Tagged: Stephen Curry

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***

As The Warriors’ World Turns, Potential Opportunity Arises For Knicks

As things get uglier in Golden State between the Warriors and Stephen Jackson, you have to believe that the team’s desperation to move him grows. Adrian Wojnarowski notes that the last time the Warriors had to trade a malcontent, the best they got for him was an old John Starks.

So, opportunity presents itself. And while Alan Hahn reminded fans yesterday what The Knicks FanBlog first informed you of in August (that kind of stuff gets lost in the offseason), namely, that any Jackson trade is highly unlikely, if I was Donnie Walsh I’d definitely consider something like this:

It is good for both teams and restores balance to the universe by netting the Knicks and Warriors the players they were supposed to come away with after the draft.

It won’t happen though. It seems that Donnie loves what he sees in Hill, the Knicks seem to be valuing stability and continuity this year, the press and coaches for some reason love Jeffries and his newfound chucking and oldfound turnovers and clumsiness, and the chances of Donnie adding any payroll are nil (while this trade is just about cap neutral for the next 2 years, it may hamper the Knicks’ ability to shell out max dough in 2011).

Walsh: Curry Was Target, Not Rubio

Peter Vescey asked Donnie Walsh who the Knicks would have drafted had they been able to secure the 5th pick in the draft, “Curry or Ricky Rubio?”

“Curry,” he answered without a pause. “Not only is he a great shooter but he can get his shot on anyone. Opponents look at his baby face and figure they can manhandle him. Meanwhile he tore up every top-rated guard he went up against at our workout, including Tyreke Evans, who might be the best player in the draft next to Blake Griffin.”

Thus Donnie confirmed what was obvious to most people who followed the draft.

Curry has reportedly been lighting up Monta Ellis in practice and has impressed Nellie deeply. The Knicks, of course, had to settle for Jordan Hill, who is clearly a project.

Is Rubio Still Worth A Trade?

Now that Ricky Rubio has officially signed with Barcelona, and does not have an opt-out for the next two years, should the Knicks still consider trading for his rights?

Notwithstanding that Knicks GM Donnie Walsh has made it clear that he hasn’t broached the topic of trading for Rubio since the day after the draft, when the Knicks number 1 target, Stephen Curry got snatched up by the Warriors, there have been reports of an unlikely deal that would send David Lee and Nate Robinson (who would both have to agree to long-term deals to go to Minnesota), and a 1st round pick (2012 would be the earliest 1st rounder the Knicks could trade, since teams cannot trade successive first rounders and the Knicks owe the Jazz their pick this year).

Such a trade would be complicated to say the least.

Tommy Dee speculated a more likely cost for Rubio: Wilson Chandler and then some.

Theoretically, these could both still happen, and the Knicks would get Rubio’s rights whenever he decides to come the league (remember Frederic Weis, Fran Vazquez, and Milos Vujanic, who were all drafted but never came). But keeping in mind that the ultimate goal for the Knicks is to sign LeBron James or some other established star in 2010, are either of these deals worth it?

Both would sap talent from the Knicks in a big way with nothing to show for it but an uncertain set of “rights” to a player who will for the next two years risk injury, while attempting to develop overseas. It is pretty much consensus that the Knicks need to show serious improvement and at least be smelling the playoffs come April for a star to consider the squad a team on the rise, and thus an attractive destination. Losing Chandler, or Nate and Lee for the promise of an unproven player in 2 years will not aid the Knicks in that quest.

All of these assets could instead be flipped for something much more useful to helping the Knicks win now, and thus become more enticing to LeBron James or another star in 2010.

What do you think? Is it better to trade Chandler or other assets for Rubio and sit around for 2 years waiting? Or is it better to trade him for something helpful now? Or, should the Knicks just hold onto him?

Post Draft Therapeutic Rant

After waking up with a draft hangover, the chief emotion I felt was anger. I still feel anger. I’m angry at the Warriors and I’m angry at the Wolves. But I have a really strong feeling that the Knicks are going to land Rubio.

First the Wolves:

The Wolves painted themselves into a corner. Kahn was a little too cute for his own good, I think. He traded Miller and Foye to the Wizards, for, essentially Flynn, since it really seems like Rubio doesn’t plan on putting on a T-Wolves uniform any time in the next two years. I think Kahn knew this before hand but he decided to play hard ball. OK, that happens in sports sometimes. But now Kahn has to sell his fan base and his ownership that he made the right move in gutting his team and taking on extra salary, with just Jonny Flynn to show for it.

I’m sure Kahn thought that he had massive leverage by employing the Rubio strategy but that thought should have been fleeting. It should have given way to reality by now. Here’s a scenario…Rubio stays in Spain, the Wolves play Flynn and McCants Wayne Ellington in the backcourt and continue to be awful, having traded away two nice assets for nothing. I’m sure that’s what Kahn wanted out of this draft, and how he wants to start off his tenure.

I’m sure he’s thinking he is going to trade Rubio to the highest bidder. Guess what though Kahn, everyone knows you’re boxed in. If I’m the Knicks, I’m not offering Chandler, and maybe not even Hill. You can have some money and Nate, put him back there with Flynn for a lilliputian backcourt. Maybe I’d throw in a first rounder, protected into the 20s for the next 10 years.

Maybe some other team will beat that offer, but you aren’t going to have 28 other teams clamoring over Rubio, because he can pull the same “I’m staying in Spain for two years” on any team that comes knocking.

I understand that Kahn wanted to make bold moves as he started out his GM career, but he should have toned it down a little. This Rubio move was amateurish and is liable to get a GM fired. When a prospect says, “I don’t want to play for you”, it’s hard to keep your ego in check, just say OK, and move on, but that is what he should have done. I mean, look what happened to the Grizzlies when Francis said he wouldn’t play in Vancouver. How’d the Yi situation play out for Lenny Harris? Kahn is a rookie and he made a bush, rookie move.

Teams set at point won’t want Rubio, and Rubio will direct himself to one of a handful of teams. I’m sure he’d play for the Knicks, and then maybe both LA teams, Sacramento, Miami, Philly, Houston, Dallas, maybe Oklahoma? Maybe Phoenix? He’d report immediately, something he’s been unwilling to do so far in Minnesota.

Also check out this column.

Even Jennings gets into the act, via Twitter…”What is the T-wolves gon do with all those Guards. about 10 hours ago from Sidekick”

I don’t know Brandon…I don’t know what is they gon do.

Jon: He only has a sidekick?

Now the Warriors:

The Warriors have been dysfunctional for about 24 out of the last 25 years, but with Nelson, they’ve just been insane. Seems to me like they have 8 guards and 4 forwards or something like that. Commentators have said Curry is going to play for an “offensive genius”. It’s funny though, for a genius Don Nelson sure seems like a freaking moron, and sure seems to lose a ton of games. Curry, we really wanted you here. Maybe some day. For now try not to be discouraged as you’re directed to run around in circles playing small forward out on the court with Ellis, Jackson, Maggette and Kelenna Azubuike.

God I hate the Warriors.

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.

Knicks Talking Trade With Thunder for 3rd Pick?

[via @ AlanHahn]

According to The Racine Journal Time’s Gery Woelfel, the same source who broke a possible promise from the Warriors to Stephen Curry (a scenario Hahn acknowledged the Warriors are “salivating” over), the Knicks are in trade discussions with the Thunder for the 3rd overall pick. They’ll have to compete with Minnesota, which is offering up the either the 5 or 6, coupled with 18 for the 3, according to Chad Ford.

What could the Thunder possibly want from the Knicks if not the 8th pick and Chandler? Another option is a later swap of the 8th pick and Nate or Lee, but both of these restricted free agents would have to agree to go from New York City to Oklahoma City for such a deal to work.

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

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.