Tagged: NBA Draft 2009

Donnie Has A lot of Work To Do

Though tonight’s draft was dissappointing on some level, it was far from a failure. True, we didn’t get Stephen Curry (tear) and chances are we won’t end up with Ricky Rubio either. But the Knicks walk away from this draft with the second best big-man available (unless you’re buying into Thabeet) and a pretty underrated combo guard who should be able to provide instant offense and gritty defense off the bench.

Not only that, but Donnie managed to parlay Quentin Richardson, a good locker room guy but a useless player at this stage in his career, into a 24 year old, 7-foot, former second overall pick, total nutbar who’s brimming with untapped potential.

I’m not into handing out grades for drafts right away because the truth is no one will really know the relative value of the players chosen tonight for at least three years (and in some cases maybe more) but, all in all, I feel confident that Donnie didn’t have a bad night. That being said, he didn’t exactly plug every hole on this team either. There’s still a ton of work left to be done during this critical summer if the Knicks are going to make the playoffs and set themselves up to be major players in 2010.

For starters, the Knicks somehow managed to walk away from this draft without a PG of the future despite the fact that (1) the team had two first round picks (one of which was a lottery pick) and (2) PG was by far the deepest position in this draft. We all know why it went down this way but, nevertheless, that’s something that needs to be addressed going forward. The Knicks will not make the playoffs with Duhon logging 35 minutes every night again this season. Whether it’s Ramon Sessions, Steve Nash, Ricky Rubio or whoever, the Knicks need a PG. Period.

Not only that, but the team remains saddled with the contracts of Jared Jeffries and Eddy Curry. Even though the Knicks can presently afford one max free agent, they are still probably going to have unload at least one of those deals to realize their dreams of turning the team into a contender in 2010.

The good news is that there’s a whole lot of offseason left and the Knicks have some pretty marketable assets to work with in trying to balance the roster and address their needs.  It’s clear that both Lee and Nate are coveted by other teams and that the Knicks should be able to parlay those guys into a key starter or two, or at least package them with an albatross contract to clear some more room under the 2010 cap.

Make no mistake though, if the Donnie Walsh era is going to be termed a success, tonight must have only been the beginning. If Donnie doesn’t have any moves up his sleeve this summer that are better than the ones he made during tonight’s draft, the team’s long-term aspirations may go up in smoke.

Frankie Ice Whets Your Appetite

Frank Isola is reporting, as Chad Ford did a few hours ago, that the Knicks and Wolves are working on a swap of picks that would land Stephen Curry in New York. Assuming the Knicks are moving up, Wilson Chandler will almost certainly be part of the price.

Dan and I have been talking about the possibility that this could be what was happening ever since Isola posted his report that the Knicks are targeting Georgetown’s DeJuan Summers at 29. At least on paper, he’d make for a decent Chandler replacement.

Don’t Lose Hope Just Yet

All’s not lost. Two very promising rumors are making the rounds, courtesy of ESPN’s Chad Ford and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:

Chad Ford: Good news, Knicks fans. Timberwolves GM David Kahn may allow the Knicks to have their guy after all.

As we’ve reported, the Wolves are willing to talk about moving the No. 5 and No. 18 picks for either the No. 2 or No. 3 pick in the draft.

But if they can’t get that done, they have a number of other options. We’ve mentioned Ricky Rubio, James Harden, Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry as possibilities. Add Jonny Flynn to that list as well. Sources say the Wolves are strongly considering Flynn with one of their two lottery picks … if Rubio is off the board.

If they take Flynn, chances are they’ll pass on Curry, giving the Knicks a shot at drafting their target.

* * *

Jonathan Givony: With the top two picks likely falling into place in the form of Blake Griffin and Hasheem Thabeet, all eyes are now on Oklahoma City, to see whether they would take Ricky Rubio or James Harden.

Oklahoma City has already reportedly offered Minnesota to trade the #5 and #6 picks for the #3 selection, where Ricky Rubio is sure to be available for the Timberwolves. Oklahoma City appears to be sending out signals that Rubio is the player they covet at #3, although this could very well be a smokescreen to force Minnesota to trade up if they indeed covet Rubio as much as people think.

Another rumor that is making the rounds is that Oklahoma City may be working on a deal with the New York Knicks that would involve drafting Rubio and then shipping him to the Knicks in July in a sign and trade for David Lee. The tricky part would be coming to terms with Lee on an appropriate contract figure before the pick is made, since technically they are not allowed to negotiate, and Lee likely does not yet know what his true value on the open market.

Still, considering his restricted status, and the fact that there are precious few teams with substantial cap space this summer, Oklahoma City could be a very attractive destination for Lee if his agent can reach a handshake agreement with their front office.

In this scenario, the Knicks would likely select Mike D’Antoni’s favorite, Jordan Hill, with the #8 pick. More on that later.

Narrow Paths To Curry Remain

In the wake of the Minnesota/Washington trade, many fans are in a frenzy, perturbed that the Knicks couldn’t trump the Wolves and land the 5th pick and/or reconciling themselves to a future of Jrue Holiday.

Yes, our hopes may have taken a hit but I’m going to play the optimist because I don’t want to give up the Curry dream.

Did the Knicks chances at getting Curry really take the magnitude of damage that some envision? Or is Donnie Walsh’s trademark patience going to pay off again?

Now, the following assumes that Andy Katz is correct and the Wolves don’t move to trade the 5 and 6 for 2. Note that they might not need to move up to get Rubio…

Scenario 1:

1. Griffin

2. Harden/Thabeet

3. Harden/Thabeet

I think the Thunder are happy with Westbrook at 1 as they should be.

4. Jonny Flynn

The Kings are said to be high on him and disappointed with Rubio.

5. Rubio

6. Evans

Curry refused to work out for the Wolves but he would make sense for them, seeing as how the Miller/Foye trade left them completely bereft of shooting.

7. Hill

Golden State’s first choice has been said to be a big, with PG being a fallback option, though Hahn says the Warriors are “salivating” over an Ellis-Curry backcourt.

8. Curry

Scenario 2:

1. Griffin

2. Harden/Thabeet

3. Harden/Thabeet

The Knicks trade 8 and Mobley for 4 and Kenny Thomas. Or 8 and Chandler, or wait and trade 8 and Nate…getting 4 in return. The Kings, reportedly are high on Flynn, and are the only threat to take him in the top 8.

4. Knicks select Stephen Curry or Ricky Rubio.

If the Wolves are really sold on Rubio maybe the Knicks can extort them for the 5th and 6th picks at this point.

5. Rubio

6. Curry/Evans

7. Hill/Curry

8. Flynn

Knicks-Wizards Trade Talk Moot

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports:

The Washington Wizards have acquired Minnesota Timberwolves guards Randy Foye and Mike Miller for Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov and Darius Songaila and the fifth pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, a league executive with knowledge of the deal told Yahoo! Sports.

I’m thinking the Wolves have to be making this deal as a prelude to a trade with Memphis for the second pick. The Wolves are reputed to be dying to move up for Rubio.

Guest Blog: Wilson Chandler, Deal or No Deal?

With the recent tidal wave of speculation surrounding a potential trade whereby the Knicks would send Larry Hughes and Wilson Chandler to the Wizards for the 5th pick in Thursday’s draft and some expiring contracts, it’s definitely important that the Knicks’ braintrust carefully consider the merits of Chandler, since he’s the lone, long-term asset that DW would be sacrificing in the deal. To that end, loyal reader and frequent contributor Italian Stallion posted an awesome (and very comprehensive) evaluation of Chandler’s present day value and his potential going forward that we think is worthy of a separate entry. Without further ado:

Wilson Chandler’s name has been coming up in trade talks with Wizards as part of various deals that include moving up to the #5. Given that Chandler is generally viewed as a key part of our core group, I think it’s important to get clearer view on how good he is now and what his potential is.

There are two schools of thought on Chandler.

1. He’s a very inefficient scorer that is not special at anything else either. The evidence for this is actually extremely strong. Stats guys will point out that his TS%, eFG% and FG% are all quite a bit below average relative to other starting SFs. Basically, in English, he’s not a very good 3 point shooter but shoots a lot if them (a terrible idea). He also rarely uses his athletic ability to get to the free throw line. That’s an extremely significant attribute to be missing. If you draw a lot of fouls you can get 3 points on some easy shots or 2 free throws if you miss (getting 2 free throws is better than most shots because the probability of hitting them is higher than for the average shot – at least for a good free throw shooter). So lacking this is a major downside in his game. All his other stats are about average at best (rebounds, blocks, steals, assists etc…) for a SF.

PER: 12.9 (below the average of 15 for all NBA players, let alone starters)
TS%: .515 (below the average of mid 50s)
3P%: .328 Below th average of about 36% or 37% for starters)

2. All the above is true, but some of his flaws will be very easy to correct because they are mental. He also has the athleticism and work ethic to correct much of the remainder. Last year was basically his rookie year and he finished the year playing at a higher level than he did when he started (rebounding and various shooting stats were higher).

I more or less subscribe the second view.

I think you have to build age, experience, athleticism, work ethic etc.. into any evaluation of a young talent. Some people may overdo it (including some GMs on Thursday night LMAO), but to look at stats alone and/or a player in his current snapshot in time is basically leaving out a major part of the probabilities. That’s a ridiculous way of thinking about things – especially if you are stats and numbers oriented to begin with.

To me Chandler is a MORTAL LOCK to improve if he stays healthy.

It’s going to be easy to teach him how to avoid some of those bad 3 pointers he takes from time to time. It’s also going to be easy to teach him that many of the 2 pointers he takes just inside the arc are especially dumb because they are very difficult low percentage shots, but you only get 2 points for making them (a very dumb idea). So to me, he can improve his scoring efficiency enough to get to a more average level just by tweaking his shot selection.

Second, he HAS the athleticism to get to the hoop and draw fouls. He has demonstrated that ability on many nights. The key is going to be getting him to maintain that level of aggressiveness on a more consistent basis. That will be up to D’Antoni and whether or not he has the proper mental makeup. It’s not a mortal lock, but I think we can expect more.

Third, he was a better shooter last year than the year before and he was better at the end of the season than he was for much of the rest of the season. I think we can expect a little more improvement this year.

Fourth, he clearly has a strong work ethic. The coaches all say so. The players all say so. He has been twittering and saying himself that the recent surgery is going to stop him from working as hard on his game this off season as he wanted to.

Fifth, he’s an above average defender.

Sixth, he’s extremely versatile and can play anywhere from the 2 to the 4 depending on the matchups.

OK, now that I’ve given what I feel is an unbiased look at the pluses, minuses, question marks etc…. it is necessary to determine where he is now and to guess what his potential is.

To me, right now he is clearly a below average starting SF. There’s almost no doubt about that. The stats scream it and he plays in a system that tends to help statistically.

However, given his age, lack of experience, athletic gifts, and the ease with which some of his flaws can be corrected, I think it’s almost certain he can become an above average SG/SF with borderline All-Star possibilities.

So after the first 4 selections of the draft and we get to see who is left at #5, we have to ask whether any of the players available at that point can be as good/better and have the same probability of doing so. The other miscellaneous details (expiring contracts etc…) seem less significant than usual because none of the players mentioned are ever going to be part of the core and I am already sure that Walsh will handle that part correctly.

Knicks Pick Picture Clear As The East River

Only two days until the draft and projections are all over the place:

Hahn says the Knicks are after Curry or Evans.

Vescey says watch for Rubio. NOTE: Vescey also confirms the Knicks are looking to get the 5th pick from Washington for just Hughes and a couple of expirings, but would then, instead of taking two skilled players at different positions, package the two picks for number 2. In the end its a trade of 8 and Hughes for 2. Still a good deal but I think I’d rather have 5 and 8.

Berman says the Knicks are taking a Holiday, or Evans, or Curry, or Hill.

Chad Ford says make way for Jennings, or Holiday…or Evans, or Hill, or Curry, or Rubio.

Wizards Trade Buzz Gaining Steam (UPDATED)

Alan Hahn reported this morning that the Knicks have engaged in some trade discussions with the Wizards concerning Larry Hughes and Jared Jeffries. Evidently Chad Ford is hearing very similar things because he posted the following this evening on ESPN:

Second, the Knicks have had talks with the Wizards about acquiring the No. 5 pick. If the Knicks draft a point guard there, they’d likely go in another direction with their second first-round pick. Their offer was Larry Hughes for Etan Thomas and Mike James and the fifth pick. The Wizards were once high on Hughes and are in the market for a veteran player who can propel the team to a championship right now. They’d save some money in the deal, get a player who could help them … but is that enough for the No. 5 pick?

Frankly, I’d be absolutely floored if Larry Hughes can really net you the 5th pick in the NBA draft, no matter how weak it’s believed to be. If this rumor came to fruition, though, of course I’d be ecstatic. The other day we all discussed permutations of what the Knicks could do with two lottery picks here and here.

This nugget about a Wizards deal was actually a tangent to the main point of Ford’s entry which was to discuss what direction the Knicks might take if they stayed put at 8. This afternoon in his latest mock Ford projected that the Knicks would select Brandon Jennings with the 8th pick (heaven forbid) but is reporting tonight that Jrue Holiday’s second workout, which was held earlier today, went much better than his first. Chad believes that, should primary targets Rubio, Curry, Evans, and Jordan Hill already be gone, Holiday may have overtaken Jennings on the Knicks board and is now very much in the mix to be the pick at 8.

UPDATE: Hahn is still on top of the situation and confirms through multiple sources that the Knicks offer would indeed include Chandler in addition to Hughes. With the 5th pick the Knicks would take Stephen Curry or Tyreke Evans and take Gerald Henderson or DeMar DeRozan with the 8th pick to replace Chandler, unless Jordan Hill is available.

Bad News Brandon – Part 2

I’m definitely disturbed that Chad Ford has Brandon Jennings going to the Knicks in his latest mock draft. You can see more about my Jennings misgivings in “Bad News Brandon” and also here, here, here, here, and here.

I’m not the only one acknowledging the bright red flags waiving conspicuously over Jennings. Here is the latest from HoopsWorld:

Christmas Tree The Psych Test?: Sometimes you hear a story that just too silly to believe, but three league sources have repeated this scenario so it has to be stated – why is Brandon Jennings taking a tumble? Brandon has absolutely killed it in workouts. Two team sources who he worked out for said the kid is an amazing talent. The problem is he’s got some red flags, and the biggest appears to be that he “Christmas Tree’d” the psychological test. Most teams administer a test to determine if they are drafting a kid with significant problems, or kids that have competitive issues in order to determine if they can handle the rigors of professional life in the NBA. Most teams put a lot of weight behind the psych testing; some put a little, some don’t consider it at all. It turns out Jennings may have answered all the questions the same, as one executive said “blowing off the test,” and as you can imagine teams that value that information were not overly pleased. Two teams in the top 6 immediately removed Brandon from consideration upon hearing that news and word is unless Minnesota takes him at #6, he could take a wicked tumble on draft day.

Here is a kid trying to convince serious organizations to invest millions of dollars into him and he approaches the draft process with a cavalier, arrogant attitude, as if the team that drafts him should be honored that he would grace them with his presence.

If a prospective employer is placing emphasis on a psych exam and taking it seriously, shouldn’t Jennings? How many job seekers (outside the egotistical fantasy world that exists inside Jennings’ brain) would treat an interview this dismissively, unless they thought they were somehow entitled to the job without proving that they deserved it?

We already know that Jennings has an aversion to tests, failing to get adequate SAT scores to get into Arizona three times, but the least you can do is try, rather than just selecting A, A, A, A, A, A, A, as your answer to every question. Point guard is a cerebral position, and SSOL requires quick decisions. You don’t want a selfish dunce running the show, but that’s exactly what Jennings is proving himself to be.

I’d take any of the following point guards before Jennings:

Rubio, Curry, Evans (even though he isn’t a true 1), Holiday, Flynn, Lawson, Maynor, Calathes, Teague, Collison.

At least they take their place in the draft process, and team concept, seriously, and treat it with respect. At least they are willing to earn it. They displayed it by going to college when any one of them could have gone to Europe like Jennings so he could “get his”. Jennings went to Europe and was shocked and dismayed that minutes weren’t just given to him, blaming it on the fact that his team is a big-market, established team. Now he wants to run an NBA team and get paid millions of dollars to do it. But has he earned it in Europe? Is he even trying to now?

With so many solid options, I really hope the Knicks don’t wind up with another headcase.

From Around the Knicks-O-Sphere

This morning’s draft rumblings from the beat:

  • Star-Vermin tells us that the Knicks would have interest in Rubio if he slid all the way down to 8th. Earth-shattering stuff. POST EXCLUSIVE?