Tagged: knicks

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.

Destroy And Rebuild

Listen up gangstas and honeys with ya hair done
Pull up a chair hon’ and put it in the air son
Dog, whatever they call you, god, just listen
I spit a story backwards, it starts at the ending

-Nas, Rewind

***

I’d rather die enormous than live dormant that’s how we on it.

– Jay Z, Can I Live?

***

No matter how convinced you are that you’re right, there are people who will disagree. And they have a right to. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some opinions are defensible.

I got Zach Randolph for 25 and 15 tnt at MSG. If all goes right, Walsh can sign Zach and Jamal in summer, 2011 with their cap space.

-Marc Berman, via Twitter.

That isn’t one of them. Clearly Marc Berman thinks that Donnie Walsh’s plan is already a meaningless failure.

Always a good plan in designing team for 2 seasons @HowardBeckNYT fans wigging out, apparently forgetting this team wasn’t designed to win.

-Marc Berman, via Twitter, sarcastically referencing Howard Beck’s excellent article urging observers to remember the forest from the trees.

The visceral impatience is understandable because losing is painful. The outlook though is tragically flawed. It’s like criticizing a architect halfway through a project, judging him or her at the premature point when all there is to look at is a pile of materials strewn across a vacant lot. It looks ugly so far and so it was a pointless endeavor to build it. The old decrepit house was better.

Will the new house be better than the old decrepit one? Not sure, but I’ll let the architect finish before I convince myself that it wont.

Steve Adamek tried a very creative approach to getting through to those who are so shortsighted that they would criticize a plan that is in the most unseemly part of its execution phase and instead long for a plan of stasis. Adamek indulges them:

Let’s bring back Jamal Crawford for Al Harrington. And bring back Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley.

You’d undo those deals (from November 2008) right now, wouldn’t you?

Let’s even undo the cap-neutral deals of a little over a year ago. Jerome James, Anthony Roberson and Tim Thomas return for Larry Hughes. And Malik Rose makes it back for Chris Wilcox.

Bring Quentin Richardson back and undo this past summer’s deal that brought Darko Milicic to New York.

And finally, undo the ones the Knicks just made. Get back Jared Jeffries, Nate Robinson, Jordan Hill and Marcus Landry. Give back Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez and the rest.

Oh, and Mr. Vaseline Man can return from his sneaker-sales trip to China.

So basically here’s what you’ve got. Crawford, Randolph, Richardson, Rose, Collins, Jeffries, Robinson, James, Mr. Vaseline Man … In other words, pretty much the 2007-08 roster.

Which went 23-59.

Let that sink in for a minute. It’s such simple and cogent logic. If it doesn’t seep through then your judgment must be clouded. This Adamek piece was so good I’m struggling to find things to cut for the sake of blog brevity…

This is what some folks think the Knicks should’ve done, though. Held onto most, if not all of those players. That way, they figure, the Knicks might’ve put up a legitimate playoff run this season. Maybe finished seventh or eighth.

And then, because of those players’ contracts, they could’ve done the same thing next season. Seventh or eighth place. One (round) and done, most likely.

Meanwhile, they would have no chance to take a run at the best player of this generation, as well as some of his subordinate superstars.

If that’s what you would’ve preferred _ Crawford, Randolph, Vaseline Man, et al, still in Knicks’ finery this season, then you’re a fan of mediocrity.

Yes, the Knicks were 6-3 when Donnie Walsh traded Zach and Jamal. It’s foolhardy though to project results off such a small sample, as this season exhibited first when the Knicks were 1-9, then in December when they had their best month in close to a decade. As Adamek astutely notes:

Mike D’Antoni would’ve had to coax 15-20 more victories out of that group than Isiah Thomas did. Could he have done that? Could Red Holzman have?

(For that matter, how many games would Red have won this season with David Lee as his best player?)

I know that I’ll rest easy no matter what happens in July. The Knicks don’t have to get LeBron James, the possibilities are limitless. But if they do get James, I’ll look back at the haters — who criticized the architect before he got the chance to even start rebuilding the decrepit house I lived in before — and I’ll laugh at their folly.

If the Knicks compile some other group of talent and win 50 or so games, I’ll still be happy knowing that I tried to build the nicest house on the block and failed, but that I still have a better house than I had before.

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 Trade Rumor Round Up

  • Ken Berger writes that the Knicks are interested in bringing back Marcus Camby, but that the Clippers are seeking to get far enough under the cap this summer to bag a max free agent. A third team would have to be involved.
  • Berger also thinks that the Knicks are the most likely destination for Tracy McGrady, even though the Knicks don’t have anything the Rockets want. A third team would have to be involved.
  • A while back Adrian W. at Yahoo! Sports wrote that the Knicks and Bulls were close to an Al Harrington for Ty Thomas swap. According to Berger, Ty Thomas is still on the market, but he doesn’t list the Knicks as a likely suitor. Instead, he cites the Spurs, Lakers, and Nuggets. The Bulls want cap space.
  • Tommy Dee and Alex Kennedy both heard that the Knicks are after Acie Law. Reports say Larry Brown wants a veteran big man.

Nate To Regain Starting Job

Chris Duhon has continued to play completely lifeless basketball, so Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni will replace him in the starting lineup with Nate Robinson, who, for the most part, has played effectively over the last several weeks, including last night.

This is surely a move many of Robinson’s fans will welcome, and at this point, with the Knicks ten games under .500 and fading, I have no reason to oppose it. I’m sure Chris Duhon is a good guy, but almost any option is better than him the way he’s played.

Nate started 11 games last year and is about to regain that role. Though he averaged 21 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5 assists in those games, the Knicks went 3-8. Here’s hoping things turn out better this time. It’s not like they’ve been better with Duhon lately.

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.

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.

Wolves Fed To The Knicks. Take That, Kahn.

Watching the Knicks beat the Timberwolves so solidly was more than a little cathartic for this Knicks fan. It isn’t that I hate the Timberwolves franchise necessarily, but I do despise their amateurish GM, David Kahn, who single-handedly ruined the Knicks’ offseason (and possibly season). To recap:

  • Kahn selected two point guards in the lottery: Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio. Rubio did not want the Wolves to select him. If Kahn decided to go a different route and try to build a balanced team, maybe he would have selected Jordan Hill or DeMar DeRozan or Terrance Williams. But he selected Flynn and Rubio because he thought he could pawn Rubio off as an asset, even though:
    • Rubio holds all the cards, and always will; and
    • Brandon Jennings would be more valuable as a trade chip. I’m not a Brandon Jennings fan, but he’s here, and he’s “producing”.
  • The result of Kahn’s gambit was not only that Ricky Rubio was off the board for the Knicks, but also that Stephen Curry was snatched up by the Warriors. I’m not saying that the Warriors wouldn’t have taken Curry, who was and still is my preference, anyway, but then at least the Knicks could have come away with Rubio.

Obviously the Knicks’ biggest area of need is point guard, so this summer’s events still sting. And yesterday Kahn, whose Timberwolves have a whopping 9 wins this year, was as out of touch as ever when asked about a potential Rubio trade to the Knicks, asking rhetorically:

…what kind of trade can [the Knicks] possibly propose?

Well I’m not sure what kind of offer Kahn is expecting from around the league. Rubio, as mentioned, holds all the cards, and it’s doubtful he’ll ever wear a T-Wolves jersey. And if he only wants to play for a handful of teams, Kahn is going to have to accept the fact that the offers he gets will be limited to the players on those teams. And no, the Lakers aren’t going to gift the Wolves Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum for Rubio.

But whatever. We’ll let Kahn come to the realization that he botched the draft at his own pace. He’ll realize when the best offer he gets for Rubio is Wilson Chandler or Omri Casspi or Yi.

For now, I’ll just take solace in the fact that the Knicks beat the Wolves last night by 27 points.