Tagged: knicks

The Knicks Should Face The Inevitable And Cut Ties With Tyson Chandler While They Can

In 2015 the Knicks will embark on a rebuilding, or retooling, or restructuring process, or whatever McKinsey wants to call it. It is common-knowledge by now that their plan is to surround Carmelo Anthony with a new crop of free-agents, utilizing cap-space. The Knicks will only have significant cap-space if, among other things, they cut ties with Tyson Chandler.

So the Knicks should trade him. I say this as a huge Chandler fan, but an even bigger Knicks fan. The team’s choices for Chandler in light of their 2015 plan are the same as for any player (who has trade value): keep him or trade him. Keeping him entails trying to win with him until his contract expires in a year and a half. But the Knicks cannot win anything meaningful in next year and a half. So they should exchange him for some pieces who can help them win something meaningful beyond the next year and a half.

Doing so could be a real opportunity to reestablish long-term viability, but only if done wisely, in a non-Knicksian manner. Specifically they should not trade Chandler straight-up for an established veteran on a long-term, expensive contract. I recognize that by necessity, such a player must be involved in any trade for Chandler for the cap figures to work. But the veteran should be the secondary part of the trade, an afterthought thrown-in to make the numbers work, and on a deal that expires no later than next year. Otherwise the Knicks will forfeit their 2015 cap space before they get it.

Instead, the centerpiece of the Knicks’ return for Chandler must be a young player who will be on his rookie contract in the summer of 2015. If the Knicks could pull off such a move, they would retain most of the 2015 cap space they are currently scheduled to have, while sporting an additional piece with whom to rebuild around Carmelo Anthony.

I will leave the various permutations to Twitter speculation but some promising young players who will be under contract in 2015 on below-market deals include (with the caveat that I have attempted any analysis here on whether Chandler would make sense for the other team): Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones, Jon Leuer, Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams, Mo Harkless, Tony Wroten, Miles Plumlee, Alex Len, Terrence Ross, Trey Burke, Bradley Beal, and others.

Additionally, the following players (among others, same caveat) will be restricted free-agents who would be worthy acquisitions despite the risk another team might offer them a contract that the Knicks would have to match: Enes Kanter, Kawhi Leonard, Tristan Thompson, Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, Markief and Marcus Morris, and Reggie Jackson.

An additional option would be to trade Chandler for a future first round draft pick.

Any of these options would be preferable to letting yet another asset melt away.

Preview: Knicks vs. Suns

Record: 11-4

  • Offense: 1
  • Defense: 11
  • Overall: 2

Record: 7-10

  • Offense: 16
  • Defense: 26
  • Overall: 25

***

Something’s gotta give:

A few loggerheads in the rankings to watch today:

  1. Neither team turns the ball over. Knicks turnover rate is, per usual, 1st. Suns rank 4th. If one team can take away the other’s strength here it should provide them a boost. In that regard the Knicks are 4th in opponent’s turnover rate and the Suns aren’t too bad either, at 13th.
  2. Pace. The Suns are fast (5th). The Knicks are slow (28th). Which team will impose its will on the other?
  3. The Knicks rank 3rd in eFG% (effective field goal percentage – FG% factoring in the added value of 3 pointers). The Suns seem to do an awful job of chasing teams off the 3 point line (28th in OppeFG%). If the Suns are going to cede the Knicks’ biggest strength – the Knicks take the largest percentage of their shots from deep of any team in the league (and the shots actually continue to fall) – it could mean another blowout win at the Garden.

***

Offense, defense and overall rankings are based on ORtg, DRtg, and John Hollinger’s Power Rankings, respectively. Hollinger’s method.

Source: NBA.com/stats; Espn.com

 

Preview: Knicks vs. Pacers

  • Offense: 1
  • Defense: 9
  • Overall: 1

  • Offense: 29
  • Defense: 1
  • Overall: 20

***

Something’s gotta give:

  • After last night’s flagellation at the hands of the Grizzly Bears the Knicks DRtg dropped from 2nd to 9th. Surprisingly, the Pacers rank first in that metric and something is going to have to give against the Knicks’ still-peerless O.
  • The Grizzlies demolished the Knicks on the glass and that played on a big part in New York’s demise. The Pacers rank third in rebound rate, or the percentage of available total rebounds collected. The Knicks? 28th.
  • The Knicks are still tops in the league with respect to taking care of the ball, the Pacers rank 24th. Look for some ball hawking leading to extra possessions to be a key to a Knicks’ victory.

***

Offense, defense and overall rankings are based on ORtg, DRtg, and NetRtg, respectively.

Source: NBA.com/stats

Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and the Knicks’ Spacing Issue

Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are often asked if they can “play together”, with the implication being that Amar’e hasn’t been the same since the trade to bring Carmelo to the Knicks. Now Amar’e has certainly lost a step and some ‘bounce’ since the 2010-2011 season but the biggest reason for Amar’e’s issues, at the offensive end, may be the addition of Tyson Chandler and the spacing issues he creates.

First, it’s important to realize that Stoudemire’s production did not dip significantly following the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks and he continued putting up excellent numbers. In the 25 regular season games following the trade, Stoudemire averaged 23.5 points a game on 49% shooting. This would seem to show that the addition of Anthony did not significantly impact Stoudemire’s offensive game.

While 25 games is a very small sample size, insert Jeremy Lin joke, the statistics from last year show that Carmelo’s presence also did not impact Amar’e game in a significant way, besides shot attempts. That is, it would appear that Amare’s struggles weren’t due to Carmelo “crowding” or “freezing out” Amar’e.
20121022-204704.jpg

I am of the belief that Amare’s struggles in 2010-2011 were in part due to the addition of Tyson Chandler and the fact that he clogs the paint on offense. Using the NBA’s advanced stats tool, I’ve discovered that when Chandler and Amar’e are both on the court, the effect on Amare’s game has been massive, and not in a good way.
20121022-204504.jpg

What jumps off the page in analyzing these splits is the fact that Stoudemire’s field goal percentage jumped 12 points with Chandler off the court and in turn Stoudemire’s points per 36 minutes jumped up seven points while only taking .7 of a shot more. This increase in efficiency is further explained by the fact that Stoudemire’s free throw attempts, per 36, increased by nearly three.

Furthermore the shot location data is very telling. From every region on the court STAT’s FG% went way up with Chandler on the bench. In the restricted area, where Stoudemire takes most of his shots, his percentage increased from 62% to 71%. From mid-range he was 12% better. These two areas are crucial to Stoudemire’s offense.

Additionally the frequency at which Amar’e shoots in the restricted area rises from 43% with Chandler on the court to 50% when he is not, and the percentage if his shots in the paint but not in the restricted area falls from 18% to 12%. This would lead me to hypothesize that when Chandler is on the court Amar’e is simply less aggressive attacking the rim, but seeing that Amar’e still took the same percentage of mid-range shots I’m led to hypothesize that this is a spacing issue. When Chandler is on the court It may be that, since he is often around the basket, it proves much more difficult for Amar’e to get to the rim. Chandler clogs the paint and makes it much more difficult to attack for Stoudemire.

Another issue with the Amare-Tyson pairing is that for all of Tyson’s defensive prowess he s an incredibly limited, albeit, efficient offensive player. Chandler gets almost all his points from pick and rolls and offensive put backs. This frequently leads to Chandler replacing Amar’e as the roll man in pick and roll situations while Amar’e just floats around the perimeter. Looking at the stats Amar’e ended possessions as the roll man only 120 times last year compared to 198 in 2010-2011.

It seems apparent that the Tyson-Amare pairing comes with serious spacing issues, but I couldn’t stop here. I think there are several things the Knicks could do to improve Amar’e’s productivity (aside from wishing his jumper comes back), although expecting the same STAT from two years ago is a stretch.

1. Mike Woodson would be smart to add more quick hitting plays that create space on the floor for Amar’e to attack. I believe we saw an example of this against the Raptors in the play below.

While I’m no Sebastian Pruiti, the Knicks appear to run a 1-5 Pick and Roll with Melo and Amare both on the left side of the floor. Melo is in the corner and Amare positioned at the elbow, Ray Felton uses the pick and passes it to Amar’e who passes it to Melo then slips a screen leading to a dunk. This play is exactly the way to free up space for Amar’e to attack.

2. The Knicks would be wise to borrow from Monty Williams, who as Jared Dubin shows in his new venture at hoopchalk.com employed some nice Pick and Roll/Pop schemes with his big men, Jason Smith and Chris Kaman (as shown below). In the first video Jason Smith runs a pick and pop while Kaman cuts in like a roll man would. In the second video the Hornets run a pick and roll and pick and pop one after the other. Inventive pick and roll schemes like the ones below might go a long way to solve the spacing problem and increase Amare’s productivity.

Be sure to click over to http://hoopchalk.com/2012/10/22/the-new-orleans-hornets-and-the-roll-pop-combo/ where Dubin explains it in far more detail.

3. The last and perhaps easiest, basketball wise, but most difficult way politically would be to move Amar’e to the bench where he could run pick and rolls all day with Prigioni. Since Camby can shoot, unlike Chandler, the Knicks wouldn’t run into the same spacing problem they have now.

Hey Melo, the next time they ask you if you can play with Amar’e just respond “it’s Tyson, not me”.

Hat tip to Taylor @tarmosino) for helping with this post and two great Knick fans (@knicksfam and @rhondad01) for spurring this post. All data from NBA.com and Synergy. Videos from YouTube.

When The Story Becomes The Story

I wish this post was about the Knicks gearing up for a playoff run. It’s not. It’s the twilight of yet another miserable Knicks season and instead of the team, the story has become the story. It has been a bitter year on many fronts: A lot of consternation has flowed in a dizzying array of directions: Players to coach; coach to players; players to media; coaches to media; media to management; media to coaches; blogs to all of it. Losing will bring out the worst in everyone pulled into the franchise’s orbit.

From a fan’s perspective, the most despicable aspect of the last decade or so has indisputably been the play on the court. The next is the mismanagement. Then comes the press corps. At its best, the Knicks’ beat is intelligent, analytical, honest. At its worst it is defensive, dishonest, demeaning to its readers, hypocritical. Some of the writers fall consistently into the first category. Others into the second. Sometimes, rarely, they change hats.

This is a theme that has recurred in this space. It has been touched upon elsewhere but judging by some comments and tweets, I’ve probably developed a reputation as the guy who takes the writers to task when I think they deserve it. I call them out when they publish propaganda, when they fail to fact check, when they fail to recognize obvious truths to suit the predetermined direction of their coverage, and when they lie to get start a controversy in an effort to get a sound byte that will help them sell papers. For example, when:

It should come as no surprise that certain publications are featured prominently in this list while others are conspicuously absent. That makes it all the more puzzling that of all the writers who cover the Knicks, it was Alan Hahn of Newsday who was the prickliest about Tracy McGrady’s assertion that “you guys”, e.g., the press, will keep players away from New York. Hahn took exception, writing:

Apparently NBA players prefer hero worship over raw honesty and unfettered opinion. They prefer the big fish/small pond ratio in smaller markets, where the coverage has the intensity of a street light.

NBA players who relish a challenge should most definitely be willing to subject themselves to the spotlight. But what about the interrogation lamp? That’s why I’m not sure it’s really Hahn that McGrady had in mind. Hahn continued:

How should this team be covered at this point? Should we just shrug when Eddy Curry continually gets injured and yet still makes every single road trip, pocketing per diem and enjoying the free travel?

I can’t disagree with Hahn that if players are upset about the coverage that exposes:

  1. Eddy Curry for failing to properly condition himself for the rigors of the NBA despite collecting an $11 million salary; or
  2. Larry Hughes for pouting the night of a monster 43 point win over the Pacers; or
  3. Darko Milicic for wanting the Knicks to cut him, and let him return to Europe while still guaranteeing him his full paycheck; or
  4. Nate Robinson likely instructing his agent to complain in the midst of the Knicks’ best month in a decade; or
  5. their general and individual poor play in a losing season;

then that is a problem with the players and not the writers. But I think McGrady may have been referring more to the unfair treatment some writers bestow on some players (and the coaches, and management), the most glaring examples of which I’ve referenced above.

You better believe it’s a circus.

And McGrady isn’t the only one holding that opinion. Hahn points out that Ron Artest said that players are “scared of the fans and the media”. And Chris Bosh stated his distaste for the Knicks’ beat too.

It’s hard to tell if Hahn was sticking up for his colleagues or just himself. Without naming names, probably as a professional courtesy, he wrote:

I can’t speak for everybody in this business, but I can say there is not supposed to be agenda in any of this. It’s merely unbiased observations from those closest to the team without being part of the team. Most of us ask questions not because we don’t know the answers, we ask them because we DO know the answers.

Look, some of that is true. For Hahn, it certainly is. But even if Hahn asks honest questions seeking honest answers, let’s not pretend that there aren’t others who carefully engineer loaded, indefensible questions to solicit a frustrated response – to make news. You can’t honestly suggest that no writers have an agenda. Not when we’re still getting updates about what Stephon Marbury thinks about the Knicks. Not when they are openly calling for the Coach’s head (are journalists supposed to report the story or be a part of it?). There are plenty of fans who recognize that Mike D’Antoni has not been perfect, not even close, but are tired of reading diatribes, insulting to their intelligence, positing that all of the blame falls at the Coach’s feet. Will Berman, who had D’Antoni up in slings when he benched Nate Robinson refer to Nate’s latest benching with the Celtics as “Nate-Gate”? Will he recognize, as every single one of Nate’s pro coaches has that Nate’s best spot may be the end of the bench?

The Knicks are out of the playoffs because D’Antoni didn’t play Darko? Really? Is it truly a meaningful issue that Mike D’Antoni didn’t coddle Larry Hughes and Eddy Curry enough?

Marc, we know you’re worried that people aren’t going to pay attention to you if the Knicks aren’t good, but don’t you have some sort of professional responsibility as a journalist?

And as for Isola: look, we get it, the Knicks have PR people who follow you around with blackberries and take notes. Get the hell over it already. You’re a journalist, don’t let it taint your coverage. Fans want intelligent, honest coverage, not someone with a vendetta pledging to make things right for the time the Knicks “screwed me over.”

For all of the professionalism supposedly absent from the Knicks organization, from the coaching staff to the players (and yes, some of the players don’t know what that word means), the last ones to judge should be those who call their assignment “a gulag”, or “depressing”, and who pine for the old Checketts days when the Knicks treated the beat writers to a catered trips on yachts. Guess what Frank? I don’t get catered trips on yachts at my job either but I don’t elevate that grievance over my duties.

Granted, the good one’s like Hahn, Steve Adamek and Howard Beck are honest. They’re professional. They can have their negative opinions of the organization, as immortalized in the New York Observer article, without letting it cloud their work product. Marc Berman and Frank Isola are driven by personal issues and it’s a waste of time to argue otherwise.

These are circling vultures waiting to twist words and parse statements and misrepresent them, and take them out of context. They do this in order to generate enough controversy to satisfy a decade old grudge, or satiate some narcissistic thirst for attention/sell papers for News Corp. Despite their presence, you can understand why a player like LeBron James would put up with it anyway. He has an empire he wants to build and New York may be the best place to do it.

For an average or even above average player though, all other things are more or less equal. So what is there to gain by subjecting yourself to the daily dishonesty and mind bending disingenuousness? I have some news for the writers on the beat that hate their jobs and take it out on the organization. LeBron might not come, and if McGrady, Artest and Bosh represent the feelings of the rest of the players in the league, you’ve got a number of “depressing” years left in this “gulag”.

In The News: McGrady, Toney, LeBron, Kobe, Mullin

Here’s my own skewed view of recent Knicks news:

  • Apparently Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want Tracy McGrady back because he has to far to go in his recovery and is an injury risk. Come on Mike. I mean, he’s better than Penny was when he was a Knick. But seriously, I can’t wait for Berman to approach T-Mac and ask him: “Do you have any reaction to Mike D’Antoni saying he hates you and thinks you’re a an awful basketball player?”
  • In other T-Mac news, according to the New York Post, the Knicks let his body guard, Harveaire Berrien, have access to the locker room. That’s cool, just don’t let him cross paths with Hassan Gonsalves.
  • When Toney Douglas was drafted by the Knicks, he didn’t know who Walt Frazier was. He learned about him though, and I’m glad to see that Toney plans to pick Clyde’s brain. Clyde’s a legend and should be able to teach Toney a lot about offense and defense.
  • LeBron James said he “won’t stop” until he brings a championship to Cleveland. I’m not sure what that means. After he brings Cleveland a championship, he stops? At any rate, I think this means I’m supposed to be rooting for Cleveland, although I hate them. I hate their city, I hate their teams, I hate their faces. Honestly, as badly as I want LeBron to come to the Knicks, I want to see the Cavs get knocked out by Orlando again.
  • Frank Isola updates us on the Chris Mullin situation, which, so far as I’ve been able to tell, hasn’t changed since a year ago. Also, way to be creative with your headlines Daily News.
  • Kobe Bryant just signed a roughly $90 million extension to stay with the Lakers. Kobe, can I just have $1 million? I won’t tell anyone, I swear. And it’s not like you’ll even realize it’s gone. In all seriousness, Kobe was eligible for so such a monumental contract because he’s stayed with the same team for so long. That made him eligible to receive a fixed percentage raise every year and with every new contract. If he had hypothetically decided to switch teams he could only sign for roughly $16 million in his first year, which is roughly the max salary for free agents who switch teams (unless he switched in a sign and trade, in which case he could’ve gotten his $90 mil). At any rate, LeBron and other future free agents will likely never see that kind of money, even if they stay with their current teams, because under the forthcoming collective bargaining agreement, not only will the maximum salary likely go down, but there will also be a hard cap, meaning teams won’t be able to exceed the cap, even to re-sign their own players.

Does Donnie Know A Secret About 2010?

If the Knicks start next season with Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer as their primary 2010 free agent additions I will be underwhelmed. I mean, they did give up a lot to be able to clear enough cap space this summer to be far enough under the cap to sign two max free agents. As loyal commenter Italian Stallion and Twitter agitator ( 😉 ) @LoveThoseKnicks often remind me, the Knicks could have kept all the assets they traded in the McGrady deal and still had max cap space in 2011 (assuming the cap mechanics stay the same) without giving Houston the right to swap ’11 picks, their ’12 pick and Jordan Hill.

The argument carries some weight. And I’ll admit that aside from the picks, losing Jordan Hill alone stung. My counterargument is always that:

  1. The Knicks lost a net of 1 draft pick in the deal, which is the 2012 draft pick. The Knicks retain their ’11 pick, and if the Knicks vastly improve this summer, there is a strong chance that Houston will not invoke its option to swap. And if that is how things play out, the Knicks won’t miss their 2012 pick too much either. (Here the argument devolves into Stallion and @LoveThoseKnicks saying something like, “But the Knicks lose a pick.” To which I respond, “They can just buy another one in the late round.” To which Stallion or @LoveThoseKnicks will reply, “Well then they could have had two picks because they can buy one anyway.” To which I respond, “Well then they can buy two picks.” And this continues for awhile.)
  2. Aside from everything in point 1, I still think clearing the extra cap space in the TMac deal was a worthy risk. A calculated risk. Some might say it was a gamble. Still worth it from where I’m sitting if it increases your chances of getting a better player than you otherwise might’ve if you just had room for one player.

But Stallion and @LoveThoseKnicks make a good point and I have to acknowledge it. If you think of the TMac trade as “mortgaging the Knicks’ future” or a colossal gamble then you have to wonder why Donnie did it. By all accounts Donnie is a shrewd, calculating, patient and opportunistic executive. If the TMac trade was just a roll of the dice then you have to wonder why he would do something so uncharacteristic.

I’ve often tried to think of it this way and I come to the conclusion that Donnie must know that he can do something special this off-season. At least I hope so. In a chat today, Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com expressed similar sentiments:

Rob (NY)

Any credence to the rumor that if Knick’s sign J Johnson, LBJ is more likely to come to MSG?

Chris Sheridan

(3:20 PM)

No credence that that rumor, but you get the distinct impression that word was somehow passed to the Knicks that having enough cap room for just one max player was not going to cut it for a certain free agent, which was why they were willing to throw so much into the Jeffries deal to get McGrady’s contract. I ask this: Why would anyone in their right mind trade away what amounts to three No. 1 picks just to clear cap room? It’s just plain crazy … unless there is a confidence among the Knicks their Plan A will succeed.

So I ask you, if you’re Donnie Walsh, and William Wesley approaches you and says, “Donnie, enough cap space for one max contract isn’t going to cut it. You need to have room for two.” What do you do?

Oh, and Chris, the Knicks traded one draft pick.

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.