Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Can Curry and Randolph coexist?

I must admit that my initial gut reaction to the Randolph trade was not exactly great. And I still don’t really like it. The obvious parallel here is the disastrous Francis trade, in which the Knicks acquired a talented but flawed player with a huge contract who duplicated almost exactly the skill set of a player already on the roster. Unlike the Francis trade, there is no question the Knicks won big on the talent end of this trade. But is there any hope that Curry and Randolph might coexist any better than Marbury and Francis did? On closer inspection, it’s not as poor a match as your gut reaction might have you think. Not that I’m doing jumping jacks over here, but let me explain.

The immediate concern is that Randolph’s prodigious scoring duplicates what Curry brings to the table. However, the story is not quite that simple. Curry is exclusively a low post player; last season he attempted 79% of his FGAs close to the basket and shot those at a stellar .667 eFG%. On the 21% of his FGAs that were further out, he shot an embarrassing .243. However, Randolph is more of a perimeter player. Last season he attempted a full 59% of his FGAs on jumpers and dropped them in at a .417 clip, which is actually pretty good efficiency on a jump shot for a big guy. (By way of comparison, in Frye’s rookie season he attempted 64% of his FGAs on jumpers and shot an identical .417 clip. The similarity here is actually pretty eerie.) A relatively paltry 41% of Randolph’s FGAs came in the paint, and his eFG% on those inside attempts was .551– good, but not Eddy Curry good.

So there is a relatively natural division of labor here: Curry is exclusively the workhorse in the paint, whereas Randolph has an effective face-up game to complement his effective post game. It is plausible that Randolph could become the more perimeter oriented complement to Curry that Frye was supposed to be while still doing considerable damage in the paint as well. In fact, admittedly having not seen much of Portland over the past few seasons, checking out his youtube clips reveals a player who is surprisingly quick and nimble with an effective face up game and a sneaky knack for scoring. He is not quite the methodical bruiser I had in mind, in spite of his hefty physique. For instance, did you know Zach Randolph could do this? It seems that the offensive talents of Randolph and Curry do indeed have a fighter’s chance of coexisting. If it works out it would be an awfully tough duo to contain.

While we’re comparing the two, Randolph is also a much better passer than Curry. He had twice as many assists per 100 possessions (7.9) and more than 6 fewer turnovers per 100 possessions (11.6) than Curry last season. In fact, contrary to appearances, Randolph’s turnover rate is entirely benign. His turnovers per 40 minutes were only so high last season because of his monstrous usage rate. Compare Randolph’s turnovers per 100 possessions with other high usage big men last season and you find that it’s actually par for the course. Only one guy sticks out like a sore thumb on this list. Can you guess who it is?

player usage rate TO / 100poss
Nowitzki 26.8 8.3
Garnett 25.2 9.9
Bosh 23.8 10.5
Brand 22.3 10.9
Boozer 24.9 11.2
Randolph 30.2 11.6
Gasol 23.3 11.6
J. O’Neal 25.8 11.9
Duncan 25.5 11.9
Shaq 26.3 12.1
Yao 29.9 13.2
Stoudemire 22.5 14.2
Curry 23.1 17.7

All this means that Randolph is the more versatile, and ultimately superior, offensive option even though he does not dominate the low post like Curry does. This may explain why Randolph’s usage rate has been consistently higher than Curry’s over their respective careers. Defenses have a harder time denying Randolph possession because of his more diversified game, which could be important for the Knicks given that guards not named Jamal Crawford have sometimes had difficulty feeding Curry the ball. Randolph does not need a guard to feed him in the low post in order to be dangerous, which is key in late game situations.

What about defense? By reputation, Randolph is a slouch. It doesn’t help his case that last season he blocked as many shots per 40 minutes as Nate Robinson. (Yes, you read that right.) But here are his defensive +/- numbers since 02/03:

season defensive +/-
02/03 +5.8
03/04 +2.0
04/05 -2.8
05/06 +1.5
06/07 +1.7

As always, +/- is an imperfect tool that is difficult to interpret. But nonetheless, over the past 4 seasons a relatively consistent pattern emerges for Randolph. His defensive +/- suggests that on average his teams have been better defensively when he’s off the court, but only slightly so– by less than one basket per 48 minutes 100 possessions. However, all of those teams since 03/04 have been in the bottom third in defensive efficiency, which qualifies the interpretation of the +/- numbers. What they suggest is that Randolph isn’t so bad on defense that he makes an already poor defensive team much worse. That isn’t quite the same as concluding that Randolph is even a passable defender. On the other hand, it maybe suggests that Randolph won’t make the Knicks worse on D than they already are. But is he bad enough that he could drag down a defense that is otherwise average or above average? I don’t think the existing data allows a firm conclusion on that question one way or the other. It’s clear that he is not a stalwart on D but it’s not clear if his weaknesses are relatively benign, entirely prohibitive, or somewhere inbetween.

At least the guy is a terror on the boards. He was among the league leaders with a 17.6 rebound rate, which figures to bolster New York’s existing strength in rebounding. The Knicks are already an elite offensive rebounding squad (2nd in the NBA last season), and Randolph should help improve the defensive rebounding (11th). A front court of Randolph (17.6), Lee (20.7), and Balkman (16.4) could be genuinely dominant on the glass on both ends of the court. And of course this is the one area in which Randolph clearly and uncontroversially complements Curry.

So setting aside for now the inconvenient truths that Randolph comes with a huge contract and a history of jail time and punching opponents and teammates alike… he may not be as poor a fit on the court for the Knicks as you thought on first glance. Now, if we could just trade Eddy Curry for Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, then we’d really be cooking.

125 comments on “Can Curry and Randolph coexist?

  1. joe

    way to go thomas…knicks could have cleared francis off the books in two years and instead the knicks are once again bogged down with heavy contracts and even worse terrible team chemistry.

    -each player is a bigger ball hog then the next. Crawf curry and marb and curry will never be able to share the ball -

    additionally why draft a poor man’s balkman when we already have balkman lee and now randolph. Thomas needed to draft a shooter.

    thomas blows

  2. Frank

    I’m suspicious.
    I think the Knicks are about to do another deal.

    The Knicks pick up a center with the same kind of size as Curry late last year in Morris.
    They then trade for a guy who is a better, more versatile low post force than Curry.
    Then they draft a kid that is a duplicate of Balkman, only he has shooting range and he can guard three positions.
    Then they pick up two guards, one with real potential, that Isiah drafted when he was with the Pacers…

    Is it me or did the Knicks just free up Curry, Balkman, and Crawford for a trade run at Kobe or KG? Throw in a future draft pick, and they could bring a pretty nice offer together, no?

    And by the way, the Knicks now have 17 guys, two more than they are allowed to have…

  3. John

    “Throw in a future draft pick, and they could bring a pretty nice offer together, no?”

    Why would Minnesota or L.A. accept that offer? I’m just not seeing it.

  4. Joe S

    The real question is what can Randolph do? He only had one good year! He will probably go back to playing like garbage if he plays for us but who cares? I think he will be traded.

  5. Joe S

    Also, why couldn’t they coexist? They play two different positions. One is a center and the other is a forward.

  6. SM

    Maybe this is fools gold, but the type of players need to be on the court to guard Curry and Zach in the post (aka slow lumbering 7 fts, think Jerome James types) are usually offensive liabilities. Granted we still do not have a shot blocking presence of the defensive end but there will be two fairly big guys down there. Also, curry and zach should be able to get opposing teams in foul trouble. Maybe Curry’s TOs will drop because he will see fewer double teams with Zach by his side? Jamal, Steph, Q, Nate get ready to hit some open 3′s.

  7. Confucius

    I am with Frank. I do not believe Isaiah is done. Obtaining Randolph might also free up the Knicks to trade David Lee.

    Here comes Kobe…

  8. Qube

    “Then they draft a kid that is a duplicate of Balkman, only he has shooting range and he can guard three positions”

    WTH! THAT MEANS HE’S NOT LIKE BALKMAN! Adding shooting and that kind of foot speed to Balkman would add a whole new dimension to his game.

    I don’t agree with Joe S. either when he said Randolph will go back to playing like garbage. In his worst season he had 21.0-9.3 per 40 minutes with less fouls and turnovers while getting more steals than Curry. With your logic NBA should be a 3-3 half court tournament because 80% of the players would be considered garbage.

    I do agree that there’s no reason they can’t coexist though. Randolph is a bonafide 4, and Curry really should try to be a better 5.

  9. mase

    i was much happier to hear the Zach trade than the Curry trade…it should make an excellent high/low post scoring duo!

    question, is he a better addition than Sheed if we got him?
    Personally i think he is as good as JO, Bosh, Sheed

  10. cody

    I know it’s unlikely, but the Knicks should see what it would take to get Yi Jianlian from Milwaukee. He wants to play in an Asian market and is preparing to demand a trade. The Knicks should look into it

  11. Frank

    He’s like Balkman in that he has energy and hustle, except with skills, which makes Balkman expendable, Qube.

    And John, would that trade offer look a little better by subbing in Lee for Balkman? You are then offering one of the better young forwards in the game, who was putting up double-doubles, from the bench.
    I think Curry, Crawford, Lee, and an expiring contract like Malik could get the Knicks blue chips like Kobe or KG.
    And remember, we’re talking Kupchek and McHale here…not exactly geniuses in their own right.
    I think it’s entirely possible. (I know Zeke ain’t brilliant either)
    Wait until after July 1. The Knicks have pieces for a possible trade.

  12. transcend

    Randolph put up solid stats in a much better league. for what? Frye? come on….

    furthermore, as mentioned by other posters, this trade gives us more talent to pursue and consumate other trades.

    This was not a good trade, but a GREAT trade.

    Bravo Isiah, keep it up.

  13. dave crockett

    Well said Brian. I made some similar points in the comments on KB’s piece.

    I don’t have bona fide philosophical opposition to the deal. It has its problems but I’d say how well it works out is mostly an empirical question. There’s no reason to expect this deal to be disastrous, and at least offensively it should work reasonably well.

  14. Confucius

    Anyone heard about this?

    The Trail Blazers traded the draft rights to forward Demetris Nichols, selected with the No. 53 pick, to the Knicks in exchange for a second-round draft pick next year.

  15. ken

    I’m not happy about this from risk perspective. Our franchise center COULD drop dead on the court. Our SG is a good shooter and defender IF his back miraculously heals. Our franchise forward COULD be arrested any day or get killed in a strip club parking lot. Read John Canzano’s article about Z-Bo to get a sense of his character:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/index.ssf?/base/sports/1183098492206530.xml&coll=7

    It all COULD work, though. I’m not as worried about David Lee because if there are 96 combined minutes to be had by your two big guy positions, it could easily break down this way:

    Zach: 35 minutes a night, which was his average last year.

    Curry: 30 minutes a night, which is less than last year but would probably suit his stamina better.

    Lee: 31 minutes a night at PF, plus another 6-7 minutes at the SF slot. He has to play. Period.

    This means that Malik Rose and Jerome james never see daylight, and that Jared Jeffries only sees the floor as a SF if a Balkman/Chandler/Nichols combo can’t do the job. I love the Nichols pick, by the way (low risk, high reward).

    I think we’ll be okay, but i won’t sit too easy.

    Here’s the 10 man rotation, with the last two seeing very limited minutes unless they make significant progress.

    1. Marbury
    2. Crawford
    3. Collins
    4. Balkman
    5. Lee
    6. Randolph
    7. Curry
    8. Jeffries/Nichols/Chandler (whomever earns it)
    9. Richardson (we can’t count on him even though he is a quality player)
    10. Nate Robinson (i’d love to see him traded for a second round pick, which is viable)

  16. Caleb

    Assuming no one gets traded (ha!) that sounds about right although I’d play Robinson or Fred Jones instead of Crawford. While Q is healthy he’ll probably get most of the minutes at the 2 anyway.

    If we’re lucky, Q will be healthy around the trade deadline and we can deal him to another team that’s making a playoff push – let them deal with his back issues for the next few years.

    Has anyone seen Fred Jones play the last few years? I haven’t. A few years ago he actually led Indiana in minutes played, on a playoff team. Terrific defender, no shot. Since then he’s been off the map. Did he get hurt?

  17. jon abbey

    the column one of you guys should start is “What deal would you try to make now?”. two ideas:

    Curry, Crawford, Lee and Nate for Garnett

    PG: Marbury, Collins, Dickau
    SG: Balkman, Jones
    SF: Q, Jeffries, Chandler, Nichols
    PF: Randolph, Morris, Rose
    C: Garnett, James

    Crawford, Nate and Morris for Lewis

    PG: Marbury, Collins, Dickau
    SG: Q, Balkman, Jones
    SF: Lewis, Jeffries, Chandler, Nichols
    PF: Randolph, Lee, Rose
    C: Curry, James

  18. MattinDC

    Fred Jones was used mostly as a primary back-court sub for Indiana two years ago; showed flashes on offense. Last year he floated in and out of the starting line up for Toronto before losing out to Parker, and then was traded to Portland and played behind Roy, Jack, and Juan Dixon. I like Jones though, in the right system he’s a good combo guard off the bench.

  19. Confucius

    Jon Abbey – Where is your proposed deal for Kobe?

    The proposed lineup if the Lewis trade is made is awesome. I would hate to see Crawford go.

  20. jon abbey

    if Orlando goes all out for Lewis or if Seattle really wants to keep him, I think that rules us out. but if Seattle wants to do a sign-and-trade, I doubt anyone’s going to beat a Crawford/Nate/Morris offer, especially with Crawford and Nate being Seattle boys. maybe Earl Watson could be worked into the deal also.

  21. Shalimar

    Considering Seattle has 3 projects at center (Petro, that Sene guy, and Swift), Im sure their top priority is getting another one in Randolph.

    And just cause Crawford and Nate are local doesn’t automatically assume Seattle will want them.

    Im sure they will field much better offers from other teams, come on now lets be realistic.

  22. Frank

    Isiah just said he isn’t ruling out more deals.
    He’s accumulating expiring contracts, Jones, Dickau, and Rose, and young expendable talent, Lee, Robinson, Balkman, or Crawford, and he has a high-level talent, either Curry or Randolph, to centerpiece a trade.
    He’s primed for a move.
    By the way, I don’t get the love people give Crawford. His shooting percentage is .400. He’s a black hole. He’s not a great 3 pt shooter. People say he can create his own shot, but his shot selection blows. And he’s been in the league too long to be talking about potential. I suspect he is what he is: a modestly useful, overpaid 2 guard, who is more effective as an energetic sixth man than a starter…

  23. Rucker

    What about brining back former Knick Marcus Camby? He would surely fill our greatest need as a defensive player. Denver seems to be looking to trade him. What could get this deal done for us?

    Only problem I can see would be that I believe denver is looking to shed salary and any trade we make would need to include either Curry or Randolph or it just doesnt make sense.

  24. compcare

    The good thing about Zack being a Knick is that he has shooting range. When Curry is in the post, Zach can shot from 15/20 feet, he even can shoot 3?s, (but not great like Sheed). The Knicks need one more piece to the puzzle, someone like Rashard Lewis playing the 3 spot. I?m sure Seattle would be interested in a trade that involves former Seattle guy Crawford. Bottom line, Knicks on paper look better than the Cavs right now.

  25. Frank

    Caleb: You’re right, Rose expires after 08-09, as does Marbury
    Jerome James is ours through 09-10.

  26. Caleb

    Right… so even in 2010-2011, we’ll be fully capped. Here are the numbers from Shamsports:

    2010-2011:
    Curry $11.3m
    Randolph 17.3
    Crawford 10.1

    then, if we re-sign
    Lee $10m
    Balkman 7m
    Collins 3m
    Robinson 3m
    Chandler 2m
    2008 pick 2m
    2009 pick 2m
    (prob. no 2010 pick)

    That’s $67.7 million, not counting 5 more guys to flesh out the roster.

    The following year, we’d be in the clear, except for any extensions we sign between now and then.

  27. Shogun

    This is the best piece I’ve read on Randolph. Way to break down the numbers Brian. I just got really excited about the season!

  28. Jballa

    Hey as anyone thought of the knicks trying to get Ron Artest? Well i did, no one has talked about a deal to get one of thomas favorite players. I thought of a deal, invloving Q rich/Nate/chandler or jeffries and possibly a future 1st round pick for Artest and Francisco Garcia. i think thomas should get artest so it could bring some defensive heart to New york

  29. Caleb

    Sacto would give him away in a heartbeat, but based on the articles I’ve read, Isaiah hates his guts.

  30. Albany Knick Fan

    Honestly, does anyone want to see Ron Artest and Zach Randolph on the same team? They’d have to play in front of an empty Garden just for public safety. Cripes.

    Also, I told you all last night that this wasn’t a bad trade and that the team was better after the draft than they were before it. Glad to see some people coming around. Zach Randolph really is a forward. He and Curry have different games. Things are looking up…, or at least better.

  31. Ted Nelson

    I really doubt Sam Presti, Seattle’s new GM, is interested in Jamal Crawford. No matter where he’s from he’s still a terrible shooter, a ball hog, and a weak defender. Presti’s a San Antonio guy and the Jeff Green pick seems to signal that he values basketball IQ and defense.

  32. jon abbey

    that above comment isn’t really me, can someone delete that and this sentence?

    yeah, Artest is the other way to go, then we go after Rasheed. chemistry? ha!

  33. theinfamousjb

    Many seem to think more moves are coming. If so, I don’t see how the Knicks have the players for a deal for Rashard Lewis (Thomas is not giving up Curry), but it seems possible that Gerald Wallace as a sign-and-trade from Charlotte could be closer to the realm of possibility. Not many teams have the cap space and he’s going to want $10 mil per.

    Of course, the only way its possible if Charlotte wanted QRich (and some young, cheap talent – Balkman, Robinson, Chandler, Morris, etc. – or picks), or was willing to take an albatross of a contract like Jerome James or Jared Jefferies with David Lee (and probably a draft pick).

    It doesn’t seem Charlotte is interested in trying to resign him, but the sign-and-trade may not work if they are trying for Rashard Lewis (through free agency) or stay well under the cap.

    Not sure if it would be good for the Knicks, I’m just trying to think like Isiah. Spend now, give up picks, win now.

  34. Albany Knick Fan

    Durant will play the 3, right? My dad just asked me and I hadn’t really thought about it. I can’t imagine a guy who can’t bench 185 playing the 4.

  35. theinfamousjb

    Dirk plays the 4, right? I would think he’d play both 3 and 4, depending on match-ups and substitution pattern.

    Durant and either Jeff Green or Rashard Lewis will have to end up being on the floor together.

  36. Albany Knick Fan

    Dirk plays for the Mavericks. Rashard Lewis is a free agent and will not play in a Sonics uniform next season.

  37. jon abbey

    “Rashard Lewis is a free agent and will not play in a Sonics uniform next season.”

    this was true before they traded Allen, I don’t think it’s close to definite anymore.

  38. theinfamousjb

    Sorry. Let me clarify so i don’t seem like a moron.

    I meant that Dirk is not terribly strong person and plays the 4 (elsewhere in the NBA). The bench press is not a very accurate measure of strength either. I would think squats would be a more accurate measure of defending in the post.

    I also haven’t heard it ruled out that Rashard Lewis returns next year. You are probably right and he won’t return. Regardless, their top two prospects seem to have created a logjam at the 3. I think they’ll be creative in using both of them.

  39. Albany Knick Fan

    I guess they could re-sign him, but everything I’ve read indicates they are planning for him not being there next season. Good point about the Ray Allen trade though. However, they seem to have a log-jam at forward now.

    Andre Brown
    Kevin Durant
    Jeff Green
    Danny Fortson
    Mickael Gelabale
    Chris Wilcox
    Damien Wilkens (plays guard as well)
    Nick Collison (plays center as well)

  40. Raj

    I dont understand why you all dont see the possibilities of Isaiah getting KG. We have two young post players in Curry or Randolph and taking into consideration that minnesota isnt getting the offers they want, either of these low post players may be the only replacements they could get. If we package one of them properly I think a KG deal is VERY feasible.

  41. caleb

    I like Gerald Wallace a lot but there’s no reason to pay him $10 million a year, when we have Balkman for three more years on a rookie deal – who will be just as good in a year or two. Very similar guys.

  42. Albany Knick Fan

    Wallace averaged 18 points and 7 boards a game while shooting 50% from the field. Do you really think Balkman will be there in a couple years? Come on.

  43. The $

    As a Portland fan I think I should clear up some info you Knick fans are sharing that is completely bogus. First of all Zach is a back to the basket player. He is a post up player quite a bit like Curry, and although you dont know this yet, is the FAR superior player to Curry. In fact I wouldnt have traded the Zach for Eddy straight up if no contracts were involved. The reason he shows such a high shooting percentage and outside the key stats are that he has a tendency to pull up from 8 feet. He CAN play the high post but he wont. He wants the ball down low. Two, while Zach is a terrible defender (and no its not just an effort thing) he is a fantastic weakside rebounder. You will love his commitment to boards. Three, he is not a bad person but does make bad choices. He will certainly get in trouble. Four, dont believe Peter Vecsey (who does anyways) he has a GREAT work ethic and is committed to winning. Five, he is an alpha dog and wants the ball all the time. This may be a problem for the Knicks but who knows.
    All in all you got a great player, you will love him and you should trade curry. I however am ecstatic that we got a young big (who yes is soft I know) and a contract we can axe in 2009. Right when Roy/Aldridge/Rodriguez are up for new contracts.
    Financial flexibility. Ever heard of it!?
    Both teams win in this trade. That is if you can move curry or teach him that Zach is the primary low post scorer.
    Good luck knick fans!

  44. Gmal

    Financial flexability doesn’t win championships – bobcats, clippers etc
    last I looked at the blazers roster, zak was their
    only option at low post so it makes sense that
    he was used primarily in that role, yes knicks will be adding $ (’10 and ’11) but this trade comes down to zach and 2 expiring contracts for for Frye. Knicks don’t have to eat a worthless
    33mil Francis contract who was gonna get bought out to leave anyway so all knicks are on the hook for is 28 mil (61mil -33mil) for 4years when looking at the trade in $. in 09/10 (or 10/11) knicks will push hard for Lebron and then may use curry or zak as part of a sign and trade should lebron decide to leave and that sounds much better than Francis or Frye. Last I heard Heat were offering Haslem as part of trade for Lewis,
    I’d hate to see Lee go but a package with N8 or the expiring contracts we just got (thanks pritchard) and a future draft pick should beat that. We ain’t going anywhere with out a good shooter at the 3 spot. Demetrius Nichols??????

  45. Joe S

    “I don?t agree with Joe S. either when he said Randolph will go back to playing like garbage.”

    I didn’t say he would go back to playing like garbarge, I mean he could. His first season he had 2.8 ppg, next 8.4, then 18 to 20, his last was 23. As for serving time in jail, when did that occur? According to his wikipedia bio he was pulled over for speeding, and a sexual assualt complaint filed by a stripper was dropped due to lack of evidence.

  46. Z

    Thanks The $ Said– I must admit that I have been critical of this trade without actually knowing a whole lot about Randolph. I have seen him as a contract (which is immoral in many ways, and brings back unwelcome parallels to 160 years ago, but is sadly necessary due to the salary cap and the CBA).

    I am happy to find out about Randolph from someone who has watched him play every day.

    I still hate the trade.

  47. Owen

    The $ Said – Very helpful post.

    IMO, the problem here is that the best four players on our team, Richardson, Balkman, Lee, and Randolph, essentially play the same two positions, 3-4. Meanwhile our three headed monster of Curry/Crawford/Marbury (any suggestions for a name there) is still slated to play 100-110 minutes per night. It’s really a very odd situation. Despite picking up someone who seems to be a pretty great player (though I am still suspicious), the trade changes very little about what’s wrong with the Knicks (in my view.) The outlook is for a very unproductive triumvirate to remain in place and for Lee and Balkman to continue to play fewer minutes than they should. Really, its wacko. We sort of have three players at power forwards, with no really legitimate defensive presence inside. We have three small forwards in JEffries, Balkman and Q. We have no above average talent at the guard position, unless you count Q as a shooting guard, which given that Craw played 38 per this year, doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s all just bizarre, there has to be a trade coming…

    Yet, it’s hard to believe Isaiah doesn’t see these two guys playing next to each other. IF he were thinking trade, it would have been much more logical to make a three way trade upfront, so he didn’t get stuck with the bag, and lose leverage.

    Bottom line for me, total befuddlement.

    Something has to give. I see a trade, and I think its going to break my heart…

  48. Felix

    I think some of you guys are missing the point, randolph has a legitimate elbow/baseline/perimeter game, he can shoot 3s altho doesnt take many because he doesnt shoot them at a high %. but he has the range.
    When Curry and Zach are on the floor at the same time randolph will be more like a more versatile frye, someone who isnt scared to attack the basket from the elbow. He can hit any outside shot that frye can, but has great low post presence.
    Zach has very little offensive limitations while frye has no post game. and was a horrible rebounder.
    the one concern is his attitude, if he can accept curry being the #1 option untill he sits. As a team standpoint this is good becuase we will now have a direction down low whenever eddie is not on the floor. It was the cuase for our offense not being able to produce when eddie is not on the floor.

  49. Frank

    Long post —
    I’m not sure how well Randolph will coexist with Curry but I can tell you that trading Frye and Francis for a ham sandwich would be a good trade in my opinion. I watched pretty much every Knicks game this past year either at the Garden in person or on TV — there weren’t two worse players in the NBA in terms of offensive or defensive awareness than the 2 guys we just got rid of. Francis is a miserable defender and hung our interior defense out to dry every time he was on he court as his guy blew right by him. And I don’t even have to bring up his favorite offensive play: dribble the ball in circles for 23 seconds out of the shot clock, then shoot a line drive off-balance three that doesn’t even get above the rim, which then bricks and leads to a fast-break dunk for the other team. Oh wait, it might be tied with: dribble ball into double team in the lane, jump in air with no one to pass to, throw bad pass which leads to fast break dunk.

    Frye is at least a pretty decent jump shooter, but so was Michael Doleac. Can’t drive, post-up game is average, and doesn’t take it strong. Can’t defend one on one, can’t rebound, can’t block shots. No team defense awareness at all — can’t tell you how many times the guy he’s guarding ends up under the basket by himself for an open layup.

    And regarding the cap space — does anyone actually think we were ever going to get under the cap enough to sign LeBron or Kobe? We’re pretty much stuck with retooling the team like this as far as I’m concerned. And other than Phoenix and Chicago (neither of whom have won anything by the way), find me a team that “blew it up” that actually looks like a real contender anytime soon. Orlando? Memphis? Boston? And in the meantime, the basketball team becomes irrelevant. How painful must it be to diehard Celtics fans that players like KG and Marion don’t want to go there? It’s the frickin Celtics for pete’s sake. Bird, Bill Russell, Red Auerbach. It’s like a baseball player saying they’re not interested in playing for the Yankees or the Red Sox. It’s unthinkable. And if we blew up the team and traded everyone for draft picks and cap space, I think that would be what would happen to our team.

    Sorry for the long post. Flame away if you’d like!

  50. Frank

    one more thing– regarding Zach Randolph — I used to live on the West Coast and got to see him play occasionally… that guy is unstoppable in the post. He’s at least as good as Curry is in the post and is a much more versatile offensive player. I still think Curry’s ceiling is higher but after getting Randolph, I wouldn’t be opposed to trading Curry for a great defending/rebounding big man a la Ben Wallace a few years back. Unfortunately there really aren’t many of those.

    By the way, I really do think Rasheed would have been a better fit. I mean, he’s a great post defender, can score well in the post, and can space the floor for Curry when he posts. Eddy throwing out to Stephon, Jamal, Q, and Rasheed would be great.

  51. Z

    It’s hard to say “we should have traded for Wallace” or Artest or KG or Jermaine O., or Rashad Lewis or anybody else because we are at the mercy of our pawns. Obviously (though more obvious to Caleb, Owen, myself, and the others that don’t understand this trade), Wallace would have been a better trade, but two things had to have happened: 1) the Pistons had to actually trade Wallace, and 2) the Pistons would have had to have wanted what we offered.

    I would rather have traded Frye and Francis for any of the above mentioned forwards. Artest may have been the only one obtainable for the same package.

    If Wallace is now traded for a washed up PG with a huge contract and a slumping forward who can’t rebound or post up, then I would say we should have traded for Wallace instead of Randolph (unless that PG and forward are Marbury and Jeffries…)

  52. jon abbey

    Sheed is 33, Randolph is 25. Sheed’s on-court attitude is way worse also, especially if he’s on a team not contending for a title. anyone who thinks Sheed would be a better pickup for NY than Randolph was, even if the guys being traded were identical, needs to spend less time looking at stats.

  53. americanbear

    I like the trade. Q is the key here. Can he stay healthy behind the arc to space things?

    I love the bench of Collins, Nate, Balkman and Lee all coming in with big time energy, locking down the opponents and still feeding the ball into either Curry or Zach for 15 min a game.

    James, Jefferies and Rose deserve to ride pine and if they don’t bitch, minutes (crucial part of chemistry) will be better than anytime since 2000. Even 2001 we were log jammed on the wing with Rice/Spree/Allan.

    Chandler can be brought on slow if Balkman makes strides like we all expect him to. Not sure on Nichols even tho Cuse is my college team. He was less than dominant too often last year.

  54. Frank

    Jon Abbey–

    “anyone who thinks Sheed would be a better pickup for NY than Randolph was, even if the guys being traded were identical, needs to spend less time looking at stats.”

    Hmm let’s see 2006-7 stats:

    Rasheed: 12.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.7 apg
    Zach: 23.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.2 apg

    If I were basing my opinion on stats, clearly Zach is the better fit.

    But I think most people would agree that age aside, Rasheed is probably the better player for the Knicks. Can still post up when needed, can shoot from NBA 3 pt range, is an adequate passer. Is a great low-post defender and good help defender. Otherwise known as exactly what the Knicks need.

    They both have non-basketball issues to deal with although Rasheed is a bit more boneheaded on the court. But I bet you most NBA GMs (especially ones who already have a dominant low-post scorer on their team) would much rather have Rasheed than Zach Randolph.

    Now don’t get me wrong– I love the Z-Bo move as I noted in my post above. I’m just saying that someone like Rasheed would fit the team better.

  55. Iyamwutiam

    I think Randolph IS a better pick than Wallace. He is younger, if he also has a good year along side Curry – his trade value will be huge (especially since Kobe has an opt out claus along with KG). With Curry and Randolph down low – you are talking about the possiblity of having the most dangerous frontcourt in the east. Especially if you throw in Lee as well.

    I doubt the Knicks will sign Rashard Lews- since he picked up Nichols and Q is just coming of back surgery- which should make him a pretty good (hopefully)-and he still has Crawford. Seatle will not sign and trade- they are busy playing the woe is me – I am just a poor franchise owned by a multi-billionaire who can’t get over the cap.More likely he signs with Orlando for a ton of money.

    Definitely – the power forward, Center positions are filled with Quality NBA starters. I think Lee will give us a 6th man edge as well in terms of the front court.
    I actually like the backcourt – which I think is overlooked. Between Q and MArbury – it is way better than a lot of other teams (especially if Q can come back healthy)- if not – its not too bad with Crawford/Nichols as productive backups.
    Nate/Dan Dickau and F. JOnes also add to the depth of the backcourt in different but significant ways.

    If Morris and Chandler are the real deal – look out. What I liked best abot the trade was the signal sent by Isiah Thomas – no contract is immovable and I don’t really care if you are a first round pick with low salary who could become a good player – if you don’t produce – I will find a way to get you out of town.

    This message I am sure is being heard by Jarred Jeffries and Randolp Morris.

  56. caleb

    Speaking of trade ideas… I had not been pushing for this, but I wonder if Sacto would take the two expiring contracts (and maybe Chandler) in exchange for Artest.

    There would definitely be issues – someone needs to convince ron-ron that he is not the #1 offensive option – but it would be virtually a no-risk trade. At worst, we gave away some guys who wouldn’t play, or would barely play, ever. If Ron explodes, he’s not making that much coin and we have plenty of guys to cover the position. At best – we have an awesome defender to provide serious cover for our defensive liabilities in the frontcourt.

    Balkman would have to play the 2, a lot.

  57. Owen

    Jon – I would rather have Randolph than Sheed. Sheed seems a better candidate to pair with Curry, but that ignores the basic insanity of letting Eddy Curry be the center of any discussion. Its idiotic to discuss the merits of Curry/Randolph v Curry/Sheed, given that Curry is by far the worst player of the three.

    Frank – You are right we need an interior defender. But that isn’t Randolph’s fault. It’s Curry, who presumably is the center of this team.

    Iyam – Last time I checked Craw played 37 minutes per last year. Our backcourt is Marbury and Craw, not Marbury and Q. And that is not in any way shape or form way better than a lot of other teams.

    The best two players on our team right now by a large large margin, if you trust 82games, are Randolph and Lee. Its not even close to close. And any plan for the future that doesn’t involve the two of them playing as much as possible, and this would include Isaiah’s plan to play Curry as much as he did last season, is idiotic.

  58. Owen

    Caleb – Artest is an excellent player. But if we added him, our five best players (Q, Balkman, Randolph, Artest, Lee) would then all be players most comfortable at the 3-4. Balkman is great, but he is not a two.

    Bottom line, to get better we need to address our existing weakness at the PG, SG, and C positions rather than adding to our strength.

  59. jon abbey

    hey, Owen, I thought of you when I read this quote in today’s Post:

    “‘We identified that our major need was the power-forward spot, where we needed someone to play alongside Eddy,’ Thomas said.”

  60. Brian Cronin

    Wow, that is an awesome quote, Jon.

    Can he really be that blind?

    We “needed” someone to play alongside Eddy?!?

  61. jon abbey

    it’s even funnier the more you think about it. that’s your major need? not a shot-blocker, not a PG who will actually distribute the ball, not a scorer at SF?

    honestly, it really reinforces the theory that Isiah is biased against white players.

  62. jon abbey

    more on the discussion above about Seattle keeping Lewis now that Allen is gone:

    “Sonics general manager Sam Presti said the organization is serious about re-signing small forward Rashard Lewis and Lewis’ representatives appear serious about listening to the Sonics’ sales pitch.”

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/basketball/321963_rashard30.html

    Orlando can mess this up by offering him a huge contract, but this probably takes us out of the running for him, FWIW.

  63. Frank

    Owen-

    don’t really think Lee is one of the best players on the team regardless of what 82games.com says. Don’t get me wrong– I think he’s great. But he’s completely and totally a complementary player that if asked to really be 1 of the top 2 guys on the team, would struggle miserably. He’s a great rebounder (but remember a lot of his offensive rebounds come because Curry is getting double-teamed and he’s not getting boxed out) and is great finishing around the basket, but he’s not a good on-ball defender, can’t shoot, can’t drive (not that I’d want him to). He’s really valuable when you have someone else hogging all the attention (ie. Curry).

    I think you’re giving Curry a bad rap here — there were times he was downright the most dominant offensive big man this side of Shaq in the early 2000s. If he had Steve Nash feeding him the ball maybe people would be talking about him like they talk about Stoudemire. He is only 24 and can work on consistency, rebounding, passing, and defensive effort. I actually thought he did a much better job passing the ball the last 1-2 months of the season — just Mardy, Balkman, and Jefferies (the only guys we had left in April) couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. To be honest, I think if he would stop trying left handed layups and finger-rolls and just DUNK THE BALL when he gets close, he’d have averaged 25 ppg rather than 19. He’s still a turnover machine but Yao Ming, Amare, Tim Duncan, and Dwight Howard all had similar turnovers/48 min as Eddy did.

    If you watch the games, you’ll see he demands a double team EVERY single possession — he just destroys Ben Wallace 1 on 1 for instance. The guys he has trouble with are Duncan and Yao Ming, but so does any big man. If the Knicks had shooters healthy in March and April when he was starting to get it a little bit, I think people would be talking about him differently right now.

    Boy am I optimistic.

    By the way, I just found this board today and I really like it — active, people have intelligent things to say. Way better than ESPN boards.

  64. Hudson River

    “I actually like the backcourt – which I think is overlooked. Between Q and MArbury – it is way better than a lot of other teams (especially if Q can come back healthy)- if not – its not too bad with Crawford/Nichols as productive backups.
    Nate/Dan Dickau and F. JOnes also add to the depth of the backcourt in different but significant ways.”

    Iyamwutiam, when you actually think about it your right: Marbury played well last year as did Q as long as hes not injured which is a major if. Crawford could be an excellent scoring punch off the bench which would be amazing. The other guys all bring their own unique ways to playing and we could experiment with who is most effective with one another. Our backcourt is versatile for the first time in YEARS.

  65. Owen

    Frank – Lol. Welcome to the board.

    In general, I think I am known on this board for three things.

    1. My vast, almost unreasonable affection for the Wages of Wins,

    2. My bitter contempt of Eddy Curry’s game

    3. My love and respect for one David Lee

    So your post usually would strike a nerve. But I am bushed today. So I am going to let you go.

    Go read the Eddy Curry thread and see what you think.

  66. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    And now to pick on you. :-)

    2 minor quibbles – first if you think Frye’s D is bad, I have a feeling you’re going to hate Zach’s D. Frye blocks shots at nearly 3 times the rate. His defensive +/- #s at 82games are better as well.

    Second – Curry is dominant with the ball. It’s when he passes it or gets stripped of it that problems occur. He’s a turnover machine (see my report card for Curry for more on this).

  67. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    ‘And other than Phoenix and Chicago (neither of whom have won anything by the way), find me a team that ?blew it up? that actually looks like a real contender anytime soon.’

    Cleveland? Houston? Depends on how you define “blew it up.” If you define it as keeping your draft picks and getting under the cap so you can sign/acquire free agents then all 4 should be included with Orlando, and in the future Seattle and Portland.

  68. Frank

    Thanks for the welcome all!

    To defend myself a bit–

    I think Cleveland showed that they’re nowhere near really competing — and now they’re capped out with no draft picks and no one other than LeBron that anyone wants. If there’s anyone at all in the Eastern Conference, Cleveland doesn’t make it past the 2nd round.

    Houston — not winning anything anytime soon.
    Denver — ditto.

    In fact — you not only need to blow it up, you need to also get LUCKY and not just place in the lottery but WIN the lottery. Out of the NBA champs since hmmm…the Larry Bird Celtics (we’re talking 25+ years ago folks), only Jordan’s Bulls and the 2004 Detroit team won a title without having a #! overall pick as a major contributor on their roster. The Showtime Lakers had three #1 overall picks for pete’s sake — how does that happen (Magic, Kareem, Worthy)? The Bad Boys had Aguirre who was #1 and Isiah who was #2 in the same draft. Houston had Hakeem. San Antonio had DRobinson and Duncan. The later Lakers and the Heat had Shaq. So unless you think there’s another MJ coming along, you need to blow it up big and probably repeatedly in order to guarantee yourself a #1 pick, and then get lucky that there is someone truly great to pick, not like Andrew Bogut.

    Which is what Boston has tried to do and now they are completely irrelevant and no one wants to play for them.

    So unless you want to go the way of Boston, or hope that you’re going to be super-lucky and get the #1 pick, then you have to do it the way Isiah is trying (with variable results) to do it.

    And sorry — Frye’s 0.6 bpg doesn’t impress me at all. What’s the difference between 0.2 and 0.6? And I don’t buy +/- stats in basketball — if you just look at Frye play you know he’s awful. And Randolph’s stats were in the Western Conference where every night he went up against Garnett, Duncan, Nowitzki, Stoudemire, etc. Not saying he’s good, but I guess what I’m saying is there’s not much difference between super bad and just very bad defense.

  69. dan

    Bottom line,
    I don’t think anyone would have expected that the Blazers would take Francis and Frye for Randolph. The deal is a no brainer.

    People forget how much flux this team has been in. We’ll play better defense as a team when we actually settle on some rotations and keep some people healthy.

    Our Starters are Eddy, Zach, Q, Marbury, and Crawford. Lee is great but is not a classsic PF. I see him in the game alot though and a candidate for 6th man of the year again.

    Wait until you see what Marbury is going to do without Francis breathing down his neck. Steph is a great guard, some of y’all have forgotten that, and does anyone remember Jamal torching the Lakers for 50?

    In terms of salaries, I think if you have good players you can get deals to happen for whatever you want. Whether that’s a sign and trade, or draft picks, or expiring contracts, or prospects. Our problem has been that we’ve had inneffective, hurt, or retired players still weighing down our cap #. Zach is a good investment.

  70. Capt. Merlin

    Well to be perfectly honest I’d have to say that this 17 Man power forward dredged roster of mismatched pieces just needs Freddy Weis to throw on a uniform to make them a contender.
    That aside, I like the trade if for no other reason than that we gave up very little for a potential all star, albeit one who plays no D

  71. jon abbey

    ok, Miami for 52, he was close enough. the amazing thing about Jamal’s 52 is that he did it almost all in like a 2 1/2 quarter span, if I remember correctly. I just keep thinking/hoping, if he could only do that for 15 minutes per night, we’d have Vinnie Johnson redux on our hands.

  72. Frank O.

    I’m also new here, and this is a long post. Apologies.
    I’m reading what people have to say, but,man, you all have some rose colored glasses on.
    I think Balkman is a great athlete and has a lot of energy, but he’s very limited. He dunks and runs well. On a deep team, he’s a practice squad guy for a few years, until he learns to shoot or becomes a dominant defender.
    Also, Marbury is a declining PG. He was 16 ppg and a little over 5 apgs last year. He should be in the 7 to 8 assists a game.
    Richardson is a very average 3. He gets lots of props from Isiah on his D, but that’s only because the rest of the team is so soft defensively.
    I think Lee is a worm. I want to see him add some muscle, learn the shoot the midrange jumper, and last a whole season.
    Curry improved markedly last year. His ppg were up and I was pleased to see his rpgs go to 7. If he’s at 9, that would be outstanding. But, lord, a man that is 6’11 needs to get at least a block or better per game.
    The Knicks bailed on Frye too quickly. I think he’ll have a break out year this year. I would have prefered not doing anything and getting cap-healthy.
    Having said that, Zach is a top scorer, a greater threat than Curry. He has a mid-range game, which will work well.
    And the biggest thing for me is that when Curry leaves the floor, the Knicks still have a guy in the paint that requires a double. that keeps the pressure on the other defense.
    If anything, Zach, who can pass out of the double team, just look at youtube, will be hitting a wide open 280-pound 6’11 center open in the paint. It could get nasty.
    But our D will require that we simply outscore people.

  73. Frank O.

    Oh, and Crawford has no business taking as many shots as he takes shooting .400 from the field. It’s ridiculous and kills the Knicks when he is cold. I don’t see why Isiah loves this guy so much. He’s another guy that gets more props than he deserves because of the team he plays on.
    His only redeaming feature as far as I can tell is that he is the only guard on the Knicks able to get it into Curry’s hands with any consistency.
    Marbury just blows at it.

  74. Frank O.

    I also believe another deal is coming.
    And if I know Isiah, he’s going to look for a nasty enforcer-type, ala Lambier.
    The Knicks need a snarling, shot-blocker, who gives hard fouls, and makes people think twice in the paint.
    I think they get a guy like that by packaging their expiring contracts and moving either a Curry or Randolph to get that body here. A trade for Artest, using Randolph, might actually be a good move. But you can’t have Randolph and Artest on the same team. That would be as bad as Artest and Stephen Jackson. And it just wouldn’t do seeing Spike Lee getting dragged around on Randolph’s ankle – think Van Gundy and Alonzo – and Jackson sucker punching some Wall Street type in the head.

  75. Z

    “The Knicks need a snarling, shot-blocker, who gives hard fouls, and makes people think twice in the paint.”

    Isn’t that why he signed Jerome James to $30 mil.?

  76. Z

    And I knew dan was talking about the Miami game. I just wanted to be a wise-ass because I didn’t understand his point. Jamal’s 52 was fun, for exactly one game, then the reality of the season came crashing back down on me.

    If Jamal had any consistency the Knicks would look very very different. For all his 52 point games I can name almost 81 that were disappointing. (Broken foot or not…)

    I love Jamal, as I indicated on his report card 2 weeks ago. I want him to be awesome. He has shown glimpses of it, but that only hurts more because I see what he can do on the court. I just want to see it more often.

    In fact, if Jamal showed consistency (in a good way), I probably wouldn’t even mind the Randolph trade.

    Actually, if Isiah hadn’t made a handful of trades I haven’t understood, and had the record reflect the work of a bad basketball team, then I would probably like the Randolph trade, especially in light of the positive comments on this blog.

    But, Isiah’s trades pre-Randolph speak for themselves, so I have no reason to feel excited landing a 20+-10 guy with glaring holes and baggage. It seems to me like more of the same. 49 to 59 losses a season doesn’t excite me anymore.

    39 losses wouldn’t do it for me either, I’m affriad.

  77. Z

    In fact, I think it’s only fair for me to restate here that the Knicks have an extremely talented team. Individually the players are extraordinary in many many ways.

    The past three seasons, though, which have totaled 147 losses or something, I HAVE NOT gotten the impression that the team was one offensive power forward away from beating the Spurs in a 7 game series.

    Isiah’s trades (some of them at least (you all know which ones have just flat out sucked) have looked good on paper only to turn out to not be so good with regard to wins and losses. The history behind the Randolph trade reflects badly on the Randolph trade.

    I want more than anything for Crawford to become a consistent offensive player; for Curry to evolve his game into a well rounded, dominant force; for Stephon to be the PG the world thought he would be; and for Jeffries to be able to shut down any 3 in the league; for Jerome James to do anything good. Even two out of the five would make me happy.

    If these things happened, I would welcome Zach Randolph to the Knicks like he was Earl Monroe joining Clyde et al.

    But my confidence in Isiah’s grand plan is down. Sorry.

    Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m a fan, and I’m only critical because I love the Knicks, and I can’t wait for them to be a contender again.

    Peace.

  78. ben

    I happen to to love the cool-aid and think I look good in rose colored glasses so with that in mind I am going to look at some positives.

    Curry was a turnover machine last year and if you look at the above chart it becomes even more apparent. The bright side is with Zach in the high post it will be alot harder for teams to double Curry so quickly. There were times at the end of last season when there were three people on Curry while Collins was still bringing the ball across midcourt. Teams were daring us to pass to Curry and when we forced it, it put him in bad situations. It also caused Collins a very low turnover guard at Temple to avg what was it almost 4 down the stretch.

    So now with Randolph, Curry should be able to establish himself lower in the post and if teams focus on him, Zach should have easy opportunities.

    Drinking even more of the cool-aid would have me say that Crawford was finally starting to play well before his injury forced him to miss the end of the season. In the 10 games before his injury his efg% was up to 49.6%, he had as many free throws as three pointers and he shot 56 free throws on 129 shots. I remember thinking he was actually playing like he had under Brown attacking the basket alot more and creating more problems for other teams. The talent is there for Crawford its just about using it right.

    I think you also underestimate Balkman and Q.

    Balkman had I think the third or forth highest PER of any of the rookies and his defense while still raw looked good. His shot mechanics look solid so I think soon, this year or next his shot will be just good enough to keep teams honest and Balkman will see alot of playing time. He will never be a shooter but he should become passable from outside.

    Q, when healthy, which we saw at the beginning of the season, is a very good player. His ability to create his shot in the post and his defense is quite good. Couple this with a solid outside shot and you have a very good player. Unfortunatly when his back acts up he loses most of his defense, all of his offense and he becomes very inefficient. The Q we saw at the start of last season is the one they had in LA before his back made him a shell of his former self. I am hoping, praying, that maybe this back operation will finally fix his problems.

    I think if we can reduce our rotation to 8 players:
    Marbury
    Crawford
    Q
    Zach
    Curry
    Collins
    Balkman
    Lee
    and Q’s back and Crawford’s brain don’t act up again we could be a top five offensive team (we were about to crack the top ten when we got hit with all the injuries).

    Top that with mild improvements to our defense, because Balkman, Collins and Q will be playing more and less turnovers on offense leads to less fastbreak against us, and we could win 45+ games next season and really make some noise.

    Of course this is all best case but I am definatly getting used to these rose colored glasses.

  79. jon abbey

    we have 17 guys under contract already, including the draft picks. Isiah isn’t signing anyone else without a multiplayer for 1 trade happening first.

  80. jon abbey

    hehe, today’s ‘what team is he watching?’ Isiah quote, again from the Post:

    “However, Thomas said he’s not concerned with interior defense.

    ‘We do a good job of defending the paint,’ Thomas said.”

  81. Ted Nelson

    Frank-

    I’m not sure how you can make the “rebuilding sucks and the way Isiah is doing it is smarter/a surer thing” argument after several years of a bloated payroll and losing teams?

    I would say you can build/rebuild through any number of means. Whether you concentrate on the draft, free agnecy, trades or a combination of the three the outcome is dependent on 1) the quality of players you bring in 2) the coaching and 3) the organizational structure/ culture you put in place.

    I would say Isiah’s method is the least proven method. With only the Mavericks coming to mind as a team that has pulled it off, while the Knicks and Jail-Blazers come to mind as teams that have failed miserably. Maybe I’m overlooking some other examples, but I can’t really come up with other teams that have consistently assembled the majority of their roster by going out and getting overpaid, aging veterans that no one else wants by giving up expiring contracts and/or young players. Maybe Cleveland after they got LeBron (which isn’t really a fair example, and I guess the same could be said for Dallas with MVPs Dirk and Nash).

    I guess which methods you should use to rebuild depends on the situation in which you find your organization and the resources at your disposal. For example, Joe Dumars “blew it up” in Detroit, but I don’t know how many people would recognize that becuase although he turned over the entire roster in only a couple years his successes came by way of veterans and young veterans aquired in trades and free agency rather than young draft picks. On the other hand, Chicago has done a great job of succeeding at the “impossible” task of building through lottery picks. Could it be that both teams focused on hard nosed defense, team first offense, and “character” guys???

    I mean I agree that teams like Atlanta and Boston and the Baby Bulls who just hope for some lottery success and draft players with huge ceilings without much regard for actually assembling a competitive basketball team and well run organization aren’t doing things the right way.

    You make an interesting point that so few teams have won a championship without a #1 overall pick, but the Knicks are trying to make the playoffs, make .500, then we can worry about championships. Which was the last team to win the championship without making the playoffs?

    A team like Boston is not struggling because Danny Ainges dismantled an aging playoff team. They’re struggling because of the players he rebuilt with after dismantling that team. Regardless of their quality they’re all young and unproven (I happen to like Green, Jefferson, and West and if they had some patience and drafted Roy and Noah the last two years they’d probably turn it around in a couple years).

    In hindsight was Isiah’s approach better than “blowing it up?” Obviously impossible to say, but it’s hard to argue that between Isiah’s superior drafting skills and NYC’s superior free agent drawing ability the $200 million 33 win 2007 Knicks couldn’t have been bested.

    Anyway, doesn’t really matter, the point is whether continuing down the same road today is the right move?

    I would say that if your goal is to at least compete for championships for the next several years (I was a very satisfied Knicks fan in the 90′s despite no rings) and your current roster looks like the Knicks, “blowing it up” isn’t such a bad idea. I might wait one year to see if we can either make the playoffs so that our assets are more tradeable, and even if we don’t we’d have a lottery pick and some big expiring contracts, but otherwise do you ever think this group is going to contend with today’s Spurs or tomorrow’s T-Blazers? How about the Suns, Mavs even Cleveland, Utah, Detroit, Miami? When was the last time a team won a championship with a defense ranking in the league’s bottom 5???

    Blowing it up doesn’t mean that you have to sit around and wait for a #1 pick like Greg Oden or a free agent like LeBron James to fall into your lap (it might happen, of course). If the Knicks were to “blow it up” right now it doesn’t mean they have to get rid of their promising young pieces, just like the Suns “blew it up” primarily through ditching salaries like Marbury, Hardaway, Rogers, and Delk while still keeping young guys like Marion and Amare around and putting together a well run team that played like a cohesive unit.

    What we could do is stop taking other teams garbage and start realizing that, as someone else pointed out, these are not the guys we would sign or trade for if you actually had some cap space. These guys might have lots of “talent” but very few of them, at least the highly priced veterans, have ever played on a winning team for any sustained period. This is not, in my opinion, a coincidence. Most of the veterans never even played on winners in college. And then we wonder why they don’t play as a team? Why they don’t defend? Why they don’t win?

    Anyway, sorry to be so hostile. Only part of that was really directed at Frank, the rest is because I just don’t understand how so many people can defend this trade. IT’S NOT THAT THIS WAS A BAD TRADE, IT’S THAT THE KNICKS ARE A BAD TEAM. This trade only seems to carry them further down the path they were on.

    Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe Curry learns some D and team play, Crawford looks in a mirror and realizes he is not MJ, etc., etc. In which case we’ll be in a great position to get smashed by Detroit, Cleveland, or whoever in round 1, maybe 2, for the next 5 years.

  82. dan

    Z,
    I’ll do a fact checking next time. The point about Jamal is just that he was the guy having to bail us out against the shot clock again and again. If our offensive sets actually work then his %s go up.

  83. Frank

    Ted== great reply — I actually don’t even agree with my own point about blowing it up. I think any real Knicks fan could tolerate a few years of utter irrelevance (and we have, the last few years!) in order to his the reset button. I just worry that we’d become like Boston or the previous incarnation of Chicago and become irrelevant for 5-7 years. And the #1 overall pick thing– that just ran away with me — as I went back looking at each of the previous NBA champions — it is quite a stat though!

    What we really do need is an owner who has some patience — who will then hire a GM who has some patience.

    Meanwhile — speaking of teams that had good GMs, not to be off topic — but why in the world does Phoenix want to break up their team? They would have won that series against SA if Horry hadn’t hip-checked Nash. Giving up Stoudemire is very risky in my book.

    And your point about getting hard-nosed defensive guys is well put also. There IS this disturbing pattern of teams getting much better AFTER they pawn off their “superstars” to us — Phoenix with Kidd, Orlando with Francis, and now probably Portland with Randolph (although getting 3 top 5 picks on your team in the last 2 years helps).

  84. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    “In fact ? you not only need to blow it up, you need to also get LUCKY and not just place in the lottery but WIN the lottery. Out of the NBA champs since hmmm?the Larry Bird Celtics (we?re talking 25+ years ago folks), only Jordan?s Bulls and the 2004 Detroit team won a title without having a #! overall pick as a major contributor on their roster.”

    If you’re using championship teams as your litmus test, you’re narrowing your field considerably. Even using that as your criteria, it doesn’t prove your point. The Bulls and Pistons teams you talked about have 7 championships together. Combine them with the last three-peat Lakers who signed Shaq as a free agent, and you have 10 of the last 25 championship teams (40%) that did not need to draft a #1 overall pick to win.

  85. dave crockett

    I think there’s ample room to oppose the Randolph deal on philosophical grounds; namely the cap ramifications, which have been well-documented. On pragmatic grounds though I think this deal is far tougher to oppose. Randolph is an offensive upgrade to Lee without losing much (if anything) on defense and he’s certainly no worse a complement to Curry–for whatever that’s worth to you Owen :)

    The criticism that “the deal doesn’t address the team’s defensive weaknesses” seems like pitting the perfect against the good. Upgrading on offense over one of the league’s finest young forwards (i.e., Lee) without losing anything defensively is unambiguously good. Does it resolve NY’s defensive problems? No, but it doesn’t worsen them while making them better in another area. Besides, where are such solutions to be had on this market for the cost of Frye and Francis? Rasheed Wallace’s name has been mentioned but ‘Sheed is likely to remain in Detroit. He also comes with major questions about whether he is staring steep decline in the face if the playoffs are an indication.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m sympathetic to a philosophical opposition to this deal. I still maintain that Thomas should have “blown it up” from day one and never acquired Marbury. That was the original sin.

    But I think it’s only fair to judge this deal within the confines of Isiah’s assumptions. (He’s made his share of mistakes even then.) Based on his assumptions, this just isn’t a bad deal at all. Randolph is enough of an upgrade to take two additional years of salary imo. He has the kind of game that should age well. He’s an excellent rebounder on both ends. His offense isn’t dependent at all on athleticism. He’s a lefty mid-range shooter. Yet he’s also young enough so that in 2-3 years his contract won’t necessarily be the difference between getting a player and not getting one in a sign-and-trade–and that’s not even considering any inflation adjustments to his deal’s value.

  86. dan

    I like the balance on the offensive end, presuming Q comes back strong. I don’t know too many teams where all 5 starters are offensive threats.

    On Zach, the microfracture surgery explains the no jumping which explains the low blocks totals. This concerns me. This artical is complementary overall, but some Portland fans have some unfavorable comments.

    http://slamonline.com/online/2006/09/44-zach-randolph/

  87. T3000

    I reckon this trade would make us an instant contender, not just in the East:

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/features/traderesult?players=165~990~739~261&teams=16~16~16~18

    Maybe throw in a pick or something as well.
    Supposing Minny could be satisfied that Curry’s heart is OK (a big if), I think this is about as much as they could hope for, talentwise in a KG trade.

    Imagine this lineup

    KG/Morris
    Randolph/Lee
    Balkman/Jeffries
    Q-Rich/Robinson/Chandler
    Marbury/Dickau

    The bench is fairly thin, and not much scoring at the 3, but with that frontcourt and Q-Rich and Marbury in the backcourt, you wouldnt need much.

    Plus KG is enough of an alpha dog to keep Randolph in line I think.

  88. Raj

    I agree, but it seems that KG is going to golden state…for Monta Ellis, B. Wright, a pick, and either Biedrins or someone else.

  89. jon abbey

    “I agree, but it seems that KG is going to golden state?for Monta Ellis, B. Wright, a pick, and either Biedrins or someone else.”

    this comes from the LA Times article today, which doesn’t seem very based in reality to me. since GS can’t use their $10M trade exemption directly in a deal, they’d need to include either Baron or 2 of Foyle, Harrington, and Jackson to come close to matching Garnett’s salary, neither of which seem possible to me (GS isn’t trading Baron, and Minnesota almost definitely doesn’t want 2 of those 3 contracts).

    I’m as a big a Lee fan as anyone, from his first set of exhibition games as a rookie, but I think with this team, as assembled, you have to offer Curry, Crawford, Lee, and Nate for Garnett. that might look better to McHale than it does to us, it’s not insulting at least.

  90. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    Dave,

    I’m slowly warming up to this deal, but I would like to add one more thing to your list of reasons to “oppose the Randolph deal.” Power forward is perhaps the last position the Knicks needed to upgrade. Granted Frye had an awful season, but the solution was at hand. We should have given Lee 35 minutes, and hope that Frye could give us something inbetween his first and second seasons. At worst between Frye, Rose, Balkman, and Chandler we should have found someone to give us 10-15 minutes of decent bench PF play.

    So grabbing Randolph is not only duplicates the production we’re getting from Curry, but takes away from the production we’d get from the increased minutes from Lee. With a huge hole at SG, declining play at PG, and injuries (Richardson)/poor play (Jeffries)/glaring weaknesses (Balkman) at SF there had to be a better use of our assets.

    Yeah I know Frye & Francis weren’t’ that valuable. Hell sometimes I have a hard time believing my own reasoning on this issue. But somewhere I have a gut feeling that we could have done better. Even if that meant standing pat. Maybe my strong conviction that we wouldn’t be in this mess had Isiah hit the reset button years ago is still affecting my judgment on this trade. Then again that was the point I was trying to convey in my post – It’s not about this particular deal. With Isiah just about every deal looks good. It’s the totality that seems to suffer. So maybe Isiah’s past should be considered when looking at this deal? I guess in a way that’s where we differ. As an individual trade, this isn’t that bad. But i don’t like the trade in the environment that led up to it.

    Meh. I’m tired. Need to sleep.

  91. Brian M

    “On Zach, the microfracture surgery explains the no jumping which explains the low blocks totals.”

    Not really. In the three seasons before the surgery, his blocks/40min were .4, .5, and .4. Career high in blocks/40 was his rookie season at .7. He’s not a shotblocker post-surgery but he wasn’t one pre-surgery either.

  92. theinfamousjb

    It seems that many who are for the trade, or at least on the fence about it, are seeing a possible future plan to improve the other many deficiencies on the Knicks. Those that are most against the trade seem to believe Thomas is up to his old haphazard, moves-for-the-sake-of-moves, slap it together team formation.

    So if Thomas has a vision, the Knicks might be in luck. If Thomas is without a plan that doesn’t rely on pipedreams (Kobe, Garnett, Lewis, etc.), then it might be more of the same, but slightly better.

    Seventh seed in ’07-’08?

  93. Brian Cronin

    Wow – Kapono to the Raptors. That is a very nice pick-up for them.

    That teams is going to be SCARY good from the perimeter.

  94. virgilx

    Huh, why would the Heat let Kapono go? And why hadn’t a bunch of team be more desperate to land him.

  95. Paolodelac

    Now that the Knicks have Zack. Is this Zack’s team or Eddy’s? I believe Zack to be the better player, since he plays hard is more versatile and is a solid rebounder. Does that mean EC is expendable?

  96. danmajerle19

    Pretty strange to let Kapono go when you got Shaq and D-Wade who are always double teamed…
    Heat must be looking at something…

  97. Caleb

    I’ll dissent on Kapono. He’s a great shooter, but $6 million a year? When Damon Jones was in Miami he looked just as good. Think Cleveland has buyer’s remorse? Those one-dimensional shooters are valuable, but not that hard to find. Chicago used to plug them in one after the other (Craig Hodges, BJ Armstrong, Steve Kerr, who am I forgetting?)

  98. theinfamousjb

    Caleb are you thinking of Paxson on the Bulls…but he wasn’t as one dimensional as the others on the list.

  99. theinfamousjb

    I agree, this deal seems excessive. Who else were they competing with that they had to go that high?

  100. bmj320

    I still believe the Knicks have the resources to get Rashad Lewis. Seattle’s backcourt is in disaray and I think Crawford will be the key. Maybe Crawford , Jeffries and Morris/Nate for Rashad or Crawford and Morris for Szerbiak. We need a consistent outside shooter.Knicks have too many guys with limited skills espicially at the sf position. We desperately need some scoring there.

  101. dave crockett

    KB,

    I feel your comments about Isiah’s deals, where the whole is often less than the sum of its parts. Just because you walk away from a deal with the most talent doesn’t mean you “won.”

    I’d feel exactly like you do about this deal had I not just happened to stumble on this article by Steve Goldman about the Yankees a couple days before the draft. (Disclosure: I’m a lifelong Mets fan and Yankee hater.) http://www.nysun.com/article/57332

    Goldman makes the point that the Yankees need to add another bat (to an already potent offense) to have any shot at the post-season. Certainly the Yankees *need* pitching more, “But improving the pitching staff is a problem akin to trying to get boat traffic under a bridge by lowering the river. Pitching is in very short supply.”

    The Knicks were far weaker at the wing than PF with Lee, Frye, and Jeffries. As much as anything NY needs a Caron Butler-type wing who can defend the perimeter and score. But finding a high caliber wing is like finding a #2 or #3 starting pitcher. You’re always gonna overpay on the FA market (e.g., Vince, Kapono). Growing your own (e.g., Balkman, Chandler) is best but it takes time and tends not to yield star quality results (all things equal) unless you’re at the top of the draft. If you roll the dice on the injured and/or old Q-Rich is about the best you’ll do. (Even then, you might have to go through Penny and Jalen Rose just to get that.) You can try to find something in the recycle bin but that’s not likely to even last a full season (e.g., DeMarr Johnson, Qyntel Woods, Matt Barnes–who I honestly thought would solve our problems but he was horrible for us).

    Suffice it to say Thomas has made a move at the wing nearly every season but has yet to settle the position. (Richardson’s back surgery by definition leaves the position unsettled heading into 07-08.)
    I’ve been all up and down RealGm since the end of the season looking for a wing. I just haven’t found anything that seems reasonable from our end or doable for another teams.

    Sometimes when you can’t find a starter the only option for improving your team is to add another bat.

    BTW, Hollinger mentions the Kapono deal in his Sun column today towards the end. http://www.nysun.com/article/57662

  102. Caleb

    Agree that perimeter defense and shooting were/are the big needs… but you don’t only need to be looking at wing players.

    To throw out a name, what about Jarrett Jack? He’d look great at the point, and Marbury would be fine playing a lot of minutes as a shooting guard. After the draft, Portland has about five point guards, including Rodriguez and Koppenen (?) from the past two 1st rounds. Great prospects. So they might be willing to swap JJ… think an offer of two prospects from among Collins/Chandler/Morris might get it done>

  103. Ted Nelson

    Dave,

    First, to reply to your last comment, maybe I’m wrong but I think wings in basketball would be more like hitters. Quality bigs (especially ones who excel on both sides of the ball), PGs, and pure shooters (especially ones who are not one imensional) seem harder to find. Wings seem to be abundant in the NBA. Maybe not LeBron James caliber ones, but most title contenders have at least a couple of mid first rounders or later and relatively cheap free agents contributing bigtime as wing players (like Josh Howard, Bruce Bowen, Tayshaun Prince, Greg Buckner, Andres Nocioni, Manu, etc.). This year in free agency alone your looking at Grant Hill, Jason Kapono, Vince Carter, Mo Pete, Gerald Wallace, Rashard Lewis, Nocioni, Stackhouse, Walton, Pavlovic, Pietrus, Desmond Mason, Matt Barnes, DeShawn Stevenson, Matt Carroll, James Posey, Ruben Patterson. You have quality wings going in the mid first every year like Richard Jefferson, Julian Wright, Al Thornton, Danny Granger, Gerald Green, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Dorrell Wright.

    As far as the Randolph deal specifically,
    Another negative is that there is no guarantee that this is going to work out offensively.
    If Marbury and Francis had both bought into a well designed offense the Knicks might have been a better, even pretty good, offensive team for making the Francis deal. Unfortunately neither bought into what I’m not sure was a particularly well designed offense. Consequentally the Knicks probably would have been better off keeping Ariza.
    Is Zach going to be Steve; Frye, Ariza? I think it’s at least a possibility because, like Steph and Steve, both Zach and Eddy want to be the offensive focus. Sharing shots might not be a problem in high flying offenses like the Suns’ or Warriors’, but the Knicks’ was 20th in the league in pace and Randolph, the focal point of the snail-Blazers’ attack, is not likely to speed things up much. Frye is unlikley to shine in Portlands’ stacked young frontcourt, but he, like Ariza, could be an efficient rotation player for 20 mpg.

    Another problem is that this furthers the divide between the Knicks? backcourt and frontcourt. With a defensively inadequate, high efficiency, likely high usage, slow paced front court, I’d want a somewhat low usage/high efficiency backcourt that plays strong perimeter D, moves well without the ball, excels at hitting spot up Js, and feeds the post well. In contrast, Steph and Jamal are high usage/low efficiency, offer little perimeter D, only move if they have the ball in their hands, only shoot off the dribble, and don’t feed the post well (Jamal is obviously better at feeding the post).

    If for some reason you felt inclined to build with a high usage/low efficiency backcourt that is defensively inadequate, you might want a low usage frontcourt, run-jump athletes so they can play at a high pace, strong defenders, and good rebounders on both sides of the ball to start the break and clean up the abunance of misses (rebounders the Knicks do have).

  104. Ted Nelson

    Dave,

    First, to reply to your last comment, maybe I’m wrong but I think wings in basketball would be more like hitters. Quality bigs (especially ones who excel on both sides of the ball), PGs, and pure shooters (especially ones who are not one imensional) seem harder to find. Wings seem to be abundant in the NBA. Maybe not LeBron James caliber ones, but most title contenders have at least a couple of mid first rounders or later and relatively cheap free agents contributing bigtime as wing players (like Josh Howard, Bruce Bowen, Tayshaun Prince, Greg Buckner, Andres Nocioni, Manu, etc.). This year in free agency alone your looking at Grant Hill, Jason Kapono, Vince Carter, Mo Pete, Gerald Wallace, Rashard Lewis, Nocioni, Stackhouse, Walton, Pavlovic, Pietrus, Desmond Mason, Matt Barnes, DeShawn Stevenson, Matt Carroll, James Posey, Ruben Patterson. You have quality wings going in the mid first every year like Richard Jefferson, Julian Wright, Al Thornton, Danny Granger, Gerald Green, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Dorrell Wright.

    As far as the Randolph deal specifically,
    Another negative is that there is no guarantee that this is going to work out offensively.
    If Marbury and Francis had both bought into a well designed offense the Knicks might have been a better, even pretty good, offensive team for making the Francis deal. Unfortunately neither bought into what I’m not sure was a particularly well designed offense. Consequentally the Knicks probably would have been better off keeping Ariza.
    Is Zach going to be Steve; Frye, Ariza? I think it’s at least a possibility because, like Steph and Steve, both Zach and Eddy want to be the offensive focus. Sharing shots might not be a problem in high flying offenses like the Suns’ or Warriors’, but the Knicks’ was 20th in the league in pace and Randolph, the focal point of the snail-Blazers’ attack, is not likely to speed things up much. Frye is unlikley to shine in Portlands’ stacked young frontcourt, but he, like Ariza, could be an efficient rotation player for 20 mpg.

    Another problem is that this furthers the divide between the Knicks? backcourt and frontcourt. With a defensively inadequate, high efficiency, likely high usage, slow paced front court, I’d want a somewhat low usage/high efficiency backcourt that plays strong perimeter D, moves well without the ball, excels at hitting spot up Js, and feeds the post well. In contrast, Steph and Jamal are high usage/low efficiency, offer little perimeter D, only move if they have the ball in their hands, only shoot off the dribble, and don’t feed the post well (Jamal is obviously better at feeding the post).

    If for some reason you felt inclined to build with a high usage/low efficiency backcourt that is defensively inadequate, you might want a low usage frontcourt, run-jump athletes so they can play at a high pace, strong defenders, and good rebounders on both sides of the ball to start the break and clean up the abunance of misses (rebounders the Knicks do have).

    This is all even worse because collectively the Knicks have such a low basketball IQ and move the ball so poorly/inconsistently (I’m really hoping Randolph helps with the ball movement, but I think it’s far from certain: a career assist rate of 8 means he’s no Eddy Curry, but he’s not Scottie Pippen either). They have a bunch of high usage guys who don’t, or can’t, share the ball. Maybe Randolph will be satisfied with a lesser role, but the same could have been said about Steve Francis.

  105. Z

    “Chicago used to plug them in one after the other (Craig Hodges, BJ Armstrong, Steve Kerr, who am I forgetting?)”

    You were forgetting the current GM of the Bulls.

  106. transcend

    off topic, but wasn’t LB the main reason we traded for fracis in the first place? that LB hated starbury’s guts, and that he wanted to prove to the world that he could coach the knicks to success with basically any other PG, and when francis was available for close to nothing talentwise (sure, ariza is alot better than nothing, but he was considered superfluous, taking mins from Lee and Frye.. but i digress), LB insisted the knicks get him?
    Sure isiah takes blame here nonetheless (for hiring LB in the first place and listening to a desperate loser at that point), but francis was LB’s dreamchild.
    I can’t believe that POS has a job with the sixers. You gotta feel sorry for their GM and coach. Their president is obviously helping a fellow “friend”. that’s certainly a form of corruption…..

  107. retropkid

    Do you worry that Randolph’s mid-range jumper becomes less efficient with Eddie clogging the post?
    Defenses body up on Randolph on perimeter and stop playing him to go to the hole….

    Will be interesting to see if Randolph’s mid-range FG percentage is higher when Eddie is sitting as the D may have to play off him more.

  108. A-Spen

    I say at let marberry/nate share point. Same with Q/Crawford. In beginning of season look 2 c who produses more and trade Q or Crawford(1 who produces less) put balkman at SF and randolph and Curry in paint. If the 2 bigs dont work out trade whichever gets best offer and produces less on court. Off bench you get D. Lee as 6th man and Morris and chandler (need 2 develop more) 2 spell the big men and Nichols 4 some offense. Look to trade Jared Jeffries and Jerome James befor the season starts. I say play the young guys. the more they play, the better they get. Any comments on my thinking?

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