Memo to Isiah: YOU Drafted David Lee

To: Isiah Thomas
From: Brian Cronin
Re: David Lee’s success

Isiah, it has come to my attention that perhaps you do not realize that it was you, in fact, who drafted David Lee with the 29th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. You traded a good center to acquire the draft pick, and you made a very nice pick, choosing a player that 26 other teams turned down, while Lee is not a better player than the majority of those 26 other players (28 if we count your picks as well).

You did a good job.

Last year, Larry Brown was not willing to play David Lee much, which was a negative against Larry. Remember how much you disagreed with Larry, Isiah?

If you play David Lee more, he will play well, and you will both

A. Get credit for a great draft pick

and

B. Make Larry Brown look bad for not playing David Lee more last season.

21 minutes in a game your team barely lost (1 minute LESS than Jared Jeffries and his 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and four personal fouls), in a game where Lee still managed to net 9 points and 9 board (FIVE of which on the offensive glass) is just inexcusable.

You do a good job motivating your team, Isiah. Last year, this game would have been over by the beginning of the fourth quarter, and would likely have been a lackluster 20 point loss. This year, the players try harder for you. And do you know which player seems to try really, REALLY hard?

David Lee.

Remember him?

You drafted him. YOU get credit if he does well.

Please play him more.

You will not regret it.

The Fifth Man

One of my favorite movies of all-time is Carol Reed’s The Third Man, where the film’s protagonist searches for the mysterious “third man” who was seen with a friend of his when his friend died.

I am reminded of this today, when I consider our search for the Fifth Man…the fifth guy who we think should close out the end of Knick games.

The other four are fairly easy…Marbury and Curry are the “stars”, they need to be out there. Jamal Crawford is the Knicks’ “closer” (whether that is a good idea or not, he has come through in the clutch enough times that he is going to be out there at the end of the game). David Lee’s rebounding skills are extremely valuable at the end of the game, so he’s a lock.

So those are the four – but who should be the fifth?

Channing Frye and Quentin Richardson are the real candidates, with Renaldo Balkman and Jared Jeffries being the outside shots.

I will be frank, I do not think I have a personal preference between Q and Frye. They are both good shooters. Q is the better defender, but Frye is taller. I think it is a real crapshoot.

What do you folks think?

Free David Lee?

Mike Lupica must have hit his head before he wrote this week’s column, because he had a good point in the beginning of the column, where he points out that David Lee is eighth in the NBA in rebounds per game, while playing the fewest minutes out of all the eight.

Kevin Garnett MIN 39.0 12.6
Dwight Howard ORL 36.0 12.6
Marcus Camby DEN 32.5 12.1
Carlos Boozer UTA 37.0 11.8
Tyson Chandler NOK 32.7 11.3
Emeka Okafor CHA 35.5 11.0
Jermaine O’Neal IND 35.8 10.5
David Lee NY 30.0 10.4

And in the Knicks’ last loss, Lee barely played until it was too late.

Lupica made the argument that Isiah is just trying to make his free agent signing look good, but I think that is wholly unfair, as A. Isiah gets credit FOR Lee – HE drafted him! So if Isiah was just looking for things to make him look good, Lee would be it and B. Isiah has no problem with not playing Jerome James.

Still, Lupica is correct (man, that just sounds wrong, doesn’t it?) in that it is Jared Jeffries who David Lee is competing with. I think Isiah just really likes Jeffries, and believes that he is the better defensive player, and more important to have on the floor.

Still, Jeffries didn’t help much during the third quarter of the Charlotte game.

Isiah said after the game, “We ran into a hot team. They shot well, they made shots. They did the correct things, they made plays. I don’t have any excuses other than the other team that we played tonight, they were hot. They did everything right.” I understand that Isiah is just trying to put a good spin on things, but the Knicks defense was just AWFUL.

Also, while Quentin Richardson really improved his defense last year, during the previous game, Breen and Clyde were calling Q the Knicks “best perimeter defender.” What is Jeffries, then?

Finally, I love that Steph is playing so much better, but 42 minutes is a crapload of minutes for a guy who has looked tired at times this year. I’d prefer not to see that. I’d like to see them try starting Q at the 2.

Treading Water

I think, going to the West, 2-3 seemed like a realistic expectation, although 3-2 was clearly the hope. Basically, the Knicks are a pretty bad team, which means they should be able to beat bad teams (Seattle and Portland), lose to good teams (Clippers and Suns) and toss ups against other pretty bad teams (Sacramento).

However, 2-3 also brings the Knicks to only a game out of first place, which is basically the same place they were when they left on the trip. Treading water, but at least they are not drowning!!

Meanwhile, Steve Francis’ time as a Knick appears to be basically be over, as the Knicks have allowed him to go to Houston to rehab his knee with John Lucas. Francis says he wants to stick around, but by the Knicks allowing him to leave the team to rehab, that doesn’t seem all that likely (if he was actually part of their plans, can you really see them letting him leave the team like that?).

Here’s an interesting question…with this particular lineup, who would you rather be the guard who gets benched when Nate Robinson returns – Mardy Collins or Nate himself? I’ve been really impressed with Collins in the little time he’s played, and with this specific group of players, he might be a better option (specifically his ball-handling and his defense) – but Robinson has such talent – it too much to bench, I guess. But what do you folks think?

This is what it is supposed to feel like

This Knick victory, 151-146 over the Detroit Pistons, is the kind of game that the Knicks have been striving for – a win against a good team where the Knicks never felt like they were outclassed. It never felt like it was a shock that they were in the game. It felt natural. This is what we all want to see – not necessarily a win (although wins are great), but just the feeling of “It is not a surprise if the Knicks beat these guys.”

It’s a good feeling. I hope it continues.

As for the game, WOW, what a game! It’s amazing how the suspensions really have alerted Zeke to the idea that, hey, what do you know? The Knicks three best players all happen to be forwards and/or centers…maybe they should be on the court more often!! As KB has pointed out before (or was it Dave? Oh well, one of those two fellas…hehe), one of the best things about the suspensions is that Thomas literally CANNOT go to a three-guard lineup anymore, because he doesn’t have the manpower for it, and as a result, the Knicks end up having a BETTER lineup because of it!

Jared Jeffries steps back into the starting lineup, although Thomas’ explanation for it was kinda creepy, “I don’t want a guy penalized and lose his starting spot for protecting a teammate in a fight,” Thomas said, “You can’t punish them for that.” It’s not like the guy missed four games because he took a bullet for Mardy Collins. Weird. Anyhow, it is a bit of a shame, as David Lee once again looked awesome when he was on the court (although he was getting burned on the glass just as much as Frye, Curry and Jeffries – the Knicks are a good rebounding team with this lineup, but they were just flatout SMOKED on the glass by Detroit. It was embarrassing, really).

Marbury was amazing, especially making all three free throws. I really loved his game. John Hollinger recently wrote about “presents” for each of the league’s bad teams, and his “present” for the Knicks was to play Marbury less. I really disagree with him on that point. His position seemed to be that, since Marbury had a lower PER than the other Knick guards, the other guards should play over him. That sounds reasonable enough, but that’s like saying that, since Channing Frye had a lower PER than Malik Rose in the beginning of the season, Rose should play over Frye. Marbury should not be playing as poorly as his PER has been for this season, and I think these past few games have shown him coming into form again. Although, with Francis getting healthier, I can’t be the only one who is scared about what his return means to the team.

Jamal Crawford – wow, isn’t he so much cooler when he is taking 16-18 foot jumpers? And with the Knicks down four, who else was astonished that he drove for the hoop and the harm? I know I sure was – but it was pretty unbelievably awesome. Almost as awesome as him passing to Frye for the game-tying bucket.

Speaking of Frye, it sure is good to have the good Frye back again. But man, is it REALLY that much harder to hit a 22-foot jumper instead of a 20-foot jumper? If he could add the three to his repertoire…wow, look out!

Curry looked pretty good, as well. And how awesome was it to see him make the free throw to put them up one in the third OT?

I remember being really pissed off that the Pistons kept getting the ball into Rip (who was freaking unbelievable tonight) and Billups’ hands for free throws, but I felt pretty silly when Billups then missed one…hehe.

Anyhow, great win, and while the Knicks still need to play some better defense, this current lineup has been a real revelation, and it is almost getting to the point where I would not be surprised if you told me “Knicks over Suns” early Saturday morning.

Okay, I guess we’re not really THERE yet…but it looks like they’re on the way.

P.S. How sad is it that I’m scoreboard watching in late December? And is it sadder when the team I’m scoreboard watching is all of 13-16?

Thank you, Trent Tucker

As it turned out, the only way to keep Jamal Crawford from hoisting up a long distance, period-ending jumper was to have a rule that specifically says you canNOT shoot the ball.

And thankfully for the Knicks, that’s just what happened.

It’s still only the Bobcats, but two wins in a row are two wins in a row.

I’ll take what I can get.

How Much Will They Get?

Okay, while there may be a quibble here and a squabble there, I think we basically can agree that the Knicks and the Nuggets were pretty even in the ol’ “acted poorly” category. The media is already going into Breen-overload on how disgraceful the fight was, so how about just trying to put some distance between us and the vast moral high ground the media has, and just evaluate how many games we think the various players will be suspended?

Let’s begin!

I’ll go in order from who I think will get the fewest to who I think will get the longest, as well as how much I think they DESERVE to get…

Isiah Thomas

What will he get? Three games.

What does he deserve? A game.

“Foul him hard” is a bad thing to do, but it’s also not all that out of the ordinary, so I dunno if I would even necessarily suspend Thomas, except he appears to have gone beyond the realm of good sense and warned Carmelo Anthony to stay out of the paint. Just on the stupidity of that comment alone, I’d like to give him a game.

But seriously, a coach shouldn’t reveal stuff like that at all, and I would give him a game for that, just like how baseball managers get suspended if they say they were intentionally throwing at a player. It’s one thing to have it happen, it’s a whole other thing to talk about it like it isn’t a bad thing, which is what Isiah apparently did (“Stay out of the paint”?!? Seriously? How do you say something like that to another team’s player? If he said it at all, of course). And I think the league will find enough corroborating info to justify giving him 3 games, although I wouldn’t be surprised by a few games more.

Jared Jeffries

What will he get? Three games

What does he deserve? One.

Had Jeffries caught up with Carmelo, I could see him getting a double-digit suspension, but he didn’t, so I really don’t see how you can suspend a guy for more than a game just for running at someone after a brawl already began.

Mardy Collins

What will he get? Four games

What does he deserve? One.

Collins commited a bad flagrant foul, and it was bad enough that even had nothing happened, I think he would have received a game suspension once it was reviewed. But with the fight tacked on? I think two games would be a reasonable result.

I think they’ll give him four just as a “statement,” though.

JR Smith

What will he get? Five games

What does he deserve? Three

Smith had pretty standard fight behavior (which is not a defense of his actions, just placing them within context). He felt he had been wronged, so he got angry, and when Nate Robinson reacted poorly to Smith having an angry reaction, Smith decided being physical was the way to go. This is nothing we haven’t seen a million times, but since it happened during a brawl, I think he’ll get a couple more games than normal.

Nate Robinson

What will he get? Six games

What does he deserve? Three

I think Nate and JR Smith were basically equals. Nate perhaps acted more erratically, but Smith made up for it by being more physically aggressive. However, I think Nate’s craziness will lead to the league taking it out on him a BIT more than Smith.

Carmelo Anthony

What will he get? Ten games

What does he deserve? Six

Marcus Camby got almost (if not exactly) six games for a much less egregious punch, but I thought that that suspension was too much. Actually, if I recall correctly, there was talk about how the league would make Camby’s suspension short enough so that he wouldn’t miss a big nationally televised Knicks/Lakers game, and then I think the league wanted to prove they weren’t concerned about that by specifically suspending him long enough to miss that game, so I seem to recall that suspension being too long.

I think the league will most likely pick ten as a nice number – double digits, so they look serious, but not PAST that, so they don’t end up punishing one the league’s biggest young stars (who had such a good reputation up until now).

Well, those are my determinations. What do you folks think?