New Addition to the Knicks “Pay To Not Play” Auxiliary

According to the New York Daily News, Isiah Thomas and Jalen Rose are working out a buyout of the remaining one year/$16 million left on Rose’s contract.

This will now make it a staggering $52 million that the Knicks will owe on the salary cap this year for five players who will not play for the Knicks this year (Allan Houston, Jerome Williams, Shandon Anderson and Maurice Taylor are the other four…you can stretch it to 6 players and $58 million if you want to argue that Malik Rose is essentially paid to not play as well).

However, seeing as how this money is already spent, I think it probably does make more sense to cut Rose loose than to keep him around. Unlike Malik, Jalen Rose likely would not be a good influence on the younger players, and like Malik, he wasn’t going to play any significant minutes, so if this can free up a roster spot for another player, then that’s okay by me.

What’s intriguing about this the most to me is who is the Knicks back-up small forward until Jeffries comes back? Is it Renaldo Balkman? Or David Lee?

Or will we see Jamal Crawford at the 3 in a three-guard lineup?

All Things Considered, I’d Rather Have the Green Hornet

In all seriousness, the Knicks picked up Kelvin Cato today, as was rumored (well, the Cato part wasn’t rumored, but the “Knicks were not going to sign any of the four players they brought in for the last spot, but were going to sign a veteran center instead” thing was rumored).

The move sounds just like a placeholder, and I doubt Cato would get much more time than Jerome James was going to get (which my hope was, not a lot), but to be honest, while he’s 32 and coming off an injury-plagued year (which was also the worst season, PER-wise, of his career), I don’t think Cato could be worse than James, and he does offer a lot more size than the guys who got cut, as he’s 6-11, 275 pounds.

Here are his PERs for his career:

1997-98 – 13.49
1999 – 14.81
1999-00 – 16.04
2000-01 – 13.26
2001-02 – 14.42
2002-03 – 15.61
2003-04 – 13.34
2004-05 – 14.91
2005-06 – 7.72

His Rebound Rate for the past few years (not counting last year’s short season – although it was quite high in the few games he played) is quite good, better on the whole than James’.

19.8 in 02-03, 16.0 in 03-04 and 15.3 in 04-05.

Those are pretty good numbers, and certainly an improvement on Curry.

Also, for his career, he averages 1.3 blocks (and his career average in minutes is only 20), so that’s a nice wrinkle to have on defense.

But, again, he’s another year older and coming off an injury, so I don’t think the Knicks will expect much more than a few minutes of decent defense and good rebounding, which I think definitely does have a place on this current Knick squad.

The Ten Commandments of Preseason Basketball

I mentioned these in the comments section, but once I got the link, I figured it was worth its own post. Dave at Blazer’s Edge (which is a very cool blog) came up with these a month or so ago, and I think they are just excellent. Here’s a little taste:

1 THOU SHALT NOT believe anything you read in glowing reports about returning players until thou hast seen it demonstrated with thine own eyes during the regular season…repeatedly. Everybody is talented in the off-season.

2 THOU SHALT NOT put any stock whatsoever in any team’s pre-season record or what it might indicate.

3 THOU SHALT NOT clamor for a player who gets 22 minutes a game in pre-season (for purposes of evaluation and giving the veterans a rest) to get that same 22 minutes once the regular season starts.

Read the Ten Commandments of Preseason Basketball at Blazer’s Edge.

Zeke vs….Greg Anthony?!?

Marty Burns had a great bit today at CNN/SI about Isiah Thomas going off on Greg Anthony today about Anthony’s comments regarding the Balkman pick on draft night.

Don’t get me wrong, I sympathize with Zeke in the sense that I, too, thought Anthony was way off base (I think I even mentioned it here at the time), in that, whether the Balkman pick was good or not, Anthony wasn’t giving the pick enough thought, choosing instead to just make knee-jerk comments that amounted to “I never heard of the guy, so he must be bad.”

Therefore, I was okay with him saying “This so-called former Knick, on draft night with millions of people watching, had the audacity to take me to task on a player that I’m pretty sure he had never seen before in his life, But he stands on national television and talks about a kid he has absolutely no idea about. I’m just glad that all of New York doesn’t think like Greg Anthony.”

I think it’s probably better to let sleeping dogs lie, but that comment was pretty fair, I think.

However, Isiah then followed with “Greg Anthony should never ever be in a position to question myself on anything about basketball. I do remember the kind of player he was. I’ll leave it at that.” That was way too much, highlighting a problem Isiah seems to have where he seems to personalize criticisms way too much.

Apparently, he peppered shots at Anthony throughout the press conference. Here’s Burns on it:

When asked whether he could see Balkman someday defending LeBron James or Tracy McGrady, Thomas replied, “Wait a minute, hold on now … you can run him out there but he’ll probably get stepped on a little bit … Unlike Greg Anthony, I do have respect for others.”

When asked about the Knicks’ dismal season a year ago, and what role all the injuries played, Thomas said, “We all were in a funk last year … Greg Anthony was in a funk.”

Later, when talking about Balkman’s ability to handle the ball, a reporter jokingly asked if he had a better handle than Greg Anthony. “Most definitely,” Thomas said. “Greg could only go left.”

Nuts, eh?

Anthony wouldn’t comment, which is good on him!

By the by, speaking of Balkman, Marc Berman had a line in his blog the other day that I thought was a bit much, where he stated that what Thomas SHOULD have done was draft Marcus Williams at #20 and Balkman at #29. Now, clearly, we all would have liked that, but that’s taking for granted that Balkman was not going to be picked, which (while not saying he officially WOULD have been picked) is something Berman should have at least made clear he was assuming. You know, something like, “It was likely Balkman could have been available at #29, so Thomas should have drafted Williams at #20 and Balkman at #29.” Without the qualifier, it’s not giving the facts, I don’t think.

Four Questions About the Knicks’ Four Factors

Sorry this is up so late today gang. Things got busy at work. You know the drill.

While we are still in something of a Knicks news black hole I thought it might be interesting to pose four questions to the readership about the upcoming season that call for rampant speculation. We’re all good for that, right?

But, to provide this post with at least the thin veneer of being at the analytical forefront of the sports blogosphere I’ve organized the questions around Dean Oliver’s “Four Factors”. Let’s restrict this round to offense mostly–just to see how this goes.

Question 1 (Shooting): In 2006 the Knick effective FG% was 48.1%, 22nd in the league. Denver was 15th last season at 48.8%. Will the Knicks increase their eFG% to 48.8% or better in 2007? Why?

Question 2 (Turnovers): New York was dead last in the league in 2006 at 19.5 turnovers per 100 possessions, more than a full turnover behind next-to-last Boston. The Clippers were 15th at 15.9 per 100 possessions. Can the Knicks keep their TO’s to 15.9 per 100 or fewer?
(Okay, almost certainly not but do you expect to improve in this area? How much?)

Question 3 (Rebounding): New York was 4th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage (31.2%) in 2006. At least three reserves who contributed double-digit rebound rates (Qyntel Woods, Mo Taylor, and Jackie Butler) are gone. Replacing them are Jared Jeffries–who was the basic equivalent of Taylor on the boards last year–along with uber-rebounder David Lee, and possibly rookie Ronaldo Balkman. Will the Knicks be able to remain a top 5 team on the offensive glass?

Okay, so I lied. I will ask one defense-oriented question because getting to the FT line, the fourth factor, is kinda boring.

Question 4 (Defensive Rebounding): Unfortunately the Knick prowess on the offensive glass did not translate to defense. The Knicks lacked the knack for keeping other teams off the boards. [Read that last sentence in Clyde’s voice. It’s almost like watching MSG.] They allowed a respectable 27.2% of opponent misses to be rebounded, good for 13th. The Heat lead the league at 23.6%.

The team’s unwillingness to rebound on the defensive end may be the singularly most inexcusable aspect of their play last year. They already were a high turnover team that didn’t shoot especially well or play good defense. However, there doesn’t seem to be much reason why a team can pound the offensive glass with the best of them but remain mediocre on defensive glass–other than “want to”. It was the widest disparity between offense and defense among the four factors for the Knicks in 2006. So, can Isiah inspire this bunch to become a top 5 defensive rebounding team? Why or why not?

Alright, have at it…