Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Highlights and Lowlights of the Aughts

While we’re killing time after a rough pair of losses (at least they were rough pair of losses to teams better than the Knicks), I thought it would be fun to take a look at the last decade of Knicks basketball and point out the highlight and lowlight of each year.

Feel free to argue about what you thought was the highlight/lowlight of each respective year!

Otherwise, enjoy!

2000

HIGHLIGHT: Once again upsetting the Miami Heat in the playoffs, this time as a #3 seed beating the #2 seed Heat in the second round, with a victory in Miami in Game 7, a game in which Miami had multiple opportunities to win, but the Knicks held on (Jamal Mashburn – perhaps you should have thought twice about passing the ball to Clarence Weatherspoon with only a few seconds left if you were planning on him getting you the ball back for the final shot).

LOWLIGHT: Reggie Miller pouring in 34 points to help the Pacers win Game 6 in Madison Square Garden to eliminate the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals, which would turn out to be Patrick Ewing’s final game as a Knick.

You could argue for the September trade of Ewing as the lowlight of the year, as well.

2001

HIGHLIGHT: I suppose I would pick getting the #4 seed with a team that was not really all that impressive on paper (their three top players, minutes-wise, all played basically the same position – shooting guard).

Also, they had 33 straight games holding their opponent under 100 points.

Plus they had two players make the All Star Team in Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell.

The last two highlights were made a big deal of at the time, but the former was more a case of the Knicks’ slow pace (although they did play strong defense this season) and the latter was undeserved, so I guess the first highlight (getting the #4 seed with an odd team) should be the pick.

LOWLIGHT: Being eliminated in the first round by the Raptors in Game 5 on the Knicks’ home court.

Also, trading for Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley was brutal.

Plus, Allan Houston’s $100 million contract extension was no picnic, either.

2002

HIGHLIGHT: Probably the double overtime victory over the Bucks in January 2002 where Sprewell hit nine three pointers.

Also in the running was an overtime victory over the Mavericks, also in January, and a victory over the Spurs at the end of December, 2002.

LOWLIGHT: Missing the playoffs for the first time in almost fifteen years.

Also, Jeff Van Gundy resigning was sad.

In addition, trading Marcus Camby and the pick that became Nene Hilario (and could have also been Amare Stoudemire) for Antonio McDyess.

2003

HIGHLIGHT: Easily Allan Houston’s 53 points in a win against the Lakers in February.

Also, at the time, drafting Maciej Lampe was a big deal.

LOWLIGHT: Losing 45 games and missing the playoffs for the second straight year (remember when 45 losses seemed unsightly?)

2004

HIGHLIGHT: Making the playoffs (even with a record of 39-43).

There was also a really cool comeback against the Bucks while the Knicks were making their playoff “run” in the 2004-05 season.

In one of his first games back from an injury in December of 2004, Houston nailed an end of regulation game-tying three-pointer against the Sixers in a game the Knicks would win in overtime.

LOWLIGHT: Hiring Isiah Thomas as the President of the team (this was more of a lowlight than getting swept by the Nets in the first round of the playoffs)

Fired Marv Albert as the voice of the Knicks.

2005

HIGHLIGHT: Trading Jamison Brewer and Nazr Mohammed to the Spurs for the draft pick that became David Lee.

Drafting David Lee with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft.

Marbury actually had a very good season in 2004-05.

LOWLIGHT: Losing 49 games (remember when that seemed like a lot?

Trading two first round draft picks (well, one draft pick and one “ability to swap picks”) for Eddy Curry and then extending Curry for $10 million a year until the year 2011.

2006

HIGHLIGHT: David Lee tips in the game-winning shot against Charlotte in December with 0.1 seconds left in the game.

In November, Jamal Crawford winning a game against Denver with one of the most improbable plays you’ll ever see. He went to go attempt a game-winning three, but JR Smith steals the ball from him and passes it to Eduardo Najera. Crawford, though, manages to steal the ball from Najera, then runs down court and hits the game-winning three with less than four seconds left in the game.

Winning six in a row to open 2006, including a dramatic victory to open the streak against Phoenix, where the Knicks would win in triple overtime (a game I happened to attend). David Lee would go into the starting lineup during this streak.

Nate Robinson won the Slam Dunk Contest.

LOWLIGHT: Losing 59 games.

Having a brutal brawl with the Denver Nuggets in December after the Knicks felt that the Nuggets were “showing them up” (they were, but still, you can’t start a brawl over it).

Trading Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis.

Firing Larry Brown after one season, with $30 million left on his contract.

Isiah Thomas becoming head coach.

2007

HIGHLIGHT: The Knicks improved their record by 10 games and were in the playoff hunt until the last week of the 2006-07 season.

David Lee was the star of the Rookies/Sophomores game at the All-Star Game.

LOWLIGHT: The Knicks lost a sexual harassment suit filed by a former employee (lots of sordid details came out during the trials involving Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury).

In November, lost to the Boston Celtics 104–59, with only a last second three keeping them from their lowest scoring game ever.

Signed Jared Jeffries to a five-year deal.

2008

HIGHLIGHT: Fired Isiah Thomas as Coach and President of the Knicks.

Hired Mike D’Antoni to coach the team.

Drafted Danilo Gallinari.

Robinson won the Slam Dunk Contest again.

LOWLIGHT: Once again lost 59 games.

2009

HIGHLIGHT: Posting a winning December for the first time in, well, a long time. The team is currently one game out of having the 8th best record in the Eastern Conference.

Blowing out the team with the best record in the NBA at the time (the Phoenix Suns) in early December.

LOWLIGHT: Lost at least 50 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1984-1986 (interestingly enough, in that instance, the first 50+ loss season led to the draft where they got Ewing – this Knicks’ team’s first 50+ loss season led to the drafting of Danilo Gallinari…hmmmmmmmmmmm).

Drafted Jonah Hill.

36 comments on “Highlights and Lowlights of the Aughts

  1. BigBlueAL

    Not to nitpick Brian, but the Ewing trade was not in December, believe it happened in September since it was during the off-season. Also the 2000-2001 Knicks were the 4th seed not the 3rd seed. Still think if the whole Camby sister hostage fiasco didnt happen the Knicks wouldve beaten the Raptors in the 1st round and I would have really liked their chances of upsetting the Sixers in the 2nd round.

    Boy what a HORRIBLE decade this was for the Knicks….

  2. Brian Cronin

    It’s cool, Al, a piece this big is bound to have a few mulligans in there. Thanks – I fixed ‘em!

  3. Z

    The lowest light of the decade actually came at the end of 1999, a few months after the Knicks finals-run ended. It was when senior Cablevision executive Marc Lustgarten died and the son of the company’s owner became chairman of Madison Square Garden…

    Then came the Ewing Trade…

    And then the rest of this miserable decade.

  4. KnickFan4Life

    Looking back on those Houston/Sprewell times it seems kinda funny that people were so bent at the time on the team not having a true SF. A lot of teams now and days don’t really make much of a distinction between the two positions. Was that Knick team an early predecessor of things to come? Hmmm…

    Also another quick thought on the Spree/Houston teams, that was a pretty nasty combo. Very nice balance of Finesse and Aggressive basketball.

  5. Brian Cronin

    Thanks for the link! Seeing that, I don’t think D’Antoni reacted too poorly to Berman’s question. I mean, he dodged the question, but it wasn’t like he flipped out or anything.

    I just saw a headline about the Rockets telling McGrady that they would try to trade him. Did you know that Ariza is wearing the number McGrady wore last year (and every year as a Rocket)? What’s up with that? I get star players coming to teams and getting their numbers from their teammates (like if Lebron became a Knick, you could be sure Toney Douglas would change his number), but not a less famous player getting his number from his new star teammate. Weird.

  6. 2010

    Sorry to be off topic…

    with larry coon’s blogs in the nytimes and the announcement that the rockets are trading tmac, what is everyone’s thoughts on the chances in some sort of curry for tmac trade (such as including harrington or mobley)

    at this point tmac is really only an expiring contract. no contender can aquire him thinking he will put them over the top.

    does anyone see a better option for the rockets than trading with the knicks if they really want to move him?

  7. Brian Cronin

    I was actually meaning to talk about this the other day, mostly in response to Bill Simmons’ article where he mocked Donnie Walsh (mocked, I say) for saying that the Rockets should have to take Jeffries if they wanted Al Harrington for T-Mac. Simmons’ position was that Walsh was being absurd, but I personally find it ridiculous to assert that somehow the Rockets are not only supposed to be able to dump a malcontent making the most money in the entire NBA, but they’re supposed to do so while getting a decent player who could help them (Al Harrington), money relief (Mobley’s contract, which is paid for by insurance) and shouldn’t have to take any bad contracts in return.

    Why is that?

    Why should the Rockets just get a windfall?

    It doesn’t make any sense to me, and yet Simmons mocks Walsh for saying that if the Rockets want to dump T-Mac, they have to take back one year of Jared Jeffries.

    I’m not saying that the Rockets won’t be able to dump T-Mac somewhere else, but the notion that Walsh’s demands are unreasonable is silly to me.

  8. rohank

    Brian – it’s b/c Simmons is in love with “dork Elvis”. don’t read into it – Walsh’s stance makes perfect sense to the rest of us.

  9. BigBlueAL

    Looking back man that Camby and #1 pick (Nene) for McDyess trade was HORRIBLE. Imagine if they wouldve just kept the pick and drafted Amare Stoudemire which I know was being rumored would be the Knicks pick.

    Also one other question, do you guys think the Van Horn, Doleac trade for Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed was another downfall?? The Knicks were playing their best basketball since VG left and Marbury was actually playing extremely well with Van Horn, Doleac and Kurt Thomas constantly killing opposing teams with pick and pops. They actually were playing excellent defense with Mutombo at C and Lenny Wilkens actually had the team looking like a lock for the 4th seed.

    Isiah not only made the trade during All-Star weekend but apparently forced Lenny Wilkens to not play Mutombo (I remember his agent publicly ripping Isiah) and start Mohammed. The team soon lost like 7 in a row after getting to within a couple of games of .500 and had to scramble like crazy to get to 39 wins and the 7th seed before getting swept by the Nets. Granted once Allan Houston was out for the season their chances of making some noise in the playoffs was over but still if they had kept the team that Wilkens took over with right after the Marbury trade the same who knows that season couldve turned out alot better and maybe the future might have been a bit different too.

  10. Nick C.

    Al, that Van Horn trade was the end for me and when it became clear that it was all about Isiah, but that’s a horse that is best left dead. FWIW your recollection on that and Dikembe is identical to mine.

  11. Z-man

    Off-topic, just watched the 76er highlights. That team can beat anyone and has a lot of intriguing pieces. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a major run at a playoff spot soon. AI looked good.

  12. KnickFan4Life

    Z-man says:
    December 29, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Off-topic, just watched the 76er highlights. That team can beat anyone and has a lot of intriguing pieces. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a major run at a playoff spot soon. AI looked good.

    ————————————————————

    You might be right, but I’m gonna wait and see a little bit longer. AI has to still come back fully and get his legs under him. Plus they beat the Blazers who aren’t a very good team right now. But like you said they could be a team to watch if AI is able to play well the rest of the way.

  13. Ted Nelson

    “Imagine if they wouldve just kept the pick and drafted Amare Stoudemire which I know was being rumored would be the Knicks pick.”

    Chris Wilcox was the guy most rumors listed as the prospect the Knicks liked with that pick. That trade did do a lot to push the Knicks into a downward spiral before Isiah even arrived, just saying. It also hurt that much more because McDyess was a big part of the Marbury package (which Camby and the player picked might also have been… who knows).

    I don’t think the Van Horn trade was quite as bad as you make it out to be. The Knicks did got 1-6 after the trade, but then turned it around and went 6-2 in their next 8. They were 13-13 overall after that trade. Don’t forget that Nazr is also the reason the Knicks have David Lee.

  14. stratomatic

    “Looking back, it’s a wonder that David Lee managed not to get traded by Isiah.”

    LMAO!

    A few months ago I thought Lee was an above average role player worth about 6M-8M a year. Now I think signing him long term is the #2 priority behind getting a legitimate max contract player. He’s no longer just an above average #4 or below average #3 role player on a championship team. Now is a legit #2 or #3 option. He’s a stud!

    His critics rightfully pointed out that he had no mid range game at all so opposing defenses could sag off him. Now he does and they can’t.

    His critics rightfully pointed out that almost all his scoring came off garbage or assisted points and you couldn’t “got to” him late in the game to get a bucket when you really needed one. Now, he can be a “go to” guy late.

    His critics rightfully pointed to his lack of man or help defense. Well, guess what. In the last few weeks he’s even improving there. He’s never going to be a shotblocker because he’s not an athletic leaper, not tall, and not long, but he is improving all other aspects of his defense.

    While I’m on a role, let me also say that Gallo is improving so rapidly week to week I no longer consider his absolute maximum upside to be Dirk. Call me crazy. I don’t care. But I think he can be better than Dirk. I think he has every bit as much talent on the offensive end as Dirk, but more upside on the defensive end. Perhaps he won’t be as good a rebounder, but he can do other things better. He’s on his way to becoming a super stud.

    Finally, I don’t care what anyone says. Despite his still occasional mental lapses, Wilson Chandler is playing at a solid role player level over the last month. That’s all we really need from him.

    Our young core is now made up a stud, super stud to be, and solid role player with further upside. If we add a stud or max contract player and another solid role player next year (and we have the finances to do so), the Knicks are going to win 50 games or more next year. I haven’t been this opitmistic in so long I can’t even remember when it was.

    Oh yea, we still don’t know what kind of upside Jordan Hill has.

    Win or lose tonight, things are really starting to look up!

  15. Frank O.

    My future wife and I were at the final game in 1999 where the Knicks lost at home.
    That was the beginning of one of the worst sports decades I’ve ever been through.
    A terribly forgettable decade.

  16. d-mar

    Well guys, maybe it’s cyclical. The 80’s were pretty dismal until we got Ewing, and even then we weren’t that good for a few years. The 90’s were tremendous, all those classic Knicks-Bulls, Knicks-Heat battles, 2 finals appearances etc. (I remember those playoff games at the Garden, you couldn’t even hear the person next to you during the introductions. I thought the roof was gonna blow off the building when LJ made his 4 pointer) The 2000’s, as well documented above, were pretty much a disaster. Now we have the “10’s” on the horizon, and I just have a hunch the good times will return to MSG and we will be rewarded for 10 years of suffering.

  17. TDM

    “2006: …

    Winning six in a row to open 2006, including a dramatic victory to open the streak against Phoenix, where the Knicks would win in triple overtime (a game I happened to attend).”

    Highlight: I was at that game also, and got to meet John Starks.

    Lowlight: Prior to the game, I bought my (then) 2 year old son a Marbury jersey.

  18. Brian Cronin

    Highlight: I was at that game also, and got to meet John Starks.

    I remember him being at that game! People were freaking out when he walked around the crowd a bit.

  19. Brian Cronin

    Chris Wilcox was the guy most rumors listed as the prospect the Knicks liked with that pick.

    You are correct, and I was dreading them drafting Wilcox (although what ended up happening was even worse).

    I don’t think the Van Horn trade was quite as bad as you make it out to be.

    At the time, we all knew Isiah was going to trade Van Horn, it was just a matter of “when,” so I was resigned to the move already. My rationale for thinking it wasn’t a bad move was that the Knicks gained two starters on a playoff team (Thomas and Mohammed) for one starter (who wasn’t that much better than Tim Thomas just himself), and that sounds like a logical move.

  20. Z-man

    As a Knick fan, I go back to the glory days of the late 60’s-early 70’s…the championships, the rootability, the balance, the teamwork, the all-stars/HOFers at 4 positions, etc… Everything has been a step down since then. I had a blast during the ’90’s, but even those “glory days” were bittersweet because of the heartbreak we eventually suffered year after year. When we got Ewing, most thought at least one championship was guaranteed, and to look back on that decade, it still hurts too much for me to think of them as glory days except in the context of what has happened since. The 00’s have been an unmitigated disaster. It seemed that every year management just dug a deeper and deeper hole for the franchise. While the last two years have not been pretty, I definitely feel optimistic about a return to at least ’90’s level success.

    Getting LeBron and/or Wade would be transformational, because it has very rarely been the case when the Knicks would have the most dynamic player on the court on most nights. Bernard King was maybe the closest we came, and he by himself was worth the price of admission. To one day see a nucleus of LeBron/Wade, Gallo and hopefuly Lee win a championship, even just one, would finally wash away what amounts to 37 years of heartache for me.

  21. Jafa

    I’m with you guys, I think the next 10 years will be golden years once again – with young stud players, the possibility of adding one or 2 max players, a very good coach and a competent and patient GM.

    And maybe instead of having MJ kill our dreams, we’ll have the future MJ on our team (LBJ) and we’ll kill somebody else’s dreams.

  22. Brian Cronin

    His critics rightfully pointed out that he had no mid range game at all so opposing defenses could sag off him. Now he does and they can’t.

    It’s nice that Lee has become a better than average outside shooter – but lack of a mid-range jumper is not all that necessary when you’re an efficient scorer in the paint like Lee has always been.

    His critics rightfully pointed out that almost all his scoring came off garbage or assisted points and you couldn’t “got to” him late in the game to get a bucket when you really needed one. Now, he can be a “go to” guy late.

    That criticism was weak, because Lee was doing that type of scoring because that’s the type of scoring the Knicks wanted from him. He was (and is) an efficient scorer period.

    His critics rightfully pointed to his lack of man or help defense. Well, guess what. In the last few weeks he’s even improving there. He’s never going to be a shotblocker because he’s not an athletic leaper, not tall, and not long, but he is improving all other aspects of his defense.

    Even here, yeah, Lee was never a great defender, but he was a much better defender before Mike D’Antoni came in and made him a center and changed the entire style of team defense. Now that D’Antoni has changed the style of team defense again (for the better, it appears) “suddenly” Lee looks like a better defender? I don’t buy that he has improved as a defender, I just think the system is not punishing him as much as it once did (not to mention the fact that they are relying on his scoring so much more that they are now taking him off of the top scorers late in the game so that he does not pick up fouls – like the last game when Jeffries switched on to the Duncan late in the game).

    In other words, besides the improved mid-range jumper (which is nice), David Lee is the same guy he was for the past X years – just given a new role that he’s flourishing in (similar to how Zach Randolph was the same guy as a young player for the Blazers as he was when he “suddenly” became a “20 and 10″ guy).

  23. BigBlueAL

    Damn I forgot about Wilcox thats right now I remember he was prominently mentioned as the guy the Knicks were looking at. Also I believe Nene himself was rumored a bit too. OMG Layden was almost a big an idiot as Isiah.

  24. BigBlueAL

    Also very disappointing that in Hollinger’s chat today he too also called Gallo a 1-trick pony. I guess 34 FTA in last 4 games aint enough proof that he doesnt just shoot 3’s all the time anymore.

  25. cgreene

    I like this thread. Been going to Knicks games since I was a little kid. Used to sit behind the Knicks bench until the guy my Dad shared the tix with took them all for himself. Used to yell at Hubie Brown and be part of the chants to put Fred Cofield in the game in the mid 80’s. Was at Ewings first game. Was at Game 7 of the year we lost to Heat because of the PJ Brown / Charlie Ward fight (which was IMO the best Knicks team of the 90’s).

    I truly think we can be a 50 win team next year with one star wing player added to the core of Gallo and Lee and to a lesser degree Douglas and Wilson and maybe Hill.

    Lee is a great Knick and fun to root for. He has improved his game every year and should be highly considered as an All Star (especially if he keeps the level of production from the last few weeks.) I agree with those who say Lee is the #2 priority.

    Would you rather have Lee at $12M or Bosh at $14M or $15M? Doesn’t seem Bosh produces more wins and one might argue he has better talent around him.

  26. KnickFan4Life

    BigBlueAL says:
    December 29, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Also very disappointing that in Hollinger’s chat today he too also called Gallo a 1-trick pony. I guess 34 FTA in last 4 games aint enough proof that he doesnt just shoot 3’s all the time anymore.

    ———————————————————-

    Not really suprised. These guys want us to believe they watch every game but no they don’t. Gallo will keep it up and by the end of the year they’ll get it.

  27. daJudge

    Z-Man–Thank you for your post and nostalgia. I too go back to the late sixties. 1969-70 were such awesome years being a NY sports fan. I had the honor to sit in Shea stadium when the Mets beat the Orioles in game 5. Playing hoop, all of us kids wanted to be Clyde, Willis or later, Pearl. Red was also such a dignified, quiet and strong leader- a real mensch. I also absolutely loved Bernard King. He was so very intense. The Ewing years, while frustrating, were fine and certainly had their moments. I live very far out of the City now, but I remember how the streets buzzed and the subways rocked when the Knicks were smok’in. They will be back and so will the buzz, with little kids wanting to be Gallo or Lee or maybe even LeBron.

  28. rama

    My worst and best of the 90s can be summed up in two words:

    Finger roll.

    I say “best” as well as worst only because I wandered onto the playground, shell-shocked, to shoot some hoop and get over it, and it seemed like there were eight or nine of us out there all just muttering, finger roll. It was awful, but oddly comforting to realize I was part of a community of sufferers.

    Just like here!

  29. Ted Nelson

    I think stratomatic makes some good points, but I would point out that Lee’s critics have been WRONG a lot more than they’ve been right. No doubt he’s improved, but it was obvious to those in the know that he was always a valuable player and likely would improve to one extent or another.

    “Would you rather have Lee at $12M or Bosh at $14M or $15M? Doesn’t seem Bosh produces more wins and one might argue he has better talent around him.”

    Not an easy call. Both may be having career years (at least to date, both are young). I love Lee about as much as anyone, but Bosh has been really good this season: he’s 25 and he’s the best player on the 4th best offense in the NBA. His scoring volume is significantly higher, and he doesn’t give up much to Lee in efficiency (though he does give up something). A few surprises: Bosh is out-rebounding Lee (barely) and Lee is out-assisting Bosh (pretty sizable advantage). Lee has the edge in steals and Bosh in blocks, and Bosh turns it over a lot less. For whatever these numbers are worth, a terrible Toronto defense is 3.6 pts/100 possessions better defensively with Bosh out there while a mediocre Knicks D is 2.8 pts/100 worse defensively with Lee out there. Lee’s opponent’s PER is 21.7 at C, while Bosh’s is 17.4 (again, whatever that’s worth). If you look at Win Share to see how many wins someone is generating, than Bosh is significantly better.

    I think I take Bosh at max $ over Lee at $12 mill, personally, as much as it pains me to say that. Bosh at 15 vs. Lee at 10 or anything below that is probably a different story, though.

    I am still strongly in favor of LeBron AND Wade as Option A by a mile if the Knicks can shed Jeffries and/or work out sign-and-trade(s). That makes you an instant favorite, whereas just LeBron and Lee makes you an instant contender. Of course, the chances of LeBron OR Wade, let alone LeBron AND Wade, coming are not that great, so a lot of back-up plans (many involving Lee) are a must.

  30. latke

    looking forward to the next decade:

    LeBron is the best player available this summer, and he probably gives the knicks the best chance to be a great team. Furthermore, of all the big name free agents, he and Bosh seem the most likely to bail on their current teams. The only thing that would make it impossible for LeBron to leave is if Cleveland wins a championship.

    All that said, I don’t want LeBron on the knicks, and if he comes here I would become much less interested in them. I don’t like him, and it’s not the same way I didn’t like Jordan. I hated Jordan because he was so fastidious about his image, about getting the right sponsorships, saying the appropriate things, but the one thing that overshadowed Jordan’s interest in his image was his competitiveness. LeBron, on the other hand, seems to love his image more than anything. What motivates him to win is not simply winning, but fulfilling the image he desires to fulfill, becoming someone that others will see as the greatest basketball player ever. Here are some LeBron quotes to give you a sense of what I mean:

    “I was ahead of my time.”

    “A LeBron James team is never desperate.”

    “In the next 15 or 20 years, I hope I’ll be the richest man in the world. That’s one of my goals. I want to be a billionaire.”

    Before being announced a part of the USA olympic team: “It looks positive at this point. I haven’t talked with Mr. Colangelo, but we should be making this announcement within a week or so.”

    Add to that all the garbage with him and his teammates dancing on the sidelines during games… He’s just so pompous. I could never root for a guy like him, and I would hate to be his teammate.

    So, what would I like the knicks to do?

    free agents for 2010-11

    These players are going to get max/near max contracts

    Dwayne Wade (27 y/o)
    Amare Stoudemire (27 y/o w/ 2 knee surgeries)
    Lebron James (25 y/o)
    Chris Bosh (25 y/o)
    Carlos Boozer (29 y/o)
    Joe Johnson (29 y/o)

    these players will likely still be signable if the knicks re-sign Lee

    Tyrus Thomas
    Rudy Gay
    Roger Mason
    Travis Outlaw

    I’d have them try for Bosh, Johnson or Wade. If that doesn’t fly, resign Lee and add one of the above four players for a reasonable price, or make a play for a decent point guard. Calderon has been playing poorly in Toronto and could become available. Use the big boost cap space that they’ll get after 2011 to make a play for Kevin Durant. If they can’t pry Durant from OKC, two or three of these five could probably be had for the same total $: Al Horford, JR Smith, DeAndre Jordan, Barbosa and Andre Kirilenko.

    Other than Shaq’s Lakers and Heat, and the 07-08 Celtics, no team has won a championship with a top player that they did not draft. Robinson/Duncan on the spurs, Jordan/pippen on the bulls, Olajuwon on the Rockets, Thomas/Dumars on the Pistons. Yes, free agency is important, but it is incredibly rare to pick up a superstar who isn’t either past his prime or seriously flawed through free agency. In two years, Gallinari may be the star that the knicks need to be real competitors. Lee will still be in his prime. If the knicks find a few other really good young players through free agency, they could be a very strong team.

    Below is a list of players who will be available in 2010 that the knicks might be interested in:

    free agents for 2011-12

    kevin durant (restricted)
    Al Horford (restricted)
    Yao Ming
    Joakim Noah (restricted)
    JR Smith
    Tony Parker
    Caron Butler
    Andre Kirilenko
    DeAndre Jordan
    Leandro Barbosa

  31. Ted Nelson

    “Other than Shaq’s Lakers and Heat, and the 07-08 Celtics, no team has won a championship with a top player that they did not draft.”

    How about the Larry Brown Pistons? The only rotation guys they drafted were Prince and Okur. Given how few teams have actually won championships in the past 20 or so years, 4 franchises and 6 teams that did not draft their top guy seems like a lot.

    “Yes, free agency is important, but it is incredibly rare to pick up a superstar who isn’t either past his prime or seriously flawed through free agency.”

    Which is why LeBron represents such an incredibly unique opportunity if he leaves Cleveland: he’s the best player in the game, theoretically entering his prime. You’re entitled to your opinion on who you will or will not root for, I just hope you realize that purposely passing on LeBron to sign Joe-freaking-Johnson to a max contract instead is an incredibly stupid basketball move.

    I don’t totally disagree with you about LeBron’s personality/rootability. He’s good enough to believe in his ability, though, and if he didn’t believe so strongly in himself he might not be anywhere near where he is. He’s also celebrating his 25th birthday tomorrow. At the same age Jordan was seen as a selfish punk and 2 plus seasons shy of his first finals/championship: LeBron’s got room to grow/mature as a person.

    “If the knicks find a few other really good young players through free agency, they could be a very strong team.”

    Or if they sign LeBron they will be a very strong team.

  32. latke

    Can’t argue with any of that, Ted. I used to be a Yankees fan. Then they became a team of mercenaries. If the knicks become a team built around LeBron’s ego, I don’t think I could root for them anymore.

    I’d rather have a decent team with players I like than a great team with players I don’t.

  33. stratomatic

    Brian,

    I agree that Lee has always been an efficient scorer, but I think you may be underestimating the significance of adding the mid range game to his arsenal. Not only has the mid range game allowed him to raise his usage and retain his efficiency, it has allowed him to use his other skills to greater advantage.

    In the past, when Lee got the ball on the outside, his defender sagged off him and clogged the middle. That left Lee with two options. Throw up a brick (which he refrained from doing) or pass the ball to another player on the perimiter (like Chandler) who threw up a brick.

    Now, when his defender sags off, he can knock down the open shot. When his defender comes out, he’s able to use his ball handling and finishing skills (which he always had) to get past the defender and score. He couldn’t do that before. Those two things add efficient usage. In some cases, he now actually becomes the focus of the defense and can use his passing skills (which he always had) to find Chandler for an open dunk under the basket because the inside is clear (unlike the past). That’s why his assists also seem to be rising.

    I think Clyde and Chandler summed it nicely in the post game discussion.

    Clyde was his usual flowery self, but when they asked Wilson why he’s having so much more success on the inside lately, he gave all the credit to Lee for drawing away the defense by being aggressive and knocking down open shots.

    You can’t do those things if you can’t score from lots of places and in lots of ways.

    IMO Lee has gone from a highly valuable medium usage efficient scorer to a higher usage and budding elite player primarily because he has both increased and broadened his skills.

    But even if we don’t agree on all this, we can at least agree that he’s playing great.

Comments are closed.