Blog Vacation

Folks, I just don’t have the time now to write, which is good since nothing big is going on. Dampier isn’t coming to NY. Vin Baker resigned, but for the life of me I can’t find how much the Knicks are paying him. The Vince Carter rumors are just that: rumors. Isiah may be cooking up another deal, but even if he does pull off a trade the first preseason game isn’t until October 14.

Until then I’m taking a blog vacation, which is good because I have a lot going on with my life. Things will be back to normal in October, so stay tuned. When I get a chance, I’ll throw up an article here and there.

Dog Days Of Summer

The Internet can be an interesting thing at times. For the most part. I write my blog without any user feedback. For my last blog regarding Frank Hughes’ insane article, I received a lot of emails. Other than that, since I haven’t added a comments section or a message board, I’m almost in a vacuum. But sometimes I can get feedback from places that the reader might not even be aware of.

My favorite source of feedback is from my referrals. Basically if you click on a link to get to my web page, in all likelihood, my site counter will record what that site was. So unless you come to my web page through a bookmark, or are typing the url from scratch into your browser, I know the last page you were viewing. It’s good for me because I know what sites are linking to me, and it’s bad in a way because it’s a bit intrusive for the reader. So by looking at my referrals I can get some kind of user interaction, just by knowing how people are coming to my site.

Commonly I get hits from people posting links to my site from message boards, or from other bloggers linking to me. However, just recently, I’ve gotten a handful of hits from a Blogshares is an online game, where you buy & sell blogs. Prices go up or down depending on the popularity or demand to buy that blog. I know this because a blogger named Laila (who according to her blog still hasn’t cleaned her room), owns a piece of me. If you already have an account on blogshares, or are interested in trying it out, I suggest you buy a piece of me before I blow up. I guarantee a Martha Stewart quick rise, then dump & sell followed by a federal investigation & a trial that lasts more than the jail time I’m going to serve.

Another interesting visit I got was from a Yahoo search for:

“can the new york knicks get vince without trading marbury”

I thought this was an interesting question, so I spent the last 12 seconds checking out if this was possible. The answer is “no” or more accurately “no way in hell.” I don’t see Toronto trading Half Man/Half Amazing without getting some star power back this summer, and Marbury is the only Knick that is fits that criteria. Next year with the Knicks having somewhere in the range of three hundred million in expiring salaries, getting Vinsanity for a large amount of cap relief and some talent/picks is at least plausable. The situation would have to get really ugly in the press for Air Canada to fly south without big name compensation.

Finally I love seeing the random hit from Right now I’m a 7.8 out of 10. Take that PhantomVamp (5.8)! It’s not her fault, it’s just that right now, statistical basketball is more exciting than a woman dressed in a Starkers Batty Underbust Corset.

Sorry for the (mostly) non-basketball content, but the offseason has gotten a little slow. Hopefully if the Knicks make a move (Baker or Dampier) I’ll have something to write about that’s a bit more on-topic.

Step 1. Conclusion – Step 2: Look At The Facts

Bad writing is when an author writes an article with a biased conclusion before looking at any of the facts. The worst misuse of statistics is cherry picking ones that support your point, while ignoring any facts that reject your hypothesis.

Enter columnist Frank Hughes, and his article “These moves aren’t so smooth.” Now I’m not such a Knick fan that I would let my fandom get in the way of an objective and intelligent argument. However luckily for me, Hughes’ article was neither of these. Hughes sets the tone with the first line:

“With all due respect to my esteemed colleague and compadre Chad Ford: What the heck is Isiah thinking?”

The first time I read this I said to myself “Great!” I like to hear opposing opinions. Sometimes it’s good to have a devil’s advocate, because it keeps you in check. If you can’t defend your ideas and theories, then maybe they aren’t as valid as you think. Even better, sometimes you’ll learn something that’s contrary to your current beliefs, and change the way you think. Unfortunately the article had little chance of swaying any rational person. Read on:

“If, in fact, Isiah signs Erick Dampier to go with a sign-and-trade deal for Jamal Crawford that essentially eliminates any future flexibility he may have had, well, in my mind that is figuratively putting the cement shoes — why has Nike not made a pair of those yet? — on the Knicks and throwing them in the East River on a frigid January day.”

Organized crime references to describe a New York sports team? Nothing says bad writing like a tired, drawn out metaphor. Memo to Mr. Hughes: the Knicks have been in salary cap hell for years now. Even without Crawford & Dampier’s contracts, they will be over the cap until at least the summer of 2007. This is his only valid point in the entire article. Being over the cap gives you less flexibility than being under the cap. However being over the cap & being willing to take on more contracts doesn’t make you inflexible. Consider this: if the Knicks are so inflexible, then how come they only have 3 players remaining from the pre-Isiah era? And Zeke hasn’t been with the team for a whole year yet! That sounds pretty darn flexible to me.

Looking at the Knicks roster, they still have some valuable trading chips. Sweetney is valuable for his contract as much as his promising ability. I’d imagine a few teams are interested in Kurt Thomas and Nazr Mohammed. If the Knicks don’t trade them this year, next summer they have a ton of expiring contracts to deal in Penny Hardaway ($15.8M), Tim Thomas ($14M), Nazr Mohammed ($5.5M), and Moochie Norris ($4.2M with a team option – an option that no sane team would be dumb enough to activate). That’s almost an entire salary cap in expiring contracts, enough to make any money strapped GM start drooling. The year after, they have about $35M in expiring contracts in Allan Houston, Shandon Anderson, & Jerome Williams (team option).

So what is Hughes “proof” of Isiah’s poorly thought out plan:

“Yes, I agree, some of the Knicks’ pieces certainly look good, to go with Stephon Marbury and Allan Houston. But now more than ever I am a big believer in chemistry, and when you really get right down to it, the collection of players Isiah has assembled has really accomplished very little in their respective careers, and they have had plenty of time to do it.”

Did you catch that? Chemistry = career accomplishments. What type of chemistry I’m not exactly sure about. Is it locker room chemistry? On the court chemistry? Molecular chemistry? He just doesn’t specify the type. Of course what does he use to measure career accomplishments?

Number of playoff games played.

That’s right it’s the old ring argument (Player A is better than Player B, because he’s won more championships). This kind of thinking is just not well thought out, because winning a playoff game or championship is a team effort, not an individual one. Last year, the following players didn’t play in the playoffs: Vince Carter, Tracey McGrady, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Gilbert Arenas, LeBron James, Carlos Boozer, and Allen Iverson. I didn’t even bother to include any players from the West. Players that did have playoff experience were such superstars as: Dana Barros, Vin Baker, DerMarr Johnson, Shammond Williams, Daniel Santiago, and Wang ZhiZhi. I don’t know about you, but if I were making a team, I’d overlook playoff experience, and go with the first group.

Let’s see he continues with this line of thought, and if you think I’m paraphrasing to make my point, read the article & be the judge for yourself. (Bolding is not in the original article, but added by me.)

  1. “[Marbury]’s been in the league now for eight seasons. Ten. [Editor’s note: I don’t know why this sentence “Ten.” is there or what it means, but I left it in so you get the exact feel of the article.] You know how many playoff games he has been in in that span? Eighteen. And he’s never been out of the first round…
  2. Tim Thomas has been in the league nine years, playing a grand total of 33 playoff games
  3. Kurt Thomas, signed at sizable dollars through 2008-09, has 48 career playoff games in nine years with career postseason averages of 6.5 points and 5.8 rebounds
  4. “Since he left Orlando in 1999, Penny Hardaway has played in a grand total of 18 playoffs games. By comparison, his sophomore season in Orlando, he played in 21 postseason games…
  5. Nazr Mohammed … has played seven playoff games and has never advanced past the first round. He has career averages of 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds…
  6. Allan Houston is the biggest conundrum because he clearly is talented. He also clearly is frustrating, going into long spells of quietude during a season and seemingly disappearing at important junctures…

What’s interesting is how he changes the facts he uses from one person to the next when the stats don’t support his point of view. To bash Tim Thomas & Marbury, he shows how few playoff games they’ve played. However, unfortunately for Frank, counting playoff appearances doesn’t necessarily work with his third choice: Kurt Thomas. Kurt’s seen enough playoff action with the Knicks, including going to the Finals in ’99. So he drags up Kurt’s poor playoff statistics. Of course he doesn’t mention that those numbers are heavily weighted when Kurt was a backup (only 22 minutes per game, not the 31+ we’ve been accustom to over the last 3 years.) In his playoff experiences as a starter, Kurt’s averaged 13.6PPG & 11.4REB, which is conveniently ignored. Also ignored are Marbury’s playoff numbers: 19.4PPG, 6.7AST, and 1.6STL.

For Penny Hardaway, not only does he eliminate his early playoff success with the Magic, but uses it against him. In essence splitting Penny’s career in two. What gives him the right to do that? Did Penny’s “chemistry” change after he left Orlando? BTW since Hughes doesn’t mention it, Penny’s career playoff numbers since he left Orlando – 19 games (not the 18 he falsely reported), 17.1PPG, 5.4AST, and 1.7 STL.

For each of the first five guys, he’s mentioned the number of playoff games they’ve played in over their career and when it suits him, their playoff statistics. But eventually he has to mention Allan Houston. H20 has played in 63 playoff games, averaging 40 minutes, 19.3 PPG, and a 48.7% eFG%. If Hughes wants to be an impartial and forthcoming writer he can mention these numbers, and say that Houston is the only player on the Knicks with playoff experience. Surely admitting that the Knicks have one playoff tested starter won’t blow his whole argument out of the water. So does Frank take the high road?

“Allan Houston is the biggest conundrum because he clearly is talented. He also clearly is frustrating, going into long spells of quietude during a season and seemingly disappearing at important junctures.”

I have to give Frank some credit, if you’re going to write bullshit, you might as well use big words like conundrum, quietude, and junctures.

I won’t even bother to go over the rest of the article. It’s more of the same – choose a player & pick only the numbers that make your claim look good. The flaws are obvious in this piece, beginning to end. If Hughes want to criticize Isiah’s moves, then there are many logical arguments that would make sense. This is a lesson to all aspiring writers out there. If you are having trouble writing an article because the facts don’t support your point, then maybe your initial hypothesis was wrong in the first place.

It’s Official

According to the Chicago Sun Times, Jamal Crawford is a Knick. The deal is exactly as reported a few days ago, and Crawford accepted a 7 year $55M dollar deal. New York acquires Crawford and Williams for Frank Williams, Othella Harrington, Dekembe Mutombo, and Cezary Trybanski. Frank Williams played well in New York before Marbury came over, who took away most of his minutes. Williams will compete against #3 overall pick Ben Gordan for backup minutes to Hinrich. The other three players total about $9M in expiring contracts for Chicago.

In Crawford, New York gets insurance for Allan Houston, and I’m guessing will be his eventual replacement. (Or else why would the Knicks sign him for so long?) Crawford isn’t nearly the shooter that Houston is, but is able to play the point as well. Williams is a rebounding PF, and you don’t want him taking any outside shots (32% jump shooter, 64% career FT%). The Knicks aren’t done yet, as now they’re turning their attention to acquiring Dampier.

Aaron Goodwin

In yesterday’s blog I mentioned Jamal Crawford’s agent 9 times. However not once did I mention his name: Aaron Goodwin. This small time (but big city) blogger that has nothing to write about decided to do some serious research on Mr. Goodwin. Especially when Mr. Goodwin is stalling a deal that the big city (but small time) blogger could use to write a column about in a slow (only for his team) offseason.

The California based Goodwin represents such NBA players as LeBron James, Gary Payton, Dwight Howard, Damon Stoudmire, Shareef Abdur-Rahim & Vin Baker. He was listed as one of the most influential minorities in sports. Despite being a major force in his field, he was degraded by the police who wrongfully suspected him as a suspect in a robbery. The officers didn’t recognize him, because he likes to keep a low profile. He does a good job at it, because it’s hard to find a good picture of him.

There isn’t a large wealth of information available about Goodwin, but by all accounts Aaron Goodwin is an experienced agent and not just another pretender. In fact I’m quite glad that I’m a simple blog writer, and don’t have to sit on the other side of the telephone and negotiate with.

Risky Business

The Good News: The Knicks and Bulls have agreed on a deal to send Jamal Crawford to New York

The Bad News: Jamal’s agent has rejected the deal because he wants a better contract.

The Mercury News is reporting that Paxson & Isiah have sorted out the players involved in the highly awaited Jamal Crawford deal. The problem this time is Crawford’s agent, who doesn’t want to accept the contract the Knicks are currently offering. The article reports a few relevant details, none of which I can verify, but let’s assume they’re true for hypothetical reasons.

  • The deal the Bulls originally offered was 6 years $39M.
  • The deal the Knicks are offering are 7 years for $55M.
  • Crawford & his agent originally thought they would get 6 years for $55M.
  • If Crawford has to stay with the Bulls they will offer him $3.5M next year.

Using these facts I’ve come up with three scenarios for Crawford’s financial future.

Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Age 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

DealA $4.8 $5.3 $6.0 $6.8 $7.6 $8.6 ?
DealB $5.1 $5.7 $6.6 $7.6 $8.7 $10.0 $11.5
DealC $3.5 $6.7 $7.5 $8.5 $9.5 $10.7 $12.1

I approximated each contract by taking the total deal, and breaking it down by year assuming he would be getting a 12% raise each year. DealA is the Bulls original offer, which Crawford has already turned down. He would be a free agent at age 31 in the summer of 2011. DealB is if Crawford’s agent accepts the offer the Knicks have given him, and is traded to New York. DealC is Crawford playing next year for $3.5M, the one year deal offered by the Bulls. The next year, he would become an unrestricted free agent, and let’s just assume he signs the 6 year $55M offer that he is reportedly asking the Knicks for.

So what’s the total for each deal?

DealA = $39M + contract for 2011 season

DealB = $55.1M

DealC = $58.6M

For DealA to be anywhere close to the other two, Crawford needs to make more than $16M in 2011. This can only happen in three ways: Crawford would have to become the most dominant player in the league, the salary cap would have to make a phenomenal rise, or Scott Layden has become a GM again. So Crawford’s agent made a wise choice in declining that offer, especially in light of the Knicks current offer.

However, the difference between DealB & DealC is $3.5M over 7 years. In fact if Crawford does take DealC over DealB, then he won’t see a net profit until his third year of the deal, because he’d lose about $1.6M staying with the Bulls next year. There are other things to consider. First is that DealC may be selling him a little short, since it’s entirely possible that Crawford could get more lucrative offers as an unrestricted free agent, than he’s currently getting as a restricted one. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that if Crawford does take the one year deal, his value can drop either by injury or poor play. If Crawford does get seriously injured next year, it’s possible that no one would give him a deal anywhere in the neighborhood of what he’s currently being offered. Finally, Crawford’s agent might be holding out for a 7 year deal. At a 12.5% raise, that would mean about $13M in 2012 (hence the article reported the possibility of a 7year $70M deal).

So Isiah has to factor in the Knicks’ desire for Crawford and decide how much (for how long) his services are worth. Meanwhile Crawford’s agent has to decide how far he’ll take his game of chicken, knowing full well that an injury could cost his client a $55M deal, versus a possible $13M payoff if he convinces the Knicks to give his client that coveted 7th year.

Net Loss

NOTE: Grammar edited after a full night’s sleep. :-)

I was going to write a lengthy discussion on the Nets recent moves, but there isn’t anything to say about the Nets loss of Martin and now Kittles that hasn’t been said by the best blog done by a Nets fan: These Days. Shaddax’s blog covers everything from basketball to football to baseball to boxing to hockey. Although he specializes on the New York area teams, These Days seems to cover just about everything happening in every league. If that isn’t enough to make you want to peek over and see what’s happening, then check out a sample of his solid writing (about being a GM in NYC):

…I’m sick of people parroting that idiocy about “oh, it’s New York, you have to go for it in New York”… People might say bad things about you on talk radio? Well guess what: if you give a shit about what Al from Scarsdale or Vinny from Yonkers has to say about the team, then make one of them the GM, clear your desk out and take up some other occupation. Or learn how to lie better, and just say nothing could be worked out. Either way, if you don’t have the stomach to come up with a plan and see it through, if you don’t have the perspicacity to tell the difference between a lucky run in a crappy division and a legitimate contender’s chance, if you don’t have any clue what makes a player good or bad, then get the hell away from my team. I’m sick to death of having every franchise in town held hostage to “they say” crap.

Getting back to the Nets, they could have really made a good try at turning around this franchise. In fact they should have retoolled to make another championship run. Something tells me they knew they weren’t going to keep Kittles and Martin from the beginning. So why not put them out there early & try to get Shaq or McGrady? They could have traded both at the onset of the offseason, and with the $20M they got back in trade exceptions, made a run at Kobe Bryant. Even if they didn’t try to get one of the best available players, there were a bunch of quality guys that were available that the Nets might have acquired to give them a stronger team.

New Jersey waited too long, and now the Nets only have slim pickings to choose from. Instead of trying to get Boozer, Okur, or Ginobili, they can try to get Dampier, Crawford, and Rodney White. That’s if they choose to spend their trade exceptions, instead of pocketing the money. Honestly with their new ownership I doubt they’ll sign any long or expensive deals in the near future. Imagine how bad things will be if they trade Jason Kidd in a similar fashion.

John Hollinger wrote a column calling the Warriors the “new Clippers.” Without any improvements, the Nets should easily win this crown. In fact, you could argue that the Nets would be worse than the Warriors. Sure it’s easy to point to Derek Fisher’s laughable 6 year contract and say “top that”. But at least Mullin is trying to win. If the Nets trade Kidd for cap relief, then they’re sending a clear sign to the rest of the league: “We don’t care if we win.” Even though they’ll be under the cap and able to sign players in the future, throwing up a white flag now will scare away fans and free agents for years to come.