Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Joe Cool?

I love Joe Dumars.

Since the 2001-2002 season the Detroit Pistons have been a model franchise. Short of winning multiple championships, an inevitable if somewhat foolish measure of worth, Detroit has in fact been THE model for building a perennial 50-game winner and legitimate title threat in the post-Showtime, post-Jordan era.

Reports indicate that Dumars is ready to break up the core of the Pistons as we know them, moving perhaps even two of the “original four” (i.e., Billups, Hamilton, Prince, and Wallace) this offseason. Dumars has taken a first step towards retooling on the fly by dismissing head coach Flip Saunders and reportedly naming assistant Michael Curry as the new head coach. Although I am not a huge Detroit fan, especially since their title season, I nonetheless adore Dumars as an executive. If this is indeed the end of DE-TROIT BAS-KIT-BALL!!! as we know it, we as NBA fans (especially those of us who follow Eastern Conference teams) owe Dumars and that group a debt of gratitude.

One of the things baseball, my first love, has over football and basketball is how it valorizes championship-caliber greatness alongside consistent, high-quality play. They need not detract from one another; they can in fact enhance one another. The Braves’ 13 division crowns under Bobby Cox underscore how truly special the Yankees’ four World Series titles were under Joe Torre. Both architects and their achievements are universally respected, though obviously not afforded the same reverence. In the NFL however, it’s still basically “you’re a bum until you win a Super Bowl.” Media and fans typically only validate consistent high-quality performance in retrospect, after a Super Bowl title. NBA fans and media are a tad less fixated on a title, but they are still far more likely to damn a team with faint praise than celebrate something less than a title. I expect to hear (probably from the players themselves) a lot of quotes right out of the Post-Season Remorseful Quotes Handbook, particularly if/when one of the original four is traded. But I won’t pay much attention to them. Getting to two straight NBA finals and then three straight conference finals is impressive as hell. To those who will inevitably devalue even that accomplishment because it came against Eastern Conference dreck, I would note that since realignment Detroit’s record against the Western Conference divisions is 28-12 (Northwest), 35-13 (Midwest), and 28-12 (Pacific). This has been an elite team–period.

Even though I love you Joe, nobody is above criticism and some goes to you.

Dumars says the Pistons lacked competitive fire. That may be, but they also lacked fuel for their fire (read: depth). Detroit’s ability to stretch leads and put teams away in the last four minutes, was almost patented the year they won the title. In more recent years though, some of their performances in “big games” have been curiously uneven. I’m quite certain they didn’t forget how to play, and I doubt they’re less interested in winning. Dumars’ role in the team’s malaise is so obvious that it’s sometimes hidden in plain sight. The rotation is paying the opportunity costs of choosing Darko Milicic over a literal handful of other quality NBA players in 2003. It is difficult to overstate how awful the 2003 draft was for Detroit and for Dumars. When you miss badly in a draft you tend to feel it 3-5 years later, not so much right away. Detroit has been able to defray the “opportunity costs of Darko” but they’ve grown with time and they’ve come due. It’s not simply that Darko didn’t live up to the hype but rather that the 2003 draft was unusually deep and that so many of the players Dumars passed over for him ended up on Eastern Conference teams. Of the top eight players selected (LeBron, Darko, Carmelo, Chris Bosh, Wade, Kaman, Hinrich, and TJ Ford), Darko is the worst by a landslide. My point is not to play 20-20 hindsight, but rather to point out how dire the consequences of that pick were. Really only now, five years out, can we say with reasonable certainly what it cost them: almost assuredly one more NBA Finals appearance. What was lost with that pick is certainly as important as any Rasheed Wallace technical foul, Chauncey Billups’ hamstring, or any sense of self-satisfaction. It is a testament to Dumars skill, and eye for veteran talent that the Pistons kept themselves in contention for as long as they did, but I have to say I was a bit surprised and a little saddened to see him publicly question his players’ dedication the way he did.

146 comments on “Joe Cool?

  1. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    I’m a bit shocked at the Flip Saunders firing. Detroit could have been a contender for a few more years. They have some young players that could develop and keep this team afloat in Stuckey, Maxiel, and Johnson. Throw in a free agent signing, an unhappy veteran looking for a last chance at a ring, a Celtic injury, and the Pistons are right back in the Finals again. There aren’t many teams that are going to challenge them for the second spot in the East, perhaps Orlando, Toronto, or Cleveland.

    But it’ll be interesting to see Detroit rebuild for one reason: Can Dumars do it again?

  2. Duff Soviet Union

    I wouldn’t hammer Dumars too much for Darko. Pretty much every scout etc thought that draft was basically the “big 3″ (LBJ, Darko, Melo) and then a dropoff. Dumars went with the consensus and got burned. I actually thought his worst pick was Rodney White over Joe Johnson back in 2001. Still, even with a misfire or two, he’s done a hell of a job, although like Knickerblogger I disagree with the Flip firing. If I were Joe D my next move would be trading Sheed (eminently moveable) and freeing up minutes for Amir Johnson, who can really play if he gets the chance. I don’t think the other three are worth trading because their salaries probably underrate their contributions. Maybe not Hamilton.

  3. caleb

    He did turn darko into stuckey.

    Along those lines, I think billups is next most tradeable, after wallace… He has the strongest backup, and still has tons of value… A straight-up swap for a younger star at the 2, 4 or 5, potentially could make sense. (Like, carmelo, or lamarcus aldridge, or nene and kleiza… Those just off the top of my head. (Or billups for pau gasol…. ?)

  4. jon abbey

    not sure why you’re shocked about Flip, Detroit has succeeded mostly despite him, not because of him. that core of veterans has mostly coached themselves, but they could only take it so far.

    also, Sheed just killed them against Boston, he looked like he’d rather his buddy Garnett play in the Finals than him. he’s the one who needs to go (besides Flip).

  5. David Crockett

    I was just surprised at the language I saw in the clips and stuff I’ve read. I wouldn’t call it “throwing them under the bus” exactly, but close. Dumars doesn’t play “Parcellian” mind games with players in the press. So, I really think he believes his players were content, and that Boston just wanted it more. But I saw–and I think this was painfully obvious–was a team that, over the past couple seasons, began having trouble “getting it up” in the first round of the playoffs because of age and insufficient quality depth.

    That’s my point about Darko; not that Dumars took a foolish gamble on him but that he struck out in a high leverage situation. Or, a more accurate baseball metaphor might be that he hit into a triple play with no outs and the bases loaded. Sure, Joe eventually made up for it by turning Darko into Stuckey, but Stuckey’s performance might have gotten them over the hump last year or two years ago. So, for Joe to go public on his players like he did seems really tacky and bush league, not at all what I’ve come to expect from Joe Dumars.

    As for firing Flip. I tend to concede coaching changes to good execs, but I’m kinda with KB in being surprised. I mean, if you’re going to move ‘Sheed then why Flip too? As I understand it, this was the central tension. I’m not altogether against firing a coach for “chemistry” reasons, but there’s little arguing that Flip did exactly what was expected. He made the offense better without taking anything away from the defense. In his three seasons the Pistons ranked 4th, 6th, and 6th in offensive efficiency–a HUGE increase over Carlyle’s and Brown’s mediocre offenses–without losing much if anything defensively.

    I hope Joe’s got a plan here and isn’t just being bitter and crotchety because right now it just looks like bitter and crotchety.

  6. Owen

    “without losing much if anything defensively.”

    Their defensive rating in their championship year was 95.4, a mark they havent touched since, but they did make up for that loss on offense.

    In general, I definitely agree with you. No coach has probably been less worthy of being fired than Flip.

  7. Kikuchiyo

    I said this before the playoffs started: Detroit has DIED in the playoffs in each of the last three years. This year was a little more competitive, with a little more spark, but they seem to completely run out of gas and have absolutely nowhere to turn.

    I (we all?) watched a lot of Western Conference basketball lately, and Detroit’s slow-moving jumpshot machine breaks down far too often and looks awful in comparison. The good teams all have someone who can just slash through and get easy baskets (Kobe, Ginobili and Parker, CP3, many Suns, etc.). Detroit always needs two passes and an open look. It’s just too hard, especially if Sheed, the one guy who can get shots, is flaking out.

    They shouldn’t break up the team just to do it. But I won’t miss Saunders, and they should send guys packing if they can get speed, energy, and points in return.

    And trust Joe D. Look how Ben Wallace’s career has gone. Glad to see he didn’t get an Allan Houston contract to stay in Detroit.

  8. o_boogie

    Flips’ x’s and o’s left me scratching my head in the Boston series.

    I was dissapointed in the lack of playing time for Maxiell, after playing so well against Atlanta and Orlando. Maxiell was always a sparkplug for them off the bench and brought excellent defense, a quick bucket, a momentum changing dunk, or monster block, etc. Instead, maybe for match up reasons, Ratliff got most of Maxiell’s minutes. Ratliff was terrible the whole Boston series, including getting posterized by KG.

    Flip should have put Sheed on a short leash after his buddy-buddy incident with KG and lack of passion for the entire series. Leaving him on the floor as long as he did ended up hurting the Pistons.

    Flip should have run more post up plays isolating Chauncey with Rondo on the block, as Billups is much stronger than Rondo and operates extremely efficiently around the paint.

    As much as I hate to admit it, I think Flip was significantly outcoached by Rivers. Flip appeared like he didn’t have control of the team and didn’t recognize or exploit any mismatches. Considering all of these factors, and the Pistons “big-4″ are only getting older, a coaching change was necessary IMO.

  9. xduckshoex

    “As much as I hate to admit it, I think Flip was significantly outcoached by Rivers. ”

    I think “outcoached” is the wrong way to put it, because it implies that Rivers did a commendable coaching job. I think he just messed up more than Rivers did, essentially bailing him out. Rivers going with Cassell so often was just as bad as Saunders going with Ratliff.

  10. Thomas B.

    DC,

    I would have given you karma, but there was no thumbs up icon by your post. I agree that getting nothing out of a top 3 pick sets a team way back, or keeps them way back. You feel it most within a 3-5 year period.

    1998 Clippers take Olawakandi as 1st pick. Their average win percentage over next 5 years is 30.74%

    2000 Vancouver takes Stromile Swift as 2nd pick. Their average win percentage over the next 3 years is 30% But 3 years out from the Gasol pick the Grizz are in the playoffs and have a win percentage of 61%.

    2001 Wizards take Kwame Brown as the 1st pick and follwo up with 3 losing seasons.

    GMs also mess up when they trade a top pick before they blossom. Chicago is a great example of this. They moved Brand too soon and then moved the guy they traded Brand to get, Chandler. They got some hard luck with Jay Williams as the 2nd pick. But when he didnt work out, they had losing seasons in each of the next 3 years.

    The really draft matters if you have a top 5 pick.

  11. jon abbey

    “I saw–and I think this was painfully obvious–was a team that, over the past couple seasons, began having trouble “getting it up” in the first round of the playoffs because of age and insufficient quality depth.”

    yeah, this was true in previous years, but not really this one. as o_boogie says above, Maxiell certainly should have played more and Jarvis Hayes should have been used more as he was all year, to spell Prince occasionally so he didn’t get totally exhausted. Flip was also still calling plays for Sheed late in that last game when it was clear that he had little interest in being there, let alone being the man.

  12. daaarn

    Part of me thinks that had Darko started off on a more rookie-friendly team, instead of landing w/ Larry Brown, he’d be much better than he is now. I think his lack of playing time and subsequent labeling as a bust in the media probably eroded his confidence to a point that it’ll never really recover from. Not to say he’d become a perennial All-Star (as his current play isn’t particularly noteworthy), but I think he’d be better than what he is now.

  13. W.C.

    I would immediately start breaking up the Pistons if I was in charge. They are at that point where they aren’t going to get any better, but other teams in the east will. They have almost no shot to win championship with this team. They will make the playoffs for a few more years and slowly fade away. However, some of the players are not too old YET. They still have some value NOW. If they make some trades and try to bring in some youth and draft picks, they will take a step backwards for a year or two, but be in much better shape 3-5 years from now. If they wait, it’s doom and gloom on the horizon.

  14. Thomas B.

    From draftxpress.com

    “-The Indiana Pacers are trying to dangle the #11 pick in hopes of being able to package it with one of their ugly contracts (preferably Jermaine O’Neal). There is talk out of O’Neal’s camp that he anticipates being trade to Cleveland at some point this summer, possibly in a deal involving expiring contracts such as Wally Szczerbiak and Eric Snow.”

    Should the Knicks get in on this using Marbury’s expiring deal as the match? Could we then use the 11th or 6th pick to help move Randolph?

  15. Thomas B.

    more…

    “One trade that is making the rounds would involve the Knicks sending Zach Randolph and the rights to the #6 pick to Philadelphia for a smaller contract, such as Reggie Evans, and the rights to the #16 pick—after July 1st (when Philadelphia’s cap space kicks in). New York would move into position to have significant cap space in the summer of 2010 (possibly to make a run at LeBron James) by unloading the 17.3 million dollars owed to Randolph in 2010/11, and would still be able to keep David Lee around.”

    I like this deal.

  16. Mike H

    I always thought that Dumars should have made a run at McGrady after 03-04, as it seemed a perfect fit. Darko had been in the league for a year, but Brown refused to play him. Wouldn’t the Magic have rather had Rip Hamilton and Darko than the Francis+Mobley package they ended up getting? McGrady would have given Detroit a start or near-star caliber player, and there’s a good chance he would turn into a suffocating defender when you combine his talents and the Detroit culture.

  17. W.C.

    Zach almost obviously has to be traded eventually because of cap space and because he doesn’t fit, but I don’t understand why everyone is so willing to give away so much to make it happen now. The longer we wait, the easier it will get to move the contract and the less we will have to give up.

    If I thought we had any chance of being a contender next year by getting rid of that contract NOW, I’d be all for it. But the best case scenario is that next year is a transition year, we get lucky and get the 7th – 8th playoff seed, and then get blown out in the playoffs.

    Who cares if Zach is still on the team given that scenario?

    IMHO, the last thing in the world we want to do now is give up is a chance to draft a prosect that will help us when it matters 2-4 years from now. We have a better chance of picking someone up at #6 then a lot a lower. If we could get two lower picks, then maybe it makes some sense.

    I would be much more in favor of trading Zach for a much worse player with a contract that runs one year less. That way we give up nothing in terms of the future (we actually gain), accomplish what we want, and another team gets the better player (but who cares).

  18. caleb

    Geez, thanks to W.C. I just realized that Evans runs through 2011, not 2010. Forget that one, unless it’s straight up, no draft picks… and even then….

  19. Mel

    At some point shouldn’t reality matter ?

    that selling players for pennies on the dollar for some magical summer bonanza that defies logic because the chances of Lebron or wade coming to ny is basically a pipe dream.

    and this new rumored deal is ridiculous evans doesn’t even come off the books sooner than zach.

  20. ess-dog

    Does anyone think that 6 is too high for Alexander? With the right coach, I think he could be special. Of course, we have a greater need for someone like Westbrook, and he could be special too, and maybe more potent in Mike D’s offense. Aside from the top 2 and Mayo, I think these guys have the best potential. Bayless I’m still not sure about. It seems like he’s lobbying to come to the Knicks and D’Antoni (he really doesn’t want to land with the Bucks, like everyone.)

  21. o_boogie

    “I would immediately start breaking up the Pistons if I was in charge. They are at that point where they aren’t going to get any better, but other teams in the east will. They have almost no shot to win championship with this team. They will make the playoffs for a few more years and slowly fade away. However, some of the players are not too old YET. They still have some value NOW. If they make some trades and try to bring in some youth and draft picks, they will take a step backwards for a year or two, but be in much better shape 3-5 years from now. If they wait, it’s doom and gloom on the horizon.”

    I am all about the buy high sell low mentality, kinda like Billy Beane’s Moneyball. Billups and Sheed have a lot of value on the market and are expendable with Stuckey and Johnson. Through a couple good trades for picks, cap relief, or neophytes, Detroit can be on track to win another championship within the next 3-4 years.

    “Zach almost obviously has to be traded eventually because of cap space and because he doesn’t fit, but I don’t understand why everyone is so willing to give away so much to make it happen now. The longer we wait, the easier it will get to move the contract and the less we will have to give up.”

    I am all about moving Z-bo. This is definitely an addition by subtraction type move. Once Marbury and Z-bo are off the team, the decrease in lockerroom distractions should at least give us 3-4 wins by default. The problem is we will probably have to include Lee or the 6th pick to make such a move, I’d prefer the latter.

    I keep reading rumors that Riley is intrigued by Mayo. Would it be worth tyryuing to trade for the 3rd in hopes he takes Mayo causing Beasley or Rose to fall into our laps, or get Mayo worst case scenario? Lee and the 6th pick for Telfair or Troy Hudson and the 3rd?

  22. caleb

    Would it be worth tyryuing to trade for the 3rd in hopes he takes Mayo causing Beasley or Rose to fall into our laps, or get Mayo worst case scenario?”

    At this point, no one is making trades for draft position, until they see who’s available.

    I’d trade Lee and #6 to get Beasley (or Rose), but not for anyone else… but then every other team feels the same way, so it’s probably a non-starter.

  23. oboogie

    Sweet introduction for the finals. Gotta love how they used matrix-like special effects to change the camera angle for Jordan doing the switch-hands-in-midair-shot against the Lakers.

  24. jon abbey

    “Does anyone think that 6 is too high for Alexander? With the right coach, I think he could be special. Of course, we have a greater need for someone like Westbrook, and he could be special too, and maybe more potent in Mike D’s offense. Aside from the top 2 and Mayo, I think these guys have the best potential.”

    this is precisely how I feel right now.

  25. Capt. Merlin

    Aside from Derrick Rose, the only player who I really think could be great is Joe Alexander. However, as he could probably had at 10 or later, I would recommend trading back for him. As for Beasley, I see him as Derrick Coleman v2.0, and for Mayo, he appears to be just another self-consumed hot shot AAU product who will fail to live up to the billing.

  26. Matthew

    I disagree strongly with people who talk about Saunders like he is a mediocre coach. I’m not saying he’s on that first tier with the likes of Jackson, Sloan, Riley, Popovich, Brown, but he’s certainly on the second tier.

    Look at what he did for that team. Do people not remember how much trouble the Pistons had scoring the ball in 2004? Do you all not remember that horrendous (at least offensively) Indiana series? They were ranked 18th in offensive efficiency that year. Then 17th the next (again under Larry Brown). As soon as Saunders arrived the jumped to 4th, then 6th the next two seasons. So obviously Flip has had positive effect on the team. He’s always been good at coaching a half-court offense. To say that the players coached themselves is ludicrous.

    Also, Flip is always berated for not getting his teams “over the hump”. But if you look at what he’s had to work with, 1 future hall-of-famer in 13 seasons coaching, you have to consider him an overachiever to have the amount of success he’s had. I mean, he’s certainly done at least as much as George Karl and you never hear people giving Karl the type of hard time that Saunders gets.

  27. jon abbey

    “I disagree strongly with people who talk about Saunders like he is a mediocre coach. ”

    no doubt, he’s a lousy coach. but I’m sure you understand what’s going on there better than Joe Dumars…

    “Do people not remember how much trouble the Pistons had scoring the ball in 2004? Do you all not remember that horrendous (at least offensively) Indiana series? They were ranked 18th in offensive efficiency that year. Then 17th the next (again under Larry Brown). As soon as Saunders arrived the jumped to 4th, then 6th the next two seasons. So obviously Flip has had positive effect on the team.”

    no, they went to the Finals the two years before he arrived, and haven’t been back since. nice “positive effect” there…

    “But if you look at what he’s had to work with, 1 future hall-of-famer in 13 seasons coaching, you have to consider him an overachiever to have the amount of success he’s had.”

    yeah, getting out of the first round once in ten years with Kevin Garnett, let’s put Flip in the Hall of Fame right now.

  28. Brian Cronin

    I don’t think I’d be willing to swap #6 for #16 to get rid of Z-Bo.

    I want to get rid of him, and I’d be willing to trade #6 for it, but not for anything outside the lottery, because I bet dollars to donuts that neither Alexander nor Westbrook will be available outside the lottery (or any other players that I’d be willing to trade down to get – Westbrook being my favorite).

    Meanwhile, regarding “it is not important to trade Randolph this season,” I agree that it is not an absolute necessity, but at the same time, I think keeping Z-Bo on the team does have a specific negative effect, primarily that the team’s best player is getting screwed by Z-Bo playing the same position.

  29. Brian Cronin

    By the by, if the Pacers are seriously looking to dump O’Neal, I’d jump on that boat in a sec, using Marbury to facilitate the trade.

    O’Neal’s deal expires the same time Lebron’s does, so it would not harm the Knicks’ cap concerns.

    If the Pacers seriously are willing to deal the #11 pick to dump O’Neal, then why would the Knicks not try to trade Marbury for O’Neal and the #11?

    Then the Knicks could do the Randolph and the #6 for the #16 deal, giving them the #11 and the #16, plus O’Neal for two seasons to at least take a flyer on (he’s a big man that would actually compliment David Lee’s game).

  30. Brian Cronin

    As for the Pistons and Saunders – I don’t think the team ever really seemed to respect Saunders much, so this seemed to be a foregone conclusion, really.

    I think Curry is a fine choice, though. His situation reminds me a lot like Avery Johnson and Joe Girardi, in that he will be coaching guys he only fairly recently played with.

  31. Z

    “I’d trade Lee and #6 to get Beasley (or Rose), but not for anyone else… but then every other team feels the same way, so it’s probably a non-starter.”

    I suppose it’s feasible, if highly unlikely:

    3 way trade between the Knicks, Heat, and Wolves.

    Heat get: (choice of any player on Knick roster) + #3 pick

    Wolves get: (2009 1st round pick or 2nd choice of any player on Knick roster) + Malik Rose + #6 pick

    Knicks get: Mark Blount, Marko Jaric, #2 pick

    If the Heat want a guard, they can either work out a swap with the Bulls( a la Penny Hardaway for Chris Webber), or can trade down to #3 at no cost to them. For the effort they can have a player that can help them immediately (Curry, Crawford, Lee, etc…).

    The Wolves, with Al Jefferson signed long term, may be willing to trade down too, if they can get cap relief and still make a good draft pick.

    The Knicks would take on salary, but would get their franchise pick.

    The Knicks can then offer the #2 to the Bulls + any player on their roster or their #1 next year for the top pick this year. If the Bulls are truly on the fence about which player to take this year, they can net additional assets by letting the Knicks choose for them…

    It seems that it is safer from a PR perspective to have the #2 pick this year rather than the #1. If you back the wrong horse (see: Darko discussion previous thread) it burns more than if you didn’t really have a choice (Beasley and Rose are the consensus one-two picks).

    I’m just thinking out loud. I’m not condoning any of these trades per say. But it would be fun to have one of those two top picks…

  32. Ted Nelson

    ““I would immediately start breaking up the Pistons if I was in charge.”

    “Through a couple good trades for picks, cap relief, or neophytes, Detroit can be on track to win another championship within the next 3-4 years.”

    Through a couple of good trades, or even one, that doesn’t/don’t blow-up the roster the Pistons could be on track to win a championship next year or in 2 years. Through a couple of bad trades and blown draft picks they could be on track to be the post-Jordan Bulls.
    Blowing-up the team could work, it’s just a huge risk compared to moving one or two of their core guys and/or moving one or two young guys and being right back in the conference finals next season.

    “Does anyone think that 6 is too high for Alexander?”

    I’m not as high on Alexander as everyone else. The guy has already declared himself the best athlete in the draft (not far off) and said that if he returns to West Virginia they’ll win a championship. There’s a thin line between confident and cocky, and if Alexander struggles when he gets into the league I have to wonder if he’ll make the necessary improvements or just decide that his coach is an idiot for not playing him because he’s clearly the best athlete on his team… Who knows I’ve never met the guy, I just see him as a bit of a workout warrior whose draft stock is based on one tourney run and workouts. I think he’ll have a lot of work in front of him to develop the basketball skills to become an NBA star (as with most other prospects). Of course, if you think he’s the best player available then you have to take him (or trade down to take him).

    “I disagree strongly with people who talk about Saunders like he is a mediocre coach. I’m not saying he’s on that first tier with the likes of Jackson, Sloan, Riley, Popovich, Brown, but he’s certainly on the second tier.”

    But Detroit is a first tier team, if Dumars is confidnet that Curry will be a great NBA coach why settle for a second tier one. This is what I don’t understand about those pissed with the move, it’s not like Dumars just fired Flip because he didn’t like him and wanted a change: he fired him because he knew exactly who he wanted to coach the team (a lot like firing Carlisle for LB, and that worked out pretty well for Detroit).

    “Look at what he did for that team. Do people not remember how much trouble the Pistons had scoring the ball in 2004?”

    The bottom line is that with LB they were in the NBA finals two years in a row (winning once) and with Flip they lost the conference finals three years in a row. How much that has to do with the coach, I don’t know, but I don’t see why Dumars should care at all about the team’s offensive efficiency during the regular season if they’re in the finals every year.

    “because I bet dollars to donuts that neither Alexander nor Westbrook will be available outside the lottery (or any other players that I’d be willing to trade down to get – Westbrook being my favorite).”

    Not to single your comment out Brian, just a general observation: As fans we always target certain hyped players before the draft and later see some completely unhyped player become great. It takes a great executive to spot the next Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas, Boozer, Manu, etc. and pick him up, not to make the “safe” pick or the guy whose draft stock is sky high. Then again, it only takes a decent executive to at least take someone everyone knows is good like Danny Granger over the likes of Martell Webster (maybe excusable given his jumper), Fran Vazquez, Yaroslav Korolev, Sean May, Antoine Wright, and Joey Graham…

    “If the Pacers seriously are willing to deal the #11 pick to dump O’Neal, then why would the Knicks not try to trade Marbury for O’Neal and the #11?”

    Very true. Only reason I see is if his health is shot, and I’m hoping Walsh is in as good a position to judge that as anyone. A change in scenery could be waht he needs to get healthy/motivated.

    “2009 1st round pick or 2nd choice of any player on Knick roster”
    “The Knicks can then offer the #2 to the Bulls + any player on their roster or their #1 next year for the top pick this year.”

    The only catch here is that you can’t trade your first rounder two consecutive years (unless they’ve changed the rule). So, if that’s the Knicks’ 2009 first it’s impossible seeing as Isiah already moved the 2010 1st. Even if you could trade the 2009 1st, would you really sacrifice a #6 and maybe a top 5 pick for Beasley? Reminds me a lot of a certain Eddy Curry trade…
    Overall, I don’t think Beasley is worth completely blowing-up the Knicks (weak) roster. You’ve got a shot at an All-NBA guy but an equal shot at a Sheed (very good player but not going to lead your team anywhere), a DC, or a Shareef Abdul-Rahim.

  33. z-man

    I continue to be very impressed by Paul Pierce as a clutch performer who elevates his game in big moments. He’s had some Hall of Fame moments in these playoffs. Think he’s there yet?

    The Celts took Kobe out of the game and nobody stepped up. What a turnaround emotionally that Pierce “knee” moment was. Wonder if it will stiffen up, though.

  34. o_boogie

    “I continue to be very impressed by Paul Pierce as a clutch performer who elevates his game in big moments. He’s had some Hall of Fame moments in these playoffs. Think he’s there yet?”

    I would give Pierce hall considerations if he wins a ring. I was always skeptical about Pierce’s commitment to winning until last night. His Willis Reed’esque performance in the 3rd quarter was definitely the turning point of the game. I could only wish the Knicks had a player with that much heart.

    Boston’s rotations on Kobe were beautiful. Whenever Kobe was ready to turn the corner and get a layup or a trip to the line, someone rotated over and forced him to settle for a fadeaway. Boston should still be worried considering how close the game was and how poorly LA played. My original prediction was LA in 6 and I am sticking to it.

  35. ess-dog

    Apparently Brand’s camp is saying he’s ‘very interested’ in the Sixers. That would all but kill any chance of us sending Randolph to Philly.
    Also, the Daily News suggested actively pursuing either Arenas or Monta Ellis in a sign and trade. If either of those players insist on opting out for a chance to play w/ D’Antoni, we could easily pull off a trade w/o sacrificing our draft pick.

  36. ess-dog

    Nick, I think you have to consider it. Who at #6 is better than Ellis? Lopez, Wesbrook, Alexander, maybe Bayless… I think Ellis has already reached the top potential of all these players. And maybe we could lose a contract like Jeffries in the process.

  37. Thomas B.

    Ellis for the 6th? That’s not bad at all, but with Ellis due for an extention, would we not have to sign and trade for him? I dont think he wants fewer than 8 million dollars per year for at least 6 years. That is not in keeping with the mandate to reduce salary. Unless we have some other significant cost saving measures coming, I dont see how Ellis fits in with the new mandate.

    I’m not saying that we should not do it, but that moves takes us out of the 2010 free agent market unless we can rid ourselves of Randolph, Richardson, and Jeffries by 2010.

  38. Ted Nelson

    I sort of have a feeling Ellis is going to get overpaid this offseason, and if his agent is smart he’s using the NYK to raise the bidding as much as because he actually wants to come play here (which I don’t doubt he might).

    I have to disagree that Ellis has already reached the CEILING of every player avaialable at #6. The guy’s a terrifically effecient backcourt scorer for someone with zero 3-point range, but between outside shooting, playmaking, and defense he has some serious limitations. He’d instantly be the Knicks most efficient backcourt scorer and probably a hit in D’Antoni’s system, but I wouldn’t be thrilled if they gave up the pick for him.

    Wouldn’t be the worst thing either, it would eliminate the worst case scenario of taking a total bust and insure that the team adds a good player (likely at the cost of cap flexibility).

  39. T-Mart

    “The Celts took Kobe out of the game and nobody stepped up. What a turnaround emotionally that Pierce “knee” moment was. Wonder if it will stiffen up, though.”

    Does anyone else think it was pretty likely that the whole “knee” moment was just an elaborate ace in the whole stunt Doc Rivers concocted. An up up down down left right left right B A START nintendo mario kart lightning strike shrinking all of the other opponents momentum shifter if you will.

  40. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    ““But if you look at what he’s had to work with, 1 future hall-of-famer in 13 seasons coaching, you have to consider him an overachiever to have the amount of success he’s had.”

    yeah, getting out of the first round once in ten years with Kevin Garnett, let’s put Flip in the Hall of Fame right now.”

    I think you’re ignoring the bigger picture. For many of those years Minnesota’s second best player was Wally Sczcerbiak. That’s how poor a GM McHale was/is.

    That Saunders got 51 wins out of that 2003 team was impressive. Among their top minute getters: Troy Hudson, Kendall Gill, Anthony Peeler, Rasho Nesterovic. Was that team supposed to beat the Shaq-Kobe Lakers?

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/MIN/2003.html

  41. jon abbey

    “Would anyone trade the pick for Ellis? Jon Abbey, I know you watched him a lot.”

    yeah, he was my favorite player in the league last year, but he isn’t a distributor and GS isn’t trading him. they already made a move like this last year, Richardson for the pick that ended up being Wright, Ellis is part of their core going forward and they need to win now, Baron and Stephen Jackson aren’t getting any younger.

    would I do it if GS said yes? probably, but I’d be unhappy later if Mayo dropped to 6 (I highly doubt he will). Ellis is seriously one of the few most entertaining guards in the game right now, though, so just from an entertainment value, I’d be pretty excited.

  42. jon abbey

    Mike, there’s a reason no one has much respect for Flip in the league. ask Minnesota fans or Detroit fans what they think about him.

    but I increasingly think coaches don’t matter nearly as much as we think they do. Byron Scott was laughed out of NJ, with the conventional wisdom being that Eddie Jordan did all his coaching for him there, and now he has Chris Paul and he’s the coach of the year. Doc Rivers beat Phil Jackson in the Finals last night, I think in most cases it ends up mattering very little, it’s mostly about the personnel.

  43. GiantKnickFan420

    Trading the pick for Ellis doesnt make sense because hes one yr away from Unrestricted Free Agency and is looking to get paid. We do not have the flexiblity to trade away a lottery pick then have to shell out a ton a money for a long term investment when we dont even know exactly what the make up of this team is going to be.
    Whatever trade we make is gonna be for that 2010 cap yr unless we move 2 or more bad contracts which i doubt will happen. Moving Randolph alone doesnt off set both JJ’s contract, Q’s,Crawfords,Curry.

  44. Frank

    “but I increasingly think coaches don’t matter nearly as much as we think they do. ”

    well i guess we’ll see in about 6 months when D’Antoni takes over this crew. I have a feeling that Isiah was a truly awful coach both from Xs/Os standpoint and his relationship with the players. He quit on them, they quit on him, and in the NBA, both sides tanking = crappy season.

    I have a feeling that D’Antoni’s coaching style alone will get us into the mid-30′s wins, and if anyone on the team steps up at all (ie. Marbury gives us anything other than divisiveness) we could approach .500.

  45. Ray

    He, if we are going to clean house lets do it now. We dont even know if we are getting LEBron in 2010. Especially since he’ll be going to Brooklyn. Lets build through the draft and reduce payroll and add some quality talent. We dont need LeBron to win. We just need him to make more money. None of which goes to us.

  46. Brian Cronin

    Brooklyn will not have a team when Lebron is a free agent.

    It’s summer 2008, there is no way that mess is going to be settled by the summer of 2010.

  47. jon abbey

    yeah, obviously Isiah to D’Antoni is about as big an upgrade as one could get these days. it’ll be interesting if the personnel remains basically the same how much of an improvement he can make.

  48. Z-man

    Wouldn’t Monta and Nate be redundant? I know they’re different builds but both are undersized 2′s that thrive in up tempo game. I would not trade #6 for Ellis until I see who that is. I’m a big Mayo fan, so if he drops to #6 I would hate to watch someone else pick him.

  49. daaarn

    “Brooklyn will not have a team when Lebron is a free agent.

    It’s summer 2008, there is no way that mess is going to be settled by the summer of 2010.”

    What exactly is the problem w/ the move anyway? I admittedly haven’t been paying attention to that for awhile now. Can they not get a stadium built? or is it something to do with their current lease? I, for one, would prefer the Nets to stay in NJ. NY does NOT “need” another team.

  50. Brian Cronin

    The residents of that area of Brooklyn (as well as environmentalists) have long resisted any major installation in that real estate, which is exactly why the real estate was available for Bruce Ratner to purchase.

    That said, the biggest thing slowing it down now is the slow economy – it just doesn’t seem worth it to investors to build the project (because it involves residential and commercial buildings in addition to the sports arena, and there is not the same need for those buildings as there was in 2003).

    When it was announced in 2003, it was meant to open in 2006!!

  51. daaarn

    What seems to be the general consensus about the chances of a move? Like, do most people think it won’t happen? or do most people think it’s just a matter of time b4 it happens?

  52. Moses

    Not to take this discussion wildly off-topic, but the problem the Nets are having has more to do with the major problems in the credit market than with the slowing economy.

    The banks whose money Ratner needs to build know that there is no appetite among investors for the bonds they would make out of the loans, so the banks are resisting providing the credit.

  53. caleb

    Sounds like the same reason to me…if banks won’t lend the money for a bond issue, it’s because of the stalled economy, i.e. there’s no way Ratner can lease all the space now, so there wouldn’t be income to repay the bondholders…

  54. caleb

    Back to basketball… it’s not just LeBron in 2010…

    Other likely free agents that summer (unless they sign extensions) include Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Marcus Camby, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, Richard Jefferson, T.J. Ford, Carlos Boozer and Manu Ginobili…

    I’m sure some will sign extensions before then, others will re-sign with their teams, and obviously none is at LeBron’s level, but those are some pretty damn good consolation prizes. Players and agents know that quite a few teams are angling to have cap space that summer, so I suspect a lot of these premier players will be willing to test the market.

    Plus — if we ever get under the cap, aside from FAs, it gives us a lot more trade flexibility — like Philadelphia this summer, we could take back a big contract without sending one out.

  55. PeteRoc

    I’m not surprised Flip got fired. First, they won a title and then returned to the finals as a “defense-first/rebounding” team. As hard as it is to get players to commit on the defensive end, LB got them to do it, they embraced it as their team’s identity, then Flip came along and thought he could get them over the hump by emphasizing more offense.

    Riddle me this, if you inherent a team that has bought into a “defense wins championship” philosophy and the team has already seen the fruits of that labor, why would you attempt a 180 with the exact same roster and expect to win a championship? Follow up – is it really a surprise that the team doesn’t respect the coach? After all, the core guys already won a ring…he hasn’t.

    In retrospect, Joe D. should have tried to keep anyone from the LB coaching staff if his intention was to keep the same roster (in fairness, I realize that wouldn’t have been easy given the way LB left). After all, they came within a better 4th quarter (not to mention ‘Sheed’s stupidity for leaving Horry in game 5) of winning back to back.

    Another riddle – does that sound like a team that needed to spice things up?

    One other random thought…I’m almost certain D’Antoni’s not going to bring his Phoenix style with him and of course there’s some precedence for this. Pat Riley didn’t bring showtime with him because it wasn’t a good fit given the roster. I think the same will apply with D’Antoni. On the other hand, if you’re willing to blow up the roster and start all over with the goal of assembling players to play a certain style, that would take forever with all the current bad contracts.

  56. jrock

    d’antoni’s gonna coach this year with the goal in mind of inflating players stats so he can move them. they’re not looking to win this year, although either way it doesn’t really matter cause we don’t have a first rounder in 09, do we?

  57. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    The Nix have to send their 1st rounder to Utah in ’09 if it’s below #23. In 2010, it’s unprotected.

  58. caleb

    “I’m not surprised Flip got fired. First, they won a title and then returned to the finals as a “defense-first/rebounding” team. As hard as it is to get players to commit on the defensive end, LB got them to do it, they embraced it as their team’s identity, then Flip came along and thought he could get them over the hump by emphasizing more offense.

    Multiple choice:
    Who is more responsible for the Pistons’ “change of identity?
    a) Flip Saunders
    b) Not having the DPOY playing center?

  59. PeteRoc

    “Who is more responsible for the Pistons’ “change of identity?”
    a) Flip Saunders
    b) Not having the DPOY playing center?

    The answer is (a). Even while they were winning games in his first season (with the DPOY), there were rumblings from the DPOY himself that they weren’t emphasizing the defense enough. Granted, you can make the argument that Wallace would naturally be a source of tension given his limited contributions on offense. On the other hand, you can’t teach an “old” dog new tricks. He was a defensive/rebounding specialist…that’s it. But if you’re a defense first team, then its a perfect fit. Similarly, ‘Sheed has always been a gifted, but reluctant offensive player. His consistency really comes on defense. If people were expecting him to morph into something he’s never been, then game over…

  60. Ted Nelson

    Joe Dumars is most responsible, he hired Flip to improve the offense not the defense. I don’t know if it was such a bad decision, though. This was still a defense first team: in LB’s 2nd and final season they were the #3 D in the NBA, last season they were #4.

    At the same time as I see no reason not to fire Flip with Joe D’s hand-picked replacement waiting to take the reigns, I see no reason to say he did a bad job in Detroit. Three straight conference finals? Not bad at all.

  61. caleb

    And I thought it was a rhetorical question.

    If you replace Ben Wallace (in his prime) with Antonio McDyess, your defense is going to get a lot worse. no matter who the coach is. Even more true when four of your starters are on the wrong side of 30.

    Flip does have a bit of an underachieving resume in the playoffs, although I don’t put this year in that category. But I don’t think it’s at all fair to give him more than a tiny share of the blame, for their defensive decline.

  62. caleb

    p.s. It’s true that Flip still had Ben for a season, but there’s no reason to think his coaching was at all responsible for Ben’s problems, which is how the press made it out. I mean– he certainly hasn’t bounced back under Skiles or Mike Brown, a couple of all-D, no-offense coaches.

  63. jon abbey

    Powe had one good game, just like Kendrick Perkins last round. the real stud is Rondo, 16 assists and 2 turnovers tonight, thanks again to Isiah for drafting him.

    also, that was one of the most unfairly refereed big games I’ve ever seen, rivalling NY’s game 6 win in 1999 over Indiana. I watched that one a second time the following week just to count the bad calls each way, and it was something like 20-2 for NY, calling things they’d let go all series, just not giving Indiana a chance.

    amusingly enough, that was Van Gundy’s biggest win ever and Mark Jackson was on the other team.

    “Indiana was called for 35 fouls, more than twice as many as New York, and the Knicks went 27-for-33 from the line while the Pacers took just nine free throws.

    “Let’s hope the NBA Finals is a great series. They got what they wanted,” a bitter Mark Jackson said.”

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/nba/1999/playoffs/eastern/news/1999/06/11/pacers_knicks_game6/index.html

  64. caleb

    Powe is a nice player, but yeah, Rondo is special. Who was it saying here last week that he was basically Mardy Collins?

    On to important NBA stuff…

    Here are two ideas for moving Zach Randolph. What do you think?

    #1 — send him to Memphis for Darko & Brian Cardinal. Memphis needs a power forward, and might be willing to swap disappointments. For all his problems, Randolph is probably just as productive as Darko. Memphis would still have plenty of cap flexibility — Mike Miller is the only other guy on the roster making more than $4 million a year. We’d save $17 million against the 2010-2011 cap, and if any coach in the league can find a way to use Darko effectively, it’s our guy.

    #2 is more complicated, and wouldn’t happen before draft day, when we know who’s available…
    - Knicks send Randolph & #6 pick to the Clippers
    - Clippers send a re-signed Elton Brand to Detroit
    - Pistons send Rasheed to Philadelphia
    - Philly sends #16 pick & Jason Smith to NY; Detroit sends us the #28 pick.

    I can’t test it on the trade machine because Elton Brand has a TR; Philly might have to throw in another small salary to make it legal.

    The Clips might go for it if they like what they can get at #6. The Pistons upgrade from Rasheed to Brand. Sixers get hometown Rasheed for a modest price. Knicks… well, we fare the worst… but we go a long way to 2010-2011 cap flexibility, and pick up essentially 2 late first-rounders to make up for dropping from 6 to 16.

    We could hold out for more — like a 2010 pick from Philly or Detroit, or a 2009 or 2010 pick from LA, or Shaun Livingston… but it’s close to enough, as-is.

  65. cwod

    The Daily News has an article today about Artest possibly opting out to come to NY for the MLE. Personally, this sounds like BS on so many levels. I don’t think Artest will opt out, and even if he did, I’m sure Donnie wouldn’t want him ever again.

  66. Dan Panorama

    I bet Artest would be good at fulfilling a Marion type role in D’antoni’s system but I agree Walsh probably kills any chance of us signing him and even if we wanted to, I have difficulty believing he’d walk away from a better deal just to play for a rebuilding New York team.

  67. Kevin

    anything artest does can’t be a shock. who knows, he’s a great player, total nutjob tho, I can’t see walsh take him back

  68. caleb

    Even at the mid-level Ron-Ron is a bad deal, IMO. He’s still a good player, but already declining on both ends of the floor, and by the time we have a chance to be decent, in a few years, he’ll be well into his 30s. We already have a guy on the roster (Balkman) who’se a comparable defender at 1/5 the mid-level. Plus, who would count on Ron not cracking up for even 2-3 years?

    If I was a playoff team already, I’d seriously consider signing him (if he opts out) — but for a young team in rebuilding mode, that’s crazier than he is.

  69. Thomas B.

    Caleb,

    Livingston would need to be signed first. Also, i am not sure that with his knee injury he could flourish in the fast pace D’antoni system. I like the other trades you offer. That Clipper’s deal is muy complicated.

    Here is one for you to consider.

    6th pick, Randolph, Lee to Miami for 2nd pick, Blount, Banks and two 2nd rounders.

    Knicks can take Beasley plus save money for the summer of 2010. Banks is a good defensive PG and Blount is marginally better than James. We get two 2nd rounder to use on a foriegn PG prospect maybe.

    Miami does it to get the guy they want in Mayo plus a low post scorer who can let Marion shift to SF. Haslem can play undersized center. Plus Miami gets rid of Blount and Banks.

  70. caleb

    I’d do that Miami trade because I think Beasley has a good chance to be the best player in the draft, but I suspect Miami will get better offers.

    Livingston in theory is low-risk, high-reward… I guess it’s a mystery what kind of deal he’s looking for, and what teams will be willing to offer. He’s obviously a huge injury risk, so one’s giving him a big contract; but he might get something like $7 million over 2 years from someone willing to look at the bright side. He gets to put a little bit of cash in the bank while giving himself a chance that he can stay healthy.

  71. Ted Nelson

    Caleb,

    I like both your deals. Both creative and both could legitimately happen.

    I would go so far as to say that the Knicks would be getting the worse end of the Memphis deal even considering Randolph’s shortcomings/attitude(besides the cap space). If Memphis was actually interested in Randolph maybe the Knicks could land something like Darko, Jason Collins, Hakim Warrick/future pick, then again Memphis wants to run so I’m not sure they go for Randolph even if it’s an obvious talent upgrade for them (which it most definitely is over Darko/Cardinal). I wouldn’t mind Darko/Cardinal though…

    I guess four way deals rarely happen, but this one seems to make some sense for eveyone involved. It would seem that Joe Dumars and Elton Brand have to be the catalysts.

    Livingston’s definitely someone the Knicks have to think about this offseason. Even if he gets offers from one or more contender(s), the Knicks still figure to have a chance to sign him between D’Antoni and the potential for immediate playing time. The availability of someone like Livingston in free agency certainly helps to dispell this notion that the Knicks have to draft a PG #6…

  72. jon abbey

    Livingston is a restricted free agent, big difference from being an actual free agent. as we can only offer him the midcap exemption, I’m pretty sure the Clippers would match that.

  73. Ted Nelson

    Boston Globe via HoopsHype:

    “An NBA source said the Clippers aren’t expected to make Livingston a qualifying offer (the lowest starts at $5.8 million), making him an unrestricted free agent July 1. But with major knee concerns, it’s uncertain the Clippers, or any team, will be rushing to sign him. According to the source, Livingston can’t work out back-to-back days and needs about 90 minutes of therapy before noncontact basketball drills.”

  74. caleb

    Ted,

    I don’t know if that’s a reliable source but it makes sense to me… he always looked fragile and then suffered a knee injury that was re-played in close-up on national TV, then hasn’t played since. So — hard to conceive of anyone giving $20-30 million guaranteed to someone who may never play again. (I guess it worked for Jerome James!)

    At the same time, if he ever IS healthy, he could be terrific. I’d rather sign him than a Fred Jones-type.

  75. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    Boy Livingston seems to have a Frank Grimes life. Birthday on Sept. 11th, drafted by Clippers, knee injury prevents him from cashing in as a free agent before he’s even 23 years old. I wouldn’t stand next to him in an electrical storm.

  76. Nick

    If you can get him on the cheap isn’t Livingston worth taking a gamble on? As long as you expect nothing I don’t see why not. It’s not like the Knicks have anyone of consequence ahead of him or whose path he would be blocking. If by some admittedly unlikely chance he comes back the Knicks have a top flight talent at point guard who will be 23 this September. If he can’t make it all they lose is a minimal investment.

  77. Ted Nelson

    “Livingston’s definitely someone the Knicks have to think about this offseason.”

    Like I said, I think the Knicks should look at Livingston. They might be able to sign him to some kind of a deal where between insurance and a team option they have very little risk. I think the most important things to figure out are A) if his knee’s going to recover, when? and B) does never playing more than 60 games in a season have to do with a weak work ethic? Besides the injury, he also can’t shoot.

    He could be the Knicks’ Chauncey Billups, though (not in terms of his game, but an unheralded FA who turns into a very good PG). Between guys like Livingston, Gerald Green, Dorrell Wright, Diop, Duhon, Gomes, Craig Smith, Wlater Herrman, JR Smith, even Boston Nachbar… the Knicks should be able to add a low cost contributor this offseason who can come off the cap in 2010.

  78. caleb

    Smith and probably Diop will get the full mid-level, if not more in a sign-and-trade… but those are all decent guys to look at. Unfortunately most of them are forwards, while our biggest holes are in the backcourt and at center.

  79. TDM

    Livingston is the poster-child for fragile players. Not to mention, he has never lived up to his billing, and with his latest injury (check out youtube if you haven’t seen it – crazy) he may never be back to 100%.

    Another un-insurable player – you’d think IT was still running the team…

  80. TDM

    Just to clarify my foregoing post, since entering the league, Livingston has missed:

    12 games: torn cartilage in shoulder;
    39 games: dislocated right patella;
    21 games: lower back stress reaction; and
    82 games, and counting: tears in the anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and lateral meniscus.

  81. caleb

    “he has never lived up to his billing…”

    Maybe not quite a #4, but he was only 21 when he got hurt and had easily justified being a lottery pick. With his long arms he’d become a very good defender, especially.

    “Livingston is the poster-child for fragile players… he may never be back to 100%.”

    Well, this is true. I’d say it’s very unlikely he makes it back to 100%.

    “Another un-insurable player – you’d think IT was still running the team…”

    Big difference between handing out $50 million or $25 million, vs. a few million bucks for a 22-year-old…

  82. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    I’m reminded of Hollinger’s theory of the second draft. Basically it’s players that were drafted young (out of high school) and aren’t given free agent contracts by their team. Hence they’re like in their early 20s – about the age of a college upperclassmen. Usually it’s a good place to get a player that might actually develop, because a player is more likely to break out at the age of 22/23 than the age of 19/20.

    For a minor risk (read a short & small contract) I wouldn’t be against bringing in Livingston. Not that I think he’ll be good (chances are he won’t) but it’s a low risk move. Take enough low risk players, and one might pan out. If not then you’ve really lost nothing. Maybe a roster spot and a couple of million.

    We could do worse with our 3rd string point.

  83. TDM

    From the Boston Globe re Livingston:

    “The fourth overall pick in 2004 missed last season and it’s uncertain when he will play again. An NBA source said the Clippers aren’t expected to make Livingston a qualifying offer (the lowest starts at $5.8 million), making him an unrestricted free agent July 1. But with major knee concerns, it’s uncertain the Clippers, or any team, will be rushing to sign him. According to the source, Livingston can’t work out back-to-back days and needs about 90 minutes of therapy before doing noncontact basketball drills. There is speculation he might not be able to play at the NBA level again.”

    Caleb said:

    “With his long arms he’d become a very good defender, especially”

    Long arms are useless for a pg unless you have lateral mobility. My guess is that Livingston won’t have that.

    I don’t think he’s worth a roster spot even at $2-3 mill. I’d rather see the Knicks persue one of the many guards on Memphis’ roster.

  84. Thomas B.

    “BTW If the Celtics win, can we re-open two debates: Collins/Rondo and Jordan/Kobe?”

    I don’t think the title is really all that relevant to the discussion. Teams win titles not players. If title is the measure, then Scott Williams and craig hodges are way beter than Barkely and Miller. (Ridiculous, I know). Besides MJ didnt win a title in every year he played. And he never went up against a team with as many star players as the Celts have.

    There are a lot of PGs better than Rondo that will not win a title this year. But I see your point, title or not, Rondo would have been nicer than Collins.

    You know, do any of you young folks have a copy of NBA Live 08 for that GameStation 360 thing? If so, trade Collins for Rondo and see how the Celts do on a simulated season. Then compare that with Rondo still on the Celts. Which team comes out ahead?

  85. Thomas B.

    “Livingston in theory is low-risk, high-reward… I guess it’s a mystery what kind of deal he’s looking for, and what teams will be willing to offer.”

    Caleb,

    If we are going to take a risk on a skinny 6’7 kid that skipped the minors (NCAA), would we not be better served with Gerald Greene? Yeah I know he cant play point, but he is healthy. Besides, I didnt love Livingston’s game prior to the injury. He isnt a great shooter, he did not really use his size to his advantage. He lacks the strength of a Billups, Marbury, ect. Livingston is worth a training camp spot, but you cant give him a 2-3 deal, unless it is at the veteran’s minimum..even then its risky. Id rather take a shot on the best Euro-point you can find with a 2nd round pick. Oh wait, we don’t have one, we traded it to get a guy that we cut last training camp (Nichols). Well there was a great risk taken.

  86. oboogie

    “So do we take Artest for the Mid-Level? or do we let Chandler develop?”

    Chandler. Artest will seek a long term deal which could potentially run past 2010. His off the court antics are unacceptable and will be a distraction for all the young and (future young) players on the roster. Artest would not operate well under a D’Antoni offense as he has a tendency to hold the ball too long and slow the pace down. Lastly, I just don’t see Walsh giving him a second chance after he royally screwed the Pacers.

    All of the negatives alone make it an easy decision. If Chandler works out, good for us. If he doesn’t, at least it won’t come at the expense of the cap.

  87. Hudson River

    “Besides MJ didnt win a title in every year he played. And he never went up against a team with as many star players as the Celts have.”

    I’m pretty sure that wasn’t true at all. The Rockets, Pistons, Knicks, Jazz, Suns were all close if not as good at one point or another against Jordan, plus the Celtics and Lakers he lost to early in his career were more stacked than either of these two teams.

  88. Brian Cronin

    I think the Knicks should sign Artest to the MLE, then trade him at the trade deadline to, like, Memphis for cap relief.

    I just want to see how Artest would handle such a scenario.

  89. Hudson River

    But I agree Thomas B that many very good and even great players never win rings if they aren’t given a good opportunity, look at the Celtics today nobody thought of Paul Pierce as a clutch defensive juggernaut who would outplay Kobe through two games or out duel Lebron to bring his team to the Eastern Conference Finals, he just never had a chance much like KG.

  90. jon abbey

    Paul Pierce has had a whole career of chances, he’s spent most of that time in second gear. and yes, he’s put up tons of numbers, that’s how talented he is. he also didn’t outduel LeBron, he matched him with a far superior supporting cast.

    Garnett and Pierce are a great team, though, as neither is a championship level franchise player on their own.

  91. Owen

    “Garnett and Pierce are a great team, though, as neither is a championship level franchise player on their own.”

    Garnett is not a franchise player? Are you kidding?

  92. xduckshoex

    “nope, and his career in the playoffs backs me up. even with Pierce and Allen, Atlanta and Cleveland took them to seven games.”

    So?

    Explain the relevance. I don’t see how a teams failings reflect on one individual.

  93. Owen

    The best player Garnett has ever played with before this year is Sam Cassell And he has been a monster in the playoffs this year. The fact that Ray Allen disappeared is not on him.

    Garnett hasn’t had great success in the NBA, but he is one of the great players of all time nonetheless. Much better than Kobe in his career.

    I am definitely rooting for KG in this series, it would give him vindication Kobe doesn’t need and doesn’t deserve.

  94. jon abbey

    “Explain the relevance. I don’t see how a teams failings reflect on one individual.”

    really? virtually every season since Magic/Bird came into the league, one of the best 2 or 3 players in the league has won the title (the Larry Brown Pistons might be the only exceptions). the very best players have playoff success no matter who their teammates are, they make those teammates better. Garnett’s done that this season, no doubt, but not much before.

    to be a championship level franchise player, you need to be able to take over in crunch time and Garnett too often disappears. even last night, he had no points/no boards/no assists in the last eight minutes of the game. he has had a strong postseason, but he’s also had crucial stretches where he’s disappeared. LA doesn’t have anyone who should be able to guard him, he should be inside dominating all game long.

    anyway, this isn’t a very interesting argument to me, as I know what I think and I’m not going to convince you, so I’m out on this one.

  95. xduckshoex

    “the very best players have playoff success no matter who their teammates are, they make those teammates better.”

    Like Kobe, post-Shaq and pre-Gasol?

    Like Jordan, pre-Grant and Pippen?

    It’s amazing how Kobe has not been a franchise player for 3 seasons, and suddenly this year he is one. What’s the difference? Did he dramatically re-work his game?

  96. Z

    “Garnett is not a franchise player? Are you kidding?”

    Of course he is a franchise player. Franchise player means you build your franchise around him, fitting complementary pieces to make his game the most effective. It doesn’t mean he single handedly takes you to the finals. (LeBron happens to be a franchise player that did just that last year). I don’t think it reflects badly on the likes of Garnet, Barkley, Ewing, et al, who always went out and did the best they could given the teams that the executives assembled around them and happened to come up short. Ewing was certainly the franchise player of the Knicks. Reggie Miller was the franchise player in Indiana. Barkley was the franchise player for two different franchises.

    Barkley, Miller, Ewing, and now Garnett, all played in the finals just once, all on the losing end (pending Laker comeback). All first ballot hall-of-famers. All franchise players.

  97. jon abbey

    my phrase was ‘championship level franchise player’, a far more select group of players.

    Kobe isn’t on that list either for me, FWIW, LeBron is, even though he hasn’t won a title yet.

  98. Ted Nelson

    re: Livingston

    I think everyone sees the injury risk, and I doubt Donnie Walsh is going to rush to pay him before having the team’s medical staff assess when and how well he’s going to recover. While it’s not like he was on track to become Oscar Robertson before the injury he did have a career assist rate of 28.2 and rebound rate of 6.8. His shooting was bad, but it was improving. His playmaking ability should transfer even if he’s not 100% (as long as his knee’s not shot), and while you play D with your feet his long arms might help him make up for a small loss in lateral quickness. As far as strength, he was a string-bean but as a 6-7 PG he should be able to bulk up to be strong enough. One really interesting thing about Livinston, IMO, is that you can couple him in the back-court with an AI, Leandrinho, Ben Gordon, Jared Bayless, Eric Gordon, etc. type of undersized scoring guard and he could be able to distribute the ball offensively and defend 2 guards (assuming his knee recovers).

    I think Gerald Green might be a decent risk as well, the biggest difference being that Green has shown that he doesn’t have much work ethic/ basketball IQ/ etc. He’s got all the skills, but if us Knicks fans learned anything from the Isiah era it might be that some players never put all the pieces together.

    re: KG and championship franchise players

    First, Jon, is it that the best player wins a title every year, or that we annoint the best player on the title winner the best player in the league every year? I really don’t know, just wondering what the causation is there.

    Second, as Owen and others pointed out, KG played on some really poorly constructed teams in Minnesota. Maybe the most comparable player in terms of dominant player of the KG era is Tim Duncan, who has played on nothing but beautifully constructed teams. The consensus on this site is that Manu is a top 2 SG in the league, who did KG play with on that level until maybe Paul Pierce? Spreewell…that’s sarcastic… KG’s Bruce Bowen was Trenton Hassell, his Tony Parker was a 34-35 year old Sam Cassell. You can’t even really compare the two.

    If you want to compare KG to Kobe, another consistantly dominant player of KG’s generation, you also see that Kobe missed the playoffs when he didn’t have a good team around him.

    To compare him to the dominant players of the preceeding generations, who did KG have comparable to Kobe or D Wade (Shaq), to Scottie Pippen (MJ). No one even close. KG can cement his legacy this season: as soon as he got a shot at a ring, he won it.

  99. o_boogie

    Abbey:

    If you were an NBA GM and were starting a franchise tommorow, what players would you pick before KG to start your franchise?

  100. caleb

    Gerald Green has more talent than 99%i of the free agents out there, so sure, he’s worth a look. But pre-injury Livingston was in another class — playing about 25 minutes a game for a 50-win team, as a 20-year-old. He had plenty of holes in his game, like shooting, but those can be fixed.

    Obviously it’s largely a medical question, so only his doctors really know what the odds are.

    I will say — losing 20% of your quickness is a lot more devastating to a guy who’s 6 feet tall, than a guy who’s 6’7. Height and shooting ability are the two “skills” most immune to aging and slowing down.

  101. dave crockett

    On Gerald Green: sometimes “too much too soon” is a real problem. A one year deal for the veteran’s minimum would be enticing. (If you were Dallas, why wouldn’t you take a chance on this kid, even with part of the mid-level?)

    On Livingston. I’m definitely on board with targeting him if he’s available. We know a LOT about knee injuries, how they heal, and how to treat them. If anything teams may be inclined to overestimate the risk involved with Livingston.

    If you make a deal for him I think you just say, he doesn’t see game action prior to November–period–and maybe even Christmas.

  102. jon abbey

    “If you were an NBA GM and were starting a franchise tommorow, what players would you pick before KG to start your franchise?”

    LeBron, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul. maybe others, but definitely those to start…

  103. jon abbey

    sure, he’s great, an incredible defender, team motivator and jump shooter.

    he also has the advantage (seriously) of not having too many playoff games on his odometer. Tim Duncan’s had an infinitely better career, but is maybe beginning to break down now, in large part due to those extra two months of superintense playoff hoops he plays every year while KG is generally poolside.

  104. Thomas B.

    “I will say — losing 20% of your quickness is a lot more devastating to a guy who’s 6 feet tall, than a guy who’s 6?7. Height and shooting ability are the two “skills” most immune to aging and slowing down.”

    I somewhat agree with that since guys like Miller, Curry, Person, Smith all remained effective into their mid thirties as tall shooters, but you still need to be mobile to play this game, particularly in a D’antoni offense. Also, I think a knee injury impacts a player differently than age does. Look at H20, he was done after that microfracture and he was only 33 at the time.

    I’m not sure why anyone thinks a guy with career averages of 7.4 ppg, 4.8 ast, 3.1 rbs, 2.0 tpg, 44 fg%, a Michael Jordan like 23% from three, in 27.1 mpg will be better following a year off (and counting) from an awful knee injury. He wasnt exactly Chris Paul before the injury you know.

    I am fine with a try out, even a 1 year deal (not that I expect him to be able to play this year either) at the vets minimum with an team option for a second year. It would be a feel good story. But Gerald Green dunking over Greg Oden would make me fell much better.

  105. Ted Nelson

    “I’m not sure why anyone thinks a guy with career averages of 7.4 ppg, 4.8 ast, 3.1 rbs, 2.0 tpg, 44 fg%, a Michael Jordan like 23% from three, in 27.1 mpg will be better following a year off (and counting) from an awful knee injury.”

    There’s a chance Livingston never recovers (ala Penny Hardaway) and there’s a chance that even if he does recover he never gets any better. However, I think there is some evidence that would suggest that an injury free Shaun Livingston can be a good NBA PG:

    Steve Nash through 4 seasons v. Chauncey Billups through 3 v. Livingston through 3:

    Nash Billups Livingston
    Games: 59.25 v. 46 v. 48.33
    MPG: 21.7 v. 29 v. 27.2
    Assists/36 min.: 6.4 v. 4.6 v. 6.4
    Pts/36 min.: 11.6 v. 14.3 v. 9.8
    Stl/36 min: 1.1 v. 1.4 v. 1.2
    TOV/36 min.: 2.55 v. 2.66 v. 2.7
    TS%: 54.7% v. 52.3% v. 47.9%

    (Hope the table stays lined up)

    Keep in mind that Livingston was about 3 years younger than Nash and 2 younger than Billups entering the league. Nash and Billups are considered All-Star PGs on championship contenders, so Livingston looks like he could be alright if his knee heals.

    “But Gerald Green dunking over Greg Oden would make me fell much better.”

    I’m not sure adding another underacheiver with an apparent attitude/ work ethic problem is the best way for a team full of underacheivers to turn around its attitude/ “chemistry.” On another team he’d be a good risk. Say, the Rockets. Oh, yeah… Don’t get me wrong, I think Green is a low risk/ high reward guy, too. I just see no reason (from the outside looking in, without having examined Livingston’s knee or talked to Green) he’s a better risk than Livingston. (Injury/knee problem v. brain problem, take your pick.)

  106. Thomas B.

    “Keep in mind that Livingston was about 3 years younger than Nash and 2 younger than Billups entering the league. Nash and Billups are considered All-Star PGs on championship contenders, so Livingston looks like he could be alright if his knee heals.”

    I think that last “if” belongs in big bold face caps. It is already iffy that Livingston could turn into Billups or Nash. Keep in mind those first 2 years Nash got no burn playing behind Kidd so his stats would be lower. Plus niether Billups or Nash has to overcome an injury like Livingston’s, which was the most severe of a number of injuries. The Penny comparison is apt I think. We dont even know if Livingston can get up the court. I read a report that says he cant even work on consecutive days.

    I disagree that Green adds another underachiever. I dont think the Knicks have a roster of underachievers, I think most of the players just are not very good. Guys like Jerome, Jared, Malik, Mardy, ect just are not very good players. What you get from them is what you should expect. I don’t think David, Jamal, Renaldo, and Nate deserve the underachiever tag. These guys really play above their talent level for the most part. They have flaws but they each work very hard. You get from those guys exactly what you should expect. Their contributions are solid, but without the production from star players, what they do is not enough to keep the team looking good. Even Randolph, who maddens me with his play, does produce points and boards. He is probably on the cusp because he takes the easy route it seems. Steph and Curry have clearly underachieved/ underperformed in NY.

    I think the D’antoni system might help Green because he can really run the floor and he has shown a nice stroke from deep. I think the likely hood of Green working hard and becoming a solid player is higher than Livingston exceeding his career numbers this year. Question for you guys: What is more troublesome problem to correct a lack of intensity or habitual injury?

  107. Bob Hejnas

    I love Joe Dumars myself. I think he’s done a great job building a great team. As for firing Flip, well what can I say? I like Flip and respect him, yet he never advanced the team past the point in which he received him. With that said the Pistons didn’t really need to get rid of Flip. The Pistons needed one and only one thing to advance to the finals. Boards. I’ve been watching the Pistons since the beginning of their championship season and once Ben Wallace left, they have yet to replace him with a consistent rebounder on both sides of the floor. The Pistons need “a Rodman”. They got a great defense and a great offense all over the floor. Let the starting four score and defend all night long and leave one guy to play d, but more importantly grab those boards. They won’t miss on the offensesive end at all.
    With that said if Joe does trade any of the starting lineup I hope any of them go to the Knicks. The Knicks need a WHOLE

  108. Bob Hejnas

    I love Joe Dumars myself. I think he’s done a great job building a great team. As for firing Flip, well what can I say? I like Flip and respect him, yet he never advanced the team past the point in which he received him. With that said the Pistons didn’t really need to get rid of Flip. The Pistons needed one and only one thing to advance to the finals. Boards. I’ve been watching the Pistons since the beginning of their championship season and once Ben Wallace left, they have yet to replace him with a consistent rebounder on both sides of the floor. The Pistons need “a Rodman”. They got a great defense and a great offense all over the floor. Let the starting four score and defend all night long and leave one guy to play d, but more importantly grab those boards. They won’t miss on the offensesive end at all.
    With that said if Joe does trade any of the starting lineup I hope any of them go to the Knicks. The Knicks need a WHOLE! new team and any Piston would be a valuable pickup. I know Chauncey Billups want to retire a Piston, but he could be the mayor of New York.

  109. caleb

    re: Shaun Livingston, it’s an unusual case because of just how severe his injury was. I assume any contract offer by the Knicks (or anyone) would only come after a thorough physical and getting more assurance that he can actually come back. It’s one thing to lose “20%” of your mobility, but this could easily be a career-ender.

    But pre-injury Livingston was a nice player.

    “Nash got no burn playing behind Kidd so his stats would be lower…”

    Ted laid out the per-minute #s, which – as always – are more helpful than the per-game statistics.

    Even those unerstate his ability some; watching the playoffs that year you could see he is (was) a good on-ball defender, which is pretty rare for young players.

    Not saying he would have been as good as Nash or Billups — that’s looking too far ahead, and he had a very different style game anyway — but I can’t think of another player his size, with that kind of creative passing ability.

    And of course the injury makes it a complete wildcard.

    Still — to go from where the Knicks are to being a good team, you have to take some risks on high-ceiling players. Livingston is just one idea.

  110. Thomas B.

    Still — to go from where the Knicks are to being a good team, you have to take some risks on high-ceiling players. Livingston is just one idea.

    I guess this is where we disagree. I don’t think Livingstons ceiling is that high. Even before the knee injury Livingston spent significant time on the DL with hip, back, and shoulder problems. He struggled in the half court offense, was over power by stronger points, and could not finish in the lane when he faced contact.

    Not that I am accussing you or Ted Nelson of this, put alot of people fall in love with the “big point.” They drool over the match up problems he can cause but forget to look at whether he can actually run an offense. Quick self test, if the same player was a swing would you think of him the same way? Probably not. Now ask yourself this, what did Livinston accomplish AS A PLAYMAKER that makes you think he has a high ceiling? 6.2 assist per 40 mpg does not strike me a all that great for a point-though it beats the output of any current Knick. Was there some other thing that he did really well?

    I dont know anything about sports medicine but I can think his injury was significantly different from Jay Williams. Are we not waiting for Jay to come back too?

  111. DS

    Is former Blue Devil Jay Williams still available? Maybe we should roll the dice on him too… I hear Bobby Hurley still has his stroke.

    I agree they can try him out for free and cut him for free – what’s the downside? But I don’t think Livingston holds the key to our future.

  112. caleb

    Off that list, most of the mocks have Courtney Lee in the top 20, so he’s not exactly underrated. I don’t recall seeing him play, at all. I don’t know about most of these guys, but I’m a big Richard Hendrix fan — I’ll be surprised if we aren’t talking about him a year from now as a “surprise” success of the 2008 draft.

    I’m only talking about Livingston so much because he was one of my favorites to watch a couple of years ago. I agree that his medical outlook is probably grim, and you’re right that we only differ about his pre-injury game. I just think he was a real point, not a natural forward who just happened to have some passing ability.

    His assist & turnover numbers were solid, especially for a 20-year-old. The assist numbers could have been a lot higher if he wasn’t playing next to Sam Cassell quite a bit. (Not that it was a bad combo, just that it held down each of their assist numbers because they took turns running the point and playing off the ball).

    Anyway… the Clips have to either let him go or offer $6 million before June 30, without even seeing him scrimmage. So they’ll let him walk. After that, he’ll probably try to get healthy before shopping his services. If rehab goes ok, around Christmas we might see him start working out for teams. No point thinking about it until then.

  113. Ted Nelson

    Thomas, in regards to your post before Bob Henjas:

    Kidd played 33 games in Phoenix Nash’s rookie season and Nash only played 10 mpg, not sure how much that had to do with Kidd.
    Billups played only 13 games his third season in the league, no idea why but it must have been a fairly serious injury (granted, probably not nearly as bad as Livingston´s). Would be interested in hearing what it was.
    I agree 100% that it’s a big IF, but I hope the Knicks’ front office would be in a lot better position to judge the size of the “if” than me. I think his career nonscoring numbers are as solid as you could ask for out of a young PG and don’t see why you insist he was a bad player before the injury, this is why I compared him to two of the three consensus top veteran floor generals in the league (Nash, Billups, not the third, Kidd). He wasn’t Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but I think everyone is forgetting how few players are. He’s not a scorer, but looked like he’d develop into a very good playmaker/ floor general and defender.

    I have to disagree with regards to underacheivers. Mardy, Malik, Jared, Q, Lee, Balkman, Robinson, Randolph Morris, Wilson Chandler, I wouldn’t call underacheivers, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find 4 players with more skill and fewer wins per season on their careers than Marbury, Randolph, Curry, and Crawford. That was Isiah’s “core,” and the team’s big problem was the underacheivement of that core. (Jerome I would call as underacheiver because he had the talent to be a quality NBA 5 if he had worked hard and learned/loved the game, but it was clear he would’t before Isiah wasted money on him.)

    “What is more troublesome problem to correct a lack of intensity or habitual injury?”

    I think it’s really a case by case basis. I honestly can’t think of too many guys who suddenly developed intensity after a few years in the NBA without it, but can think of plenty of guys who were in a situation where they underperformed for whatever reason and then performed later. Can you really think of anyone that was given every chance to suceed, showed no work ethic whatsoever and later turned into a good player? Even someone like Ricky Davis was always motivated/ worked hard to look out for #1.

    What worries me about Green is that Minnesota would seem to be a great fit: youth movement where they’re looking to develop young guys with no one particularly established in front of him, he couldn’t even get in the game there. So, he signs with Houston, which would seem to be another great fit: established core, good defensive team, could sit him on the bench an develop him. Again he got cut. They said they wanted a servicable bigman right away, but if you really thought Green was going to develop into something special you would hold on to him. Boston, his first team, didn’t have an open roster spot, but could have cut Scalabrine, Pollard, or maybe Pruitt if they were thinking to themselves “what luck, Gerald Green is on the market. He was such a great member of the team and has such a bright future ahead of him.”

    D’Antoni’s system would seem to be as good a fit as any for Green, and I would be all for a small two year deal if the Knicks are willing to provide a nurturing environment for him (aka an assistant coach to teach him the game and provide some tough love/ force him to work).

    As far as injuries, I don’t know if this is “habitual” as in an injury that will never recover (very well could be). If it is you could look at Penny (another 6-7 playmaker with a bum knee) who never recovered or Grant Hill who took years to recover but eventually did. Jay Williams hasn’t recovered. I don’t really know much about knees or the nature of Livingston’s injury. I mean there are plenty of guys who’ve torn a ligament or had microfracture surgery and come back stronger, but I don’t know if that’s relevant.
    If it’s a case of a string of injuries, you could look at Marcus Camby who got it together after like 7 seasons in the NBA. There are probably numerous guys who never recovered from the injury bug, but I guess I can’t think of them because their careers didn’t end up being memorable.

  114. jon abbey

    “Is former Blue Devil Jay Williams still available? Maybe we should roll the dice on him too… I hear Bobby Hurley still has his stroke.”

    Eddie Griffin is also available, albeit dead.

    I agree that while Livingston was pretty uniquely talented, his body isn’t really built for the NBA and he’ll probably never regain form or anything close to it. I’m all for flyers, but I’m not sure he’s a good one.

  115. Ted Nelson

    “6.2 assist per 40 mpg does not strike me a all that great for a point-though it beats the output of any current Knick. Was there some other thing that he did really well?”

    I showed that Nash, the premier playmaker in the NBA over the past 3 or 4 seasons, averaged the exact same number of assists per 36 minutes over his first 4 seasons (and also, coincidently enough, over his first 3 seasons) as Livingston. He was three years older. Sam Cassell averaged 6.2 ast/36 as a 24 year old rookie. (Speaking of Joey Dorsey being 24…) Kidd, a rookie-of-the-year, averaged an impressive 8.2 ast/36 as a 21 year old rookie. Andre Miller also had 8.2 ast/36 as a 23 year old rookie. Deron Williams, all-rookie first team at 21, averaged only 5.6 ast/36. Paul, another rookie-of-the year at 20 averaged 7.8 ast/36. Tony Parker, at 19 like Livingston, had only 5.3 ast/36. Telfair, 6.1 at 19.

    So, he’s wan’t on track to be Oscar Robertson, as I said in a previous comment, but IFIFIFIFIFIFIFIF his knee recovers he could be a servicable NBA PG.

    Who knows, we’ll probably be talking about Livingston as the next Jay Williams, I just think the Knicks should look hard into whether we’ll be talking about him as the next Jermaine O’Neal (as far as a preps-to-pro player who failed on his first team before flourishing on his second. I also have to wonder whether he’s been working on his shooting accuracy since he’s imobile. He improved it every year in the league, and while I doubt he’ll ever be Reggie Miller or Peja a servicable outside shot would help him make up for a (slight) loss in quickness (although probably not a significant one).

    “Quick self test, if the same player was a swing would you think of him the same way?”

    Nothing about his numbers says swing, nor nothing about his game. He was a rotation player on a 47 win Western Conference second round team and averaged 7.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 4.8 apg on 47% shooting in 27 mpg for 12 playoff games. At 20, so yeah this is a guy I would want on my team if his knee heals. Again, I would put the guy through a battery of physical tests before signing him, try to figure out how hard he’s been rehabbing (guys like Amare worked hard and came back stronger after microfracture surgery while Oden put on tons of muscle this season while rehabbing), and also see if he’s been working on his shot while injured.

  116. Dave

    I don’t think taking a chance on Shaun Livingston would be a wise move. Even if he’s fully recovered his game is a long way from where it should be.

    Livingston is a good passer with good vision but he’s a horrible floor general. He has no presence, he doesn’t orgnaize a team’s offense and he doesn’t ensure that the ball goes where it’s meant to go. The Clippers had huge problems offensively when they started Livingston ahead of Cassell – a move that was done because Shaun’s development was too slow, and Dunleavy did admit that Cassell was the still the superior player but a good margin. So despite the fact they had this talented passer with good court vision their offense was always working worse because he couldn’t run it effectively.

    My second biggest concern with Livingston is his defense. Even before his injury he had a horrid time defending quick point guards. He just wasn’t good at it. He was an above average defender when he switched over and defended the wing but he did not defend the point well.

    Third is the lack of a jump shot. It’s not awful but it is below average in terms of range and accuracy from range. Still very much a work in progress.

    Also despite being 6-7 he has no post game and no overall ability to take advantage of his size offensively. Another area of improvement.

    And these are all the problems he’ll have to deal with if he makes a full recovery. He’s a long way from being where he needs to be. Add in the injury and you’re talking about a huge risk that is unlikely to pan out.

    I’d like to see the Knicks make some solid decisions and add guys that can play. Make 2-3 solid moves before taking big risks again. The squad is so unbalanced right now, some repair would be nice.

  117. Dave

    On Gerald Green

    I actually thought Minnesota was a terrible situation for Gerald. Likewise with the Knicks.

    He’s an underdeveloped high school kid who lacks intelligence and consistency of effort and focus. Now you have a 20 win team full of young players struggling to make best use of their talents …. coaches generally respond by playing the guys who consistently give good effort and don’t make too many mistakes. Gerald makes a large amount of mistakes and is very difficult to play alongside. His mistakes hurt the play of his fellow teammates because his lack of a defensive rotation gives up a layup or his bad shot, or missed cut to the hoop, or bad pass, it all has a snow balling effect on his teammates. Then you have Ryan Gomes who’s a four a year college player, he’s smart and he plays hard on a nightly basis. Unlike Gerald Green he has a developed NBA body. He also has a more developed skill set than Green. Ryan Gomes is going to take those minutes. So is Corey Brewer and Rashad McCants.

    Minnesota is a very difficult situation for raw unintelligent players to get game time. They’re trying to start something, to build around Al and Foye. GG just never fit in.

    Like I said he wouldn’t fit in the Knicks for similar reasons. Add in the Knicks dysfunctional ways and regular displays of lackadaisical effort and it only gets worse.

    As for Green’s fit in D’Antoni’s offense. He’s a very poor fit. The truth is he’s too dumb to play for D’Antoni. He can’t move without the basketball. He has no instincts. He’s a poor ball handler, penetrator and passer. His mental mistakes ruin a team’s offense and his defense is even worse. D’Antoni runs a freelance offense where player’s decision making matters. Gerald can’t survive in that situation. Green needs to play for a controlling coach that will literally run him through every movement on every play to limit his dumb mistakes.

    As for the type of team that I think would make sense for Gerald. I think he needs to go to a well coached veteran team that is very stable. Surround him with positive influences and have a coach who’ll detail exactly what he wants from Gerald on every possession. Someone like San Antonio.

  118. Ted Nelson

    “Livingston is a good passer with good vision but he’s a horrible floor general. He has no presence, he doesn’t orgnaize a team’s offense and he doesn’t ensure that the ball goes where it’s meant to go. The Clippers had huge problems offensively when they started Livingston ahead of Cassell – a move that was done because Shaun’s development was too slow, and Dunleavy did admit that Cassell was the still the superior player but a good margin.”

    The kid was 19, 20, and 21 years old with no college experience. Again he’s not going to be Oscar Robertson, but I think that if you compare him to other PGs when they were young (Nash, Billups, Mike Conley who everyone seems so intent on the Knicks targetting, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Cassell himself) he stacks up pretty well. Someone like Cassell became a good floor general in part because he learned on a very good Houston team (same with Deron, Parker, Mike Bibby once he moved to Sacto,…). While Livingston played on one of the best Clippers’ teams ever, that’s still a disfunctional organization. He showed an adequate understanding of the game and ability to get his teammates the ball that often can’t be taught. Leading a team, on the other hand, is partially learned through experience.

    “Add in the injury and you’re talking about a huge risk that is unlikely to pan out.”

    Huge risk? A roster spot and 2 years $3 or 4 million or something along those lines is a huge risk?

    “I’d like to see the Knicks make some solid decisions and add guys that can play. Make 2-3 solid moves before taking big risks again. The squad is so unbalanced right now, some repair would be nice.”

    I would too, but again the 15th roster spot has not been the Knicks’ biggest problem nor has the third string PG. If his knee checked out (again, a BIG if), I would bring Livingston in with no expectations of getting much in year 1 but rather with an eye on the future. Let D’Antoni groom him and see if he can’t turn his jumper from below average to average. Suddenly you’re added a solid rotation player and someone who gives you a lot of versatility in the backcourt by being able to guard the 2 spot and distribute the ball.

    re: Gerald Green

    My point with Green was exactly that he doesn’t work hard or know the game, so we agree there. Where I disagree, however, is that I think he’s had every chance to succeed in his career to date. If he had worked hard and learned the game in Boston, where they were force feeding him minutes and really wanted him to succeed, he’d have been in a great situation to continue working hard and earn tons of minutes on a young Minnesota team.
    The reason Minni was a good fit, in my opinion, is precisely that they’re trying to built something from scratch. Green could have been part of what they were trying to build. It’s an environment where mistakes (and certainly losses) would have been tolerated as long as it was clear he was working hard and would be part of their future. Basically, Minnesota judged that other guys gave them a better team both today and in the future.

    Houston was an opportunity much along the same lines as the SA fit you mention. They cut him after he played in a grand total of 1 game.

    One of my other big points with Green was that neither a young rebuilding team nor a veteran team that shouldn’t have anything but late 1st rounders for a while gives up on a guy they think has a bright future. As someone who has never met Gerald Green, I’d take that as a sign that the kid has zero work ethic or desire because he certainly has the raw ability and athleticism to be a good NBA player (also something I’ve heard/read plenty going back to before he was drafted).

    “As for Green’s fit in D’Antoni’s offense. He’s a very poor fit.”

    He shoots the 3 and can finish in transition. He definitely needs to learn the game, but I wouldn’t call him a “very poor fit.” If there’s a system that might stress his strengths, I would say its Phoenix’s. Just teach the kid where to stand and how to run down the court in transition and Nash will do the rest. San Antonio’s offense, for example, is much more predicated upon player and ball movement in the half-court set.

    I would say Green’s strengths of running, dunking, and shooting would be maximized in a fast-paced offense with Nash, Diaw, and Hill getting him the ball rather than moving off the ball (which you note as a weakness) around Duncan. He could maybe fit in the Bruce Bowen role on offense (stand in one spot and hit jumpers), but defense is another one of his weaknesses.

  119. Ted Nelson

    From the Orange County Register:

    Clippers trainer Jasen Powell said Wednesday that guard Shaun Livingston is very close to the point where the medical staff can clear him to have basketball-related contact.

    “This month, I hope,” Powell said, when asked when Livingston might be able to play three-on-three or even five-on-five. “That’s what we’re shooting for, anyway.”

    Livingston said recently that he hoped to be able to play on the Clippers’ summer-league team. But while Olshey welcomed that possibility Wednesday, he did not make any suggestion that it would occur.

    ———————-

    Of course, I realize it doesn’t mean he’ll be 100% even if he can play. Also, something I didn’t really think of is how much gratitude he may feel toward the Clippers organization (particularly the medical staff) for helping him rehab. Doesn’t really seem like the Clippers are looking to cut ties with Livinsgton, just save some cash (Suprise! Donald Sterling wants to save cash). Maybe he pulls a Boozer…

  120. Dave

    On Livingston
    The risk comment – Livingston wouldn’t be coming in to be the 15th man. He wouldn’t sign if he was told that is his role. He’s going to join whatever team gives him the chance to play.

    It’s a big risk for one reason – it’s not the money or the length of the contract – it’s that the Knicks have limited flexibility. The only move they definitely have in Free Agency is the MLE. When you have only move it’s a risk no matter how small the deal is in comparison to other moves. When it’s all you have it matters a great deal.

    Livingston as a floor general – he played two seasons under Sam Cassell and alongside veterans like Cuttino Mobley and Elton Brand. He played for a very experienced head coach in Dunleavy. He had two bona-fide low post threats and a 20ppg slasher on the wing. This was no a difficult team to run and he did have veteran influences around him. He had Sam Cassell teaching him every day. The problem was that he was too passive according to Cassell. It wasn’t like he wasn’t playing either, they were force feeding him minutes which they admit he didn’t deserve in order to improve his development because it was stagnant.

    This isn’t to say he’ll never develop that but it is saying that he’s miles away from where he needs to be and that even a healthy Livingston isn’t ready to be the answer this Knicks team needs. I’d rather he recovered and developed elsewhere allowing the Knicks fix problems that can be addressed.

    As for Green,

    Houston was a terrible fit because of timing. Roster wise and coaching wise it was a good fit. Although Adelman’s offense like D’Antoni requires players to make decisions in offensive sets rather than designated plays which doesn’t suit Green. But the rest of the club was great and Adelman is a fantastic developmental coach. They’d be a great fit now for Green. When they acquired him they had zero depth on the wings, were a playoff team with high hopes and needed to create a roster spot to sign a veteran (they wanted Brent Barry). Green was the least likely to play because he wasn’t ready. GM Morey knew that because he worked in Boston before Houston and Green had shown no development since in Minnesota. To conclude Houston was a lousy fit because of timing, this summer they’d be a good fit and Morey has publicly said he’ll be looking at Gerald this summer.

    There’s more to D’Antoni’s offense than just spotting up and dunking. You have to be able to move without the ball. Gerald cannot do that. He cannot dribble and he cannot pass. He cannot make good decisions on the basketball court either. Gerald is too dumb to play minutes for D’Antoni at this point in his career.

    Also just on the dunking … If you click through Gerald’s past seasons you’ll find his dunk numbers are ridiculously low for such an athletic player. It’s because he’s dumb, cannot find the open lanes and cannot beat his man one-on-one.

    I don’t expect Gerald to play significant minutes for whoever he joins this coming season. He just isn’t capable enough. The team that signs him should sit him down for the year and develop him during practices like San Antonio did with Stephen Jackson. Playing time will just continue to drill in the bad habits he’s already developed.

  121. Ted Nelson

    Livingston:

    We’ve been talking about a 2 year deal, and if he’s commanding the full MLE I would definitely look at my other options. I was sort of going on the assumption before that LA was ready to cut ties with him (which it no longer seems is the case). I don’t know if Livingston jumps at the chance to play in NY, but if you tell him that he can become the Knicks’ Steve Nash he definitely might. If his knee’s no good who cares if he bitches about PT?

    “they were force feeding him minutes which they admit he didn’t deserve in order to improve his development because it was stagnant.”

    Yet, he didn’t play badly in those minutes. He had a bit of a sophmore slump but was playing on a 47 win team and then he did improve his third season.

    “even a healthy Livingston isn’t ready to be the answer this Knicks team needs. I’d rather he recovered and developed elsewhere allowing the Knicks fix problems that can be addressed.”

    I don’t think he’s THE answer, but if you sign him to a 2 year $6 million deal and he turns into a quality starter he could certainly be part of the long-term solution. There are other young FAs you can say that about, I’ve just been defending Livingston as one of them.

    Green:

    “When they acquired him they had zero depth on the wings, were a playoff team with high hopes and needed to create a roster spot to sign a veteran (they wanted Brent Barry).”

    The reason I remember reading was that they wanted to sign a frontcourt player… However you look at it, you don’t cut a guy you think has a really bright future.

    “There’s more to D’Antoni’s offense than just spotting up and dunking.”

    There’s more to every offense than this. However, if there’s an offense where a player can get away with doing this for stretches I think it would be Phoenix’s. If he’s on the court with Nash, Diaw, and Hill and they tell him what to do (it’s not like SA is the only place where they have coaches) he doesn’t have to think too much at all. Few teams have three passers the quality of Nash, Diaw, and Hill who can play on the court at the same time.

    Stephen Jackson, by the way, played about as well in NJ as a rookie as he did in his second season in SA (his first season in SA, second in the league, he took a huge step back). With natural progression he likely would have been as good in NJ as SA. When he left SA for Atlanta he continued to be as productive as in SA. Don’t think that’s a good comparison at all.

    “If you click through Gerald’s past seasons you’ll find his dunk numbers are ridiculously low for such an athletic player. It’s because he’s dumb, cannot find the open lanes and cannot beat his man one-on-one.”

    Also could be due in part to laziness. Green has a rep for being dumb, but other guys who settle for 80% jump shots are usually considered lazy (or really good jump shooters).

    Anyway, in 06-07 he took 6% of his shots as dunks, which is more than Jason Richardson or Boris Diaw (both 4%), but less than Gerald Wallace (9%). Considering that Green has the best outside shot of the 3 and played for a team that was tanking I don’t think it’s so weird to see him finish in the middle. (He was way behind Marion at 17% but didn’t have Nash feeding him the ball, tied with VC at 6%, and behind RJ at 9%, Dorrell Wright was at 8%).

    “I don’t expect Gerald to play significant minutes for whoever he joins this coming season. He just isn’t capable enough.”

    This is why I said the Knicks should think twice about signing him, there’s no disagreement here. He’s got a lot of work to do.

  122. Ted Nelson

    To clarify, with Livingston I was thinking Clipps don’t want him few other teams are going to want to take a chance on him, give him a two year minimum contract. Basically, eat the first year in hopes he’s 100% by the second. Besides the MLE the Knicks can also sign guys to minimum deals, don’t know if they have their $1 mill exception back yet after using it on Randolph Morris.

    Now that I read what I posted above in the OC Register, it seems like the Clipps just don’t want to pay him 5.8 mill next season but probably want to keep him. If the bidding’s competitive it’s a much different situation than if you’re taking a chance on someone no other team wants (which is in part where the 15th man comment came from).

    I would still consider Livingston for part of the MLE for 2 years, but of course I’d consider all my options.

  123. Dave

    If Livingston signed for the minimum I’d be happy with that. If he required part of the MLE, not all but part because that limits what the Knicks can do with the MLE, I’d be against it. If he were to sign with the LLE I’d be happy enough.

    On Livingston’s below par performance. He’s a solid player. He just can’t run a team and isn’t good enough to be a starting point guard in this league during his career up until this point. He was a solid role player and a good bench player.

    On my point about Stephen Jackson … why I mentioned him

    Stephen Jackson was a far superior player in his second season with San Antonio. His defense was on par with Bruce Bowen. He was the third leading scorer in the Finals on a title winning team. He learned how to play a role … how to be discplined on the court and execute his team’s offensive and defensive strategies … something he never did in NJ. He limited all those bad habits that stopped NJ from signing him and from any other team in the league from offering him money. The only reason he got minutes in Jersey was because they were awful. His development over that 12 months was phenomenal.

    As for Gerald in Phoenix it doesn’t matter a thing that there are passers on the team if he can’t run down the open lanes and he’s too dumb to do that. He’s to dumb to cut to the basket and create a passing lane for Nash like a Marion did. He couldn’t function out there. Like Nikoloz Tskitishvili couldn’t when he went to Phoenix. Now if you have a guy like Trevor Ariza who’s an excellent cutter then you have a player who’ll take advantage of great passers. Gerald Green isn’t that.

    Those Suns teams require intelligent players who can move without the ball and make good decisions. If you don’t have that their freelance offense won’t function well enough.

  124. caleb

    ” it seems like the Clipps just don’t want to pay him 5.8 mill next season but probably want to keep him.”

    I’m pretty sure that if they don’t tender him the $5.8 million, they’re not allowed to sign him this season (because “renouncing” him frees up the cap room).

    It might not be all season, but it’s at least 60 or 90 days, or something. Anyone know this rule?

  125. Dave

    Caleb,

    I’m pretty sure the rule you’re thinking of applies only to players who have been waived by their teams (that rule is 30 days, 90 days is the trading timeline after FA signings I think).

    The $5.8mil is just a qualifying offer. If the Clipps offer it he’ll become a restricted free agent and will have a guarenteed $5.8mil on the table. If they don’t offer it, he’ll just become an unrestricted free agent.

  126. Ted Nelson

    “He just can’t run a team and isn’t good enough to be a starting point guard in this league during his career up until this point.”

    Again, he was 21 in the last season he played. If you look at PGs not named Paul or Kidd or Parker they usually don’t do much of anything in the NBA before 21(ish). This is why I compared Livingston’s career numbers to Nash and Billups above.

    Overall, I just think the Knicks have to consider Livingston if the Clipps don’t make a qualifying offer. They might be able to do better with the MLE, but they might not. On a team with a big hole at the 1, (IFIFIFIF his knee’s 100% or at least very, very close)I would rather take the chance that the court vision and unselfishness Livingston has displayed at the NBA level help him develop into an above average floor general. I’d especially rather explore this option than take DJ Augustin #6. I’m not against getting a really efficient scorer like JR Smith with the MLE, for example, but IF Livingston develops into an above average starting PG I don’t see much better use for the MLE.

    I agree that, in principal, the Knicks should be looking for players that have been productive more than development projects, but I think it’s a matter of degree. Livingston hasn’t played to his (considerable) potential, but hasn’t been UNproductive either. If you identify someone else to use the MLE on, I might agree or at least be able to discuss the merits of signing him.

    Caleb, I think the Clippers did the same thing with Yaroslav Korolev as they might try to do with Livingston.

    Still disagree on Green in Phoenix. I don’t think he’d be a “star” or would even necessarily play on Phoenix’s team (probably wouldn’t), but if there was one team I think he could make very little improvement and still help the team offensively it would have to be Phoenix (or GS).

    I just don’t think Gerald Green could possibly be so dumb that he can’t stand around and hit open 3s and get to the basket for a few easy dunks in transition. If you can’t teach him to do that, I don’t see how you’re going to teach him to play in any complex NBA offense (aka he’d feel at home on the Knicks, why I originally said he’d be a bad fit in NY).

    The Stephen Jackson comparison is fair enough, the reason I said it wasn’t is because Stephen Jackson was already a more well-rounded offensive player than Green before setting foot in SA.(Also, Jackson didn’t stop making boneheaded mistakes in SA: his TO rate was a horid 16.4 his “good year” in SA compared to a TO rate of 12.9 in Green’s only full season, and people were amazed by how madiningly inconsistent he was in the playoffs.) Jackson did play a role on a very good team, which is the goal with Green, so I can see it as a good comparison. I just don’t see why it would be any less likely to work in Phoenix’s offense than San Antonio’s. It’s not like the Spurs run a static offense.

    The Skita comparison is, on the other hand, way off base. Skita averaged 9.4 pts/36 on a .375 TS% in the NBA and can’t even play in the Spanish ACB league these days, while Gerald Green’s career averages are 16.6 pts/36 on a .514 TS%. There’s just no comparison talent-wise.

    Anyway, my original points on Gerald Green were that his brain is as much of a risk as Livingston’s knee and that another guy with no clue about how to play winning team basketball is the last thing the Knicks need.

  127. Dave

    On other point guards …. I’m with you on DJ Augustin. I’d dislike seeing the Knicks take him at #6. I’d also dislike seeing them take Russell Westbrook. I’ve said before that Chris Duhon is my fall back position and I would rather him over Livingston considering the uncertainty. Jannero Pargo is another guy, he said the other day he plans to opt out, that I’d like. He’s an explosive player. He’s not a good floor general either but he’s a very good scorer, ballhandler, penetrator, great in transition, very good shooter, good defender and creates easy shots for his teammates. Keyon Dooling is not a guy I’m wild about but I’d take him ahead of Livingston too. One of the best defensive point guards in the league, decent shooter, good penetrator. Too inconsistent, doesn’t run a team well, undependable. Louis Williams is a point guard I’d very much like but I can’t see Phily letting him go for the MLE (restricted FA).

    Then again I think Stephon Marbury is better than all of those guys and I’d rather just play him.

    I don’t think we’re going to find an upgrade in free agency or in the draft (no point guards I like at that pick). I think the upgrade will have to come from a trade. My favourite guy to target is TJ Ford (in terms of likely to be traded guys).

    ……….

    Just to go back to Livingston. I expect he’ll need a full season to get healthy. He’ll be ready to go early but he’ll need time to get into game shape and get that sharpness back on the court. I don’t expect any significant skills development to occur that year. It’s the second year which will be interesting.

    I think if we sign him on a two year contract and let’s say that everything works out perfectly and shows himself to be a quality starting point guard, he’ll leave in two years because he’ll get paid more than MLE elsewhere. We’re going to be the Raptors to Tracy McGrady or the Blazers to Jermaine O Neal depending on how much Shaun gives the team. Now you’re going to a three year contract to get bird rights and increasing the financial risk again.

    For his career Livingston’s development has been very poor. Only marginal develops which isn’t good for a raw High School kid who works hard.

    I don’t believe time will do him much favours in terms of developing into a floor general. I just can’t see it happening. It’s a question of personality and gravitaz on the floor and that’s a problem for him. He’s too passive, he doesn’t like ordering guys around, he regularly just passes the ball to the guy that calls for it. He has very poor recognition of what the opposing defense is doing and doesn’t react accordingly. Most of his assists come from passing over the top of players rather than breaking down a defense and creating a shot for his teammates.

    The defense troubles me just as much. He wasn’t a good defender against quick point guards before this injury. He was a good defender on wings, very much an above average defender on wings.

    I also don’t like that despite having three years in the league he failed to ever turn his height difference into a serious advantage offensively.

    I get your point that’s he 21 and the book isn’t written on him but I don’t expect much development from him in this problematic areas. I expect he’ll become a better shooter and defender. That he’ll be a function role player. I don’t see him fulfilling his promise.

    ………

    To skip back to Skita, fair enough, but he did have better Summer Leauge numbers than Green (joking). Another place where Gerald failed.

  128. Dave

    Just to go back to Phoenix’s offense

    San Antonio doesn’t run a static offense but they do run a scripted offense. They run a lot of set plays.

    Golden State is the only other team that freelances as much as Phoenix. Los Angeles Lakers are another team that doesn’t run many set plays but that Triangle offense takes care of that. Oh actually Denver is another team that doesn’t run many set plays.

    These freelance offenses need players who can make good decisions. They can make 3-4 good decisions in a row in every possession. Make the right cut, find the open space, make the easy pass, set the screnn, little stuff. When those little stuff start to disappear the offense becomes less efficient and problematic.

    Okay, look at a screen and roll for a second for what I’m talking about. When Bynum got injured for the Lakers they switched that screen and roll to Kwame. Kwame is 7-0, 280lbs, very quick, can jump. There is no physical reason that he can’t run that screen and roll as well as Bynum. He’s very poor at catching the ball (catching physical or skill? anyway) but that’s the only skill that stops him from being as effective as Bynum on the screen and roll. But that wasn’t the major problem. The problem was that Kwame wasn’t able to put together 3-4 good basketball plays in a row. He’d mess one up and it would be a different one nearly every time. Firstly he had to set the screen, then he had to wait to avoid getting a moving screen called against him, then he had to roll to the hoop (Kwame had real problems with making an efficient turn, first step on his way to the hoop), then he had to create a passing lane for Bryant to get it to him, then he had to catch the ball, then he had to finish. That’s 6 plays. Kwame couldn’t pull off 6 basketball plays in a row. The Lakers had to stop running that screen and roll that was incredibly effective earlier in the season.

    Kwame could never survive in a team that runs a freelancing offense despite him being an above average post defender, mediocre help defender and solid rebounder. He’s not without some offensive skills either, he just can’t put them all together.

    When you switch and talk about perimeter players it’s movement and making the easy passes that’s most important. Then having the threat of penetration and being able to dribble the ball. All four of those things is a problem for Gerald Green. He doesn’t cut well, he doesn’t move into space, he doesn’t pop out for the three when his man sags of him. He doesn’t move well without the ball. He has no basketball instincts, none. If he has a coach tell him on every possession what to do and where to go he’s a much more effective player because it limits the damage of his lack of intelligence/instincts.

    When we’re talking about Green in this scenario it’s worth pointing out he’s on the extreme side with these problems.

    The best play Green ever had in Boston was a set play where Green ran baseline, off a screen on the post, curled to the elbow, recieved the ball and shot immediately. When a coach calls that for him he can be effective. When there isn’t a coach to call that for him he won’t look for that screen off the ball and he won’t get the ball in space. He also is unlikely to take a quick shot instead taking too much time to decide what to do with the ball.

    Intelligent players are required for freelance offeneses like D’Antoni. Otherwise the individual player’s effectiveness is limited and they have a drag affect on their teammates effectiveness because they’re easier to defend and give their teammates less options to work with.

  129. Ted Nelson

    Green:

    That’s a good point about freelance offenses, but I think that if you can teach Green scripted plays (in a San Antonio offense that relies on a lot of motion and intelligent play) you can teach him enough about spacing and cutting to the basket to be effective for 15, 20 minutes a game in as potent an offense as the Suns’. But I think we both doubt he would get on the court even 15/20 mpg in either Phoenix or SA next season, anyway.

    Livingston:

    If he were to work out, the Knicks should be under the cap in two years when they could decide between Livingston and other free agents. It’s a bit of a having your hands tied situation, but I guess about the only other thing to do would be try to trade for his rights or sign-and-trade for him (obviously assuming a much bigger risk in the process).

    As far as the other PGs, yeah, Marbury’s the most talented option the Knicks have outside of the draft and trades. Who knows what he’s going to bring to the table, though, or if he’s even going to show up at the table.

    Dooling I probably wouldn’t take over Livingston (if his knee checked out). Dooling has averaged 3.7 ast/36 over his career, offensively the guy’s a shooting guard who had never shot well until last season. He is a quality defender who can play a small role on a good team (if he keeps his shooting and TO numbers where they were last season, a HUGE if given his career numbers), but I don’t think he’d help the Knicks much especially because I’d expect him to regress at least a bit after a career year.

    Duhon is a guy I like a lot, but it depends what Walsh and D’Antoni are thinking about doing. I mean you’re going to have a hard time playing an up and down game with Randolph AND Curry AND no defense to speak of. So maybe Duhon could fit in, I just don’t think he fits if they want to run. Otherwise, he brings some intelligence, playmaking ability, defense, and a decent outside jumper to the table.

    Pargo’s going to cash in on a big postseason, but he’s not a very good player. His career TS% is .478 and he’s averaged 4.7 ast/36 on his career… It’s not even like he’s coming off a good season besides the postseason. Sort of the Jerome James of PGs (not the work ethic, but coming off a big playoff performance and walking into an undeserved MLE deal).

    Louis Williams is another young guy, like Livingston, with some potential. He’s a decent scorer (career 16.5 pts/36 on .521 TS% and 17.8 on .523 last season) and not a bad playmaker (career ast rate of 23). I wouldn’t mind picking him up, but what does he bring to the table that the Knicks don’t have? Coincidently enough, Jamal Crawford has exactly the same ast-rate on his career (23) and the exact same pts/36 (16.5) on a worse TS% of .513 for his career (as we Knicks fans know, Crawford is not exactly the model of shooting consistency though). Nate Robinson has a bit better career TS% (.529) for a hair more pts/36 (16.8) but a worse ast-rate (16.6) on his career.

    Ford is someone who intrigues me because I think he’s the only guy mentioned who can come in tomorrow and run the team in an intelligent way and make his teammates better. I’m wondering what it would take to get him…

    Basically, short of a sensible trade for Ford the only free agent above I’d be inclined to take over Livingston is Duhon. He’s the only other guy who brings the kind of playmaking PG the Knicks could use.

    Duhon, however, is no better a playmaker than Livingston. Career numbers… Duhon: 26.6 career ast-rate, 6.3 ast/36. Livingston: 28.2 ast-rate, 6.4 ast/36. Duhon is a better shooter (considering that Livinsgton is a very weak shooter), but his career TS% is only .513, not much better than Livingston’s mark of .503 in 54 games he played in 06-07. Livingston is also more TO prone (2.7 vs 1.9 TO/36 on their careers) but cut his TOs each year in the league.

    The more I defend Livingston the more I like him… add the fact that he’d be one of the best rebounding PGs in the NBA and can defend the 2 allowing you to play a combo-guard with him and if his knee checks out I think he could be alright.

    “Most of his assists come from passing over the top of players rather than breaking down a defense and creating a shot for his teammates.”

    Between Marbury, Robinson, and Crawford when he feels like it I don’t think that’s a weakness for the Knicks.

    “For his career Livingston’s development has been very poor. Only marginal develops which isn’t good for a raw High School kid who works hard.”

    He didn’t improve too much, but came into the league with a very impressive rookie season for a 19 year old PG out of high school. One thing that did improve consistantly over his three seasons was his outside shot (eFG% .414, .428, .469… 3P% .000, .125, .313…). Which also happened to be his most glaring weakness.

    “I don’t believe time will do him much favours in terms of developing into a floor general. I just can’t see it happening. It’s a question of personality and gravitaz on the floor and that’s a problem for him. He’s too passive, he doesn’t like ordering guys around, he regularly just passes the ball to the guy that calls for it.”

    If his knee recovers we’ll have to wait and see. I don’t know if he’ll become a great floor general, but a guy who is a very good passer and a poor/reluctant shooter usually doesn’t have a hard time becoming passable in that department.

  130. Dave

    “can defend the 2 allowing you to play a combo-guard with him and if his knee checks out I think he could be alright.”

    I think that’s a fantastic advantage too. I’m hoping the Clippers draft Eric Gordon. I think himself and Livingston would make a very interesting backcourt. Move Cuttino Mobley to the 6th man role and you have a really solid three man rotation at the guard slots. Brevin Knight is on that team too.

    I think the Denver Nuggets will consider the same thing with Livingston. He’d help hide Iverson’s lack of size.

    I agree with everything you said about Keyon Dooling. I take a healthy Livingston over him and that’s an easy decision. With the uncertainty of Livingston’s health I lean towards Dooling. I’m desperate for some perimeter defense on this Knicks team.

    I also agree with you on TJ Ford. I rate him as one of the dozen best point guards in the league and he’d be an excellent acquisition. He’s the guy I have my eye on. He’s the only guy mentioned who’s established himself as an above average starting point guard in this league (I think Duhon has established himself as a starter albeit a weak one comparatively).

    Like I said on previous I doubt the Knicks find their long term answer at the point guard from free agency or from the draft this year. My favoured scenarios are: (1) a trade (2) taking a reliable role player who’ll shore up the weaknesses and be more of a team first player

  131. Ess-dog

    I’d like to acquire a late first or early 2nd round pick and grab Ty Lawson. He would hold down the pg spot until there is a respectable free agent at the position.

  132. Dave

    I like Ty Lawson. He’ll be a nice pickup for whoever drafts him. I have Mario Chalmers ahead of Lawson. Both of those guys are really interesting, they’d make fine backup point guards in the immediate future and could become solid starters in the league.

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