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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Can Delonte West or Beno Udrih fill the void left by Jason Kidd?

The Knicks’ front office has been active this summer making a number of moves to try and keep the team in some semblance of contention. They’ve thus far traded for Andrea Bargnani, re-signed JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, and Pablo Prigioni, and brought aboard the recently-amnestied — and forever volatile — Metta World Peace.

Yet, glancing at the current depth chart — even with the all the offseason additions — the Knicks clearly have a number of roster issues that need to be addressed.

Mike Woodson might be bringing back a lot familiar faces from last year’s squad, but the absence of Jason Kidd as the team’s steady backup point guard remains arguably the biggest void. Kidd — whose production plummeted in the playoffs, where he tallied a robust 0.9 ppg — retired, landing another NBA gig somewhere else. Can’t remember where. But even given Kidd’s infamous playoff woes, it’s easy to forget how important he was to the Knicks’ early season success, when the team sprinted out of the gate to the tune of a 21-8 tear.

Despite his age, Kidd was a guy the Knicks leaned on pretty heavily during the regular season, where he played major minutes (at least 30 minutes per game in 36 outings, per NBA.com) and contributed both inside and outside the box score.

Kidd’s scoring production (a mere six points per game) is very much replaceable, but perhaps the biggest post-Kidd challenge facing Woodson will be finding a new combo guard(s) to fill the minutes Kidd’s departure leaves open.

Of all the 5-man units Woodson used last season that tallied at least 30 minutes together, the most successful unit consisted of Felton, Kidd, Smith, Melo, and Chandler — a quintet that played a team-high 269.9 minutes, per 82games.com. What separated this unit from the rest was their incredibly efficient  +137 when they were on the court together — an impressive number, to be sure.

So who fills the void? The Knicks are reportedly interested in the services of combo-guards Delonte West and Beno Udrih. Udrih is most definitely the better — and pricier — option to fill the combo-slot alongside with Prigioni, for a couple of reasons.

First, Udrih is a much better passer than West. Over the course of his 9-year NBA career, Udrih went from averaging roughly four assists per 36 minutes to close to seven per 36 last season.

West is the better shooter, but he also shoots more then Udrih. A lot more. Which poses its own potential problem: bringing in a player like West to a backcourt that features JR Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni begs a simple question of available shots. The Knicks have plenty of scoring options already in place, so focusing on adding another combo guard who’s primary instincts are to shoot — and not create for others — is probably not the way to go.

We also have a pretty good idea of what Udrih is going to bring to the table if he’s brought aboard instead of West; the former played major minutes for the Orlando Magic down the stretch last season, while the latter didn’t suit up for a single NBA game.

While Udrih is probably worth more then what the Knicks will be able to pay him (the veteran’s minimum) he is on the north side of 30, where he may be willing to accept a little less to play for a playoff team.

With a recent knee surgery expected to sideline J.R. Smith for the start of the 2013-14 season, the Knicks find themselves in a situation not unlike the beginning of last year, when it was Iman Shumpert whom the Knicks were waiting to return from his own, decidedly more serious injury.

Whether they end up with Udrih, West, or someone else entirely, New York’s newest signee will likely be counted on for some major minutes — and production — to start the season.

38 comments on “Can Delonte West or Beno Udrih fill the void left by Jason Kidd?

  1. johnno

    Interesting stuff (at least I think that it’s interesting) regarding the relative health of last year’s playoff teams — The Western Conference playoff teams were MUCH healthier all season long than the Eastern teams. Of the 8 Western playoff teams, 6 — Warriors, Grizzlies, Nuggets, Clippers, Thunder and Rockets — all had at least 8 guys play in at least 70 games last year. The Lakers had 5 and the Spurs had 4. Five of them — Warriors, Grizzlies, Nuggets, Clippers and Thunder — had at least 3 guys play 80 games and 3 — Grizzlies, Nuggets, Thunder — had FIVE guys play at least 80 games. The Eastern Conference, on the other hand, had only 2 teams — Pacers and Nets — with 8 guys who played at least 70 games. The Heat and Bucks had 7, the Celtics had 6, the Hawks and Bulls had 5 and, not surprisingly, the Knicks were tied with the Spurs with only 4 guys who played at least 70 games — JR, Novak, Prigioni and Kidd. There were very few guys in the entire Eastern Conference who played 80 games. What does all of this mean? I’m not sure, but I am a big believer in the value of continuity and being able to run the same guys out there night after night. It is going to be interesting to see whether some of the healthier teams get bitten by the bug that hit the Knicks last year and, conversely, whether some of the unhealthiest teams have a little better luck this year than last.

  2. KnickfaninNJ

    Lat summer both Copeland and Prigioni were signed in July. It’s already August this year so the likelihood of Grunwald finding an unknown PG from the Euroleague seems to be getting low.

  3. thenamestsam

    Not sure I really agree with the premise here. Yes Kidd left a pretty significant void but the roster composition has changed pretty significantly. With Tyson, Kenyon, Amare and Bargs all presumably in the rotation when healthy the Knicks are going to be playing two more traditional bigs a lot more often when they have their full roster. The ripple effect of that is that with Melo obviously taking a large share of the remaining frontcourt minutes we’re going to be playing a lot less 3 guard lineups. With both Shump and Prigioni taking some more minutes as well I really don’t think it’s true that there’s room for another guy to come in and expect “major minutes” early in the season. The 9 main guys are already firmly in place; your 10th guy is not going to be playing major minutes.

    However, it would be legitimately shocking if this team didn’t suffer a string of injury woes in the frontcourt next year. None of the 4 bigs are good bets to play more than 70 games. The question to me is whether those inevitable injuries will lead to the Knicks reverting to last year’s style more with Melo as the nominal 4. If they do then there’s definitely a significant role for an Udrih or a West here. They probably wouldn’t start the season as anything more than a 5th guard playing a couple minutes a half, but that would grow as the season went along and given Prig’s short track record in the NBA and Woody’s seeming lack of total love for him they might think they could eventually supplant him as the backup 1 even when (if) the team is fully healthy.

    But the team could also steer completely away from last year’s smaller lineups by making the 10th man a big instead of a guard with the intention of moving almost entirely away from Melo at the 4, even when the team starts getting hurt. In that case there’d be only scraps of minutes for Udrih/West unless the team has health issues in the backcourt.

  4. mokers

    I want Udrih because I think some of the worst stretches of basketball where when Ray was injured or when he was ineffective. When his jumper isn’t hitting (and he is not a great shooter), it really allows people to neutralize Chandler out of the PnR. I think Udrih’s midrange game could really help. West is not a bad option and is a better spot-up option, but if Prigs or Felton had to miss any significant stretch of games, would much rather have Udrih.

  5. DRed

    We still don’t have a reliable backup for Tyson. Tyson will wear down if he has to play major minutes all season long. I don’t get it.

  6. DS

    DRed:
    We still don’t have a reliable backup for Tyson.Tyson will wear down if he has to play major minutes all season long.I don’t get it.

    I say start Prigs, Shump, Metta, ‘Melo, and Chandler. THEN run a 2010-11 D’Antoni style group off the bench Felton, JR, Bargnani (playing a poor man’s Gallinari), Kenyon (playing the Turiaf role), and STAT.

  7. DS

    Well, they’re never going to not start Ray, but the point is that STAT could be an effective 5 in some lineups in limited minutes.

  8. mokers

    DRed:
    We still don’t have a reliable backup for Tyson.Tyson will wear down if he has to play major minutes all season long.I don’t get it.

    No doubt, there has to be a plan so Tyson can player fewer minutes this year. Martin also shouldn’t play heavy minutes, so they need somebody who can play defense and rebound. I would say Cole Aldrich.

  9. DS

    Could Aldrich really be had for what the Knicks could offer?? I doubt it, but that would be a great option at backup.

  10. mokers

    DS:
    Well, they’re never going to not start Ray, but the point is that STAT could be an effective 5 in some lineups in limited minutes.

    I think the problem is that they are going to try and really limit STAT’s minutes, especially early on in the season. The issue is not burning out the bigs if Chandler needs time off. Chandler came back from injury too early last year because there was no other big body on the team that could play real minutes. Camby and Sheed mostly injured. KT old and then injured.

  11. mokers

    DS:
    Could Aldrich really be had for what the Knicks could offer?? I doubt it, but that would be a great option at backup.

    It’s august. Most of the rest of the pickups will be vet minimums I would expect.

  12. BigBlueAL

    Just a heads up for those who dont know, the NBA schedule gets released today at 6pm. NBATV will have a 1hr show at that time. The NY media has already reported that the 1st game of the season will be at home vs the Bucks.

  13. GHenman

    DRed: We still don’t have a reliable backup for Tyson. Tyson will wear down if he has to play major minutes all season long. I don’t get it.

    The rotation is pretty much set. Bargnani, Amare, and Martin are Tyson’s backups.

  14. DRed

    Bargnani is awful, Stat isn’t a center and will get hurt, and KMart has the same problem as Tyson. We need a big guy we can count on to rebound and play some D.

  15. Keniman Shumpwalker

    DRed:
    Bargnani is awful, Stat isn’t a center and will get hurt, and KMart has the same problem as Tyson.We need a big guy we can count on to rebound and play some D.

    THIS. I’ve been banging the Aldrich drum for a while and I have a hard time believing that there’s a team out there willing to give him more than the vets minimum at this point in the process. I like what I saw from Tyler in Summer League but not enough to stand pat at what we have supporting Tyson. Also, please no Hamed Haddadi. Seriously, that guy moves like zombie.

  16. johnno

    Keniman Shumpwalker: I’ve been banging the Aldrich drum for a while and I have a hard time believing that there’s a team out there willing to give him more than the vets minimum at this point in the process

    I have no clue whether Aldrich is a serviceable NBA center but, with the paucity of centers out there, don’t you think that someone would give a good young 7 footer more than the vet minimum? The fact that no one has stepped up to offer him more than the minimum is pretty damning.

  17. Keniman Shumpwalker

    johnno: I have no clue whether Aldrich is a serviceable NBA center but, with the paucity of centers out there, don’t you think that someone would give a good young 7 footer more than the vet minimum?The fact that no one has stepped up to offer him more than the minimum is pretty damning.

    Well he’s not a “good young 7 footer” and I’m not imagining him as such. He’s end of the bench filler on most teams. But his per/36 numbers for his career (roughly 9pts 10rebs 2blks) bode well and, given the injury history and defensive/rebounding shortcomings of our bigs, he would probably be more than just filler for us. Guys like him sit on the scrap heap this deep into summer because teams recognize that, however useful they might be in an uber-limited roll, they’re not worth more than the minimum. Waiting until the end of the off-season to sign a guy like Aldrich practically guarantees that he can be had at the minimum. Sometime between now and the start of the training camps we will see a flurry of minimum deals being handed out as teams fill out those last couple of roster slots.

  18. Glew

    I think the FO wants to wait and see on Tyler. Aldrich, Haddadi might get scooped by someone before camp but what other bigs out there will certainly get picked up? I think Earl Barron would be an acceptable player but we probably could wait until camp or during the season to offer him a contract.

    re:pg

    I was watching some clips of Beno from last year on the Magic since I have never really watched him before. He looked pretty nice granted they were highlights and its only one game but he ended up with 27 points and 7 assists against the mighty bulls, and actually in these clips he happens to be torching Nate on multiple plays.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsBjz-axr5Q

    Also checking out his stats he seems to be fairly productive when given minutes, not quite sure the narrative of his season last year but his playing time appears sporadic
    http://espn.go.com/nba/player/gamelog/_/id/2448/beno-udrih

    just for reference if anyone is interested here is feltons stats
    http://espn.go.com/nba/player/gamelog/_/id/2753/raymond-felton

  19. ess-dog

    I think this team is going to be built around Melo as the PF going forward.

    He basically had his best offensive year last year, so I can’t imagine they want to change him back to an SF. That means Tyson will start next to him, leaving Kmart, Amare, and Bargs to back up the bigs.

    I really think the team is betting on the fact that Amare will not play much for us in the future, because of the knee. That is why they went after Bargs hard. A bit of conjecture on my part, but this seems likely.

    So Bargs/Kmart as back up bigs gives us the opposite of Melo/Tyson: each set with an offensive/defensive player. We also have the option of going all offense with Melo/Bargs for short stretches.

    We might add an end of bench guy to this mix (Jorts would be great) but I agree that the rotation is pretty much set.

    I’m more worried about the awful guard play. I would love Prigs to start, but doubt that will happen. Once JR is healthy, a Prigs/JR/World Peace/Melo/Tyson lineup is pretty optimal. Beno is fine as a 3rd pg.

  20. GHenman

    DRed: Bargnani is awful, Stat isn’t a center and will get hurt, and KMart has the same problem as Tyson. We need a big guy we can count on to rebound and play some D.

    Given what we gave up for Bargnani, I would expect him to be in the rotation and play 20-25 minutes a night. STAT has played center most of his career and been good enough to make it to the conference finals. I’m sure he can handle spot minutes as a reserve at this point in his career. The Knicks will sign another big, but I doubt that he will even be on the 12 man roster unless someone gets hurt.

    If we somehow get Beno, I could see him stealng minutes from Felton and Prigioni.

  21. Brian Cronin

    I think this team is going to be built around Melo as the PF going forward.

    I am not disagreeing with you, but at the same time I also think it is too early to know for sure what they plan to do with Melo.

  22. mura2337

    I’d be much happier with Melo at the 4 if Chandler was 5 years younger. Look, we’ve got the bulls and pacers to contend with for the near future. Both of those teams play like we used to play in the 90′s, meaning i can see ( if he re-signs ) Melo getting the doo-doo kicked out of him in the playoffs again, and again, and again. No legit big man coming off the bench ( I like Kmart, but c’mon, we get 1 year? ) to offer him support. Sure, we’re a playoff team, but damnit, after 35 years I wanna see a damn chip!!

  23. dtrickey

    DS:
    FWIW, a Google search reveals Jorts is KILLING IT in China. :)

    http://www.ukathletics.com/blog/2013/07/former-cat-harrellson-named-player-of-the-year-in-china.html
    http://www.coachcal.com/23106/2013/07/harrellson-named-player-of-the-year-in-china-league/

    Get Jorts back now Glen! I was pretty bummed when we traded him, but I do think he could be handy. Obviously there’s potentially better C’s out there at the moment (but probably not that many better). If you haven’t watched the “Legend of Jorts” video on YouTube enshrining him in NCAA folk law then do. By the end of it you will be in no doubt that we need him and his jean shorts on this team.

    I like the idea of Aldrich. Despite never really having a great opportunity with other teams, and from what I understand, being a foul machine, I can see him coming in for a cheeky 15 minutes a game and roughing up a few East bigs and grabbing some boards.

    As far as Melo at the 4, I like the idea on offense but I would prefer seeing someone play the 4 on D, i.e. have MWP play the 3 on offense then play the 4 on D. Only because I don’t want thugs like KG hurting our meal ticket :)

  24. Z-man

    The schedule is out. Our first two games vs. Bulls and both games vs. Houston are on the 2nd night of a back-to-back with travel involved.

  25. ess-dog

    Brian Cronin: I am not disagreeing with you, but at the same time I also think it is too early to know for sure what they plan to do with Melo.

    Just my edumacated opinion.

  26. Z-man

    At first glance, seems like a bunch of tough games on 2nd night of back to backs. The season ends with a flourish, last 7 games feature Miami, Chicago and 2 vs. Brooklyn, plus 2 games vs. Toronto (Bargs goes for 50 in each?)

  27. Mike Kurylo

    DRed:
    We still don’t have a reliable backup for Tyson.Tyson will wear down if he has to play major minutes all season long.I don’t get it.

    We have Barngani. He’s a porven starter and can fill in for Tyson whenever needed.

    Keniman Shumpwalker: But his per/36 numbers for his career (roughly 9pts 10rebs 2blks) bode well and, given the injury history and defensive/rebounding shortcomings of our bigs, he would probably be more than just filler for us.

    Honestly you can’t put much into per-minute stats. He’s only played 700 minutes over his career, and most of that time was probably against mascots and guys shooting at half court to win a car.

  28. Keniman Shumpwalker

    Mike Kurylo: We have Barngani. He’s a porven starter and can fill in for Tyson whenever needed.

    Honestly you can’t put much into per-minute stats. He’s only played 700 minutes over his career, and most of that time was probably against mascots and guys shooting at half court to win a car.

    Yeah but dude…that mascot was, like, 7’6″ and the guy shooting to win a car was the best post defender on his middle-school co-ed intramural team.

  29. Z-man

    Mike Kurylo: We have Barngani. He’s a porven starter and can fill in for Tyson whenever needed.

    Honestly you can’t put much into per-minute stats. He’s only played 700 minutes over his career, and most of that time was probably against mascots and guys shooting at half court to win a car.

    Hey Mike K, ban this guy for trolling! Oh, wait…

  30. flossy

    Z: But his first 1000 minutes were better than Jermaine O’Neal’s!

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=haddaha01&y1=2013&p2=onealje01&y2=1998

    Mike Kurylo: Keniman Shumpwalker: But his per/36 numbers for his career (roughly 9pts 10rebs 2blks) bode well and, given the injury history and defensive/rebounding shortcomings of our bigs, he would probably be more than just filler for us.
    Honestly you can’t put much into per-minute stats. He’s only played 700 minutes over his career, and most of that time was probably against mascots and guys shooting at half court to win a car.

    Love it.

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