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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Goodbye-ee Part 1: Felton and Randolph

Because we’re sentimental bastids, Kevin McElroy and I are teaming up on a three-part series talking about the Denver Four/Minny Two, as they shall heretofore be known. We’ll look back fondly (and at times, not so fondly) at the careers of the sextet of ‘Bockers that were summarily dispatched to the Rocky Mountains. No analysis of the merits of the trade, mind you (I think that dead horse has been soundly beaten), just nostalgia and sweet/semi-sweet farewells

To start, two of the shortest-tenured Knicks, Raymond Felton (via Kevin) and Anthony Randolph (via Robert)…

RAYMOND FELTON
What a strange little Knicks’ career Raymond Felton had; a roller coaster of fan approval and disapproval surpassing what most players experience in far longer periods of time than the six months that Felton wore orange and blue. He arrived on the coattails of Amar’e Stoudemire, was acquired with a piece of the “second free agent” cap room cleared by the now infamous Jared Jeffries trade and intended for a player of twice Felton’s fame and talent. So that couldn’t have been easy. Luckily for him, Knicks’ fans suddenly realized that he was replacing frequent (and justified) scapegoat Chris Duhon, and thus provided an even larger positional upgrade than the one that Amar’e represented over David Lee. Felton shot the lights out in November, averaged double digit assists in December, and put up averages of 20.4 points, 9.4 assists, and a .536 effective field goal% during the 13-1 stretch that pushed the Knicks into the upper half of the Eastern Conference for the first time in years. In the midst of that run came Ray’s finest moment as a Knick, an ugly, bouncing, rolling, buzzer-beating three that spent about 3 seconds on the rim and ultimately sealed a 113-110 win for the Knicks over the Raptors on December 8. Felton had 28 points and 11 assists on 20 shots in the game – not at all an atypical line for him at the time. NBA fans around the country discussed Felton’s all-star candidacy while Knicks fans contemplated whether he was the best facilitator the team had employed since Mark Jackson. It seemed like an impossibly good signing.

As it turned out, it was. Impossible, that is. In exactly 30 games since the end of the Knicks 13-1 stretch, Felton maintained respectable averages of 15.5 points and 9.0 assists, but did so at a far less efficient clip, racking up an effective field goal % of only .440 and shooting under 30% from downtown. These shooting numbers are reminiscent of the player that Felton was before this season, and Knicks fans (and bloggers) blamed him as much as anyone for the team’s stagnation since mid-December. In a sort of Bizarro version of his aforementioned buzzer beater against the Raptors, he missed a jumper in the fading seconds of a tie game on January 22 in Oklahoma City, declining to get the ball to Amar’e or a red-hot Danilo Gallinari and leaving enough time for a Kevin Durant game-winner at the other end. For many, the shot (and the shooter’s unapologetic postgame reaction) confirmed the suspicion that Felton had interpreted his early-season shooting improvement as justification for him to become a score-first guard. And since he wasn’t scoring efficiently, this was not a good thing.

Felton currently sits eighth in the league in minutes per game (38.4) and I think there’s some reason to believe that, like Chris Duhon before him, Felton’s hot start couldn’t stand up to the strain put on his body by a coach who leans on his starting point guards for minutes that aren’t easy to handle if you’re not Steve Nash. Here is where I am a bit worried that we will grow to miss Felton. Without a backup point guard approximating the quality of Ty Lawson, the 34-year-old Chauncey Billups is sure to be asked to step up his playing time from an average of 32 minutes to somewhere near the level required of Felton before him. While Billups is the superior player, will the Knicks truly be better at the point guard position if 1) Billups is asked to increase his minutes at the risk of wearing himself out or 2) Toney Douglas plays more minutes at the point, off-setting some of the presumed upgrade the Knicks will enjoy during Billups’ time on the floor?  The answer could well be “yes;” I could be underestimating Douglas’ improvement or Billups’ resilience, but we can’t necessarily pencil in 38 minutes of PG production that far exceed Felton’s output.

Of course, the job of Knicks point guard is likely about to get a whole lot easier than the one Felton had, with much of the offense running through Carmelo Anthony and the point guard confined for stretches to the role of spot-up shooter. This suits both Billups and Douglas just fine. And it underscores the difference between those players and Felton, who was always better when trying to create for others than when trying to be the Knicks second option on offense.

So we close the book on an unusual Knicks career, feeling like we improved ourselves at the point guard position and thankful that Felton’s sub-par outside shooting is going the way of Anthony Randolph’s basketball IQ and Timofey Mozgov’s haircut – which is to say, out of New York. But Felton was a big part of the reason we’ve had so much fun with this year’s Knicks. I have a feeling we will always have fond memories of the young Knicks squad that brought respectability back to MSG for the first 54 games of the 2010-11 season, and Felton — pushing the tempo, learning to mesh with Amar’e, finding shooters for open looks all over the perimeter, and playing miles over his head for 6 glorious weeks — was the key to that team’s ignition. If he had a fault, it was that he was too willing to put up shots that he simply couldn’t make at the rate that we all hoped he could. This was most frustrating when he did it in the clutch, with more efficient scorers on the court with him. But on the heels of an era defined by passivity and indifference, we should be so lucky as to have too many guys who wanted to come up big when it matters.

ANTHONY RANDLOPH
Potential. It’s one of the most damning words in the OED. And Anthony Randolph had (has) potential that seemingly clawed out of every inch of his 6’11” frame (and 7’5” wingspan!). As the 14th pick in the Gallinari draft, Randolph was a bit of a wild-card. Some dared to invoke the names “Stromile Swift” and “Tyrus Thomas”, two other springy, lengthy LSU Freshman entrees who never harnessed all their ridiculous upside after they turned pro. In fact, Walsh (according to reports) was ready to take AR at 6 if Gallo hadn’t been there. (Walsh clearly has a predilection for young, bouncy, skinny-as-a-mofo PF/C’s like Jonathan Bender and Jermaine O’Neal). For his first two years in sunny Oakland, Anthony Randolph became a youtube star and if possible, even more of an enigma. Roundball luminaries such as Bill Simmons called him a future 25-10-5 guy.

He’s one of the most breathtaking rookies I’ve seen in person — ever — for all the reasons you just described. There has never been anyone quite like him. He’s like a cross between Josh Smith and Lamar Odom, only if you fed him 10 Red Bulls and told him right before the game, “If you can make 10 things happen during the 10 minutes you play tonight, we will quadruple your salary and you will start for the rest of the season” … and then he does just that, but the coach reneges on the promise so Anthony has a near-crying meltdown on the bench. That’s every Anthony Randolph game. I caught him once and, in the span of two hours, he made three “MY GOD!” plays and broke down on the Warriors’ bench because Nellie wouldn’t put him back in, followed by an assistant consoling him through an entire timeout like Randolph was a third grader who got in trouble for something he didn’t do, then had a meltdown and got kicked out of class. It was riveting. The odds of me missing another Clips-Warriors game for the next five years are 10,000-to-1

But he clearly forgot that it was his turn to buy Don Nelson his case of Bud before a game or something, because Donnie kept him firmly planted in Chez Chien (when AR wasn’t injured, that is). After all, when you go flying around like that and weigh 200 lbs. sopping wet, one can tend to get injured. He also developed a rep for being a bit of a pouter, once seemingly breaking down into tears upon being benched (see above quote)

So when the word was given that he’d been traded to NY for KB fave David Lee, with a coach who seemed perfectly suited to take advantage of his open-court skills, the “potential”/expectations millstone reared its ugly head again. Really, go watch the clip again and tell me you don’t think he could be Marcus Camby 2.0, down to the eerie parallels of a young, untapped talent who was traded for a beloved vet PF. But yeah, that certainly didn’t happen.

During training camp, Hahn and others hinted that he wasn’t really impressing and and when the season started, he was…much as it pains me to say…awful. He still rebounded the basketball like a fiend, but his court IQ was at Jerome Jamesian levels. Plus, after any gaffe you could see him shoot a look towards the bench to see if he was about to get yanked. He looked like a much more athletic but just as ineffective Jared Jeffries. (Yes – invoking two of Zeke’s worst signings in the same paragraph is never a good thing when discussing a player’s merits). D’Antoni (like clockwork) shortened his rotation in late Nov. and suddenly, AR was getting splinters in his bony tuchus riding the pine and amassing a swell collection of DNP-CD’s.

Some (like your humble correspondent) held out hope that AR would develop and start to contribute but alas, as of Tuesday, it ain’t happening here. I still (perhaps misguidedly) think that he’s going to be a very serviceable big down the road. Maybe this shrinking violet will come full flower in Minny, where they’ve developed a rep for turning around (sort of) weird head cases/tortured artists/tragic figures like Messrs. Beasley and Milicic. Perhaps he’ll never figure it out. But that’s the thing about potential, doesn’t thinking about AR and his misspent youth make you well, sad? Or at least melancholy in the “Ode to an Athlete Dying Young” sense. And if there’s any truth to Buddhist philosophy, it seems borne out in Anthony Randolph — you could tell that he wanted oh-so-badly to do well and that his desire clearly impeded his ability to do just that. Whatever the true cause, you could tell that his failures caused him much personal suffering. It’s not that he didn’t give a crap — he did and that (at least for me) makes it tragic that he wasn’t able to achieve what both he and we the fans wanted. So, that’s how I’ll remember AR, his long face and longer body glued to the end of the bench, often the only player not to get giddy at a great play (consider him the anti-Ronny Turiaf, if you will) dripping with potential, all of it, sadly, going to waste.

90 comments on “Goodbye-ee Part 1: Felton and Randolph

  1. Owen

    Great post….

    Feeling excited to root for our New York Knuggets, the ones in Denver. They are off to a flying start…

  2. Owen

    “With stars like Carmelo Anthony(notes) seeking to change teams at the first sign of non-contention, it seems more and more likely that Howard will leave Orlando. Emotion can sometimes affect a postgame interview and make a player say things he doesn’t entirely mean, but take one look at Howard here and you’re unlikely to think he’s long for Orlando.”

  3. Owen

    Pretty amazing that Gerald Wallace, currently 10th in the league in two year adjusted +/- (and obviously higher rated by my favorite metric) was available for less than half the cost of Carmelo.

    He would have been a nice fit for our cap situation. Wallace. Stoudemire, Paul with money to spend, and we might have been able to keep some of our prospects. I guess the counter argument is that G-Wall has peaked and it’s all downhill for a guy who relies on his athleticism and who is so injury prone. That said, would have been a far savvier move imo.

  4. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, Owen, I think Wallace is about ready to fall off a cliff, so I think that’s why he was not able to fetch that much on the open market.

  5. Kikuchiyo

    Although their careers and roles were very different, I will think of Felton’s Knicks tenure in much the same way I think of Doc Rivers’ time on the Knicks. Both played point at very hopeful and optimistic times for the Knicks and both departed before any negativity crept in. Say what you will about Felton’s falling off in the last two months, it was a pure pleasure to have a player with such heart running the show again. I will continue to root for Raymond.

  6. Frank O.

    Robert, nice post, as usual.

    You know, Felton is a lot like that girl you dated, who at first you found okay, but then she turned into a ravenous hottie who consumed you. So she had your attention, but she acted that way only because she noticed you weren’t that interested at first. The problem was (you) that she couldn’t sustain being ravenous all the time. It was all based on some false impressions. You found you could hardly stand listening to her over dinner and she rightfully hated you for it. In the end, parting wasn’t such sweet sorrow as much as overwhelming relief.
    Yeah, my wife and I were to the point where every time Ray pulled up from 22 feet, with better shooters available and plenty of time on the clock, we’d start shouting at the TV. And his making the shot always felt less somehow, like a bank shot someone didn’t call.
    “It’s not you Ray; it’s me.”

    AR was a spoiled millionaire child who wastes his gifts and rarely cheers for other players on his team. He was the anti-Pharaoh and I had nothing but disdain for him, his IQ and his self-absorption.
    Good riddance.

  7. tastycakes

    Frank O = nice post!

    We had a bunch of guys that were easy to root for, but I never understood the AR obsession. If the guy can’t get on the floor, he might not be the solution to all of our problems!

    Not sure why AR is part of the “Denver Six” when he’s in Minny. Really, all I care about is the actual “Denver Four” – Gallo, Chandler, Felton, and Mozgov. I hope those guys blossom under Karl and totally kill it out there. They are my new favorite team in the West, for sure. Unfortunately, the WC is so top-heavy, they’re probably toast in the first round. Best case scenario, they face the Thunder, who IMO got a LOT tougher by bringing in Perkins.

  8. Doug

    Also, I’m amazed it only took half a season for me to completely sour on AR.

    I just can’t understand how a player of his obvious talent looked terrible even in garbage time.

  9. ess-dog

    Frank O.: AR was a spoiled millionaire child who wastes his gifts and rarely cheers for other players on his team. He was the anti-Pharaoh and I had nothing but disdain for him, his IQ and his self-absorption.
    Good riddance.  

    You don’t think this is a little harsh and unwarranted? He seems like a good enough guy to me who was coming back from injury and prone to mental errors at a young age. He’s not Eddy Curry. Did he bully you in high school or something?

  10. Z-man

    I would not have been happy with acquiring Gerald Wallace. There’s a reason beyond stat-challenged GMs that he went for far less than Melo, and makes less money. At the end of the day, he’s a very gritty but undersized, injury-prone PF with a limited offensive game, and from a marketing perspective, no fan appeal compared to Melo. I think He and Stat would just get in each other’s way.

    Is is a knock against Walsh that he admitted to having no idea that Deron was available?

  11. TheRant

    I was a bit misty watching Felton and Chandler wearing powder blue last night.

    For all of the complaints, I’ll say that (with all due lack of respect for Chris Duhon) Felton showed us what our offense could be like with an actual point guard. And since DAntoni’s system relies so heavily on thoughtful play at the point, I’ll credit Felton for his assistance in turning the Knicks around this year, however fleeting his performance was this past fall. Thanks, Ray.

  12. ess-dog

    Z-man: Is is a knock against Walsh that he admitted to having no idea that Deron was available?  

    Perhaps. But at the end of the day, I still think Utah prefers NJ’s pieces.

  13. JK47

    @14 Of course Utah prefers what they got from NJ. They got Favors on a rookie contract, a high pick (potentially top 3 because the Nets are so bad) next year and another first round pick, plus Devin Harris.

    In terms of cost-controlled years of valuable assets, the NJ offer blows ours out of the water. Chandler is a RFA, Gallo will be due an extension soon, Felton has two years left on his deal, Mozgov has two years left on his, etc.

  14. jon abbey

    I’m only going to miss Gallo, assuming we get a replacement 7 foot body for Mozgov.

    Hahn says Azubuike is close, that’s good news potentially.

  15. ess-dog

    I know it doesn’t affect this year, but I’ve got hopes for Jerome Jordan next year. In 2008-9 he was 8th in the country in win shares. But unlike Thabeet, his numbers were pretty evenly split btwn offense and defense. Right behind him was Taj Gibson with a similar split. If he works hard, I think he could be just what we need and not a liability on offense.

    As for this year, I get the Jeffries thing. He already knows the system and can be plugged right in. Same can’t be said for S. Williams or any other free agent big. There’s just really nothing else we can do at center. Turiaf is an ideal #3 big and Jeffrightened is fine as a #4 big but really we need a good, starting defensive center without trading Fields and/or TD. Wasn’t bound to happen.

  16. david

    FWIW, the Zombie Knicks have a really logical looking team — two full 5-man units; Lawson-Affallo-Gallo-Martin-Nene as a pound you inside and then have 3 point shooters and one slasher to get the kickouts, and a run-and-gun bench team in Felton-Smith-Chandler-Harrington-Anderson. The Suns used the 5 man bench unit thing to really great effect last season, and I think the Nugs can too. SHould be interesting to watch — due to Gallo and Chandler, they are certainly going to be my west coast League Pass team for the rest of the season…

  17. Ben R

    I will miss both those Knicks.

    Though we did get a better PG in Billups, Felton really was a warrior and had undeniable heart. He played through injuries and really wanted to win.

    Randolph, for all his problems, does have incredible upside and I think in the long run he is going to make us regret trading him away so easily. People can talk about his BBIQ and his sulking but I don’t think either is really his problem. I think he is the kind of player, like Mozgov and Jeffires, who has confidence issues. Once his confidence got crushed, he started thinking too much, second guessing, pushing and that’s when his BBIQ went out the window. As for the sulking I think he is just really emotional and struggled to reconcile being glued to the bench with no way to get into the game with keeping a positive attitude.

    I will miss them both and while ultimately Felton is just an average starting PG his heart is second to none. Here’s looking forward to Felton leading his team, whatever team that may be long term, to the playoffs and Randolph blossoming into an all-star.

  18. Richmond County

    Great idea for a series. I got really attached to these guys for their efforts in pulling the Knicks out of the gutter. I’ll stay attached if the Knuggets can keep knocking off our Eastern Conference competition like they did last night.

    Did anyone see some the JJ spoofs of the Melo “Coming Home” Msg Ads that have been popping up? I love the “highlights” at the end.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSkGnhLO8lw

  19. Brian Cronin

    Simmons just put up a fairly weak defense of the Carmelo trade. There are certainly fine defenses of the Carmelo trade (#1 being it will get the Knicks Chris Paul or Deron Williams, in which case it is the greatest trade ever), but Simmons’ defense is showing all the other trades for star players and how they all worked out for the team making the trade. However, the Knicks gave up more than at least 13 of the 15 trades listed, so it really has nothing to do with the topic. How do you use the Pau Gasol trade as evidence that this trade was good? That makes no sense.

    He then follows with, “if you’re throwing stats at me, I’ll counter with this one: 15 for 15 [the 15 trades that worked].” If your initial point is weak, then you can’t use that as the basis for your next point, too!

  20. JK47

    The new-look Knicks may end up being a better defensive team almost by accident. Assuming Jeffries is added to the equation, pretty much every player on the bench with the exception of Bill Walker is a competent-to-good defensive player: TD, Shelden Williams, Jeffries, Extra E, Balkman, Brewer.

  21. ess-dog

    Brian Cronin: Simmons just put up a fairly weak defense of the Carmelo trade. There are certainly fine defenses of the Carmelo trade (#1 being it will get the Knicks Chris Paul or Deron Williams, in which case it is the greatest trade ever), but Simmons’ defense is showing all the other trades for star players and how they all worked out for the team making the trade. However, the Knicks gave up more than at least 13 of the 15 trades listed, so it really has nothing to do with the topic. How do you use the Pau Gasol trade as evidence that this trade was good? That makes no sense.He then follows with, “if you’re throwing stats at me, I’ll counter with this one: 15 for 15 [the 15 trades that worked].” If your initial point is weak, then you can’t use that as the basis for your next point, too!  

    I agree. The one point saying “you have 2 out of 10 all-star starters!” is super-weak. Those guys are VOTED in. Houston has an all-star starter in Yao. I think that Simmons is better for his comedy than any real arguments. I do think that maybe our trade is closest to that Vince Carter-to-NJ trade, and we will probably get deep in the playoffs the way NJ did. We’ll see.

  22. Ben R

    I like how Simmons cherry picked trades that happened to work out while ignoring the ones that didn’t and then use the fact that they all worked out to support his argument. I don’t even have to leave the Knicks to find similar trades that didn’t work out so well.

    I just go back to the Mcadoo and Marbury trades. They were both “superstars”, they were both coming off of all-star seasons the year before they were traded (Mcadoo was the MVP), they were both in their prime. They were also both kinda ambivalent about playing defense. I can cherry pick trades too.

  23. Brian Cronin

    I think perhaps he just rushed the article. That’s what the “15 for 15 – done” argument seemed like. Sort of like, “I don’t have time to actually write a real argument here, so I’ll just repeat this like it means something.”

  24. JK47

    We’ll have a pick in the 15-20 range next year– you don’t need to hit a home run with that pick, you just need a guy to shore up some of our weaknesses. Maybe you get a good combo guard like Brandon Knight, or a stretch 4 like Markieff Morris or Trey Thompkins or a banger like Kenneth Faried. If we can get a solid contributor in the draft next year, we might really truly be just a piece away from being a true contender.

  25. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, this next draft pick is biiiiiiiig. Walsh’s team hit a home run last year with a worse pick, let’s hope they can do the same with a first rounder!

  26. Nick C.

    Ben R: I like how Simmons cherry picked trades that happened to work out while ignoring the ones that didn’t and then use the fact that they all worked out to support his argument. I don’t even have to leave the Knicks to find similar trades that didn’t work out so well.I just go back to the Mcadoo and Marbury trades. They were both “superstars”, they were both coming off of all-star seasons the year before they were traded (Mcadoo was the MVP), they were both in their prime. They were also both kinda ambivalent about playing defense. I can cherry pick trades too.  (Quote)

    When you think about it the best/most famous NYK trade would have sent the star (1960 Olmpian, #1 pick, Rookie of the Year) Bellamy a 20 or 25 – 10 to 15 man perenially top 5 in each for the defensive forward (albeit player coach) DeBusschere.

  27. Ben R

    The biggest problem moving forward is our big holes are in the two hardest to fill positions. We need a center, hard to find in the draft and impossible to sign without 10+ mil in cap room, and we need a PG to replace Billups when he retires. Not as hard to find but still tricky, teams rarely let good PGs go.

    I’m not too worried about the bench, that should be easy to shore up. If Azubuike is able to return and Turiaf is able to become a backup our bench is actually pretty good long term:
    Douglas
    Azbuike
    Extra E
    Turiaf
    With Walker, Sheldon and Balkman providing extra depth, we could just keep it together and have a good bench for the long haul.

    So our needs are, at minimum, a borderline all-star PG to replace Billups and a solid defensive minded starting quality C to move Turiaf onto the bench. If we can get those we will be fine long term.

    We really need that draft pick to fill one of those needs. We need to either draft a C or a PG because we are kinda set at the 2, 3, and 4. If Jordan can come over from Europe and be a starting quality C and we can draft a Ty Lawson quality PG then we will be in decent shape. If Jordan is a bust and we can’t find a PG in the draft we’re kinda screwed.

    At least Felton will be available in 2012, I’m betting he will probably be our best option.

  28. ess-dog

    Ben R:
    At least Felton will be available in 2012, I’m betting he will probably be our best option.  

    This is an interesting thought. In case one of the star pg’s don’t come through. He already knows the system and Denver won’t keep him and Lawson. There’s also Nash if he’s still running. As for centers, Jermaine O’Neal opens up that year as does KG. JaVale McGee is restricted in 2012

  29. jon abbey

    ess-dog:
    Jermaine O’Neal

    Wes Unseld is probably available now and would be just about as effective. or we could bring back Willis Reed!

  30. Grymm

    I find it kind of funny that we had a 2 year run up to the summer of Lebron and now we’re having a 2 year run up to the summer of CP3/Deron/D12. Of the guys we traded for Melo, only Mosgov would still be here in 2012/13. It could be that Jerome Jordan has shown enough overseas that Mos would have been redundant.

    Fields is not guaranteed next year, but under contract. After that, is he restricted or just a free agent?

  31. Frank O.

    ess-dog:
    You don’t think this is a little harsh and unwarranted?He seems like a good enough guy to me who was coming back from injury and prone to mental errors at a young age.He’s not Eddy Curry.Did he bully you in high school or something?  

    No. I found his demeanor on the bench unfortunate. He tended to sulk, played poorly and was not often cheering his teammates, IMHO. He was making millions for this. I don’t miss him.
    And don’t worry, ess-dog, he’s not reading this, so I suspect he won’t be offended. But I admire your willingness to defend his honor. Did you know him well? ;)

  32. Caleb

    Felton will be very gettable in 2012, I’d think, since his numbers are going to take a hit backing up Lawson and no one is paying big money for a packup point guard. On the other hand, in 2012 he’ll be pushing 30, and for a short guy who doesn’t shoot well, that’s not a good sign.

    AR, what can ya say? New York fans hardly knew ye. I will lay pretty heavy odds that he turns into more than a serviceable player, and won’t be aat all surprised at multiple All-Star trips. It might not happen right away, though – aside from his still being young and raw, the Triangle is not a good system for him.

    Aside from actual value and talent , AR is a really fun guy to watch. It was frustrating we never got the chance. Simmons had it right. All in all, the departed Knicks played a lot prettier than Carmelo, even if no, they aren’t as good.

    With one exception.. Ray is very likeable but I’d much rather see Chauncey Billups play. Not a wasted motion.

  33. Caleb

    If new CBA includes a decent mid-level exception I will feel a lot better about our odds of filling out a championship roster. Keep your fingers crossed.

  34. Frank O.

    One thing that bothers me about Melo and i fear this is a very superficial thing:
    When juxtaposed with Billups, Melo seems less mature and seems to lack Billups’ obvious intelligence. Now, Billups is much older, soperhaps the comparison is unfair. Billups seemed so much more articulate, more complete and less taken in by the whole scene thing.
    But when you hear comparably aged stars in the league, such as Lebron, there seems to be a broader understanding of the game that seems pretty obvious.
    I wonder if that is a reason for why Carmelo hasn’t developed a more complete game, scoring, rebounding, defense, and passing, and why he isn’t a top tier star. Truly great players develop all aspects of their games.

    These are not well-formed thoughts, so I’d be interested to hear what others thought about what we have heard so far from Melo.

  35. NateRobinson

    @ Frank O.

    Chauncey is and always has been a calm-thoughtful cat. Age plays a factor as well, but upbringing is the more reasonable excuse.

    When it comes to personality I cast Lebron and Melo in a similar department. When everything’s fine they’re great to be around, but when things go south (Bron vs Celtics last years playoffs) his flaws rear its ugly head. Last night ‘Bron lost a ball and he casually chased Deng as he layed a shot over Bosh. He could’ve easily done a chase down block but he did not put the effort.

  36. Frank

    @44 – I agree. Melo needs to grow up a little bit. The ridiculous twitter thing he sent out last night after George Karl criticized his defense — that’s just juvenile. Let your play on the court do your talking for you. Not a great idea to call a HOF coach who just went through chemotherapy a “snake”. If you disagree with him, go out and give us All-Star level defense in addition to offense, make the all-defensive team, and then tell Karl that he was off-base and that maybe it was bad coaching.

    Melo needs some serious PR help. His agent should tell him to stop with revenge Twitter messages (wasn’t he the one that offered a stack of cash to anyone who would knock off one of his twitter detractors?), and conduct himself like an adult and a leader like Amare has done. Melo represents the NYK now, and we don’t want to go back to the ridiculous Marbury/Isiah days.

  37. Jim Cavan

    Robert Silverman: For those in need of a good laff, there’s this…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSkGnhLO8lw&  

    That made my week.

    Frank O.: These are not well-formed thoughts, so I’d be interested to hear what others thought about what we have heard so far from Melo.

    That’s a little unfair I think. No, Melo isn’t Billy Shakespeare, and nor should we expect him to be. Contrastingly, I don’t think Billups’ relative cool is so much a product of age as it is a genuine reflection of who he is. Being from Detroit originally, I saw a lot of Chauncey over the last decade. He’s always been the coolest guy in the room and a floor general who leads by teaching and even-keeled example rather than fire and passion. I’d put Melo in the latter category: he wears his emotions on his sleeve (as evidenced in part by his 10+ technicals this year). Like Billups’ ice, Melo’s fire works to his advantage (most of the time), and I for one don’t necessarily want to see him curb that for the sake of striving for a Julius Erving-level detached-ness and articulation that’s not in character.

  38. rohank

    This paragraph from Simmons’ article was really good:

    You might remember LeBron and Carmelo getting excoriated for stabbing their respective teams in the back. You want to know why they didn’t care? Because, deep down, they know that teams don’t care about players, either. They probably witnessed 20 variations of the Perkins trade during their first few years in the league. Hey, it’s a business. Hey, that’s just sports. Hey, trades come with the territory. Isn’t loyalty a two-way street? When a team does what’s best for itself, we call it smart. When a player does the same, we call him selfish. We never think about what a double standard it is.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/110225/part2&sportCat=nba

  39. StevenU

    Frank O I think you are all over it. I am healing from my (over)emotional initial response to the trade. I still think they overpaid by a lot for a guy who really only excels at one thing. To me that is just not a superstar. The true elite players-the real top tier guys-are all very multi talented. Even Kobe excels on D (when he wants to). Carmelo has never exhibited an amazing understanding of the game, and nor has he expanded his game the way the true great ones always seem to. I think it’s pretty interesting to see all the things Karl said about losing Billups…how much he’d be missed, his intelligence, his leadership, etc-no such comments about Melo. I am not trying to knock Melo just to be realistic about what type of player he is.
    All that being said, I do think in his favor that he can shoot and score against any defense, any team, in any building and any game situation.
    And, even knowing that it’s very likely a short term solution, I already feel badly about how pissed I was about the Felton for Billups part; I still love Felton but Billups really wowed me and reminded me why he is so good-already. For a guy that didn;t know the offense and didn’t even shoot well, he played a whale of a first game.

  40. NateRobinson

    I need some info here. Is Jared Jeffries ‘coming home’? If so who got the axe.

    Please tell me that it was’nt Brewer. He is a serviceable defender.

  41. StevenU

    And Felton could indeed be a great fall back option if no top tier PG is available after next season.
    Please please please Dantoni: Give Balkman a few minutes here n there and see what his energy can bring. I have heard all the rumors and rumblings about him but never anything solid at all about why he never plays. The big criticism of AR (aside from the pouting and the shot selection) was that he just didn’t have the “motor” Dantoni’s style requires. well, as undersized as he is at the 4-or the 5 even on this team-that is exactly what Balkman DOES have-no one brings more energy and hustle…he does not look to shoot (which is good considering his shooting), but he is a great energy player when given some run. He is certainly a better player than Jared Jeffries. In fact I think his game is very similar to Turiaf who has excelled in this system-only he is way faster and not injury prone.
    Lastly, I have not read or heard one mention of Troy Murphy and the [possibility of him coming here after he is bought out. With his 3pt range and proven rebounding, I can not imagine he wouldn’t become the Knicks starting center. I am not saying he’s a great player-but he could be a good fit, and they have a desperate huge gaping whole in the middle that will hurt them badly every game it goes unaddressed.

  42. Frank O.

    rohank: This paragraph from Simmons’ article was really good:You might remember LeBron and Carmelo getting excoriated for stabbing their respective teams in the back. You want to know why they didn’t care? Because, deep down, they know that teams don’t care about players, either. They probably witnessed 20 variations of the Perkins trade during their first few years in the league. Hey, it’s a business. Hey, that’s just sports. Hey, trades come with the territory. Isn’t loyalty a two-way street? When a team does what’s best for itself, we call it smart. When a player does the same, we call him selfish. We never think about what a double standard it is.http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/110225/part2&sportCat=nba  

    Ditto

  43. Frank

    @53 – fyi Troy Murphy was mentioned in 13 separate posts in the last thread. Hahn mentioned that he hasn’t ruled NYK out yet but looks like BOS/ORL/MIA are his 1st choices…

  44. Resounding Rebounding

    I just read in Sporting News that Miami, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City are also interested in Jeffries. Why the Thunder? They got several big men yesterday.

  45. NateRobinson

    Yeah Steven U, Troy would be a good pickup. He has a condo in NY so we might have ‘leverage’.

    But I would prefer Brewer to get some spare minutes instead of Renaldo. Corey is a good wing defender and can run the floor. Plus he is a more adept offensive player with his ability to put the ball on the floor under more control.

    And no AR did have the motor to fit the style but he is out of control at times.

  46. flossy

    It would be downright depressing for everyone involved if the PG we sign in 2012 to replace Chauncey turns out to be Raymond Felton. Not that I don’t love the guy, but it would mean that after all that, neither he nor the Knicks could do any better.

  47. NateRobinson

    I say we draft a young PG with upside like brandon knight or josh selby or the jimmer and develop him under Chauncey who is great at it.

  48. StevenU

    flossy I did say a fall back option.
    and frank, thanks-didn’t see the other thread, I’ve never especially liked Murphy it’s hard to ignore how well he could fit.
    nate, as bad as Balkman is on O I do not think Brewer is much better-and, there is room for both actually, as I do not think Dantoni would ever play Balkman at the 3-even if it’s his natural position. I actually think-barring picking up center, he could back up Turiaf at the 5 against a lot of teams. Anything Jeffries can do Balkman can do.
    That guy the Celtics played as a back up 5 last night looked okay-maybe he will get released when they get guys back from injury…he looked like he was 7’1″ 195 and they said he had crazy hops and was a shot blocker…

  49. Resounding Rebounding

    flossy: It would be downright depressing for everyone involved if the PG we sign in 2012 to replace Chauncey turns out to be Raymond Felton. Not that I don’t love the guy, but it would mean that after all that, neither he nor the Knicks could do any better.  (Quote)

    I read on NBADraft.net that PG Darius Morris is seriously considering declaring for this year’s draft. It’s thought that if he wated till next year he’d be a first round pick but this year he’s projected to go in to the second round. I think he’s like third in the nation in assists. He’s 6’4 which is terrific size for a PG and he’s only 20 years old. The biggest knock on him is he doesn`t have elite speed like a Rose Or Wall but he still has good speed for an NBA point guard. He’s got to work on his outside shot and his free throw shooting but again he’s only 20. If he declares for the draft I really think the Knicks should draft him.

  50. Resounding Rebounding

    NateRobinson: I say we draft a young PG with upside like brandon knight or josh selby or the jimmer and develop him under Chauncey who is great at it.  (Quote)

    Neither Jimmer or Brandon Knight are really point guards. They’re more like combo guards.

  51. Resounding Rebounding

    StevenU: flossy I did say a fall back option.and frank, thanks-didn’t see the other thread, I’ve never especially liked Murphy it’s hard to ignore how well he could fit.nate, as bad as Balkman is on O I do not think Brewer is much better-and, there is room for both actually, as I do not think Dantoni would ever play Balkman at the 3-even if it’s his natural position. I actually think-barring picking up center, he could back up Turiaf at the 5 against a lot of teams. Anything Jeffries can do Balkman can do.That guy the Celtics played as a back up 5 last night looked okay-maybe he will get released when they get guys back from injury…he looked like he was 7’1? 195 and they said he had crazy hops and was a shot blocker…  (Quote)

    The guy was Chris Johnson, straight out of the DLeague. I wanted the Knicks to sign him, in fact the very first post I made on this website was about signing him. Alas, Donnie Walsh appears to be allergic to the DLeague. I`d love for them to sign Sean Williams…..

  52. jon abbey

    NateRobinson: @ Frank O.Chauncey is and always has been a calm-thoughtful cat. Age plays a factor as well, but upbringing is the more reasonable excuse.  

    wait a second, now, Billups didn’t find himself in the NBA until he was 26, on his 4th team, which is Melo’s age now.

  53. Frank O.

    jon abbey:
    wait a second, now, Billups didn’t find himself in the NBA until he was 26, on his 4th team, which is Melo’s age now.  

    Do you think this is another indication of how different it is to be a point guard in the NBA v any other position on the team?
    Is it rare that PGs are great from the outset?
    Curious.

    BTW, Sessions in Cleveland has grown into a pretty damn good guard. His numbers have improved each year he has played. And this year, the last 20 games especially, since his minutes have increased, he’s performing really well.
    I know there were a bunch of folks on this blog who had a somewhat negative view of him, while others thought his potential was pretty impressive.

  54. Ben R

    Caleb: If new CBA includes a decent mid-level exception I will feel a lot better about our odds of filling out a championship roster. Keep your fingers crossed.  (Quote)

    While it would be realy good for us if the MLE was still there I personally think the MLE is horrible for the NBA and would rather
    have it go away even if it signifigantly hurt our chances.

    Frank O.: Wow. Eorge Karl fires a parting howitzer shot at Carmelo:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Carmelo-Anthony-and-George-Karl-are-unhappy-with?urn=nba-326474 Frank O.

    I don’t know that seemed pretty fair. Karl didn’t blast Melo, should he lie? Melo could be a good defender, but he is not, I think he is definitely a little disinterested in playing defense.

    On the Balkman issue, why do people think he is such a terrible offensive player. He is a limited offensive player, not a bad one. He has a career TS% of over 53% and the last season he got any real playing time he had a TS% of over 58%. He has no jumper and limited offensive skills but at least he only shoots shots he can make as opposed to Brewer who thinks he’s better than he is or Jeffries who really has no shots he can make.

  55. StevenU

    RR-good eye, re: Chris Johnson-I never heard of him or saw him till last night but he definitely has springs and an incredible wingspan. He looked a bit like Camby-only skinnier (I can not believe I just said that about an NBA player, albeit a guy on a 10 day contract).
    I, too, have always liked Sean Williams, and from his Net days I’ve wanted him as a shot blocker off the bench.
    There are so few legit centers in the NBA right now, I think the new wave of having a center by committee really is fine. This way, the limitations are less glaring since you only play them when the match ups call for it and only for short duration.
    Then again, I’d have been perfectly happy to go with Darko/Turiaf and AR as my committee.

  56. Frank O.

    So, if Howard were to demand a trade, people here seem to think he wouldn’t want to play in NYC?

    But if…if, he want to play in NYC, would there be anyway the knicks could clear space to get him? And if it were a trade, would it require trading Amare or Carmelo?

  57. Frank O.

    Ben R:
    While it would be realy good for us if the MLE was still there I personally think the MLE is horrible for the NBA and would rather
    have it go away even if it signifigantly hurt our chances.
    I don’t know that seemed pretty fair. Karl didn’t blast Melo, should he lie? Melo could be a good defender, but he is not, I think he is definitely a little disinterested in playing defense.On the Balkman issue, why do people think he is such a terrible offensive player. He is a limited offensive player, not a bad one. He has a career TS% of over 53% and the last season he got any real playing time he had a TS% of over 58%. He has no jumper and limited offensive skills but at least he only shoots shots he can make as opposed to Brewer who thinks he’s better than he is or Jeffries who really has no shots he can make.  

    I’m not so much surprised by the substance of the comment as I am that he chose to go there. Karl spent a lot of time saying he wanted to keep Melo. It seems odd that he would say anything negative about the guy once he’s gone.
    My surprise is that he didn’t just say something nice and then move along. This just seems bitchy and bitter.

  58. StevenU

    @Ben-I LOVE Balkman, and I agree. He is a decent passer and a decent finisher on the break as well. I was really just trying to make the point that he does not need to score a single point to help a team win a ballgame. His floor game, imo, merits playing time. I mean, what team does NOT need a guy that plays with that sort of energy?
    Certainly this team, with Melo and Amare on the court at the same time, cries out for a guy who throws his body around a la Turiaf and Douglas, both of whom I think could safely be called below average offensive players.
    Basketball is all about fit and synergy….the traditional model of players skill set matching their specific position is just one way to do it. As long as the basic components are all addressed sometimes unorthodox combinations are just as good. With all the scoring that Melo, Amare and Billups bring, I think it places a premium on defense, screening, passing, and shot blocking from the other players on the floor, and scoring from the other players is pretty irrelevant, except to keep the defense honest.

  59. Frank O.

    Ben R:
    On the Balkman issue, why do people think he is such a terrible offensive player. He is a limited offensive player, not a bad one. He has a career TS% of over 53% and the last season he got any real playing time he had a TS% of over 58%. He has no jumper and limited offensive skills but at least he only shoots shots he can make as opposed to Brewer who thinks he’s better than he is or Jeffries who really has no shots he can make.  

    Aren’t you just a little curious to know why it is that every he goes his ass quickly gets nailed to the bench?
    I have listened to the advanced stats argument for him here for years, and yet he never plays.
    I have to believe his practice habits suck. Or he doesn’t take instruction well. Or he’s stoned too often to compete. I just don’t know.
    If his energy is so great…if his TS% is serviceable…if he’s an athletic, competent defender, why the hell doesn’t anyone play him?
    Conversely, I don’t think he is a guy the Knicks should cut because he eats at your cap for two years and you have nothing.
    And I have to believe he’s a little more useful than Mason, who seems unable to find the hoop at all. At least Balkman can find it by leaping to it…:)

  60. Owen

    “But I would prefer Brewer to get some spare minutes instead of Renaldo. Corey is a good wing defender and can run the floor. Plus he is a more adept offensive player with his ability to put the ball on the floor under more control.”

    Brewer is a horrible, horrible offensive player. Career ts% of 47.6% which is actually higher than the number he posted in 1300 minutes this year. (47.1%)

    Never underestimate the power of the halo effect, the reputational boost icreated by success experience pretty much exclusively due to better teammates. Call it the John Starks theory to go with the Ewing theory.

    Corey Brewer’s career is really a perfect example of it. Does anyone think he would be in the NBA if he had played at Florida State rather than manning the 3 spot and winning two titles next to Al Horford and Joakim Noah. currently two of the top five big men in the East?

    There is a reason marginal players school around the sharks . Guys who did well in college or AAU or got drafted high do better for longer in the league than better players with less notoriety. And the way to do well is play next to the best players. Also, coaches don’t fear putting guys with big reps out on the court, while they would look ridiculous playing Nick Fazekas or Jerome Jordan.

    I hope Balkman gets minutes. I remember how great he played in 06. But I am not banking on it.

  61. Ben R

    Karl isn’t really known for his soft touch and he just finished chemo so I think he is at a point where things like tact matter alot less than simply speaking his mind. For better or worse.

    As for Howard I don’t think we have the room or the assets without trading one of Melo or Stat but I would trade either one for Dwight. Moving one of Amare or Melo is really the only way we can get Howard or Paul but it would totally be worth it.

  62. StevenU

    Frank O-I read/hear all those same rumblings…but I have never once seen anything concrete or specific explaining why his career has completely stalled. i was upset when the Knicks got rid of him, and surprised when he didn’t get run in Denver. Then I thought, well, not getting run behind KMart and Birdman really isn’t such an insult-KMart was/is that teams heart and Birdman is a great shot blocker-plus bigger and taller than Balkman. But then those guys gut hurt and Balkman still never got to play. All of your guesses seem like they could be correct-I just wish I knew the answer. And/or I just wish he’d get a shot and show what he can do because he does have game.
    And Mason, WOW, the guy was a great 3pt shooter on at least two different teams. And one of those teams was very good. Now, it is clear he has completely lost confidence. If only Dantoni (or anyone on his staff) was the type of coach who could help a player build confidence he might regain his touch and his value. But, having seen him coach for a couple of years I think it’s pretty obvious that he is utterly incapable of helping any player regain confidence. He is, however, excellent at helping destroy it.
    I always thought part of coaching was to teach and put players in a position to succeed. Once a player gets in Dantonis doghouse they might as well quit because they do not get out, and they may never recover. (and please don’t anyone tell me Mosgov did because he only played due to injury and only stayed in the rotation for a few games because he played too well to bench him again)

  63. StevenU

    Owen I think that’s an excellent point. I’d call it the Scottie Pippen effect. I know he was good player, even though he was a total wuss and a whiner, but now people call him a top 50 player!!! I think he is the most overrated player of all time and all those guys on the Bulls-with the exception of Rodman and Ron Harper-and maybe Horace Grant, are as well.
    Obviously they were all good players and they were able to excel at their roles-but Wennington, Cartwright, Pippen, Paxson, Armstrong, Longley, etc ALL get overrated based on the success they enjoyed while riding Jordan’s coattails.
    I would not put John Starks in that category at all, though. Evryone on that team fed off Ewing, true, like with any great player, but Starks was a baller with heart and soul and fire to spare.

  64. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, since I knocked the Carmelo stuff from Simmons’ piece, it is only fair that I do give him credit for the strong parts of his column with the Perkins stuff. That was well-written work.

  65. Ben R

    Frank O.: Aren’t you just a little curious to know why it is that every he goes his ass quickly gets nailed to the bench?

    One important thing with Balkman is he has only been in two places and only played under two coaches. He started in NY under Isiah and was an important part of the rotation both years, even though he struggled his 2nd year. Then he got traded before ever playing for D’Antoni and ended up in Denver under Karl. That 1st year under Karl he got alot of playing time and had his best season. This earned him a five year contract with Denver. The next season still under Karl, he, for no appearant reason, was out of the rotation and never even sniffed it again that year or the next. So the only coach who refused to play him was Karl, I don’t know why, but it is not a pattern of not getting playing time, Karl is the only coach to bench him. All the whispers about being bad at practice or smoking pot are complete conjecture.

    As for his production he passes not only the advanced stats test, but the defensive +/- test and the simple eye test. Everyone that’s watched him play seems to like him. He was a fan favorite here, he was a fan favorite in Denver. His offensive game actually reminds me a bit of Fields, without the 3 point shot. He has a similar knack of floating along the baseline and getting open and is also good finishing on cuts to the basket. This is on top of being a very good rebounder and great defender.

  66. StevenU

    Ben R a good friend went to South Carolina and said he was by far the fans favorite player there as well.

  67. Owen

    “Owen I think that’s an excellent point. I’d call it the Scottie Pippen effect. I know he was good player, even though he was a total wuss and a whiner, but now people call him a top 50 player!!! ”

    Well, I disagree about Pippen. He was a great player, statistically and otherwise (accomplishments, eye-test, etc) Those 90’s Bulls were the best teams of all time and it wasn’t because of Jordan alone. The 80’s Bulls, when Jordan was even more dominant, weren’t nearly as good.

    And if you look carefully at John Starks numbers they really aren’t that impressive. There is always going to be a divide over whether to give credit to the scoring players or the possession specialists. For instance, who was more important to the Bad Boys? Isiah, Dumars, and the Microwave? Or Laimbeer, Rodman, Mahorn, Salley etc?

    Why were the Knicks good in the Nineties? The gritty John Starks? The canny Greg Anthony? The deadeye Hubert Davis?

    Or was it the best defensive frontcourt of all time? My money is on:
    Ewing+Oakley+Mason.

    If I had to explain why I love the Wages of Wins so much it’s pretty simple. Because I saw how effective a player like Anthony Mason was despite his incredibly unconventional game.

    More generally, t’s crazy to me how big a role luck plays in player’s legacies and people’s perceptions of their ability. Who you play with, even over the long run, often matters much more than how good you actually were. Hello Rip Hamilton, you there?

    At some point Bill Simmons will latch on to this idea, package it perfectly, and turn it into a million hit column.

  68. Caleb

    StevenU: The big criticism of AR (aside from the pouting and the shot selection) was that he just didn’t have the “motor” Dantoni’s style requires.   

    I dunno… if AR has one thing it’s a motor – turbocharged. No steering wheel, maybe!

    I guess it’s understandable – most New Yorkers never saw him play so they didn’t get it. He’s a skilled guy – even scored a lot for Golden State. He just has no clue what a bad shot is. I just think it’s a safe bet he’ll mature… most 21 year olds do..

  69. StevenU

    @Owen: C’mon re: Starks (not that we could be further off point) Starks, like Mason and Oakley was the type of player whose contribution can not be measured in stats. Heart. Passion. Energy. Defense. Fearlessness (maybe even to a fault). He was an integral part of one of the toughest best defensive teams ever. And I am not saying he is a hall of famer or anything crazy-more like one of the greatest role players of all time.
    And re: Pippen-and all those guys, Jordan was so incredible that it becomes impossible to really measure their value. The only way I can think of is to look at what they did when they played without him, which basically amounts to nothing.
    Pippen’s biggest moment was sulking on the bench and taking himself out of a critical playoff game cuz he was so upset and not getting the last shot (which Kukoc-who was a much better shooter-nailed). I can not think of any all time great in any sport who did that. And the migraines. And the fact that he was completely bullied and intimidated by Rodman and the Pistons for years and needed Jordan to stand up for him.
    So yes, I know he has decent career numbers, he was agood passer, and was a very good defender- and I knew I’d get flak for writing that he is so overrated-but I did watch all those games and I do not think Pippen was a big step up from any of those versatile point forward types.
    All that being said I completely agree with your point about luck.

  70. StevenU

    @Caleb, the motor comment that was not my thought, I was repeating what I’d read Dantoni said about him. I love AR and think throwing him in that deal was incredibly stupid. I think at age 21 with his height, athletic ability, and skills you simply do not give up on him till you have exhausted every avenue to bring out his game. I wrote here before: It is much easier to teach a talented player to reign in his game than to expand it and I fully expect him to blossom as an NBA player-just wish it would have been here.
    (And I have league pass and watched him a lot prior to this season; that’s why I was excited to get him in the sign and trade, and why I was and am so bummed that he never got a decent chance here-even if he was awful and out of control in his very limited run here.)

  71. Owen

    “Starks, like Mason and Oakley was the type of player whose contribution can not be measured in stats.”

    I don’t know. Charles Oakley was the best rebounder on, and played the second most minutes for, the best defensive team of all time. And he played the fourth most minutes for the second best team. To me, there is plenty of evidence that his game was ugly but amazingly effective, especially given how the game was refereed back then.

    As for Pippen, it’s pretty clear from the numbers that he was a lot more than your average second banana. He was an all time great. His numbers put Carmelo’s to shame. And the numbers he put up when Jordan left are some of the best by a small forward not named lebron or Bird. Career offensive rating of 108 to Carmelo’s 107, career defensive rating of 102 to Melo’s 107. And that’s with a lot of bad years at the end. Vintage Pippen was 94-5, 110orating-98drating*league-leading, 21-8-5 with 3 steals per game. Those are just crazy numbers.

  72. StevenU

    All true-and all playing off the greatest player ever to play-Jordan’s impact on Pippen’s numbers was enormous and undeniable

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