Off-Season Musings 2.0

If you missed Off-season Musings 1.0 check it out.

Again, this is a quasi-open thread to discuss potential losses and additions. Same ground rules as last time, yeah?

1. Let’s stay away from pure rosterbation, shall we? With little cap space for major free agent signings and few assets worth trading, Chris Paul is not walking through that door. It’s not impossible I suppose, but the Knicks aren’t well positioned for that kind of deal.

2. Check out your idea before posting. You can check trades against the CBA any number of places, including realgm. You can also find player contract and team salary cap information at basketball-reference.

POSSIBLE LOW-KEY ADDITIONS — PRO PLAYERS

It’s always hard to anticipate these kinds of moves without inside information. We don’t know exactly what the future holds for New York’s free agents, Martin, Smith, Prigioni, and Copeland. Regardless, the Knicks still need a backup for Tyson Chandler. Last off-season’s plan was clearly to throw bodies at the position. Unfortunately, those bodies were brittle and old. So Chandler still ended up playing too many minutes, until he got injured, sick, and generally worn down. Enter Roy Hibbert, and it just got ugly. I will admit to feeling like scooping up older bigs with skill last off-season was moneyballing some market inefficiency. Mayhap we look at a few younger bodies this off-season?

Here are a few under-the-radar names I’m keeping an eye on. They don’t address every need–certainly not Melo’s* alleged demand for an additional scorer–but I’m concentrating on potential bargains.

*I usually turn a jaundiced eye to any “reporting” from the Post. So I don’t know how accurate Melo’s alleged demand is. I feel fairly confident, however, that someone at the Post believes New York needs another “scorer”. In my humble opinion the Knicks could use, as much as anything, for Tyson Chandler to develop a 15-18 foot jumper the same way Udonis Haslem did. 

Brandan Wright is a solid two-way rotational big (not a small forward though) who probably carries too little bulk to ever be more than an 18-20 minute, matchup dependent 4 or 5. He may never play 82 games. So even though there is a lot to like, his price tag might stay reasonable. Here’s a great write up on Wright at MavsMoneyBall. Sure, Dallas likes him but if they’re serious about getting in on Dwight Howard they may have to let Wright walk even if its for reasonable money.

Al-Farouq Aminu is only 22. I’m not sure how much bloom is left on that rose though. The Pelicans failed to pick up his option, despite the fact that he seems to have come into his own as a one-dimensional (elite) rebounding forward. The Pels need offense and they have already invested a high draft pick (Xavier Henry, plus a lot of other backup bodies) at his position. They like Aminu, and may not let him walk unless someone overpays. Given his limited skill set though, no one may back a dump truck filled with cash up to his door. New Orleans could probably keep him for reasonable money, but with another high draft pick on the way the numbers game may not favor Aminu staying in New Orleans. For the right price Aminu could provide New York the flexibility to go big without having to play Melo at the 3. He’d generally allow Woodson to keep a rebounder on the floor when Chandler is resting.

Shaun Livingston is a fairly safe bet to return to Cleveland. In fact, I’m not even sure he could play for New York since he can’t shoot the three. Still, I’ve always liked Livingston. He’s a solid defender, excellent passer and rebounder. He also had a good season backing up Kyrie Irving. The second-tier guard market is a buyer’s market this off-season. So pair Livingston’s injury history with Irving’s, and the Cavs may consider finding a backup with less injury risk (not to mention more scoring punch). For his part, Livingston won’t be able to command much, which may well lead him back to Cleveland.

 

Off-Season Musings 1.0

With the conference finals in full swing, and Knick fans left dreaming of what might have, it is time to think about what is coming up next. Free agency and the draft are right around the corner.

For the most part, the Knicks core of Anthony, Chandler, STAT, and Shump is set. Roster changes will most likely involve the other players and are likely to come from the draft, via minor trades and low dollar free agent signings.

Given that, I figured I’d put up a quasi-open thread to discuss potential losses and additions—but with some ground rules.

1. Let’s stay away from pure rosterbation, shall we? With little cap space for major free agents and few assets worth trading, Larry Bird Chris Paul is not walking through that door. It’s not impossible I suppose, but the Knicks aren’t well positioned for that kind of deal.

2. Check out your idea before posting. You can check trades ideas against the CBA at ESPN and RealGM. You can also find player contract and team salary cap information at basketball-reference.com.

I will add a few words about potential losses and additions, and update this post throughout the off-season.

POSSIBLE LOSSES

1. J.R. Smith – Odds favor Earl’s return, and not without some justification. His detractors and agnostics will surely point his to piss-poor shooting and remind us that it wasn’t just bad in the playoffs. His regular-season .522 TS% was well below his career mark of .540. His supporters will point to real improvement from “bad J.R.” Most nights he brought an improved floor game to at least partially offset his awful shooting. We saw sustainable career bests in DREB % and TOV %. We also saw a little less 3PT gunning (more than one full 3PTA/36 below his career average, his 4th fewest), and more willingness to challenge the defense (a near career best FTA/36). The major question is whether the Knicks overpay.

2. Pablo Prigioni – Will someone price the Knicks out of the market? I doubt it but that is the question.

3. Kenyon Martin and Chris Copeland – Ditto.

4. Raymond Felton and Steve Novak – With 3 more seasons left on their respective deals neither is likely to go anywhere, especially Novak with his newly balky back. And yet, either could be flipped for a complimentary player or be part of a bigger deal to make numbers work. To that latter point you could add James White and possibly Marcus Camby.

5. The Rabble (Quentin Richardson, Earl Barron) – Neither is likely to return, though it’s worth noting that Q-Rich shot 35% from the arc in Orlando just a season ago. He looked to be in good shape, and if Novak is going to be chronically back spasmy you could do worse at the end of the bench.

POSSIBLE ADDITIONS – THE DRAFT

Virtually everyone is saying that this is a role player-heavy, beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder draft. That’s fine for the Knicks, who pick at #24 anyway.

I have included draft prospects ranked #20-28 on the “big boards” of three different sites (i.e., DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, and SBNation. These boards have each been updated since mid-May. They just give you an idea of some of the names likely to be linked with New York in the coming weeks.

Prospect Rankings, #20-28

Draftexpress

NBADraft.net

SB Nation

20 Tony Mitchell, PF, 21 years old, Sophomore6′ 9″ 236lbs.North Texas Tim Hardaway, Jr., SG, 21 years old, Junior6′ 6″ 185lbs.Michigan Dario Saric, SF, 19 years old, International6′ 10″ 223lbs.Cibona Zagreb
21 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, 20 years old, Sophomore6′ 6″ 204lbs.Georgia Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, 18 years old, International6′ 9″ 196lbs.Filathlitikos Rudy Gobert, C, 20 years old, International7′ 2″ 238lbs.Cholet
22 Dario Saric, SF, 19 years old, International6′ 10″ 223lbs.Cibona Zagreb Shane Larkin, PG, 20 years old, Sophomore5′ 11″ 171lbs.Miami FL Reggie Bullock, SF, 22 years old, Junior6′ 7″ 200lbs.North Carolina
23 Shane Larkin, PG, 20 years old, Sophomore5′ 11″ 171lbs.Miami FL Gorgui Dieng, C, 23 years old, Junior6′ 11″ 230lbs.Louisville Shabazz Muhammad, SF, 20 years old, Freshman6′ 6″ 222lbs.UCLA
24 Allen Crabbe, SG, 21 years old, Junior6′ 6″ 197lbs.California Rudy Gobert, C, 20 years old, International7′ 2″ 238lbs.Cholet Kelly Olynyk, C, 22 years old, Junior7′ 0″ 234lbs.Gonzaga
25 Jeff Withey, C, 23 years old, Senior7′ 0″ 222lbs.Kansas Lorenzo Brown, PG, 22 years old, Junior6′ 5″ 189lbs.N.C. State Steven Adams, C, 19 years old, Freshman7′ 0″ 255lbs.Pittsburgh
26 Glen Rice, SF, 22 years old, Senior6′ 6″ 211lbs.Rio Grande Valley Tony Mitchell, PF, 21 years old, Sophomore6′ 9″ 236lbs.North Texas Kenny Kadji, PF, 25 years old, Senior6′ 10″ 242lbs.Miami FL
27 Giannis Adetokunbo*, SF, 18 years old, International6′ 9″ 196lbs.Filathlitikos Sergey Karasev, SG/SF, 20 years old, International6′ 7″ 197lbs., 1993BC Triumph Jamaal Franklin, SG, 21 years old, Junior6′ 5″ 191lbs.San Diego State
28 Archie Goodwin, SG, 18 years old, Freshman6′ 5″ 189lbs.Kentucky Allen Crabbe, SG, 21 years old, Junior6′ 6″ 197lbs.California Brandon Davies, C, 21 years old, Senior6′ 10″ 242lbs.BYU

*I have seen multiple spellings of this guy’s name.

If you’re looking for rookies who could come right in and play a role a few names jump immediately to mind.

  1. Gorgui Dieng (Louisville) would be a godsend. He is Tyson Chandler-lite. He can run, block shots, and board. If you watched the title game you also saw an emerging pick-and-pop game. My guess is that he won’t be around for New York at pick #24.
  2. Tony Mitchell (North Texas) has an NBA body and athleticism (6’8-3/4” in shoes, 235#, 7’2-1/2” wingspan—yes, please). Boy, is he raw though. His ability to contribute right away probably depends on what you ask him to do. He should be able to defend, rebound, and run the floor, but there are question marks. After the former Missouri recruit sat out for academics and signed with North Texas he had a promising freshman season. He surprised many by staying in school after a coaching change. It did not go well. The team disintegrated and he regressed across the board. A red flag for me is that he should have been renowned as a physical player in the Sunbelt Conference with his measurables, but he wasn’t that sophomore year. He boarded well as a freshman—not dominant, but well—then fell way off as a sophomore. He took more 3s and fewer free throws. At #24, New York should throw confetti if a talent like Mitchell falls to them. I’d be happy to get him but he definitely comes with a caveat emptor sign. Update: Instead of writing all that I should have just sent you over to P&T for Jonathan Tjarks’ excellent write up on Mitchell.
  3. Allen Crabbe (Cal) is just about tailor-made to play in New York’s offense. (Watch the video scouting report at DraftExpress.) He probably has a lower ceiling than the other two, but could theoretically step into his long-term role right away. Mike Montgomery is a very good college coach, so Crabbe knows how to play. He’s mostly catch-and-shoot, but with enough handle to beat overplays. Think Miami’s James Jones, but with better handle.

Of the three, I suspect that Crabbe is most likely to be available.

Next time: Possible Pro Player Additions

Quickie Postmortem & Thoughts on Coach Woodson

Congrats to the Pacers.

They were better on both ends. You just have to tip your cap. This series was mostly about what they did right, even if the Knicks didn’t do everything they needed to win. Good luck to the Pacers in the ECF. It’s hard to bet against the Heat though. Indiana will need to keep turnovers down to have any chance against a much better, more aggressive Miami defense. (Remember, they didn’t really shoot that well versus New York and they gave away a ton of possessions.) Hibbert must play even better defense. His reverse posterizing of Melo will not soon be forgotten though–wow. Still, he won’t be able to just hang out by the restricted area with Bosh and Haslem on the floor. Unlike New York, Miami’s big frontcourt with Haslem and Bosh puts more mid-range shooting on the floor. Drawing Hibbert even a half-step further from the paint could be the difference in the series. It won’t matter how “vertical” he is if he’s late. Still, Indiana can pose a credible threat to the Heat if they catch some breaks. If Wade pulls a Tyson Chandler and plays at what looks like 80% it could make things interesting.

But anyway, this post is about the Knicks, and specifically coach Woodson.

Woodson was legitimately terrible against Indiana. He did not bring wood. He took wood like Vogel’s pledge. Vogel ruthlessly paddled Woodson like he was on line, exploiting his sudden–and odd–conversion to fundamentalist truisms (“play your best rebounders”, “only play eight guys”, and “always have a  ‘savvy’ veteran on the floor for leadership and ‘intangibles'”). Woodon seemingly had the Midas touch all season, and the temerity to dismiss some conventions for results. Then, suddenly, he just lost it.

I was whining to a friend and fellow Knicks fan after game 4 that Woodson isn’t innovative. He merely had innovative lineups forced on him because of the team’s injury situation. My friend dutifully pointed out, it’s never so simple as that. Necessity is the mother of invention yet many inventions are never born. Their births are not to be taken for granted. Woody’s been pretty good about putting guys on the floor in roles that accentuate their strengths. That’s not true of every coach. So, I will only speak for myself here, and resolve to be less dismissive. Over an 82 game season and a first round series Woody made pretty good choices under trying circumstances. There are always bad choices available, and the good ones aren’t nearly so obvious as we like to imagine (especially once we concede that good choices don’t always work out and sometimes bad ones do).

Some on the twitterverse are calling for Woody’s dismissal, and not without some justification. In fact last night I was right there in full-throated howl. After a night of less-than-spectacular sleep, I am re-thinking my howl. Three pretty obvious reasons:

1. Room for growth — As Bob noted in his post-game, Woodson made adjustments. Too late for them to matter (as if to troll us), but he did, in fact, make them, or at least he made some. As much as anything, that’s a tell-tale sign of a coach with the capacity to improve. Woody threw away a lot of unproductive minutes on Jason Kidd and JR Smith. He rode with his guys. But, “riding their guys” is the most common coaching flaw in the league. It almost certainly comes with any coach you get, unless it’s Larry Brown. Then you get schizophrenia  The best you can usually get is when the guys a coach is riding aren’t completely worthless. Next season those guys are more likely to be Shump and Copeland. That thought leaves me hopeful.

2. James Dolan — New York’s front office has done a pretty credible job of roster construction, all things considered. But a new coaching hire is ultimately going to be Dolan’s call. Who trusts Dolan with a non-Phil Jackson hire? Who really wants to be inundated with a dozen Isola columns about how Isiah Thomas is coming back to coach the Knicks? Who among us would dare tempt the basketball gods this way? (They are clearly of the crazy Old Testament variety.)

3. Switching costs are a bear — Even if Dolan gave the GM “full creative control” how confident are we that a clear and significant coaching upgrade is available? That’s an important question, because a marginal upgrade that comes with substantial switching costs (e.g., new roles, new defensive rotations, etc.) is not that attractive to me.

This should hardly be construed as a ringing endorsement for Woodson. Guys have been fired for less. Whether he deserves to be fired is never the most relevant question though. Almost every coach does at some point. The most relevant question is always can the Knicks find a large enough upgrade to justify the all the costs that come with transition?

 

A Few Adjustments for Game Two

With a night to sleep on it, a few things I think I think heading into Game Two.

1. The defense was the biggest Game 1 culprit, part I. For all the huffing and puffing about NY’s offense, 95 points (inefficient though they were) really should be enough against the Pacers. The game should at least to be closer than three possessions. The Pacers shot 35% from three and corralled 28% of their misses, basically their season averages in both categories. Um… That’s not going to cut it gents. You have to take something away.

As I noted in my preview, New York is well-positioned to limit Indy on the offensive glass. Guards who clean up misses are a big part of that. The defensive rebound totals, respectively, for Shump, Felton, Prigioni, Smith and Kidd in Game 1? Try 3, 2, 0, 5, and 2. Add Chandler’s three measly boards, and that–frankly–is some bullshit. (To his credit, Melo brought his big boy britches with him to the defensive glass if nowhere else. He had 10 defensive boards.) We got out-rebounded by 14 but still got off five more shots than Indy. Had we gotten off 10 more shots at the same PPS we most likely win, without being any more efficient. Yeah, and if wishes were horses then beggars would ride. I get it. Still, 11 defensive boards for Stevenson is pretty ridiculous. I’m not happy with Chandler’s play, but Hibbert and West didn’t kill us on the boards. Stevenson did. The guards have to show up better on the glass.

2. The defense was the biggest Game 1 culprit, part II. As I’ve been kvetching about since yesterday, DJ Augustin had 16 points on four triples and a layup in just under 13 minutes (a preposterous 2.67 PPS). Augustin is, evidently, a Knicks season ticket holder because all of his shots were compliments of the house yesterday. He wasn’t knocking down the same looks Jason Terry got in the Boston series off the fast break and the faux break. Not a closely-guarded shot in the bunch for Mr. Augustin. Maybe he’ll hit those too, but we know he can hit the unguarded ones. So, let’s try guarding him next time shall we?

3. We have to turn Chandler into a useful offensive player. He cannot possibly play well against Hibbert in a wrestling match. For Chandler to be more effective we need to get he and Hibbert moving. Stashing him on the weak side and using Melo to set screens was a subtle yet awesome move against Boston that won’t work in this series. With Chandler on the weak side we are still in Hibbert’s recovery range. We need Hibbert another half-step away from the basket. Putting Chandler at the top to set screens for Felton should net us the extra half-step we need. I’d be stunned if Woody doesn’t make this adjustment. Though, speaking of being stunned by Woody…

4. For all the talk of Melo’s “trust” issues, Woody is the one driving me to drink. Raymond Felton is making things so much easier for people right now, particularly Melo and Chandler. Sigh… Additionally, Copeland is easily capable of the kind short scoring outburst we saw from Augustin. But Woody can’t find 5-8 minutes of run early in the game to see what he’s got?

5. I know an unfocused team when I see one. I think even Pacers fans would acknowledge that the first round was more cognitively and emotionally draining for New York. Indiana, to its credit, did a better job of re-focusing for Game 1. The Knicks were by contrast all over the place, unable to focus. Finding the focus to simply keep playing regardless of what just happened is a huge part of the NBA playoff grind. The non-stop carping at officials is a common symptom of a team unable to focus. Although the officials had a “generous” interpretation of defensive verticality, they were remarkably consistent. You can’t say you didn’t know what’s being called from one play to the next, or from one end of the floor to the other. So, this was a textbook example of players and coaches needing to adjust but lacking the emotional resources to do so. It was obvious that emotionally, the Knicks just couldn’t get to that place Sunday. It was classic displacement.

I’m less inclined than some fans and media types to go right to (lack of) maturity as an explanation. They tend to exaggerate the extent to which teams–even championship teams–maintain focus under all circumstances. Very few teams never waiver. The Spurs come to mind. Jordan’s Bulls do too.  But they are exceptions, even among championship teams. For most, focus is a state variable rather than a trait variable. It varies by episode. So the key is less about never losing it, and more about getting it back. Miami, Dallas, L.A., and Detroit are not champions who you think of as having invariant focus. What mattered for them is the ability to re-set. To his credit, Woody has been really good at getting the focus back after the Knicks have lost it this season.

Knicks vs. Pacers: Mini Series Preview

Schedule
Sun, May 5 vs Indiana 3:30 PM ABC
Tue, May 7 vs Indiana 7:00 PM TNT
Sat, May 11 @ Indiana 8:00 PM ABC
Additional games TBD

Four Factors (from hoopsdata)

Team Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Own eFG Opp. eFG Own FT rate Opp. FT rate
Knicks 107.7 103.0 50.9 50.7 26.5 28.0
Pacers 101.3 95.4 47.7 44.6 28.3 26.2

 

Team Own TO rate Opp. TO rate Own ORR Opp. ORR
Knicks 11.8 14.8 25.7 25.4
Pacers 14.2 12.8 30.1 25.3

I’d say the reputations for both teams generally follow the four factors. The Pacers are the rough and tumble defensive team. New York is the free-flowing three-shooting offensive juggernaut, except when they’re not. Just looking at efficiency differentials, the Pacers are +5.9 (5th) while the Knicks are +4.7 (7th). The Pacers are better defensively. Though, at the risk of being petty, the offensive embarrassment that is the Central Division may pad their defensive numbers ever so slightly. No Central teams are above average on offense. But make no mistake, the Pacers are every bit as salty as the Cs on defense. However, they are worse than Boston shooting from the floor. They make up for it by elite offensive rebounding. They are also elite at keeping opponents away from second chance points.

The Season Series and Playoff Matchups
The season series, as Seth noted over at Posting and Toasting, was weird. The November and January games were played really before either team had quite settled in. Indiana saw virtually as much roster backfill like Ronnie Brewer, Solomon Jones, and James White as they did of Iman Shumpert. On the flipside, the one game where pretty much everyone was healthy the Pacers beat us like we stole something. If there is a takeaway from the four games—and I’m not convinced there is—it is that Indiana’s chance to win is to shoot significantly better from the field.

Consider that the Pacers are elite at offensive rebounding yet still below average from the floor. They take a lot of jump shots (68%) shoot them terribly (.42 eFG), and get progressively worse late in the shot clock, (according to 82games.com). So, they depend on their frontcourt to clean up a good many messes. Well, in this series the Knicks are also elite at cleaning up their defensive boards. (And that’s not just about Chandler, all the guards rebound well.) So, what does that mean? It means the Pacers must hit the shots they get out of their sets. Against the Knicks they can’t rely on cleaning up an offensive mess on the glass. New York doesn’t have to out-rebound Indiana. They just have to keep the Pacers from making a living on the glass. Add to this, the Pacers are a high-turnover team. Turnovers offset whatever Indiana does on the offensive glass to some extent. The Pacers have low turnover games occasionally, but their turnover problem is a roster flaw. They can’t do much about it with their personnel.

Suffice it to say, I’m confident about New York’s chances. Based on what we know about both teams, I’d say that Indiana has one realistic path to the series win (barring an out-of-nowhere series from someone unexpected). The Pacers must win the eFG% battle handily to win the series. To be clear, they very well might. I don’t mean to imply that Indiana can’t just go get buckets for four games. They most certainly can. It’s more that New York a) can go get buckets, and b) can also win by simply playing to type on turnovers and even-or-close-to-it in the other three factors. I expect the teams to play fairly even on a per shot basis, but New York has the personnel to limit Indiana on the boards and get extra possessions.

Opinion: New “Van Gundy Rule” Bad for League, Impossible to Enforce Consistently

The NBA has announced a new policy that outlaws flopping. Calls and non-calls are subject to post-game video review. Fines for repeat violators can reach $30,000 along with game suspensions.

Many have openly campaigned for such a rule, none more openly, longer, or louder than ex-Knicks and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. So, this rule really should bear his name. It certainly reads like one of his on-air screeds turned into poorly thought out policy.

The “Van Gundy Rule” stinks of awful nativist assumptions* and an awful process, leading inevitably to awful policy.
*For the record, I’m generally a JVG fan, and I am not accusing him of nativism. But, his (partly tongue-in-cheek) jostling of international players about importing their ref-baiting practices from soccer is now encoded into policy. When this thing goes sour he better not run from it. This is his baby as much as anyone’s.

So-called “flopping” is just nativist pearl-clutching masquerading as a competitive problem
Let’s start with the basics. Not to put too fine a point on it, but no one can define a flop with much useful precision. For all the pearl-clutching about it, little consensus exists about what it is.

Put another way, I have seen far more consensus about where flopping comes from (keeping in mind that we are talking NBA geography here, which is always laughably imprecise) than what it is. I’m picking on JVG because he has been the most vocal proponent of an anti-flopping rule. In his heart of hearts all I think he could tell you is that whatever Anderson Varejao does is flopping, but whatever Charles Oakley did was not.

In practice, everyone tries to draw calls. So flopping is an act of labeling that describes people rather than actions in any precise way. A “flopper” is strongly associated with a European* (again, NBA geography) style thought to be heavily influenced by international soccer, where it is common for players to actively bait officials into calls. Some people deride that style for a variety of reasons.
*In NBA geography, “European” effectively refers to any non-black players born outside the lower 48 or Asia. Black players born in Europe or who emigrated there are only inconsistently referred to as European.

Styles, as they say, make fights. So I have no problem whatsoever with people who loathe soccer-style ref-baiting. Arguments about aesthetics are pretty much at the core of talking about sports. However, aesthetics makes a lousy basis for crafting competitive policy.

To wit, the league defines flopping in the broadest and most imprecise terms as if to ensure a policy that is as whimsical as possible.

The NBA said flopping will be defined as “any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player. […] The primary factor… is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.

I see at least three problems with the “Van Gundy Rule,” and all three seem intractable.
(1) Flopping is a fake problem poorly addressed — The league started with a small subset of missed calls (and ill-defined non-calls), labeled them flops, and defined them as a unique competitive problem. More importantly, game officials already have the power to address competitive problems with a delay of game technical foul or an unsportsmanlike technical foul for actions that interfere with the game. It is not at all unclear why these tools are insufficient. To the extent that official miss calls they’re no different than other misses.

But the “Van Gundy Rule” goes beyond post-hoc overkill to miss the mark entirely. The game suspension provision actually benefits an opponent who was never wronged by a flopper while leaving the opponent who was actually harmed with no recourse at all. Suppose, for example, that Paul Pierce gets his 6th flopping penalty after a bogus charge call awards him two game winning FTAs. NY loses its game on a bogus call while Philly gets to play Boston the next night without Pierce. NY gets screwed twice. How is that justice?

(2) “Flop and frisk” policies open the door to biases — Televised images generally, and slow motion photography specifically, bias movement. Modest head nods become exaggerated bobs on TV. This is important since the NBA will now use TV to determine whether movement is a reasonable response to the force exerted. This process seems wide open to unexamined biases about whose actions are “reasonable” and whose are not.

(3) Offensive players will get a pass — In the prevailing narrative, only defenders flop. Offensive players should play by the same rules but they rarely expect to.

“I like the rule,” [Kobe Bryant] said. “Shameless flopping, that’s a chump move. We’re familiar with it. Vlade (Divac) kind of pioneered it in that playoff series against Shaq, and it kind of worked for him.”

An enthusiastic supporter of the rule, Bryant’s value is now largely tied to “getting to the free throw line.” Not unlike former Knick Steve Francis, whose screaming dribble drives into multiple defenders “earned” him almost six free throws per 36 minutes, Bryant seeks out and often exaggerates defensive contact to get free throws. According to this rule, such players should be among the league’s most shameless floppers but that seems very unlikely to happen.

Draft Wraps Up Quasi-Eventful Week for Knicks

The draft marked the symbolic end of a week so blah that Indiana and Golden State saw more drama. In truth though, it has been an important week for New York if a boring one. Nothing really happened, but the stage is set for some potentially good outcomes.

Amid a chorus of boos, face palms and Scooby-Doo faces, the Knicks selected Kostas Papanikolaou, a forward in Greece’s top pro league. I suspect that fan reaction was just animosity toward an unfamiliar name. Odds are that Papanikolaou will take his place in the annals of European would-be 2nd round steals, right alongside Maciej Lampe, Slavko Vranes, and Milos Vujanic, assuming he ever makes it to New York. I cannot speak intelligently about young Mr. Papanikolaou’s upside, but this seemed like the perfect draft-and-stash opportunity so Grunwald didn’t overthink it. Good for him. Little point in adding more specialists or limited upside/undersized guys to this roster.

In what is perhaps an under-reported story, Amare Stoudamire (evidently when he’s not tweeting) will be enlisting in Camp Olajuwon this summer. My initial impression is to say that this sort of thing only matters at the margins, if at all. But Stoudemire’s decision to consult Olajuwon is encouraging on its face. For many aging/injured stars, an unwillingness to make concessions new limitations is a bigger problem than the actual limitations. Stoudemire may no longer be a cloud-piercing athlete, but he’s plenty athletic enough to be a hugely important piece of a top four seed in the East. I just hope that 75% of his time with Olajuwon is spent on defensive footwork.

Of course, the big story is the settlement between the league and NBA Player’s Association on “Bird Rights” for waived players. The settlement likely allows NY to return last season’s roster in tact and add some much-needed backcourt depth without exceeding the tax threshold. NY is likely to concentrate on re-signing its own players, and perhaps bring in a backup guard in trade/free agency. OJ Mayo hitting the unrestricted market may benefit NY by pushing another guy down into the mini-MLE/veteran minimum range.