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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Getting Ready for the Draft

Given all the craziness surrounding the Knicks these days who the heck can say what Thomas has planned for the draft, if anything? The best bet?not to be mistaken for a good bet, mind you?is that the upcoming draft will constitute only a small part of the roster changes to take place this summer. The Knicks may stand pat with their two late first round picks (#20 and #29; no second round picks) and do some wheeling and dealing after the free agent period opens. Rumors also identify the Knicks as one of several teams looking to wheel and deal on draft night, packaging multiple picks in order to move up. Of course, the actual player personnel moves may prove the least interesting draft night story.

Mr. Orange, of selltheknicks.com, is planning a protest at Madison Square Garden, and is getting pretty good coverage of his efforts. Orange is hoping to embarrass the erstwhile Knick brass on national TV and perhaps motivate David Stern to take a visible mediation role between the feuding front office and estranged coach Larry Brown. Of course, by draft night Larry Brown may have moved from merely estranged to officially unemployed. The Knicks may be introducing Isiah Thomas, or in a rumor that has Gator Nation all abuzz, former Knick guard Billy Donovan as the new coach. [Update: As of 10:15am EDT Thursday ESPN is reporting that Larry Brown has been fired and replaced as head coach by Isiah Thomas.] So pull up a chair. Throw some popcorn in the microwave and check it out on June 28th (Wednesday) at 7pm EDT on ESPN. It should make for good TV. Oh yeah, the Knicks might also draft a couple players.

Assuming that Thomas keeps the picks, who are some of the players he might consider? In fairness the draft has been the one area of Isiah?s tenure that has been a qualified success. He has generally been faithful to a ?best player available? approach. That’s probably the best approach for finding value at 20 and 29. In recent years a number of serviceable players have been drafted there including Jameer Nelson (#20, Denver) and David Harrison (#29, Indiana) in 2004, Dahntay Jones (#20, Memphis) and Josh Howard (#29, Dallas) in 2003, Kareem Rush (#20, LA Lakers) in 2002, Brendon Haywood (#20, Cleveland) in 2001, Craig ?Speedy? Claxton (#20, Philadelphia) and Mark Madsen (#29, LA Lakers) in 2000.

Is another Josh Howard lurking in this year?s draft at the end of the first round? Here?s a position-by-position look at players likely to be available at 20 or 29 (in alphabetical order) with links to player profiles on NBAdraft.net.

Point Guards. The Knicks have a number of players on the roster who all play minutes at point guard (i.e., Marbury, Francis, Crawford, and Robinson). Nonetheless, this is a deep draft for point guards. A number of players may be available who could contribute, particularly if one of the current guards is moved.

  1. Mardy Collins (PG/SG/SF, Temple) ? reminds me a lot of Aaron McKie circa, 2000.
  2. Quincy Douby (PG/SG, Rutgers) ? everything I?ve read makes him sound like current Atlanta sharpshooter Saleem Stoudamire.
  3. Jordan Farmar (PG, UCLA) ? at 20 he?s very nice value; earlier than that he?s a gamble because he?s pretty good at everything not great at anything.
  4. Kyle Lowry (PG, Villanova) ? little guy who lacks Nate Robinson?s absurd athleticism but makes better decisions.
  5. Rajon Rondo (PG, Kentucky) ? likely would fit best on a team that does not need points from that position; plays NBA ready defense right now.

Shooting Guards. The shooting guard position is stocked with the likes of Q-Rich, Crawford, and whichever of the combo guards is not playing the point. The draft at this position is not especially deep, with likely only three SGs in the mix between 18 and 29.

  1. Maurice Ager (SG, Michigan State) ? like most Tom Izzo players, he’s athletic, competitive, and aggressive on defense.
  2. Ronnie Brewer (SG/SF, Arkansas) ? a do-it-all type who struggles with his perimeter shot; likely to be off the board by #20 but could slide depending on trades.
  3. Shannon Brown (SG, Michigan State) ? see Ager; they?re very similar players.

Small Forward. The Knicks situation at small forward is a bit unsettled. Jalen Rose remains the starter but in Isiah Thomas’ world his contract, in its final year, makes him a distinct trade possibility. Q-Rich is a natural small forward who has played out of position in New York at shooting guard. Qyntel Woods played quite well at times this season but has yet to be re-signed. David Lee has bounced back and forth between both forward spots. The draft appears to be a bit top-heavy at small forward; great talent at the top (e.g., Morrison, Carney, Gay, Roy) but drops off quite a bit afterwards.

  1. Hassan Adams (G/F, Arizona) ? Adams is a Ruben Patterson quality defender, but at 6?4? is undersized, and maturity is an issue; likely a 2nd rounder.
  2. Louis Amundson (SF, UNLV) ? a four year player at UNLV. An energy guy, like a shorter David Lee.
  3. Steve Novak (SF, Marquette) ? a Pat Garrity type stand-still shooter.
  4. P.J. Tucker (SF/PF, Texas) ? an undersized ?power? small forward, like George Lynch but with more offense.
  5. Shawne Williams (SF, Memphis) ? a talented but raw freshman from Memphis who is another do-it-all (on offense) type.

Power Forward/Center. The Knicks currently have a lot of bodies at PF and C, including prized youngsters Curry, Frye, Butler, and Lee, though none is much of a rebounder (save Butler and Lee) or shot blocker.

  1. Hilton Armstrong (PF/C, UConn) ? had a good senior year at UConn; could be a Stephen Hunter-like one year wonder.
  2. Josh Boone (PF/C, UConn) ? a shot blocker/rebounder, but lacks explosion and some question his motivation.
  3. Alexander Johnson (PF/C, Florida St.) ? undersized and turnover prone, but precisely the kind of explosive shot-blocker/rebounder Larry Brown drools for. So Thomas probably wants nothing to do with him.
  4. Saer Sene (C, Senegal) ? extremely long-limbed (7?8? wingspan!!), athletic but raw big man from Senegal; probably not an immediate contributor.

82 comments on “Getting Ready for the Draft

  1. Dave F

    I am officially done.

    I have been a Knick fan since my first memories. One of my favorite childhood memories is going to Knick games with my dad.

    I will not watch any more games until Isiah is gone at the minimum. Ideally Dolan will sell the team as well, but I am willing to accept baby steps.

    Dave

  2. Phil

    I sympathize with you Dave. I am in total disbelief of whats happened since our last run to the finals….2 of the worst GM’s in the past 10 years, constant coaching changes, horrible personel decisions, chemistry problems….it sucks being a knicks fan…and the sad part is I don’t see any ray of light for the forseeable future. Swap 1st rounders next year, salary cap hell until ’08-09 and no sign of hope from the front office. It’s been said over and over and over and it seems like the only people who don’t seem to get it is our front office. Theres much to be said about how difficult it can be to rebuild and try and tough out the horrible contracts we’ve attatched ourselves to and its not going to end anytime soon. I can only pray someone comes to there senses…and until then, I’ll continue to tough it out, with hopes that Isiah gets fired and we hire someone competent.

  3. Ted Nelson

    If there’s any chance of getting some value for one of the underachieving Knicks this might be the time, with veteran teams looking for a quick fix in the top 10 (particularly Minni, Houston, and Golden State). This has been labeled a weak draft by some, which could play to the Knicks’ advantage. The top of the draft might be relatively weak but the top 10 or so players seem very close in talent and there is an abundance of defensive talent available.
    If there were a deal available it would probably involve taking back some less than desirable contracts. Obviously team oriented, strong defenders with short contracts and no ego would be preferable although I don’t care if the Knicks have to eat a contract.

    While the odds of getting a great player decrease significantly by picks 20 and 29, the Knicks should be able to add what they really need: defense, teamwork, basketball IQ, work ethic, …

    While Isiah Thomas’ tenure has not been overly successful, I’m glad to see that the buck now stops somewhere and if the incompetence continues the Knicks can move on, again. I’m tempted to say that things can’t get worse than last year, but at this point I wouldn’t be suprised.

  4. dave crockett

    Oh Ted,

    things can always get worse and likely will.

    The immediate future I see for the Knicks under Isiah is probably marginal improvement, perhaps even a run at the 8th seed. Simple regression to the mean, regular improvement from some of the younger players, and a motivated Marbury and/or Francis should probably net the team a few more wins this coming season all things equal.

    Of course that may be the worst case scenario long term. Suppose Thomas is able to turn an expiring deal and a pick into another halfway decent player (e.g., Al Harrington). Somehow Thomas gets the group to play harder for him, yadda, yadda. That might get the Knicks to 30 wins, maybe 35, 40. It’s just enough to convince Dolan that Thomas is “one more move” away from being a contender, which has been the problem all along.

    Right now, the best case scenario for Knick fans is probably another complete collapse this season to make Thomas’ firing inevitable–and that’s not likely to happen. Going from the 20-win area into the upper 30s/low 40s is probably the easiest improvement to make in the NBA. That’s usually a function of talent and/or effort. But even if that doesn’t happen and Thomas is dumped Dolan remains the ultimate problem. Who would come and work for this franchise, for Dolan? Are there even any former NYC schoolboy legends who want to come back to the place of their youth to ressurect the ghost of Red Holtzman and of a once-storied franchise left? Would we even want whoever that is?

    Sigh.

  5. KnickFan

    Trying to stay positive (hard, I know), the times reported today that Thomas was going to try playing Phoenix Suns style. We don’t really have the horses for that, of course, but what we might have the ability to do is play an uptempo version of the Grizzlies a few years ago, when they played a 10-12 man rotation and no one played more than 30 minutes. Also, I’d be curious to see if a press worked with the new 8 second shot clock — with the right guys, it could be effective. In the draft, I’m hoping to see some players who can run and gun.

    If we’re going to be crappy, I’d rather be crappy and play like the Nuggets of the early 80s or Loyola Marymount than the slow, crappy team of last year. At least there would be a) highlight reel events on both ends of the floor; b) a chance to beat even good teams when we are shooting well (which we couldn’t do last year); c) a chance to see a lot of different players, because most guys can’t keep up a high pace and play 40 or more mins.

    The only problem, if you’d call it that, is that speed would take Curry out of his game. But, if Isaiah wants to keep feeding the ball to Curry, we could at least put a team that can run in the 20-30 mins he’s not in the game.

  6. Count Zero

    Dave, unfortunately I think you are 100% correct. 35 wins, praise for the great improvement (which is sheer lunacy!), and another year of Isiah.

    As long as Dolan holds the reins, we are screwed. I am personally hoping he dies an untimely death.

  7. dayne

    Knicks fans relax, the Knicks will make to playoffs next season barring any major injuries to their most talented players. They are still in a weak division and these guys are better than last seasons record. They also will be motivated, at least at the beginning of the season, to show up LB and try to make Isiah look better.

  8. Count Zero

    dayne — So what? I think that’s the point dave and I are making. Yes, Isiah will have a better record next year…maybe he will make the playoffs…as an 8 seed. Which puts us right back where we were two years ago — a mid-tier team with absolutely no hope of ever winning a title. With an aging core of scorers and youngsters who have learned nothing but bad habits.

    Afterward, they will point to this 8 seed as a victory of the IT way, when in reality it means nothing. We will earn that 8 seed by letting Starbury and Stevie Franchise (and whatever other overrated veterans with bad contracts that IT picks up in the off-season) play their typical selfish games, making none of the young players better, and guaranteeing that we have exactly the type of team that is helpless in the playoffs when everybody else Ds up.

    Not to be rude…but really, that comment is about the most pointless thing I have yet seen on this board.

  9. Marc R

    “aging core of scorers”? The only long-term guys who could be described as “aging” are Marbury and Francis, who are both 30. Not exactly aging and I wouldn’t exactly describe two guys as a core.

    Teams have made much bigger jumps from 23 wins than to the eighth seed. I know pessimism is fun, or at least the people on this website seem to enjoy it, but you may be surprised (though you’ll likely claim you knew it all along).

  10. dayne

    Well said Marc R, the Knicks are a relatively young team and I agree with you that they will do better than the 8 seed next season. LB lost the effort and loyalty of the team, although he has accomplished great things during his career as a coach, he has ruffled many feathers along the way, he just ended up on a team where he ruffled almost all the feathers.

  11. Woody

    Let me start by saying I’ve been a knick fan for over 29 years…I love the Knicks…The organization is flawed but there are a couple of positive things…1. Channing Frye with a full training camp and learning the NBA game will be better.2. Eddie Curry many will disagree but I watched every game he had his last year in Chicago and he was a beast and he could run the floor. His problem last year was two-fold, he came to camp out of shape and Larry Brown killed him. If you’ve read anything about him, you can tell that he seems to be a little too sensitive. Nate Robinson’s energy and love for the game are contagious and every Knick game I went to he really brought a intensity to not only his teammates but the crowd as well. My problem with him was he was a little immature at times but he was a rookie. Im not a Marbury fan but he can score and if Isiah can get him to keep his turnovers down, Marbury is a very effective player.. I remember many people talking about Isiah in 86 and 87 that he was too selfish a player and was the reason that Detroit could win a title( You stopped hearing that after they won one).Im not comparing Marbury to Isiah(he couldn’t hold his jockstrap) but the constant brow beating isn’t working so just accept him for what he is…The knicks need to get a Chris Duhon like player to compliment Marbury and Francis and this team’s guard problems will turn into an asset or a more expensive route with Earl Watson…There’s alot of throw away players as far as Im concerned Malik Rose, Maurice Taylor, Jerome James(big mistake)but there’s also some very good players with alot of potential that just need to be used correctly Jamal Crawford, Q-Richardson,Steve Francis(argue all you want). These players are have talent and fact is I could’ve coached this team last year to 23 wins and I wouldn’t have devalued every player in the process. This team should’ve won 40 games last year simple and plain and been in a position to leverage the play of certain players to a)get rid of a bad contract and b)get a good player as well. Isiah is correct for wanting a Phoenix type style of basketball, we have players who can take defenders off the dribble at every position and with these rule changes that completely favor the offense, why not take advantage? I’ve went on long enough…I love the Knicks and will always be a Knick fan and for all the people that think Mike D’Antonio brought this stlye..Look at the 99′ Knicks once Patrick went down small ball at its finest(I know Im biased)

  12. Count Zero

    Here’s my problems with that whole theory…

    Number one, first and foremost, not to defend the fiasco that was LB’s season last year, but he WAS right about one thing — you can’t run off made baskets. In order to run, you have to get stops and grab rebounds. Much as people malign Phoenix’s D, the fact of the matter is that they have Shawn Marion and Raja Bell, both of whom are excellent defenders. They were 16th out of 30 in points allowed which puts them right in the middle of the pack. They were 19th in defensive rebounding rating, and they were 2nd in turnover rating on offense. Let’s compare that to the Knicks — the best defender they have is Quentin, which is pretty pathetic. No other guard on the team can play anything that resembles D. Curry played no D even in Chicago, and he can’t rebound. They have no shot blocker, and their best defensive rebounder is David Lee, who probably won’t be starting. For comparison purposes, they were 26th in points allowed, 30th in turnovers on offense, and 26th in turnovers on D. Let me say it again — YOU CAN’T RUN OFF MADE BASKETS. If you don’t get that, I don’t know what to tell you…

    Secondly, Phoenix has the best PG in the NBA right now. Nash is unselfish, runs screen-roll like nobody’s business, and has outside and inside scorers to give the ball to, especially when Stoudamire is back. We have either Franchise or Starbury — the antithesis of unselfish, and both bad decision-makers. Their best go to guy is likely Curry, and he can’t play screen-roll. Which leaves Jamaal and Jalen as the best option on offense. Stephon’s whole beef with LB came about last year because he couldn’t feed the post (Curry) and had no one to screen-roll with. Curry will always be a failure in NY as long as Stephon is his PG, and as long as he is a failure, we can’t get rid of him.

    And finally…We have no jump shooters. The best jump shooter on the Knicks is Jamaal, but he is not a pure shooter, just a streaky guy who can light it up when he gets hot. Same for Jalen and Nate. In order to open up interior passing lanes, someone has to step up and knock down the three consistently — which is why the loss of AH was so detrimental to this team.

    In summary, this team can quite likely make the playoffs just by turning its aging (yes Marbury and Francis and Rose are aging) scorers loose. (Channing might turn into a scorer, but he’s not one yet. Curry will never be a scorer in NY for the reasons I already explained.) And the Knicks will be out in five or less in the first round. And then it will be 2007, the aging will be more aged, we will still have no D and no cap space, and we will be no better off than we were two years ago — in fact we will be much worse off because Isiah has already proven he can’t coach. Personally, I would rather tank completely for two more years and actually have a shot at building a winner as Cleveland does now. In fact, I would take Toronto’s, Orlando’s, or Charlotte’s situation over the Knicks in a NY minute, and I think most knowledgeable basketball people would agree.

  13. Bennyb

    Marc R is just an Isiah shill. Whether or not the Knicks core is aging (and of course small guards age quicker than forwards or centers), the simple fact is that the Knicks may have the talent to make the playoffs, but are miles from making the eastern conference finals, let alone winning a championship. Isiah’s actions have made any hope of real success even more remote: huge payroll, marginal talent and no defense means that progress will be hard to find. I predict two years competing for the 8 seed, a new Isiaqh contract and years of mediocrity. ie, the worst case scenario.

  14. Ben

    What I think alot of you are forgetting is aside from Marbury and Francis(who I doubt we still have at the start of the season) we have an extremely young core. If we can make the Playoffs with Frye and Curry starting and Lee, Butler and Robinson all playing major roles I think next season will be a sucess even if we are swept out of the playoffs. It will be valuable practice for our young players. Frye showed last year he is a very good offensive player who I believe based on his work ethic and his time at Arizona will develop into a very solid defender. Curry has the potential to be a beast on offense and was a more than adaquate rebounder 9.3 per 40 min last season(we were the 4th best off. rebounding and 13th best def. rebounding team). Though I do agree we should try to replace Marbury with a PG who is better at feeding the post. We are not in terrible shape and Isiah while not a great coach showed in Indiana he is more than capable of leading a team. I truly believe we will be fine.

  15. Hawthorne Wingo

    Please stop all of the bellyaching. For all of the supposed lifelong Knicks fans who won’t watch the team until Isiah is gone…guess what? You better start liking hockey.

    Lets look forward shall we?

    Wednesday night, package Francis, Q, Rose, Steph & the picks to move up.
    And I don’t care who goes so long as they get rid of Q! PLEASE!

    If that can’t be done then the Knicks will be looking at a group of Shawne Williams, Josh Boone, Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, M Collins, Q Douby, M Gansey, K Pittsnogle.

  16. LONG-Suffering Knicks Fan

    I’m with Dave F. – I’m fed up.

    As long as “Dumb-A**” Dolan owns this team, “I’m-Clueless” Isiah is the GM and coach, and “Stare-At-Me Starbury” is playing for these two chumps, I’ll be watching college basketball.

  17. Marc R

    “Marc R is just an Isiah shill. Whether or not the Knicks core is aging (and of course small guards age quicker than forwards or centers), the simple fact is that the Knicks may have the talent to make the playoffs, but are miles from making the eastern conference finals, let alone winning a championship. Isiah?s actions have made any hope of real success even more remote: huge payroll, marginal talent and no defense means that progress will be hard to find. I predict two years competing for the 8 seed, a new Isiaqh contract and years of mediocrity. ie, the worst case scenario.”

    Hmmmmm. Judging by this comment, I would speculate that Bennyb probably doesn’t get to see the Knicks on a regular basis and gets his information from the media rather than his own perceptions. I’m definitely not an Isiah shill, but I will say this. First, Scott Layden was much much much worse. Second, Isiah has been unfairly maligned, both with the Knicks and based on the historical record. I don’t understand why his record at Toronto gets trashed so regularly. The guy drafted Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby, and Tracy McGrady. As for the CBA, it was a minor minor league. Big freaking deal (though I think it was going to tank anyway). Isiah gets ten times more grief about it than, for example, the NHL’s management who have essentially relegated that league to a joke. And, as for coaching the Pacers, it seems that people just assume he did a bad job without looking at the facts. I refer you to Dave D’Allesandro’s article here: http://www.nj.com/columns/ledger/dalessandro/index.ssf?/base/columns-0/115104102741600.xml&coll=1 . Basically, Isiah appears to have done a good job coaching considering the roster upheaval, injuries, etc. he was dealt with. He appears to have done a better job than Rick Carlisle did this year under similar circumstances. Since I’d rather be optimistic, until proven wrong, than merely repeat the conventional wisdom, I hope for the best next year as well.

    As for the core point, and probably the best thing that can be said about Isiah, he indisputably has made the team younger and more athletic very quickly. (By the way, it’s simply false that small players age quicker than big players. The pounding those big guys take leads to some very short careers.) With the new rules restricting defense, the Knicks may be able to take advantage of their athleticism and have some success.

    As for the payroll, I’m not sure how relevant that is. Since MSG appears to be willing to pay the big payroll, the only restriction that having a huge payroll creates is whether you have bad players whose contracts make them untradeable. Contrary to what Vecsey says today, the Knicks definitely have untradeable contracts (I’m thinking: Jerome James, Steve Francis, Malik Rose, and Marbury; others may claim Curry, Crawford, and Richardson but I think those could be moved if need be). The issue is whether you want to dump players with the untradeable contracts. That’s why the Francis trade was so bad, since it was a certainty the Knicks would want to dump him and they can’t do it. Isiah appears to have generally picked the right players to get with untradeable contracts, with some very notable exceptions (Francis, James). I know being over the cap means you can’t bid for the top free agents but, it’s been said before and I’m not going to repeat it here, very very very few teams become championship contenders through acquiring a top free agent (only LA with Shaq and Phx with Nash).

    Finally, a brief defense of Marbury. He sets himself up for plenty of attacks through some idiotic public pronouncements like declaring himself the best point guard in the league (since I’m sure that fans prefer players to be plagued by self-doubt) and referring to himself using the geeky “Starbury” moniker (no defending that one). Nonetheless, during the Knicks’ lone bright spot of the season (the six-game winning streak to begin 2006), it was Marbury that led the charge with some stellar play until he got hurt. (That, plus Brown playing his good players rather than his veterans, and sticking to a set rotation. I guess that worked too well so Brown scrapped it.) Hopefully Marbury will be healthy this year and he will once again prove that the team can thrive with him playing the point.

  18. Count Zero

    Marc — I’m not in total disagreement with your points, but I also think you’re stretching the facts optimistically.

    1) Nobody ever claimed Isiah can’t spot draft day talent — in fact it’s the one thing he’s very good at. What we claimed is that he doesn’t understand the cap, misused his mid-level exception, trades expiring contracts (a valuable NBA commodity) for garbage (cf. Penny, et. al. from 2005) and picks up bad contracts on a monthly basis (cf. Marbury, Francis, Rose, Richardson, etc., etc.) No, he’s not way better than Layden — he is every bit as bad if not worse.

    2) I’m unconvinced by D’Allesandro’s puff piece. At best, Isiah did a mediocre job with the Pacers because he can talk to kids from challenging backgrounds. That skill might help him, but he’s a terrible Xs and Os guy.

    3) While I agree with you about the salary cap and free agents, and I don’t really care how Dolan decides to waste his money, this ignores the fact that we keep ending up with bad, untradeable contracts. You yourself pointed out four of them, and I would argue that Curry and Richardson are definitely untradeable as well. Crawford is the only one who can be moved, and given that he was the best player on the team this spring, do we want to move him? Now that would be OK if we were willing to just release guys and move on (cf. Taylor, Malik, James) with guys who deserve a chance. But we keep them on the roster, they teach the youngsters bad habits, and they take away PT.

    4) I wouldn’t disagree about Marbury’s skill. Problem is that he is absolutely the wrong PG for this team. He can’t feed the post, which is Curry’s strength on offense. His jump shot was terrible last year, so he gives us no outside threat (which we desperately need). He plays no defense against other PGs, which is why they drive the lane at will and since we have no shot blocker, score at will.

    If it really were possible to trade Francis, James, Q, and Jalen (which seems highly unlikely) to move up in the draft I wouldn’t be so pessimistic. But the reality is that a more likely scenario would be trading both picks for around a 10. Isiah will likely make good use of it, and get a quality role player. Doe you really think Frye, Lee, Nate, Butler and whoever else are going to get great development with Marbury, Francis and Jalen hogging the ball? And what about the slug James? Curry won’t get the ball in the post, and I think you are overrating Frye based on the simple fact that everyone else was so bad, Channing looked like the ROY playing next to them. The rebounding stats are, IMHO, misleading because a) we missed so many shots and b) we outrebounded the hell out of teams in garbage time when they weren’t really trying.

    Really, Marc — it is pretty bad. I’ll give you the Knicks and I’ll take the Raptors and we’ll see who gets to the second round of the playoffs first.

  19. John

    Sadly for the Knicks (and probably thankfully for him) Jackie Butler will be a free agent this summer. He did a better job playing the center position than Jerome James and his bloated contract did, and he is considerably younger (21 yrs. old) than James (31 yrs old). Whoever scoops Butler up will have a solid roleplayer on their team for a bargain price, while the Knicks will be left with an aging James through 2009.

    The scenario laid out by Crockett and Zero, where IT marginally improves the team’s record and gets undue praise is probably the most depressing (and realistic) thing that I can think of coming out of this situation. The only thing left to do is root for the Knicks to lose and lose badly this coming year so that they will at least get rid of Thomas.

  20. Stuart

    One thing I haven’t seen anyone mention in light of the Dolan “ultimatum” to Isiah. since Isiah has only been instructed to improve the team next year, what is to stop him from trading his most valuable commodity, Frye, in order to do so. Trading Frye could bring them some short term gain, perhaps enough to make the playoffs while further cementing the Knicks as non-title contenders until 2015.

  21. Woody

    To Count Zero..that statement that “YOU CANT RUN AFTER MADE BASKETS” Is completely false…Phoenix does it all day and so do so many other teams in which the HEAD COACH isn’t a control freak and trusts that the system he put in is right and that he trusts his players to play the game(mistakes or not). I think Larry Brown is a good coach but I will tell you, Detroit didn’t win because of Larry Brown, remember that team had a worse record with LB than Carlisle until the trade deadline when Dumars stole Rasheed Wallace from Atlanta for nothing..In a fast pace style the coach can’t call every play there’s still a number of coaches who do that and will never win a championship doing so(Jeff Van Gundy,Stan Van Gundy-the reason he was replaced-,Jerry Sloan just to name a few. Greg Poppovich use to be like that but adapted his coaching which is why he is and will continue to be one of the best coaches in the game. This team isnt the best team in the league whatsoever but like I said in my last comment the Knicks need to get a true point guard, the Bulls for some idiotic reason seem willing to give up Chris Duhon the Knicks should scoop him up ASAP!! He’s a traditional point guard..Here’s another name that deserves a shot Jay Willams out of Duke not the one up for Manslaughter…There’s players out there that can play….The Knicks to make these type of moves instead of trying to wow us with names…I want a TEAM forget names…Since the Knicks are already over the Cap lets just buy out or do whatever we can to get rid of these bad contracts…Focus on the younger players and maybe what we will find that a) Isiah can actually coach b)The Knicks aren’t as far away as people think c)the knicks should hire a capologist to focus on the cap only d)and a GM(lol)…One last note which I find absolutely insane…Do you know that only two teams in the league have a player developement coaching staff..What I mean is Coaches that actually work with the players in the off-season on the things that the players should be working on…for ex..Nate(outside shot)Curry(weight and 10ft jumpsot) Frye(ball handling-post moves–footwork)…I couldn’t believe this I was talking to Leon Rose a sports agent and we were talking about how NBA teams aren’t set up to manage their most important asset…THE PLAYERS…Develop our players ISIAH and keep you’ll keep your job!!!!!!!!

  22. Marc R

    Count-

    I appreciate your reasoned response, but I continue to disagree with you.

    (1) I agree that it was a misuse of the MLE to sign Jerome James, but I don’t think it’s the fact that the 12th (or 15th) man is getting paid $5MM a year that is keeping the team down. However, I don’t think Isiah has traded expiring contracts for “garbage”. He has traded them for Stephon Marbury, Jalen Rose’s expiring contract and a no. 1 pick, and Steve Francis (OK, that one was garbage). When you suggest that Isiah targeted Penny in 2005, and not Marbury, I think you may be “stretching the facts.” As for the bad contracts, I don’t agree with you there either. Like I’ve said, Marbury’s contract isn’t a problem because the Knicks should keep him, but I agree Francis is a problem because it makes him untradeable. As for Rose (Malik, I assume), that contract is also pretty crappy, I’ll admit, but I’m glad we at least got two picks in addition (one of which is David Lee) to his bad contract. Richardson’s contract isn’t great, but at least Isiah dumped Kurt Thomas’ bad contract, which will pay him into his late thirties, for a player in his prime.

    As for comparisons to Layden, I just can’t see it. He’s the guy that ridiculously overpaid for Glen Rice, Luc Longley, Shannon Anderson, Howard Eisley and, I hate to say it because I’m glad the Knicks kept him, he paid Allan Houston much much much more than any other team could have paid him at the time. Not to mention the Jerome-James-sized contract he gave Clarence Weatherspoon. Jeez. It’s no surprise that these Layden acquisitions aren’t doing anything since they left the Knicks.

    (2) It’s pretty silly to call D’Allesandro’s article a “puff piece.” The guy savages Isiah as a GM. He pointed to the facts of what happened and, frankly, I didn’t watch those Indiana teams so I can’t say one way or the other if he’s right. As for being “a terrible Xs and Os guy,” Donnie Walsh and Reggie Miller both say he was excellent in that regard. See (cf.???) http://www.nypost.com/sports/knicks/pace_maker_knicks_fred_kerber_and_marc_berman.htm

    (3) Again, untradeable contracts are only a problem if you want to trade the player. Why do you want to trade Curry? Other than that, we’re talking about Jerome James, Malik Rose and Steve Francis (and maybe Q). A lot of teams have a few untradeable contracts, though admittedly the ones the Knicks have are much much much greater in magnitude.

    (4) Marbury actually played very good defense at the beginning of the season last season (probably before he realized what a jerk Brown was) and, frankly, Isiah has the best chance of getting him to play strong defense of anybody at this point. I agree he does a poor job of feeding the post, but that seems to be a skill that somebody could pick up. (It’s not like anybody can say who the best post-feeding point guards have been in NBA history or anything.) His perimeter game really isn’t that bad and I don’t think that perimeter offense is a problem with him, Q, and Nate Robinson.

    As for your claim that the Knicks’ young players won’t develop with Marbury (you may be right about Francis and Jalen won’t be on the team much longer), it’s disproven by the facts. All of those guys (Frye, Lee and Robinson) played very very well with Marbury.

    You’re off on the rebounding as well. The Knicks held a rebounding edge from start to finish in most games, not just in garbage time, and both teams are allowed to rebound when the Knicks miss shots so I’m not sure how that advantages the Knicks. Plus, the Knicks did well in rebound RATE, not just in total number of rebounds.

    Finally, your statement that Frye only looked good because everyone else was so bad must be a joke, right? Statistically speaking, Frye’s PER was excellent. If anything, Frye played even better than he looked.

  23. KnickerBlogger

    You can take apart each move Isiah did & put a positive spin on it, but there is no hiding this team’s futility under Thomas’ leadership. Look at the record. Look at the salary cap situation. Look at the talent. Look at the traded future draft picks (we still owe 3 first rounders!) We’ve discussed this ad nauseum on this blog (in comments & articles).

  24. Marc R

    “Look at the traded future draft picks (we still owe 3 first rounders!) We?ve discussed this ad nauseum on this blog (in comments & articles).”

    Is ad nauseum enough? As far as I can tell, we only owe one future first-round draft pick (to Utah via Phoenix) and it’s protected pretty well until 2010. See http://www.realgm.com/src_future_draftpicks.php. Of course, we may need to swap picks next year with Chicago. Though this may not be such a big deal since the Bulls were 41-41 and the 7th seed this year and the Knicks could likely be close to that next year.

    No question this team has been horrible under Isiah’s leadership, but all I can say is look at the hand he was dealt and look at the viciously bad job that Brown did last year. Dolan, for once, is right. This year is the real proof of the Knicks’ situation since Brown won’t be torpedoing the team. I will willingly throw Isiah under the bus if the Knicks continue to underperform this year.

  25. Dave M

    When we talk about the Knicks moving up to get a playoff spot who is going to move down?? Wizards, Bulls, and Bucks have a solid young core and will be tougher after playing together for a year. Do you really think the Pacers are going to dismantle? I assume the Pistons, Cavs, Nets, and Heat are a lock! The leaves us in the low 30 win area at the best!

  26. Ted Nelson

    Last season’s 5 seed in the East (Washington) were a 42 win team. This is not a race where you have to pass someone up, everyone is starting at zero wins.
    I’m not expressing an opinion either way about whether or not the Knicks will win 42 games next season. However, I certainly think they are capable of it. Obviously it was an aberration, but last year’s 6 game win streak showed me that there is some hope if these guys are focused.

    As far as personnel, I think the Knicks have to start by establishing a style of play that they will aspire to for the forseeable future and begin accumulating players who fit that style. While the Suns system is too extreme, IMO, starting with the Knicks current roster, the manner in which the team was built could be useful to the Knicks in that they target players with skill sets which fit their style of basketball. I would like to see the Knicks use a more tame (than Phoenix) motion offense and a hardnose defense based on length and quickness as well as strength. Kyle Lowry, IMO, might be a good start if the Knicks can move one of their guards.
    Hopefully at tonights draft we’ll start to get an idea of whether Isiah Thomas can make some much needed adjustments and make amends for his futility to date. The one thing I’ve learned about Isiah Thomas thus far is that he’s persistent and when he sets a goal he reaches it. He came in a said all he needed was one of the league’s top PGs and listed about 5 or so guys, he got two of the names on his list: Steph and Jamal (Francis might even make three). Now, the list was extremely flawed, but he accomplished his goal. When he needed a big man last offseason he went out and got a bunch of them, with mixed success. My point is that if Isiah has the right goals in mind (team play/attitude, defense, etc.) he might put a playoff team out there, if not he might put together a $500 million lottery team.

  27. Graham A

    Sorry to bring up something old, but . . .

    “[...] and was a more than adaquate rebounder 9.3 per 40 min [...]”

    That statement is indefensible. Roughly 36 guys had a better rebound rate last season. How can you call that “more than adequate”? I’d struggle even to call that adequate. However, it’s still a good point that the Knicks were actually a good rebounding team last year. Let’s not give Curry the credit for that just yet.

  28. AlbanyKnickFan

    You couldn’t trade Jerome James and his contract for a syringe filled with HIV-infected blood right now. Anyone considering that he might get moved is crazy.

  29. AlbanyKnickFan

    That first pick left me speechless. If something astronomical doesn’t happen in the next hour, I am going to be really depressed.

  30. Andy

    After watching Marcus Williams slip past the Pacers I had no doubt in my mind that we would finally have the true point guard we’ve needed for so long…

    Thanks for nothing Zeke…

  31. Cips

    The only thing that made the non-Marcus Williams pick worse was the picture of Balkman they showed soo after. Not only did he look completely stoned when the picture was taken, but according to NBADraft.net, he will never cut his hair again. Ever.

    I am steaming right now. Steaming. I haven’t talked in 20 minutes. I’m stunned. He was a top 7, top 8 guy, and he fell to 20. I am steaming.

    It’s like Zeke is sabatoging the team before his magical last run at futility.

  32. FormerKnickFanAsOfTonight

    I’m done…how could the knicks pass on Marcus Williams like that! He has ‘Mark Jackson’ ‘Build a team around’ all over him. Did Isiah get confused and think we were picking in the second round? What the hell?

  33. FormerKnickFanAsOfTonight

    I agree, Zeke is definitely trying to get back at Dolan for giving him a year to fix the team. Its SOOO screwed up that, sabotoge is the only thing that makes sense!!!! Let’s see what else he does, knicks on the clock…

  34. Bennyb

    Let’s hear Marc R explain this draft away. Sure, Isiah has drafted well previously. Of course, “well” is a relative term. Frye was good, and may prove to be excellent. Lee and Nate were fine, but I would be absolutely shocked if either is ever an all-star. As for Balkman, I live in Tennessee and saw Tennessee play South Carolina three times last year, including once in person. I know that Balkman reportedly played well in the Orlando pre-draft camp (where no player other than Farmar attended and was drafted in the first round), but he was completely invisible for a pretty poor USC team. Maybe at some point in his NBA career he can match his 10 point average at USC. I know absolutely nothing about Mardy, but I’m pretty excited to pick up our sixth combo guard. Ugh.

  35. Marc R

    Hey Bennyb, I know nothing about Balkman but I remember you SEC types had nothing good to say about David Lee last year either and he turned into an excellent pick at 30. It was not a coincidence that the lone bright spot of Lame Larry’s reign last year was when he was starting in January. (By the way, if you’re judging picks in the 20s by whether or not they turn into all-stars, well you’re a very tough grader.) Also, it’s pretty weak to complain that the Knicks drafted a guy with a low scoring average when they certainly don’t seem to need any more scorers. I can’t say I’m depressed to get a high energy guy with a bizarre haircut issue. As for Mardy, he appears to be a true point guard whose primary skill is intelligence and feeding the post. Is that something the Knicks need?

  36. Marc R

    Hmmmmmmmm. Upon further reflection, the last high energy guy with a bizarre haircut issue that the Knicks had was Kenny Walker. Uh oh.

  37. Count Zero

    Marc -

    You don’t want to get rid of Curry? Why? You think he’s a viable starter where? At C or PF? If it’s at PF, then you just made Frye a second-stringer, so I guess Frye isn’t that good after all since you have him playing behind a second-rate PF who can’t rebound and never played defense in his life. If it’s at C, then you’re smoking crack.

    We could argue about this for months…I’ll point you to this piece which I think is a bit more accurate on Isiah.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=wojnarowski_adrian&id=2501812

    Here’s a couple of tastes to lure you…

    “If Thomas were on the market tomorrow, there wouldn’t be a franchise in the sport that would hire him. No one would hire him as an executive. No one would hire him as a coach. Somehow, this truth gets him bigger responsibilities with the Knicks.”

    “Thomas’ defenders come up with just this: His bad contracts aren’t as bad as Scott Layden’s. Somehow, this is sold as the standard for the Knicks. Layden was worse. When the Knicks have the resources, the prestige, to have one of the best basketball minds in the world, Thomas has reduced it to this debate:

    Better than Layden?

    The Knicks need to be competing with Rod Thorn in New Jersey, and Jerry West in Memphis, and Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford in San Antonio. They won’t pull themselves out of this state of disrepair with that kind of self-defeating, delusional comparison to the Layden era. They’re giving Thomas another year to make trades, absorb contracts and lay waste to draft picks. He has crippled this franchise for the short and long run. ”

    Like I said before — you take the Knicks, and I’ll take the Raptors and we’ll see who gets to the second round first. In fact, I’ll take Charlotte if you prefer. Easy money for me either way. This team is undoubtedly in the worst situation in all the NBA.

  38. nycKnicksLifer

    okay. so we didn’t get the next Lebron James, nobody did. What we got we defensive guys. Maybe these guys can keep the practices more intense, or spot minutes on the floor in a real game, but they are defensive guys in a very strange draft. Balkman is from Staten Island, maybe thats another reason Isiah picked this kid. This kid wasn’t just the MVP of the NIT, HE WAS THE NIT. Now he’s not offensive, in fact, he’s a bum, but he’s a hustler, and besides the new kids on the knicks, NONE OF OUR PLAYERS DIVE FOR LOOSE BALLS, watch the games, Not Starbury, not Franchise, Not Curry, none of ‘em DIVE to the ground, I guess trying to prevent injury, I don’t know. Balkman is a baseline to baseline hustler. I would’ve loved another flashy name, but we have those already.
    Collins is big guard, big handle, and big time passer. I don’t have a problem with the pick at all. I watched Collins have a nice game against Duke, my fav team. Collins is thick, and can guard 1s,2s and 3s. Not a big name, but what are you gonna get at 29?
    So we have to new hustlers, add that to all the me-first-shoot-first players, and the team might look complete.
    I know how much the knicks suck right now, the whole mood of the organization has a JetsFan(Marino fake spike) feel or ‘old’ Mets feel, remember the New Orleans ‘Aints? thats how it feels being a knicks fan right now, But team wasn’t COACHED last year, let me be clear. LB is a teacher and not a coach, his ‘track record’ that everyone talks about is not as good as people make it sounds, His philly team that went to the finals, wasn’t all his doing, and he taught the Pistons more than he coached them, they’re system and style were not changed in his tenure.
    I believe MarBury, Franchise and Q should have been running WILD, Crawford and Nate should’ve been running with each other from DAY ONE, and CHANNING FRYE SHOULD’VE STARTED FROM DAY ONE, CURRY AND JROSE Have a history of Playing TOGETHER in CHI, and we should play ZONE when we bring JJames in the GAME. Did Larry Brown ever do ANY of these things? NO.

    WINS: 104 ppg 41% 3fg 44 rebs/gm
    LOSS: 92 ppg 21% 3fg 41 rebs/gm

    WE ARE A RUNNING TEAM. WE JUST ARE.

    So all that defense first garbage, that sounds good, until you looklike, the Cavs in the playoffs, when only Lebron could make a difference on offense, MEANS NOTHING. We have a lot of shooters and scorers, lets put the pressure on the other team to guard us.

    IF WE RUN. WE WIN.

  39. Marc R

    Count-

    I take back what I said about your reasoned analysis. You really don’t think that Curry is a viable starter at center? He had a 17.06 PER last year and it was even that low because Larry Brown yo-yoed him around. That PER is well-above average for a center (almost all of the centers with better PERs are all-star caliber, such as Gasol and the O’Neals) and is likely to go up. The guy is an offensive force and, now that he’s allowed to work out in the summer, there’s a good chance his conditioning will improve and improve his defense. No, I’m not smoking crack but I admire the force of your argument.

    As for Isiah, I fully recognize that the conventional wisdom is that he’s an idiot who destroys everything he touches. I read all of those articles too. What I never see in them are persuasive specific examples of this. I also admit that Isiah isn’t exactly a GM in the class of Jerry West, the guys in San Antonio, Dumars or Grunfeld. That doesn’t mean that the criticism of him is not wildly overstated.

    The only point about “better than Layden” is it’s only fair to Isiah to remember the hand he was dealt by Layden and, manohman, was it crappy. Considering the apparently untradeable players, salary cap problems (a good percentage of the current cap is still owing to Layden’s misdeeds), and the Knicks’ aged roster, Isiah certainly has done well.

    All that said, the record speaks for itself and it’s been crappy. This year we’ll see how much of it really was Larry Brown’s fault.

    By the way, I wouldn’t go buying Toronto or Charlotte playoff tickets on eBay just yet.

  40. John

    The Knicks needed a scrappy wing defender more than anything, considering J. Rose doesn’t play D and he will most likely be gone come February (along with Mo’ Taylor). In that sense, the Balkman pickup seems OK to me.

  41. Bulls Fan

    There was, I thought, a good comment in ESPN’s analysis of Knicks last night. One of the commentators said that the Knick’s roster tonight will not be the same roster as opening night. They are going to change out a couple of salaries (Francis to Minnesota) and egos with role players. It’s not going to look as terrible in terms of ego and selfishness as it does tonight. THey’ll run a la Phoenix, and be better (31 wins). Curry played better in an uptempo game in Chicago — did not have to defend the post.

    However, the Knicks won’t improve enough to stop Bulls fans from drooling over switching picks next year. Could be #1.

  42. Count Zero

    Marc -

    I don’t deny Curry’s offensive talent — I do deny that he has EVER played defense. Anywhere. This was not a sympton of LB’s coaching, or his conditioning last year — it’s his career MO. Be wary how you use the PERs of players who get limited minutes…

    Here’s my fundamental problem which you are totally ignoring — Isiah has shown a pattern of going after players with no real strategy for building a team. You have a center who is a low post scoring machine, but you don’t have a PG who can feed the post. Say you start him anyway and hope Marbury can learn something he refused to learn even before last season. Now you must start Frye at PF. Frye looks good as a shooter, but he’s too small (weight) to defend a low post player. So basically you now have two good players, but they shouldn’t really play alongside each other because they both have the same glaring weakness — they can’t defend a big man in the post.

    You could cover that up if you had a SF like Sweets. However, the two options we have at SF are Lee (the better choice) and Richardson. So…no help there. If you’re following along with me, we now have a starting lineup of three guys who can’t stop a big man in the post even if all three of them triple team him. LOL

    You’re convinced Starbury can play D? On what basis? Because every time I saw him for the last two years, a PG was blowing right by him. Forget about the Iversons of the league — nobody guards Iverson. I’m talking about the Tony Parkers, the Sebastian Telfairs, the Chris Pauls…Marbury can’t guard a PG in the league one on one. So they blow by him and get in the lane…where they face…no shot blocker — because as we’ve already determined, there isn’t a real defender in the paint anywhere.

    This goes on and on throughout the roster. Individually, many of these players are pretty good, but collectively, their skills are a total mismatch. If you play Lee at SF, he can’t stay with a speedier man, and he has no help in the paint. If you play him at PF, you lose either Frye or Curry.

    So what does he draft last night? More of the same. Hey — I give Isiah his due on talent spotting — maybe Balkman is a diamond in the rough. But the key to building a team is putting pieces together in such a way that they complement each other’s strengths and cover each other’s weaknesses. If you look at our roster, you will see that we have done the exact opposite — because no one has bothered to look at the big picture when making personnel decisions.

    And I didn’t say Charlotte would be in the playoffs this year — I said they would beat the Knicks to the SECOND ROUND of the playoffs. Primarily because the Knicks will not see the second round for at least four or five years IMHO, and Charlotte at least has a shot at it with the young talent they are stockpiling. I stand by my bet — I would rather build around Okafor or Bosh than around ANY player on the Knicks’ roster.

  43. Ted Nelson

    I think Marc and Count both raise good points. The beauty of the situation is that Isiah no longer has any excuses, so it?s put up or shut up time. One point is that I don?t know if Curry?s problem is man D so much as help/team D. And your defensive SF might be Balkman.

    I was at first in a state of shock when I saw the Knicks pass on not only Marcus Williams, but also Kyle Lowry. This is b/c I feel that the Knicks need a “pass first”/”pure” PG to set up their other weapons and run the offense as much as they need just about anything offensively. However, as coach and GM if Isiah Thomas is confident his offense doesn’t require such a player, so be it. Especially because the Knicks absolutely need some strong individal defenders if they ever hope to play good team D.

    The major criticism of Isiah’s draft (not that Jay Bilas and Stephen A. Smith are credible but I’m hearing the same everywhere) is that he took Balkman too early. That Balkman was a second rounder. If Balkman can be a shutdown defender at this level, who cares? Especially if he would have, in fact, been gone by 29. Bilas said that although Balkman is, vaguely, reminiscent of Rodman, Rodman was a second rounder. In hindsight shouldn?t Rodman have been a lotto pick? My point is that while getting “value” from your picks is important (don’t take a guy if you can trade down, get him, and pick up another asset or if there is a better player available), the most important value that those picks bring your team is how they perform on the court.

    I can see the next pick in both a positive and negative light. Mardy Collins is basically, as David Crockett has said, exactly the kind of player the Knicks need: a strong defender and a player with strong offensive skills that do not include scoring.
    On the other hand, if Isiah was going to draft a PG anyway why did he pass on two, IMO, better prospects? And if the Knicks are going to start running an uptempo offense (maybe they’re not) why did they pull a Shelden Williams and draft a half-court, slow-paced guy?

  44. John

    Zero-
    I totally agree with the point about starting Frye/Curry together. Trading Curry for a less talented center who can defend the post and rebound would do wonders for the Knicks’ defense. If nothing else, it would make up somewhat for the defensive inadequacies of the backcourt, and stop guys like Jose Calderon from torching the Knicks night in and night out. It makes more sense to make M. Rose, Mo’Taylor, and Curry the most expensive bench in the league and play Lee at PF and Frye at center next to an athletic, defensive-minded SF. Otherwise, if Curry starts, he has to play next to a solid post defender like Chandler or Ben Wallace to compensate for his lack of rebounding and shot-blocking. Hell, throw Pryzbilla next to him or Frye and watch the interior D improve exponentially. At any rate Frye/Curry is not a viable option, as we saw last season.

    It will be the same problem with Bargnini in Toronto. He and Bosh will create a potent inside-out offense, but how do they stop the bangers inside? At least Toronto has a guy like Nesterovic that can play alongside either one. The Knicks have no one in that mold.

    Add a Frye-Curry frontcourt to the laundry list of Thomas’ ill-conceived constructions.

  45. Ben

    I would like to desagree with everyone who are already writing off Frye’s defense. In collage Frye was not a bad defender and he has pretty good lateral quickness and a frame that I believe can put on enough wait to be strong enough in the post. Besides defense is 75% attitude and Frye has proven to be a hard working extremely coachable kid. If you look most rookie big men are poor defenders, many of which develop into solid or even good defensive players. Defensive player of the year no but solid to good NBA quality starting PF on the defensive end definatly.

  46. Marc R

    Count-

    I agree that Curry has been poor defensively, but a lot of that last year was because his conditioning caused him to be in perpetual foul trouble. That may change or may not change. But is he really not a “viable” center like you said earlier? Also, is it impossible for a team to succeed without a strong defensive center? Phoenix seems to do well despite being undersized there and Nazr Mohammed is Curry’s equal on the defensive end, according to the stats. I also think you’re being way too hard on Frye’s defense. He played very good defense this year and so did Quentin Richardson on the wing.

    I agree that Marbury’s defense has been atrocious, though it was relatively strong early in the season before he turned off Larry Brown. With the relatively new rules on handchecking on the perimeter though, I don’t know if any point guard can guard the guys you mentioned. He does need to get better though.

    Also, how is yesterday’s draft more of the same? You identified the Knicks’ problems as, among other things, defense at SF and PG and the Knicks picked up two defensive-minded players there.

  47. Count Zero

    Marc -

    On Frye, I don’t think he is such a bad defender — I just think he needs a lot more size and/or upper body strength to defend a true post player (aka Shaq, Brand, Yao, Sheed, etc.). Which would be fine if, as John points out, the other big man was able to do this. Put a Charles Oakley next to either one of them and your problem disappears. But the two of them together equals one glaring defensive hole.

    On the draft, my problem is what Ted pointed out. Mardy would be a great selection at PG with a 29th pick — unfortunately, when do you expect him to see any time there? Are you going to cut Marbury’s minutes or Stevie’s? I think we’re all in agreement that Francis’ contract is untradeable, correct? So the only way Mardy gets time at PG is if a) Marbury gets traded (a notion you are clearly against) or b) if Marbury or Francis is turned into a 2 guard (a notion that doesn’t really appeal to me since having those two on the floor at the same practically guarantees no one else will ever get the ball and we have no perimeter defenders).

    On Balkman, we got a defender at SF (don’t know how good of one), but I didn’t really see that as our glaring need — I saw a shot blocker as our glaring need to address the Curry/Frye duo. Therefore, I saw Boone as the best available at 20. Boone would have been a good match alongside either Curry or Frye.

  48. JK47

    Mardy makes sense if they move one or more of the half-dozen combo guards that are already on the roster. Maybe somebody else will be stupid enough to take Steve Francis off our hands. A starting backcourt of Marbury and Francis makes it a lock that we will be one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. Any time a big, athletic guard comes in the game for the opposition we are screwed.

    Curry is my most dreaded Knick. Nobody else in the league wanted him, we gave up what will very likely add up to two top-five picks for him, and he has played just as crappily as advertised. I don’t care what the guy’s PER is, if you’ve watched him play it’s clear this guy is just not a competitor and is soft. We’re stuck with him, his health problems and his untradeable contract for years to come. The day Eddy Curry is no longer a Knick will be a day of great joy for me.

  49. Ted Nelson

    I would not agree that any contract is untradeable. It really depends on what you’re looking/willing to get in return.

    I don’t think Collins will have a problem finding minutes if his shooting and athleticism are at least adaquate and the rest of his game is as good as advertised. While he’s yet another combo-guard, he’s a completely different combo-guard than anyone the Knicks have: theoretically he can defend the 1 or the 2, rather than neither, and he passes first (even if the player he’s passing to isn’t in a position to shoot and get him an assist), rather than never. Collins also has an ability to feed the post, so he can actually get the ball to the Knicks most efficient scorer: Curry. As Isiah said, he can play he can play in the backcourt with Steph, Steve, Jamal, and Nate. Which could earn him a lot of minutes as it’s questionable how many of those players can play at the same time as one another.

    Curry clearly has issues with motivation: he’s always out of shape and he hasn’t improved his game much since he was 18 or 19. Isiah brought him in, and it’s up to Isiah to find a way to motivate the big fella. Even if he does I would agree that the Knicks could use an Oakley type. Could be Jackie Butler, David Lee, and Balkman are enough. A shot blocker would be nice, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a Reggie Evans with the MLE.

  50. KAREEM!!!

    HAHAHHAHAHA I told you so never sounded so sweet. Renaldo Balkman?!?!? I’ve seen him play 5 times and he’s CBA all the way. Best case scenario is a poor mans Jerome Williams. I can’t believe you guys are buying into this Rodman BS. Mardy Collins? In the words of Doug Gottlieb: “He stinks.” Just what the Knicks need, a big, dopey, combo gaurd that can’t distribute or shoot.

    Why are you poor saps bothering with this? It truly is re-aranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Too bad everyone took so long to figure it out. Zeke screwed this team for the next 5 years at least. hahaha

  51. KAREEM!!!

    I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Balkman sucks. If Phoenix wanted him, they’re just as foolish.

  52. Count Zero

    Much as I am not thrilled about the Balkman pick, your point is well taken Brian. I think it’s also funny because no one has mentioned that since the Knicks didn’t have a second round pick, if they wanted him, they had to pick him 29th at the very latest. :D Unless you want to argue that they could have traded the 20th pick for a second round pick and something else of value.

  53. KAREEM!!!

    “I’m not here waiting for Santa Claus to come save us,” Thomas said Thursday. “I was told early on we didn’t have any money and there was no Santa Claus. And I’m not looking for this great player to come save the day for us. The guys that we have, we’ll make them better and we have a job to do. Nobody’s coming to save us.”

    The Knicks don’t have any money and Count Zero and Brian thinks that the Balkman pick was a logical one. I wonder why the Knicks are a national joke?

  54. Count Zero

    Kareem – don’t look now but your lack of literacy is showing.

    If you read all my posts in this thread you will see that I stated several times that I thought the pick DIDN’T make sense. I’m just pointing out that to say the Knicks could have gotten him with the 40th pick is completely illogical because they didn’t even have a second round pick. They either took him 20th or 29th or not at all — that was their choice. Personally, I would have preferred not at all…but that’s my opinion. Unlike you, I don’t claim omniscience… :P

  55. KAREEM!!!

    To be fare, I have not had the heart to read all of the posts. You were just a straw man… however, I still think your logic is flawed. Although they didn’t have a 2nd round pick they certainly could have traded down with either.

  56. pat mac

    long time knicks fan…. just praying for us to be in the cellar so isiah can be gone… a real gm can come in…. a real coach can come in….. dolan can keep his mouth shut and figure out other ways to raise my cable bill…. and the knicks need to be rebuilt the traditional way…. as much as it makes me cringe… look at what the bulls did… they rebuilt through the draft…. bringing in players who knew how to win and play in pressure situations..

    heat suck….. just had to put that in there

  57. Kevin

    NYT is reporting today that the Suns were never interested in Balkman.

    As to getting something of value to trade down, like what – someone else’s fifth guard or third center.

    Dolan screwed up in firing Brown. Clearly the best hope for the Knicks was to fire Isiah, have him hired by another team and then trade Frances and James to that team.

    Why didn’t the Knicks use there Houston rights and get rid of James? (yes I realize he hadn’t played a game for the Knicks yet)

  58. KAREEM!!!

    The value would be in picking up another 2nd round pick. Also, they may have lucked into someone else taking Balkman before they did… although that’s unlikely.

  59. Ted

    True Hoop has a story that Mike D’Antoni just blew Isiah’s “we had to take him there because otherwise Phoenix would have taken him” story to bits and claimed that Balkman “was never on our radar”. Great work Isiah. As one of the commenters there pointed out, the sad part is that Balkman would be kind of likeable as an undrafted free agent hustle guy, but now he’s just a symbol of Thomas’ ineptitude.

  60. Coach

    What the fuck happened? Can someone please tell me? I can still see us playing the Rockets in the finals (With the OJ chase in the upper left hand corner of the screen), I can still see us playing the Spurs in the finals. I can still see Houston making that big shot in Miami…

    What the fuck happened?

    Where did it all go wrong?

  61. Bulls fan in Seattle

    From the Chicago Sun-Times, admittedly a pro-Bulls outlet:
    http://www.suntimes.com/output/bulls/cst-spt-bull01.html

    “As for the just-completed draft, the Bulls got some immediate validation on both prospects they landed — LSU forward Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha, a shooting guard from Europe — by at least one team.

    A source said the Phoenix Suns were attempting to trade up to select Sefolosha and traded out of the first round once the Bulls made a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to get him.

    The Phoenix source also had high regards for Thomas, whom the Suns believe will be the standout of this draft.”

    The only person reporting that Phoenix was interested in Balkman is Isiah Thomas.

  62. KAREEM!!!

    Ty Thomas is a beast. That Balkman stuff is nonsense. No one wanted him. The most credible rumor I heard was from Greg Anthony who said Balkman ans Collins have the same agent as Lebron James and Zeke kinda got tricked into chasing a carrot on a string.

  63. BrianCronin

    It’s just absurd. I mean, when people say things, do they think we’ll just not check up on them?

    “He wasn’t on our radar” says D’Antoni, yet (click this link – http://www.nba.com/suns/news/draft_workout_060622.html) they had him in for a private workout less than a week before the draft.

    You don’t have to like the Balkman pick. You can say he won’t be a good NBA player. But Isiah’s story is a perfectly reasonable claim, so to knock it for specifically THAT reason (that Balkman could have been had later on) is just unreasonable at this point in time. Even if the Suns were NOT, in fact, going to draft him, it is reasonable to think they WERE.

    However, feel free to say you don’t think he’s going to be a good NBA player, though. That remains to be seen, so opinions on that are readily acceptable.

  64. Gabe

    “The most credible rumor I heard was from Greg Anthony who said Balkman ans Collins have the same agent as Lebron James and Zeke kinda got tricked into chasing a carrot on a string.”

    I heard Greg Anthony say the same thing this morning, and that’s about all I can think as a reason for doing what he did…

  65. Bulls fan in Seattle

    I don’t know, if I was a GM interested in a player, it probably wouldn’t be an overnight sensation, I’d have my eye on them for some time. Phoenix knows people watch their moves. So if they WERE interested in Balkman, I’d think they WOULDN’T have him in a week before the draft. Sounds like Phoenix is a good ballclub in that they introduce some red herrings into the process.

    Here’s more confirmation that Phoenix was interested in Sefolosha and Carney. If they could’ve gotten the #7 pick I’ll bet they were gunning for Tyrus:
    http://www.azcentral.com/sports/suns/articles/0629sunsmain0629.html

    The point isn’t what Isiah thought or didn’t think. He got bluffed into showing his hand early when he could’ve potentially stayed in for a bigger pot. And that seems to be a common theme – Isiah getting faked out by better GMs and front offices.

    But it all starts with the top – that idiot owner Dolan. If he’d half a brain, Isiah would be doing NBA analysis on TNT for as long as his fellow commentators could stand him.

  66. BrianCronin

    “I don?t know, if I was a GM interested in a player, it probably wouldn?t be an overnight sensation, I?d have my eye on them for some time. Phoenix knows people watch their moves. So if they WERE interested in Balkman, I?d think they WOULDN?T have him in a week before the draft.”

    The Knicks ALSO had a private workout with Balkman. Having a private workout certainly does not mean that you are going to pick the player, but it DOES mean that the player is “on their radar,” which D’Antoni said Balkman was not. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame D’Antoni or anything. He certainly has no responsibility to back up Isiah Thomas. Heck, it’s probably better to let Isiah twist in the wind.

    And the link you linked to only said “Phoenix’s draft targets, particularly Swiss swingman Thabo Sefolosha, all escaped their grasp by the middle of the first round. Left only to consider Michigan State’s Shannon Brown as a viable pick at No. 21, Phoenix traded it instead to Boston for a top-10 protected pick in 2007 the Celtics got from Cleveland.” I am fine with that. It just doesn’t debunk (or confirm) Isiah’s story. I don’t think we’re ever going to know definitively that Phoenix had no interest in Balkman at #21, which is why I’m willing to cut Isiah slack on the issue.

  67. BrianCronin

    Oh, and Isiah Thomas was one of the worst TV analysts I’ve ever seen. He’s probably not the WORST, but he’s certainly the worst to get such a prominent position (hmmm…okay, even there, Stephen A. is worse).

    Man, was he awful.

  68. Marc R

    Isiah was a bad TV analyst, it’s true. So were Pat Riley and Magic Johnson.

    As for when Balkman should have been picked, I’m not sure what the precedent is. Everyone can agree that defensive-minded, no-offense players can be very valuable, right? I’m thinking of guys like Bruce Bowen, Ben Wallace, Rodman, Theo Ratliff, and maybe some others (Mutombo, Michael Cooper, Kirilenko, Doug Christie).

    I think Ratliff was drafted at 18, Christie at 17, Mutombo, of course, was a lottery pick, but the others were drafted after the 20th pick, if at all. Is Balkman the caliber of one of those guys? I hope so. But that’s not the point. The point is that the draft “experts” don’t appear to know crap about drafting a defensive specialist.

  69. BrianCronin

    Well, I don’t think it’s necessarily that you shouldn’t draft a defensive specialist that high, just that you shouldn’t pick this particular one.

    That being said, yes, I think the draft experts were more concerned about just making fun of the Knicks than anything else.

  70. Marc R

    I agree that it’s not that you shouldn’t draft a defensive specialist that high. You absolutely should. The real point is that defensive specialists are criminally undervalued in the draft. That’s why they’re always looked back on as draft-day steals.

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