Birth Of A Knick Fan For Life

Today’s article is by Lee Davis, director of the films 3AM and Hoop Realities and life-long Knick fan. Lee won first prize in the “Can You Be A KnickerBlogger?” for this contribution.

I was about eight years old, strolling through midtown holding my fathers hand when we both turned towards the sound of screams. A man plummeted past the side of a building, landing with a thud behind the row of parked cars along the curb. My dad was shaken up. Me? I wanted to get a look at what was left of the guy.

Minutes later we stood in front of the Penn Hotel, just across the street from The Garden. Beside us, waiting for the light to change, was Clyde Frazier, complete with flowing trench-coat and hat. I was in awe. Superhero music played in my head. My Dad smiled, said a coupla words to him, and Clyde reached down and shook my hand with a grin.

Birth of a Knick fan for life. Recently I wonder if maybe it had less to do with meeting Clyde than with the incident that occurred earlier that day. Maybe it was more my own inner fascination with the grotesque. Deep down there is something about a train wreck that captures the curiosity — a need to see how bad it really looks. Maybe thats why the Garden still has so many sell-outs.

Knick fans like myself are hoping for Christmas in July. Ignoring the pundits who speculate one way or the other, I am content to wait. I want LeBron. I want to keep David Lee. But like a magic trick, I think the real action is where the audience is not looking. My eyes are on a deal for Ricky Rubio. D’Antoni needs a player to push the pedal to the metal. Donnie Walsh knows that on Broadway you need characters — with character. Clyde, Bradley, DeBusschere, Reed. It is about winning, yes, but the true goal is to forge a team identity. An aura. A feeling that fans want to be a part of.

Imagine the mop-headed Rubio in a Knick jersey throwing alley-oops to LeBron, or no-look passes to Gallo from three. Lebron encouraging his teammates to believe in each other. Wilson Chandler emerging as the star they keep pleading with him to be.

Suddenly the Mecca of Basketball really is again.

An uptempo team offense is not a cover for poor defense. But a few blowout victories, buoyed by a quick start in exhibition on an international stage, and suddenly D’Antoni is the Coach he really thinks he is, and everyone else is wrong, that is at least until the playoffs.

Hoping for the best here. Hoping for the third seed next year.

Not that it matters. Either way they know we’ll be watching.Even if they acquire no players of significance, and let David Lee walk. We’ll watch. We can’t help it.

We’ll be that eight year old, struggling to get a clear look at the damage.

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40 thoughts to “Birth Of A Knick Fan For Life”

  1. Congrats, Lee – nice write. I can picture the whole scene…

    Here’s another fan hungry for character and style in the Garden.

  2. Nice little piece. Can’t imagine a day when you bump into Clyde crossing the street in front of Penn Station.

    And BTW, I agree with you — all the talk is about LBJ, Bosh, et. al., but I really think the path to restoring the Mecca is not quite so obvious. One max FA, do a deal here and another there.

    Take a page out of Cashman’s book — a dash of ambiguity, a pinch of misdirection, and voila — Curtis Granderson. Find the hidden opportunity and use a combination of negotiation and your cap flexibility to get an undervalued asset somewhere. In the end, it’s the undervalued assets you bet right on that lead you to the promised land, not the max dollar obvious choices. Eddy’s expiring is going to be worth something before the deadline as well.

    I think we’re about to find out just how good Walsh is (or isn’t) — and it won’t be because of an LBJ or Bosh signing.

  3. Congratulations, nice article. Definitely hope fans can do more than rubber-neck at the Garden next season.

    Count Zero,

    The problem I see with the Granderson analogy is that the Yankees gave up considerable assets to acquire him. Jackson is a 23 year old starting major league CF who is hitting decently already. Coke is a solid lefty out of the pen. Kennedy stinks but he’s a major league starter (as of right now) and helped Detroit to get Scherzer.
    I see no way in the world that the Knicks manage to get Ricky Rubio while holding onto Danilo and Chandler. Douglas + 2nd rounder is highly unlikely to be the best package Minnesota is offered if they even want to trade him.

    Caleb @3,

    Interesting link. Can’t argue with any of those selections. They all stink on defense.
    The two interesting names to me are Flynn and Green. Everyone thought Kahn was crazy for following up the Rubio selection with another PG. I didn’t think it was crazy to draft Flynn because he was a PG, but I did think it was crazy since I thought Flynn was far from the best player on the board (or even one of the best 4 player at his own position). His inability to defend drives that point home. NBA types were high on him because of his “hustle” and “motor”… not a good sign when that’s your strength and you still can’t defend. I honestly think now might be the time to trade Flynn before he proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he stinks. (In Flynn’s defense, it’s tough to guard PGs under the current rules when you have little to no help from teammates.)

    Green is not a particularly good offensive player, and he’s a terrible defensive player. Pretty amazing that OKC has managed to be a top 10 defense when the team is 10 pts/100 worse defensively with their #2 minutes getter on the floor. If they replaced Green with a good defender they might be the best defense in the league. I wonder if Presti is aware of this or if Green is in line for a fat extension… As a former #5 pick I’m sure he’ll pull a Raymond Felton and look for $10 mill per or something outrageous. I wouldn’t give him more than 1/2 that (to either one of those guys). OKC has cap space and should get in on the PF derby. A friend of mine thinks they’ll go after Lee.

  4. “I think we’re about to find out just how good Walsh is (or isn’t) — and it won’t be because of an LBJ or Bosh signing.”

    There’s some truth to this, but I wouldn’t go too far. If you get LeBron your job is infinitely easier than if you don’t. If the Knicks get LeBron, Walsh might be otherwise mediocre but the Knicks still make the conference finals 2 out of the next 3 years. If he completely strikes out in free agency Walsh might make some very smart moves but the Knicks are only around .500 for that 3 year period. So, it’s pretty hard to judge.
    I am all for the team concept, but LeBron James is going to take you to the promise land not Boobie Gibson.

    As far as how good Walsh is or isn’t… he can do a lot to help or hurt his rep in the next couple of years, definitely. However, he’s already proven to be pretty good. He may not do as well in NY as he did in Indy, but I don’t think you suddenly forget how the game of basketball works (as Larry Brown is proving to some degree with Charlotte). Walsh didn’t just build one contender in Indiana, he built a second one without missing the playoffs.
    I’ve got a lot of faith in Walsh going into this offseason. He’s made a lot of under the radar moves like the ones you’re looking for in his career.

  5. @Ted
    “The problem I see with the Granderson analogy is that the Yankees gave up considerable assets to acquire him.”

    Undoubtedly. To get you have to give. Unless you run into an idiot GM, you are going to have to give up meaningful assets to get something good back. In the case above, I think the crux of the matter (which many people seemed to be oblivious to) was that A-Jax’s pretty high ceiling was basically Curtis Granderson. Which is nice for Detroit except that (a) Curtis Granderson is already Curtis Granderson and has a relatively inexpensive contract and (b) A-Jax might reach that ceiling, but he also might not. In fact, odds are not in his favor.

    To get Rubio, you will undoubtedly have to give up either Chandler or Gallo plus. So the Q becomes, is it worth it? Making that call is where GMs earn their money. Personally, I would give up Chandler but not Gallo because I see a disturbing injury trend in Chandler that makes me think he might be at peak value right now and I think Rubio’s ceiling is worth it. It could turn out to be a real bad move, but it’s a gamble I think I would take.

    “I think we’re about to find out just how good Walsh is (or isn’t) — and it won’t be because of an LBJ or Bosh signing.”

    Agree with everything you said — my point was that even a fifth-grader can make the call: If you can get LBJ, you do it whatever the cost. I.e., it doesn’t take any GM skills to know you try to sign LBJ. But it comes down to LBJ really — either he comes or he doesn’t. So in the end, the result of that is not something which figures into Donnie’s skills except for a selling job which has only limited effect on someone like LBJ. I won’t credit him for it (other than having cleared the cap space) if he succeeds or blame him if he doesn’t.

    No doubt that Donnie has proven himself many times over — but whether he likes it or not, what he does here in the NYC spotlight will be his legacy when he retires. The die was cast when he took the job — either he turns around one of the worst franchises in sports or he fails and the reputation he built everywhere else will be significantly diminished by that failure. Not really fair, but that’s the way legacies work.

  6. Nice piece, Lee.

    My own Knick history revolves around buying scalper tickets (made a kid feel like he was part of the NYC underground, filled with Runyon-esque characters) with my father in the early 80’s (Eight bucks for the yellow seats!), sneaking down into the unused expensive seats near the court b/c The Garden was practically empty and the old-school ushers didn’t give an eff and being stunned at how tall Bill Cartwright really was face-to-face.

  7. My Knick fandom began when we won the Ewing Lottery, and my father started jumping up and down and hollering like a madman, causing me to hide under the bed. My flirtation with the Nets ended that day. I consider it a formative memory in the relationship between my Dad and I; we laugh about it together often, when talking about how much the Knicks suck.

    I intend to disturb my entire neighborhood with crazed yelping and jumping around the moment we sign LeBron.

  8. BTW, hard to root against LeBron in these playoffs. He was *unbelievable* last night. He is becoming my favorite basketball superstar ever. Whether or not he joins the Knicks, I’m glad he’s in the game. I derive far more pleasure from his game than Wade or Anthony or Howard or Kobe.

  9. @2
    “Nice little piece”

    That’s what she said. Hee hee.

    But seriously, nice read. Two events made me a Knicks fan rather than a Nets fan. The first was access. You see Nets games were broadcast on “The Sports Channel” (I think) which was a subscription service. Meanwhile, MSG was part of the basic cable package. Dad wouldn’t spring for TSC so we watched the Knicks on MSG–and occasionaly on channel 9. Remember “Knicks on 9”?

    I was 12 at the time and I honestly found sports boring, that is until I watched Mark Jackson play his rookie year. He would throw perfect passes, get into the lane for that tear drop, he would shimmy, shake, and after hitting a big three out came the airplane.

    Everyone called him a show off. A showboat. I loved every second of it. When I played pick up games I would do the same airplane after hitting a deep shot. People called me crazy. I didnt care.

    In time I grew to love the Knicks, not just Jackson. I learned to like Kenny Walker (wasnt that hard). I rooted for Gerald Wilkins and even learned to cheer for Eddie Lee Wilkins-man what a face on him. Over the years I embraced McDaniel, Starks (wasnt hard), Mason (one of last players with a sense of style on the Knicks for a long time) and Oakley–who at the time could barely score alone under the basket. I even liked Pat Riley.

    That 91-92 team was really on to something. I really wanted to beat the Bulls that year. If I recall that was the only time we took Jordan’s Bulls to 7 games. I knew we needed to tinker with the roster. I wanted Gerald Wilkins gone after that awful showing in game 7. That wish was granted, but the thing I never could have imagined occured. They traded Mark Jackson. I was heartbroken. My mom said it was a good trade, said it would help the team. I told her that may be so but at some point we would regret bringing in Charles Smith (AAARRRGHHH!!) excuse me but I must do that when speaking of “he who shall not be named”. Sadly we were both right in the end. The Knicks won 60 games but “He who shall not be named” didnt come through when we needed it.

    I remember listening to the call on the radio–I couldnt bring myself to wacth the broadcast. I remember thinking that Jackson would have found a way to get a foul, or he would have thrown a ridiculous pass between his legs to a cutting Mason for the dunk. Alas no. Ups and downs over the next 17 years. That magical run in 99 was great. Camby, Spree, LJ’s 4 point play. Good times. But it didnt quite match the childhood joy of watching Mark Jackson. Maybe Rubio will come to NY. Maybe that blurr of hair will engender in my son the same feelings in my son the Jackson did for me.

    I guess we shall see.

    Mark Jackson is retired now.

  10. Count,

    “To get you have to give.”

    Usually, but I think you had a good point about getting undervalued assets. I just didn’t think Granderson was a great example of that.

    “Which is nice for Detroit except that (a) Curtis Granderson is already Curtis Granderson and has a relatively inexpensive contract and (b) A-Jax might reach that ceiling, but he also might not. In fact, odds are not in his favor.”

    Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about the returns to date from the Granderson deal today. As a Yankee fan, I like Granderson and don’t regret that they made the deal. I would say, though, that it looks more like a win-win deal than anything. It’s definitely true that Jackson is at least a step behind Granderson right now and will have a hard time sustaining this pace all season at that. However, fangraphs has Granderson as the 4th most valuable CF so far this season, based only on offensive production. They have Jackson at 6th best. ( Right now it doesn’t look like Jackson’s odds of becoming Granderson are bad at all. Jackson is raw, as exemplified by striking out A TON and not walking much at all. Still he’s 23 and Granderson is 29. When Granderson is Damon-status and the Yankees don’t want to resign him Jackson should be in the middle of his prime. I’m fine with having Granderson, but given what we know now I don’t think it’s a totally obvious choice (of course the Yankees didn’t know everything we know now over the winter, but that could be partially their own fault for not calling him up to get a better look at him… I mean Melky was their CF last season, they could have given AJax a little look). You also have to consider that Granderson was coming off a terrible year and while the Yanks had good reason to believe he’d bounce back it wasn’t assured. They could have tried to get a little discount for that.

    And then there are two other players also included. I would call including Kennedy a wash at this point since he wasn’t going to pitch for the Yankees anytime soon anyway, still he opened the season in Arizona’s starting rotation. Coke is already a solid bullpen arm. That’s 3 major league ready prospects.
    The Tigers got their starting CF, their lefty reliever, and while also including Edwin Jackson they got their best starter so far. Pretty good deal for them. Also a good deal for the Yankees, though. I would call it win-win.

    “I think Rubio’s ceiling is worth it. It could turn out to be a real bad move, but it’s a gamble I think I would take.”

    I’m very high on Rubio and would trade Chandler for him if I thought he’d come over and Gallo for him probably more so if I had assurances he’s come over (given what we saw from Gallo this season, I think I’d take Rubio). I was more responding to Lee’s vision of the future Knicks with Rubio, Gallo, and Chandler all in the fold. I don’t personally think Minni is in a rush to deal Rubio, especially with Flynn having struggled. It would be tough for Kahn to admit he screwed up on both those picks and keep his job.

    “my point was that even a fifth-grader can make the call: If you can get LBJ, you do it whatever the cost.”

    Good point, didn’t catch that meaning.

    I do wonder how much the sales job matters. I agree that it’s possible you could do the most amazing job possible and he just says screw you I’m not hearing it. Or you could do a terrible job but he was set on NYC all along. However, if he’s truly weighing his options maybe a great sales job is the difference in getting him to NY. Anyway, I agree that as casual fans it’s really hard for us to consider that in evaluating Walsh unless LeBron comes out and talks about it or rumors leak about what a great/terrible job Walsh did. (And even then you can question the truth of LeBron’s statement/the rumors.)

    “whether he likes it or not, what he does here in the NYC spotlight will be his legacy when he retires.”

    You are probably right that ultimately this will be his public legacy. Most fans don’t seem to know much of anything about what he did in Indiana. In certain circles I think this will only be part of the puzzle, though. As much as I doubted the Hill trade and am now worried about whether LeBron will come, I can also see that even the opportunity to get LeBron might be enough to justify desperate measures.

  11. “It is about winning, yes, but the true goal is to forge a team identity. An aura. A feeling that fans want to be a part of.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Great stuff…

  12. Good news! LeBron’s hates Cleveland and plans to leave!

    Or at least that’s how any good translator of “Pro Athlete-ese” should read his comments yesterday.

    Joakim Noah: “There is nothing going on there, man. Cleveland really sucks.”

    Reporter: “Do you agree, Lebron?”

    LeBron James: “I would never, for the most part, say anything like that.”

    So there you have it. LeBron, given the chance to defend the entertainment quality of his fair city, did all but officially announce his plans to leave Ohio this summer and sign with the New York Knicks.

    (Stay tuned tomorrow for D Wade’s rebuttal to Nate Robinson’s claim that Miami lives in the shadow of Ft. Lauderdale and smells bad on trash collection day)

  13. “I’m very high on Rubio and would trade Chandler for him if I thought he’d come over and Gallo for him probably more so if I had assurances he’s come over (given what we saw from Gallo this season, I think I’d take Rubio)”

    WOW, really kinda dismissing Gallo after this season already?? What did you expect from a 21 yo basically rookie coming off a pretty serious back injury?? Im surprised at you Ted!!!! lol

    Anyway I thought the way he played the final 2 months was extremely encouraging especially considering how for the most part he started scoring alot more by driving, drawing fouls and not shooting as many 3’s as he did in the first half of the season. Plus he showed to be a much better defender than I ever imagined.

    I would be absolutely SHOCKED to see the Knicks trade Gallo under any circumstance.

  14. Lee – I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for the personal story. My history as a Knicks fan is less dynamic. I’ve always rooted for the underdog, and in 1999, I met a girl from Brooklyn. Two kids later, we now sit in front of the tv to watch the Knicks’ games and throw expletives together — sort of like a Bizarro version of Ozzie & Harriet.

    With regard to trading Chandler to get Rubio, I’d pull that deal in a hot minute. Last season, I compared Chandler to Danny Granger, but now I think I was being overly optimistic. I think his ceiling is closer to someone like Travis Outlaw. Plus, if the Knicks were fortunate enough to land LBJ, Chandler would probably come off the bench with Gallo starting. Moreover, the Knicks could always get a player like Outlaw or even Josh Childress to fill the void left by Chandler.

    That said, I don’t think I’d give up Gallo for Rubio just yet. Gallo really came on towards the end of the season to give Knicks’ fans a glimmer of the player he could end up becoming. I think he still has a lot of room to grow.

  15. Wait people want to trade Gallanari for Rubio? Rubio has yet to play a single NBA minute. Gallanari looked pretty good in what really is rookie season. Did no one watch the way he took it to Carmello Anthony? I’m not saying he outdueled Mello but at least he gave as good as he got. You dont trade a 6’10 offensive talent that takes pride in trying to defend one of the top 5 scorers in the NBA for an unproven PG. I’m sorry it is far easier to find a player like Rubio than it is a player like Gallanari.

    I don’t see Rubio ever being comparable to Deron Williams, Nash, CP3. Hell he might not be as good as Jennings. I dont even want to give up Chandler for Rubio, but if we get Lebron, then moving Chandler doesnt hurt so much. If you could sign and trade Lee and Chandler for Rubio and Al Jefferson I’d consider that if Jefferson is healthy.

  16. I’m just forgetting about Rubio. Kahn sounds unreasonable when talking about him, so it’s not worth going there.
    How much do you think it would cost to pry Haywood away from Dallas? 10 mil? 3 or 4 years? Overpaying him might be worth it since we are so weak at center. Imagine Bosh next to Haywood instead of Bargnani? Or Lee next to Haywood instead of Sir Al Chuckington? Even just resigning Lee and getting Haywood would be a big upgrade. And we could also afford a point guard.
    This is only if we don’t get Lebron, of course.
    As far as Bosh goes, aren’t we in trouble if he insists on a sign and trade? The only realistic option is Lee, and he can not agree to the trade, correct? Also, why would Bosh want to gut his future team for a few extra mil and an extra year?
    Also, there was the rumor that Lebron would go with a 3 year extension. Do you think any other big FA’s would go this route? It might make sense to go for the next contract sooner.

  17. After the atrocious signing of Camby, I took a look at the Blazers Payroll going forward attached below:

    I noticed it has Roys contract ending this season… however havent seen or heard about him being a FA next season. Is this a mistake or an oversight by us?

  18. I’d love to see the Knicks get Haywood. He’s 5 years younger than Camby and has played 10,000 less minutes. He’s not the passer or rebounder that Camby is, but he’s got 30 extra pounds of bulk to jam up the lanes.

    At this point, with Camby signing a 2 year extension, I think getting Haywood, or an equally competent center through a s&t, are imperitive if the Knicks hope to have a chance of landing LeBron. I don’t see any other legitimate shot-blocking centers on the UFA market that would give any incentive to LeBron signing with NY.

    By the way, Fanhouse did a nice compilation of the top 50 2010 FAs:

  19. Don’t ask me how all this falls into place (i’m talking aquiring rubio and giving away nothing! and signing Melo and keeping everyone else), but the prospect of a future looking like this almost excites me more than LeBron. This maybe because i am trying to not get my hopes up on that one.

    Center – Brad Miller?? (Lack of inspiration)

    Draft Pick
    Draft Pick
    Draft Pick 2011

    There is some serious depth there, and length.

    I think that team could win it all but wouldn’t expect them too and thats why i think i would enjoy watching them more…

  20. BC: agreed – no way Gay should be in the top 10 and/or above DLee. I also thought Camby and Haywood should have been higher.

    What I also found interesting were the references to Nate:

    21. JJ Redick: . . . an under-control Nate Robinson

    50. Will Bynum: . . . a more defense-and-passing version of Nate Robinson

  21. Good link.

    Any chance Jamal Crawford opts out? Seems like a good time, considering the looming CBA and his “rebirth” in ATL. Sure would be ironic if he does…

  22. With the Heat embarrassing themselves tonight – after that collapse Sunday – you have to think that if Miami goes down 4-1 or 4-0, in a series they thought they might win… Wade has got to be a little discouraged about staying.

    Of course everybody assumes his fallback plan is Chicago…

  23. Miami is getting hammered tonight. Wade is getting noooo help. You would have thought they would have come out a little more charged up after the last game. I guess the question becomes, if Donnie works his magic and gets LBJ, would Wade rather pair up with him in NY rather than Rose in ChiTown.

  24. “WOW, really kinda dismissing Gallo after this season already?? What did you expect from a 21 yo basically rookie coming off a pretty serious back injury?? Im surprised at you Ted!!!! lol”

    I didn’t say I had given up on Gallinari, I said that I think Rubio’s prospects are better. At this point I think Rubio’s potential is higher, and I think he has a good chance of reaching it. Gallinari is a talented scorer. He doesn’t do much else, though. Rebounding: bad. Playmaking, which we were hoping would be a strength: nothing so far. His defense is impressive in large part because people didn’t expect much. He’s a solid defender, but not a big difference maker. The circumstance where I see the Knicks trading him is one in which they get something better in return. If the only thing holding up signing LeBron is a sign-and-trade of Gallinari or the Hornets will trade Chris Paul for Lee + Gallinari… I don’t think the Knicks will hold up the deal to keep Gallinari. I think Rubio is something better than Gallo right now. If Gallo develops into a Dirk level scorer then I can see him being better. He still has to define his position, though. No way he can play PF unless he rebounds better.

    Rubio can be one of the best playmakers in the NBA. He’s 19 years old and started on maybe the best team in Europe. He hit 43% of his 3s in Spain. 42% so far in the Euroleague playoffs. He penetrates and gets to the line a lot. He rebounds very well for a PG. He’s got amazing hands and comes up with a lot of steals. He was the defensive player of the year in the best league in Europe at 18. His upside is almost unlimited. I think we take him for granted at this point, but there just aren’t other teenagers in Europe doing this. He’s the European equivalent of John Wall and Evan Turner rolled into one.

    I feel pretty confident Kahn knows what he’s got. It would be really unprecedented for Rubio to just ignore the NBA, but the only way I see Kahn trading him for less than an amazing package is if he feels Rubio won’t come over for 2011-12.

  25. ” I’m sorry it is far easier to find a player like Rubio than it is a player like Gallanari.
    I don’t see Rubio ever being comparable to Deron Williams, Nash, CP3. Hell he might not be as good as Jennings.”

    With all due respect Thomas, how much do you follow European basketball? I mean how can you say how a player projects without watching him?

    Jennings couldn’t get on the court for a borderline Euroleague team. Rubio is a starter on the most talented team in Europe. The only reason Jennings “won” their head-to-head is because Rubio was returning from injury and only got a few minutes of PT. Rubio played 8 minutes and didn’t attempt a shot. That was his second game back from injury and he only played 3 minutes in the first and 10 in the 3rd. But, yeah, Jennings is “better” than Rubio because he proclaimed it to be true…

    Rubio absolutely has the potential to be an All-NBA PG. Will he ever reach that level? I don’t know. I will tell you that he’s a month younger than John Wall. He’s two years younger than Evan Turner. 2 years younger than Gallinari.

    Is it really that easy to find a guy capable of a 40 ast% and 55 ts%? Since 2000 only 8 guys have done that: LeBron, Chris Paul, Wade, Stockton, Nash, Parker, Calderon, Deron. At least 5 of those guys are Hall of Famers.
    There are over 150 player seasons since 2000 of TS% > .575, Ast% > 7, TRB% > 8… At this point Gallo is really not special. He wouldn’t even be a very good rebounder for a SG, not would he be a particularly good playmaker for a C. I’m not saying I would just trade him for Rubio without thinking about it, but I’d probably trade him for Rubio.

    Chandler is a totally average NBA SF. What does he do well? Average scorer. Average rebounder. Average passer. Maybe he’s a bit above-average as a defender, but not that much. Chandler is not special.

    Al Jefferson is one of the last players in the whole NBA I want. Poor defender. Inefficient scorer. Highly paid.

  26. I was looking at that list of 50 free agents and i was thinking there’s alot the knicks could do if they miss out on LeBron. My favorite plan would be something along the lines of
    1. Sign Joe Johnson for hopefully less than the max contract. I’m just going to assume 14million a year.
    2. Resign David Lee for around 10million a year or something reasonable.
    3. Sign quality role players because we only used up 24 million of the cap space. Some of my favorties are basically 3 point shooters.
    Mike Miller/Kyle Korver/Roger Mason. 3 of my favorite free agents who could all likely be gotten cheap. Also if there’s room i’d enjoy Haywood or maybe a cheap J’Oneal.

    1. Toney Douglas/ Joe Johnson
    2. Joe Johnson/ Wilson Chandler/ Roger Mason
    3. Danillo Gallinari/ Mike Miller/ Wilson Chandler/ Kyle Korver
    4. David Lee/ Gallinari
    5. J’Oneal/ David Lee

    I like that kinda stuff. We could have nasty 3 point shooting.
    Basically the entire rotation except for lee/Oneal would be able to hit 3’s pretty consistently. Chandler’s a little weak at them.

  27. Yeah, I’d probably deal Gallo straight up for Rubio if given the chance, but I’d feel really shitty about it.

  28. Ted, saying that Rubio is a great player in Euroleague and Brandon Jennings couldn’t get off the bench in Euroleague really is a poor argument — I can easily turn that around and tell you that plenty of LEGENDARY Euroleague players have been complete busts in the NBA. For instance, the Euroleague All-Decade team includes:

    1) Trajan Langdon – 3 years on a bad Cavs team, averaged 5 PPG, couldn’t guard anyone

    2) Sarunas Jasikevicius (FG% of 39% in 2 years with Golden State)

    3) Anthony Parker – previously 2X MVP of the Euroleague, currently 8th best player on the Cavs

    4) Juan Carlos Navarro, who couldn’t even make it as a bench player on one of the league’s worst teams (Memphis)

    Another Euroleague legend was Toni Kukoc – was supposed to revolutionize his position in the NBA — overall was good but pretty much “meh”.

    So I can’t say that starring in the Euroleague really is a reliable predictor of stardom in the NBA — they may be great players, but it really is a different game across the pond.

    I do believe that Rubio is good, but we may also be giving Gallo short shrift. His numbers are essentially identical to Dirk’s at the same age — not saying that he will develop into a Dirk-like player, but Dirk didn’t really start rebounding until his 3rd or 4th year in the league. I haven’t actually ever seen Rubio play beyond a few minutes here or there, so I certainly couldn’t make any comment about trading them for each other straight up, though.

  29. Frank,

    That list needs some qualification.
    -First, Navarro is the only one of those guys who played in the Euroleague at a similar age.
    -Second, there’s the visual scouting report. Rubio has good size and athleticism for his position. Langdon and Jasikevicius are unathletic. Langdon and JCN are undersized off-guards (both are shorter than Rubio, who is a PG). Rubio, like Jennings, has a skill set that is likely to play better in the NBA than in Europe.
    -Third, the guys who make the Euroleague All-Decade team are necessarily the ones who didn’t make it in the NBA early and stick, most likely because they weren’t good enough. Those guys are on the All-Decade team because they had long Euroleague careers that included their prime years in their mid-to-late 20s. Notice that Dirk, Pau, Manu, Kirilenko, Ilgauskas, Hedo, Peja, Varejao, Calderon… those names aren’t on the list. Yet those were the best players to play in Europe in the past decade (or that could have given their ages). There aren’t many, if any, lesser Euroleague players who have had more NBA success than those guys, and that’s what this is ultimately about: comparing Rubio’s play and Jennings’ play against the same level of competition.
    -Fourth, you’re a little pessimistic. Parker is 34. At 31 and 32 he had solid league average seasons. JCN had offers for a second NBA contract and did ok as a rookie before fading as the season went on, but he made the decision to leave (a good one, I think). Langdon hasn’t gotten a second chance at the NBA in Parker fashion or a chance as a veteran as JCN did. Had he gotten an NBA contract at, say, 28 he might have had a better second go. (Another guy I wish had gotten a second chance in the NBA is Louis Bullock. Undersized shooting guard, but the guy could/can score and is fun to watch.) Toni Kukoc was a pretty good NBA player. He played until he was 37, but in his late 20s he had three straight seasons of PER 20. He didn’t come to the league until 25. Sabonis was another legend who came over late, and his PER only dropped below 20 one season from 31-38 years old (to 18.4).

    If I make a list of the best guys who played in Europe and came over it would be pretty solid.

    The real crux of the issue is whether Jennings or Rubio is better. I’ll take Rubio. Jennings is a ball-hogging chucker. He’s got Marbury and Iverson written all over him. The question is not whether some players have been Euroleague stars in their primes but not made it in the NBA. It’s looking at two players of the same age against the same competition and seeing that one was a star while the other was a bench-warmer. That’s not at all a 100% predictor of the future, but it’s a pretty strong indicator. I would take my chances with Rubio over Jennings. It does depend on your team, though. Bucks are a good fit for Jennings just as Sixers were for Iverson. If you swapped Iverson and Nash (once Nash improved) they probably would have been less effective in the other one’s situation than they were in their own.

    Gallinari’s not far off from Dirk, so you may be right. I may be selling Gallo short. I wouldn’t say that their numbers are identical, though.
    Gallo is more efficient, but Dirk has a solid edge in PER, WS, ast%, reb%.
    In expanding the comparison a little–to Peja and Hedo, 2nd NBA seasons–there’s some encouraging news and some discouraging news. Danilo really could be a Dirk like scorer. However, his ast% and reb% are lower than those of Peja and Hedo in their 2nd NBA seasons. Peja, as we know, never improved as a playmaker or rebounder. Hedo improved as a passer, but not as a rebounder. Dirk made big strides as a scorer, passer, and rebounder. That kind of development is the best case for Gallo. As fans we can hope for it, but to be objective you can’t really expect everyone to develop like Dirk. Dirk also never played at as high a level as Gallo in Europe, which theoretically made him more of a project.
    I am high on Gallo and think he can be a very good NBA player for the next decade. I don’t think it’s an obvious move to trade him for Rubio, I just think I would do it. When you consider that Rubio won’t be over next season, I probably wouldn’t do it… Unless I was tanking the season or didn’t believe in Gallo’s ability to improve.

  30. Ted- fair points.
    If the discussion is whether Jennings or Rubio is better — that’s no discussion at all. I agree completely that Jennings is a ball-hogging chucker. When your PG lists his idol as Allen Iverson and spent his high school years watching AI highlights, I mark down “don’t draft” in my notebook.

  31. Ted– I too am somewhat surprised by your favoring Rubio over Gallo so strongly. I know you have been a Rubio supporter for years, and know the Spanish league intimately, but I also remember having debates with you in the past where you have favored size over play-making, saying that PG is the easiest position to fill with cheap talent. Obviously, if Rubio truly is a once-in-a-generation player, you give up what you need to to get him. But Gallo has size, and has been effective despite not yet knowing how to really use it.

    Out of curiosity: if you were drafting with hindsight, would you draft Nash over Dirk?

  32. I’d take Nash over Dirk for the same reason I’d probably take Rubio over Gallo – a great point guard is so much rarer than a great small forward/power forward that I think it’s worth it.

  33. Z,

    It’s a matter of degree to me. If you believe two guys are equally productive and/or have equal potential, then maybe you err towards the bigman. If you’re looking at Chris Paul, who is under 6 feet without shoes on, you take him over most bigmen (if you believe his knees will hold up). At this point I believe that Rubio is a better prospect.

    I think I am selling Danilo at least a little bit short because I’m too close and missing the forest for the trees. Most nights I just couldn’t watch Danilo play and say to myself, “there’s the next Dirk Nowitzki.” Someone made the point earlier that you don’t trade a proven NBA scorer for an unproven commodity. You know a decent amount about what you have in the NBA player, while the prospect has more volatile returns: higher ceiling, but lower floor. What you believe you have and where you believe the most likely outcome between the prospect’s ceiling and floor is determines which you’d rather have in the long-term.

    May also be a little that Danilo plays more like he’s 6-6 than 6-10 most of the time :)

    I honestly don’t know if I’d take Nash or Dirk specifically. Most overall player evaluation metrics, I think, have Dirk ahead of Nash based on productivity. You’re doing alright either way, as both are/have been All-NBA type players. In this case it’s more how likely you think Rubio is to become Nash-like and how likely you think Danilo is to become Dirk-like. I hope it happens, but I just don’t think it’s realistic to expect Danilo to improve as much as Dirk did. I don’t believe Dirk ever played in the top division of German basketball before coming to Dallas (and the German league is not one of the better ones in Europe). His transformation into an NBA star is pretty unique.

    Would be interesting to see Dirk’s German stats to see how he rebounded and his assist #s. It’s really hard to compare Dirk’s German stats with Danilo’s in Italy and the Euroleague: Italian league is way better than Germany’s top league let alone it’s 2nd division, and Euroleague is another big step up from Italy. (Dirk literally averaged 28 ppg in Germany’s 2nd division at 19.) The thing is that Danilo’s rebounding and assist numbers were quite underwhelming when he was in Italy. They are very underwhelming in the NBA. That’s a definite trend and I don’t know how likely it is that he improves dramatically. While his NBA stats look similar to Dirk’s early years, there are also similarities to Peja and Hedo and Rashard Lewis. I find it optimistic to assume he’ll follow the Dirk path. I’ll definitely take a Rashard Lewis, Peja, or Hedo… but none is in the same class as Dirk. Let’s just say I would take Nash over those 3.

  34. “(Dirk literally averaged 28 ppg in Germany’s 2nd division at 19.)”

    And those were 40 minute games.

  35. Well i don’t think we expect Gallo to become our team’s #1 guy. So a Rashard Lewis/Hedo outcome won’t be bad. I’m sure we’d all love the next Dirk, though. When Donnie Walsh gives top free agents his pitch, him and D’Antoni will probably call him a Dirk/Hedo hybrid or something. Maybe his defense will turn into a poor-man’s AK-47, but this isn’t likely under D’Antoni. But i do feel like what ever offensive potential Gallo has, D’Antoni will tap into it. So the next Dirk is possible, i sure would love if by some manifest of God we can get him and Rubio on the same team, and they could be the next great 1-2 punch, probably the first great Euro 1-2 in the league. But then again, this only happens if New York strikes out in FA.

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