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Friday, October 31, 2014

Isiah Currys No Favor With Fans

Isiah Thomas reminds me of Felix Unger. The Odd Couple character’s downfall was that he couldn’t leave well enough alone. Nearly every episode had Unger ruining his life because his compulsive nature forced him to go too far. Last night, Isiah traded for the Bulls’ disgruntled center Eddy Curry. Chicago had been looking to move Curry since he pulled his Redd Foxx act during last year’s playoffs. Thomas traded away the Knicks young power forward Mike Sweetney along with Tim Thomas and garbage time specialist Jermaine Jackson along with two picks, which have yet to be disclosed.

The only way to like this deal is if physique is your only criteria on building a basketball team. Of the two, Sweetney is the one more likely to be confused as a Sumo wrestler. But for those who’ve watched their fair share of Knick games last year, Sweetney used his body in the paint to his advantage, tossing opponents like, well, a sumo wrestler. An excellent rebounder, he used his size, reach, and footwork to pull down rebound after rebound, often tipping them to himself when fighting against taller opponents. On the offensive end, when he received the ball under the hoop, there often seemed to be only two options: an easy field goal or a trip to the foul line.

However going into next year with the third year player as the starting forward wasn’t good enough for Isiah. Thomas insists on building the team in his “younger and more athletic” mold. Curry certainly fits that bill, just like outgoing Tim Thomas did. However it’s arguable whether or not Eddy is the better player on the court.

Name		FG%	PSA	USG	RBR	R/40	TO	PF	PER
Sweetney	52.2	1.16	17.6	16.8	11.5	2.7	5.6	16.6
E. Curry	52.9	1.13	21.2	11.8	8.5	3.3	5.1	15.8

They score at about the same rate, although Curry’s usage rate is higher. That could be because the offensively challenged Bulls leaned on Eddy, while the Knicks never featured Sweetney in the half court set. The turnover numbers and foul numbers are close enough to even out. However despite giving up 3 inches and 10 pounds, Sweetney’s rebounding numbers puts Curry to shame. Using John Hollinger’s rebounding rate, Sweetney ranked 20th last year in the league ahead of such luminaries as Yao Ming, Zach Randolph, Shawn Marion, and Elton Brand. In fact within the last year Isiah Thomas has traded two of the top 20, with Nazr Mohammed showing up at #11 on that list.

If Knick fans are looking for a silver lining on this deal, it won’t be Curry’s defense. While Chicago was one of the top defensive teams last season, the Knicks didn’t get the defensive stalwart of the Bulls frontcourt. According to 82games.com, the Bulls were 3.3 points worse with Curry on the floor, although he did keep opposing centers in check with a 13.3 oPER. Last year those numbers were 2.7 and 13.8. Dan Rosenbaum rated Curry as the 5th worst defensive center in the league while Matt from Bulls Blog, now over at BlogABull.com, said Curry won’t help the “Knicks’ awful help defense.

In fact in that column, which was written almost a year ago, Matt hit the nail on the head:

Another observation was laughing at the Knicks’ awful help defense. Curry won’t help there, but sometimes Isiah sees something shiny around the league and must have it. After my initial look at Sweetney (and I would really like to hear a Knicks’ fan’s perspective), I’m starting to hope that Isiah gets his man.

Isiah’s obsession with other team’s players has led him to acquire guys like Jamal Crawford, Jerome James, Tim Thomas, and now Curry. Jerome James came from a playoff team, but since he barely played, his contribution to their success was dubious. The 2004 Bulls won 23 games, and Isiah has 3 of their starters (including Antontio Davis)on his roster. Do these sound like the players you would be targeting if you were a GM?

The only positive is Curry’s arrival means the Knicks no longer have to worry about being undersized at the 5, but it comes at a heavy price. While I have no illusions that Sweetney would be enshrined in Springfield, he’ll be an above average starting power forward in this league. Additionally, the supposedly still rebuilding Knicks have given up some future considerations in the form of draft picks. Meanwhile, the Knicks will pay Curry $60M over 6 years. I usually don’t like to deal in hypotheticals, but it’s logical to assume the Knicks could have gotten Sweetney to sign for half that. Sweetney would have given the Knicks about the same amount of production (albeit at a different position) for half the price & New York wouldn’t have to worry if his heart will hold up under the Gotham media.

Isiah’s fault seems to be his inability to stay the course. One minute the Knicks are rebuilding, the next they’re spending $90M dollars for two centers with dubious histories. At the last trade deadline the Knicks were stock piling draft picks like a Central Park squirrel in fall, but now Isiah may have given away two for Curry.

Marbury is still an offensive force, while second rounder Trevor Ariza has flashed great potential. Nate Robinson dominated the summer league, and could be Isiah’s second steal in a row. Additionally, the Knicks have two more youngsters in Frye & Lee. Coach Larry Brown is one of the best in the business. If Isiah stopped there, New York would be in great shape to start the season. Instead, he’s bogged down the team with bad contracts. Eddy Curry, Quentin Richardson, Jamal Crawford, and Jerome James will reportedly cost the Knicks over $180M for the next 5-7 years. That will undoubtedly make the Knicks observers in free agency over that time. The worst part about it is that none of those players are worth it. None are locks to even make a single All Star Appearance. With the salary cap, it’s better to underpay for marginal talent than overpay for an average return. New York’s downfall will be Isiah’s inability to sign cheap talent and leave well enough alone.

75 comments on “Isiah Currys No Favor With Fans

  1. Young T

    Well I think this deal is about the right-now, it sure isn’t about the long-term future. I think at centre we have, for the moment, a pretty impressive two-headed monster in James/Curry. The two have different attributes and could complement each other nicely. Not to mention that Curry has the potential to be a top centre for 10 years. He gives us a legimate inside-scorer. Sweetney was solid yeah, but he’s never going to be an All-Star, whereas Curry definitely could be. Curry is a pretty shocking rebounder though, Frye isn’t a big rebounder, neither are Rose or Taylor, so it is hard to see where our rebounds are going to come from. One of those players is going to have step up big time and pull down some boards.

    All in all, I think you’re being a bit pessismistic, obviously the Knicks owners aren’t too worried about the salary cap so why should you? Clearly we will never have enough room to directly sign any free agent, but that was the situation before this trade. It doesn’t really matter if we are $20M or $50M over the salary cap.

    One thing is for sure though, James was very expensive for what he is, you’d think they would have been smart enough to sign him for either less money per year or less years. Inexplicable really. Isiah sure aint no genius, I mean Nazr was not a bad centre either, trading him away was pretty brainless considering what he got in return. With this trade though, I think Paxson was pretty reluctant, his hand was basically forced. For once I don’t think Thomas got stooged.

    Overall, of course it is sad to lose a player with plenty of heart like Sweetney, but I really think it wasn’t a bad move at all, particularly by Isiah’s standards! Critical as we can be of him, the roster looks a lot better now than he came in though.

  2. Kurt

    First, great Redd Foxx reference. Know at least one person out there got it.

    I’d get this move if Curry was a better defensive player, but as it is this trade did not make the Knick’s biggest short-term problem — being 26th in the league in defensive efficiency — any better. Brown may like having more size but can you teach help defense?

    What happened to not adding long-term contracts to start dealing with the cap situation and allowing future flexiblity?

  3. mason

    good article…Its true the Knicks don’t improve on defense. I would like to see a defensive minded trade soon but there is a definite upside to this trade in that Curry is young and can be molded into a better overall player under LB’s tutelage barring he doesn’t die before that. It should be noted that Centers dominate in the NBA and this roster is improved with this trade.

  4. Tom

    I came by way of BlogABull to see what the NY-side of this deal was. I would agree that Isiah didn’t get totally hosed this time (If he did deal three picks rather than two, he will have made a mistake though). It’s probably impossible to know what this trade is for the next few months. What I can tell you is that Curry scores pretty much at will, has a dubious track record in terms of fitness and was showing some improvement under Skiles (in terms of defensive/rebounding effort). Maybe Brown can get more out of him but it’s more likely he’ll just play to his strengths. I’d say my biggest concern with this deal, from your standpoint, is that you didn’t add a character player. To put it lightly, Eddy has some maturity issues and many of his problems are a result of them. Teaming him with a other players of suspect professionalism-Crawford, James, Q-isn’t going to help the situation. Looking at it objectively as a person that’s seen a bit of Eddy, I’d say that’s the biggest threat to his success. Hopefully, for your sake, Brown can get in his head and get more out of him than he’s managed himself.
    By the way, good site and very good article.

  5. Erik

    I won’t miss Sweetney. I’m aware that you’re a big fan, but I don’t think there was much reason to expect improvement from him. He was a good rebounder and was able to get to the line, but had very little game and was not a good post defender.

    Mostly, though I see this trade as an attempt by Isiah to combine a high-ceiling talent with a great coach. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not. But, Thomas and Sweetney are what they are…only contributors to a mediocre team. Better to take a chance on a kid with a lot of talent.

  6. Scott Blinder

    Knickerblogger, I love your site and your writing, but I think you take an exceedingly narrow view of this deal, and of what Isiah’s approach is. Curry is a year younger than Sweetney, though with lots more experience. Defensive stats notwithstanding, he has started for a playoff team, and an excellent defensive one at that. And, all the cap $ — the Knicks were going to be observers in free agency anyway. But, more important, who cares? Look at the list of top players who have been traded in recent years, versus the ones who have changed teams as free agents. If I’m right, it’s not even close — the rules are too skewed in favor of teams retaining the guys they want. And next year’s free agent list is hardly awe-inspiring — headed by Ben Wallace, who ain’t leavin’, and a few borderline All-Stars. Meantime, Shaq’s been dealt, Vince Carter’s been dealt — these guys have a lot of leverage not only on if they go but where. I’m in the camp that says KG will be next, and that it will be to the Knicks — one of the few teams with big ending contracts and youth to offer. And he will bring with him some BAD CONTRACTS (gasp! the horror! the horror!)…and a legitimate shot at our first deep playoff run since ’99.

  7. Matt Bernhardt

    Hey KB (or other Knick fans)

    I’m trying to find some use for Tim Thomas on the Bulls besides cap fodder. They have a big hole at the 2-guard (in terms of size), can Thomas at least pass as a defender at that position off the bench? Actually…has he shown the willingness to defend at ANY position?

    But on Sweetney/Curry, you definately perked up my optimism after reading this. KB, you can bring your ‘Free Sweetney’ sign over to the United Center, I’ll save you a seat.

  8. Scott

    just to follow up, i looked at chad ford’s top 10 free agents for next year. #3? Eddy Curry. (Wallace 1st, Peja 2nd, then Eddy, Tayshaun Prince — who I’d move up, by the way — but isn’t he getting an extension?, and Nene to finish the top 5.) Now tell me why cap room is so important? Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting for some of those big contracts to get us KG. OK, my sarcasm aside, I can understand wanting to be really bad and try to get Oden and try to sign LeBron, but these are unlikely to happen even if we gut the roster and rub all our rabbits feet, so I’m glad Zeke has another approach. Two years in, I like the improvement, I don’t think he believes younger and more athletic is enough but it sure is a nice start, and I don’t believe he’s handcuffed himself for the future, not in the slightest.

  9. Matt Bernhardt

    You’re assuming that having a large expiring contract is enough to get KG (or another star talent). You have to have assets to trade though, and dealing cheap bigs like sweetney and draft picks means Zeke has even fewer than before.

  10. KnickerBlogger Post author

    1. Sweetney is Curry’s senior only by 41 days, not 1 year.

    2. Curry started for a defensively sound playoff team. To be fair, it was also one of the worst offensive teams in the league (26th out of 30). He also started the year before, when they won 23 games & finished last in offense & had a mediocre D.

    3. I will hold you on that KG comment. I think Kevin McHale once said something to the effect of ‘I’m not in the business of making the Knicks better’. The funny thing is if KG does come to NY, it’ll be of KG’s doing, not Isiah. Is Pat Riley a genious because Shaq forced his way to Miami?

  11. KnickerBlogger Post author

    Matt,

    This trade certainly awoke me from my blog slumber. I’ve updated the link to your page.

    If Scott Skiles knows what he’s doing, nobody should ever need a “Free Sweetney” sign again. Just let me know when he does something athletically that you couldn’t imagine someone with his body type accomplishing.

    As for Tim Thomas. No. No. and No. Thomas can be a scorer off the bench. He’ll disappear when the ball goes up on either end. He’s not a good defender. He’ll look like a basketball player though. At least off the court, anyway.

  12. Ted

    I think that this move was about as Isiah Thomas as it gets. Trading several good players for one good player who has the potential to be great but doesn?t work hard and plays no defense and makes upwards of 10 mill per(with another huge contract thrown in for good luck). It?s getting a little old but after only a year and a half I think it?s still fair to compare him to Layden and say that at least he tries. Then again the only time Layden did try was on a player with an injury concern and it blew up in his face before the season commenced, so lets hope they don?t rush Eddy into preseason action.

    It was frustrating to see Isiah go back to ignoring defense after spending the entire offseason focusing on improving it (well to some extent). Antonio Davis would have been a nice addition both defensively and as a team leader and if he isn?t cut it would make the deal a lot more palatable.

    I definetely agree that it was another stupid deal because unproven talent can be had much cheaper with less risk (especially in this case). But if Isiah?s job is to bring in as much (raw) talent as possible I guess he?s done so and now it?s Larry Brown?s job to start teaching those players all the fundementals of the game (seems they should have had those down by 16, but Zeke manages to acquire every lazy early entrant who never bothered to learn his fundementals).

    There are certainly some positives to this deal. First of all 22 points/40 minutes is vastly superior to 17. The question is whether either of those players has the conditioning or game to play 40 minutes a night. I?m hoping Curry?s health problems promote some sense of urgency. If you?re told get in shape or die you?re more likely to do so.

    The biggest positive has to be that the Knicks have their best low-post option since Ewing. And if nothing else, at least Jerome James might not start.

  13. B LaGree

    I think the Bulls got the best player in the trade even without taking Curry’s uncertain future into account.

    Sweetney is a better rebounder, shoots almost as high a percentage from the floor as does Curry, but gets to the line more often, shoots free throws better, and doesn’t turn the ball over as often. Granted, he has not done so as the first option in an offense and the Bulls will need to rely on a post scorer to return to the playoffs.

    Though neither is an exceptional defender, Curry is easily the better shot blocker. That might have more value for a team that will struggle to guard on the perimeter as the Knicks likely will early in the season.

    Curry looks fine if you don’t see him play on a nightly basis. He does convert a good number of his shot attempts, but his turnover problems negate some of that efficiency. Curry either cannot recognize a double-team or he can’t physically perform the necessary combination of footwork, vision, and passing to successfully extricate himself and his team from the double-team.

    I think his near-absolute inability to rebound (for a man of his size and athleticism) is another function of his struggles to read and react to situations.

    I have no doubt he’s an improvement over Jerome James and Channing Frye, but as with hiring Larry Brown, Isiah seems to have made the team better without making any progress toward building a good team.

  14. Nick

    Official terms of the deal?

    The Chicago Bulls convey to the New York Knicks the contract of Antonio Davis and the signed-and-traded contract of Eddy Curry. In exchange, New York conveys to Chicago the contracts of Tim Thomas and Michael Sweetney, the signed-and-traded contract of Jermaine Jackson, and New York?s regular second round draft choice in 2007 and 2009.

    In addition, New York conveys to Chicago, New York?s 2006 regular first round draft choice on condition that the pick does not actually go to Utah (due to not being number 26-30) and also on condition that New York receives San Antonio?s 2006 regular first round selection (due to being number 11-30). If New York?s 2006 first round does go to Utah (due to being number 26-30), and New York does receive San Antonio?s 2006 first round pick (due to being number 11-30), New York conveys to Chicago that San Antonio first round selection.

    In addition, New York also conveys to Chicago the right to switch first round draft picks with New York in 2007 provided that New York?s first round selection does not go to Utah (is not number 25-30). Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed. This trade is conditional upon the players passing their physicals.

    http://www.insidehoops.com/curry-trade-knicks-100405.shtml

  15. Scott

    Knickerblogger: Thanks for the correct info on ages, and of course feel free to remind me of my KG prediction if it doesn’t happen, I’ve been wrong many times before. (But really, what else is McHale supposed to say at this point?) And once more on defense — my point isn’t that Curry’s great, but that he might be better than the stats show, since defense is hard to measure and some indicators (team defense, opposing center’s PER) look pretty good for Eddy.

    But regardless of my predictions, and regardless of how much Curry develops in comparison to Sweetney (who I do like a lot), my point to you (and other commenters) is that the Knicks are NOT hamstrung by the contracts of James and Q and Curry. Far from it — they now have the assets to make a blockbuster like that to happen — even losing Sweetney, we have Ariza and three promising rookies — apparently Paxson loves David Lee, for one.

    Plus, a star like KG wanting to come here (if he decides he does) would be quite closely related to the moves Isiah has made to improve the team — he certainly wouldn’t have asked to be traded to the Spoon/Eisley/Shandon Knicks no matter how much he loves New York. Making your team a desirable destination — maybe it’s not genius, but to me that counts as part of a rebuilding plan, a part that teams like the Hawks and the pre-Paxson Bulls forgot, to their detriment. Superstars don’t seem willing to go to the teams that “blow it up” to get under the cap — which leaves you with nothing but ping-pong balls as a rebuilding plan. Not that that can’t work, but it’s risky too — even if your number comes up, there are more Olowokandis (or even Currys) out there than there are Duncans and Garnetts.

    Ack, I just saw the terms of the deal — so many draft picks?!?! Oh well, even I can’t like everything Zeke does…(Mo Taylor anyone?)…

  16. KD

    I’ll take the obvious one here:

    I don’t mean to be flip here, Scott, but this also means another GM is willing to take on the contracts of Eddy, Q and Jerome James for said GM’s superstar.

    I just can’t see it on the ticker someday … New York Knicks trade Eddy Curry, Trevor Ariza, Quentin Richardson and Jerome James for ________

  17. Nick

    I’m not sure the salary numbers are right. Looking at the numbers, it seems the max Curry’s deal could be is ~49 mil over 6 years.

    Knicks’ maximum incoming salaries: 125% * (13,975,000 (Thomas) + 2,100,000 (Sweets) + 900,000 (JJ)) + 100,000 = 21,318,750.

    21,318,750 = (13,925,000 (Davis) + 925,000 (Davis’s trade kicker)) + x (Curry’s new first year salary); x = $6,468,750?

    Are these numbers correct?

  18. Ted

    KD: I can definitely see that. First of all, can you really tell me how good any of those guys will be in 3 years, let alone this year? Ariza should be a college junior, Curry should be a rookie, Q has played on the Clippers and a team that asked him to do nothing but shoot the three, and well Jerome James will suck this year, in 3 years, and in 5 years, but at least he’s big and sucks.
    Second, look at someone like Antawn Jamison who’s worth a run down Van Excel on a loser then worth Stackhouse and a #5 pick after only one year on a winner.
    Third, I never expected to see Aaron Williams and Eric Williams for Vince Carter.

    In terms of defensive +/- statistics are you negatively effected if you’re often replaced by good defenders such as Chandler or Antonio Davis or Othella Harrington (vs. being replaced by terrible defenders)? And, I guess, if so was Curry often replaced by Chandler or did they play together for most of his minutes?

    Very true that bigtime free agents and draft picks are few and far between. I guess one potential problem with overspending on unproven talent though is that if none of it pans out you’re stuck with a bunch of huge contracts no one wants (like what happened to Scotty-boy).

    It is rather interesting that Isiah is seemingly re-assembling one of the worst teams in the NBA a couple years ago. The Wiz pulled it off with Warriors’ cast-offs.

  19. Nick

    Ted: “In terms of defensive +/- statistics are you negatively effected if you?re often replaced by good defenders such as Chandler or Antonio Davis or Othella Harrington (vs. being replaced by terrible defenders)? And, I guess, if so was Curry often replaced by Chandler or did they play together for most of his minutes?”

    Rosenbaum’s +/- defensive statistic, accounts for the other players in the game in an attempt to isolate a player’s defensive abilities. He published an article on 82games.com about his defensive adjusted +/- rankings, and in that article, Curry was one of the worst centers in the league defensively.

  20. Ted

    I’ve seen the rankings, does he go beyond the players in the game at the same time as you are and include the players who are on the court when you are off the court? As I understand it, +/- calculates how well your team does when you are on the court and off the court. So if Chandler comes in and shuts things down while you’re off the court you’re going to look worse on the court then if Joe Shmo comes in when you’re off the court.

  21. Nick

    Yes, traditionally +/- is very dependent on who replaces the player in question. But Rosenbaum uses complex statistical methods to account for this. The math is explained in this article: http://www.uncg.edu/bae/people/rosenbaum/NBA/winval2.htm

    The problems occur when someone is only substituted in tandem with another player, exclusively. Or at least enough to make the sample sizes really small. And as I understand it, this is reflected in the standard error and as such the rankings should be taken with a grain of salt. But unless the standard error is huge, a player that rates really bad is likely really bad.

  22. Nick

    Ok, I see a possible problem with my earlier calculation. AD has already been traded once, so the trade kicker would not be activated again, as far as I understand it. So Davis’s kicker is already calculated in his salary in Storyteller’s salary spreadsheet. So, the corrected values are:

    Knicks’ maximum incoming salaries: 125% * ($13,975,000 (Thomas) + $2,100,000 (Sweets) + $900,000 (JJ)) + $100,000 = $21,318,750.

    $21,318,750 = $13,925,000 (Davis) + x (Curry’s new first year salary); x = $7,393,750

    Asumming max raises and six years, the most his contract could be is $56,007,656.

  23. Greebo

    I absolutely HATE to see Sweetney go, because the dude was clutch. But have you seen Eddy Curry? Just seen him on a basketball court? All stats aside, the kid is a monster. He’s got the most Shaq-like physique of anybody I’ve seen in the NBA not named Shaquille. And the truth is that you just can’t pass on that. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. A quality center speeds up this whole rebuilding thing by leaps and bounds, and we STILL have Penny and Houston’s expiring contracts as trade bait.

    And Curry’s 22! Some people are natural rebounders, but sometimes peeps have to learn to rebound. Here’s where it doesn’t hurt to have the best coach ever. All in all, I’m very hopeful.

    Also, if he fails his physical, then the whole thing is off, nothing ventured, nothing gained, nothing lost. So there’s a little insurance on Zeke’s side. How could he not make this trade?

    So in conclusion, you Chicagoans take good care of Sweet. He’ll make you happy. But me, I’m crossing my fingers for Curry, and hard.

  24. Tom

    If you want an idea of Curry’s defensive presence, I can tell you that Jared Reiner replaced him in a game against the heat and was MORE effective defensively against Shaq. Curry’s biggest issue is that his attitude negates his physical attributes. He’s a great guy, not a negative presence and all that good jazz.. ..however, his attitude lends itself more to a finesse style of play. The things he can do are amazing for someone his size but the things that he refuses to/can’t do are equally frustrating. He has three major hurdles in coming to New York: 1) he is not coachable (there’s a reason Jamal Crawford is his close friend); 2) he not only shuns spotlight-level pressure, he wilts under it (he’s already gone on record as saying he doesn’t want to be a #1 option); 3) his drive/motivation are poor enough that he can not be relied upon (see points 1 & 2).
    He is young but his issues run much more deeply than that. The guy has ridiculous potential but balances it with a really atrocious mindset. He backs down from challenges. Do you think that Skiles wanted to bench a 7′ 285 lbs center with exceptional athletic ability in crunch time? Yet, every time he did it, Eddy seemed relieved. NYC is going to be a huge challenge and Curry will likely be wounded by it which will not be good. You guys are wild fans (which makes for great television come draft time-I love seeing David Stern go deer-in-headlights for a good hour) and don’t take s#!tty players lightly. Rather, you kick them in the ass like they deserve. Unfortunately, Eddy probably will not respond well to that. Really, that’s what I see as the biggest problem- Demanding Larry Brown + Demanding fan base = empty effort from Eddy.
    Please don’t take this as a knock on NYC fans either, I always love that you hold your players accountable. It’s the way it should be.

  25. Mike A.

    Sorry to say, you guys are in for a disappointment. The people in Chicago who don’t like this trade only see Curry’s offensive production and forget his lackadaisical effort on the boards and the defensive end. The Bulls were a good defensive team DESPITE Eddy’s presence, which was usually on the bench in the fourth quarter. Eddy is not likely to put up the same offensive numbers with Marbury, Crawford and Richardson jacking up shots and he’s certainly not going to rebound many of their misses.

    Not to mention last season’s production came in a contract year. Eddy is not known for his commitment to physical fitness or improving his game. With his contract signed, he really doesn’t have much incentive to work.

    We’ve all been talking about Eddy’s potential for four years now. If he hasn’t reached it already, he’s probably not going to get there anytime soon.

    That said, I hope that he does turn into the beast we all hoped he would. But if he doesn’t do it under Larry Brown, it’s probably never going to happen.

    (BTW, Jalen Rose is available if Isiah is looking to put the 02-03 Bulls on the floor.)

  26. dave

    to me the interesting part about this deal is the social-psychology. as KB points out, right now – at this moment – sweets and eddy curry are about the same player. if anything, sweets gets the slight nod because of his better rebounding and overall D.

    this deal is about “upside,” the perception of continued development, and expectations. but i wonder how much improvement – on a per minute basis – takes place after the age 22 season. how many guys ever really make “the leap”?

    anyway, now that curry is on the roster i’m trying to temper my expectations about exactly what he brings to the table and where we can reasonably expect improvement.

    1. FG% – though his FGAs will likely decline he should actually get even better – more open – shots.

    2. Rebounds – i’m not convinced that curry will ever live up to expectations in this area (kinda like Kevin Duckworth), but i think herb williams can coax some improvement on the boards. some of curry’s issues really are about positioning.

    honestly, i don’t expect significant improvement in other areas of his game. my *hope* is that he makes a greater commitment to defense and that he gets better at passing out of the double team. however, those are two things that really are difficult to learn at the pro level.

  27. Ricky

    Bulls fans should be very happy about this trade and Knicks fans should be indifferent at best.

    Considering that the Bulls were going to lose Curry anyway (either due to him leaving as a FA, medical reasons, salary demands etc) this trade must look like a godsend to Chicago fans. Out of nowhere they replaced his numbers statistically (same age, same PER, same FG%, same PP40) at a fraction of the cost and gained draft picks to boot. The TT/Davis element is close to a total wash with Chicago getting the slightly better end of that swap. They’re both marginal players in the last year of a contract with nearly the same salary but Thomas is a little better, younger and motivated by being in a contract year. Kudos to Paxson.

    The Knicks, on the other hand, came up short.
    Simply put, the small difference in production (and it is small by any measure) between Curry and Sweetney is not worth the salary difference, health risk, draft picks, and contract length.

    This trade exacerbates more of our weaknesses than it alleviates. It worsens the cap situation, defense, small forward, and future draft situation. And all we got in return are the same productivity we gave up.

    I don’t want to be offensive, but anyone who says fans shouldn’t worry about salaries, cap room, losing future draft picks etc doesn’t know diddly about running a basketball team. I’ve been a Knick fan for 15 years and plan to be one in 6 years so if a decision has a reasonable chance to carry negative consequences in the future, then I’m against it now. In 2011 I don’t want to see this team still at .500 with Curry god forbid lying next to Reggie Lewis or sitting on the bench looking like Big Worm and collecting $10million checks that coul be used to make the team better.

    “Hey honey, I have a great plan for our kids’ college educations, I just spent their savings on 75,000 lotto tickets”

    Poor foresight and excessive risk doesn’t work in a family, a company or a basketball team

  28. James

    Ok, where to start.

    I really don’t think you’re comparing like with like here. Hollinger’s stats are great, I own the book and have read all of the first chapters – how the stats are calculated etc, so I’m not just talking out of my a^& here. PER is essentially a measure of how efficiently a player uses the time THAT THEY GET. Sweetney’s foul issues have guaranteed that he never gets that many minutes (admitedly he’s exceeded in games where he’s managed to stay on the floor). He gets those fouls because he’s defensively slow (and in fairness because the Knicks weak side help was mediocre). It’s hard to coach quickness. His PER is boosted by his uncanny ability to get rebounds (although I’d argue that this stat is someone padded by his ability to rebound his own misses repeatedly), and to have a very high points/48 minutes. But if you’re only on the court for 19 of the Knicks 240 minutes per night, it just can’t help that much.

    You like to quote Hollinger. To quote Hollinger too – he states that centers drafted outside of the high picks each draft are almost always busts. We weren’t going to get one of the highest picks any time soon. Yet we got a 22yo center (younger than Sweetney), who was a high pick, and who showed massive improvement last year under a firebrand coach (similar to what he’ll have under Brown). He’ll probably regress a little in the short term – he’s had a summer to stress and come to terms with his own potential health, but in the longer term I don’t see any reason (provided he’s healthy) to think he’s plateaued or will regress long term.

    More to the point, two weeks ago the Knicks were reasonably deep at each position, except (perhaps) center. There were no glaring weaknesses. But the only real star was Marbury, and we just can’t play 12 guys no matter how talented. What we needed was to upgrade the talent that actually contibutes to the time on the floor, to concentrate that talent if you like. Curry is a potential star, and while Sweetney most likely will be a starter for a long time, he’s no Curry. And he doesn’t have Curry’s upside.

    The Bulls did fine out of this trade. But the Knicks got someone who if healthy will be a good starting center with genuine center size who is still 7-8 YEARS away from his prime. Curry’s not slow, and he’ll benefit from Herb and Aguire. Rebounding and defense is abolutely an issue for him, but those things can be coached. And post players don’t usually flourish until their mid twenties at the earliest.

    I for one remember Curry beating up the Knicks, and look forward to him doing that to our opponents this year.

  29. Chase

    reading the complaints on this blog is tiring. most of the people here don’t like isiah & would personally like to see him fail. have some faith – champions are not made overnight. Larry Brown & Eddy Curry were rare & good investments. The Knicks will be fine.

  30. dave

    One of the things I haven’t liked about some of Hollinger’s articles on ESPN is that they frequently ignore the constraints of the market. (Everyone but everyone is going to overpay for a serviceable center on the open market, much less one with some upside. I overpaid for my apartment in Boston – but I had to live somewhere and $1,100/mo was the going rate for a 1-br in 2000. That’s just what people paid in that market.)

    The Knicks have already seen what life is like with a productive and undervalued Sweetney and no real center. It ain’t pretty. So the question becomes, what other moves can the team reasonably make to address that weakness?

    History tells us that Jerome James is one of the most foul-prone players ever to grace an NBA court. So there’s little question but that the Knicks must upgrade the position.

    So even at Sweetney’s production Curry fills a need that Sweetney didn’t. By itself, that doesn’t justify the deal, despite what some of you guys are saying. The deal should certainly be held up to performance and financial scrutiny. BUT, my question to Hollinger (and to some extent KB) is this. What’s the far superior move? If you keep Sweetney and pass on Curry what do you do about a center next year or two years from now?

  31. Ted

    Given the choice, do you build an offense around Corliss Williamson or Shaq ultra-lite?

    One thing I’m noticing about people’s reactions to this trade is that everyone assumes Sweetney is as good, some say obviously better, because of his per minute stats without considering their games or per game stats. Per minute stats tell you how effecient a player is and they’re nice for predicting how good a player might be with more minutes, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Curry scored twice as many points per game as Sweetney last year.

    Curry is a legitimate low-post scorer while Sweetney is a banger who scraps points together. You can build your offense around Curry: dump the ball into him all night while he frees up the perimeter for your other scorers as he attracts double teams (it’d be nice if he learned to pass and stopped turning the ball over). Seeing as perimeter scorers is one area in which the Knicks are above average it makes sense to get a guy who potentially makes those assets more effective.

    Scoring points as a team’s #1 option going against the other teams’ best interior defender night in and night out is not the same as coming in for spot duty and making 3 of 6 shots. In college as the #1 option Sweetney usually looked like some sort of beast shaking off hyenas and throwing up ugly shots against double and triple teams. The fact is that he makes an insane % of these shots, true, but will that work against NBA defenders for 15/20 shots a night? Is that really something you can build your offense around? Especially if your team is hopelessly lacking on the defensive end, as the Knicks seem to be. Do you build your offense around Corliss Williamson?

    So, in my opinion, Sweetney might be a top of the line role player, but Curry might be someone who can dominate a basketball game (on one end of the floor). I know it feels like a while since he left Knicks fans, but try to remember how valuable a dominate low post scorer is.

    Also would like to add that I’ll take Antonio Davis over Tim Thomas any day. The guy is a leader, he works hard, and he plays D. I’m not sure Tim would see the court with Q, Ariza, and David Lee at the three, but Davis can help sure up a front-court that features a rookie, a guy with a heart condition, and, well, good old Jerome James. He’s also a guy who can grab a board.

  32. Scott

    Hopefully not to railroad the conversation entirely, but, from a ways back…there’s no need to be flip, the idea isn’t to trade Curry and Q and JJ KG, it’s to trade Penny and A Davis and Frye and Lee for Garnett and all or most of the T’wolves bad contracts (and they have plenty), to give them youth and cap space to rebuild. May not happen but it’s plausible in a way that it wasn’t 2 years ago.

    This blog is such a good read — nice points by several folks on the perhaps overuse of the Hollinger stats in comparing a role-playing PF with a starting C. While I like Sweets, the only part of the trade that scares me (and where I agree with Hollinger’s analysis) is the way the unprotected draft picks vastly increase the risk involved for the Knicks, just in case Curry’s a bust, Marbs gets hurt, or some other catastrophe strikes.

  33. Scott

    Kevin Pelton’s piece on 82games.com backs up Ted’s point — take ultra-lite Shaq over a Corliss Williamson (ultra-heavy version?).

  34. KnickerBlogger Post author

    I have to say per game stats really don’t do justice in this case. Sweetney was fighting for time and the ball while Curry was a prime offensive option on a bad offensive team. Here’s a nice little per game stat: both averaged 5.4 REB/G, but Sweetney accomplished it in 9 minutes less!

    If you want to say that Curry’s higher usage makes him a better offensive player, then that’s plausbile. But you shouldn’t compare per game stats with two guys that are so far apart in minutes.

  35. Kevin Pelton

    If you’re asking me who I’d rather run my offense through, the answer is “neither.”

    Same if you’re asking who I’d rather hand $60M to.

  36. Ben

    Hi KB,

    Been a while since I’ve posted (although I’ve read everything).

    I love baseball’s sabermaticians and I love the fact that people are trying to do the same with basketball. 82games is a favorite of mine, KB runs my favorite basketball blog by far and he’s certainly a stat-head, Hollinger dogs the Knicks too much, but he’s ridiculously smart and a valuable basketball resource, but let’s be clear about these numbers:

    They can be tremendously misleading.

    I don’t claim to be as knowledgable as some in this conversation and I certainly am no Hollinger, but I do have a pretty good bball stats understanding and some background with statistics and econ; Many of these statistical measurements have little basis in reality.

    Baseball is a godsend for statisticians because it’s a sport with very few moving parts, a comparatively limited number of variables and a very clear way of incorporating things like time sequences, fatigue and measurements of value (that is, in runs). Moreover, teams play so often and change so little, that your sample size is huge compared to basketball.

    Basketball statisticians have no such luxury and so it’s important to see if the results your getting jive with reality. I would argue that they do not here.

    It’s nice to say that Sweetney is incredibly productive over 40 minutes, but we all know he didn’t play anywhere close to that. Moreover, for a variety of reasons such as fouls (as someone already mentioned) and, chiefly in my mind, fatigue, it’s not clear that Sweets COULD ever play that much. Remember that this is the player that KB makes a fat joke about virtually every time he mentions him. Can you really see him legging it under brown for 30 minutes, much less 40? Productivity over 40 doesn’t pass the laugh test here, particularly if he’s bodying against true power forwards during that time.

    Similarly, basketball stats can only begin to evaluate the importance of things like height and allowing guys to play in their natural position. Having even a decent true center (James is NOT decent) changes the way teams play games. Any JV player can tell you that. As good as Sweets could ever be, he could never shift a defense like a bigger, stronger guy could.

    And it’s also hard to statistically evaluate the effects of a coach and his system on an individual player. I am sympathetic to peoples’ points that Brown can’t magically make Curry a Wallace or Garnett on the boards. On the other hand, I am strongly of the belief that defense (or at least NBA defense) is a taught skill. There are tools that make for a good defender, but defense is a cerebral excercise as much as a physical one and even if it only makes Curry so-so, I’d love to have a guy with that build in the middle.

    Don’t get my wrong, I think Sweetney’s a nice little player, but I have to ultimately side with a move that gives the team more balance from the 1-5. This move definitely does that.

    So this is a long way of saying that I can’t really buy the idea that Sweetney and Curry are roughly the same player. That strikes me as bunk. Curry may often have been out of shape, but he clearly doesn’t have the stamina and foul issues that Sweetney did, the Per 40s mean a lot more for him than Sweets in my mind.

    Meanwhile he rationalizes the roster and gives a legitimate offensive option on a different part of the court than Sweetney would.

    I hate the draft implications, worry about the heart and wonder about the contract, but I like this deal a LOT. Certainly more than shipping off Nazr.

    – Ben

    P.S. The Knicks still have a number of contracts coming off the books. Does this really change our outlook in the free agent market two years from now? I was under the impression that it did not.

  37. Kevin Broom

    A point on per 40 minute stats — they should not be used to make statements like, “If Mike Sweetney played 40 minutes per game, he would average 11.1 rebounds.” Per minute stats are useful to compare what a player does in the smallest unit of time available to us — it answers the question what does the player do during the time he gets on the court. Per game stats don’t answer that question because of variations in minutes played. The multiplier (40, 36, 48) is more for convenience than anything else — to make the numbers more familiar and digestible. It’s not a claim that the player could play that many minutes per game, nor is it a claim that the player would produce those stats if he played that many minutes per game.

  38. Ben

    Kevin,

    Exactly. My concern is that calling Sweetney an equivalent to Curry when Curry’s a starter (although one seeing limited minutes) and Sweetney’s a bench player is simply not accurate. I think (perhaps incorrectly, sorry if I’m wrong) that a lot of people are treating them as extrapolations instead of measures of effectively used minutes.

    I would imagine that all but the very best players see steadily decreasing marginal returns on their minutes played. That said, it’s still no defense of Curry’s rebounding, but I think it does put some perspective on Sweetney as a player.

    – Ben

  39. James

    I agree that per minute production IS a valid way of comparing a minute that Curry spends on the floor with a minute that Sweetney spends on the floor. But too many people – Hollinger on espn and forget his name on 82games.com (both quite stats savvy) are using it to compare the two players, without account for the fact that

    Guys like Sweetney (Dan Gadzuric is another example that comes to mind) have great PER and per minute stats, but they haven’t been able to translate it to longer playing time.

    I take a guy who has shown he can perform at least at Sweetney’s level or another 10 minutes per night over the prospect of Sweetney being able to play for that extended period. Plus he’s three inches taller, dominant and doesn’t pad his rebounding numbers with his own misses.

    And whoever said it, great analogy between paying NBA centers and buying Boston apartments…

  40. KnickerBlogger Post author

    James – Sweetney & Curry both shoot at nearly the same percentage, so how is Sweetney padding his stats with misses?

    Or was that a joke that Mike can actually hit the glass?

  41. KnickerBlogger Post author

    James – One other thing to consider – what about all the guys that Hollinger & Pelton have shown that can play if given more minutes? (J.O’Neal, Redd, etc). How many guys that have great per minute stats have to turn into All Stars when given the time before you consider its importance?

  42. James

    Padding his rebounding stats is what I’m saying (and of course I’m in no way inferring that it was deliberate). Sweetney is certainly a great rebounder, but I’d be curious to see the stats (if they exist) on how many of his own misses (or shots he had blocked) that he regathered (getting and OREB).

    As regards getting more minutes, once Nazr Mohammed was gone, Sweetney had every chance to get more minutes. He has a knack for giving up cheap fouls and losing playing time in the process. I absolutely agree that he has big upside, and experience (and a little referee respect) will reduce his fouls. I guess to sum this up – both Sweetney and Curry have big upside – just in Curry’s case (imo) that upside has been more realised.

    As regards the importance of per minute stats, PER, etc: they are of course a much better test than per game stats. And I agree, plenty of those guys with high PER and low minutes become allstars. But if you’re foul prone and just can’t get those minutes, then you can have the greatest PER in the world and it just won’t matter.

    Anyway, very best of luck to Sweetney – I hope he has a long flourishing career. I hope he gets most improved player as someone suggested. But I’d take Curry with his upside over Sweetney and his any day.

  43. mason

    the best thing about this controversial trade is this debate…Isiah is looking for the ‘silver bullet’ with regard to legitimizing the roster instead of playing the hand he was dealt.

  44. Kevin Broom

    Ben wrote: “I would imagine that all but the very best players see steadily decreasing marginal returns on their minutes played.”

    I think this is actually not the case. Some members at APBRMetrics have looked at this, and I recall that they found a mixed bag — some guys improve or maintain their per minute stats as they increase playing time, other don’t. They didn’t find anything resembling a “rule” on this, though.

  45. KnickerBlogger Post author

    According to 82games.com, both players had their shots blocked 9% of the time when shooting from inside. It also shows that Curry got 11.9% of all defensive rebounds and Sweetney 17.9%. I don’t see how he could manipulate that stat.

    Sweetney is just the better rebounder. It’s not even close.

    And I don’t agree about Sweetney having “every chance.” They threw him in at center and took him out when the egg timer hit 20 minutes.

    Read these:
    http://www.knickerblogger.net/?p=208
    http://www.knickerblogger.net/?p=210

  46. KnickFan

    What I can’t figure out is the Knick’s rotation. We still have about 10-11 mediocre to good players and no place to play them.

    They only way I can see this working is if Brown goes against type and employs a Hubie Brown-in-Memphis style 10 man rotation where everyone gets minutes. Basically, they had two separate teams going. We could have a slow/half-court team, full of slashers and shooters, with Curry in the post, and a running team on the bench

    To wit:

    Marbury, Houston (if healthy), Q, Mo Taylor and Curry, who would walk the ball up, get scored on a ton, but be pretty good in the half court (q, allan and Mo would spot up, Stephon would drive and Curry would post).

    Then, have Nate Dogg, Jamal, Trevor Ariza, Malik Rose (or Lee) and Frye (or James) to go up and down the court.

    The problem is that neither of these group of five is very good. But I think it’s the best we can do…

  47. James

    Ok, firstly, Michael Redd had a PER of 20 in limited minutes – significantly higher than Sweetney (or Curry’s) 15ish. Jermaine ONeal never had a PER that even hit 14 until he came to Indiana and got increased playing time, so arguing that he had a high PER in low playing time isn’t right in that case either.

    Put it this way – I’m not doubting that there’s some sort of correlation between a player with limited minutes’ PER and the chance of that player becoming a star. But I’d argue that there’s significant ‘noise’ in that relationship.

    Vladimir Radmanovic, Bryon Russell, Malik Rose (and I only looked through the ‘R’s) should have flourished into better players than they are under the same theory, right? It’s dubious to say well look at these guys – they had high PER’s and they became stars, when there are plenty of examples of people who didn’t. And look at Bobby Simmon’s – PER doesn’t seem to predict his improvement.

    At the back of my mind in this argument (and I’m sorry if it seems heated – I don’t mean that, I really am enjoying it, your great forum/site, and arguing with someone who certainly has a greater understanding of the stats behind this game than myself), is that there is some sort of auto-correlation between PER and minutes played. It seems something of a self fulfilling prophecy almost. I really don’t have the time to troll through a bunch of players stats to back this up but check out Greg Ostertag’s stats

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/o/ostergr01.html

    In 1997 and 2004 he had two peaks in PER and in playing time. He was the same mediocre player he’s always been, but he got more time. I’m aware that obviously coaches pick the best guys to play the most so there will be some sort of auto-correlation, but is it just that or is it the stat itself? Are we partly seeing the old comment by the guy who got cut at training camp – that if he ‘got his chance’ he could make it?

    PS: I’m not arguing that sweetney was ‘manipulating’ his stats (or that Curry is a better rebounder – I agree he’s not) – I’m saying that he had a knack for regathering his own misses. Put it this way – Shaq does’t get blocked or miss close in that often, but if he did he’d probably have some more offensive rebounds right? I’m curious to see how Sweetney’s rebounding numbers will change next to Chandler, Nocioni etc, and how Curry’s will change next to…well…

  48. KnickerBlogger Post author

    Watching Sweetney, I don’t think his offensive rebounds were padded by his own misses. Granted that offensive rebounding is a skill different than defensive rebounding, but his defensive numbers were solid as well. Since I have enough evidence on both ends, I would be hard pressed to believe otherwise unless you tracked that very same stat.

    As for JO – you don’t think that 10+ rebounds, 4 Oreb, 12pts, 2.5 BLKs in per 40 minutes is good for an 18-21 year old?

  49. Nick

    James Said: P.S: I?m not arguing that sweetney was ?manipulating? his stats (or that Curry is a better rebounder – I agree he?s not) – I?m saying that he had a knack for regathering his own misses. Put it this way – Shaq does?t get blocked or miss close in that often, but if he did he?d probably have some more offensive rebounds right? I?m curious to see how Sweetney?s rebounding numbers will change next to Chandler, Nocioni etc, and how Curry?s will change next to?well?

    The problem here is you make it sound like a bad thing that Sweetney gathers his own misses — that his rebounding is superfluous or the seeming advantage his rebounding statistics imply is illusional.

    This would only be a sound argument if Sweetney had a lower FG % — you could then say, “Sweetney rebounds alot of his own shots, and he misses alot, so it balances out in some way.”

    The rub is that Sweetney makes very good use of his shots, even without considering his offensive rebounding. You WANT a guy like Sweetney to “pad” his offensive rebounding numbers, because he’s such an efficient scorer. Sweetney’s PSA (Points per Shot Attempt, a stat that accounts for three pointers and free throws to determine the average points generated per shot attempt) is actually higher than Curry’s and outstanding in general (1.18 versus 1.17).

    So Sweetney makes good on his field goal attempts by either making the basket or scoring at the line. Now, on top of that, he does a good job of grabbing the shots he misses, further boosting his effiency. Compared to Curry, Sweets has a PSA that is slightly better, and much better odds of rebounding the shot in the occasion that he does miss.

    A stat like Dean Oliver’s Offensive Rating that incorporates offensive rebounds (as well as assists, turnovers) shows that Sweetney was by far the more efficent offensive player in the minutes he played (112 to 103, that’s fairly huge in terms of this stat).

    In conclusion, I think the only instances where you can call someone’s rebounding stats superficial based on the observation that they rebound their own shots is when they have a piss poor PSA (or FG%, if you wish). And even then, it’s giving them a second chance to score and essentially erasing a missed shot so it’s never really a bad thing unless the player can’t make a shot at all.

    Basically, don’t try to convince yourself that Curry’s anemic rebounding is not hurting his efficiency as a player.

  50. Guichard

    This offseason I felt IT had to accomplish 2 things: get the team a coach that is not patsy; and 2 centers (starter and backup).

    He has accomplished that and got us 3 first round draft picks. Actually, if Antonio Davis is not cut, we actually have 4 guys who can spend time at the center position (James, Curry, Frye, and Davis).

    I’m a big Sweetney fan, ever since his Hoyas days, and I’m upset he had to be included in the trade. But, after the draft, it was clear to get a Center, we would have to give up Sweetney or Ariza. The feeling coming into the off-season: we would get Kwame Brown or Eddy Curry.

    This trade was strictly about getting a starting center, and Sweetney proved he cannot play that position.

    I would not be surprised if Sweetney is reacquired when he’s a RFA or UFA.

  51. Dave

    Now I think this whole article is a peice of crap. Horseshit. I’m sorry but thats all it is. If it were on paper, I’d say put into a dispensory for a toilet.

    Curry is THE most talented young center in the game. He will be better than Yao long term. He IS the most effective centre not named Shaq in the low post. And maybe one of the top 5 and if not top 10 POST SCORERS. He cant shoot a lick. He cant rebound and he cant play defense. So what. Shaq can’t either, but he learnt to he use his enormous body in LSU to his advatage to bypass his shortcommings. And IF Larry Brown is as good as they all say (personally I dont believe him to be anything more than a top 10 coach in this league in this moment – based on his history he’d be higher) he should be able to use Curry the same way.

    Sweetney was a backup four in this league. He was to unfit, had no conditioning, not too much consistency either. He could board, for sure, he could score some, yeah i’ll agree there too. But when taller more athletic players D’d him up, he disappeared. Who would you rather have on your team ? A player who can’t play against the best or a player that has done well against the best. A player who started everything for a playoff team ? (no way Gordon went for 15ppg off the bench without the post presence being established first – although that was as a rookie, I expect big things from Ben this year). Or a player who couldn’t even consistently start for a rebounding challenged team ? (when its hsi specialty, when Kurt played the 5) It makes no sense to even try to argue this point.

    This article is a prime example of a non-bball follower just reading some ESPN guy’s view on the move (hollinger maybe, not sure, cant remember).

    Watch the Bulls games. Watch his games since his rookie year. He’s a beast on that low block. The only thing that is holding him back is his rebbounding and defense. Like it or not, that is improving, at snail rate, but at least its something.

    And I believe Curry is starting to get stick already for not being in shape enough, well what would you do with 60m on the line, go play pickup and risk being another Willie Green ?

    Curry is a peice in progress, but even then he’s NYC’s best post scorer since the Ewing era of 1998, he’s better than post Pat 98 in a sinch.

    As for Tim Thomas, he was a fool, saying a lot without nothing to back it up (kenyon martin was it ?). Inconsistent. Cant rebound. Wont D. Cant pass. Killer in a Brown system.

    AS for Jermaine Jackson, its no pain. They got Steph, Houston, Crawford, Nate, Penny, and Q who can all ball in the backcourt. Want a fourth point. GO and sign Omar Cook. A pure point who’ll work his socks off, just as good as JJ.

    As for the draft pick, well its quite simply rare to find someone good enough at a low pick. And the Knicks should be in the 18-21 pick range this year. (they may get a rotation guy, may not, this draft and the next are already being forecasted as one of the weakest ever as a short term sideffect of the exclusion of HS players.

    Is Curry better than Sweetney ? Hands down. PER is overrated like all stats. Curry is a problem. He is guarenteed attention. He will get double teams when he’s rolling. He will score when he gets the ball. In three years time, he opts out, and he’ll be the best centre in the league, still with his short commings but hey.

    The biggest signing here is AD, if Brown can talk him round, this could be huge. His rebounding and interior defense would make NYC’s starting unit a solid defensive club. Cause ain’t no way in hell Steph can be a good defensive player without knowing someone has his back down low. Doess anyone really think Bowen would be that good without TD ?

    AD, and EC, electric signings. Title contenders, not this season but the premise and foundation is set. They could contend with this group with a minor tweak or two. They wont win. But they wont be losing too much either.

    PS NYC has the wrong coach for this unit. Larry wont allow steph teh freedom he needs, and he forces his centres to be to active on running the break which will tire out every centre in this league not named Walton, Lucas or Wallace. Plus I dont believe he’ll use Q on that low block sa much as people say. He wont like Crawford’s game. And he cant use a bench no matter how deep (and these Knicks are deeper than most just like his pistons last year – arroyo is a great offensive point). His system will lack movement and be too dependant on certain players, my guess is Houston – if he makes it back. But he’ll improve them along the road for the next coach. As long as Isiah doesn’t flounder under the media pressure that Brown brings.

  52. KnickerBlogger Post author

    Dave – Let me tackle these 1 at a time:

    This article is a prime example of a non-bball follower just reading some ESPN guy?s view on the move (hollinger maybe, not sure, cant remember).

    I figure I watched over 100 games last year, and I wrote my article before Hollinger wrote his.

    Curry is THE most talented young center in the game.

    Let’s play a game called which one doesn’t fit:

    Name – # Of All Star Games
    Jermaine O’Neal – 4
    Yao Ming – 3
    Amare Stoudamire – 1
    Eddy Curry – 0

    Watch the Bulls games.

    I saw the Bulls playoff games last year & Curry didn’t impress me much.

    The only thing that is holding him back is his rebbounding and defense. Like it or not, that is improving, at snail rate, but at least its something.

    Oh really? His per minute rebounds and blocked shots BOTH have gone down EVERY single year.

    Dave – One of us is writing horseshit, and I don’t own any horses.

  53. Micah

    I’ve watched every Bulls game I’ve been in the country for the past three years (~200). These are the things that will frustrate knicks fans the most (1) sure Curry is a big big man, but his shrinks with contact… lays up when he could dunk… doesn’t fight for rebounds, blocks, and rarely position (although that improved a lot last year)… for anything really (unless you are Brendan Haywood’s groin in last year’s preseason… one of the most embarrassing moments for Bulls fans in recent memory), (2) Curry has started to draw double teams more and more over the past three seasons, but his assists are so low because he has trouble reacting fast enough to find the open man and not turn the ball over… perhaps that is coaching… but most reporters privy to Skiles’ practice sessions say it isn’t… I guess we’ll find out soon, and (3) I know this has been spoken about quite a bit, but he is horrible at defensive rotations… it is one of the most frustrating things to watch your team defend a possession beautifully for 20 seconds then give up a lay up because Eddy didn’t rotate. Also, I know that is a qualitative statement, but that is one of the reasons Skiles always cited as why Eddy rarely played in the 4th for us.

    So… that being said… Eddy has had 3 coaches in 4 seasons… the one most similar to LB (Skiles, firm and dedicated to teaching the nuances of the game) got the most out of Eddy by far… maybe Eddy will realize his potential under Brown… but history suggests Eddy (min. 4 years) will be in NY far longer than Brown. I think most Bulls fans really want to see Eddy succeed… but also I think most of us are tired of hearing him say “the sky’s the limit” for him, for the team during the horrible years, for everything… then just not show up like you would want a near 300 lb center to. Also on that note… I’m sure with the added media in NY Eddy has dropped “the sky’s the limit” at least 5 times by now… it’s like he and Jamal actually have one set of lines they practice saying to each other while watching highlights of themselves.

    Anyway… last point I want to make is that we really can’t judge this trade yet. Curry may very well become a dominant 5 in NY, but I doubt he will ever be the type of player Paxson and Skiles want in their system (see Hinrich, Deng, Chandler, Nocioni, Duhon, maybe Gordon… reports are that he has really improved his defense this summer), and Sweetney under Skiles may show the type of improvement Curry did a year ago. Also the Bulls added even more cap space to go after free agents next summer (Wallace / Nene maybe?), and a few picks, which Paxson has proven to be excellent at using. And does Davis get bought out/retire? Guess we’ll know soon…

    But here’s the question I have for all of you Knick fans… some articles say that with increased minutes and as the primary post offensive option Sweetney could be a 12-15 and 8-10 guy, but some reports say he just didn’t have the conditioning the past two seasons to do that… what do you guys think? Also I’ve heard both good things and bad things about Sweetney’s defense… what’s the truth? There haven’t been any good articles written about him in the Chicago papers… in fact… most of the Chicago papers suggest that Thomas is the primary Bull acquisition in this trade… which is just ridiculous.

    Also I have to say this is really a fantastic blog. BlogaBull is great place for info and some discussion… but people just don’t seem to get as heated as you guys. Thanks for all the input on this trade so far.

  54. Greebo

    Look, I think looking at the PER is enlightening and all, and KB, I think you’ve crunched the numbers a lot here to make a very convincing argument on how Sweetney could be seen as better than Curry, but there’s some real truth to what Dave said (Although it could have been said better).

    I think that when it comes down to it, Sweetney is just not big enough to be a center in the NBA. And those extra 3-4 inches that Curry has makes all the difference in this trade. Curry has the potential to be a great center in the NBA someday, but more importantly, he has the ability to be a passable center in the NBA right now. His rebounding and defense need work, sure, but that can be coached. No amount of coaching could make Sweetney grow taller.

    And that’s why stat-based comparrisons tend to fail here. Sweetney’s stats might be slightly more impressive in certain areas (well, significantly more impressive in rebounding), but he doesn’t fill the situation that needed to be addressed, which was no presence in the middle. This trade is all about balance.

    I agreed with Knickfan that a slow unit of Marbury, Houston, Q, Taylor, and Curry, with a fast unit of Robinson, J-Creezy, Ariza, Frye, and JJ looked a little unimpressive… at first. But then I looked again at that lineup. And then I realized that Isaiah totally revamped the roster and actually brought a balance to the positions on the team, something that has been a problem since WAAAAAAAY back in the Van Gundy days. Since Ewing left, really, maybe even before then. Remember Houston, Sprewell, and Rice? When all three marquee players were shooting guards? Remember when we had something like 4 point guards and 7 undersized power forwards? The fact that Zeke could turn that into 2 decent, balanced squads – both coached by LARRY FRICKIN BROWN – is Executive of the year level ish. And it took him only two years! AND he still has Penny, Antonio, and Houston’s expiring contracts this year and next! I’m sick of people getting on Isaiah, that’s freaking incredible.

    Van Gundy left because the team was completely unbalanced, and there was no conceivable way to fix it in the future. Larry Brown came because he knew Isaiah could fix the problems and would keep at it. The more I look at this trade, the more I love it. And you know what? That slow squad and that fast squad both sound a lot better now. Starbury cutting into the middle and getting it to Curry, or popping it out to Q or Houston? Nate and Trevor flying down the court with J-Creezy? Sounds pretty entertaining, gents… pretty entertaining.

  55. Ted

    Regarding the on going debate about the Sweets-Curry deal:
    There are valid arguments to support either team as having gotten a better deal. As with all deals, only time will tell.

    Currently, Sweetney has proven to be a better rebounder; although his rebounds per minute did fall as his minutes increased from 11 to 20 and if they continued to do so they may continue to decline with more PT.

    In terms of defense Sweetney might be better, but he is hardly a stud. Conditioning wise, both player looks as if they ate the backup PG.

    Curry holds a decided advantage in scoring, one which I figure to slightly outway his inferior rebounding if one considers one rebound to equal about 1 more point for your team and about 1 fewer for the competition (assuming both teams scores two points every other shot they take). So, if everything holds constant the Knicks overpaid for Curry.

    If neither player improved at all from today to the day he retired and both had long healthy careers, the factor which, to me, would swing the deal in Curry?s favor is the impact he might have on the game as a whole. Comparing players in a vacuum is useless, because the real measure of how valuable a player is is whether his play leads to wins. Especially on a team like the Knicks, who by my count lost 13 games by less than 2 points (including OT losses). Curry is an inside presence who a (bad) playoff offense has already been built around at the age of 22. In a good offense he might become even more effective as defenses focus on him less.

    Greebo: I agree with your assessment of Isiah Thomas. But I don?t think you?ll see 5 guys substituted in and out together, nor do I see a need to catogorize those groups in that way. For example, Q has obviously proven that he can excel in a fast paced game, while Crawford and Ariza have never really excelled in that style at this level (their skills might dictate that they could, but Crawford is example A1 that could does not mean will).

    Also not sure Mo Taylor and Jerome James will beat out more defensive minded and harder working leaders Antonio Davis, Malik Rose, and possibly David Lee (whom a coach that picks favorites seems to have picked as a favorite), and I?m curious to see if Frye is ready to contribute.

  56. Young T

    Despite all the negativity on this page, frankly the Knicks have a lot of talent on the roster, the roster in general is deeper than its been since who knows how long. Marbury, Crawford, Q-Rich, Frye, Curry, James, Daniels, Rose, Houston, Hardaway, Robinson, Lee, Taylor looks pretty damn deep to me. Considering that another trade, possibly involving Hardaway’s expiring contract is not out of the question, maybe it could improve and we could pick up a good rebounding power forward. Like even a Reggie Evans or Eddie Griffin. I think we could then rotate the front court nicely and get a bit of everything.

    Don’t get it twisted, maybe Sweets and Curry are as good as each other – whatever – it is much better to have a decent centre than power foward. Good centres are so rare these days.

    I like Frye at power forward. I see him in the Rasheed Wallace mould a little bit. I think Coach Brown might think so too; he likes power forwards that can shoot a bit. Similar build too, and Sheed has never been a huge rebounder either. Frye would be a good size at power forward, his length would make him useful on the court.

    I think maybe the biggest issue is managing the players we do have, as frankly Brown doesn’t like to rotate his bench all that much.

    One last thing, I don’t love Thomas, but for all the shit he cops look at the situation when he came in. His predecessor swapped Camby and Nene for McDyess and Frank Williams. That has to be one of the worst trades of all time. Imagine if we had someone like Nene on the roster now. There’s your rebounds for you.

  57. allanrose

    IF YOU LOOK AT THE LAST 25 NBA CHAMPIONS, AND THIER OPPONENTS, THE ONE COMMON DENOMINATOR IS
    SIZE AND STRENGTH ON THE FRONT LINE. MOST CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS HAVE HAD A DOMINANT PLAYER OF MVP OR ALL-NBA CALIBER ON THE FRONT LINE, OR A GROUP OF TALL, LONG-ARMED BIG MEN
    WHO CAN SCORE IN THE PAINT AND CLOG THE LANE. THE WESTERN CONFERENCE HAS DOMINATED THE EASTERN CONFERENCE IN RECENT YEARS BECAUSE OF THIS. THE REBIRTH OF THE EASTERN CONFERENCE CAN BE DIRECTLY TRACED TO THE EXODUS OF BIG MEN FROM WEST TO EAST. JERMAINE O’NEAL, RASHEED WALLACE, AND SHAQ HAVE TURNED EACH OF THEIR TEAMS INTO CONTENDERS, BECAUSE OF THEIR TALENT AND THEIR SIZE. ISIAH REALIZES THIS, AS WELL AS THE NEED FOR SOLID GUARD PLAY. I THINK SWEETNEY IS A GOOD ROLE PLAYER IN THIS LEAGUE, BUT HE COULD NEVER DOMINATE THE EASTERN CONFERENCE BIG MEN AT THE 4 SPOT (ON OFFENSE OR DEFENSE)ENOUGH TO TAKE THE KNICKS TO THE NEXT LEVEL. HAVE PEOPLE ALREADY FORGOTTEN THAT HE COULDN’T SHOOT OR DEFEND WELL ENOUGH TO DISPLACE KURT THOMAS ON HIS OWN TEAM LAST YEAR?.
    HOW DID HE FARE AGAINST INDIANA, DETROIT, MIAMI OR THE WESTERN CONFERENCE TEAMS LAST YEAR?.
    CURRY IS A TRUE POST PRESENCE, AND AT 22 IS WORTH THE RISK IF LARRY BROWN CAN TUTOR HIM FOR THE NEXT 3-5 YEARS. IT WILL REMAIN TO BE SEEN IF HE CAN IMPROVE ON THE DEFENSIVE END, OR REBOUND BETTER, BUT HE WILL OPEN UP THE GAME FOR THE
    PERIMITER PLAYERS 10 TIMES BETTER THAN SWEETNEY
    EVER WOULD. HISTORY HAS SHOWN THAT YOU CANT TEACH
    SEVEN FEET.

  58. Adam

    I like the trade. Between James, Curry, AD, Rose and Mo T the Knicks have a good blend of offense and defence at the 4-5, and, will have some good young big men coming along in Lee and Frye to keep everyone honest in practice, and push for court time. Sweets is great – but when you get a chance to pick up a potential monster in the post for an undersized four (no matter how slick he is) – you take it. At least – you do if your intention is to try and win the whole thing at some point, as opposed to make it to the playoffs.

    Roll on opening night. For the first time in a long time, I think there is plenty to get excited about with this team – and if not – well – it’s going to be a hell of a ride while it lasts.

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