the Rockets have spoken to the Knicks about Tracy McGrady:

…the Rockets want to get a young, athletic big man to put alongside center Yao Ming next season. The Knicks would gladly part with seldom-used rookie forward Jordan Hill in a package for McGrady, but the Rockets don’t seem too interested.

Should the Knicks do it? It seems moot anyway, since Houston, according to Spears, is not interested in Hill. But if the Rockets change their minds, the Knicks should consider a deal contingent on who else the Rockets are taking back to make the contracts work. If it’s Larry Hughes and Darko Milicic, I’d say what’s the point. I’d rather keep the young prospect than rent T-Mac for half a season.

The only way the Knicks should make a T-Mac trade, especially if they are giving up on a young big man who can shoot from the outside, is if the Rockets agree to take back Eddy Curry, or more realistically, Jarred Jeffries. Hill, Mobley and Jeffries not only nets the Rockets a young prospect and a defensive specialist, but potentially tens of millions of dollars in savings. It would also save the Knicks almost $9 million in salaries (Hill and Jeffries) for this summer.

2. Spears also reports that the Lakers and the Celtics have interest in Nate Robinson.

The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams who have expressed some interest in New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson, league sources said. Robinson’s base-year status, however, makes it difficult for any trade and the Knicks are said to be reluctant to ship Robinson to an Eastern Conference team, further complicating the Celtics’ efforts to land him.

Seeing as how, according to Alan Hahn, the Knicks were willing to trade Nate to the Grizzlies for bench-warmer Marcus Williams and what Hahn subsequently reported was probably a second-round pick, it seems like a deal could possibly be arranged.

As to the base year status issue, it’s a hindrance but not a roadblock. Especially if the team trading for Nate has cap space, like the Grizzlies do. The only other team with cap space right now though is Portland (OKC used theirs in the Maynor/Harpring swap). Also, don’t forget about trade exceptions, many teams in the league have sizable ones (although any trade involving a trade exception would net the Knicks nothing other than cap space, as trade exceptions cannot be combined with anything else). This is key to keep in mind because as Spears reports the Celtics and Lakers are “among” the teams interested in Nate, meaning there are others.

Should the Knicks do it? Anyone who has read this space knows that I think the Knicks should cut ties with Nate and never look back. To recap, while Nate has tremendous talent on offense, can win a game single handedly with a heroic performance on any given night, and has unparalleled work ethic, he unfortunately plays the game – for lack of a better term – stupidly. His decision making is abysmal, whether he is looking to shoot or pass. His defense is nowhere to be found. He takes a full 52% of his shots in the first 10 seconds of possessions (the most of any Knick), and ties Darko for the worst winning percentage in games he’s played (33.3%), other than Eddy Curry. His assist/turnover ratio is 1.476, which ranks him below Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes, Andre Iguodala, Shane Battier, and at least 45 other point guards in the NBA (yet some fans out there think the key to the Knicks woes is making Nate the full time starter at the 1).

If the Knicks can land a real point guard like Jordan Farmar for Nate Robinson, they should try to make it happen.

3. Chris Sheridan asked Donnie Walsh if the Knicks are interested in Gilbert Arenas, because, hey, why not?

Should the Knicks do it? I mean, come on…

The first and by far most important factor to consider is that Arenas still has 4 years on his contract after this one, and by the end of that contract he’ll be making $22,346,536 (!!!). Most observers have noted that it is unlikely that the Wizards will be able to void that deal, but I don’t think Arenas was worth that kind of money even when healthy/not pulling stunts like the whole gun fiasco or taking craps in his teammates’ shoes (what a hysterical “prank”! That lovable prankster.).

Not to mention that he’s a classic ball pounder in the Starbury/Iverson/Francis mold, which doesn’t exactly work for the current coach. Which is one reason why the Sprewell comparisons are off base. Spree had the heart of a champion and was committed to defense. He fit with what Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks wanted to do. Can’t say the same for Arenas.

A telling quote from Sheridan’s piece:

“I don’t know if [Arenas] available, and I don’t know if he’s going to be able to play. There are a lot of questions, and we’ll have to see as time passes what the story is, but I know this: When I had guys [Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest] in the same situation, I traded all of them,” Walsh said.

Sheridan was using that quote to suggest that Donnie was able to develop a market for his sociopaths. But let’s put it in a different context: Donnie traded his sociopaths because he didn’t want them on his squad.

If the Wizards void Arenas’ contract, maybe the Knicks should consider signing him to a modest deal. Otherwise, pass.

T-Mac And The Rockets Reluctance To Save Money

Rumors continue that the Knicks are the most aggressive suitor for Tracy McGrady, but the Rockets aren’t biting.

As we’ve previously explained, trading away McGrady for role players and cap space would have the dual attraction for the Rockets of not disrupting chemistry and saving them money on luxury tax payments. In fact, if the Rockets take back Cuttino Mobley, they could save upwards of $20 million this year.

However, in an article on ESPN.com last night, Chris Sheridan stated that there might be “gray-area rules complications in trading Mobley”. Alan Hahn also wrote in today’s edition of Newsday that Donnie doesn’t plan to use Mobley’s contract as trade bait.

Still, even if the Rockets don’t save $20 million by trading with the Knicks, a trade of Hughes and Jeffries for McGrady would still save the Rockets $5 million between luxury tax and salary commitments, plus the Knicks could throw in another $3 million in cash to grease the wheels.

However, Sheridan writes that it’s Houston’s unwillingness to take back Jeffries that is killing the deal:

But what is killing the Knicks’ chances of landing McGrady, who would be a panacea for them next summer when they plan to be major players on the free agent market, is their insistence that Jared Jeffries be included in any deal with the Rockets.

As things stand now the Rockets, if they decline all their options (Dorsey, Lowrey, Chuck Hayes) would have $39 million in salary commitments this summer. That is enough space to sign a player to a $10 million to max deal, depending on what the cap number is. If the Rockets want to keep that cap space, their reluctance to take on Jeffries even in a deal that saves them a lot of money this year makes sense.

But if the Rockets don’t want to take back Jeffries, it makes little sense for the Knicks to trade for McGrady, whose sole appeal from my viewpoint is that in any trade for him, the Rockets could take back Jeffries and help the Knicks clear cap space. After all, prior to this week, McGrady hadn’t played since last season, has played totals of 47, 71, 66, and 35 games in the last 4 years, and is coming off microfracture surgery at the tender age of 30. Without accomplishing the task of moving Jeffries off the books, McGrady’s contract is not the “panacea” that Sheridan suggests. It is just another expiring deal that would leave the Knicks in the same position they are already in. That is also why, unless it is completely necessary to get a Jeffries deal done, it makes little sense to involve a third team in McGrady swap, which Sheridan claims is an option. If the Knicks can unload Jeffries to a third team, they should just do it and cut the Rockets out of the picture entirely.

Some Much Deserved Love for Jared Jeffries

The Knicks played a terrific all around game last night in New Orleans and a lot of the guys played exceedingly well. Duhon, Lee, Al, Gallo, Hughes and Chandler are all playing some pretty nifty basketball. Good for them. But I think we fans need to start wrapping our heads around a strange reality that Mike D’Antoni has known about for a while: the Knicks don’t knock the Hornets off in their own gym without Jared Jeffries.

It’s true. At this point I think it’s undeniable. The Knicks simply do not hold down Chris Paul on his own floor unless Jeffries (a team-leading +28, by the way) is there to keep him out of the paint. They don’t stomp the Blazers without Jeffries. They don’t come from behind in New Jersey without him. And they certainly don’t run the Suns out of the gym without JJ continually harassing Steve Nash.

A lot of the Knicks’ recent success can be attributed to all the guys doing their respective jobs much better. Duhon is finally coming around and playing some very heady basketball. Harrington is playing a much more complete game in recent days. Chandler is looking more and more like the guy we saw last year. And Gallinari is finally asserting himself at both ends all the time.

All of that is allowing Jeffries to show, once and for all, his substantial value as a consummate role player. Whether it’s his heady rotations, weakside blocks and charges, offensive boardwork or, most importantly, harrassment of the other team’s best offensive player (regardless of position), Jeffries’ contributions are making the rest of team’s improvement translate into wins.

Now, if you’re rolling your eyes thinking that this pro-Jeffries’ missive is going to conclude with me suggesting that the Knicks should hold onto him, 2010 be damned, well…it’s not. Because that’s insane. Lebron and 2010 are paramount so I’d never suggest that the Knicks should hold onto Jared if some team made an offer that cleared an additional $7 million for this summer. That’s shortsighted and foolhardy.

The longer this run of great play goes on, the more likely the Knicks are to receive a palatable offer for Jeffries from a bonafide contender. And when that happens, as we’ve said here before ad nauseum, the Knicks should take it and never look back.

But since the inception of this blog, Dan and I have been hypercritical of Jeffries’ play during his Knick tenure (deservedly so, I might add). So fair is fair. We crushed him when he was terrible. Now that he’s shown himself to be a lynchpin to the team’s hopes for success this season, respect will be paid.

And here’s one more thing I think Knicks fans should wrap their heads around: If and when the Knicks do ship Jeffries out of town, any chance they have of making the playoffs this season is probably walking out the door with him.

Hard to believe. But true.