Knicks Picks Media Roundup 7/30/10

  • Amar’e Stoudemire: Cultural Explorer . “Stoudemire told The Associated Press on Friday that he believes he has ‘Hebrew roots’through his mother, Carrie. The five-time All-Star is on a weeklong visit to learn about Israel, its language and religions.”
  • And, from Amar’e’s Twitter feed: “Wow!! The fans here are amazing. Everyone cheers “NEW YORK KNICKS!!” “NEW YORK KNICKS!!“”
  • For those of you interested in Twitter, new-Knick Ronny Turiaf frequently updates and has on a few occasions offered to buy lunch for the first Knicks fan to find him. As a bonus, his background has a pretty awesome shot of him in a Knicks jersey.
  • Shannon Brown- New York Knick? “Guard Shannon Brown could be moving to New York City to man the New York Knicks backcourt with Raymond Felton. The man who has won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers is a free agent and the Knicks have made him an offer, according to CBSSports.com.”
  • Interest in Shannon Brown may have spiked due to a lack of ability to trade for Rudy Fernandez, as Alan Hahn reports. “An NBA source said that the Blazers would prefer to receive a first-round pick for Fernandez, which is a problem for the Knicks because they gave up their 2012 pick to the Rockets in the February trade for Tracy McGrady that helped clear more salary cap space for this summer’s foray in free agency. NBA rules prohibit a team from trading first-round picks in consecutive years, so the Knicks cannot make that move until 2014. The source said the Blazers are not interested in waiting four years when they almost assuredly would not have to wait as long with another team. The Oregonian reported Wednesday that the Bulls and Celtics were also interested.”
  • USA Today: Brief ex-Knick Eddie House has signed with Team Superfriends in Miami. “House, a 10-year veteran who spent last season with the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, gives Miami another shooter. He takes his 39% three-point average back to Miami, where he played from 2000 to 2003.”
  • Finally, in a bit of unfortunate news, there is a warrant out for Eddy Curry’s arrest again, stemming from his failure to keep up with his settlement payments.

Why Knicks Fans Should Be Glad Chris Paul Will Likely Remain a Hornet in 2010

When reports first started surfacing that Chris Paul had ranked the Knicks as his number one trade destination, I was ecstatic. Immediately, I had visions of a counter-dynasty to the Miami Heat. Dreams of Carmelo Anthony signing the next summer creating our own Big 3. So I thought the Knicks should trade whomever we need to get Paul, for no matter how much I love Gallo’s intensity and the potential of the recently-acquired Anthony Randolph, you absolutely cannot pass on obtaining perhaps the best point guard in the game. Especially when that point guard comes with the likelihood of Anthony, the smoothest scorer outside of Oklahoma City.

Unfortunately the news of a positive sit down between Paul and the Hornets, would seem to have thrown a wrench in my dreams of a New York Big 3. However, the truth is Knicks fans should be glad that the Hornets’ brass appear likely to persuade Paul to stick it out another year in New Orleans. And here’s why.

Chris Paul will not be traded for pennies on the dollar, and any deal would likely include Gallinari among a few other of the New York youngsters. We love Gallo for his shooting, his height, his overwhelming potential, but most of all we love him for his attitude. He has long been described as simply “tougher” than other European players, with a cocksure demeanor on the court that New Yorkers can easily identify with and appreciate. His duel against Carmelo this spring and his desire to defend the other team’s best player, night in and night out, only further endeared him to us. We want to watch him develop, we want him to succeed, and we want him on our team.

As great a sacrifice as it would be to Knicks fans to trade Gallinari (and Randolph, Douglas, and whatever other young prospects the Hornets required to make a deal), the truth is that, at this point in time, we would never have to make that sacrifice, because the Knick’s trade package is widely regarded among national media as perhaps the weakest available to the Hornets of the four teams on Paul’s wish list. (With the Magic, Trailblazers, and Mavericks rounding out the list.) Bill Simmons and John Hollinger both supported the idea of a trade which would send All-Star Brandon Roy to NO, and multiple writers argued that the Magic, with the ability to send Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, and other supporting players, provide the best option for the Hornets. I believe we can disregard the Blazers’ deal for two reasons. First, Paul’s desire appears to be to play with other stars, and trading away your best player doesn’t satisfy that request. And second, I don’t think Blazers’ management would give up Roy anyway.

However, the Orlando deal should be of very real concern. A day after his original report stating that the Knicks were number one on Paul’s wish list, Chris Broussard reported that the Magic had taken the top spot, because Paul believed they could present a deal more likely to persuade Hornets management. Besides the possibility that the Hornets play well next year (encouraging Paul to stick with the only team he’s ever played for) a trade with Orlando is the greatest threat to the Knicks landing CP3.

Analysis of potential trades in this scenario is difficult because, when comparing trades, the determining factor in whether a deal is plausible is what management/ownership are trying to receive in return, and in the case of the Hornets this isn’t very clear. They’ve stated repeatedly that their preference is to keep Paul, and appear encouraged by this latest meeting. However, it is believed that if they were forced to trade him at this point, it would be largely for financial reasons. The prolonged sale of the team from majority owner Gary Shinn to minority owner Gary Chouest has some believing that Shinn, amidst fears that the sale could collapse, and unable to continue suffering the massive losses the Hornets have been posting, might eventually OK the trade of Paul as a way to cut salary and rid himself of Emeka Okafor’s ($53 million- 4 years) and James Posey’s ($13 million- 2 years) weighty contracts. The Hornets must also be concerned with the impact on attendance if Paul were to ask for a trade; for as Marc Stein wrote:

A case can be made that keeping Paul in hopes of eventually regaining the confidence of the face of the franchise — or merely holding off until the Hornets decide that they’re ready to trade him — might not be as beneficial for the long-term health of the franchise as proactively trying to move Paul and ultimately spare themselves from the daily distraction and potential negative impact at the gate that comes with employing a disgruntled superstar.

It is then easy to understand that, if one of the Hornets’ main concerns is increasing attendance (a statistic in which the Hornets ranked 23rd out of 30 last year, albeit with Paul out most of the season), a trade featuring marquee names such as Vince Carter would be likely to trump a Knicks’ package featuring unproven prospects. This is true even if from a long term basketball perspective Randolph and Gallinari are more attractive than Nelson and Carter.

The one thing the Knicks have going for them is that they could swap the trade chip that is Eddy Curry’s expiring contract for Okafor’s equally ridiculous and longer contract. This is a thought that should seriously worry Knicks fans, for while a team with Chris Paul and Amar’e Stoudemire is almost immediately a very good team, if we have to lose our most exciting young players in the process, we have no possibility of being a championship team. Okafor’s contract makes it next to impossible that the Knicks could obtain that third star which would make them competitive with the elite of the East.

So what does this all mean? While I love the idea of getting Paul, if we have to sacrifice everything to get him, including our young prospects and the ability to acquire Carmelo, I just don’t think it is worth it. The most successful franchises in the leagues don’t make that deal, because they understand that erasing your ability to win a title in the process of becoming very good just isn’t worth it. Furthermore, even if the Hornets did decide to make a deal before the end of next season, the chances are slim to none that the Knicks would be the beneficiaries.

However, if the Knicks, Paul, and the Hornets can all make it through this season, each biding their time until the opportune moment, the dynasty of the New York 3 can still happen. In one year’s time, Gallinari, Randolph, Azubuike, and Douglas should all be worth more than they are now. Darren Collison will begin to outgrow his role as Paul’s backup. And the Hornets will be closer to having their superstar leave without any compensation. In this scenario, Chris Paul to New York will make much more sense. It would be cheaper for the Knicks since they would have more assets, and the Hornets would be getting a bona fide star instead of an aging one (Vince Carter) or a young question mark (Randolph or Gallo this year). Without mortgaging both talent and cap space now, the team could have one or both of those in the future. Which would mean that there would still be the possibility of obtaining the third superstar after Paul. And my notion of the NY3 propelling the Knicks to instant contention would still be alive.

Daily Knicks Picks: Media Round-up 7/27/10

  • Scott Cacciola of the Wall Street Journal on Anthony Randolph: Long, Lean, Unlimited. “How about his two violent dunks over the Houston Rockets’ Yao Ming during his rookie season? Or his epic two-handed block on a breakaway by Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant? These are the sorts of plays—flashes of brilliance, really—where Mr. Randolph unfolds his 6-foot-11 frame and hints at what he might be, could be, should be.”
  • And Randolph says there will be no more excuses, writes Tim Bontemps of the NY Post. “‘It’s all on me right now,’ Randolph said yesterday at the Knicks’ Summer Basketball Camp at Pace University-Pleasantville. ‘If I don’t succeed, it’s my fault. It’s not on anybody else. The head coach is gonna give me a chance to show what I can do, and if I don’t capitalize on it, it’s nobody’s fault but mine.'”
  • Lastly in Randolph-related news, the man of the hour is doing a fan giveaway for his autograph. Rules to follow?
  • From STAT TV: A video from Amar’e working at the Nike Skills Academy, with what appear to be cameos by Deron Williams and Andre Iguodala.
  • Pinnaclesports.com posts Amar’e as a +3568 long-shot to win the MVP, trailing favorites Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.
  • Mitch Lawrence from the NY Daily News reports on Chris Paul’s meeting with the Hornets.”I expressed my desire to win and I like what they said about the direction that they want to take the team,” said Paul, who has been unhappy with the lack of additions to his supporting cast in recent seasons. “I have been a Hornet my entire career and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come.
  • And finally, T-Mac with some insightful commentary on his future in the NBA, from Marc Stein and Chris Broussard. “I think, yeah, if I was the player that I was in a Knicks uniform, I would have no problem coming off the bench.”
  • The Anthony Randolph Study

    Although losing David Lee was painful for most Knick fans, New Yorkers should feel lucky that they received something in return. Another team could have signed Lee to a contract without compensating the Knicks. Instead New York got three players to fill useful positions. Ronny Turiaf should give New York a backup center that blocks shots. Kelenna Azubuike will provide outside shooting and defense at shooting guard. Both of these fill weaknesses at positions the team has had over the last few years.

    However the real prize in the Lee trade is Anthony Randolph. The young forward can rebound (11.1 reb/36) and block shots (2.4 blk/36) at a rate worthy of an NBA All Star. Unfortunately he’s not an efficient scorer, averaging a TS% of 50.6% in his first season and 52.1% in his second. So why would such a poor scorer be valued so highly (at least by yours truly)?

    The last time I looked at a young Knick big man was after the team acquired Eddy Curry. Back in 2006, the team had hopes he would develop into a franchise center. Curry could score at a high volume with a high efficiency. Unfortunately he did it at the expense of turnovers, rebounds, and blocked shots. Many thought he could improve on those areas, that at his age most players got better in most areas. By looking at how players did in those areas I found that Curry would never develop into a superstar. Players’ shot blocking only declined as they got older, their rebounding peaked slightly at around the age of 27-30, while turnovers improved with age.

    Anthony Randolph is pretty much the anti-Eddy Curry. Although both entered the league at a very young age, Randolph is already an accomplished rebounder and shot blocker. His main weakness, shooting efficiency, was a Curry strength. So it doesn’t make sense to compare him to Curry, since the two have different skillsets. To gauge Randolph’s probable future, it makes sense to chart how TS% changes for players as they mature. One easy way to do this is to get an average TS% of all players at each age (for the 1980 season onward with a minimum of 1000 minutes played on the season).

    As you can see the average player’s TS% is considerably lower at the age of 20, and rises to a peak at around the ages of 27-30. I considered that this list was possibly augmented by weak players who retire early, which would artificially inflate TS% for the older years. So I ran the numbers again; my second group consisted of players who had at least 8 years of service in the league. This should eliminate any artificial increase due to forced retirement.

    As you can see, the chart looks pretty much the same with the peak in the 27-30 range. One difference is that players aged 21 or less struggled much more so. Which brought me to wonder if the bump at a later age is due to players coming into the league out of college. If there’s an influx of more skilled players at the ages of 22-24, then you would expect that to inflate the numbers at those ages. So I performed a third study consisting of players who played 1000 or more minutes in a single season by the age of 20.

    The trend is almost straight line upwards because the players that started early and lasted to their mid-30s were probably very above average to begin with. Since it’s highly unlikely that players suddenly get better at that age, I cropped the list at age 33 for a more appropriate looking set.

    Since these graphs all contain similar curves, it’s reasonable to conclude that the average TS% increases until the player is about 27 years old, levels off, then declines in their early 30s. Another way to look at this is figure out the player’s peak TS%, then list the other seasons as a percentage of that.

    Age All Players 8+ seasons 20- year old rookies
    18 97.6% 96.4% 93.8%
    19 95.5% 95.6% 91.8%
    20 97.2% 96.0% 93.4%
    21 97.7% 95.6% 96.1%
    22 97.9% 97.0% 95.1%
    23 98.3% 98.1% 96.4%
    24 99.3% 99.4% 98.2%
    25 99.5% 99.4% 98.1%
    26 99.8% 100.0% 97.3%
    27 99.5% 99.8% 100.0%
    28 100.0% 99.9% 98.0%
    29 99.5% 99.2% 99.6%
    30 99.1% 98.4% 97.5%

    The chart above says that a 20 year old’s TS% will be somewhere between 93.4% and 97.2% of their peak TS%. Looking further down a few rows it seems that a young player struggles with efficiency until the ages of 23-25.

    So what does this say about Anthony Randolph? It tells us not to put too much into poor shooting efficiency for very young players. Unlike Eddy Curry, Randolph is likely to fix his main deficiency as he ages. Since Randolph posted a TS% of 52.1% in his age 20 season, with a normal career path his TS% should be somewhere around the league average (54%) by age 24. Unfortunately, this change won’t happen overnight, and Knick fans are likely to have to sit through their fair share of bad shooting nights for the next year or two before Randolph puts it all together.

    Chris Paul Poll/Weekend Open Thread

    How Far Would You Go To Get Chris Paul?

    • I'd give up guys like Chandler, Douglas, Azuibuke, Turiaf, and Curry is about as far as I'd go. (27%, 306 Votes)
    • One of Gallinari or Randolph, along with a few other guys. (27%, 301 Votes)
    • I'd trade Gallo or Randolph and take Okafor as well. (21%, 242 Votes)
    • Neither of Gallo or Randolph, but I'd take back Okafor (contract is $14.8M in 2014). (13%, 150 Votes)
    • Actually I'd consider both of Gallinari and Randolph, along with a few other guys. (11%, 127 Votes)

    Total Voters: 1,126

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    From the Mailbox: T-Mac for 2011?

    Been a while since I’ve gotten a request from the old inbox, so I thought I’d take the time to answer.

    Do the Knicks have any interest what-so-ever in resigning Tracy McGrady? I know that most people think T-Mac will never be half the player that he once was, and there is more than enough evidence to support that. However, he won’t be worse than he was last year, and last year, even injured, he still always seemed to have the highest IQ on the floor, especially in a Knicks uniform. He can pass as good as anyone in the NBA, and hes clutch. Additionally, Wilson Chandler is a small forward, not a 2 guard. I like him, but he does not have the handling, or the jump shot the Knicks need at SHOOTING guard. Bill Walker is good, but i dont think he is ready to start just yet. So again, do you know if the knicks have any interest in T-Mac? Looking forward to your response!

    Thanks,
    James

    First, the reliable Alan “my sources say LeBron is going to Miami” Hahn tweeted that neither McGrady nor the Knicks were interested in a reunion. So it doesn’t seem like a likely possibility.

    Second, I’ll start this off by saying I’m not a fan of McGrady’s, and I’ll try to convince any New Yorker not to be either. Let’s look at what I said about him after the season ended:

    I had hoped that McGrady would benefit from a reduction in shot attempts upon arriving in New York. But even when he cut his FGA/36 to 12.6, T-Mac put up the lowest TS% of his career (46.6%). You know your career is over when you’re a former All Star trying to beat out Chris Duhon for a starting job, and you fail. Probably some team will sign him to a minor contract this year, I just hope it isn’t New York.

    How bad is a 46.6% TS%? Well Jared Jeffries managed a TS% of 52.4% for the Knicks last year. Chris Duhon was at 50.1%. Larry Hughes was at 47.3%. Darko Milicic 47.1%. This number is a personal low for McGrady, but poor shooting has been a staple of his late career. In 4 of the last 5 years McGrady hasn’t gotten his TS% above 50%. And mind you that 54% is the league average for true shooting percentage.

    I agree that McGrady has good basketball IQ with regards to passing. However the prerequisite for shooting guard is, as you aptly put it, “SHOOTING.” And hands down T-Mac was one of the worst in the league. If there is any role for McGrady to play in an NBA offense it’s point guard, but even then he’d need to be the basketball equivalent of Stephen Hawkin to make up for his poor shot.

    Now, it’s been no great secret that shooting guard has been a Knick weakness for the past few seasons. As you point out, Wilson Chandler is a forward masquerading as a guard and this summer didn’t do anything to improve Bill Walker’s stock. However, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Chandler finally addresses one of his offensive weaknesses (although I’m still waiting). Nor is it inconceivable that Bill Walker turns into an NBA starter at shooting guard. But if neither happens New York has more depth beyond them. Azubuike was a starter for most of 2009, and seems to be a great fit for D’Antoni. Douglas will likely see time alongside Felton, and either Fields or Rautins could surprise fans this year as well. Between Chandler, Walker, Azubuike, Fields, Rautins, and Douglas the Knicks finally have some better options to get some real production from the 2 spot this year.

    The U.N. Intramural Squad Or Something More?

    Standing outside Madison Square Garden some summers ago, near the atm’s, yards away from Gerry Cosby’s. Through the glass doors, newly hired Knicks boss Donnie Walsh walked out. I watched as he stood there, lit a cigarette, a Clifford Odetts character in the flesh, he shoulda been named Sydney. As in the guy with the job nobody else wanted, toiling under the boss the whole city smirked about, for a franchise in perpetual free-fall. The suit too big, the bags under the eyes, this was a guy, this Donnie Walsh, made Jeff Van Gundy look like Randy Couture. This Donnie Walsh was a guy, you see him in a bar and you’re compelled to buy him a drink, sit him down and tell him (a’la Tony Curtis in The Sweet Smell of Success), “the cat’s in the bag and the bag is in the river.” You tell him run for your life, it’s not too late to quit this job you have undertaken.

    I shake his hand and wish him luck, mentioning to we share the same alma mater, Fordham Preparatory School in The Bronx. We alumni refer to it simply as “The Prep.” Learned a lot about patience at “The Prep.” Jesuits are part Obi Wan Kenobi, part F. Lee Ermey, the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket (may he rest in peace).

    Donnie Walsh knows a lot about patience having learned from the best. He waited patiently before he removed Isiah Thomas as coach. The replacement, Mike D’Antoni, was known for his seven seconds or less offense, a perception of his teams lack of defense, international fame a result of years playing in Italy, and his ability to recruit all-star talent.

    Donnie Walsh had a vision. He waited, traded away the Knicks best players, and watched the team lose to clear cap room and got the Knicks in position to pursue free agents. One can only guess that he painfully watched as several of the bigger names formed their own fantasy basketball camp in South Beach.

    Those unsure of his vision for the team need only take a second look at the group now assembled in blue, orange and white. For just a second, forget about the “Chosen One” who chose not to be in the Knicks picture. Look instead at the team Walsh has assembled.

    Because it might be that all Donnie Walsh has done is carve a team out of the same stone of which New York City is built. If he pulls it off, if this team wins, ignore the suit, dismiss the wheelchair, if he pulls this off cabbies should scream out “Donnie Basketball” as they drive by.

    New York is and always has been a “melting pot” of cultures, religons, ideas, tastes, culinary delights, dances, dialects, music, sounds. Go to Little Italy, Harlem, Chinatown, the Theatre District, Wall Street, the energy is there, distinctive, bright colors, vibrant sounds… one bold experiment.

    The 2010 New York Knicks for the first time in franchise history are an extension of the shared experiment that is New York. On the likely fifteen man roster, there’s an Italian, a Russian, a Canadian, a Frenchman (from Martinique), a German, a Londoner, a Jamaican… nearly half the roster are players with passports from their home nations. How will these guys pick what restaurant they eat out at together?

    None of this is by accident. Donnie Walsh sought out a “team that made sense…” He sought out personality types as well as skill sets that when together might add up to a sum greater than the parts.

    He also sought out individuals who were up to the challenge that is New York, who want to be here. Ask any native New Yorker or passing tourist: when you step out on the streets of New York, you had better be ready. The sidewalk warns “keep up, or get out of the way,” in about twenty different languages. You get the point, whether its a horn, a shout or a finger. At Madison Square Garden, the cheers don’t get any louder in the league, but the same can be said of the boos. On that stage you can become legendary or you can become infamous. In the case of John Starks you can become both. And in New York, you become that for life. Like being a “Parcells Guy.” Or playing for ” Mr. Torre.”

    This current team, this 2010 edition seems special. Gallinari the Italian Knick, has in two years proven to be one of the top shooters in the NBA. It is no accident his nickname is “The Rooster,” an inference to his cockiness. The new aquisitions are long on edge. Turiaf, the Frenchman is a veteran willing to dispatch his limbs in the path of those bold enough to speed into his paint. Mozgov, the seven foot one Russian, has displayed a fire and flamboyance, a desire to dunk and block shots. And the Jamacian Jerome Jordan, a seven foot draftee joins him. Anthony Randolph, the German born player, is the simply the second coming of Marcus Camby, an uncanny dunker who posesses a jump shot that at his height is matched only by Kevin Durant. Azibuke, the Londoner, is smooth, among the best shooter/slasher the Knicks have had in a decade. The Canadian, draftee Andy Rautins, a coaches son, and a three point arsonist, who at Syracuse, played his college home games at Madison Square Garden.

    They are led by All star Amare Stoudamire and Raymond Felton, both provide leadership and heart. The New York Knicks may have quietly turned the corner. The J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets finished a game away from the Superbowl as that team took on the attitude of its new coach.

    This team, Donnie’s team, seems to be an extension of a vision, perhaps without a single name written on it, but rather characteristics, personality traits, skill sets.

    How will they fare? Will they simply look like the United Nations Intramural squad, against say the Celtics? We’ll know soon. The New York Knicks will unveil their new look in Milan and Paris this fall as part of an NBA Global initiative. The anticipation is high. The Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Braves once laid claim to “America’s Team.”
    Now the stage is set for the 2010 New York Knicks, The World’s Team.
    Knick fans across the globe can dream of the playoffs in English, Italian, Russian, French, German or the language of their choice.

    If they win, we should all give “Donnie Basketball” the credit for having the vision.