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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Open Letter to Donnie Walsh

Dear Mr. Walsh,

My name is Jon Abbey, and I’m a lifelong Knicks fan (“Hi, Jon!”). I won’t say “long-suffering”, because it is only sports, but it hasn’t always been the most pleasurable ride, although there have been bright spots along the way. My first memories are of the teams of the late seventies: Campy Russell, Marvin Webster, Sly Williams, Mike Glenn (such a sweet stroke), Ray Williams and Sugar Ray. If I wasn’t hooked already, the famous Bernard King/Isiah Thomas showdown in a deciding game 5 when I was a senior in high school clinched it. There have been high points since: two Finals trips, nine straight seasons making at least the second round of the playoffs, Anthony Mason’s unique brand of studliness, Nate’s game in Atlanta a few weeks ago, and I’m sure plenty more. But the bottom line, seeing the boys in orange and blue win it all, has yet to happen in my conscious-of-basketball-lifetime, which is getting close to its fourth decade.

But we’re all well aware of this sad history, so why am I repeating it? Because, for the first time in a fandom that stretches back to the Carter presidency, I see a way that we can be a serious title contender, and even more than that, one with a relatively big window to win titles. I’m sure that you are aware of most or all of what I’m about to write, but on the off chance any of it hasn’t occurred to you and could possibly be useful in any way, I feel compelled to at least get it out there.

So, what’s my plan? Obviously any realistic title contender we’d have would begin with LeBron and builds around him. This is the team I would try to construct next season (age as of next October):

PF-LeBron James (25 years, 9 months)
PG-Joe Johnson (29 years, 3 months)
C-David Lee (27 years, 6 months; 6’9″)
SG-Wilson Chandler (23 years, 5 months, 6’8″)
SF-Danilo Gallinari (22 years, 2 months, 6’10″)

My assembled five doesn’t have a natural PG or a conventional center, but I think it’s a great fit for a starting lineup for D’Antoni, who seems quite reluctant to play conventional centers anyway. With so much offense from the starters, the bench players could do other things, a distributing PG, a defensive big man a la Przybilla (I’ve always been a big Brendan Haywood fan, also a FA this summer, although this relies in part on if D’Antoni will ever play him), maybe Jeffries as a defensive stopper swingman, maybe Jordan Hill can develop into an energy backup big.

Also, under this plan, NY wouldn’t undergo the almost total roster turnover that we’ve been thinking they would have to, which should speed up the team cohesion process as well.

Gone: Harrington, Hughes, Nate, Duhon
Arrivals: LeBron, Johnson, a PG, maybe Haywood

Why Joe Johnson and not Wade or Bosh? Wade is more injury prone, and would have a bit of trouble being a second fiddle. As for Bosh, the other four starters can all guard the post and Bosh is a more expensive, possibly slightly better version of Lee. Additionally Johnson should be the least expensive of the lot.

Of course it first depends on landing LeBron, but if we did, Lee and Johnson would be the complementary stars on a title contender for years to come. There could be a few ways to achieve this, but one avenue would be to involve Nike as a third party. Having a LeBron/Johnson duo in metropolis like New York would be a marketing dream for them, which in turn would mean more money for King James.

I’ll leave the specific financial details to other people, but I think this could happen if LeBron wanted it to. Presumably Johnson would be into the Pippen role (he’s not going to be the best guy on a title team, but he could certainly be a #2 to LeBron), and Lee would want to stay in New York for the ride. If LeBron says yes, assuming he’s willing to leave cap room for Johnson and Lee, they shouldn’t be too hard to get in line.

Selling points to LeBron?

1) Instant Title Contender
It doesn’t take much around him, but Joe Johnson would probably be the most talented player LeBron has been teamed with. Add a few role players on the bench, this team could make a run very quickly.

2) New York City
Clearly this is and always has been our main selling point, coupled with the Nets not getting to Brooklyn for at least two seasons. NY is a hoops city (more than football or baseball) when we’re given the chance, and LeBron would instantly be the best player in Knicks history the moment he signed the contract. He’d have a chance to own NY pro hoops history, which could never happen in Chicago or LA or Boston. In Bill Simmons’ ‘Book of Basketball’, the highest Knick in his alltime player rankings is Clyde Frazier at 32. LeBron was already #20 when the rankings were set in early 2009. New York basketball would be LeBron James.

3) The Yankees
In an unprecedented joint move in a clawback for all of the tax breaks and cash they gave for the Stadium, the city of New York gets the Yankees to promise that as long as LeBron plays for the Knicks, any September that he wants, he can be added to the 40 man roster and activated, to sit on the bench with his boys and maybe even occasionally get in a lopsided game. This one is only partly serious, but should at least be investigated by the powers that be before being dismissed. Every little bit helps. :)

4) His Legacy
In addition to being the greatest basketball player in New York City history, under D’Antoni, he would have more freedom to be a kind of player we’ve never seen before. He could be Magic Johnson with Dwight Howard’s athleticism. He could try to average a triple double for a season if he wanted, he could defend the other team’s post players at times (hopefully not too much, this would wear on even him over the course of the year, but as another option to keep him interested), etc, etc. D’Antoni is far from perfect as a coach, but the amount of freedom that he allows his players is pretty unique and why (good) players love playing for him.

So, Donnie, this is your chance to make basketball matter again in the Big Apple. Talk to Nike, talk to Bloomberg, talk to the Yankees, talk to whoever you need to. Make this happen. July 1 is approaching fast.

170 comments on “An Open Letter to Donnie Walsh

  1. Mike Kurylo

    I think another way to accomplish this would be to sign LeBron & Lee. Then do a sign & trade for Johnson. The Knicks could use someone like Curry/Jeffries to match salaries and sweeten the pot with Hill or Douglas. Perhaps even Nate Robinson could be used in such a deal as well (I’m thinking off the top of my head, so I’m not 100% sure you could do a double sign & trade – but why not?).

  2. mase

    as a knick fan I fully endorse this letter; although I think Wade would be a better sidekick to lebron than Johnson. there would be no ego issue whatsoever, both are friends!

  3. jon abbey Post author

    thanks, mase. I think it’s more likely that Wade goes to his hometown Bulls, with Derrick Rose as his sidekick. the Knicks/Bulls rivalry would be back in full effect!

  4. mase

    welcome.
    do you think Wade would go to chicago if Lebron signed here and we had cap space to sign him, i think they would want to play together?

  5. hero

    This scenario is not really realistic. We don’t have enough room for Lee, Johnson and Lebron and Atlanta is not trading us Joe Johnson.
    Lebron and Lee is the most likely scenario. Lee and Lebron are excellent passers, Chandler and Gallo are improving their passing skills. Jeffries and douglas and Lebron are outstanding defenders. Starting five would be Lee, Lebron, Gallo, Will and Douglas. Jeffries and Hill off the bench. We need another scorer off the bench. If we can sign nate it would be great. He has a really good jumpshot. So if we sign Lebron who is great and drive and kick then we will have Gallo, Will, Lee and Nate on the perimeter and all have good jumpshots if you want to go offense and can have Jeffries and Douglas instead of Lee and Nate if you want to go defense. Hill will continue to get better and we have Curry’s expiring contract to trade to get some overpaid star that a team is trying to get rid of or dalmabert who is an excellent defender. Not sure how he would do on the offensive end but we would have a solid defense. Our 2nd round picks or if we trade for the first round should be a scorer off the bench.

  6. jon abbey Post author

    I mean, I don’t really know any better than you, but I think that given those two situations, Wade would pick Chicago. I’ll be very surprised if he ends up anywhere but Miami or Chicago, he just doesn’t seem like a NY guy.

  7. jon abbey Post author

    the previous answer was for Mase…

    “This scenario is not really realistic. We don’t have enough room for Lee, Johnson and Lebron ”

    yes, we know the conventional wisdom, we’ve all read it a billion times. you need to read the piece again maybe.

  8. knicksrgreat

    The only thing that really matters is that the Knicks get Lebron or Wade. I have no idea if that is possible, it seems pretty improbable except if Lebron really wants to play in New York.

    But if you are going to assume the Knicks are some how able to get Lebron then I think the most important second piece is an excellent center. You’ve seen what Kobe + Shaq, Kobe + Gasol & Wade + Shaq can do. Its not very complicated, those types of players on the same team tend to be flat out dominant. In my opinion the best option would be for the Knicks to get Bosh. While I think David Lee is an excellent player who increases a teams’ efficiency like few if any other centers in the league have this year, he would not be able to provide the same type of compliment that Chris Bosh would. Because of Bosh’s advantage as far as height and athleticism Lebron would be able to use him as a much more effective weapon on offense. For the same reason I would much prefer Bosh over Joe Johnson. Johnson is another player that I really like, he makes good decisions can create off the dribble or shoot. But I think he is the wrong type of compliment for Lebron.

    Another advantage of Bosh over either of those player’s is that his interior defense is superior.

    As a side note on David Lee, a lot of people have been saying they think he is close to or at his ceiling as far as his ability. I don’t think he is and I really hope he isn’t. If he can work hard enough and keep improving his jump shot then his drives will become more effective. If he keeps killing teams with his shots/dribble drives like he did Shaq and the Cavs (what a statement game for him that could have been…) then he will start seeing double teams which will open up a lot of options for other teamates. From there if he can improve his passing then he will be a true all-star and a very valuable player. I love his hustle on the offensive end, he reads where the ball is going so much better than other players it is ridiculous sometimes. Unfortunately he gives away a lot of his offensive advantage at the defensive end. I’m not sure if he is going to improve much at that end but he does find creative way to stop much larger players every once in a while. With all that said if I were the coach I would force more offense on Lee, get him to take 5 or so more shots per game and really test him to see if could carry the team even if he gets double teamed. Also, I would have someone else guard the true centers like Bosh & Shaq like Jeffries or Curry when he was healthy.

    One last note; for all the Knicks fans out there, lets pray Duhon finds his shot again!

  9. Z

    Good first piece Jon! I think your plan is as good a one as Walsh can possibly shoot for.

    “one avenue would be to involve Nike as a third party. Having a LeBron/Johnson duo in metropolis like New York would be a marketing dream for them, which in turn would mean more money for King James.”

    I think there may be some gray area of legality here. This comes from the Salary Cap FAQ:

    (Question 22): “Can a team circumvent the salary cap by paying a player less but arranging for an affiliated company to also pay him, perhaps by way of an endorsement contract?

    Answer: I suppose it could happen, but the NBA will investigate if it suspects that an outside person or organization is paying a player on behalf or at the request of a team. If they find out that such an event has occurred, they will penalize the team. For the first offense by a team, the fine can be up to $2,500,000, forfeiture of a first round draft pick, and/or voiding the player’s contract. The penalties increase for subsequent violations.”

    Obviously the league can’t tell Nike how much or how little to pay LeBron should he move to NY. But Walsh having conversations with Nike could be tampering. I think it’s probably something that is out of his control, and he just needs to take the leap of faith that LeBron’s handlers know how to milk Nike for all they can.

    Either that or forfeit the picks and the fines as they are still a small price to pay to get LeBron to NY!

  10. hero

    Two really importmant questions in the off season are

    1) How much is Lee worth $12-14 million and can we afford him
    and a max player? If not we get Lebron and who else or

    2) If we don’t get Lebron, Wade or Bosh. Then we would sign
    Lee and who else? Camby? Mike Miller? Sergio? Ray Allen?
    Luke Ridnour? Tyrus Thomas? Tim Thomas? Carlos Boozer?

  11. jon abbey Post author

    thanks, Z!

    yeah, any Nike involvement would of course be dubious, but I don’t think the NBA could do anything about a deal between LeBron and Nike unless they proved the Knicks were involved. it also wouldn’t even have to be immediate, it could kick in a year later or something.

    I’m not a fan of Bosh. as I said in the piece, I think he’s a more expensive, slightly better version of Lee. neither of them plays much D, I’d rather keep Lee and get a defensive center to push him to PF when the matchup required it.

  12. Mike Kurylo

    Can someone tell me if I’m off-base with my sign & trade idea? It seems pretty foolproof. We know the Knicks can sign LeBron/Lee outright. So why can’t they engineer a S/T for Joe Johnson which would make this scenario work? New York has at least 2 expiring contracts that they can use Curry/Jeffries.

    Also come to think of it, with regards to Nate, he’ll have a cap hold on the team. So I think it comes down to if his cap hold will be too much for the Knicks to have room for LeBron and Lee. If they can sign those two with Nate’s cap hold, then I think they can use Robinson in a sign & trade.

  13. TheRooster8

    Am I the only reader that doesn’t understand how this makes sense? For one, the knicks do not have even close to the available salary cap to create that team. While sign and trades will become possible in the off-season as Jeffries/Curry become expiring deals, the big question here is: why would Atlanta trade their best player for mediocre talent and an expiring contract when they are arguably the 3rd or 4th best team in the East already? and why would they trade him to what will immediately turn into their top competition? The only scenario where the knicks can sign and trade next year’s expiring contracts, is a situation where the player is demanding out (possibly Bosh) or a team in the Western Conference.

    I think the move is to package Robinson, Lee, or Chandler (preferably) with Jeffries/Curry to pick up another expiring deal. Chandler in particular, a two who does not shoot or handle particularly well, should not be an attractive piece to lebron. Lebron needs shooters and tough nosed hustle players around him and Chandler is neither.

  14. jon abbey Post author

    “For one, the knicks do not have even close to the available salary cap to create that team. ”

    they do if LeBron takes much less than the maximum, something he’s already said publicly is an option (in the press conference after the Knicks game at MSG early this year).

    basically, LeBron can do whatever he wants, he holds all the cards. we’re banking on his desire to play at MSG 50+ times a year, he can make whatever he wants happen if he wants that badly enough.

  15. Frank

    If Johnson is willing to sign with the Knicks, he can just walk from Atlanta leaving them with nothing. So if the Hawks are convinced he’s leaving no matter what, it would be beneficial to them to at least get something back. And Curry’s and Jefferies’s $17MM in expiring contracts are very valuable in this day and age. Since he has NO CONTRACT with the Hawks, they can’t even decide to ship him somewhere else ie. Western Conference unless Johnson agrees to be a part of that particular S&T.

    So it’s not out of the question even thought the Knicks and Hawks are in the same conference and could be called rivals.

  16. taggart4800

    I definately think that once the FA circus has finished the usual suspects will be looking to dump salaries. The small markets obviously would be leading the way and part of me thinks that if you took another big contract off their hands and swallowed the pill of a couple of first round picks then maybe the Hornets would let Paul go in the summer.

    Knicks get

    Paul
    Okafor (Horrendous Contract, not saying i want it, but we have to be realistic)

    NOLA get

    Curry
    Jeffries
    Nate
    Landry
    Plus 1/2 first round draft picks

    8 man rotation would be

    Paul
    Douglas
    Chandler
    LeBron
    Gallo
    Lee
    Okafor
    Hill

    Really can’t see why if we got paul as well as lebron why we would need our picks anyway.

  17. TheRooster8

    Are you really suggesting that LeBron is not only going to forgo the additional money he can get in Cleveland, AND take less than a max deal as well? Yes, obviously “LeBron holds all the cards”, but let’s not be delusional. Assuming they pick up JJ, is LBJ going to leave tens of millions on the table to come to a team has (potentially) 1 all-star and outside of JJ no playoff experience? Additionally, this would also mean that both Lee and JJ are taking less than their market value, since in addition to the “superstars” the Knicks will be signing, they must fill out the bench with solid role players.

    While i dream every night of LBJ in blue and orange, its just silly to assume that LBJ wants to be here as much as we want him…he has no connection to NYC or the Knicks, the Knicks have a below average team without a true center, true point guard, or true All-Star sidekick, and while his surrounding cast may not be stellar, they play great defense and have actually picked up their offense this year.

    The best bet is to package someone, anyone, to get a contract like McGrady or Ray Allen, even if it means parting with Chandler, Robinson, Lee, Hill, or Douglas (along with Jeffries/Curry). Only Gallinari should be untouchable on this team. Only the ability to sign two top players will be enough to pry him away.

  18. jon abbey Post author

    “Are you really suggesting that LeBron is not only going to forgo the additional money he can get in Cleveland, AND take less than a max deal as well?”

    yes, I think there’s a very good chance of that actually. taking a max deal cripples the ability to give him other quality players to play with in most situations.

    “its just silly to assume that LBJ wants to be here as much as we want him…he has no connection to NYC or the Knicks”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs2007/news/story?id=3050742

  19. TheRooster8

    So you’re postulating that b/c LBJ wore the most popular type of hat in the world that he wants to play for the Knicks? That’s like assuming because he said he could play TE that he’ll actually sign with the Browns.

    Look, I want him here as badly as the next guy, all I’m saying is the other teams in the East are not going to help the Knicks position to get LBJ. And if he really only cares about winning, and you are looking at this objectively, the Knicks do not have the talent or playoff experience in place to win a title as quickly as Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Cleveland, or even the Clippers do. (all of whom will probably have space to sign him). So you’re basically saying NYC is enough for him to forgo all the other aspects of team basketball.

  20. jon abbey Post author

    “So you’re postulating that b/c LBJ wore the most popular type of hat in the world that he wants to play for the Knicks? ”

    no, he wore a Yankee hat and openly cheered for the Yankees at an Indians home playoff game, that’s quite a bit more, especially given all of Cleveland’s playoff history in different sports.

    but I’m postulating that he wants to play for the Knicks because it would have been the easiest thing in the world to say he doesn’t want to, and he has yet to do that. until that happens, or he signs elsewhere, I will continue to believe he’s coming here this summer.

    “So you’re basically saying NYC is enough for him to forgo all the other aspects of team basketball.”

    yes, but also I don’t think he needs too much help at this point to start winning titles.

  21. Brian Cronin

    I think there’s a very realistic chance of Lebron coming to New York, but I also don’t believe that he will leave any money on the table. Of course, neither you nor I know the inner workings of Lebron’s mind, so all I can do is cite precedents. There is precedent for players of Labron’s caliber leaving their team to go play for a more popular city (Shaq leaving Orlando for Los Angeles), even if that new city was not yet ready to compete for a championship and the previous team was. There is precedent of players of Lebron and Wade (or Johnson or Bosh)’s caliber deciding to leave their less-popular cities (T-Mac and Hill leaving Toronto and Detroit, respectively) to go to a more popular city so that they could play together and try to win some titles together.

    There is no precedent, though, for a player of Lebron’s caliber (or more importantly, his age) leaving any money on the table whatsoever.

    All we have as a slight comparison is when the 67-year old Karl Malone took a cheap one-year deal to sign with the Lakers for one more chance at winning a title before he retired, as well as the 50 year old Gary Payton taking the mid-level exception to do the same. When both of those players were younger, however, neither of them left any money on the table when it came to negotiations.

    Precedent, though, helps the Knicks when people argue stuff like, “Team X will never do a sign and trade with the Knicks!” or “Player Y would never leave his team unless he knew that they would have a good sign and trade to replace him.” As there are plenty of precedents for the former and zero for the latter.

  22. TheRooster8

    Brian Cronin, someone speaking some logic out here!

    Abby, is Bosh going to dallas for sure, since he said “its the best city in the world” and grew up there, and rocks Dallas Cowboy jerseys?

    If I’m running the knicks, I’m thinking a bird in hand is worth more. Make some moves now. Pick up a PG. Take a run at Amare. Something. It worries me that the Knicks present and future is a bet on one player taking less money to go to a less talented team and leave his hometown behind.

    (Shaq signed w/LA and they drafted Kobe that off season, not to mention went to the second round that year)

  23. jon abbey Post author

    “If I’m running the knicks, I’m thinking a bird in hand is worth more. Make some moves now. Pick up a PG. Take a run at Amare.”

    thankfully you’re not running the Knicks.

  24. TheRooster8

    You’re right, Donnie’s doing a bang up job. The NYK are a LBJ snub away from another 30 win season. Unless we utilize you’re brilliant strategy of ignoring the CBA rules. Maybe we can get Dwight Howard too!

  25. jon abbey Post author

    “you’re brilliant strategy”

    hehe.

    look, obviously my plan involves somewhat wishful thinking, but Amare is not the answer to anything except “who’s going to sign a deal for way more than he’s worth”.

    the team that has LeBron will be in championship contention for the next 6-10 years, as long as he’s healthy. if he chooses not to come, we can figure out what to do then, but as long as there’s a chance, that needs to be plan A, B, and C.

  26. Z

    “Can someone tell me if I’m off-base with my sign & trade idea? It seems pretty foolproof. We know the Knicks can sign LeBron/Lee outright. So why can’t they engineer a S/T for Joe Johnson which would make this scenario work? New York has at least 2 expiring contracts that they can use Curry/Jeffries.

    Also come to think of it, with regards to Nate, he’ll have a cap hold on the team. So I think it comes down to if his cap hold will be too much for the Knicks to have room for LeBron and Lee. If they can sign those two with Nate’s cap hold, then I think they can use Robinson in a sign & trade.”

    You are not off base. Once the Knicks reach the cap, they can still go as far over it as they like, assuming the they have salaries to trade away that match up. But if they are over the cap then Atlanta, in this case, would have more power to demand players better than Curry and Jeffries in return.

    Nate’s cap hold is $8 million. But he can be renounced and still be signed-and-traded away. So even if the Hawks don’t want Jeffries or Curry, a Joe Johnson trade can still be worked out with, say, Harrington and Robinson if neither are in the Knicks’ long term plans.

    Anyway, I think this is what you are getting at, and it seems possible, if not probable.

  27. Z

    Sorry– I just reread what I wrote, and it’s not quite as simple (or foolproof) as I made it seem. Once the Knicks are at the cap (if they sign Lee and LeBron) a sign-and-trade for Johnson DOES become more complicated because the Knicks would lose their power to force Atlanta’s hand in a trade. It’s why cap-space is so valuable (and why trading Crawford, Randolph, Jeffries, and Curry has been priority #1 for Walsh).

  28. Ben R

    I might be the only one but I think as a sidekick to a superstar like Wade or LeBron, Lee is actually better than Bosh, money completely aside. Bosh is a better player but he dominates the ball on offense and needs to be the focus to be truly effective. Lee on the other hand is one of the best if not the best player in the league at scoring while not dominating the ball. He creates offensive flow while most 20 point per game scorers tend to stop or at least funnel the offensive flow towards them.

    The truly great thing about Jon’s lineup is there is a true #1 option and then great second, third, fourth, and fifth options. If we signed LeBron and a second superstar like Wade, or Bosh or even Paul it would in my opinion diminish the effectiveness of the second option. They would still be great players but how much better as a second option is Bosh than Lee, Wade than Johnson, etc. Pippen was a great second option because he played like one, never averaging more than 20 pts per 36 (except in the 93-94 season when Jordan didn’t play and the 94-95 season when Jordan played 17 games). He never needed to dominate the ball and he always knew his role.

    If we sign LeBron, which I still believe is a longshot, we need to build a team that can best take advantage of his unique skills, which is what Jon did, not build an all-star team.

  29. TheRooster8

    I don’t want Amare, Lee is essentially his equal or superior at this point. I just think the Knicks have to make a move prior to the off-season to build a competitive team. Most important is getting a PG. MDA’s offense is based around a PG (NASH!!), if the NYK get LBJ and no PG, they’re going to be running the Cav’s offense, or LBJ will be bringing it up court (not what he should be doing at this point).

    To respond to Z/anyone who thinks the knicks can sign LBJ and Lee and another near max player in a sign and trade: Do you realize that in addition to signing the big guys, nearly all the roster is out of contract. (only Gallo, Hill, TD, JJ, Curry, Chandler remain) (http://hoopshype.com/salaries/new_york.htm) They are going to need to fill out the bench, and with quality guys if they get LBJ. Even if you suggest they get LBJ, sign Lee, and trade JJ for Curry/Jeffries and another player, that leaves 8-9 open roster spots that must be paid. THAT is why they cannot do it. (in addition to the fact the Hawks won’t s/t JJ to the knicks, b/c the Knicks won’t be able to sign him in free agency and the Hawks (the 3rd/4th best EC team) won’t want to help their direct competition.

  30. TheRooster8

    Ben…Pippen only played second fiddle b/c he had MJ, like anyone would have to play second fiddle to LBJ. When MJ was gone, Pippen lead those teams in most offensive categories, was an MVP candidate, and was one of the best players in the league. Plus, being number 1a. would extend DWade’s career, as you can only drive and jump into defenders for so long before you get worn down.

  31. TheRooster8

    Pippen averaged a 20-22ppg, around 8 rebounds, 5.5 assts and 3 steals in the two years MJ was gone….pretty damn solid.

    Time for shoot around! Gotta get that W tonight.

  32. Owen

    Excellent piece, excellent thread Jon.

    My comment would be that I don’t love Joe Johnson unless he comes at a very reasonable price (which he won’t). He is having an excellent season, far better than his previous seasons, and he certainly is well above average, but to me he isn’t close to being a blue chip, 12-15 mil talent. I would say he falls well short even of the second tier superstar status which Bosh typifies. The Hawks have gotten good in the last two years and Johnson has gotten a lot of credit for it, but the weren’t any good until Al Horford arrived.

    Johnson may be the guy who makes the move palatable for Lebron but I wonder if he would be the stumbling block on the road to multiple championships, both because of his talent and salary. Also, he really isn’t quite as young as you would like for a guy you are committing major money to for the long term.

    Lebron, Lee, and Johnson would be way better than anything we have seen on the Garden floor in my lifetime, and I would take it. But in the fantasy scenario where Lebron comes to New York, we stand a much better chance of winning multiple championships I think if we fill the shooting guard spot with a cheaper stopgap who wants to play with Lebron (Manu?Ray Allen or a young talent) and preserve cap flexibility to go after somebody who represents better value for money in 2011.

  33. Brian Cronin

    You know who’d be an interesting possible trade partner? Dallas.

    If they can’t get any of the guys they’re trying for (Kevin Martin, Iggy, etc.), then perhaps they’d be interested in, say, Chandler to the point where they’d take back Jeffries, as well. Dallas has a good deal of expiring contracts.

    What’s the current situation with Dampier’s contract? Is he on course for his option to kick in? I’d imagine it’s a “no,” but I don’t know for sure. If it is no, then Jeffries, Chandler and Mobley for Dampier, Ross and Singleton would work, cap-wise.

  34. TDM

    “There is no precedent, though, for a player of Lebron’s caliber (or more importantly, his age) leaving any money on the table whatsoever.”

    Actually, we do have precedent — LBJ, Tim Duncan and Wade all left money on the table when they signed past deals. In fact, LBJ left 20M on the table when he signed a 3 year deal with Cleveland.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2516735
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2515812

    I don’t think it is too crazy to think that LBJ would leave money on the table to ensure that NY has money to spend on filling out the roster with solid players (and hopefully one other all-star caliber player). Throw in the fact that it has long been rumored that LBJ has an endorsement kicker from Nike if he plays in one of the big markets (CHI, NY, LA). Finally, the interns at MSG are much hotter than at Quicken Loans Arena.

    In my opinion, the biggest hurdle for NY is how well the Cavaliers perform in the playoffs. If they win an NBA championship, we have no shot of landing LBJ. If they lose in the first round to Miami, we may be able to get him for pennies on the dollar.

  35. latke

    One factor you all haven’t mentioned: If the Cavs win the championship there’s no way LeBron will leave. I don’t even think I have to explain why. Right now Vegas puts the Cavs’ odds at 3-2 — tied for first with the Lakers.

    If LeBron does not come, a more reasonable lineup might look like this:

    PG: Louis Williams

    The trade: http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yljm4sq

    He’s supposedly on the block right now. He’s lightning off the dribble and can shoot from the outside. The sixers probably want to ditch the four years and $50 million left on Brand’s contract, and sure, they take on Curry’s contract, but it’s $40 million cheaper than Brand’s, and they also get Chandler and Hill — if anything this is a better deal for the Sixers.

    Net salary cap change: +$1 million

    SG: LeBron James:

    Net salary cap change: -$16.5 million

    SF: Danilo Gallinari

    PF: David Lee

    Net salary cap change: -$10 million

    C: Marcus Camby

    He has a decent perimeter shot, is an excellent passer, and is a monster on defense. Also, because if his age (he will be 36 next year) he could probably be had for the MLE.

    You have Brand’s albatross contract, but he’s still a decent player, strong on defense, and a good scorer, and you never know — he’s been hurt a lot recently. He may recover some of what he appears to have lost. He can also guard centers much more effectively than David Lee.

    You’re still a couple million under the cap, and I don’t know what the rules are regarding MLE… Can you sign a player to the MLE if you start the offseason below the cap? Camby might even sign for the vet’s minimum. He seemed pretty upset when NYC traded him before, and the prospect of playing for a contender has to be a draw.

  36. Brian Cronin

    If LeBron does not come, a more reasonable lineup might look like this:

    Why is Lebron in the lineup you posted then? I don’t get it.

  37. latke

    oops, that should have read “if LeBron does come”

    Also, as far as a player taking a reduced salary to benefit the team, didn’t Duncan do that a few years back?

  38. SeeWhyDee77

    Great letter Jon. But u left one important moment in Knick History, post 70′s….JVG HANGING ONTO ZO’S LEG LIKE HIS INFANT CHILD TRYIN 2 STOP HIM FROM LEAVING FOR WORK IN THE MORNING!!! LMAO-classic. In all seriousness..I haven’t thought too much about Joe Johnson b/c he’s 29 already, but man! He would be a great compliment to LBJ if we could land him. I would prefer to sacrifice Chandler for a chance to land those 2 and allow Johnson to play the 2, but your proposed lineup would make me very happy. U know, the more I think about it-we may hafta lose players like Chandler & Hill to clear cap space for the summer. Chandler, as improved as he is, I can live without. In Hill’s case, that might be a tough pill to swallow..he’s starting to show some game-on both ends.

  39. Robert Silverman

    Beginning of dork screed:

    Wait. Mike, was the subheader for this article — “Jon Abbey has evolved from commenter to writer. And he has a plan.” — a Battlestar Galactica reference?

    And are you suggesting that the writers on this site are all secretly Cylons?

    My god, am I a Cylon??? Fracking Skinjobs!!!!

    End of dork screed. Please continue talkin’ hoops.

  40. BigBlueAL

    Damn not one comment about tonight’s game and its the end of the 3rd quarter. Good game until Gallo’s injury. I just cant wait for this season to end.

  41. Kikuchiyo

    Al, I’m watching. As long as the Knicks win–and JJ’s 3 just now should help–I’m okay with how they’re playing.

    Chandler has really won me over in the last two months. He’s a bit like a Tayshaun Prince-type in that he quietly contributes a lot but doesn’t make a great featured player. If we do get a FA worth waiting for, though, Chandler could really become a favorite.

  42. BigBlueAL

    Yup, loving the way Chandler is playing now. Just bummed about Gallo, was looking forward to seeing him this weekend in the Rookie-Soph game plus of course the 3pt contest. Hoping this forearm thing isnt that serious and he can compete this weekend.

  43. BigBlueAL

    Duhon so far 2 for 8, 0 for 4 from 3pt and 3 for 5 from ft. Starting, coming off the bench, alone in the gym after practice, during pre-game warmups whatever, he still sucks.

  44. Kikuchiyo

    How does that play–a Duhon airball that is too soon and WAY, WAY off–not end Dont’-hon’s career here?

  45. BigBlueAL

    Jeffries is a great help defender, but as you saw his man-to-man defense is as ad as every other Knick. I mean how the hell do you pressure Evans at the 3pt line?!?! Clyde watching the game is going nuts because of the horrible man D being played.

  46. nicos

    Duhon has been awful but Nate may have been worse- truly the worst point guard play I’ve seen this year.

  47. Kikuchiyo

    Excuse me. I just got back from a two-year trip to the moon, but can someone tell me why people are more content with this Knicks team than with the Isiah teams?

    (I know, I know….it’s all about the cap.)

  48. nicos

    BigBlueAl is on the money- Did Lee grab a single defensive rebound down the stretch or in overtime? If there are stats on clutch rebounds I’d be interested to see Lee’s. Also, any team that has JJ and Duhon taking the two biggest shots of the game deserves to lose. Absolutely unbelievable.

  49. nicos

    Also on Lee- a couple of weeks ago I decided to compare Lee’s first and second half scoring (this was before the game at Washington so it doesn’t count the last few games). First Half: 11.15 pts 62%fg Second Half: 8.5 48%fg. The difference in points doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the drop in fg%. After tonight I’m thinking I should have checked his rebounding numbers as well. Still think he’s a very valuable player but it’s something to think about if we’re going to commit 10m+

  50. BigBlueAL

    My plea to Donnie Walsh, do not bring back any Knick who is a FA, including Lee to fuck it. We need to get rid of everybody who has been part of this losing culture for a few years. I cant stand watching these guys any more.

  51. cbrooklyn

    D.Lee plays NO DEFENSE!! Its like he thinks its ok to just stand there and let guys go rt around him..i see it soooo many times..not to say hes the only one but he is the CENTER..undersized or not, if youre anchoring A “KNICK TEAM”(and i understand this is not the knicks of old), he should at least ATTEMPT to put a body on the guy.He never does..Has he ever fouled out of a game? Has anyone of these guys fouled out of a game yet this season…besides the rookies?..

  52. jon abbey Post author

    Chandler with a career high 35, very nice to see.

    the thing that constantly amazes me about this team is there’s no attempt to get the ball to the better offensive players. those two crucial possessions with Duhon and Jeffries shooting are unforgivable.

  53. bbbb00123

    that was just ridiculous… WHY???? WHY WOULD JEFFRIES OR DUHON TAKE THOSE SHOTS!!?!?!?!?!?!?

    I’m so flustered right now.. there was plenty of time left.. and JEFFRIES shoots a 3 during one of the biggest possesions of the game. Then the Duhon shot was just as bad!! nobody moved on the play so he just jacks up a horrid shot. The knicks played terribly tonight except for Chandler. Why aren’t they running the offense through him during the crunch time?? He’s been lighting it up all night and doesn’t get the big shots. ridiculous..

  54. bbbb00123

    that was just ridiculous… WHY???? WHY WOULD JEFFRIES OR DUHON TAKE THOSE SHOTS!!?!?!?!?!?!?

    I’m so flustered right now.. there was plenty of time left.. and JEFFRIES shoots a 3 during one of the biggest possesions of the game. Then the Duhon shot was just as bad!! nobody moved on the play so he just jacks up a horrid shot. The knicks played terribly tonight except for Chandler. Why aren’t they running the offense through him during the crunch time?? He’s been lighting it up all night and doesn’t get the big shots. ridiculous..

  55. BigBlueAL

    Nate wont pass to Gallo but with the game on the line he’ll pass to Jeffries for a deep 3. Granted there was plenty of time left on the shot clock and there is no reason whatsoever for Jeffries to shoot that ball.

    Duhon on the other hand is a lost cause, time for TD to get real minutes now for the rest of the season. Ditto Jordan Hill.

  56. jon abbey Post author

    before he got hurt, Gallo was wide open a bunch of times on the perimeter, and it seemed as if they almost intentionally went away from him. some nights it’s Gallo’s fault, as he doesn’t move without the ball nearly enough, but tonight his teammates mostly refused to pass it to him.

  57. nicos

    Here’s the good news- JJ has scored in double figures (and pretty efficiently) 5 of the last 9 games!! Here’s the bad news- the Knicks record in those games 0-5. Hopefully, some GM watched JJ hit those corner threes and somehow missed T Evans repeatedly take him to the hoop in the 4th quarter.

  58. Brian Cronin

    If you thought watching this loss was painful, imagine my misery being at the Garden on Jewish Heritage Night with 80% of my section rooting for the Kings (seriously, Casspi chants, people! Casspi chants!!).

  59. Thomas B.

    Jon,

    I’m going to pay you a compliment here by saying that you and I don’t think anything alike (but read it all before you start yelling at me).

    I dont like the plan. I don’t like the plan because it is missing a player that can score inside or play strong interior defense. Yes the team can score in bunches and would be a the most exciting team in the NBA but I dont think a GM or coach can ignore defense and have everything else just fall into place. There are very few NBA champs in the last few years that won without a dominant defensive bigman (Wallace, Garnett), a dominant scoring big man (Shaq, Gasol) or a guy who does both (Duncan). Love Lee but he is just overmatched on defense and talented as he is, Lee is a far cry from a dominant scorer. I’d love to target an Al Horford (or similar) and put him up front with Lee. Maybe Gasol or Lopez are possible targets if you cant get a Horford.

    Besides LBJ no one in your proposed lineup is a talented distributor–maybe Lee is–and maybe LBJ is all you need but that could be a problem as well. I’d love to get a talented game manager who can hit a shot when need be and play great defense.

    I don’t like Joe Johnson. He can score in bunches but gives you very little of everything else, which makes him similar to another player in the rotation–Gallinari whom I do like for some strange reason.

    I do like the getting LBJ part and if he likes the Yuckees and wants to sit on the bench well fine. I like the keeping Lee and Chandler and Gallanari part. I just want to focus on a strong bigman rather than another tall shooter.

    Nice work, welcome to the team.

  60. BigBlueAL

    Agreed about the big man Thomas which is why a few days ago me and Ted talked about signing someone like Camby who wouldnt ask for anywhere near max money. Disagree about Joe Johnson in terms of he does pass and does get a decent amount of assists so he isnt just a scorer and thats it. Also LBJ is all you need in terms of a game manager.

    BTW just saw D’Antoni’s post-game press conference and it was by far the most frustrated/depressed Ive ever seen him. Hopefully he doesnt commit suicide over the All-Star break at the thought of still having to coach this team for another 30 games.

  61. jon abbey Post author

    Thomas, I said that all in the piece. Lee can score inside. LeBron can score inside. LeBron can play strong interior D on most people, and you get a real center for the bench to play D (I mentioned Brendan Haywood, your options are even more ludicrous than my original plan).

    and yes, it’s not a perfect team, but the point is that it can possibly (not likely, but possibly) be achieved this offseason. after that, a Przybilla-type and a Felton-type shouldn’t be too hard to find in the next year or two to round out the rotation.

  62. Brian Cronin

    While I believe that the Knicks are, in fact, trying to acquire T-Mac, that trade, as currently constituted, makes little to no sense.

    It is basically the trade that the Knicks could have had at any time they wanted – Harrington for T-Mac. The question always was, why would the Knicks ever acquire T-Mac for any reason other than to dump Jeffries’ salary? Now, if the Wizards are somehow (for no real reason) taking back Jeffries, then okay, but that’s not in the deal as mentioned.

  63. Thomas B.

    @77 I’d love to have Camby back!! Rebounds, blocks, high energy put backs. Put him next to Lee and you have the best rebounding front court in the world.

    @78 Yes Jon of course you did. Just sharing my view. May I ask what you think the Knicks salary structure will be under your plan? Can Lee score inside? Hmmm interesting way to view Lee’s scoring. Lee can score on drives and face ups but not back to the baket but if he can put in 15+ then it doesnt matter how he does it.

    Re: last nights games. Listened to the game while working on the snow removal team and I think Robinson is headed back into the doghouse. Perhaps not for as long but D using him as a PG has got to be all but over now. That loss hurts.

  64. d-mar

    In a season full of “That had to be the worst loss of the season” last night might have been the worst loss of the season. It’s hard to decide who was more dreadful, Nate or Duhon. I think at this point I would take any PG in the NBA or NBDL over Duhon.

  65. TheRooster8

    Am I the only one who thinks part of this loss falls on MDA? The play to end regulation was terrible, gotta have a better shot coming out of a timeout. The pick and roll? That seems to be the only play the knicks can run, otherwise its one pass and drive or shoot. Also, going back to yesterday’s discussion, this is why LeBron may not want to come here. MDA gives too much freedom. You have to have someone like Nash controlling everything. Otherwise you end up with the mess that is the Knicks down the stretch every night.

  66. DS

    Regarding this McGrady 3-way trade rumor; assuming it’s not BS, which I’m sure it is, wouldn’t the Knicks aim to get Haywood and Butler (what the Wiz are offering to Houston) instead of T-Mac?

  67. rohank

    Got something on the trade machine:

    New York gets: T-Mac

    Washington gets: Jeffries, Harrington

    Houston gets: Butler, Haywood, Nate.

    I think Washington would also need to be given cash and/or picks as an incentive. Hopefully not our picks ;-)

  68. DS

    Yeah, that trade would be unbelievably stupid for the Wizards. At least in the rumored version they would at least be cutting $9 million in payroll for next season. In your version they’re cutting $3 million.

  69. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    So if Jeffries gets thrown into the deal, can the Knicks sign two max deals next summer? Or is one max + Lee more likely?

  70. jon abbey Post author

    “Also, going back to yesterday’s discussion, this is why LeBron may not want to come here. MDA gives too much freedom. You have to have someone like Nash controlling everything. Otherwise you end up with the mess that is the Knicks down the stretch every night.”

    that someone would be LeBron, who’s been playing point for Cleveland recently.

  71. Garson

    If this trade does go through , wouldnt tmac be intrigued to sign here next season with the chance to play with king james? For much less then hes getting now of course…. Maybe artest money?

    I dont think Tmac would work well with LBJ however if LBJ thinks that and sees Tmac as a better chance to win in NY , then hooray for us!

  72. DS

    I’m not sure LeBron is leaving his hometown team for the highest possible salary for the opportunity to play w/ T-Mac.

    T-Mac averaged 15 a game, shooting 39% from the field last year. There’s no real harm in giving up Harrington for him, but I don’t think we can’t expect too much to come of this.

    On a side note, I think Houston would have to give up more to the Wizards to make this deal realistic. A pick or a prospect.

  73. TheRooster8

    Um….LeBron doesn’t play PG for them, except when one of their point guards is injured and the other one is going to be indicted….He is not a point guard, doesn’t want to play point guard, and would not be a point guard in MDA’s system. How can you say in your own letter he’d be starting at PF and then come back with that.

    In terms of TMAC, the Knicks are not going to resign him. He’s got no hop and Houston has been better without him the past two seasons. Its a salary move and thats all it is.

  74. jon abbey Post author

    he is and has been bringing the ball up for them lately (and yes, it’s because Williams and West are out, but who cares? they’ve won 12 in a row that way, I’m just saying it’s a possibility), and could easily do that at the end of a game in lieu of a real PG. that was all I said. my point was that no team with LeBron on the floor is going to be rudderless a la NY last night, or most nights.

    and LeBron transcends position, like Magic or Bird. that’s actually one of the best things about that proposed lineup above, Lee can play C or PF, Gallinari can play either forward, LeBron can play PF/SF/SG, Chandler the same, Johnson can play SF/SG/PG.

    another reason in favor of going after Johnson as LBJ’s sidekick (although I respect Owen’s disagreement) is that he has experience in D’Antoni’s system, when they were in Phoenix together.

  75. d-mar

    Re: the T-Mac for Harrington deal – assuming Donnie has done his homework on T-Mac’s health (and he has actually gone to see him work out) I’m for it. Obviously, moving JJ in the deal is far preferable, but if we can’t, you get T-Mac and turn over the PG job to him and leave Duhon on the bench for eternity. I know he’s not a natural 1, but can he be any worse than what we have now? And when he runs the pick and roll with Lee, at least defenders will have to respect his shot. It’s no panacea, but I do think it would be an upgrade. I know Harrington supplies instant offense off the bench, but I’m really tired of seeing him force up horrible shots at the end of games.

  76. tastycakes

    Getting T-Mac in a lateral move is fine. Fraggle is worthless, the season is basically over, so might as well try T-Mac out. If it ends up that he’s healthy and can play, we have the inside track on resigning him to a fair contract. If not, that’s 22M straight off the books.

    But I’d imagine we’d want to move Jeffrightened in such a deal. I can see Houston wanting to do the proposed deal, but the Wiz? Why bother? Lose 2 of your top 3 guys for Al Harrington? Who gives up a pick? Maybe Houston, since they are getting the guys who can play in the deal?

    p.s., no way in hell LBJ signs for less than the max. All y’all thinking otherwise are fantasizing.

  77. Loathing

    Ok, I plugged the rumored trade in the machine. Here’s how I got it to work:

    Rockets get Butler and Haywood. Duh.
    Knicks get T-Mac from the Rockets and Dominic McGuire from the Wiz. (Knicks use Roberson’s trade exemption to cushion it)
    Wiz get Harrington (as proposed) and EDDY CURRY. (Money works and Wiz need to replace Haywood). They would also get Houston’s first rounder.

    That’s all I got. Discuss.

  78. DS

    “That’s all I got. Discuss.”

    Giving up Butler and Haywood and getting Curry and Harrington in return is a worse trade than Isiah could dream up while on crystal meth.

  79. Loathing

    Not necessarily. Put Harrington as a 3 (rebounds like one, that’s for sure) and use Curry as a bench player/fodder/expiring contract for next year after Crittendon comes off and they buy out Arenas. For the Wiz, it’s all about 2011. Besides, for that same reason, they could use the extra pick.

  80. Z

    Seriously, I don’t know why the Wizards would give up Butler and Haywood and not just take back McGrady. Come July 1st there’s no difference between Harrington and McGrady except McGrady clears more space.

    The only reason I see having the Knicks involved is if the Wizards don’t want to give up Haywood. In that case a 3rd team would be needed to make salary work. But the Rockets would have to want Jeffries to get him, since Mike James’s contract can make up most of the difference.

    Dumping Jeffries in a TMac deal seems less and less likely (especially hearing Donnie talk), but maybe we could dump Duhon on the Wiz in a deal. I hear they could use a stopgap PG.

  81. Loathing

    Ok, Z, taking your input into account, here’s what I got now.

    Wiz get T-Mac.
    Rockets get Butler and Curry.
    Knicks get James and DeShawn Stevenson.

  82. Loathing

    While we’re at it, let’s just get silly.
    Rockets still get Butler and Curry.
    Wiz get T-Mac and Jeffries
    Knicks get Arenas.

  83. Brian Cronin

    The one thing that I like about involving another team in the deal is this – we all knew that Morey was too smart to take Jeffries back, but by involving another team, hopefully the Knicks can then use Morey’s intelligence to their advantage by getting him to get them a deal for Jeffries.

  84. BigBlueAL

    If Hill is included in a trade, that does save some cap space for next season right?? Around 2 million or so??

  85. BigBlueAL

    Yeah but all of a sudden Chandler to me is becoming almost as untouchable as Gallo. Maybe im over-reacting to his latest play but Im beginning to love Chandler’s game now.

  86. Brian Cronin

    I like Chandler #3 on the Knicks, as well.

    It’s just that if the Knicks do pick up a fancy schmancy free agent, Chandler seems to be the most disposable of the good Knicks (all three of them).

  87. ess-dog

    I will be quite pissed if we give up a youngster like Hill WITHOUT losing a 2010 contract – just so Donnie can test drive T-Mac…

  88. Jeff

    Agreed. I brought this up once before, but I’d much rather see a trade like Hill + Jeffries for Josh Howard’s $10m expiring contract than anything involving T-Mac. It’s not that unreasonable for either side and allows Donnie Walsh to sort of play fantasy basketball around Gallo, Chandler and Douglas in the offseason.

  89. bbbb00123

    Knicks Receive: Tracy McGrady, Mike James, DeShawn Stevenson

    Wizards Receive: Al Harrington, Jordan Hill, Chris Duhon

    Rockets Receive: Caron Butler, Eddy Curry, Wilson Chandler

    Knicks do the deal because they get cap space losing Curry’s contract.

    Wizards do the deal because they drop Caron’s contract, get Harrington/Duhon who’re both slightly useful, and young talent in Jordan Hill.

    Rockets do the deal because they pick up the best player of the deal, Caron, and they pick up Chandler, all at the low price of Curry’s contract and Caron’s contract.

    As far as the trade for the knicks, losing Harrington and Duhon is basically a non-factor. In reality, its giving up Hill and Chandler to drop Curry’s contract. I think it’s worth it.

  90. Brian Cronin

    The Rockets are not taking Curry’s contract back for Butler and Chandler.

    Hell, I don’t know if they’d take Curry if the Knicks included Gallo.

  91. tastycakes

    Nobody in the league will take Curry unless you take back longer, more expensive deals in the act. Certainly not Daryl Morey, who is clearly one of the best (and most stat-oriented) GMs in the league. Eddy Curry wasn’t any good when he was playing!

    i.e., you could give up Curry to get Arenas. (Which would be foolish)

  92. Z

    Hey Mike (and Owen, Ted, and other stat crusaders):

    On LA sports radio I heard an interview with David Locke, the Utah Jazz radio commentator, and he was going on about how conventional stats were misleading and how advanced stats told a much better picture.

    The two hosts were reluctant participants in the conversation at first, but by the end they admitted he was “much smarter than them” and that “he may be onto something”.

    Anyway, not sure if y’all are familiar with him or not, but he seems like the kind of guy Knickerbloggers would like to listen to commentate a basketball game.

    Here’s a link to a story about him:

    http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-1776-sports-radio-number-cruncher-david-locke-brings-a-new-statistical-spin-to-sports-talk-radio.html

  93. supernova

    Agree with post #117 that no one will take on Curry’s contract at this point. The best we can hope for is that Curry makes a reappearance in the second half and can somehow raise his stock marginally to make him possible trade bait this summer.

    Even then I cannot imagine a team giving us complete cap relief. Maybe something like we would take back a player for two or three million less and we throw in a draft pick. Other than that the outlook for dumping Curry does not look too promising.

  94. BigBlueAL

    Apparently Jordan Hill will make close to 2.7 million next year, dunno how much that would help the cap space but it is something I guess. Wouldnt want to trade him for T-Mac if Jeffries isnt included but who knows maybe that extra close to 3 million in the end could help out the cap space.

  95. Jeff

    I’ve been thinking about just how incompetent Isiah Thomas was when he was here. How the hell does he give Curry and Jeffries huge player options at the end of their monstrous contracts? Then there’s that trade of the draft pick that broke down like this: Protected 2006=top 25, 2007=top 24, 2008=top 23, 2009=top 22. Unprotected in 2010. Brilliant.

    Rebuilding this team is so much harder than it had any right to be thanks to him.

  96. tastycakes

    Z, nice work on the comparison between Harrington and Caron. Conventional wisdom has it that Caron’s a better player, but you’ve convinced me that it might not be so clear-cut.

  97. Z

    That comparison was just for 2009-2010 (but for their careers (they’re both 29) they have strikingly similar stats).

    On another note, Larry Coon’s new piece discusses retired players who’s Bird Rights can be used in sign-and-trades.

    http://offthedribble.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/dusty-n-b-a-treasures-in-the-attic/

    Perhaps San Antonio would send us Robert Horry and Malik Hairston for Jeffries? The Spurs are currently in 7th place in the West, and they are capped out next year with-or-without Ginobili. They could add a piece without disrupting their roster by involving Horry…

    (Or how about Jeffries and Hill for Horry and Blair?!)

  98. Brian Cronin

    You know, it’s funny, I thought the only reason the Rockets wanted Butler was because he was an expiring contract, but apparently, Buttler’s contract runs through next year? Is that right?

    And if so, he’s due to make slightly more than $10 million next year!

    So, effectively, the Rockets would be spending their possible cap room on…Caron Butler? For serious?

    Jeffries, Harrington and Hill sounds more and more like a better deal than the Wizards’ offer.

  99. Ted Nelson

    Joining the discussion late here, but here are my thoughts on the plan, Jon:

    No way the Knicks can sign LeBron, Johnson, and Lee and stay under the cap. Not happening, as you and others are saying. Would definitely take a sign-and-trade or two.
    Just to clarify why they CANNOT do it without at least one sign-and-trade: If the Knicks sign Joe Johnson even to way below what he can make somewhere else–say $12 mill per–and Lee even to a solid $10 mill per, that leaves LeBron maybe $5 mill per. Is it really worth it to Nike to make up the difference? If he pulls a Tiger Woods can his sponsors renig on their contracts? Why take less than those two (and Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries) when you can get paid by both the Knicks and Nike and every other company in the world?
    I think a slight cut, maybe $2, 3 mill a year in 10000000% guaranteed money is perfectly realistic to get into an ideal situation, to take this kind of risk, though, LeBron has to be absolutely DYING to wear a Knicks uniform. He CAN do whatever he wants, yeah, but does he want to just take a dump on a huge pile of money? Probably not. Billionaire is on the list along with NBA champion, and throwing away maybe $50 million or more so that the Knicks can pay Joe Johnson and David Lee a lot more guaranteed money than you is a bad move if you want to be a billionaire. That $50 mill alone gets you 1/20th of the way to billionaire.

    In my opinion Wade is an infinitely better option than Joe Johnson. In all likelihood Johnson will get MORE money than Wade because of the current CBA. If Wade and LeBron want to win titles together they will not have a problem playing together. They are both so good at so many things that they can play together. Wade is not only a much, much better offensive player than Johnson, he is also far superior defensively… where Johnson is mediocre at best. Not that either is that likely, but purposely signing Johnson over Wade if you have your choice is ludicrous. It’s like deciding to let Lee go to keep Jeffries.
    I like Joe Johnson and will be (at least somewhat) happy if the Knicks sign him, but he is not Scottie Pippen. Pippen was probably the best defensive wing in the world in his day. He took the other team’s best perimeter scorer so that Jordan didn’t have to.

    Which leads me to… your team sucks defensively. The only solidly above average defender in your starting line-up is LeBron. Chandler is probably above average, but not that clearly at this point. Joe Johnson will get lit up against PGs in today’s no hand-check, we want lots of points NBA, especially with no defensive presence behind him. LeBron can probably adjust to the 4, but it’s a risk. Gallo looks better on D than he gets credit for, but he’s not a plus defender yet.
    Your team can be the #1 offense in the NBA if things click. However, #1 offense and #15 defense (one other good defender off the bench doesn’t make it a good defensive team) and you’re a relative long-shot to win the title.

    Basically, I see this as a title contender, but not a favorite. That’s an ENORMOUS upgrade on the current Knicks, but why settle for that as plan A? You put LeBron and Wade together… you are inches away from a dynasty. I don’t see how that can not be plan A this offseason. I will be ecstatic if your plan comes to pass, but it would not be my plan A.

  100. Ted Nelson

    Mike,
    To get Atlanta to sign-and-trade the Knicks have to offer something more valuable than the $7 or 8 or 9 mill Atlanta will have in cap space if Johnson walks. Something more attractive than simple re-signing Childress if he can get out of his Greek deal. The Knicks have no leverage since if they’ve already signed LeBron and Lee they can’t sign Johnson outright. It’s probably going to take a name more like Danilo, Jordan, or Wilson to convince the Hawks to take a name like Eddy and/or Jared AND walk away from an $8 mill FA to replace Johnson in this extremely deep FA class.

    Frank,
    “If Johnson is willing to sign with the Knicks, he can just walk from Atlanta leaving them with nothing. So if the Hawks are convinced he’s leaving no matter what, it would be beneficial to them to at least get something back.”

    Not true for two reasons: 1. In this scenario the Knicks cannot sign Johnson outright because they have used their cap space on LeBron and Lee. 2. What Atlanta gets in return for Johnson walking outright could be decent cap space depending on where the cap ends up.

    Ben R,
    You can have two #1 options. LeBron and whoever does not have to be Jordan and Pippen part 2. Shaq and Kobe both scored over 25 pts/36 on a championship team. Which one was clearly dominant and which one took a back seat because he “knew his role?” Wade and LeBron’s games are far more alike than Shaq and Kobe, but I think both do so many things so well from so many parts of the floor that it will not matter. If you’re a defense and LeBron is standing on one wing and Wade on the other… how do you defend both? The short answer: you can’t.
    Even if Abbey’s team is capable of being the #1 offense in the NBA–it is–it is average at best defensively and I would take LeBron/Wade for a single offensive possession, game, or series. If you insist on comparing LeBron’s sidekick to Pippen, you have to at least recognize that Pippen was a stand-out, lock-down defender.

    TDM,
    That is not a precedent. They didn’t take smaller salaries per annum. LeBron and Wade took a shorter deal because he thought it would lead to more money in the long-run not because he wanted to make less money. I don’t know what the Duncan situation is, but he’s a bit of an exception to a lot of rules as are the Spurs.

    nicos,
    You may be on to something interesting, but give us the TS% instead of the FG%. FG% doesn’t tell us anything useful. It ignores FTs and counts 3-pt shots and 2-pt shots as if they were the same thing. If, for example, Lee is making a lower % of his FGs in the 2nd half because teams foul him on easy looks more it will be ignored by FG% but picked up by TS%. I’m not saying that’s happening, but since it’s a possibility you have to look at TS% instead of FG% to analyze the situation properly.

    Thomas B.,
    Two points: 1. Brook Lopez is a weak defensive center and would do little to solve the problem which you rightfully point out. 2. Joe Johnson is a very good passer/playmaker. Not sure why you say otherwise twice and compare him to Gallo. He is as much the PG in Atlanta as anyone.

    Garson,
    T-Mac is total garbage right now. He’s worth maybe $1 mill–the vet minimum–this offseason.

    d-mar,
    “can he be any worse than what we have now? And when he runs the pick and roll with Lee, at least defenders will have to respect his shot.”
    Yes and No. He can be worse because he may choose to dominate the ball and because he’s out of position defensively. Defenders do not have to respect his shot because he’s been a sub 50% TS% scorer 4 of the last 5 seasons. His eFG% was under 40% in limited minutes this season. It was 43% last season.
    I know I will be in the minority, but I would prefer keeping Harrington to bringing in T-Mac. There is a chance T-Mac helps, but I think it’s a long-shot.

    Z,
    Cool, will take a look. Thanks.

  101. nicos

    Ted- You’re right I should have done TS%- I’ll try go back and take a look in the next few days. That said- as his scoring average drops by 2.5 points in the 2nd half I doubt the drop in field goal % is being made up for by getting to the line more often but I could be wrong (and he doesn’t shoot threes so that’s not entering into the equation). I also want to check his late game rebounding stats which my gut tells me aren’t great- but my gut has been wrong enough times that I don’t pay much attention to it.

  102. jon abbey Post author

    Ted,

    “that leaves LeBron maybe $5 mill per. Is it really worth it to Nike to make up the difference? If he pulls a Tiger Woods can his sponsors renig on their contracts? Why take less than those two (and Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries) when you can get paid by both the Knicks and Nike and every other company in the world?”

    the rumor floating around was that Nike would give him $100M if he signed in NY, so possibly.

    “your team sucks defensively. The only solidly above average defender in your starting line-up is LeBron.”

    yeah, I know. I think both Chandler and Gallo can hold their own (as you say), but I’d let the bench focus on D and insert stoppers when necessary. D’Antoni came a hair away from winning a title (if Amare doesn’t get suspended) with dreadful defenders in Nash and Amare and no defender as good as LeBron, so it is possible.

    the part about Wade/Johnson you leave out is health, to me Wade is always very close to career-threatening or ending injuries with his style. also, as I said above, I just don’t see him going anywhere but Chicago or Miami, just my perception of the situation. but yeah, I could live with him in the Johnson slot also. :)

  103. BigBlueAL

    I would much rather have T-Mac than Harrington because T-Mac actually passes the ball. For his career he averages 4.7 assists per game and hasnt averaged fewer than 4.6 since leaving Toronto (his 1.0 this season doesnt count). Certainly his past 2 seasons have been nothing compared to his years before that but they werent horrible and yes his TS% is pretty bad but he does do other things like pass, rebound (6.1 per game for his career) and averages over a steal per game too.

    I would be all for it if only it would make the rest of the season interesting and again I cant stand watching this team anymore. Plus T-Mac is a big enough name that if he plays pretty good who knows maybe he would be willing to stay for a mid-level or something around their (if he proves he deserves it of course) and be selling point for a superstar like Lebron or Wade.

  104. Loathing

    If we’re compare T-Mac with Harrington, I’ll use Hollinger’s PER. Harrington is a respectable 17.3 while McGrady is a 12.9…which makes him only slightly better than Hughes. Which would you rather have, Harrington or another Hughes?

  105. Mulligan

    I honestly think Morey is trying to be little too clever with the T-Mac trade rumors, kind of like Pritchard with Raef Lafrentz’s contract (last year? 2 years ago). While expiring contracts have value, one as huge as T-Mac’s is in some ways not that useful because it’s too big. Receiving teams want more than just the cap relief and the sending team thinks they’re already sending too much.
    Washington will never send Butler & Haywood for T-Mac’s, that’s a ridiculously one-sided trade.
    Harrington & Jeffries is a pretty decent deal. 2 serviceable players for a possible playoff push, plus a nice sized expiring contract for next year. What gives?

  106. eric8476

    i think david lee and jeffries are tradable before the deadline. their are championship contenders that could use a role player like jeffries and lee. we need more pieces to the puzzle before we can get two max contract free agents.

  107. Frank O.

    Jon:

    I agree entirely with your post. People overemphasize starters and forget that a fair number of the bench players get significant minutes. Some of your best defenders can come from the pine.

    I felt a knee-jerk concern about cap space, but I think the cap will be higher than people expect. I also think you make valid points about Lebron and Nike in NYC. I think it will be harder for Lee to leave money on the table as opposed to Lebron. But I don’t think Lee will get more than $10 mil per. I totally agree that you get better value with Lee over Bosh. I wrote a note about that a month ago or so.
    Someone said in this string that Bosh was a good defender, which caused me to laugh out load. I think Bosh is only a slightly better scorer and rebounder than Lee. To me that makes Lee the better choice. And that Lee can score on his own without dominating the ball makes him a better fit with a dominant player.

    I also get the spirit of the letter. I realize it is a sport, but it’s quite clear you have a passion for the team and the earnestness of the note reflected that quite well.

    Another note:
    I’m not a big Nate fan. I think he can be a flow killer and makes a lot of mistakes…but I think it’s entirely unfair to constantly note the Knicks record since his return. They were 9-6 when he was benched and 7-12 when he’s back in. But there are a lot of reasons for this dive: the Knicks are not deep enough period and they’re not deep enough to have players go down with injuries; Duhon’s play has been utterly horrible; and they have lost the kind of camaraderie that teams need to show fight through adversity.
    The fact that there are whispers of bitterness among some Knicks over Lee’s recent plaudits is mind-blowing and reveals more about the character of some of these players than I care to know.
    But you can’t blame this swoon all on Nate.

    Now, D’Antoni is chewing nails over Nate’s mistakes…and Nate shouting back and cursing at the coach isn’t good. In fact, in my mind that is cause enough to move the guy before the trading deadline. He might help a team in a playoff push. But I’d send him out west. I don’t want that guy at MSG twice a season.

    I think it’s time to get Hill and TD and Gallo and Chandler and even Lee and Curry and Jeffries on the court as much as possible. But nothing will work well with the point guards we currently have.

    It doesn’t matter how fine a ship you’ve built if it lacks a rudder.

  108. Caleb

    Great read!

    I’ll get the nit-picks out of the way — mainly, the Knicks are only looking at about $22-26 million in cap space this summer, meaning unless LeBron or Lee leaves a lot on the table, it’ll be tricky even signing those two, much less an extra star (until 2011, that is).

    Still, if your vision is good, the details have a way of working themselves out. (For example, if the health reform bills were actually popular, no one would sweat the details of 1 or 2 extra votes in Congress). If LeBron wants to play in New York, DW can find a way to make it happen. Especially if the Yankees lend a hand! Stroke of genius there.

    Obviously, it all gets a lot easier if the Knicks find a way to move Jeffries. (Curry is a lost cause).

    Here’s one strategy.
    1. Swallow hard
    2. Call David Lee and his agent (is it Arn?), and say, “We love ya pal, and no matter what happens we’re going to try hard to sign you this summer. That said, I want to take your temperature on something. Would you mind if we traded you? Would you hold it against us in July? Because if you wouldn’t be offended, we might try a few things. We can’t make any promises – that would be illegal, NBA-wise – but know that we love you and would like you on our team next year. Hope you don’t sign an extension with your new team.”
    3. If DL is ok with that, call up Mark Cuban and offer Lee + Jeffries for Eric Dampier.
    3a. Extension or no, Dallas would do it in a heartbeat, before Jason Kidd is using a walker. We might even get an extra pick, or Nick Calathes, something like that.
    3b. Lee might like it because he gets to play in the playoffs.
    4. Summer comes, try and sign Lee (without that nagging cap hold, btw).
    4a. Lee might rather come back to NY and play with LeBron, than join the decline in Dallas. Plus, he’s a NY kind of guy.
    5. Worst-case, you end up with $15 million extra for a trade or Dwyane Wade or whatever.

    Even if we can’t get a sweetener for Jeffries, we should be working the trade market hard. Harrington & Nate have value. They’re not coming back next year. If you can’t get something in return – even a 2nd round pick, hopefully a 1st – it’s almost malpractice. Chandler, too. He’s expendable because a) he’s overrated. Not bad, but overrated; and b) Lee & Gallo are the forwards of the future. Moving Chandler would save $2 million to spend this summer (which could be crucial) and $4-6 million in 2011.

    p.s Houston isn’t doing any sucker trades, taking on Jeffries or god forbid Curry. As of now they can sign a max free agent this summer, or a non-max (like Stoudamire) with plenty left over for Joe Johnson or trades or whatever. Whatever they do it will be a lot better than having Caron Butler.

  109. TheRooster8

    Ted Nelson, thank you. You are dead on.

    Jon: “the rumor floating around was that Nike would give him $100M if he signed in NY, so possibly”
    i will say to that “right, ok.”

    As far as harrington is concerned, you can throw out all the PER numbers and statistics. He is a blackhole. He has never been on a winning team, and he never will. He talked all season about being a “team player” and “making the extra pass” but where has that been this season? Not only that, but he takes minutes away from Gallo/Chandler. C. Butler is a far superior player, plays defense, does the little things, and is a team player.

  110. TheRooster8

    Caleb…. This is a fantastic idea, one i’ve actually discussed with my friends. The only problem is, even having that discussion is illegal in the NBA. Yes you can do it on the down low, but if you get busted you’re looking at several years of draft picks being stripped from you, and if the NYK miss out on LBJ, they’re going to need those picks. But I agree, the knicks must do something, and nearly everyone on the team should be in play. Lets not forget that every player on the Knicks is currently benefiting from the “d’antoni effect”, where they’re numbers are boosted simply because it stresses fast breaks and quick shots. Chandler is a solid player, but in no way untouchable. Someone has to score for these Knicks other than Lee, and Chandler has just been the most recent one. In another way, he has a similar game to LBJ (albeit far far far worse). LeBron shouldnt be starting along side a slasher with a mediocre 3 point shot. He should be surrounded by shooters and very good defenders, and Chandler is neither.

    A nice move would be trying to pick up Ridnour for the rest of the season…. having a real pg that can shoot and create off the dribble (both duhon weaknesses, not sure where his strengths are) could turn the NYK back into an 8 seed competitor, and clear cap space come season end.

  111. Caleb

    I would argue Chandler is headed for a near-identical career to Butler.
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/chandwi01.html
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/butleca01.html

    Some would say “wow!” but I would say Butler is overrated. Mainly because writers and fans overvalue “well-rounded” at the expense of “does one or two things really well).

    Question time: if Butler, Jamison and Arenas are all really good (or were, before Arenas got hurt) — why did the Wiz never win more than 44 games? Who was the fraud?

  112. Caleb

    Rooster,

    We’re obviously in a gray area. But I think you’re ok as long as you don’t offer any guarantees.. Youcouldn’t put out any contract #s. Asking Lee not to sign an extension, is probably a no-no… but if you say, we love you and whatever happens, will try and get you back this summer… well, if Lee likes playing in NY, he probably wouldn’t sign an extension with Dallas anyway. NY or no, he’ll want to test the market this summer.

    I dunno… if Knicks don’t promise a particular contract… and Lee isn’t making any promise to the Knicks. There’s risk on both sides. I don’t think it’s illegal.

    As I say, if Lee DOESN’T come back you have $15 million to replace him.

    Of course, Plan A is moving Jeffries using Nate or Chandler as a sweetener, but I have a feeling that won’t be enough…

  113. TheRooster8

    I think it is clear that 1) arenas is a fraud (no D, ballhog, crazy) and 2)jamison, while he is a great offensive weapon, plays little to no defense. Also, even if the three are legit, they never really have had a full season together, as each year one or more of them have spent significant time on the IR.

    And if Chandler is going to have the same career as Caron Butler, what’s the harm in trading him now? Not exactly a “special” career.

  114. Caleb

    Another idea…
    Gallo & Jeffries to the Clips for Marcus Camby — flip Camby to a 3rd team for an expiring deal plus a pick.

    For example, Camby + Hughes to Houston, for McGrady and a 1st.
    Or, Camby to Portland for Outlaw, Blake and a 1st (ask for Sergio!)
    Or, Camby to Utah for Okur and a pick (theirs).
    Or, Camby to Chicago for Brad Miller and a pick. Or Tyrus Thomas, filler and a pick.
    Or Camby to OKC for a pick.

    Or lots of other options..

    What’s in it for the Clips? They need a SF and are capped out next year anyway (with Jeffries). Camby is ancient; Gallo might (easily) be the best they can get for him.

    For us? Gallo’s terrific — but is he really a future All-Star? Maybe, maybe not… if you get $9+ million in cap space AND a 1st rounder in exchange — might be worth it — you’re basically guaranteeing yourself enough cap space for Lee AND a max FA, with something left over.

  115. DS

    Daryl Morey knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows how to build a team and how value players appropriately.

    I think it is very telling that he is getting an insane amount of wins out of a core of Scola, Brooks, and Ariza in the West.

    So I think Walsh should think about pawning off Jeffries on someone other than him.

    Side note: As a NY Sports fan it’s frustrating that our teams are always making a big splash by hiring a famous coach or well known player but refuse to hire a stat genius to run our front offices.

  116. Caleb

    Don’t forget Carl Landry, probably the best player on the team…

    and pure specialists like Battier & Hayes.

    Not a lot of well-rounded players on the Rockets… but they complement each other.

  117. Frank

    “And if Chandler is going to have the same career as Caron Butler, what’s the harm in trading him now? Not exactly a “special” career.”

    I’m relatively bull-ish on Chandler right now after watching him play for the last couple months. Since his horrible November, in a stretch of 34 games now, he has a TS of 56% which would place him in the top 8 of all SF’s in the league. His rookie year was marked by a TS of 48, his second year was 51. He seems to have turned the corner in terms of finding a game that is efficient and effective. He shoots well from the line ~80%, and if he continues this improvement (ie. becomes more reliable — but still very selective — from 3P range), he could turn into a well-above average SF in this league. And he is so unassuming and under the radar, he would probably come at a bargain, especially compared with some of the horrible SF contracts out there.

    Re: Butler — he’s having a bad year this year but overall he’s been a very good player in this league. Maybe not at $10MM/year like he is, but at 6-7MM/year I think he’d be a great value. His average PER is ~19 over the last 3 years (before this stinker year), which is top 5 in terms of SF PERs. I think Wilson is pretty equivalent to Butler from an offensive standpoint, and probably is a more versatile and effective defender, able to guard most 2′s reasonably well, 3′s, and probably the smaller 4′s.

    I would think long and hard about moving either Chandler or Gallo in any trade unless we are reasonably sure that Lebron or Wade are coming. I love Joe Johnson’s game, but I’d much rather have Chandler at 5 or 6 million (after we extend him), or Gallo at 3-4 million than Johnson at 16 million or whatever, and if we strike out on Lebron/Wade then probably JJ is our next option. Cheap young talent is not that easy to come by, and these two are both high-ceiling, low-risk, good value players on their current contracts.

  118. Caleb

    I agree with your evaluation, but look at it this way…

    as you say about Butler, “he’s having a bad year this year but overall he’s been a very good player in this league. Maybe not at $10MM/year like he is, but at 6-7MM/year I think he’d be a great value.”

    If you think Chandler is similar to Butler — packaging him with Jeffries clears $8.5 million next year — enough for a better player than Butler. (or, giving you the boost you need to sign LeBron).

  119. DS

    “Of course, Plan A is moving Jeffries using Nate or Chandler as a sweetener, but I have a feeling that won’t be enough…”

    The question is:

    *Is there a team who can afford to have Jeffries $6M on its payroll this summer and next year (remember it’s an “expiring contract” next year) and who needs Harrington or Nate (or even Jeffries??) because it will make some kind of difference THIS year?

    Do Memphis, or OKC, or Houston (as said above prob. not) care enough about making the playoffs? Do the Spurs, Mavs, or Nuggs think it could give them a boost?

  120. jon abbey Post author

    thanks, Caleb! you got the point of this exactly: “Still, if your vision is good, the details have a way of working themselves out.” that was the point of the piece, glad you enjoyed it. and thanks for commenting on the Yankee part, I was a little bummed everyone else let that slide…

    I like the Lee to Dallas idea, it’d also be illuminating to see how he performed with an entirely different set of players before committing to him long-term.

    I wish I was a little more comfortable with Walsh going into this crucial summer, I still can’t believe how he botched the draft so badly, and how this team is still so pitiful at PG. maybe it’s because he’s so focused on possible plans for this summer; one can only hope.

  121. Frank

    I’m reserving judgment on this year’s draft for a couple years — certainly most of the people on this board would rather have drafted Lawson and Blair with the 2 picks, but the jury is definitely still out on the 2 guys we did get. Hill IS averaging 16 and 10 per 40 in very unsteady minutes, and while raw, has definitely shown signs. I think I even saw a post move last time he played, rather than him settling for a 16 footer. Douglas is an unknown quantity unfortunately — hopefully we’ll see more of him. But even in limited time for him, he has a great TS of 57.8% and is averaging 19.7 points/40.

    Meanwhile how good has Steph Curry looked lately? that was really a big blow when GSW nabbed him.

  122. Kikuchiyo

    FWIW, I made this point a day or two ago:

    Chandler is Tayshaun Prince. Take a look at per game stats of Prince during the Pistons good years. They are almost identical to Chandler’s this year. No one doubts Prince’s great contributions to a championship-level team (as fourth or fifth best player). And yet the Pistons, with Prince, have fallen to Knicks and Wizards level bad today.

    The point: Chandler, Butler, and Prince are all good contributors, good pieces. But without an All-Star or two, they do not make teams into winners.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/p/princta01.html

  123. Ted Nelson

    nicos,
    You’re probably right, I am mostly nitpicking.

    Jon,
    “the rumor floating around was that Nike would give him $100M if he signed in NY, so possibly.”
    $100mm more than if he signs somewhere else, or just $100mm total?

    “maybe it’s because he’s so focused on possible plans for this summer; one can only hope.”
    Cap space is clearly a priority that has shaped his strategy, and probably rightly so. Doesn’t really explain the draft, though.
    Still I think it’s way too early to say that he botched it “so badly.” He reached on a bigman. That’s a common draft mistake, and Hill doesn’t look like Todd Fuller or Olowakandi level mistake. He’s shown me enough that I believe he can be a reasonable value for the #7 pick down the road. Douglas has shown some flashes that he might have been a very solid pick at #29. He’s no Mardy Collins, at least. He scores efficiently and defends PGs well. His current limitations (playmaking/size) make him an odd player who will be better off in some situations (playing with a LeBron/Wade/Joe Johnson type wing playmaker, for example) than others, but I’m happy with the pick. Would prefer Blair and maybe Budinger and possibly Derrick Brown, but… eh…

    BBA,
    “I would much rather have T-Mac than Harrington because T-Mac actually passes the ball.”

    They play different styles (different positions, even) and overall I would agree T-Mac is/was the more gifted basketball player. It could be a good move from a roster balance stand-point if you’re looking too ease the glut of forwards and add T-Mac as a guard.
    On production, though, I take Harrington right now. I’m not a huge Harrington fan, but he is decent and T-Mac is not at this point (or at least hasn’t been for like 3 years now). There’s a good chance that McGrady will shoot just as much as Harrington, but score a lot less. He will pick up 2-to-3 times as many assists along the way, but chances are he didn’t say NYK are his #1 choice if he’s released because he wants to re-invent himself as a complementary player. If he wanted to do that he would look to sign with a contender in need of a playmaking wing.
    I honestly might rather give Harrington away for an expiring contract and 2nd round pick than trade him for T-Mac, depending on T-Mac’s attitude.
    I wouldn’t mind seeing Harrington go at this point. Maybe it could be addition by subtraction by freeing up the offense and getting the ball moving better.

    Mulligan,
    I think teams want the cap relief of a T-Mac contract, but Houston just doesn’t want to take back crap contracts.
    “Washington will never send Butler & Haywood for T-Mac’s”

    Not really. Washington is way out of contention, Haywood’s contract expires, and they’ve got young bigmen waiting in the wings who they might rather develop than play Haywood anyway (McGee, Blatche). Haywood isn’t a big loss for Washington, but since he’s a defensive center with an expiring contract they might be able to get more value in another deal.
    Caron Butler is playing terribly and is a big reason Washington has been so bad all season (even with Arenas playing). I would take Wilson Chandler over Butler right now in a heartbeat, not even considering that Butler makes 5 times as much $. Butler’s contract is a clunker. Houston would be betting that he turns it around, but even then he’s not that great. I would probably just keep the cap space. Washington would be well advised to move Butler if a decent offer were on the table.

    Frank O.,
    “People overemphasize starters and forget that a fair number of the bench players get significant minutes. Some of your best defenders can come from the pine.”

    What top 5 defensive team has only one above average defensive player in its starting 5? I agree that starting is way overrated. Since we are not the coach, though, I take Abbey’s (or anyone else’s) potential future starting 5s to mean top 5 minute getters. No one proposes a future starting 5 with the caveat that you start Jerome James and only play him for 5 minutes because you’re off your meds.

    “I think Bosh is only a slightly better scorer”
    5 more pts/36 at a higher TS%… yeah… only slightly better. Lee may be a better value, but Bosh is a better scorer. A lot better.

    Caleb,
    Pretty wild scenario, but I hope it doesn’t come to that. I hope Jeffries can be moved without having to give up Lee. That’s a ridiculously high price to pay in a trade, all else equal. Of course, all else is not equal and a chance at LeBron and/or Wade might call for drastic measures.

    “Question time: if Butler, Jamison and Arenas are all really good (or were, before Arenas got hurt) — why did the Wiz never win more than 44 games? Who was the fraud?”
    Their defense was the fraud. In 06-07 their offense was 4th in the NBA, but their defense was 28th. This is why I don’t think you are likely to win it all with an average defensive core and then the odd Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Etan Thomas thrown in there.

    Rooster,
    “He has never been on a winning team, and he never will.”
    That’s not true. He’s been on winning teams 7 out of 11 full seasons in his career, plus a .500 team. He played 31 mpg (3rd on the team) on a 61 win team. I would not be opposed to moving Harrington, but it’s not true that he’s never played on a winning team or could not play on one today.

    “Lets not forget that every player on the Knicks is currently benefiting from the “d’antoni effect”,”

    Also not true. Pace adjusted or neutral statistics are by definition not impacted by pace. They may be impacted by playing in a very good or very bad offense or with one great or a few terrible teammates, but not pace. The Knicks are a totally mediocre offense (exactly 15th right now) and play at the 7th fastest pace in the NBA. Scoring efficiency (eFG% and TS%), usage rate, ast %, reb%… these stats are not affected by pace.
    I don’t disagree with your larger point here, either. Chandler is a good, valuable NBA player (Caron Butler, Rudy Gay, Josh Howard level wing player… maybe even better in a few years), but he’s likely to be overpaid when he hits free agency if he keeps this up. Wing players in that vein are just not as valuable as their contracts. I would not move Chandler in anticipation of landing LeBron, though, because that’s far from assured. If a good deal was on the table I would take it. I don’t know when the right time to get best value for him would be: now, offseason, next trade deadline…

  124. Frank O.

    Lee to Dallas is intriguing…

    I must say, tho, that I’m not sure anyone on this roster should be protected right now. I like Lee over Bosh for value. But if losing Lee, or Chandler, or Gallo helps you to shed a couple bad contracts and puts you in even better rebuilding shape, you simply need to make those moves.
    Here’s the point, rarely are teams built off role players…Good teams are designed around a centerpiece, as the Knicks were built around Patrick.
    Good basketball teams are like a circus tent: you need that center pole first. The rest of the polls hold up the tent and then there are stakes to support the poles. Lee, Gallo and Chandler are small poles.
    If the Knicks are able to shed a lot of excess overhead and lose some of those role players along the way, so be it.

    If the Knicks are smart, they could have two center poles.

  125. Caleb

    fwiw, my goal in that scenario would be to re-sign Lee after the season, along with LeBron or Wade. But with all the savings, we wouldn’t be screwed if he got away.

  126. Ted Nelson

    ” you start Jerome James and only play him for 5 minutes because you’re off your meds.”

    Was referring to Isiah or Larry Brown or both… whoever employed that strategy for a while. Think it was Isiah, but Larry did some pretty similar things.

    “This is why I don’t think you are likely to win it all with an average defensive core and then the odd Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Etan Thomas thrown in there.”

    Should clarify: it’s an example of why I think that, not why I think that. Knicks would have an average defensive core, Wizards had a bad/terrible defensive core.

    “He’s shown me enough that I believe he can be a reasonable value for the #7 pick down the road.”

    Should have said #8 pick.

  127. Frank O.

    My point, Ted, about Bosh and Lee is that it appears Bosh could make more than 50 percent or more per year than Lee. Purely based on value per point, Bosh’s scoring isn’t significant enough a difference to justify the cost…
    Bosh does score slightly less than 5 pts per 36, and .3 rebounds per game better than Lee. But Bosh’s TS% is a slight better 59.8 v. Lee’s 59.4. Lee’s eFG% is 55.7 v. Bosh’s eFG% of 52.9, which is significantly better.

    Lee’s shooting percentage is 55.7 and Bosh’s is 52.6, also significantly better.

    I think the difference is Bosh has gotten to the line 253 more times this year than Lee and made 358 FTs v. Lee’s 162. That’s a respect thing, mostly because Lee mixes it up in the paint as much as anyone.
    Lee is the better FT shooter with a percentage of 79.8 v. Bosh’s 78.5.
    These are two players that are comparable in many ways, but Bosh is likely to get a significantly bigger contract than Lee at the end of the day.

    I think your splitting hairs a bit.

  128. Caleb

    I would also take Bosh over Lee, dollars being equal, but worth pointing out that Lee’s production has been pretty steady the past four seasons, while Bosh is having a career year by a good margin.

    When you factor in salary – my bet is that Bosh comes close to doubling lee’s salary — I would much rather have DL.

  129. Ted Nelson

    “if losing Lee, or Chandler, or Gallo helps you to shed a couple bad contracts and puts you in even better rebuilding shape, you simply need to make those moves.”

    It may or may not put them in better rebuilding shape. Building around those three (and others) may prove to be the best move if the Knicks strikeout in free agency 2010. Especially since both Jeffries and Curry expire in 2011 anyway. I would definitely consider moving any of the three, I’m just saying that it’s complicated.

    “Good basketball teams are like a circus tent: you need that center pole first. The rest of the polls hold up the tent and then there are stakes to support the poles. Lee, Gallo and Chandler are small poles.”

    It’s a decent analogy, but in reality it’s not very clear cut. There are only so many true center poles, and they’re hard to get. It’s mostly luck (preparation plus opportunity). There are two Ringling Brothers worthy poles out there this offseason, and I would agree that the Knicks need to really try to get one or both. However, in the case that they don’t… building a well-engineered structure out of medium sized poles made from very fine material might be the best strategy. Not necessarily saying exactly Lee, Gallo, and WC, but guys like them.
    The alternative of a. overpaying a “max” (emphasis on the quote-un-quote… as in Amare or even Joe Johnson type) guy… i.e. use a wobbly 2nd hand center pole with a crack in it or b. winning 15-20 games and hoping to hit lottery gold are not ideal in the first case and risky in the second case.

    You shouldn’t undervalue “small poles,” as you call them. There is a wide spectrum of value among them. Some are more valuable than others and some are better fits for your structure.

    If you’ve got two center poles like the Kobe/Shaq Lakers then the small poles are of less importance. If the Knicks get LeBron AND Wade, then they’re in that situation. Otherwise, they’re not. LeBron is incredible, but even he cannot stand on his own. Shaq and Z are aging HOF/All-Star (respectively) centers (a valuable/scarce position). Mo Williams is a good/great outside shooter with a good overall game (as are Gibson and West to lesser/different extents). Varajao and Moon are strong defenders. Parker is a good shooter. He doesn’t have nearly the supporting poles Kobe does in LA, but they are solid. My point with the Cavs/LeBron stuff is just that even if the Knicks get LeBron they still have to surround him with something to contend, let alone win it all. Talented young players with bird rights can be an important part of that equation. Absent of that, one bad signing and they’re on the same treadmill of salvaging small poles from odd places Cleveland is currently on.

  130. Ted Nelson

    Frank O.,

    “My point, Ted, about Bosh and Lee is that it appears Bosh could make more than 50 percent or more per year than Lee. Purely based on value per point, Bosh’s scoring isn’t significant enough a difference to justify the cost…”

    I’m really not clear on what Lee will get this offseason, and I’ve said several times Lee may end up being being a much better value than Bosh. I can see Lee’s expected range stretching all the way from $8 mill per to $12 mill per… a huge range… and that’s expected: he may get a ridiculously good offer or have to settle for a ridiculously bad one depending on a lot of factors. I can easily make the case for why he’s worth $12 mill per, or even more, given his productions and comparable deals.

    The difference between, say, $12 mill and $16 mill may be equivalent to nothing. The Knicks do not have any budget restraints (at least not under $125 or so mill before considering luxury tax). What kind of player can you sign for $4 mill per? (Of course, on the other hand, $4 mill per may be combined with other cap space or used in a trade to make a huge difference… just depends.) $4 mill is less than the MLE, which capped out teams get every year. The Knicks will not necessarily even have to worry about the MLE in 2011 if they just let Jeffries and Curry expire. Plus, when you’re talking about winning playoff series/titles vs. not, slight differences can make a huge difference.

    “I think the difference is Bosh has gotten to the line 253 more times this year than Lee and made 358 FTs v. Lee’s 162. That’s a respect thing, mostly because Lee mixes it up in the paint as much as anyone.”

    You are correct that drawing fouls is a and probably the big difference between the two. I don’t think that’s a respect thing only, though. Bosh has the best first step of any bigman in the NBA. He can blow right by anyone. That makes people have to foul him. Lee has developed good driving skills, but is not amazingly quick like Bosh.

    “I think your splitting hairs a bit.”

    The difference between LeBron and Wade can also be characterized as splitting hairs, but I’d much rather have LeBron.

    Caleb,
    “worth pointing out that Lee’s production has been pretty steady the past four seasons, while Bosh is having a career year by a good margin.”
    You wouldn’t say Lee is having a career year by a good margin? His previous career high in usage was 19.2 and he’s up to 23.6. His previous high in assist % was 10.2 and he’s at 17.

  131. Caleb

    I would say Lee is having his best season, but he’s been very consistent. His scoring has gradually increased each year, efficiency staying the same while usage has jumped. Over 3-4 years, it’s a big jump.

    On the other hand, his rebound rate is the worst it’s been since his rookie year. And his assists, TOs and defense are about the same.

    None of this is to knock him — but he’s been really good for a long time.

    Bosh has, too, but his numbers this year are way up. For example, the last 6 years, his rebound rate has been 14.4, 16.2, 15.2, 14.2, 15.5… and now 18.3.

    His TS% is a career high and up 3 points from last year. His scoring average has jumped 3 points.

    p.s. Lee’s assist % last year was 12.3… now at 15.3

    I would say it’s more likely for Lee than Bosh to match their current level of play, in 2010-2011. That said, Bosh’s level is higher.

  132. Ted Nelson

    Basketball-reference has his assist % at 17 this season and 10.1 last season: http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/l/leeda02.html

    I agree completely that Bosh is having a career year to date. I’m just saying that Lee is also having a career year. His overall/total production is clearly better than it’s ever been.
    Whether Bosh is any more likely than Lee to have a worse season next year… I have no idea. Subjectively careers seem to follow all sorts of patterns, with a general bell shape emerging: improving when young, peaking, and then declining. I don’t have any more intricate knowledge than that. Bosh may be motivated to be playing for a contract, but so might Lee. This may be a one year spike in his production, but it might be the same for Lee.
    I see your logic about watching Lee improve incrementally every season (and being very good starting in his second season). I just can’t say who is more likely to be having a fluke year. Maybe neither, maybe both. I have no quantitative evidence on which to base even a guess. I will guess that if you keep feeding Lee the ball he’s likely to keep up this production. One question is how much Lee is worth should his usage decrease significantly because his teammates get better. The efficiency, rebounding, and passing still make him a very valuable player, but $12 mill valuable? With his defense? I don’t know the answer, I’m just saying.

    Hate to use PER, but both are about 2 pts above their career high by that metric. Somewhat useful in this case because it attempts to measure overall value and emphasizes usage, where both are pretty significantly above their career marks.

  133. jon abbey Post author

    “$100mm more than if he signs somewhere else, or just $100mm total?”

    $100M kicker to his current deal if he signs in NY.

    “You shouldn’t undervalue “small poles,” as you call them. There is a wide spectrum of value among them. Some are more valuable than others and some are better fits for your structure.”

    but in the end, if you don’t have a “center pole”, you don’t win a title in today’s NBA. the only exception to this in the last 30+ years is the Wallace/Wallace/Prince/Hamilton/Billups Pistons, and even they were somewhat lucky that the infighting of that last Kobe/Shaq team made them disintegrate in the Finals. so, yeah, if you have five top 20 or 25 players, you have a shot, but basically you need one of the handful of superstars.

  134. Ted Nelson

    “but in the end, if you don’t have a “center pole”, you don’t win a title in today’s NBA.”

    But if you waste your time chasing a big pole that never comes or trying to expand a small pole into a big one/use a faulty big pole you end up in the lottery for 5-10 years watching your big pole eat Vaseline online. Only one team wins it all every year, and if I’m not that team I’d rather be close than sitting at home watching the playoffs.

    If the Knicks can get LeBron and Wade I do think they should go out of their way to take that shot. That’s a fairly unique situation, though. Two redwood sized poles are on the market at the same time and the Knicks have something of a reasonable chance at getting them due to geography (or whatever you want to call playing in the biggest media market in the country/world?).

    As far as Wade’s health… he played 3000 minutes last season and is on pace to do so again. You could also argue that going from Miami’s offense to one with LeBron and maybe Gallo and/or WC and/or sharpshooters Douglas and Hill will really shield him from injury. That could even be a marketing pitch given by the Knicks. Their offense outside of him is weak, even with Jermaine O’Neal playing well and some generally efficient scoring. (Depending on where the market for him is, Jermaine O’Neal might be a fall-back option for the Knicks this offseason… .570 TS%.)
    I do think Joe Johnson would be a sweet lieutenant for LeBron (passing, scoring, shooting) and he has been super durable. Your plan would yield a perennial top 3 offense. I just think you take a big cut at Wade and then if you miss you quickly turn to Johnson (don’t know how you do it, but I’ll leave that to Donnie). I suppose one of Gallo/Chandler/Lee could eventually used to get some defense, maybe a bigman. Of course, I understand why you couldn’t really include mystery bigman to be traded for/drafted/signed later as a key part of your plan. Dalembert and Tyson Chandler are both 2011 FAs the Knicks could nab (probably for less than they make now) as defense/rebounding/efficient low-volume scoring specialists with the Jeffries/Curry cap space. And Jermaine and Camby are available this offseason.
    I’m trying to think through how you keep Lee and get 2 max FAs… just might be too ambitious, unless Atlanta doesn’t want to keep Joe Johnson. Don’t really see why they wouldn’t, though. Then again, I guess a third team could provide the free agent the leverage he needs to get to NY: “sign-and-trade me to NY or I’m signing in City X. Team could call his bluff if he’s bluffing.

  135. Ted Nelson

    “(Depending on where the market for him is, Jermaine O’Neal might be a fall-back option for the Knicks this offseason… .570 TS%.)”

    I mean, like if they can sign him for $5-8 mill per for 1, 2, 3 years absolute max and if it fits with what they can and can’t do with the rest of their space. If nothing else materializes maybe overpay a little to use him as a one year place holder… a Duhon style move. Maybe complement other signings with him if you need some interior D/a 5-man.

  136. Frank O.

    I guess my idea was to make a play at two powerful “center poles” you need to be willing to package a Lee, or a Chandler or a Gallo, to move a Curry and Jeffries.

    By doing that you are making your best effort at securing two main “poles” for you tent. In my view, there simply is no other way to be in a position to get two max guys like Wade and Lebron.

    If you don’t do that, you simply can’t shed Curry and/or Jeffries. People aren’t going to take out your trash unless they get paid somehow. Dumping that kind of trash might cost you two of the three short poles…to beat the analogy to death…:)

  137. Frank O.

    And I was thinking Bosh was going to get twice as much as Lee, but felt the argument was still valid if I offered conservative pricing for Bosh

  138. jon abbey Post author

    “But if you waste your time chasing a big pole that never comes or trying to expand a small pole into a big one/use a faulty big pole you end up in the lottery for 5-10 years watching your big pole eat Vaseline online.”

    that last phrase needs to be recognized and commended, but for me at this point in my Knicks fandom, we need to hold out for big poles. either a team is a genuine championship contender or they’re not, 45-37 or 19-63 isn’t much different to me. actually if we have our pick, I might prefer 19-63 over 45-37 and a first round exit. it kills me how close we got to Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry the last two seasons, if only we’d lost a few more games.

  139. Ted Nelson

    Frank O.,

    Yeah, in the Knicks case I suppose they have a hard choice to make. I believe they only have to move Jeffries to be in a position to sign 2 max guys. I agree that if you have to move a young piece to shed Jeffries’ contract then you do it, it’s a tough call though. You can be wrong either way. Then again, Walsh is paid so much to make the tough calls.

    I agree that Lee may be a MUCH better value depending on where the market for him is. With all the cap space out there this offseason he may get a market value or above market value deal, but Lee is such a polarizing (love/hate) player… who knows.

    Jon,

    It’s a tradeoff… 45 wins and you have a good team that might be one or two pieces away from real contention/winning a title. If you don’t have that big pole yet but a strong supporting cast, you might be one trade/signing/pick away from getting the big pole and contending. If you’ve got a big pole already it’s easier and you’ve just got to add small poles. Whether you get over the hump or not you’re in the playoffs and doing something. Well… last season 45 wins in the East would have made you the 5 seed, while you’d be 10th and in the lottery in the West.
    19 wins and you’ve got a better shot in the draft (provided your GM doesn’t trade away all your picks) and probably also some cap space (provided your GM doesn’t construct the highest payroll in the NBA on a mediocre team). Some teams take forever to emerge from that state, though, and others emerge only to get to the 45 win area. It’s high risk/high reward… You might get a LeBron James your first year in the lottery… or you may end up with the 4th pick in a weak draft despite the worst record one year and then get the #1 pick the next only to draft a Kwame or Olowakandi.

    I like Westbrook and Curry, but are they really legit big poles? Sure, I would be happy with either or both in blue and orange, but I’m just saying that neither is LeBron/ Wade/ Howard/ Paul/ Melo/ Kobe. Both have serious holes in their games. Unless they develop into all-around, all-world, top 3-5 players (Westbrook would have to seriously improve his .483 TS%…which is seriously pathetic…, while Curry would have a lot of work to do) I would call drafting guys like that the piece by piece approach that the Knicks might be on starting with a Lee/Danilo/WC nucleus–and then adding to it with some strong, but not LeBron sized, moves. (That’s assuming the miss out on the Big 2…) I might take Westbrook over any of those 3, but probably not Curry.

    If the Knicks miss on LeBron/Wade, would you say they should sign no one/ let Lee walk and go for the early lottery/ Melo, Parker, etc. in 2011?

  140. jon abbey Post author

    Yeah, Ted, I don’t disagree with much of that, just saying that you’re more likely to get guys who can be top 3 players on a championship contender in the draft in the top 5 picks then you are at 11-15. and almost every team is one big pole away from contending, especially if that pole is LeBron.

    “If the Knicks miss on LeBron/Wade, would you say they should sign no one/ let Lee walk and go for the early lottery/ Melo, Parker, etc. in 2011?”

    it depends who is actually available and for how much, and also the new CBA really confuses things, but the worst thing possible would be to do what Detroit did and commit to guys like Gordon and Villanueva long-term just because they had cap space. if we can’t get LeBron/Wade, I think I’d rather just deal anyone we can move for draft picks and start building mostly from scratch, a la Oklahoma City.

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