Draft Day Trade Lacks Direction

Shortly after ESPN announced Zach Randolph was traded to the Knicks, a commenter named Harlan said

“are we really getting upset by dumping frye and francis and getting someone who put up 26 and 10, we have a huge lineup now who can score, they cant double team either and randolph has an outside jumpshot.”

Yes, Harlan. Some of us are really getting upset.

If you asked Knick fans what their team’s main weaknesses are, I would suspect most would say: defense, turnovers, injuries, and cap space. Unfortunately for New York, Zach Randolph doesn’t address any of these issues. Randolph is an awful shot blocker, his 0.2 blk/40 last year made Eddy Curry (0.6 blk/40) look like Raef LaFrentz (1.2 blk/40). As for turnovers, Randolph’s 3.5 to/40 would be second on last year’s Knick team behind only Eddy Curry. There’s no doubt that injuries sunk the Knicks late in the season, and Randolph won’t address that need as he has missed an average of 17.5 games each season over his 6 year career. Finally Zach’s large contract will haunt the Knicks for years to come. Next year he’ll make a little over $13M, and it escalates to $17M in 2011. New York could have conceivably been under the cap in 2009, but notions of signing a free agent have now gone out the window for 4 years.

As for what was given up, it’s no secret that I’ve soured on Channing Frye this year. Frye seemed to be uncomfortable on the court, and it’s uncertain exactly what caused it. However he did flash some talent his first year, and trading him this early in his career could haunt the Knicks in the future. Only last year did Isiah make a “no-brainer” trade involving a young player for a seemingly better veteran that is eerily similar to this deal. Lamentably Trevor Ariza blossomed for the Orlando Magic, while Steve Francis wilted in New York.

On the court this upcoming year, I’m dubious that this trade will make New York better. I imagine Randolph will start next to Curry, relegating David Lee to the bench. This is unfortunate since Lee was arguably the Knicks best player last year. Randolph is a strong scorer and rebounder, but Lee is more efficient and one of the top rebounders in the league. Neither Curry nor Randolph pass well out of double teams, so expect the Knicks’ to cough up the ball even more next year. Additionally one has to wonder if Randolph will make Curry less effective, since both players are post up players who require the ball to be effective. Lee’s “low usage plays away from the ball” game seems to better complement Curry. Of course this trade doesn’t address New York’s defensive weakness, their greatest liability, at least in any positive manner.

In the end, I’m saddened that Isiah didn’t address New York’s most crucial needs at the power forward spot with his trade. Isiah Thomas makes the same mistakes over and over again. He sacrifices young talent (sometimes in the form of draft picks) for overpriced players who show little aptitude on the defensive end. As a friend remarked, Thomas seems to be a fantasy basketball GM, getting players who have flashy offensive per-game numbers with little thought of how they fit together. Unfortunately, New York needs an NBA GM with a cohesive plan on building a team.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

95 thoughts to “Draft Day Trade Lacks Direction”

  1. Right on Mike K. It’s almost like Isaiah is sitting in his office saying, OK last years team +24 point and 10 rebounds per game= Major Improvement, and not understanding that Randolph fits awkwardly into the Knicks puzzle of already awkwardly assembled talent.

  2. Curry on the right block, Randolph on the left block, Marbury driving up the middle, no exceptional 3 point shooters. Can you say spacing problems. (and offense is where this trade is supposed to add th emost incremental improvement)

  3. Demetrious Nichols from Syracuse is a late addition to this deal. He answers some of our need for a three point shooter. 7 threes in a game against UCONN this year and 3rd all time in 3 pointers for the ‘Cuse. Very underrated player, ask any Orangemen fan. I think this is a key part to the trade. If we can get some outside shooting out of this kid it will go a long way.

  4. I don’t like this trade either (for all the reasons above) but there has to be more to it. Even Zeke realizes he’s got too many contracts. Maybe Chandler and/or Nichols to the D-league or another trade. Steve D might be right, Nichols could prove to be the best part.

  5. Nichols a Knick. That’s the best news from that front since they picked John Wallace (and then Van Gundy let him rot on the bench when they needed someone who could create a shot desperately).

  6. The Knicks need the most defence and passing. Precisely what Randolph is unable to do.
    Fortunately Francis is out but Randolph doesn’t seem to be mentally balanced too

  7. Overall, I happened to have liked it. There are a few differences with the Francis trade as Randolph is coming off one of his better years while Francis was already precipitously declining. Ariza was also a lot younger than Frye who’s already in his mid 20s. There is some hope for Frye but I’m not sure if there is a good track record for folks who declined so badly from a solid rookie campaign coupled with low FTA and low rebounding #s from the 4/5 spot. I doubt he’ll emerge from the now loaded frontcourt that the blazers have but I’m still rooting for him.

    From a talent standpoint, this is a MUCH clearer win for us. How this fits is anyone’s guess and I agree it’s going to be a challenge if not a problem. But it’s an easier problem to have than say having to start Lee or Frye and then bring the other off the bench while also giving signficant minutes to someone like Malik Rose and Jerome James. With Zach, I think there’s enough room for all three to play 30+ minutes which I think is a net positive in the end.

  8. If Zeke’s going to make another trade, how about Curry, Crawford, and RBlackman, Jones and Dickau for Kobe? It gives the Lakers some real value (they can trade Bynum for more) and we end up with Kobe and Randolph. O.K. I’m going to wake up now.

  9. Even though he’s not a classic small forward by any means, the Knicks definitely seem to do well when Lee is starting and/or playing significant minutes at the SF spot.

  10. This trade has disaster written all over it, for reasons well explained here, and in the draft night thread. But let’s look on the bright side. Here are some rationalizations that I might be able to buy:

    – Channing Frye will be a washout. The odds aren’t bad. He’s four years older than Ariza was, so that “upside” isn’t there. He might turn out to be a decent player but no one will ever say. “why oh why did we trade Channing Frye?.”

    – Our post-2009 cap room was a mirage. Assuming we sign Lee to an extension, it would probably require dumping three of these contracts: Curry, James, Jeffries, Richardson and Crawford – who in 2010 will make a combined $50 million-plus. Good luck with that. So, the cap penalty of signing Randolph is probably one year, not two.

    – The Randolph-Curry pairing would be an on-court disaster, but they both have real trade value. I could see the Lakers taking one, in a deal for Bynum. They’re desperate to appease Kobe. Or the next time the big names come up, we might find ourselves in contention.

  11. This trade is like the pairing of Marbury and Francis last year. Two duplicative players with similar skill sets who will not be able to mask eachother’s weaknesses. Between Curry, Randolph and Lee, who will contribute to interior defense?

    On the other hand, at least he didn’t give up any draft picks.

  12. p.s. I don’t think Lee works at the small forward spot, just because of defense. He’s fine in the post but way too slow to guard a perimeter player.

    It’s ok maybe a few minutes a game, just to play with having a huge front line.

    The best mix of minutes would probably be Curry at 25mpg, Randolph and Lee playing 35-40. That way Zach and Eddie don’t play together. Lee would play a handful of minutes at the 3, Balkman would get most of the rest.

  13. Randolph is consistently above 10 rebounds a game, and is unquestionably starting material – that isn’t an improvement over last year? It’s not like even if Lee was starting he was a standout defensive player …

    And Trevor Ariza “blossomed”? Into what? A pretty good backup to Hedo Turkoglu?

  14. How can anyone be upset with this trade???

    We traded noting for something and people have an issue because we didn’t solve all of our problems in a single move? Because we traded a no offense, no defense no rebounding PF for a rebounding and scoring PF? Because we traded a 2 year contract on a bad player for a 4 year contract on a good player? Because we pick up a couplpe of expiring contracts and now will be forced to make another trade which of course will be bad too? Boo hoo hoo.

    Being a fan should mean at least a small attempt to see the positive but for some reason being a Knicks fan means a desperate search for how to feel sorry for yourself?…or worse yet to root against the team and pretend you are a fan? Weak!

  15. When Lee/Randolph duo is on the court together, who plays center? Or will neither of them play center and Lee will move to SF with Curry/Morris/James at center?

    Speaking of small forward, we have a logjam there. Richardson, Jeffries, Balkman, “the brother from DePaul” (as Spike called him) and Nichols. I guess a few can play the 2 as well, and we’re a bit thin at that area (we only have 3 guards). It’s unlikely that Lee will see any extra playing time at the 3.

  16. What about the following blurb.. is anyone concerned?

    The 25-year-old Randolph’s career has been littered with trouble, generally involving guns and violence. In 2004, he was arrested for driving under the influence and was also accused by police of lying in an investigation involving his brother, who allegedly shot three men at an Indiana nightclub. And in 2002, Randolph was suspended by the Blazers after he punched former teammate Ruben Patterson during practice and broke his eye socket.

    This past season, Randolph requested a three-game bereavement leave to attend the funeral of his girlfriend’s cousin in his home state of Indiana, but it was later discovered he was at a strip club in Portland. And last fall he was sued for assault and also sued for sexual assault, though no charges were filed.

  17. Maybe this is just one trade with another to follow. I think Isiah should trade Randolph and/or Crawford,Nate to the Sonics for Lewis and Chris Wilcox. This satisfies both teams needs. Sonics need a low post presence and a replacement for Ray Allen, and the Knicks need outside shooting and a pf that doesnt need the ball, runs the floor well rebounds and blocks shots. Between Wilcox and Lee knicks would be set at pf for years to come.

  18. If I remember right, the sexual assault lawsuit involved Zach and some friends bringing strippers up to a hotel room to “perform” – police didn’t believe the complainants story.

  19. I’ve been an Isiah supporter since day one. But like any true Knick fan, I’ve started to get critical of his decisions. Yes, great talent evaluator, I don’t doubt him. But he lacks the ability to put together a team. Talent without direction is not a team. This trade is the tipping point in my viewing of Isiah. I do not believe he should be running our team.

    At first glance, we were all Spike Lee. We gave up a two guys who played limited to no role for us last year for a 20/10 offensive beast, a decent shooting guard, and change (I know nothing about that Cuse guard, but I still believe in Isiah’s talent evaluation).

    Randolph is a great young-ish talent. But this trade, like all of Isiah’s, is short-sighted. What’s the rush into making this trade? The risk of not obtaining Randolph? That’s not really a big deal to me. I think we should have stayed pat. If the concept is building a team around Curry (who I really like), then how does this fit in? We need a defensive rebound and block machine who can hit an outside shot. Randolph brings half of that at a large price.

    Nobody knows how good David Lee can be. Although I love him, I personally think Knick fans greatly overvalue him because he has such good character on and off the court (and he’s white, but that’s another story).

    What if Lee develops into an all-star caliber forward? Not likely, in my opinion, but possible. I think it’s probable that he will become a starting forward on a winning team. What if he develops that outside shot and learns how to play help defense, and betters his blocking ability? Granted, this is all speculation and risk taking, but isn’t that how GMs are supposed to act?

    Anyway, if Lee develops into the player we all believe he’s going to be, then where’s his playing time (or Balkman’s, for that matter)? And when it comes time to resign him, are we (or can we) shell out the money for Lee to be Randolph’s backup? And do you think Lee is going to want to stick around in this situation?

    And I think Channing Frye just had a down year, and will bounce back. He can hit that outside shot, rebound a little, and get some blocks. That’s great to have next to Curry. But I’m most concerned about Lee.

    All in all, this trade was stupid. I personally was confused as to what I should feel when I heard about it. I wasn’t Spike Lee, but I also wasn’t Bill Simmons. After some time to think, I believe that this trade sucked. We should have waited it out and seen what we have. It improves us in the short run, but at the expense of something long-term.

  20. Realistically, superstar athletes usually get into the most trouble in smaller cities sort of a big fish in a small pond scenerio. I believe if the Knicks keep Randolph he will be ok. He has to understand the media is different in NY than Portland he would get picked apart there.

  21. Emac2 sounds like the type who thinks Danny Ainge just needs one more year of developing young talent to make the Celtics Eastern contenders. Blind faith…

    I’m pessimistic on the deal as well…why do we need another low post threat who can’t defend or pass? Great, let’s double post every time downcourt and hope Z-Bo and Curry score as much as they give up on D.

    That being said, Fred Jones is a nice bench player at SG and Dicakau comes off the books in a year. Which means we’ll trade him for Jamaal Tinsley.

  22. Starting 5

    Balkman or Lee

    Bench (in order or rotation)
    Balkman or Lee

    D League – Chandler (I dont think this would actually happen)

    Im definitly a little worried that Zeke will feel the need to play his personal acquisition of Jefferies over Lee and Balkman. Honestly I admit I bought into the hype of Jefferies being a 6’10 4 position defender, but just didnt see it last year. I’m also worried that Zeke will continue to play Crawford undeserving minutes.

    I think we can have a pretty competitive team if Zeke can figure out the rotation because that seems to be my main pet peeve with him so far. Him playing favorites. Hopefully like someone said earlier we can make a trade with our assets for Bynum, or what does everyone think about possibly gettin involved in trying to bring Camby back to NY. It is possible?

  23. Emac2,
    The Knicks are a combined 128-200 over the last 4 seasons (winning just 39% of the time). Are you seriously wondering how Knick fans can be pessimistic? Not questioning the front office at this point would be unreasonable.

  24. By the way, I agree with Alex: we need to play David Lee alot more to see what we have…will he develop a deep jumper and better defense? We don’t want to lose him in free agency and watch him turn into a great starter/borderline all-star.

  25. I think Isiah pulled off a good trade…not strictly a low-post guy like Curry, he has an excellent mid-range game that compliments Curry and opens things up in the middle for David Lee to operate!

  26. I’d like to say that David Lee isn’t just a prospect; he’s already a terrific player. Pretty much every basketball sabermetrician – the guys and gals who analyze stats – would say that David Lee played at an all-star level last year. Dave Berri at WOW actually ranked him as the best player in the league.

    You don’t have to be that enthusiastic – I’m not -but there’s good reason to think that he was one of the top 5 or 6 power forwards in the NBA. The main caution would be that it was only for about 50 games. I’d need to see another full season before thinking he’s really on that level. But it’s closer than many here realize. I’m also very excited to see if he develops more of a jumper, and gets stronger on defense (though I don’t think he’s bad, now). I think I’m speaking for many here when I say – I just hope Isaiah realizes what he has, and doesn’t trade it for an overpaid semi-star like Lewis.

    One thing about this roster – there’s a lot of depth. It’s realistic that we might be able to trade for a Bynum-level young player, using our established (and overpaid) veterans as bait – for a team like the Lakers that desperately needs veteran help ASAP. I’d put Houston in that category, if they had anyone we’d want. Maybe the Clippers (what would you risk for Shaun Livingston right now?), or Dallas (Devin Harris?), or Golden State (Ellis, Biedrins?). Miami, although they don’t have anyone we’d want except maybe Daeqon Cook.

    Since we’re capped out anyway through 2011, we could take back contracts along with the hotshot on a rookie deal.

  27. Isiah justified the Marbury deal, saying “if we were under the cap, we would use our cap room to sign a player like Marbury, so what’s the difference” (not a direct quote). I accepted that reasoning then.

    But now, after Isiah had declared no new long term contracts with ’09 as a goal to be under the cap, I have to ask that if Randolph was a free agent in ’09 (if only), would Isiah really sign him with his cap space?

    I was critical of the trade when I heard it. But now I will hold out hope that this is an outside-the-box piece to a bigger picture I don’t get (possibly a move that makes Eddy Curry no longer untouchable for a real franchise player.

  28. I’m with Sam. This is a total upgrade of player, and any hope of the Knicks getting under the cap was false – just like any chance of them not re-signing a guy like David Lee. How did Frye possibly have this much value for Portland?

  29. I read in the paper the trade got a standing O from the draft crowd. Wow. They boo Balkman, get elated over Lampe, and now a standing O for Zach Morris. Interesting(ly sad).

  30. For Portland, it’s a good deal because they won’t be paying Randolph (or any huge salary) after 2009. They can sign someone who’s not just a pretty good player but actually worth max money. The only reason I don’t say “great” deal is because they might have done better than Frye.

    In the meantime, they don’t give up much by giving ZR’s minutes to Aldridge.

  31. Lee doesn’t block shots or play defense either.

    Randolph or Lee can play center against most centers in th east.

    It’s fine to be a bit pessimistic but when you trade a penny for a silver doller you really shouldn’t complain that it takes up more room in your pocket.

    Who is our low post scorer if Curry is injured? Isn’t that something you should have if you are building your team around inside scoring as your primary option?

    We have 96 minutes a game at PF/C and 32 minutes each for Lee, Randolph and Curry seems to fit really well yet some here think we have too many players?

    I like the idea of two guys who can get 10 boards a game.

    I like the idea of 2 post scorers that demand a double team.

    I like depth that allows you to survive if you have injuries.

  32. This trade is frighteningly reminiscent of most of Isiah’s previous “big” trades. Key young player, often the centerpiece of a young team, traded to the Knicks for nothing (other than Curry and the two lottery picks). What happens next. Knicks still sub-500 lottery team. The trade partner improves significantly despite the absence of the “stars” from last year. Maybe Zech Randolph will be the guy to break the string, Marbury, Crawford, Curry, Francis. Somehow I doubt it. You have to be very sceptical when a team gives you a supposed “all star” for essentially nothing.

    As for Randloph being able to mesh, my understanding was that he slowed the Portland offense to a crawl when he was on the court. I’m not sure how that makes this team more uptempo and athletic. It seems like the blueprint changes depending on the move.

    It’s not all potentially bad, Fred Jones could be the steal of the deal if last season was just an aberration.

  33. BTW – I hate the lions and Celts – Love the Steelers.

    We now have 6 mil in expiring deals and enough depth to trade some pretty good players. I expect to see another significant trade instead of buying out the two extra players we have now.

    Jeffries has supposedly been looking very good this summer.

  34. this is an odd deal, but this…

    “Only last year did Isiah make a ?no-brainer? trade involving a young player for a seemingly better veteran that is eerily similar to this deal. Lamentably Trevor Ariza blossomed for the Orlando Magic, while Steve Francis wilted in New York.”

    is a terrible comparison. Randolph is less than 2 years older than Frye, and just had the best year of his career at 25. Francis was clearly washed up already when Brown insisted on acquiring him.

  35. The truth never gets in the way of a good Knick bashing!

    Long live Charlie Ward and a team that couldn’t jump high enough to touch the basket.

  36. I think the knicks did an excellent job on draft day.There are negatives with Zach Randolph but the positives out weight them.You are getting a another guy that demands a double-team out of the low post.Chandler can score at the small forward position.Nichols is the key to this draft because of his three point shooting.Morris Randolph would have been a first rounder if he was in this draft.Fred Jones is a nice player coming off the bench to rest Marbury.The knicks have a chance to make other moves this summer.I really like the moves and the coaching staff have to fit the pieces together.grade A+

  37. I’m all for depth, but not for redundancy of roles and players that CAN’T succeed together at the same time. See: Francis and Marbury, 2006-2007.

    Lee and Curry work together. Lee and Randolph might too. But I don’t see Curry and Randolph being effective… Neither moves well around the perimeter, neither can face up and score.

    One caveat: Randolph has a better mid range jumper. If he can float off Curry for jumpers (like Frye should have) or cut from the weak side for a layup it could work, assuming Curry learns to pass from the post.

  38. the things that u say the knicks need to address: defense, turnovers, injuries and cap: the only one that frye addresses is cap since he doesn’t make a lot compared to other people on our roster. i don’t think he turned the ball over a lot either but he is HORRIBLE defensively and missed most of the last part of his rookie year. he doesn’t rebound so randolph addresses that need and he is at the very least on the same level defensively as frye. its not like we traded ben wallace (defense, rebounding, shot blocking) for randolph. we traded a less effective score only PF for a WAY more versatile scoring and rebounding star, not potential: STAR. time will tell if the chemistry works out, but it is obvious that this was a good trade and if you think that Frye will turn out to be a 20-25 point 10-12 rebound a game performer behind Oden and Aldridge, its not going down. Also if we pull of the sign-and-trade of crawford, nate rob and randolph morris (mainly crawford and whoever else they want outside starters and d lee) for rashard lewis! now we’re really talking about a SERIOUS eastern conference contender. The way I see it, you can’t cry for the knicks to make a trade and then kill them when they do. This was the best possible move they could make in getting another solid low-post guy without trading the key components of the team and they werent gonna get Kobe, KG or Jermaine O’Neal without giving up David Lee and Curry and they didnt want to do that. You gotta be willing to take risks and I say that we should just give this trade a chance and it may grow on us. By the way, I live like 15 minutes from where Wilson Chandler played high school ball in Benton Harbor, MI. Trust me this guy is a real deal player. Your gonna love his athletiscm, ball handling for his size, versatility, mid range J, and ability to guard multiple positions. In a couple of years if he’s still with us, he’s gonna make a huge impact. Thanks for your time.

  39. Does anyone know if we can trade our salary obligtation to Jerome Williams? We’re paying him almost $8 million this coming season, under the amnesty plan (“the Allan Houston plan”) from the last collective bargaining agreement. If that’s tradeable… we have $14 million in expiring salaries; that’s a great trade asset.

    p.s. speaking of weird salary games – did anyone else notice that the Warriors got a $10 million trade exception by shipping Richardson to Charlotte? That will land another big-time player this summer, or next season. They had a nice draft, too. Maybe that playoff run was only a warm-up.

  40. Chandler is intriguing. Isiah does know his young college talent. But for some reason, once Isiah looks at the NBA, I think his radar goes loony.

    Its a shame we cant combine Balkman’s defense with Chandler’s offense into one player, Renaldo Chandler.

  41. Matt – Do you really think the problem with Francis is that he is too much like Marbury? I know that is often printed but it ignores most of Francis’ real problems. I happen to like redundancy. Not only is it nice to have more than one double double guy it is nuts to build a team that doesn’t have redundancy for it’s most important pieces.

    I think the keys are that while Randolph might not be the perfect fit he has some very valuable skills and we didn’t give up anything to get him. Randolph has been available for a year and Zeke waited because he wanted a better fit. Guess what, We couldn’t get a better fit and it’s better to make this deal than to do nothing at all.

  42. “it?s better to make this deal than to do nothing at all.”

    Unfortunately, that’s Isaiah’s philosophy. The problem, as usual, isn’t that Randolph is a bad player, or that he isn’t an improvement over Frye, or might help improve the Knicks slightly. The problem is that he costs so much, we probably lose the ability to bring in a player who would make us a 55- or 60-win team – instead of having the guy who tips us over .500.

    The best hope is that we have enough trade assets to sucker some other desperate team into another trade, for a genuine prospect or a veteran who fits better with a shorter contract.

  43. I’m not ready to hammer this trade just yet, not at all. I’m not ready to give it an uncritical “hallelujah” but after sleeping on it I wouldn’t describe it as directionless. I agree that it doesn’t address the team’s fundamental weaknesses but sometimes the market doesn’t allow you to do that.

    The one player out there who would obviously address NY’s weaknesses is J.O. But Indiana is bound and determined to turn him into Bynum & Odum, rightfully so. For all practical purposes J.O. is as much of a pipe dream as KG. What other C/PF is a real possibility who could have been had for Frye and Francis? Probably the best alternative case to make is for Rasheed Wallace but I don’t think Detroit is gonna break up that core until after this season (unless they don’t re-sign Billups).

    I thought Martin Johnson laid out the context exactly right last week. The rest of the division is getting significantly better and will likely easily offset any of NY’s gains from natural maturity from Lee, Robinson, Collins, and Balkman. I don’t think this offseason is one of those cases where the wisest course of action is to sit tight.

    Isiah’s m.o. of adding big contracts for so-called upgrades in the past has bothered me most a) when he should have left well-enough alone (e.g., Marbury, Tim Thomas, Crawford) and b) when he’s been seduced by size or athleticism rather than functionality (e.g., signing “Big snacks” rather than Earl Watson).

    I don’t think I can make either of those criticisms of this deal. I totally disagree with the sentiment that Randolph and Curry are a poor fit, at least offensively. In fact, Randolph makes sense considering *where* he scores–basically in the same area as Frye. The big misconception about Z-bo is that he’s a post-up player. He’s a mid-range jump shooter (59% of is FGAs) who *can* post-up. He also has a knack for getting to the FT line (7.9 per 40 last year, 5.9 career). He’s precisely the offensive player we hoped Channing Frye might develop into. Although it’s true that Randolph is no great passer he’s not very turnover prone at all when looking at rate stats. He had the 5th highest usage rate in the league last year (30.2) but among true frontcourt players only ‘Melo (10.7) had a lower turnover rate than Z-bo’s 11.6. There’s almost no way Randolph has a usage rate in the 30s in NY so he almost certainly improves the turnover problem.

    Defensively, Randolph is no upgrade but he’s not a downgrade over Lee. Both have the same career defensive rating (107); they get about the same number of steals and blocks per 40 (Lee is 0.2 per 40 better at each). Lee is clearly the superior rebounder, though both are good. (Lee’s advantage in this area however is almost completely offset by the difference in turnovers.) Randolph is slightly less foul prone (3.1 per 40 to 3.9).

    I’m agnostic about this deal. There are some clear negatives. I want to know what Isiah plans to do with Lee–play him more minutes at SF and just go big? I’m obviously leery of the cap ramifications, though I have some sympathy for the notion that Randolph is the kind of player who should age reasonably well and have value toward the end of his deal. On the other hand, there are enough positives for me to not denounce it and say, “let’s see how it plays out on the court.”

  44. and, yeah, the idea of redundancy being a huge problem is somewhat overrated. Utah just made the Western Conference Finals with a team of all PFs (Boozer, AK, Okur, Millsap) and PGs (Williams, Fisher). the problem with Francis wasn’t so much that he was redundant with Marbury, it was that he was awful and a cancer (no matter what the silly stats say).

  45. Great post, Dave. If Randolph ends up taking minutes from Curry, I think it will be a clear upgrade. Unfortunately, I suspect he will end up taking minutes from Lee – which is is not a recipe for improvement.

    It’s true that that the Atlantic division will be out of Titanic territory next year – it’s actually shaping up as one of the better divisions in the league. I just don’t think that should play a big role in decisions that affect our long-term future – the divisions barely matter anyway, and the relative strength of various teams can change fast.

    re: on-court chemistry, it’s a bizarre mix of players. All the money and emotion is loaded onto two big, slow guys, while virtually everyone else on the roster needs to play a fast, up-and-down style. There are several great open court players but no one who can shoot.

    Still, I’m willing to see what happens.

  46. Caleb – It looked to me like big time players were beginning to take the Knicks off their wish list. 2 more years of waiting for the cap space to sign the player you talk about with no guarantee that he will come isn’t a risk the team could take with the fans attitude. It’s way to much of a risk for my tastes.

    The complainers forced this trade and should accept the harvest they have sown.

  47. I really can’t believe I didn’t see this coming. It was so Isiah.

    I think the Francis trade is a pretty good comparison.

    One big difference is that Penny was fairly worthless on the court. While I think Francis was always fairly useless, he could shine in a limited role with Cleveland or Houston. I’m not looking forward to watching him play deep into the playoffs for the next several years, then getting to watch Frye win several titles as one of the best backup bigs in the league with Oden, Roy, Aldridge, and co.

    I’m not totally against this deal. I mean I am and this is a team that I’m going to have a very hard time routing for, but I think the Knicks have a real shot at making the playoffs next season and maybe being a top 10 offense in the league. As soon as we have our own draft pick we’ll probably make the playoffs.

    Randolph actually came into the league with a reputation as a point forward. If he doesn’t mind taking less shots he could help both Curry and Marbury (I really think he needs a playmaker/point forward in the frontcourt) a lot. I think the biggest thing with him is to get him to mature off the court.

    The reason I hate this deal doesn’t have much to do with Randolph, more to do with it further commiting the team’s future to a nucleus of Curry and Crawford.


    All of Utah’s PFs have very different skill sets. It’s not a problem to have depth at a position, nor is it a problem if your redundancies are generally desirable (defense, shooting, rebounding).
    It’s a problem when you have 5 PGs who all dribble too much, take bad shots at a piss poor %, don’t play much D, and don’t run an offense very well. Or when both of your big men play no D, tend to show up for camp out of shape and overweight, and need/demand the ball and shots to be effective.


    People are complaining because the Knicks are losing and have deproved since Layden’s last year.
    I don’t really think luring free agents to NY would be a problem, just a month ago JO was demanding to be traded here. That said, you don’t have to go out and overspend ion big time free agents to take advantage of cap space.

  48. It looks like Zeke also picked up Demetris Nichols from the Blazers for the Knicks second round pick next year. Any thoughts?

  49. The only reason big-time players weren’t clamoring to play in New York is that we can only offer $5 million per. At least Randolph is young, and realistically, only extends our capped-out years from 2010 to 2011.

    On a larger point, I think management and the media wildly overestimate fans’ impatience. What drives us up the wall are moves which give away the future for a best-case scenario of maybe 45 or 50 wins. Call it the Layden plan.

    I’m not saying this trade is a guaranteed fiasco -with 17 players, lots of intriguing (if mismatched) talent, expiring contracts, etc… the situation is intriguing.

  50. “People are complaining because the Knicks are losing and have deproved since Layden?s last year.”

    Wow! That is so wrong I don’t even know what to say.

    You don’t have to sign a big time free agent to take advantage of cap space but Caleb was talking about passing on Randolph to get a player who get’s us to 55 wins. You don’t think he was referring to a big time free agent?

  51. I think players don’t want to play here because of the fans and the media.

    Randolph and Curry and both very quick young frontcourt players who require a double team to slow down. Think about the slow centers in the league – There are plenty – and tell me if you really think Curry and Randolph fit that mold.

  52. “I think players don?t want to play here because of the fans and the media.”

    dude, everyone wants to play here. if we ever had cap space, you’d see.

  53. Big-time players tend to move via trades more often than free agency, but it doesn’t really matter – cap space is a huge advantage. In a trade, if you can absorb the big contract, you have a big advantage over teams that can’t. You can take on a star-level player, without giving up one of your own. Plus, players and their agents are able to steer themselves to teams of choice – it’s almost a version of free agency.

    Either way there’s no guarantee you’ll get who you want – but every year a lot couple of guys go on the market, and New York is a choice destination.

  54. Emac,

    Win total in 2006/7: 33

    Win total in 2002/3: 37

    2006/7 Offense: 17th in NBA
    Defense: 24th in NBA
    2002/3 Offense: 13th in NBA
    Defense: 24th in NBA

    I’m pretty sure that’s not wrong.

  55. Players want to go to NY because they expect to get the biggest deal. The idea of this being a basketball mecca that is a huge draw for all of the players is a media fabrication….at least at this point.

    I totally agree that cap space has a lot of advantages. I just don’t think the advantages are worth another 2 years of losing and of young players getting beat up by the media and fans. We have a good crop of young players who will be ruined with continued losing. It’s time to start winning and in order to do that we need to be better protected from injury than we were last year. we now have excellent depth at every position and this year of Lee and Crawford go down we wont lose a beat as opposed to last year when those injuries pretty much ended our playoff hopes.

  56. “I totally agree that cap space has a lot of advantages. I just don?t think the advantages are worth another 2 years of losing and of young players getting beat up by the media and fans.”

    It’s a matter of opinion, but I don’t think Randolph makes a huge difference. Without him, I think we’re about a .500 team this year. With him, maybe a few games better.

  57. I have to comment because frankly I’m getting a little sick of this. The Randolph trade is a GREAT trade. You got a 26 yr old, 24 and 10 power forward in exchange for a “soft” PF with no ‘back to the basket’ game. In addition you got somebody to take Steve Francis off your books and team. Isiah needs to be applauded. This is a steal. For everybody that is saying that they should package for KG or Kobe. C’mon give me a break KG averaged 2 points less per game and 3 more rebounds but is six years older. You wanna trade 3 players for a 32yr old PF when you just got a 26 yr old stud. As for those of you that want Kobe. Great player yes, selfish player yes (you guys think randolph is not gonna pass the ball go watch a laker game.)
    As for the extra players atleats two of these four players will not be on the team next year Dickau, Jerome James, Malik Rose,and Fred Jones. Balkman is not getting traded. Isiah is so very proud of that pick. Thomas staed b4 the draft that Chandler is a project, look for him to get PT 2 years down the road. He’s gonna ride the bench and develop. Praise Isiah he deserves it.

  58. Is there any package we could put together that could put us in the running for garnett or kobe?

    possibly curry or randolph along with lee, jefferies or balkman & crawford??

    I’m not sure if that would be enough quality in return for one of the best players in the league but what do you all think?

  59. From John Hollinger’s scouting report on ESPN’s Player profile; its from a year ago, so can anyone with League pass update Z-Bo’s game? See below:

    “Randolph has earned a reputation as a me-first guy because of his inability or unwillingness to pass out of double-teams. He’s not as bad about this as he was a couple of seasons ago, but he’s still basically a black hole on offense — the ball comes in but rarely goes back out.

    Defensively, Randolph will always be a liability because he’s not particularly quick or athletic. He doesn’t have the size or leaping ability to challenge shots around the rim, and opponents run a steady diet of screen-and-rolls at him to take advantage of his mediocre agility. That said, his effort level at that end of the floor could improve considerably.”

    So, I think he’s sneaky quick on offense, but laterally slow (on defense) and overall, not a “quick” forward. In terms of passing out of the post, his 2.2 assists per game last year don’t seem to really jump out as point forward material. That being said, he’s an upgrade over Frye (who didn’t lock anyone down on defense either).

  60. Caleb –

    If you assume that you need 3 people to take the PF/C minutes you basically picked up Randolph to take the minutes from Frye, James and Rose.

    You think replacing those guys with a 20-10 power forward is only good for 2 or 3 extra wins next year? I have to ask why/how???

    I think Randolph is worth at least a half a dozen more wins. I think the added experience the team has is worth a half dozen and I think the redundancy we didn’t have last year will keep injuries from taking the 5-10 wins they took last year.

    We should easily make the playoffs this year.

  61. well, assuming we go into the season with this team, which as I’ve said I don’t think is the case, I’d guess we don’t make the playoffs. working in Randolph to the offense will take 30-40 games, and plenty of other teams are improved also. of the other teams who missed the playoffs in the East, Charlotte, Atlanta, Boston all made major acquisitions yesterday also, all of which make more short-term sense than our move. I’d say we’re still somewhere around 10-12 in the conference, but I don’t think we’re done yet.

  62. If Randolph is worth all that many wins a) why did Portland have such a terrible record b) why did Portland get rid of him for the flotsam and jetsam of a fellow lottery team? As Knicks fans we/you cshould have it beaten into your head fromt eh glory teams of Frazier, Reed etc. that its not the flashy stats that count so much as teamwork, defense etc.

  63. I see.

    It’s not those stupid stats like points and rebounds. It’s about feelings.

    Yeah, there you go.

  64. emac,
    First off, James never played anyway and Rose only played when the rest of the roster was injured.

    There would be a real improvement from Randolph taking over Frye’s 26 mpg. I’d say five games better is a fair guess – that’s a big swing for that amount of time. But it’s not like adding some superstar like Garnett.

    And keep in mind that Lee only played 29.8 mpg last year. Ideally you’d bump that up by 7-10 minutes, and this makes it harder.

    As for the rest of the conference… I’d say these teams are definitely ahead of us, pending free agency:
    New Jersey

    probably worse than us:

    That would leave us fighting with these guys for the last two playoff spots:

    It’s too early to predict, but as of now I’d put us ahead of those last three. Realistically, given luck and injuries, we could land anywhere from #5-12. At least we seem to have as much depth as anyone.

  65. I don’t think we differ too much. I don’t think the nets have gotten any better and we were about even with them until Lee went down so that is probably the only one I would take off the upper list.

    I would be pretty surprised if we missed the playoffs. Once the team figured out what Thomas wanted they played pretty well until the injuries were just too much. I would guess we end up between 4 and 8 depending on how other teams do injurywise.

  66. I don’t understand the obsession with saving cap space. Who are you planning to sign that has better numbers than Randolph?

  67. I really wish the Knicks would have drafted Morris Almond, just to provide some entertainment from the announcers trying to get all the similar names correct.

    Zach Randolph/Randolph Morris/Morris Almond

    Would have been fun.

  68. Boston’s are way funnier, Ray Allen and Allan Ray, plus Tony Allen.

    “At least we seem to have as much depth as anyone. ”

    this has been true for at least two years now, hasn’t helped much. under Larry Brown, it actually hurt us, since he had no idea who to play.

  69. I don’t know why you would say that depth hasn’t helped.
    Just because Brown was a moron… anyway, last year it carried us through a lot of injuries, just until they really piled up at the end – and mainly bc they wiped out the one guy we couldn’t afford to lose, DL.

    Obviously, it’s more important to have the best top 5 or 6 players… but if you’re looking at a group of half a dozen teams, a couple of them will be wiped out by injuries. Knicks are much less likely to fall victim, than, say, Boston.

  70. Like many of you, I’m feeling this lack of defensive effort and team work ethic is really going to hurt us. Picking up Z-Bo is only going to make things worse. We’re nothing like the 90s Knicks and it saddens me.

  71. i’m not going to say picking up zach randolph solves all our problems. nobody’s that naive.

    actually, we’re talking about knick fans — we’ll praise a guy as the second coming one day & nail him to the cross the next.

    but right now, this team is absolutely stocked at every position. next on the agenda should be unloading some guys to acquire a pure shooter who can stay healthy & contribute now. and if we can get a future draft pick or two in a big deal, that’d be nice too.

    to me, the following players are expendible:

    if we can package some of those guys outta here & bring in a gritty 2 who can consistently knock down the open three, that’d be nice. crawford has been great for us at times & awful at others. but he’s the kind of player who can’t change the game without the ball — a shoot first guy. that’s not what we need right now, when our focus is shifting to scoring down low in the post.

    if isiah can convince someone to take jerome james off our hands next, i’m sold…

  72. I’m glad so many are optimistic about this deal. I agree with Caleb though. I think this is a Layden-esque technique of bringing in an established player to give the illusion of competitivness at a very high salary. It justifies high ticket prices, and if the Knicks happen to squeak into the playoffs, they get to over-charge for 3 to 6 more home games.

    I don’t want to be pessimistic, but the years are taking their toll. We simply will not be a better team than the Spurs, Suns, or Mavs next year. We have a very very very small chance of winning a title next year. We have come this far. I’d rather see it through and truly bottom out. Teams that do rebound very quickly (Suns, Bulls, Cavs, etc…)

    Players definitely want to play in NY. Lebron, as we all know, is worth a lot more money as a Knick than a Cav. Nike would topple foreign governments if it meant Lebron could play in NY. Other superstars also understand the monetary appeal of playing in the worlds biggest market.

    Too bad we’ll never know who we could have had.

  73. I dont think theres a team that hates life enough to take on any of those players and give up anything even slightly useful.

  74. I agree that Randolph kills our cap until 2011 which sucks because we were reportedly going to be under after 2009. This idea that we would have been under after 2009 is a complete falsehood. Following the 2009 season without this trade Marbury, Frye, Lee, Francis, and Robinson would have been off the books. However do you think that all 5 of these players just walk without Isiah, or whoever is GM at that point letting all of them walk. Lee for one definitely would have and will receive a monster extension if he continues to average a double double. If you think his contract would not have been much look at a player such as Tyson Chandler who in the final year of his contract did not even average a double and received a 6 yr 60 million dollar contract. I am going to assume that Frye most likely would have also been resigned at that point, most likely for less, but considering Kwame Brown can get a 3 yr 21 mill deal from the Lakers for not producing anything in Washington, purely based on his measurables, I think Frye could have commanded a very similar contract. So even if all the other contracts expired between Crawford, Curry, Lee and Frye most of the cap would have been gone. We also have to think about both Mardy Collins and Renaldo Balkman the following year which might still likely happen. So it is not a fact at all that the Knicks would be under the cap, and at least in my opinion I do not think they would have been.
    Another idea is even if we had cap we would sign who, Lebron or Wade? Yes we would have a chance being in NY, but I think most likely these players will re-sign with their respective teams at that time. Once again my opinion, which anyone is entitled to disagree with.
    I think evaluating this trade you gave up Frye who had a mid-range jumper and nothing else really, for Randolph who also has a mid-range jumper and a much more polished offensive game. Yes, in years past he definitely was a distraction off the court, but he significantly improved his work ethic this season, and I did not hear any complaints from his teammates this year about him. His PER ranking is one of the better ones in the league and Portland had an outside shot at the 8 seed in the west until he got hurt with about 18 games left i believe. I think him and Curry will take time to develop chemistry, but in the long-run I think trade will help this team. Thanks for your time guys.

  75. “Obviously, it?s more important to have the best top 5 or 6 players? but if you?re looking at a group of half a dozen teams, a couple of them will be wiped out by injuries. Knicks are much less likely to fall victim, than, say, Boston.”

    maybe, I’m just saying that from 4-15 we’ve been as good as almost anyone in the league for a few years, as well we should with the absurd payroll. it’s the top 3 where we so often lose the talent battle. what’s interesting about the Randolph deal from this perspective is it arguably bumps everyone down one, or everyone but DLee.

    in terms of depth, I think it’s possible to be too deep. if you have more than 10 guys that deserve minutes, it often becomes a problem. the trick is to balance the right amount of depth with injuries, one reason that San Antonio and Detroit have had so much success is their top guys have had very few injuries.

  76. “So it is not a fact at all that the Knicks would be under the cap, and at least in my opinion I do not think they would have been.”

    Curry and Crawford both have trade value, if Isiah declared them touchable. It would have been James, Jeffries, and Q that clog up the ’09 cap (pre-Randolph). But James and Q would be expiring pacts in ’10 that could have been used as pawns in a sign and trade and Jeffries, with only 2 years left, would have been movable.

    Not that any of this matters anymore.

    p.s.: hoopshype has updated the new Knicks roster and lists their ’08-’09 salary total as $83,690,79986,204,133. I don’t know exactly how much over the cap that is, but it is an amusing satire, even if it’s a tjypo.

  77. Isiah was commited to getting the team well under the cap by the summer of ’09 with a young (and by then much improved) core of Curry, Lee, Frye, Balkman, Robinson, and company. With this deal, a figurative turd on the plate of that plan, they’ve lost a huge contract that expires in the summer of ’09 and taken on a chemistry killing duplicate of a player that’s owed 17 million in 2011. They’re going to have an embarassing defensive frontcourt and will turn the ball over more than a nervous 5th grader with no left hand who comes off the bench in a tournament game.

    Are the Knicks taking the East with Randolph in the mix? Absolutely not. So why do the deal and mortgage the future. Makes little sense.

  78. FWIW, there were only five 20/10 players in the league last year: Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh and the newest Knick. clearly he’s not as good as those other four, but still, worth noting.

  79. well i think that the knincks orginization made a good trade on the behalf that randolph is putting up more points than channing and francis.also the knicks now have another big man to help out curry.

  80. Re: the 20/10 club – I remember the same discussions being had about Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

  81. Man some of you would complain if Isiah traded for Oden and Durant. LOL
    1. Zach is 26, Frye 25. (so many of you are complaining we gave up a young talent for a vet) Yes a 1 YEAR OLDER PROVEN VET. LOL good arguement.
    2. Steve Francis 17mil was rotting with his bum knees, now zach will be paid 13mil this year, so we’ll save some money this and next year, WITH A PLAYER ACTAULLY CONTRIBUTING.
    3. Having Cap space doesnt win championship, stop thinking it does, its retarded. Id rather spend the money than be like memphis, charlottle and other small market teams who only think about $$ not trying to get a better team in there.
    4. Zach is a 24/10 player in the western conference. Nuff said.
    5. Zach produces agaisnt top teams in the league, take a look his last 2 seasons vs top teams in the league
    vs Detroit- 29pts, 10 rebs
    vs Pheonix- 24pts, 12 rebs
    vs Chicago, Dallas, Utah, Indy, Lakers, Clippers – 23pts, 8 rebs

    Those are averages, 2 seasons. Thats production at the top of the league at PF. Frye was not going to give us anything near that.

  82. we gave up frye and francis. these guys together have very little talent between them. frye is a good guy and all, but his play was atrocious. no D, no bounding, no J, no post presence… francis was a cancer, and good ridance, obviously… sure, there are holes in Zach’s game, but for what we gave up, this was a no brainer. frye is a work in progress, at best. he couldn’t hold his own in the worst division (and conf) in the nba. zach put up very respectable, consistent numbers playing against much better competition. i think knick fans are just so used to ragging on isiah, they have to find a way to diss this trade. isiah’s made his share of mistakes, but this one is a slam dunk. remember we gave up basically nothing (factor fracis, and we may have given less than nothing) for a guy entering his prime, having proven himself a competent offensive force against much better competetion. not to mention two half decent throw-ins.

  83. EVERYONE! Zach Randolph I can guarentee is going to be 272727272 problems… David Lee is so much better.

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