In Hollinger’s latest piece at the NY Sun he lays out New York’s four major needs for at the deadline. They are (in order of appearance): 1. a true point guard (rather than four short wing players), 2. a decent long range shooter, 3. a (man-to-man) defensive stopper on the wing, and 4. a defensive-oriented power forward. To be fair, Hollinger is up front about the fact that he’s ignoring, for the sake of argument, some practical realities; namely that Dolan’s checkbook may now be locked in an Isiah-proof vault, and that Isiah himself may be unwilling to part with some of the big-$ players he’s acquired.
Disclosure: I should admit right away that, although I have great respect for his work, I often find myself on opposing sides of issues with Hollinger; having to do more with his rhetoric than his stats. I’m one who believes strongly that the data NEVER speak for themselves; someone must speak for them. Consequently, the spokesperson’s interpretation of the data can be debatable even when the data are, technically speaking, correct.
In his latest piece, Hollinger commits an interesting (bordering on bizarre) act of rhetoric. My purpose in writing is less to criticize Hollinger than to register my head-scratching bewilderment with the way he argues his conclusion. At the end of the article he writes that the Knicks need to pair Curry with a more defense-oriented PF–a point I agree with in principle. He goes on to suggest that Isiah should look to move Channing Frye for such a player. Hollinger does not suggest this lightly. It’s clear from this and previous writings that Hollinger is a fan of Frye’s. I too am a fan, having followed Frye since his freshman season at Arizona. Nonetheless, I generally accept Hollinger’s conclusion that if the Knicks are serious about making Curry the centerpiece they must seriously contemplate moving Frye to obtain players that better fit a low-post offense.
Here’s where I thought Hollinger displays a rhetorical sleight of hand that is quizzical, for lack of a better word. Throughout the article, he makes insightful suggestions for low-cost moves the Knicks might make to address each of the first three needs. He suggests that deals for imminently acquirable players, like Tyron Lue, Travis Deiner, or Keith Bogans, could be an inexpensive means to address the needs for a stop-gap point guard, deep shooter, or man-to-man wing defender. These are all players who could replace someone in the rotation without throwing everything out of whack. Yet Hollinger is oddly silent on suggestions for a defense-first power forward, which he identifies as “clearly the greatest” team need. He offers only that a package of Rose (essentially Rose’s contract) and Frye could bring back “something good.”
I beg your pardon, but, something good like what?
I am not adamantly opposed to moving Frye. David Lee’s own defensive shortcomings notwithstanding, Frye doesn’t defend well and he may never. He also seems better suited to a screen-roll oriented offense like Utah’s. So a reasonable, even compelling case could be made to move Frye for a defensive PF that helps long-term. So why not make that case, especially if it is the team’s greatest need by far? Good defensive power-forwards, let alone those who can also hit a 15-18 foot jumper, are the NBA’s version of lefty starting pitchers that can throw 200+ innings. Everybody needs one; there simply aren’t enough to go around; and nobody’s giving them away. So if he had something in mind about how to get one I’d have loved to have read about it. Instead he spends a good chunk of the column making a reasonable argument for acquiring Tyron Lue.