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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Malik Rose

KnickerBlogger: Malik Rose brings one unique thing to the Knicks. On a relatively young team with little playoff experience, Rose is the wily veteran. His signature move is bodying up against a stronger post player, only to pull the chair (and the player’s jersey) out from underneath causing a turnover. On offense Rose has a nice trick play where he lobs the ball from the perimeter to Eddy Curry for an alley-oop.

Unfortunately, Malik Rose uses these gimmicks because he’s declined so much physically. An undersized power forward to begin with, Rose’s leaping ability has ceased to be. From 2002 his total rebounds per 40 minutes has steadily decreased from a robust 11.4 to a subpar 8.6. Meanwhile his blocked shot rate went from passable (1.0 BLK/40) to feeble (0.4 BLK/40), his scoring went from healthy (17.9 PTS/40) to sickly (9.5 PTS/40), and his shooting percentage went from bad (46.4% eFG) to hideous (40.3% eFG). Simply put, Rose is really bad at a lot of things.

Rose does have some other positives. He’s still fairly mobile with good lateral speed, and can rebound decently on the offensive side. However he should be banned from attempting any shot after grabbing a rebound. According to 82games.com, Malik Rose gets 25% of his shots blocked in “close” range. Clearly everyone knows Rose like to pump fake twice before putting the shot back up. His strength is in his man to man defense, something Rose is good at despite his lack of height and leaping ability. Unfortunately, he has too many holes in his game at this point in his career to be a productive player.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: F

2008 Outlook: With a strong rotation of Randolph, Lee, Curry, and Morris; Rose is likely to be the odd man out this year. He should sit on the end of the bench in a glass case that reads “Break only in case of emergency”. There are a handful of scenarios that Malik Rose should be used for.

  • One possession defensive replacement.
  • When a PF is torching the Knicks, and they need someone to douse the flames.
  • When the difference in score is 20 points or more (in either direction).

Although mostly useless, there are two reasons why Rose shouldn’t be a salary cap casualty. The first is that he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2009, and therefore he could be used to provide salary relief in case there is another superstar exodus next year. The second reason is that Rose has a pretty high basketball IQ. I’ve heard Rose speak during one of the Knick summer games, and he had a good eye for the game. In fact there is a certain young Knick with a similar build that could learn a few tricks from Rose. Should some of Rose’s knowledge rub off on David Lee, the Knicks would be reaping the rewards for years to come.

Brian Cronin – Yeah, as a basketball player, Rose has passed his usefulness (and really, what’s the shame in that? The guy had a lot of great years and has two rings to show for it and a whole pile of money), but man, I love to at least have one of these overpaid guys on the bench who don’t play actually be a GOOD role model, and NOT the proverbial “team cancer,” and that is what Rose is.

I would not be surprised at ALL to see him land somewhere as an Assistant Coach when his career is finally over (by the by, does anyone think Rose has enough in him to get even a one-year deal after his contract expires?).

So good for you, Malik! You’re a fun guy to have on the bench. No shame in that. And the trade for you got the Knicks David Lee, so that is also quite cool!

129 comments on “Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Malik Rose

  1. Caleb

    Next year, btw Rose and Marbury we have about $30 million in expiring contracts. Should we want to, we’ll be well-positioned to trade for any disgruntled superstar who comes on the market.

  2. dave crockett

    The few Rose interviews I’ve heard suggest to me that he’d be a natural in the booth if he chose to go that route as well.

  3. Frank O.

    If it were up to me, I’d let those contracts sunset. I’m tired of the cap stuff and $30 million almost puts the Knicks at the cap.
    Being so far over the cap just adds incredible complexity to everything the Knicks try to do.
    It’s amazing the money these guys make for doing no more than being on a practice squad and riding a bench…

  4. Frank O.

    If we’re grading on expectations, one would have to give Rose an A, because no one was expecting anything from him to begin with, and he did just that.
    He rode the bench with the best of them, stayed out of trouble, offered some good quotes to sports writers and generally did his job…

  5. Caleb

    “If it were up to me, I?d let those contracts sunset. I?m tired of the cap stuff and $30 million almost puts the Knicks at the cap.”

    I hear you, Frank O. – not saying I would let it burn a hole in my pocket and do another Steve Francis trade… but if a legit star is available, I’d go for it, and we’d be able to make a great offer.

    Now that Randolph is in the fold, we’re not even close to the cap, if you’r thinking of using cap space for a free agent. Assuming we sign David Lee to a decent-size extension, $7m/per, we won’t be within $20 million of the cap, even when those contracts expire:

    2009-2010 salaries:
    Randolph $16.0m
    Curry 10.5
    Crawford 9.4
    Richardson 8.7
    James 6.6
    Jeffries 6.5
    Balkman 2.1
    Collins 1.9
    Chandler 1.3
    2008 draftee 1.3 (between 1 and 2, probably)
    2009 draftee 1.3 (between 1 and 2, probably)
    (Lee) 7.0 (conservative, I’d say)

    That’s $72.6 million, with 3 roster slots left to fill (Nate, maybe)… and not counting any mid-level FA signings (!) You could tweak around the edges, for example selling off draft picks, but all the bigger #s are locked in (and virtually untradeable, sigh).

    source: http://www.shamsports.com/content/pages/data/salaries/knicks.jsp
    (HoopsHype #s are almost the same, and I think this site is more carefully updated)

  6. Z

    “If we?re grading on expectations, one would have to give Rose an A”

    Frank O.– I am saying amen to one of your posts for the second time this morning.

    According to people who post on this blog (I’m not sure they are right, but it makes enough sense for me to go with), Rose and his contract were taken on only for the draft pick that accompanied him. If this is true, then how can you give Rose an F? No one expected him to contribute much at all when he came to the team three years ago, and certainly nobody thought he’d do anything this season.

    The fact is, Rose is on the team to be a good guy and he is without a doubt the guy on the team you would want as an actual friend and not just a guy who puts up a great PER.

    Malik Rose hugs the refs before the game. That is much more valuable to the team than his post up game. Or even Curry’s post up game for that matter.

    Coming out of Drexel he was a long shot to succeed in the league. Two rings and a heafty contract later, his career looks pretty good, all because he is a) an extrememly hard worker, and b) brings intangibles that really don’t show up in any statistical metric.

  7. Z

    ?If it were up to me, I?d let those contracts sunset. I?m tired of the cap stuff and $30 million almost puts the Knicks at the cap.?

    Pre-Randolph deal I’d agree. Unfortunately, it does little good to be just over the cap. A team needs to be substantially under it and Randolph (and others) have made that impossible.

    If we add established players with the $30 million ideally they’d only be the length of Randolph’s deal, but that is pretty much impossible since long term deals are the ones that get dumped (like Randolph himself).

  8. Caleb

    “If we add established players with the $30 million ideally they?d only be the length of Randolph?s deal, but that is pretty much impossible since long term deals are the ones that get dumped (like Randolph himself).”

    Maybe, maybe not. Saving $60 million over two years (plus any luxury tax) might not mean much to the Knicks, but a lot of teams would kill to save the $$ – not to mention clearing their own salary cap.

    No reason to make a trade for its own sake (the way Isiah likes to), but if it gets us a pretty good player, with a contract no longer than Randolph….

    p.s. I don’t think there’s any such thing as an intangible that doesn’t show up in the box score. If the impact isn’t visible, it isn’t an impact. Let’s say being hugged by Mailk Rose causes refs to call fewer fouls onth Knicks. That would show up as fewer fouls. We could check, comparing foul #s from games when he hugged everyone, to games when he kissed them on the cheek, or whatever.

  9. Ben R

    I think an F is a bit overboard. No one expected Rose to make much of an impact and early on it looked like he was going to hurt the team more than help it, I remeber a a couple game stretch where Rose was trying to get involved in the offense and it was ugly. Then Rose started to realize his limitations and played some decent ball coming off the bench. I would give him about a C, because my expectations were low to begin with and I would say he did about as good as I expected.

  10. Z

    Caleb–

    “I don?t think there?s any such thing as an intangible that doesn?t show up in the box score.”

    How does it show up in the box score if, let’s just say, Malik Rose talks Nate Robinson out of beating up Steve Francis; or talks Stephon Marbury into not choking Larry Brown? Stuff that happens off court is not in a box score, and if you make the case that it is in the box score, it still isn’t attributed to the player that deserves the credit. You have to step on the floor to get credit in a box score.

    “No reason to make a trade for its own sake (the way Isiah likes to), but if it gets us a pretty good player, with a contract no longer than Randolph?.”

    I may not have said it very well, bt this was exactly the point I was trying to make.

  11. Caleb

    “if you make the case that it is in the box score, it still isn?t attributed to the player that deserves the credit. You have to step on the floor to get credit in a box score.”

    That’s all I’m saying. It shows up in the box score – in this case, by Francis staying unbeaten-up, staying in the lineup and taking shots, getting rebounds, etc.

    I do think the concept is overrated — Malik is a good guy and probably has some good influence, but whether or not Marbury chokes Larry Brown is pretty much up to Marbury.

  12. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    For anyone that’s interested, here’s the official breakdown of what went into the grades:

    10% statistics
    10% observation
    5% expectation by age
    5% time missed due to injury
    70% what I ate for breakfast the day I wrote the grade

    Malik Rose scored poorly on the first two, and average on the next two. On the last one, my eggs were wayyyy overcooked. If you don’t like his grade you can take it up with my local greasy spoon.

    David Lee had blackberry and almond pancakes.

  13. thefatkid

    Classic. I love the “break only in case of emergency” line. I’m a big Malik Rose fan, but I hate watching him play basketball. He deserves the F because, as Mike K accurately described it, he’s hardly a viable rotation player at this point.

    Rose’s expiring contract is a major reason to retain him. Thomas has been able to extract amazing value from expiring deals and I expect he’ll continue to be able to do so. Other teams are desperate to save money and camp Cablevision is more than willing to oblige.

    If you need proof of why the free agency market is to be avoided, look no further than the Grizzlies. That team worked hard to get under the cap and was rewarded with…Darko Milicic. If being over the cap nets Zach Randolph and under means Darko Milicic, do you really want to be under the cap?

  14. xduckshoex

    “Thomas has been able to extract amazing value from expiring deals and I expect he?ll continue to be able to do so.”

    Seriously?

  15. Caleb

    Amazing might be going too far, but those sort of deals did net us David Lee and Nate Robinson… and, indirectly, Zach Randolph.

  16. Z

    “If being over the cap nets Zach Randolph and under means Darko Milicic, do you really want to be under the cap?”

    That’s one example, but it doesn’t quite make the point.

    Shaq, McGrady, Ben Wallace, and Allan Houston were all obtained via cleared cap space. Those who move via trade tend to be either a) over paid for many years to come, b) cancerous to their teams, or c) a steal (rare).

    Much of it is timing and the attractiveness of your franchise. This wasn’t a great year to be under the cap; however, if there was any hope of big market teams having cap space (like our Knicks), then the landscape could have looked very different (LeBron, Wade, Mello, Bosh, etc…)

  17. xduckshoex

    “Amazing might be going too far, but those sort of deals did net us David Lee and Nate Robinson? and, indirectly, Zach Randolph.”

    I wouldn’t call that amazing value.

    Ending contracts typically get you players that other teams don’t want and are unable to move for a player they do want. Granted, some of them do have talent, but their teams are generally willing to move them for nothing but cap space for a reason.

    I just don’t understand how a team that has won 33, 23 and 33 games can be said to have gotten amazing value in their trades. Wouldn’t amazing value translate into at least one winning season?

  18. Caleb

    Fair enough, but the trades still brought in probably our two best players. THink how bad we’d be if he DIDN’T trade expiring contracts.

  19. Z

    “THink how bad we?d be if he DIDN?T trade expiring contracts.”

    If instead of hiring Isiah, Dolan had hired a crash-test-dummy as GM with a special consultant for the draft, we’d be at worst as bad and probably much better than the 33, 23, 33 win seasons of Isiah.

    Letting Layden’s wounds bleed would have netted us as many wins and given us a brighter future. I’d scarifice Lee and Nate for that.

  20. Caleb

    I’m not a big Isiah defender – his big signature moves so far: Marbury, Curry, Crawford and the JJs.. have all flopped. But I give him credit for doing two things well: identifying talent in the draft, and through the expiring contract trades, making wise use of the Knicks competitive advantage — a willingness to spend ridiculous amounts of $$.

    In the spirit of grading, I’d give him a C- at the mid-term — with a chance to improve if the Randolph/Lee/Balkman combo pans out.

  21. Z

    “identifying talent in the draft”

    A

    “the expiring contract trades, making wise use of the Knicks competitive advantage ? a willingness to spend ridiculous amounts of $$”

    F

    (I think “wise” is generous. Great minds can work through the worst of problems. A good basketball mind could have used that competitive advantage and turned it into more than 33 wins after three and a half years. That was less wins than we had under Layden.)

    I guess these grades average out to a C-, but should probably be graded down due to the ultimate effectiveness of his regime. Winning less games than Layden may show “significant improvement” to Dolan, but fans should hold a higher bar.

    So, how about it KB? Are you going to grade Isiah and Dolan too? (we still have two months until tip off and no more players to grade…)

  22. Caleb

    If had simply avoided the 3 free agent signings, the cap situation wouldn’t be terrible and we’d all be a lot more optimistic. That’s where he drove the wheelbarrow full of money off a cliff.

    Yeah… would love to see KB’s grades for the front office.

  23. Caleb

    p.s. as for Layden comparisons… the record isn’t better, but I think you’d agree that the current roster is much more talented and includes the young core of what might grow into being a good team. Layden brought in nothing but dead-enders.

    Sure, we should demand better, but I don’t think the Isiah regime is a total fiasco. Faint praise, I guess.

  24. Ted Nelson

    I’ll agree on the core, and I know Isiah couldn’t “rebuild” or he wouldn’t have gotten the job. This is of course stupid because he did rebuild and plently of teams have proven that you can rebuild on the fly through various means and not lose for very long in the process. After 3 1/2 years 33 wins is unacceptable and he only gets a free pass because of Larry Brown, his own mistake. I’ll be interested to see how things turn out this year.

    The largest payroll in the league and 33 wins isn’t a total fiasco?

  25. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “So, how about it KB? Are you going to grade Isiah and Dolan too? (we still have two months until tip off and no more players to grade?)”

    Well, “T” does come after “R”…

    There are a few other things I have planned for this offseason. Let’s see how much free time I have. :-)

  26. Frank O.

    I picked up on something here that I think needs a bit of clarity.
    I, like many of you, have harped on this 33 win thing. One small note, however, is needed:
    If the Knicks hadn’t had uncanny bad luck with so many key players going down injured, Lee, Marbury, Crawford, Q, etc., I suspect the Knicks would have lost the last 15 of 19 games or whatever that dismal run was. I actually think as a team the Knicks were coming around.
    That team, with most of it parts healthy, might have won 43 games.
    I just think that is worth noting. Most teams when they lost four fifths of their starters lose a lot of games.

  27. cavjam

    The aspect of winning basketball most neglected by fans who’ve never played is intelligence. It’s certainly not innate talent which separates Kidd, Nash and Paul, for instance, from their compadres. Unfortunately for the Knicks, among the dumbest players on the team (and in the league) – Crawford, Marbury and Nate – are the ones with the ball most the time. Making poor decisions, like being lazy on defense, is inexcusable at this level.

    Also, making managerial decisions based on salary cap or luxury tax is not the way to winning basketball. It’s like making a bad investment because tax treatment is favorable. If a player subtracts from the team, get rid of him. Financial considerations be damned. Unless, of course, winning is not one’s primary concern.

    If one is gonna give Rose an F, what grade will be given J James (the acquisition of whom earns Thomas dunderhead of the decade)?

  28. Ted Nelson

    You may have a valid point Frank. Maybe some of use haven’t really appreciated the negative impact of injuries on the Knicks’ season. At the same time, it’s because we’ve been jaded by a long line of excuses. First it was Layden, then Larry Brown, then injuries. Let’s see if it’s production or excuses this coming season. Still, after 4 seasons with the league’s highest payroll, expectations have to be high.

  29. Caleb

    I’d agree that the Knicks, semi-healthy, were a bit better than a 33-win team…

    But tHere’s no way that injuries cost us 10 games. I don’t know where the data is, but I bet our games missed to injury was close to the league average.

    Just quickly looking at our division:
    – Chris Bosh missed as much time as David Lee
    – Paul Pierce missed almost the whole season
    – Nenad Krstic was out for the season by December
    – Sixers started off 4-17 or something, while Iverson was out, before they traded him

  30. Z

    Amare missed a whole season once and the Suns still dominated.

    When Jordan retired the first time, the Bulls didn’t win the championship, but they still won 50+ games. That’s with taking the greatest player of all time out of their rotation for a whole season.

    The Knicks’ only strength last year was depth. Sure, Q got hurt, but Q always gets hurt. Sure Lee got hurt, but going into the season no one thought Lee was going to do close to what he did– it was all bonus material that saved the Knicks from only winning 23 games again. Sure Crawford got hurt, but according to most posters here, that should have helped the team, not hurt it.

    Yeah, it all happened at once over the last six weeks, but when they were healthy they were among a slew of other teams trying to claw their way into the 8th seed of a terrible conference.

    The injury excuse is an easy one for Dolan to make, but a hard one for me to accept.

    (Besides, isn’t the medical staff under Isiah’s control too? Didn’t he fire Dr. Scott and Mike Saunders? Maybe not, but as supreme overlord of the New York Knicks, he has to be the one who takes the blame for what goes wrong with the team).

  31. Frank O.

    I think the fact that so many were down at the same time for as long as they were out badly hurt them.
    This is clearly subjective, but losing a primary guy is tough on a team, but survivable. Missing four-fifths of your starters is entirely different. I suspect if any of the best teams in the east…or west…lost four fifths of their squads they’d lose a lot of games.

    To be sure, if the Knicks were healthy, they were at best a little better than .500 toward the end of the year. But in the east, that’s playoff caliber ball.

  32. thefatkid

    ?Shaq, McGrady, Ben Wallace, and Allan Houston were all obtained via cleared cap space. Those who move via trade tend to be either a) over paid for many years to come, b) cancerous to their teams, or c) a steal (rare).?

    This is dubious reasoning, in my opinion. O?Neal?s most recent move was in the form of a trade, just as McGrady?s was. And while Ben Wallace was signed, he?s now overpaid and the Bulls aren?t likely to win a championship with him. The Pistons traded for him. Allan Houston was obtained with cap space. I won?t comment on that because I like Allan Houston.

    And plenty of expiring contract moves happen for strictly financial reasons. Most teams are more comfortable with lower payrolls and some semblance of cap room. However, this has resulted in a crowded free agent market in which most free agents are overpaid (hello, Kenyon Martin!). Teams are fighting for the right to overpay free agents and then struggling to offload those same free agents for deep discounts. Clearly the enterprising and well-financed GM will eschew the free agent market in favor of simply trading for discounted players.

    ?Much of it is timing and the attractiveness of your franchise.?

    This is also untrue. The free agent marketplace is always overcrowded and players are consistently overpaid. Players do not give a discount in exchange for the opportunity to play for a more attractive franchise either. The only time a player will take a discount is if his salary is offset by some absurd stipend from another team (see Finley, Webber). Agents ensure that this does not happen. Mo Williams stayed in the snow belt because the money was better. The Heat were clearly a more attractive franchise, but South Beach and Shaq have nothing on dollars.

    ?Ending contracts typically get you players that other teams don?t want and are unable to move for a player they do want. Granted, some of them do have talent, but their teams are generally willing to move them for nothing but cap space for a reason.?

    For those of you who think expiring contracts only yield marginal players, I give you Kevin Garnett.

    The Layden teams won games because they were maxed-out veteran teams full of quality role players. Those squads were on the decline and the future was bleak, to say the least. Here?s a brief review of the Isiah Thomas era and the events that preceded it:

    The Knicks ended the 02-03 season with a record of 37-45. This improvement over the 01-02 record of 30-52 was mainly due, sadly, to the subtraction of Mark Jackson. The tandem of Charlie Ward and Howard Eisley were more productive. A career year for Allan Houston was also a nice contributing factor.

    However, entering the 03-04 season, it was readily apparently that Houston hadn?t recovered from microfracture surgery. Houston rushed his return and, as such, caused irreparable damage to his body. He never returned to previous form and steadily declined. Layden traded Sprewell for Van Horn, a move that was actually quite good for both teams. Subsequently, the Isiah Thomas era was ushered in.

    Thomas? first major trade was the swap of Eisley, Ward, McDyess, Lampe, Vujanic, a 2004 first round pick, and a future first round pick or Marbury, Hardaway, and Trybanski. While the Ward/Eisley tandem actually outperformed Marbury in 02-03, there were myriad reasons for making this deal. Among the many were the expiring contracts of McDyess and Ward, which would have been valueless at year end, the age of Ward and Eisley, the talent improvement from Ward/Eisley to Marbury, and the marketing buzz created by Marbury. Simply put, this was a good deal then and it stands as a good deal now.

    Firing Don Chaney and hiring Lenny Wilkens was disruptive, but necessary as Thomas didn?t want Layden?s man.

    The subsequent swap was Keith Van Horn, Michael Doleac, and a 2005 second round pick for Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammad. This was a great trade for the Knicks as Van Horn for Thomas was essentially a lateral move while Mohammad was a massive upgrade over Doleac.

    The Knicks finished the season at 39-43, an improvement of two wins, and made the playoffs.

    04-05:

    Thomas? first major trade of the season was the swap of Frank Williams, Othella Harrington, and Dikembe Mutombo for Jamal Crawford and Jerome Williams. Given that Allan Houston would never again return to form for the Knicks, the team needed a new shooting guard and got a nice young talent in Jamal Crawford for very little in return. Jerome Williams turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

    Lenny Wilkens was fired and replaced by Herb Williams. This move was necessary as time had obviously passed Wilkens by, but the lack of continuity was a problem.

    Thomas then traded Moochie Norris, Vin Baker, and a 2006 second round pick for Maurice Taylor. Also, Thomas traded Nazr Mohammad and Jermaine Jackson for Malik Rose, a 2005 first round pick, and a 2006 first round pick. These were two excellent moves. Taylor was still a relatively young player and one who had proven himself effective in the past while Malik Rose came with two first round picks, the same return the Raptors received for Vince Carter.

    The Knicks finished the season at 33-49, six wins worse than the previous season?s effort. This decrease was primarily due to injuries to Crawford and Hardaway and the Malik Rose trade. While the Rose trade was a great move for the future, Mohammad was clearly the better player and his loss left the Knicks without a center.

    05-06:

    Thomas traded Kurt Thomas and Dijon Thompson for Quentin Richardson and Nate Robinson. The Knicks became younger and more skilled at a very low cost.

    For Thomas? worst move ever, he replaced the effective and popular Herb Williams with the prima donna pariah, Larry Brown. The popular acclaim that accompanied this move, a sharp contrast to the usual negative sentiment that surrounded Thomas? actions, should have signaled that this would be a complete, unmitigated disaster. Brown destroyed the confidence of young players, used erratic and nonsensical lineups and rotations, and did virtually nothing positive for the team. I?m still of the firm belief that Brown is a disingenuous charlatan. He is undoubtedly the most overrated coach in basketball history.

    Thomas signed Jerome James. This move was and is constantly maligned, but James was coming off some success in the playoffs and the Knicks needed a center in the worst way after trading away Thomas. James came at the cost of nothing more than Cablevision?s money and has been a complete non-factor ever since. I see no reason why this move was of any importance unless you?re a Cablevision shareholder. A low-risk signing that had potentially high-rewards associated with it. And it was necessary at the time.

    Two months later, Thomas was able to trade Jermaine Jackson, Tim Thomas, Michael Sweetney, a 2006 first round pick, 2007 and 2009 second round picks, and the option to swap 2007 first round picks for Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis. I need not give any commentary on this move. Fans of young, dominant centers liked this trade. People who dislike scorers did not like this trade.

    Thomas traded Antonio Davis for Jalen Rose and a 2006 first round pick. Not only was this an upgrade in talent that included a first round pick, but it was the only way to get Brown to stop playing Antonio Davis.

    Finally, Thomas traded Penny Hardaway and Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis. This trade was a fantastic value for the Knicks. Francis gave Thomas an outstanding trading chip while Hardaway?s contract would have expired, leaving the Knicks with nothing. Brown absolutely destroyed the value of Ariza.

    The Knicks finished the season at 23-59, tens wins worse than the previous season?s effort. This horrible record was due to one and only one factor, Larry Brown. Brown?s awful coaching, undoubtedly the worst in the NBA made it surprising that the Knicks even won 23 games. I remain convinced, to this day, that Brown intentionally performed poorly. In case it?s unclear, I feel nothing but animus for Larry Brown.

    06-07:

    Thomas replaced Brown as head coach. Five head coaches in four seasons is not a recipe for success. Of course, Brown was the worst coach in the NBA. Thus, this was a necessary move.

    Thomas signed Jared Jeffries. Like Jerome James, this was a low-risk, potentially high-reward signing. Jeffries didn?t play particularly well last season, but he?s a talented player who can be quite useful.

    The Knicks finished the season at 33-49, a ten win improvement over the previous season?s effort.

    07-08:

    Thomas traded Steve Francis, Channing Frye and a 2008 second round pick for Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, Fred Jones, and Demetris Nichols. Thomas managed to acquire a young monster for spare parts. Somehow people managed to be unhappy.

    Looking at Thomas? record, I really don?t see how anyone can take issue with the things he?s done, apart from the hiring of Brown. Brown was a complete catastrophe but aside from that, every move has been sensible, purposeful, and beneficial.

  33. Ted Nelson

    TFK-

    I can take issue with the things he’s done because they haven’t led to wins: the record that matter most is under .500 as far as I can tell. Take a look at the standings after Isiah’s first half season (03-04) and take a look at how many non-playoff teams from that year haven’t made the playoffs since. Hint: In the East you’ve got Atlanta and kind of Charlotte, which wasn’t a franchise at the time, in the West you’ve got Portland, which looks pretty primed to make a run sometime soon. “Clearly the enterprising and well-financed GM” would have done something differently, because they did.

    “This trade was a fantastic value for the Knicks.”

    What exactly is the value of a trade? Financial? Wins? You seem to be defining it in terms of “talent” but what good is talent if it doesn’t produce wins? We’re all aware that Isiah has gotten more “talent” in almost every move he’s made, yet we’re still waiting for the wins or some semblence of a cohesive team, rather than the side show the Knicks have been the last few years.

    Amongst other comical parts of your post, I’m laughing that you explained Steve Francis’ “value” in terms of him being a trade chip… He was acquired by a team looking to cut him for a guy that no other team in the NBA wanted.

    Garnett was acquired for not only expiring contracts, but also several young players with great upside (especially if Minnesota uses its draft pick it got back well). We also have to wait and see how much success Boston has.

  34. Caleb

    Thanks for the recap.

    I agree that IT takes way too much crap for supposedly spending wildly, having no plan, etc. He’s had to dig out from a deep, deep hole and almost every move has a decent logic to it.

    Still, you’re being too kind. Most of these moves are treading water, improved by some nice draft picks and the Malik Rose deal. The big signature gambles have flopped. Leaving aside Eddy Curry for a minute, do you really think the Marbury trade was a good one? Maybe a good idea at the time, but in retrospect?

    And Crawford – even if we agree that the cap space is overrated, it doesn’t mean the money was well spent.. for $50 million deal we could have gotten a much better player.

    You’re right that the practical impact of signing Jerome James is almost nil – but still, a 30 y/o center with four decent games in the playoffs vs. a career of terrible play…

    And Jared Jeffries talented and useful… I don’t see it.

  35. thefatkid

    Ted, your logic is misguided. Teams are constantly rising and falling in the NBA. Of the playoff teams from 03-04, Indiana, the team that won the East, won?t even have a shot at making the playoffs for the next 4 years. New Jersey has been in a tailspin for years. Milwaukee is such a mess that even Chinese guys are hesitant to play there. Boston will be good this year, but only because Kevin McHale is stupid. In the West, Minnesota will be terrible. The Lakers are all Kobe Bryant. Sacramento is not making the playoffs. Memphis is a perennial train wreck. And Denver is the best collection of ?doesn?t play well with others? in the league.

    Plenty of these teams have taken chances with ?rebuilding? and walked away with a crappy team year after year. The free agent market is terrible and overpriced and the lottery system results in the worst teams not even getting the top picks. Just look at Memphis. One of the worst teams in the league last season, their offseason consisted of drafting a PG (a position that wasn?t even a remote need) and overpaying Darko Milicic. They?ll be terrible again this season.

    ?Amongst other comical parts of your post, I?m laughing that you explained Steve Francis? ?value? in terms of him being a trade chip? He was acquired by a team looking to cut him for a guy that no other team in the NBA wanted.?

    Steve Francis was cut because the Blazers are stupid. This is the same reason why they gave up a young 23/10 power forward for virtually nothing. Teams that build around ?character guys? who aren?t very good at basketball are terrible. The Blazers cut Steve Francis so they could sign Steve Blake. If that makes sense to you, explain it to me.

    ?Garnett was acquired for not only expiring contracts, but also several young players with great upside (especially if Minnesota uses its draft pick it got back well). We also have to wait and see how much success Boston has.?

    Garnett was traded because McHale is a horrendous GM who blew what should have been a layup for a championship. All he had to do was put together some sort of passable supporting cast and he would have won championships every year with Garnett. Instead, he surrounded Garnett with talentless, overpaid players. Eventually the rest of the roster was so horrendous that he was forced to give his buddy Ainge Garnett in exchange for some dream of salvaging what he has left of a job.

    ?Still, you?re being too kind. Most of these moves are treading water, improved by some nice draft picks and the Malik Rose deal. The big signature gambles have flopped. Leaving aside Eddy Curry for a minute, do you really think the Marbury trade was a good one? Maybe a good idea at the time, but in retrospect??

    The Marbury trade was a great move and absolutely essential. Without the Marbury deal, the Knicks would have had a ghastly team for the next three seasons. There was no way the Knicks were getting under the cap with Allan Houston and Shandon Anderson on the payroll, let alone considering all the other toxic contracts. Unless Isiah Thomas thought he had 3 years to do nothing but accumulate lottery picks, he HAD to make a deal.
    ?And Crawford – even if we agree that the cap space is overrated, it doesn?t mean the money was well spent.. for $50 million deal we could have gotten a much better player.?

    Who was available? The Knicks couldn?t have signed anyone outright. And considering his production, talent, and age, Crawford actually has a very reasonable contract. Once you start looking at comparables, you realize just how affordable he is. Larry Hughes is probably the most similar player in the NBA and look at the absurd money he makes.

    ?You?re right that the practical impact of signing Jerome James is almost nil – but still, a 30 y/o center with four decent games in the playoffs vs. a career of terrible play??

    James? signing was the equivalent of another team signing a guy like DJ Mbenga. The money was hardly a consideration and he rarely plays so, who cares? It doesn?t negatively impact the cap situation in any way.

    ?And Jared Jeffries talented and useful? I don?t see it.?

    Maybe he?s this generation?s Ed O?Bannon. But I doubt it. Jeffries has loads of talent and he will eventually redeem himself. Remember, he beat out Zach Randolph to be Mr. Basketball in Indiana. He also led a pretty horrible Indiana squad to some impressive NCAA performances. Thomas has quite a bit of history with Jeffries and I don?t see him giving up easily on this one.

  36. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    The year before Isiah took over, the Knicks finished better than 9 teams: ATL, WAS, CHI, MIA, TOR, CLE, MEM, LAC, and DEN. Last year all but 2 of those teams were better than New York (ATL and MEM).

    So if Isiah made so many “good”, “great”, and “excellent” moves, why are nearly all the teams that were worse than NY during Isiah’s tenure better than them now?

  37. Z

    “Without the Marbury deal, the Knicks would have had a ghastly team for the next three seasons.”

    As opposed to all the great playoff memories?

  38. Frank O.

    Mike K. hit the nail squarely.
    It looks a lot like TFK is saying something like: You know, Germany made all the right moves in 1944-1945. The late push in the Ardennes Forest, development of the V-2 rocket and two jet fighters that were far superior in performance to U.S./British fighters, sophisticated tanks, more experienced soldiers, and they were moving apace to develop an atomic bomb…it all looked great until the allied forces encircled Berlin, Hitler blew his brains out and Russia took the capital.
    Maybe that’s not the best analogy (never good to compare someone to Hitler).
    But from TFK’s presentation, Isiah made all the right moves, and yet the Knicks got worse.
    Now I’m on the record as saying last year’s 33 wins could have been much better barring the loss of four fifths of the starters late in the season.
    But TFK, I think, is being generous in his assessment.
    To me, the improvements he sought were so marginal that it might have been worth cleaning up the Knicks’ cap problems than making long-shot exchanges that were based more on a prayer than cold analysis.
    It’s a fair argument to make that almost everyone Isiah traded for performed consistent to their career averages…which is to say, average to not that good.

  39. Z

    Since thefatkid has penned a love letter to the Isiah Thomas regime, and most people don’t have the time to actually point out why the Mo Taylor trade was not “excellent” I am going to recycle a previous post. I hope it’s not a Knickerblogger taboo to do such (I know Owen rewrites his David Lee statistical analysis from scratch to give it a fresh voice each week…). I apologize to those who have read it and commented on it before (Ted Nelson). It’s meant most of all for tfk to generalize why I think the Isiah regime has failed.

    Isiah inherited a bad situation from Layden. Had Isiah let it bleed from 2003 until now (essentially not made any moves at all) the team would now be under the cap and able to sign any free agents. (I don?t have the numbers for sure, but I think it would have taken until this year for Houston?s contract to expire, officially ending the Layden era and putting us substantially under).

    So by letting it bleed we would have still missed signing Kobe and Nash in 2004, so they were unattainable. And judging by the current class of free agents, one could argue that had we been under the cap we probably would have signed Rashad Lewis to a max deal (probably not the best move).

    However, had the Knicks made it a point to shed salary and ?let it bleed?, I suspect that Lebron may not have signed his extension in Cleveland when he did, instead opting to ?test the waters? in 2007. That would be now.

    When he extended with the Cavs, there was no reason to wait because the biggest market team had no chance of bidding for him. He said all the right things at the time (?I love Cleveland?, ?I never want to leave?) but let?s face it. The NBA needs LeBron in NY. NY needs LeBron in NY. LeBron?s wallet needs Lebron in NY.

    Not coincidentally, it wasn?t just James that signed extensions in 2006. That whole class could have been free agents (Wade, Bosh, Anthony?). If the spectre of New York having cap room hung over the league, this years free agent class would have looked a lot hotter than just Rashad Lewis and Chauncy Billups (Darko was the only top 5 pick from that year not to resign early). Like 2000 when Duncan, G. Hill, and McGrady were all free agents, this summer could have been rich in star caliber players.

    Had Isiah told Dolan he was doing it his way and ?Let it Bleed? this summer would be transpiring a lot differently. Isiah probably wouldn?t have many less wins under his belt as GM that he has now; he?d have his lottery picks from the past few years; and he?d have a great pool of free agents to choose from.

    It could have been the summer of LeBron.

    As it is, it?s the summer of Zach Randolph?

  40. thefatkid

    Mike K, see what I wrote earlier when Ted made the same point about teams getting better than the Knicks. And most of those teams committed themselves to multiple horrible seasons, something Dolan has steadfastly refused to do.

    The Maurice Taylor deal was excellent because it made the team younger, more talented, and increased roster flexibility. Thomas gave up virtually nothing for Taylor and received a potential 17 PPG player in return. How can you classify it as a bad trade?

    Z, why in the world would LeBron James have signed with the Knicks? Why would he leave his hometown team for less money and the opportunity to play with what, without any of Thomas’ moves, would be an abysmal supporting cast? Has anyone actually ever done this in recorded history? Why do you think New York is somehow what all free agents aspire to?

    If Isiah Thomas hasn’t made any moves, the Knicks would have the following roster:

    PG: Unknown
    SG: Kirk Snyder
    SF: Trevor Ariza, Steve Novak
    PF: Joakim Noah, Ronny Turiaf
    C: LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, Kyrylo Fesekno

    Those are the Knicks’ natural picks from the past 4 years. Maybe the cap room could have been used to sign Billups to finish out the roster. Why doesn’t that seem appealing to me?

    It perturbs me when people are unfailingly critical while presenting no reasonable alternatives or even viewing the facts in a rational manner.

    Again, the reasons why the Knicks have underperformed, year by year:

    04-05 – Allan Houston, the team’s best player from the prior year, became a one-legged gimp. Crawford and Hardaway, the only two other viable options at SG, both missed significant time. Thomas traded away the team’s starting center for two first round picks in order to build for the future.

    05-06 – Larry Brown.

    06-07 – Every single player not named Eddy Curry missed at least 8 games. The average Knick played 54 games. Despite this, the team still improved its win total by 10 wins or 43.4%.

    I really don’t see why people are so critical of Isiah, aside from the fact that it’s en vogue.

  41. xduckshoex

    So people are only critical of Thomas because it’s trendy?

    Wow.

    Here is the bottom line: people say Thomas didn’t rebuild the proper way because he was trying to win now. If that’s the case, there is no way to see him as anything but a failure. If you are trying to win now and you’ve lost 64% of your games, then you have failed.

    If Thomas has been trying to win now, he has an odd strategy. Most of his acquisitions have been career losers or underachievers, the kind of players that generally don’t have much to contribute to winning teams. Mo Taylor? Loser and underachiever. Steve Francis? Loser and underachiever. Stephon Marbury? The same. Eddy Curry? The same. Jamal Crawford. Tim Thomas. Keith Van Horn. Jared Jeffries. Jerome James. Zach Randolph. Quentin Richardson spent years on one of the most underachieving teams in recent memory. With the exception of Malik Rose(who is not a loser thanks to Tim Duncan) at least one of those two labels applies to everyone he has traded for or signed, the draft picks seem to be the only exceptions.

  42. Z

    “04-05 – Allan Houston, the team?s best player from the prior year, became a one-legged gimp. Crawford and Hardaway, the only two other viable options at SG, both missed significant time.”

    In 2004-2005 the Knicks lost 18 out of 21 games to fall from atop the Atlantic division to out of contention by March. Houston (who was cronically injured the previous season too) and Crawford both played during that stretch.

    “Thomas traded away the team?s starting center for two first round picks in order to build for the future.”

    Despite the Knicks horrible slide, I still think that they could have finished strong and made the playoffs. Trading away the starting center for Malik Rose ended that hope. If injuries to Houston caused the team to lose, why was Lenny Wilkens fired? Isiah himself believed the team was underachieving.

    “05-06 – Larry Brown.”

    How is Isiah Thomas not responsible for hiring Larry Brown? Even if Larry was coming off a championship and had the best resume of all available coaches, when he got out of line which he was from day one, it was Isiah’s job to keep the team together. Sure, Isiah won the power struggle ultimately, but he completely lost it during the season. His “significant improvement” was only because he let the team implode under his own hand picked coach.

    “06-07 – Every single player not named Eddy Curry missed at least 8 games. The average Knick played 54 games. Despite this, the team still improved its win total by 10 wins or 43.4%.”

    Again, the improvement is because of how bad Brown was, so it can’t really count as improvement. If Brown had improved the team last year, that would be one thing, but Isiah’s win total (from when he ran the team) was the exact same amount of games: 33.

    “I really don?t see why people are so critical of Isiah, aside from the fact that it?s en vogue.”

    Is oxygen en vogue because everybody uses it?

  43. thefatkid

    “didn?t rebuild the proper way”

    What does this mean? The proper way to rebuild is to jettison your players and commit to losing, for the hope and prayer that the draft bails you out? That idea has worked remarkably well for teams like the Nuggets, Hawks, and Grizzlies, hasn’t it? What team has actually had success with that strategy?

    If you’re trying to win now, you generally don’t trade away starters for draft picks. You also don’t always trade for younger players.

    And you’re right about the “losers and underachievers” thing. The key to success is having winners and overachievers. Wait, haven’t the Bobcats built their entire team around that principle?

  44. Z

    “What team has actually had success with that strategy?”

    The Pistons won a champioship. The Suns have competed for three years. The Lakers won three titles after clearing space for Shaq. The Bulls have a bright future. Portland has a very bright future.

    The Griz actually over achieved for a few years, which sets rebuilding back (a la the ’99 Knicks). The Hawks have bad ownership and apathetic fans. The Nuggets were one of the best teams at the end of last season.

  45. xduckshoex

    “The proper way to rebuild is to jettison your players and commit to losing, for the hope and prayer that the draft bails you out?”

    Did I say that?

    Nope.

    The proper way to rebuild is to make smart financial and personnel moves. I think it’s clear from the lack of results and high payroll that Thomas has failed to do this. There are a lot ways to rebuild if you commit to it: assemble young and reasonably priced talent that can either develop together or be packaged to upgrade, avoid getting bogged down with large contracts that are almost impossible to move, get players on the rise instead of players whose development has flatlined.

    Funny that you mention the Hawks, Nuggets and Grizzlies, though…the Grizzlies won 50, 47 and 49 games. The Nuggets have won 43, 49, 44 and 45 games. Both teams have had to battle injuries over the years AND played in a tougher conference and both teams have been more successful than the Knicks.

    And neither team waited for the draft to “bail them out”; the Grizzlies traded for the pick that got them Pau Gasol. The Nuggets drafted two of their rotation players, everybody else was brought in via free agency or a trade.

    I also don’t understand what Thomas is trying to do if he’s not trying to win now. You said previously that he was trying to avoid having multiple horrible seasons(failed at that) but also that he was rebuilding. If he’s not trying to win now and he’s not committed to rebuilding, what is he committed to? Mediocrity?

  46. xduckshoex

    “And you?re right about the ?losers and underachievers? thing. The key to success is having winners and overachievers. Wait, haven?t the Bobcats built their entire team around that principle?”

    Maybe they did, I don’t run the team so I wouldn’t know. I’m not sure why you’re trying to present them as a failure, though…they are the best expansion team of the last 20 years. None of the others had hit 33 wins by their third season.

  47. Ted Nelson

    “Those are the Knicks? natural picks from the past 4 years.”

    Talk about assumptions. Would they have ended up with those draft positions? Would they have drafted those players if they had? Would they not have signed what they thought to be the best fits available to fill out the roster? Maybe ending up with a few good players along the way

    “Thomas gave up virtually nothing for Taylor and received a potential 17 PPG player in return. How can you classify it as a bad trade?”

    Potential 17 ppg scorer??? Again with the comedy. He did that one year: 99-00. As a Knicks he was at slightly over 6 ppg.

    Denver drafted a potential Dirk at #5 in, what, 2002… it was still a bad pick when Skita turned into Skita.

    “It perturbs me when people are unfailingly critical while presenting no reasonable alternatives or even viewing the facts in a rational manner.”

    It perturbs me when people make 10 million excuses for their failings.

    I was a huge Zeke supporter when he arrived. I looked at his track record and say great potential. 3.5 seasons later, the highest payroll in the universe, and 4 playoff games later I’ve RATIONALLY decided that Zeke has not done a good job.

    Let’s look at a little modus tollens argument:
    If Zeke were a good exec the Knicks would win
    The Knicks do not win thus Zeke is not a good exec

    Alternatives??? How about putting together a team that wins more games than it losses. Many NBA teams seem to do this, and they use a variety of “alternatives” to get there.

    “What team has actually had success with that strategy?” —-your favorite: Cleveland

    No one said that is the proper way.

    Again, I pointed out how many teams went from the bottom of the standings to the top over the last few years. Maybe they used magic??? Not sure.

  48. Frank O.

    I think xduckshoex hit his nail on the head too.
    The problem with Isiah is he doesn’t know what he is doing.
    At one point, he was trying to win now. Then he was in rebuilding mode. But he’s been inconsistent at best.
    When he made trades for draft picks, one can sit back and say he’s playing to his strength: few people draft as well as Isiah.
    But then he traded number ones away for Curry? A man with a possible heart problem? A center that can’t rebound, or block shots?
    A young guy that has shown time and again that he doesn’t seem to have the fire in his belly to trim the baby fat and come back Oakley mean, especially when he’s got freakish size and strength?
    Or how about Frye. He was a draft pick that performed oddly well from the start, but then he goes through a season slump, largely because he had to deal with coaching changes, a new center who dominated the ball and the emergence of Lee.
    For that, we ship him off? A low salary guy, who showed great promise? We just bail on him for a bad year that wasn’t all his fault…?
    I just think Isiah is more opportunist than strategist, and it’s hard not to get your pocket picked when you have no cap space and you gamble on marginal talent, or underperformers, or bad characters.

  49. ben B

    i think that we should trade away marbury and malik to pick up an alright player. i know that personally i like the idea of lettin all our awful contracts play out and then get rly good with our young guys, but if we could trade them for someone with a contract of randolfs size or lower then i’d b all for it. that would be a playoff team or so, and after randolf is gone we could maybe sign the new guy, and all our great young talent. we need to rather then go from a 33 win team to a 50 win one, instead we gotta work our way up. right now i’d set the goal for our team at a 500 season next year. if they get that im happy. if that includes gettin knocked out in first round of playoffs im psyched.

  50. Frank O.

    I think about Frye for Randolph and one thing keeps popping into my head.
    Randolph holds his first press conference as a Knicks player. He’s asked about his posse, the one that is peopled with felons. The one that is being investigated. He says they’re his family. They’re a charitable organization…………..

    Somehow it wasn’t reassuring.

    What I saw was we sent away a stand up guy, who cost a fraction of what Randolph cost, has solid potential, is David Lee’s best friend on the team, is young, and who had a year to figure out how to operate in Isiah program for a guy Portland gave away willingly eating Francis’ salary…
    I mean come one. You think that might have set off alarms for a good GM?
    They gave away a 20-10 bad character guy for exactly what the Knicks had…
    Am I crazy for feeling this way???

  51. thefatkid

    ?In 2004-2005 the Knicks lost 18 out of 21 games to fall from atop the Atlantic division to out of contention by March. Houston (who was cronically injured the previous season too) and Crawford both played during that stretch.?

    The Knicks entered Jan ?05 with a 16-13 record. Crawford missed the first 7 games of the month. The Knicks went 1-6 during that stretch. Then, of the next 18 games preceding the trades, Houston missed 16. The Knicks went 4-14 during that time.

    I actually should restate one point. The Knicks were 21-33 with Mohammad and 12-16 without him. Maybe an efficient, rebounding center with no offensive skills isn?t the most useful thing?

    ?If injuries to Houston caused the team to lose, why was Lenny Wilkens fired??

    Houston?s DNP streak occurred immediately after Wilkens? firing. However, Wilkens was fired almost immediately after Crawford?s missed games.

    ?How is Isiah Thomas not responsible for hiring Larry Brown??

    He is very much responsible for it. But the same people who criticize him for hiring Brown are the ones who praised the move in the first place. I call that ridiculous hypocrisy.

    ?when he got out of line which he was from day one, it was Isiah?s job to keep the team together.?

    So you think Brown should have been fired before game 1 of a 5 year guaranteed deal? Isn?t that a bit of an absurd expectation?

    ?The Pistons won a champioship.?

    The Pistons have had 2 losing seasons in the last ten years and they weren?t even consecutive. How in the world was that a rebuilding project?

    ?The Suns have competed for three years.?

    And they?ve had 5 losing seasons in the last 20 years. The last set of consecutive losing seasons was in 1987. It seems unclear what hole they were climbing out of as well.

    ?The Lakers won three titles after clearing space for Shaq.?

    You already know what?s coming. The Lakers have missed the playoffs twice in the last thirty years. Twice in thirty years. Rebuilding?

    ?The Bulls have a bright future.?

    Perhaps they do. But it took 6 years and 373 losses to get there. Is a 24% winning percentage something you?d be interested in? And they still haven?t made it past the second round, let alone competed for a championship.

    ?Portland has a very bright future.?

    Not this season. That team is going to be terrible. And they?ll be terrible for several years.

    ?The Griz actually over achieved for a few years, which sets rebuilding back?

    They were terrible and they?ll continue to be terrible. That?s what happens when you don?t draft well and you don?t make good trades.

    The whole concept is really relatively simple. Thomas had to rebuild a mess of a team. There was no way for him to get under the cap so he worked on rebuilding on the fly, making the team younger and building for the future while remaining competitive.

    ?Potential 17 ppg scorer??? Again with the comedy. He did that one year: 99-00. As a Knicks he was at slightly over 6 ppg.?

    He scored 16.8 one season and 17.1 the next. Maybe 16.8 isn?t close enough to 17 in your book, but it is in mine. He was still only 28 and hadn?t suffered any major injuries so there was no reason to believe him not to still be a skilled player. He played fairly well for the Knicks and was useful. Again, I?m missing why this was a bad trade. Would the Knicks have been better off keeping Vin Baker and Moochie Norris?

    ?Let?s look at a little modus tollens argument:
    If Zeke were a good exec the Knicks would win
    The Knicks do not win thus Zeke is not a good exec?

    You?ve hit the nail on the head. GMs are indeed responsible for on-court performance and not personnel moves. Why didn?t I realize that sooner? Wait, no, that?s what coaching is all about.

  52. Frank O.

    Ben B.
    How sad we have become that .500 and a first round knock out would make us happy…
    I suspect that if Isiah sent some scouts out into Manhattan, lower east side, the village, washington heights, etc., he’d find a point guard who can pass into the post, guard on the perimeter and rebound better than Marbury…tonight.

  53. Frank O.

    TFK:

    Does a team really have to collapse to be considered rebuilding?
    The Atlanta Braves, for example, have been rebuilding all along, and yet each year they field a team that threatens to go deep into the playoffs.
    The Yankees are far from the team they were in the late 1990s, and yet they have rebuilt. This year alone, they have several very young pitchers from their farm and several young players starting in the field from the farm.
    They certainly rebuilt, and yet, never fell from contention…
    You don’t have to suck to rebuild. In fact, well-managed teams rebuild and maintain standing.
    Teams that collapse have made catastrophic errors.
    The Lakers certainly reconstituted, rebuilt their roster many times over in those 30 years of incredible success.
    It’s like a politician getting us into a war and mismanaging that war terribly and people from his party and the politician himself pointing out how hard the work is…
    No wait….

    Anyway, Isiah is getting well-paid to sort out the mess. He’s made a series of moves that haven’t worked out.
    I suspect if he played basketball the way he has GMed, he would tell you he deserved to be cut…or to receive a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract with the Knicks…For, after all, that is the true measure of your failure: the Knicks offer you a boatload of money with the prayer that you might just break form and actually exceed expectations…

  54. brian quinnett's left nipple

    i’m sorry. i think i might be lost. can someone direct me to the malik rose conversation?

  55. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “The Maurice Taylor deal was excellent because it made the team younger, more talented, and increased roster flexibility. Thomas gave up virtually nothing for Taylor and received a potential 17 PPG player in return. How can you classify it as a bad trade?”

    Younger? Taylor was 28 when the Knicks acquired him. They traded a second round pick for Taylor. How does that make the team younger?

    Increased Roster Flexibility? Taylor increased the roster’s flexibility so greatly that the Knicks released him a year later. He was redundant on a team full of PF (Kurt Thomas, M. Rose, JYD, Sweetney).

    More Talented? In his second season with New York, Taylor posted a 8.5 PER, just ahead of awesomely talented Jerome James and Ime Udoka. He was the worst player on that team that got any amount of minutes, hands down.

    Taylor was so bad, that he’s only managed to play in 12 games since the Knicks released him.

    How is getting a player that was bad by any measure (per game, per minute, per eyeball) an “excellent” move?

  56. xduckshoex

    “You?ve hit the nail on the head. GMs are indeed responsible for on-court performance and not personnel moves. Why didn?t I realize that sooner? Wait, no, that?s what coaching is all about.”

    So you really believe that the GM has nothing to do with well his team performs? That’s odd, because before you said:

    “All he(McHale) had to do was put together some sort of passable supporting cast and he would have won championships every year with Garnett. Instead, he surrounded Garnett with talentless, overpaid players.”

    So the Wolves problems were a lack of talent and the blame falls squarely on McHale, but the Knicks problems are not because of Thomas?

  57. xduckshoex

    “For those of you who think expiring contracts only yield marginal players, I give you Kevin Garnett.”

    So all you need to go along with that expiring contract are a 21 year old slam dunk champion with three point range, a 22 year old power forward who just finished averaging a double-double and was 8th in the League in rebounding and two first round picks.

    Something tells me the expiring contract isn’t really what made the deal work.

  58. thefatkid

    Frank, how could Isiah Thomas have followed the path of those teams? He inherited a disaster of a roster that was largely untouchable. It speaks to his skill that he was able to move as many mediocre, overpaid players as he did.

    ?Younger? Taylor was 28 when the Knicks acquired him. They traded a second round pick for Taylor. How does that make the team younger??

    Taylor was 28 while Norris was 31 and Baker 33. And I was wrong about the second rounder. The Knicks actually traded their 2006 second rounder and received Houston?s 2005 second rounder.

    ?Increased Roster Flexibility? Taylor increased the roster?s flexibility so greatly that the Knicks released him a year later. He was redundant on a team full of PF (Kurt Thomas, M. Rose, JYD, Sweetney).?

    The move was made because Thomas intended to move Sweetney and Kurt Thomas. Taylor gave them a viable option at PF in order to do this. And both players were moved before the beginning of the 05-06 season.

    ?More Talented? In his second season with New York, Taylor posted a 8.5 PER, just ahead of awesomely talented Jerome James and Ime Udoka. He was the worst player on that team that got any amount of minutes, hands down.?

    He played well enough in 04-05. And what happened under Larry Brown cannot be explained.

    ?Taylor was so bad, that he?s only managed to play in 12 games since the Knicks released him.?

    Few people expected him to decline so fast. Sweetney bombed after leaving the Knicks, who expected that?

    ?How is getting a player that was bad by any measure (per game, per minute, per eyeball) an ?excellent? move??

    Thomas gave up virtually nothing to roll the dice on a potentially very good player. I?m still waiting to hear why this was a bad move. Was there some better use for Norris and Baker? Did the Knicks give up something that I?m not aware of?

    ?So the Wolves problems were a lack of talent and the blame falls squarely on McHale, but the Knicks problems are not because of Thomas??

    The Knicks haven?t struggled because of a poor roster. Again, they?ve faced difficulties due to injuries and poor coaching, among other reasons. Thomas has done a great job of improving the talent level, making the team younger, and stockpiling assets. You can blame Thomas for Larry Brown, but I prefer to hold Larry Brown accountable for his own extortionist sidehow.

  59. thefatkid

    ?So all you need to go along with that expiring contract are a 21 year old slam dunk champion with three point range, a 22 year old power forward who just finished averaging a double-double and was 8th in the League in rebounding and two first round picks.?

    And the Knicks just so happen to have a 23 year old slam dunk champion with three-point range, a 24 year old power forward who just finished averaging a double-double and was 11th in the League in rebounding, along with two first round picks. Something tells me you?ve either excluded some facts in your representations of the Boston players, or the expiring contract was important.

  60. Z

    Frank O.–

    “Am I crazy for feeling this way???”

    Only if I am too. I think Frye will be a solid player in Portland. Not saying Randolph will not do what he did as a Blazer, but Frye will straighten it out.

    “How sad we have become that .500 and a first round knock out would make us happy?”

    Every year this is the goal and every year we say “wait ’till next year”. I’m fine with baby steps toward contention. I’m even fine with missing the playoffs again. I’d just like the light at the end of the tunnel to be great instead of, as xducks amusingly put it, being “committed to mediocrity??.

  61. Z

    “can someone direct me to the malik rose conversation?”

    Dude– how much can you really debate Malik Rose’s impact on the team? (You should try to find Nate Robinson’s name toward the end of his grade thread…)

    Isiah’s much more criticizable (some would even say it’s “en vogue”…)

  62. xduckshoex

    “And the Knicks just so happen to have a 23 year old slam dunk champion with three-point range, a 24 year old power forward who just finished averaging a double-double and was 11th in the League in rebounding, along with two first round picks. Something tells me you?ve either excluded some facts in your representations of the Boston players, or the expiring contract was important.”

    The Knicks do not have two first round picks to trade and Green has a lot more potential than Robinson. Would you honestly take Lee, Robinson, Balkman and 1 first round pick over Jefferson, Green, Gomes and 2 first round picks, one of which is likely to be a high lottery pick? As much as I like Lee and Balkman, I wouldn’t do it.

    If the expiring contract was the clincher, Garnett would have been in LA or Miami after his initial refusal to play for Boston or Jermaine O’Neal would have been dealt to the Lakers a long time ago.

  63. xduckshoex

    “The Knicks haven?t struggled because of a poor roster. Again, they?ve faced difficulties due to injuries and poor coaching, among other reasons.”

    This is awesome.

    Poor coaching? The two coaches hired by Thomas were the only active HOF coaches, both of whom were coming off recent success(Brown winning his first title, Wilkens taking the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history) and have great track records…yet they were the problem and not the roster? How does that make sense in any way?

    I think that Brown did a lot of things wrong in NY, but let’s face it…the guy knows basketball and knows how to get the most out of his basketball teams. The fact that he didn’t have total control over these guys says more about the players on the roster than it does about him. He has a track record of success, they have a track record of failure that established before he coached them and has continued on afterward.

    And apart from the very lucky few, every team has injuries. At the end of the day, all that matters is whether you win or lose. You don’t seem to be cutting the Wolves any slack for having Wally and Hudson miss 2 half seasons each. You don’t seem to be cutting the Bobcats any slack for losing Knight for 37 games, May for 47 games and Okafor for 15 games. You like to point out how bad the Grizzlies were this year even though they lost Gasol for 23 games, Swift for 28 games, Stoudamire for 20 games and Miller for 12 games.

    Injuries are just a cop out.

  64. Z

    TFK– I’m not sure if you are simply playing devil’s advocate or if you sincerely believe in Isiah’s “excellent” track record since becoming GM. I’ll take you seriously, since you took the time to write, and offer my rebuttal:

    “Then, of the next 18 games preceding the trades, Houston missed 16.”

    You already said Isiah needed to bring in Crawford because “given that Allan Houston would never again return to form for the Knicks, the team needed a new shooting guard.” So the ’04-’05 season really failed because Houston surprised the team by missing 18 straight games that they lost 18 of 21? I don’t think you acurately diagnosed the problem that year, and if you did, then it’s because Crawford wasn’t a good replacement, and once again the man who brought him in must be held accountable.

    “Houston?s DNP streak occurred immediately after Wilkens? firing. However, Wilkens was fired almost immediately after Crawford?s missed games.”

    It seems to me that if injuries were to blame, there was no need to force Wilkens out. He had just led the Knicks to the playoffs for the first time in several years. The franchise player liked him. Isiah’s real reason for firing Wilkins was that he was making his own player moves look bad by losing 10 out of 11 to slip into the abyss that they have been in ever since. I guess at that point he looked to the future and dealt his starting center for an overpaid declining talent and a draft pick. If that was the reason the Knicks tanked that year, it was still Isiah’s doing. (Plus, for those of you who complement Isiah on drafting Lee via the Rose deal (as if he had his eyes on Lee when he dealt Nazr) I’m guessing that he would likely trade Lee for Artest this offseason if public sentiment would allow him. He seems much less high on Lee than some who post here. I suggest we wait until we see who he turns (or doesn’t turn) Lee into before praising the Malik Rose deal…).

    “the same people who criticize him for hiring Brown are the ones who praised the move in the first place. I call that ridiculous hypocrisy.”

    How do you know this? Is there a record of what I, and others, said at the time of Brown’s hiring? When Brown made the Knicks dysfunctional, it was Isiah’s job to keep it together. He caved to his coach (he had to of course due to the $$ he was paying him), but instead of confronting the issue as a professional and a boss, he and Dolan schemed and threw gas on the fire by bringing in more malcontended players that remained malcontented on the Knicks. He made a bad situation worse. It was a total debacle and to say it was Brown’s fault alone is too blind with love to have any objectivity. Brown’s damage was exactly ten games. The record went from 33 wins before Brown to 33 wins after him. Scheming with Iagian self-servitude to save the $40 million he committed to the coach hurt as much as Larry’s bad coaching itself. At least Larry could say, “hey, I have one of the best resumes ever. How dare you tell me how to coach.” Isiah, on the other hand could rebut: “I drafted Marcus Camby, led Indiana to the first round of the playoffs, and made the CBA disappear off the face of the earth, and my biggest move as GM has been to hire you, who I now think is the worst coach ever. And, oh yeah– the sexual harassment charges against me are untrue”. Meanwhile he forced the coach to hold press conferences in a ditch by the side of the road. Sure Isiah won the hearing and saved the dough, but seeing as Brown’s kidneys were hanging by a dialysis line and he’s rich enough as it is, he may not have fought too hard, instead having the last laugh when the Knicks missed the playoffs after he left (how many of Brown’s teams missed the playoffs in his second season after flushing the first one? Probably more than a few, at every level he’s coached at.) If Brown had stuck around, the Knicks maybe would have made the playoffs this year. Who knows. All we know is they didn’t and Isiah was the one left standing.

    “‘[Portland] is going to be terrible. And they?ll be terrible for several years.”

    But in three years they will be very very good. Better than we are after three years of Isiah “excellence”.

    And the Lakers, Pistons, and Suns could all rebuild quickly because they committed to a strategy and held to it, and because they have better GMs than Isiah has been. All three shed their highest paid players to bring in younger guys to build around– the Lakers knew if they netted the best free agent on the market they could build a champion around him; the Pistons let G. Hill go to Orlando for Ben Wallace; the Suns let one Stephon Marbury go so they could bring in Steve Nash. These are good moves by good GMs. And, incidently, the Bulls got much better much faster when they copied the Suns’ formula of shedding their high priced riff-raff on Isiah for kids and cap space.

    “He inherited a disaster of a roster that was largely untouchable. It speaks to his skill that he was able to move as many mediocre, overpaid players as he did.”

    This is, of course, completely true (if he had actually translated the moves into a better team than Layden assembled). Still, if he had let Houston, Anderson, Eisley, Kurt T., (even Francis), and others sunset, and not garnished new deals on the JJs, Jamal, and Curry, the team could likely have a brighter light ahead than what Ben B. is looking forward to next year. It is clear, of course, that Dolan not only allowed money to be spent, but likely mandated it, but a good GM would have been able to convince his boss that to win more games down the road, and thus make more $$ down the road, it would have to be done the right way.

    (There have been many presidents who’ve looked good (Kennedy during the Cuban Missle Crisis comes to mind) because underlings were able to convince their bosses that there is a better way to do things. I think not standing up to Dolan has ultimately what has kept Isiah from “excellence” (which, I dare say after this vindictive rant, I have rooted for since his hiring).

    Isiah definitely had a honeymoon period, but it’s long past sunsetted…

    …unlike Marbury, Q, James, Jeffries, and Jamal.

  65. thefatkid

    The Knicks do actually have first rounders to trade. They are less attractive first rounders though.

    And why does Green have so much more potential than Robinson? Being a foot taller doesn?t automatically make you better at basketball. Robinson posted better numbers last season and he?s less than two years older.

    I certainly wouldn?t take Lee over Jefferson, but I figured you would. The consensus seems to be Lee > All.

    ?Poor coaching? The two coaches hired by Thomas were the only active HOF coaches, both of whom were coming off recent success(Brown winning his first title, Wilkens taking the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history) and have great track records?yet they were the problem and not the roster? How does that make sense in any way??

    Wilkens has only had one NBA job since and he resigned from that post 3 months after his hiring. Clearly if he were still a viable NBA coach or executive, a team would have scooped him up. The man is 69 years old and well past his prime.

    And Larry Brown? Do I really need to go into this? The 814 different starting lineups, starting players in their hometowns, berating players through the media, horrible offensive and defensive schemes, the constant insistence on playing Antonio Davis and similar players? None of these things strike you as Larry Brown problems?

    ?I think that Brown did a lot of things wrong in NY, but let?s face it?the guy knows basketball and knows how to get the most out of his basketball teams.?

    The guy also knows how to be an avaricious weasel. You think he didn?t behave in such a ridiculous manner in order to get fired? That was the easiest $18.5M he ever made! He?s a despicable waste of space.

    If you want to dismiss injuries as having an adverse effect on the record, be my guest. The evidence clearly indicates otherwise.

    Frankly, I?m fairly tired of having to discuss several franchises ad nauseam. I brought up a few examples to illustrate what makes a bad GM but those facts fell on deaf ears. I?m really not interested in doing detailed reviews of every GM in the league to provide a comparison that won?t be understood anyway.

  66. xduckshoex

    Wilkens was not past his prime when he led the Knicks to the playoffs. The Knicks were 40-41 under Wilkens…so he was the most successful coach the Knicks have had in the last 6 years, the only coach to take them to the playoffs…and from this, you conclude that he was over the hill?

    Wow. I don’t understand how any of this makes sense to you.

    And yes, Brown did a lot of things wrong. I acknowledged that, and you know that because you quoted me acknowledging that. The fact remains that he has a track record of being a resounding success, while the Knicks players he coached have track records as miserable failures. Considering that fact, how can you reasonably conclude that it was the man known for success that was more responsible for the failure of the team than the players who come up short their entire careers? That defies basic logic.

    As for injuries…why do you consistently misrepresent what people say? Nobody has ever said that injuries have no adverse affect on a teams record, only that they are not an excuse for consistent failure.

  67. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Taylor was 28 while Norris was 31 and Baker 33. And I was wrong about the second rounder. The Knicks actually traded their 2006 second rounder and received Houston?s 2005 second rounder.

    They did NOT receive a second round pick from Houston. According to the NBA.com:

    http://aol.nba.com/knicks/news/taylor_050224.html

    Maurice Taylor has been acquired from the Houston Rockets in exchange for guard Moochie Norris, forward Vin Baker and New York?s 2006 second-round draft pick.

    ?More Talented? In his second season with New York, Taylor posted a 8.5 PER, just ahead of awesomely talented Jerome James and Ime Udoka. He was the worst player on that team that got any amount of minutes, hands down.?

    You’re obviously content to blame everyone except Isiah Thomas. Let me get this logic straight on Maurice Taylor. You say he had potential, even though he was 28 and 3 seasons removed from even being a decent player. His abysmal 2005 season is Larry Brown’s fault, even though he was the worst player on the team (all of them having to play under that same Larry Brown). Despite Larry Brown being fired as coach, Maurice Taylor was released by the team. Since then he couldn’t stick with any NBA franchise. In the end, the Knicks wasted a second round pick for what amounted to nothing.

    And yet you classify this trade as “excellent”?

  68. Frank O.

    TFK:
    I’m sorry you are tired and sorry most of us don’t understand…
    But one last point about Wilkens and Brown:
    The body of work offered by both men in their careers so eclipses Isiah’s and the entire rosters of the Knicks, combined, that it’s pretty weird that you question them and not the intinerant failures they had to coach.
    I think both were coaches victimized by poor personnel and a lack of support from the GM. (Please don’t bother pointing out Isiah got Francis for Brown. It’s not even clear that rumor was true, as far as I can tell, and it happened well after Isiah supported Marbury over Brown)
    Wilkens seemed more adaptive to the talent on his team, and was able to ring out of them probably the best those folks could do.
    Brown has a model he likes to work with, but the Knicks lacked the personnel to fit.
    With Brown, you got the sense he was waiting for some key players to buy in, which never happened, except maybe with Crawford. For god’s sakes, Marbury simply refused to run Brown’s plays, and Isiah backed Marbury, who then worked to sabotage Brown. No wonder it appears Brown was trying to get out of the contract.
    I suspect many of us would try to get out of a contract when you are put in charge, but your GM won’t support you in a conflict with a marginally successful player, and a bunch of malcontents who hadn’t been on a winning team in their pro lives…
    On what planet does Marbury or Robinson, or anyone else on that team, know more about basketball and winning than Larry Brown?
    It was clear from the start, players didn’t want to hear Brown’s mantra about playing the game right. I mean, Robinson was still trying to bounce the ball off the backboard last year…
    I mean, a team with players that managed 33 wins and hadn’t seen the playoffs since 1999 simply has no business challenging Brown.

    It’s just silly.
    No one understands your defense of Isiah because in many ways what he has done, outside of the draft, is indefensible.

  69. thefatkid

    ?You already said Isiah needed to bring in Crawford because ?given that Allan Houston would never again return to form for the Knicks, the team needed a new shooting guard.? So the ?04-?05 season really failed because Houston surprised the team by missing 18 straight games that they lost 18 of 21? I don?t think you acurately diagnosed the problem that year, and if you did, then it?s because Crawford wasn?t a good replacement, and once again the man who brought him in must be held accountable.?

    Houston?s missed time hurt the team. Houston was hurt, Hardaway was hurt, and Crawford played hurt because he was healthier than those two. Think there might be a coincidence between Crawford coming back at almost exactly the same time that Houston started to miss games? Someone had to play SG.

    Furthermore, how can you fault Thomas for acquiring the best player available? Maybe Crawford wasn?t as good as Houston, but he was the best available player. There?s no rational basis for your criticism.

    Why are we debating Lenny Wilkens to this extent? Do you think the Knicks would have been significantly better off had they retained him? Do you feel his post-Knicks career is indicative of him still being a viable basketball mind? I could care less about Wilkens and I feel his dismissal was a complete non-factor.

    You seem to like Brown, Z. I hate Brown and think he?s one of the worst things to ever happen to the Knicks. Do you really think Dolan and Thomas conspired against Brown? Did they force him to constantly play Antonio Davis, use 42 different lineups, use erratic rotations, publicly criticize players, and generally act in a bizarre, demented fashion? No, Brown behaved that way in order to force the Knicks to fire him. Thus, he was able to attempt to collect the funds due in his contact while performing no work. I think he?s a swell guy though and he only defrauded the Knicks for millions because he was forced to. Furthermore, I could care less about his resume (which isn?t even that impressive. His winning percentage isn?t great, he only won one title, and he managed to bomb the Olympics). He ran the Knicks in an absolutely farcical manner and made asinine decisions.

    ?And the Lakers, Pistons, and Suns could all rebuild quickly because they committed to a strategy and held to it, and because they have better GMs than Isiah has been.?

    This is completely untrue. These teams never mangled the cap situation, never ruined the roster, and never went through losing seasons. The job becomes significantly easier when you don?t even have to touch your team?s core.

    ?And, incidently, the Bulls got much better much faster when they copied the Suns? formula of shedding their high priced riff-raff on Isiah for kids and cap space.?

    Actually, none of the players the Bulls got from the Knicks have ever made much of an impact. The real reason the Bulls finally gained traction was because of the additions of Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, and Andres Nocioni.
    ?the team could likely have a brighter light ahead than what Ben B. is looking forward to next year.?

    I?m so tired of hearing this hackneyed argument that I?ll actually go to work disproving it now. Here?s your hypothetical:

    The Knicks miss the playoffs in 2004. The record is instead 30-52, what the Knicks were on pace for before the Marbury trade. The Knicks get the 9th pick in the draft and, with Isiah Thomas being the savvy talent evaluator that he is, he takes Andre Iguodala. We?ll assume he stays with Trevor Ariza. In 04-05, we?ll say the Knicks end up with 28 wins and pick 6th in the draft. Thomas needs a center since Kurt Thomas is gone. Andre Bynum is selected. In the second round, the Knicks pick up Ronny Turiaf. In 05-06, the Knicks end up with 23 wins (tough to get worse!) and select LaMarcus Aldridge at #2. In the second round, Thomas uses his savvy to pick up Daniel Gibson. In 06-06, the Knicks end up with 29 wins and the 6th pick, which Thomas uses on Corey Brewer. In the second round, he picks Kyrylo Fesenko. Then, with all the money he saved by switching his car insurance to GEICO, he signs Mo Williams and Jason Kapono. Your New York Knicks:

    PG: Mo Williams/Daniel Gibson
    SG: Andre Iguodala/Jason Kapono
    SF: Corey Brewer/Trevor Ariza
    PF: LaMarcus Aldridge/Ronny Turiaf
    C: Andrew Bynum/Kyrylo Fesenko

    Why does that squad not strike me as better than:

    PG: Marbury/Robinson/Collins
    SG: Crawford/Richardson/Nichols
    SF: Balkman/Jeffries/Chandler
    PF: Randolph/Lee/Rose
    C: Curry/Morris/James

    And your future cap situation is roughly the same. Iguodala is going to require roughly $10M/yr to retain starting next season, which kills free agent possibilities then. After that you have to deal with resigning Bynum, Aldridge, and all the second round guys.

    ?As for injuries?why do you consistently misrepresent what people say? Nobody has ever said that injuries have no adverse affect on a teams record, only that they are not an excuse for consistent failure.?

    So you agree that injuries are the reason for failure, but they are not an acceptable excuse for failure? I don?t understand that line of thought.

    ?They did NOT receive a second round pick from Houston. According to the NBA.com?

    So where did pick #54 in the 2005 draft come from? That was Houston?s pick and the Knicks received it. They didn?t engage in a separate trade for it. NBA.com doesn?t always have trade facts right.

    ?And yet you classify this trade as ?excellent???

    Since you?ve heavily emphasized my word choice in all of your criticisms, I?ll state that used the word excellent to describe the Rose and Taylor trades in conjunction. Given that I?m writing quite a bit in a very short amount of time, I rarely even proofread my posts, let alone check them for word choice. I?ll chalk up your obsession with one word out of several pages of writing as pedantic.

    The bottom line is that Maurice Taylor > Moochie Norris & Vin Baker. Isiah Thomas received more than he gave and, had Taylor played differently and Thomas not drafted Frye and Lee, Taylor could have been an important piece. I?m not going to deem the trade bad because a gamble didn?t work out optimally. The simple version is that Thomas had two .10c players and traded them for a .25c player who had a 20% chance of being a .75c player. It was a good, worthwhile gamble that only cost Cablevision money. Unless you?re a shareholder, there?s no reason to criticize the move.

    ?I suspect many of us would try to get out of a contract when you are put in charge, but your GM won?t support you in a conflict with a marginally successful player, and a bunch of malcontents who hadn?t been on a winning team in their pro lives??

    I suspect many of us would have some semblance of dignity and honor and resign. Brown just did as much damage to the team as possible and then went after as much money as he could. He behaved like an insolent child.

    There seems to be a tremendous amount of support for Brown here, which I can?t fathom. Do you guys honestly just think Brown was great because of his resume? When he made so many egregious decisions, was your response ?well, Larry Brown knows basketball??

  70. retropkid

    Indefensible = Zeke and Dolan and Steph. Terrible trio with not a leader among them…just whiny be-atches…

    As for Malik, the original topic…nice guy, nice career…it’s pretty much over. Cut him, his intangibles help winners be champs, but don’t help mediocrity become good….let him go back to San Antone and win another ring.

    He is very well-spoken and would make a great color commentator if given the chance.

  71. xduckshoex

    Bynum and Aldridge will likely end up being better than Curry and Randolph. I’d definitely take that roster over the Knicks currently have, as unrealistic as it is.

  72. Caleb

    ftk, I am with you that Larry Brown is a total fraud.

    On the other hand, your hypothetical scenario leaves out Lee and Balkman, who could still have been acquired in that scenario. Throw in those guys, and the roster looks excellent – a lot better than what we have now. (not to mention, we might have been able to come up with a reasonable trade package for KG or another big-time vet, without gutting the roster)

    Overall I’d say the Marbury trade was a reasonable gamble to make, but it didn’t work and set back the Knicks’ reconstruction by a couple of years.

  73. Frank O.

    TFK seems
    very
    very
    angry

    I think Brown got screwed by Isiah.
    I think Brown is a flawed person, which is to say human.
    I think when most humans get hit, their first instinct is to strike back.
    I think when your point guard undercuts you on the court, and the GM supports the point guard, it’s time to leave.
    He didn’t handle that well. Agreed.

    But why are you okay with blowing Cablevision money on piss poor talent, like for a 25 percenter hoping to become a 75 percenter, who basically did nothing for his money, and yet seem so indignant about Brown trying to secure part of his contract from a GM and president who failed to back him?
    By my count, basically every Knick that season, except for Crawford, Lee and Frye, mailed it in.

    I’m not a huge Larry Brown fan, nor am I a huge Isiah detractor.
    But to read you, it feels like you’re hoping Isiah is reading and is looking for an assistant or something…
    How is it that a GM who decided to forego getting the Knicks’ financial house in order so that he could gambled on mediocre-to-modest talent becoming good talent or goons to become upstanding citizens bears no responsibility for it not working to date?
    I mean, someone has to take responsibility. His title is general manager. When you make moves that don’t pan out, that’s all you can say: they didn’t pan out. You get enough moves that don’t pan out, collectively, people begin to think you’re not the guy for the job, because ultimately we want moves to pan out.
    If you had an accountant that every tax year seemed to make mistakes that cost you money, and his only excuse was that your finances were a mess before he started working on them are you going to keep asking that guy to do your taxes?
    I mean, come on.
    At some point, he’s responsible for the mess before him.

    The path was clear: sit tight, get salary cap healthy and then make moves for big players. I mean, what’s the worse that can happen?
    The Knicks win less than 30 percent of their games one year? Oh wait that happened.
    They never get over .500?
    Oh wait, that happened.

    Of course, at the end of the day it’s Dolan’s fault.
    He’s the moron that has presided over this mess from the start.

  74. Caleb

    Isiah deserves responsibility for the teams’s problems – I mean, the bottom line is wins and losses, and after almost four years we’re still in the 30s.

    But then, LB took that team and made it a 23-win team. He played David Lee 17 minutes a game, choosing to give the extra minutes to Maurice Taylor and Malik Rose. He by all accounts ran Trevor Ariza out of town. And Matt Barnes. Marbury didn’t mail it in – he was PO’d, as anyone would be, by LB’s gratuitous whining in the papers every day.

  75. Z

    “Indefensible = Larry Brown”

    Caleb– don’t you think this is a bit closed minded (I expect it from tfk, but you always have such well reasoned arguments, whether I agree with them or not).

    Larry Brown was coming off a title in Detroit. He got Rasheed Wallace, the games biggest psychological misfit to buy into his system. He’d made every team he coached better. He’s built winning organizations at every level.

    He definitely did a bad coaching job in NY, and his insistance on playing vets over kids and, most rediculously, starting Mo Taylor just because they were playing the Pistons, were all really frustrating to fans hoping the franchise was on the road to recovery. Still, all historical indications were that if given the chance to do it his way, he would have success. To say that he is indefensible ignores history altogether. Sure, the case can easily be made that he stank, but a case can certainly also be made against Isiah’s handling of that entire season, and in many ways Brown is much more defensible than Isiah (as Frank O. put it, a few posts ago).

    I’m really not sure how the Malik Rose thread is suddenly a debate on Larry Brown, or for that matter why I’m suddenly defending Brown (for the first time), except that one year later I wonder what the team would have looked like if Isiah’d defended his coach and committed to playing it out rather than enabling the debacle that Brown became.

  76. Caleb

    I guess I was being glib, but I just can’t stand the guy.

    I would agree that his overall career is defensible — overrated in my opinion, but he’s certainly done a good job at times. (Detroit, maintaining the Pacers at a very high level)

    On the other hand, in NYK he looked like someone trying to get himself fired, or get the GM fired. Isiah isn’t Phil Jackson or Chuck Daly, but took an almost identical roster and won 10 extra games. It’s tough to make IT look good, but LB accomplished it.

  77. retropkid

    Poor Malik is so unimportant that nobody stays on topic…

    Larry + Zeke was NEVER going to work…Larry only plays vets, Zeke gave him talented rookies…mis-match. Zeke is a street thug at heart,and does whatever is needed to survive. Larry deserved to go, he didn’t deliver. Zeke doesn’t deserve to stay either, but he has Dolan’s support by cleverly lowering expectations after four years…and blaming free throw shooting, which presumably means something he couldn’t really control. Zeke sucks…Larry Brown didn’t do us any favors

    The bottom line is the Knicks shouldn’t be this bad after so many years…punch Zeke’s ticket, send his character-less bag of bones outta here.

  78. thefatkid

    duckshoe, I consider that to be pretty much the ?best case? hypothetical that I could put together. I don?t consider that roster better than the Knicks?, but maybe you do. Either way, even a roster of that skill level is highly contingent upon Thomas making some outstanding selections.

    Caleb, the Knicks couldn?t have obtained those picks under the rebuilding criteria. All of those picks were acquired along with additional salary. If you want the Knicks to be under the cap for this season, you can?t take on that salary.

    ?But why are you okay with blowing Cablevision money on piss poor talent, like for a 25 percenter hoping to become a 75 percenter, who basically did nothing for his money, and yet seem so indignant about Brown trying to secure part of his contract from a GM and president who failed to back him??

    It?s a question of role and expectations. Maurice Taylor was a gamble on a career malcontent who would be on the bench. Nobody expected him to be much more than he was, but there was a chance.

    Larry Brown was a basketball legend expected to mentor young players and lead the team to success. Instead he behaved like a spoiled 12 year old girl, harming the players and the franchise in the process. Behavior like that from a leadership position is wholly unacceptable.

    ?How is it that a GM who decided to forego getting the Knicks? financial house in order so that he could gambled on mediocre-to-modest talent becoming good talent or goons to become upstanding citizens bears no responsibility for it not working to date??

    There was no way to get the Knicks? finances ?in order? or any incentive to do so. The free agent marketplace is grossly inefficient and not worth getting involved in.

    ?If you had an accountant that every tax year seemed to make mistakes that cost you money, and his only excuse was that your finances were a mess before he started working on them are you going to keep asking that guy to do your taxes??

    The difference is that Isiah Thomas isn?t making mistakes. He?s making sound decisions and gradually improving the team.

    ?The path was clear: sit tight, get salary cap healthy and then make moves for big players.?

    So do nothing for three years, then enter a marketplace where you can compete for the right to sign Rashard Lewis for $100M+? No, that?s not a very good strategy.

  79. xduckshoex

    tfk – Your arguments are always so dishonest. Do you HAVE to sign Rashard Lewis to a $100 million contract with cap space? Of course not. Overpaying for a marginal talent is a worst case scenario(though given Isiah’s track record, is probably very likely)

    The fact of the matter is that reasonably priced players are easier to move than ridiculously overpriced players, and that is why you want to have a healthy cap situation. If you have mediocre players at high prices and you want to move them, what are you likely to get in return? Mediocre players at high prices. Lateral moves. Treading water. That is what the Knicks have been doing for years, and Thomas has not improved that at all.

  80. Mr. Black

    I am way late to jump on this band wagon but here I go anyway.

    Thefatkid v. Mike K.:

    Guys, lets just call this a draw. Taylor was by no means a world beater. But it was not a horrible move either.

    Mike K. you can’t beat up on Taylor for the poor showing under Larry Brown. NO KNICK HAD A GOOD SEASON UNDER LARRY BROWN!! Taylor did play well the previous season. He was a significant upgrade from Moochie Norris.

    Thefatkid Mo-Tay was a decent pick up at best. When you call this move “excellent” and defend it to the end, it makes you look as if you have no perspective. You are much too knowledgable a knick fan to call this move “excellent”.

    Having said that: I agree with most of what thefatkid offered. I think Thomas has done a good job considering what he had to work with. Thomas took some big risks, a few did not pan out, but quite a few did work out well. A brief recap of the significant moves:

    Nazr Mo to the spurs for Rose and a first round pick.

    This was a tremendous move. Not for getting Rose but because the pick yielded David Lee. Rose is overpaid and nearly useless but David Lee makes up for it. Many a GM would eat Roses contract for a player like Lee.

    Kurt Thomas to Suns for Richardson and pick.

    Very good move. Thomas had reached the end of his prime. Knicks get a outside shooter and a pick. My only gripe is that Thomas should have taken Jarret Jack with the pick instead of Robinson.

    Jerome James.

    Very bad move and we all knew it. James got at least 15 million more than he could have anywhere else. The real killer is the term of the contract. 5 million a very for 3 years is much better. This deal would never have happened if we knew Curry would have been available.

    Curry for Mike “Hot Plate” Sweetney, Timmy T and two picks.

    For all of Curry’s faults, I still make this deal every time (I would add some lottery protection).

    Marbury and Penny for two round trip tickets and a bag of basketballs (basically).

    Good trade. Not great but good. Step did get us into the playoffs that year. I still expect to see something special from Steph this year.

    Penny and Ariza to Orlando for Steve Francis.

    Eh. Thomas took a gamble. Hoped for something great, forgot that Brown was still coaching. Ariza, has anyone even thought about this guy since Balkman came to town?

    Francis and Frye for Randolph.

    GREAT move. Hush all you salary cap whiners. The first two years of this trade is a push as far a salary is concerned because the knicks would be paying Steve the same money without getting 20/10. Frye is not a 20/10, command double teams guy. Plus we got 6.5 in expiring contracts and a tall, young, pure shooter in the second round. (Mike Redd anyone?)

    Jeffries.

    Eh. Balkman’s skill set makes him a non factor. He shoots just as poorly as Balkman but Jeffries lacks Balkman’s flair. Isiah should stay out of the mid level free agent market and focus on the draft.

    Van Horn for Tim Thomas.

    Eh. Same player different skin. Two 6’10 outside shooting defensive no-shows.

    Antonio Davis for Jalen Rose and a pick.

    Good move. Davis had to go. Not only was he the LEAST effective player in the NBA while he was a knick (check 82games.com for proof), he was so disinterested in being a knick that he walked off the court during the final play of a game to check on his wife.

    Hiring Larry Brown.

    Absolutley the worst move ever. None of us could have know that brown could be this bad but there were clues. Detriot, the classiest front office in bball, could not wait to be rid of him. Even after a title and a trip to the finals. Brown did everthing in his power to make this not work. He choose his starting small forward on who grew up nearest the city they were in that night. “Matt Barnes is starting tonight, his parents are at the game.” “It’s Jalen birthday so he gets the start Friday.” What is this pop-warner baskeball?!

    Firing Larry Brown.

    Yay!!

    I almost forget this post was to respond to the Malik Rose grade. I say give him a D-. If you fail him then he has to repeat the year with NY.

  81. Ted Nelson

    Where Isiah started from/ what he started with is only important to a point. The Charlotte Bobcats were introduced to the NBA the season after Isiah took over. They managed the same win total last season as the Knicks.

    So, Thomas could have started with literally nothing and won 33 games last season. He could have cut every single guy on the team and started with the same as the Bobcats minus cap space (not that they signed any huge free agents) and a high lottery pick in 2004 (they could have tried to top the Bulls offer and buy the Luol Deng pick plus had their own mid-late lottery pick), traded for contracts that would expire sooner, drafted well, picked up a few attractive youg vets along the way, and signed some inexpensive free agents (i.e. Matt Barnes, Jackie Butler) and the Knicks could have won 33 games last season. Possibly with better young talent and definitely with more cap flexibility.

  82. Owen

    Mr Black –

    Jamal Crawford had his best year ever under Larry Brown. Eddy Curry played better as well. David Lee did not though, but given he was only a rookie, and rookies generally underperform what they do in their second and third season, I wouldn’t put that on Larry Brown.

    The Knicks improved last year because Lee played better, Q made up for Jamal’s poor play, and Balkman was suprisingly productive. But it was mostly Lee. And that probably would have happened with Brown of Thomas on the bench.

    Maurice Taylor was a below average pwer forward. Like many of the players Isaiah has signed, he was an above average scorer, (though he was below average on points per shot.) It’s fair to say it was Cablevision’s money, but it’s not fair to say he ever could have been a good player. Players in the NBA don’t magically becomee good after seven seasons.

    http://dberri.wordpress.com/2006/11/02/addition-by-subtraction/

    That lottery protection in the Curry trade would have been nice.

    For your consideration, from youtube, and I am stepping out of stathead mode here…

    Tyrus Thomas

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JWUBZgszNg

    Eddy Curry

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsjgunqyoNc

    And oh yeah, I love this guys case that Eddy Curry should be an all-star, especially right at the very end, “the guy is a monster, the guy by the end of the year is going to be averaging 20 and 10 for the next 7-8 years.” Yup, sure, in a parallel universe.

  83. Frank O.

    TFK WTF?
    You make these huge hypothetical leaps. You have said the Knicks would have wasted cap money on Rashard Lewis twice now to dismiss a perfectly valid point about the need to have healthy cap standing.
    Some of your assumptions are preposterous. I mean anyone can create a hypothetical to dismiss an argument that challenges their underlying reasoning. You pulled out of your butt this hypothetical series of selections the Knicks could have made out of hundreds if not thousands of different variations that could have happened to justify your point…Again, WTF?

    The logic escapes me.
    The GM is competent.
    But if the GM worked to create a healthy cap situation, he’d incompetently handle that cap space, so why bother????
    I mean your reasoning is so cyclical I’m beginning to believe some of these folks that call you dishonest. I don’t know you, and try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but this is crap logic.

  84. Frank O.

    Mr. Black:
    Kurt Thomas has been a hell of a lot more productive since he left than Q has been for the Knicks. Thomas’s defense alone. Q has missed so much, each time he comes back it’s like we get a new player…

  85. Owen

    Sorry to crap on the thread there,

    But for Lee fans, watch the Curry video from the 1:10 mark. It’s awesome. Lee grabs an offensive rebound in traffic, probably off a Crawford miss ;-). Cuts into the lane and dishes to Jeffries who goes up for a jam and gets stuffed. Lee gets the rebound right in front of Randolph I think, and makes a one touch no look pass to Curry for the jam. Lol, and people say Curry makes Lee better…

    TFK – That’s presumably another case of Curry the other Knicks making Lee better. Crawford misses the shot, Curry draws the defenders so that Lee can get the rebound. Jeffries gets stuffed perfectly so that Lee can grab the rebound. Curry then makes the perfect back cut, he basically hands the assist to Lee on a plate.

    Also, I would MUCH rather have Tyrus Thomas or Lamarcus Aldridge then Eddy Curry. Thomas was above average last year as a rookie, soemthing Curry has never been. He is a terrific defender, by himself he killed Ben Wallace’s +/-. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have an athletic big man who blocks shots, rebounds, and plays above the rim most of the time?

  86. Frank O.

    The Tyrus Thomas clips were nasty.
    Curry clips were nice, but I’m reminded that his vertical isn’t all that…

  87. Owen

    Lol, one more, right at the end of the Curry clip, the sportscaster is like “WHOA! Is that an Eddy Curry Assist? It’s the first one I have seen in highlights here!” and the other guy is like “Well, he is not Yinka Dare.”

    That sums my feeling up perfectly actually

    Eddy Curry = Not Yinka Dare

  88. Z

    “Eddy Curry = Not Yinka Dare”

    Not to be ironically morbid or anything, but didn’t Yinka Dare die recently due to a heart condition?

  89. thefatkid

    ?Do you HAVE to sign Rashard Lewis to a $100 million contract with cap space? Of course not. Overpaying for a marginal talent is a worst case scenario(though given Isiah?s track record, is probably very likely)?

    It has nothing to do with Thomas? record of overpaying (which, coincidentally, is a complete fallacy. Aside from the MLE deals, every contract Thomas has offered has been quite reasonable), and everything to do with the crappy free agent marketplace. Almost every free agent gets overpaid. It?s a simple scarcity problem. Free agents are scarce and demand is high, thus free agents get overpaid. Add hypercompetitive owners who are quite careless about what are, to them, relatively small amounts of money, and agents, who exist to maximize prices, and you have a horrible marketplace.

    ?The fact of the matter is that reasonably priced players are easier to move than ridiculously overpriced players, and that is why you want to have a healthy cap situation.?

    What do reasonably priced players and a healthy cap situation have to do with one another? Plenty of teams over the salary cap have quite a few reasonable contracts, while plenty of teams under the cap have awful contracts. There is very little correlation between the two. However, there is a fun tendency for teams to give away large contracts at deep discounts.

    ?If you have mediocre players at high prices and you want to move them, what are you likely to get in return??

    Take out the word mediocre, as the case is the same for all high priced players, regardless of talent. Teams get very little in exchange for high priced players. This is how the Warriors acquired Davis for basically nothing, the Nets got Carter for pennies, the Heat gave up very little for O?Neal, and the Celtics received Garnett on the cheap. This is why I?m a big fan of Thomas? strategy of worrying about value.

    ?That is what the Knicks have been doing for years, and Thomas has not improved that at all.?

    This is because you?re impatient and you don?t understand his work. You have a single-minded focus on the silly salary cap and you?re incapable of understanding why a series of trades involving progressively younger and more skilled players is a very sound plan.

    ?Where Isiah started from/ what he started with is only important to a point. The Charlotte Bobcats were introduced to the NBA the season after Isiah took over. They managed the same win total last season as the Knicks.?

    The Charlotte Bobcats started with $0 in salaries and had their pick of existing players, both in the expansion draft and the free agent marketplace. The two situations are completely different. However, the fact that the Bobcats are yet to make a significant free agent signing should indicate something to you about the quality of the free agent marketplace.

    ?Jamal Crawford had his best year ever under Larry Brown.?

    Only if TS% is the glass in which you view all aspects of basketball. Crawford?s scoring was down, both PM and PG, his overall production was down, and none of his statistical categories showed any improvement. In fact, the only meaningful thing that showed any sign of improvement whatsoever was FTAs. So yes, if you define ?best year? as ?most FTAPM?, he did.

    ?Eddy Curry played better as well.?

    Like Crawford, I have no idea how you can make this argument. The only areas in which Curry was better were FTAPM and RPM. His per game output was pretty bad and his per minute numbers didn?t improve aside from those two categories. By far, his best year was 06-07.

    ?You make these huge hypothetical leaps. You have said the Knicks would have wasted cap money on Rashard Lewis twice now to dismiss a perfectly valid point about the need to have healthy cap standing.?

    The Knicks wouldn?t necessarily have wasted money on Rashard Lewis. They would have been competing for the right to waste money on Rashard Lewis, which is even less attractive. And what was the valid point about ?healthy cap standing??

    ?Some of your assumptions are preposterous. I mean anyone can create a hypothetical to dismiss an argument that challenges their underlying reasoning. You pulled out of your butt this hypothetical series of selections the Knicks could have made out of hundreds if not thousands of different variations that could have happened to justify your point?Again, WTF??

    If my hypothetical scenario isn?t good enough, make a more attractive one. I think I did a pretty good job of putting lipstick on the ?roll over and take it? scenario, but if you can come up with a better one, I?m all ears. Just don?t propose some ridiculous farce where the Knicks end up with the #1 pick every year.

    ?But if the GM worked to create a healthy cap situation, he?d incompetently handle that cap space, so why bother?????

    He wouldn?t incompetently handle it, but he wouldn?t have a useful way of utilizing it. The Bobcats have had the ability to sign any available free agent since the inception of the franchise, but they?ve signed no significant deals. Why do you think this is the case?

    ?I don?t know you, and try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but this is crap logic.?

    If it?s crap, prove it wrong. Being polemic and dogmatic is hardly the way to win an argument.

    ?Also, I would MUCH rather have Tyrus Thomas or Lamarcus Aldridge then Eddy Curry. Thomas was above average last year as a rookie, soemthing Curry has never been. He is a terrific defender, by himself he killed Ben Wallace?s +/-. Wouldn?t it be awesome to have an athletic big man who blocks shots, rebounds, and plays above the rim most of the time??

    I?ll take Curry. Thomas plays defense, but he can?t shoot, he can?t post up, and he isn?t a great rebounder. Aldridge is more attractive from the standpoint that he has a developing shot and a developing post game, but he isn?t a great rebounder and he isn?t a very physical player. In addition, his defense needs significant improvement.

  90. Mr. Black

    Frank O. Me no think Thomas be more productive.

    Kurt’s stats for the past 3 seasons:

    Year Team games minutes reb. points

    04-05 Nyk 80 35.7 10.4 11.4
    05-06 Pho 53 26.6 7.8 8.6
    06-07 Pho 67 18.1 5.7 4.6

    Kurt went from 80 games played to 53 games played.
    The following year he palyed in 67 games. 2 years in Phx he missed 44 games.

    Q over the same period:

    04-05 Pho 79 35.9 6.1 14.9
    05-06 Nyk 55 26.2 4.2 8.2
    06-07 Nyk 49 34.6 7.2 13.0

    Q missed more games (66) but put up much better numbers last year. Plus we still got Nate’s contributions. How much D was Kurt playing in his 16 minutes a night?

    Jamal Crawford’s best year was during Brown’s tenure?? Me no think that true. Jamal did not post a career best in any catergory that year.

    I agree Lee and Q were the catalysts for the improvement last year.

    Mo Taylor is good mostly because he was not Clarence Weatherspoon, Othella Harrington, or Mutombo.

    Tyrus Thomas on Youtube: Yeah, Harold Minor could dunk too.

  91. Caleb

    The Thomas/Q trade is okay, but only a real winner for NYK if Nate develops into a valuable player (which, as you know, I think is a good possibility).

    By your own numbers…

    Kurt Thomas:
    “04-05 Nyk 80 35.7 10.4 11.4
    05-06 Pho 53 26.6 7.8 8.6
    06-07 Pho 67 18.1 5.7 4.6″

    …Kurt’s per-minute productivity didn’t decline at all until last year, and even then not disastrously (though his numbers are somewhat lower once adjusted for pace :))

    And he’s not playing fewer minutes because his game disappeared; it’s partly aging and injuries, and mostly that unlike NYK days where he was the #1 big man, in Phoenix he backs up Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion.

    “How much D was Kurt playing in his 16 minutes a night?”

    Plenty. According to 82games, Phoenix was almost 5 points better defensively(per 48) when Thomas was on the floor. Subjectively, he looked solid whenever I saw them play.

    Besides that… normally you’d favor the younger player for durability and longevity, but are you really willing to bet that Q’s NBA career will outlast Kurt Thomas’?

    “Mo Taylor is good mostly because he was not Clarence Weatherspoon, Othella Harrington, or Mutombo.”

    At age 43, Mutombo is easily more valuable than Mo Taylor ever was. At one point, Clarence Weatherspoon was easily better, too – at least he could rebound.

  92. retropkid

    Defending Zeke because of his personnel moves is ridiculous…so what??? He brought in some talent. They don’t win. He’s had four years. Larry wasn’t here last year, Zeke was. Zeke’s record with the Knicks shows more losses than Larry’s.

  93. Frank O.

    Mr. Black: I have to agree with Caleb. Kurt was still a very effective defender, even last year.
    But I also noticed you showed his numbers and in your characterizing them, you trended down further inaccurately.
    Last year he played 18 minutes per game, not 16, and he is older and playing in a back up role.
    Also, you can’t just dismiss missing 66 more games. I mean that’s 16 games short of an entire season.
    That alone makes Thomas a more productive player in the aggregate. Thomas has always been a very durable guy, and Q is not.
    And Caleb’s point is a good one, at 26, Q has already had to have fractured vertebrae fused. If you know anything about that kind of thing, you know that the fusing starts to stress other vertebrae around the fused areas.
    In short, it’s not good and portends possible problems later.
    It is entirely possible that Q could be out of the league before Thomas, especially with Thomas’ minutes being reduced and him still being an effective defender on a team that needs some backbone.

  94. retropkid

    None of it matters if your point guard can’t lead and your coach can’t win. Argue stats all day long…the only stat that matters is Ws…Zeke doesn’t produce them as a coach. He didn’t produce them as GM. He was a great point guard, he is not great at his current job…far, far from it.

    If you want to try to evaluate individual players using stats, you’d really need a hockey stat…did your team score more than your opponents team while you were on the floor? The rest is mental gymnastics….fun for all, but ultimately not a reliable measure of winning. And it’s about winning.

    What excuses will you Zeke fans make when the Knicks miss the playoffs again this year?

  95. Mr. Black

    Frank O.

    You are right. Kurt played 18 minutes per game. He was only EFFECTIVE for 16 of those minutes. My mistake. Without his defense the Suns would have never made it to the NBA finals..oh wait, I’m wrong again. He he.

    Thomas played 2624 minutes in two seasons with the Suns.

    Richardson played 3065 minutes in two seasons with the Knicks. That is a difference of 441 minutes or 24 games at Thomas’ 18 minutes per game average. (441/18 = 24)

    Q-Rich wins!!

    Is Weatherspoon still in the NBA? Did he even play ball after leaving the Knicks? Yes, he played 40 games and had 3 points and 3 boards and 41% from the floor. Yeah, I really miss that.

    Caleb said:

    “?Kurt?s per-minute productivity didn?t decline at all until last year, and even then not disastrously (though his numbers are somewhat lower once adjusted for pace :))

    And he?s not playing fewer minutes because his game disappeared; it?s partly aging and injuries, and mostly that unlike NYK days where he was the #1 big man, in Phoenix he backs up Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion.”

    Exactly!! Thats why you dump him. He will be 35 when this season starts with nagging injuries that keep him from playing more total minutes than a guy that missed 66 games over two seasons. Listen, I liked Kurt from 99-2004, but the ride is over now. Durable you say? This guy played in only 23 games over two seasons (96-97) due to ankle injuries. Not even Camby has been that frail. Now he cant even give you more than 18 minutes a night. He will NOT play more than that for the Sonics, count on that. And the Sonic have who in front of him at PF? Kurt will get all the time he can handle (read 12 minutes a night).

  96. Caleb

    I’m not saying the Q-Rich trade was a bad one – just that it wasn’t one-sided. Your case would be convincing except that Richardson has a chronic back injury so bad that his contract is uninsureable, and is so frail that it negates the benefits of his being younger.

    Scoring trades at home, I give a modest victory to the Knicks (though it was probably a decent trade for Phoenix, too, shoring up needed defense)

  97. Frank

    OK — I have been away for a few days, come back, and wow, what a flurry of activity. To be honest, I am an Isiah backer. I think from a personnel standpoint he has done more than we could possibly have hoped for if you take into account that Dolan probably told him he was not allowed to gut the team and be completely irrelevant (not only in the standings but in the newspapers and talk shows) like Celtics were until a month ago or like the bulls were for a few years after Jordan and Pippen left.

    I think one of the reasons the Isiah-haters hate so much is because they probably don’t remember (or have blocked out) the team that Isiah was handed.

    Let’s look at the hopelessly capped out roster that Isiah inherited– I think this is accurate:

    1) Shandon Anderson – I used to call him the worst $ for $ player in the NBA and got no arguments.
    2) Michael Doleac = useless
    3) Howard Eisley = overpaid and useless
    4) Othella Harrington = no words can describe his uselessness and mediocrity.
    5) Allan Houston – ’nuff said
    6) Maciej Lampe – how does Chad Ford still have a job?
    7) Antonio McDyess – ow, my knee
    8) Dikembe Mutombo – I’m celebrating my 60th b-day this year
    9) Mike “Big Mac” Sweetney
    10) Kurt Thomas – nothing against KT – one of my favorite Knicks of all time a la Oak
    11) Keith Van Horn – soft and squishy
    12) Slavko Vranes – who?
    13) Charlie Ward – another favorite of mine but not a good player at this point in his career.
    14) Clarence Weatherspoon – see othella harrington
    15) Frank Williams – i think he had one good fast break and fake pass / layup combo. that’s all I remember about him.

    I challenge you to find me a more overpaid and less talented crew than Layden managed to cobble together. I mean, is there anyone on this team that any other team would not take without throwing up in their collective mouths first?

    Now in 3 years of Isiah this is our roster:

    – Balkman
    – Chandler
    – Collins
    – Crawford
    – Curry
    – Dickau aka expiring contract
    – JJ #1
    – JJ #2
    – Fred Jones aka expiring contract
    – David Lee aka the greatest player ever better than Kobe
    – Marbury
    – Morris
    – Nichols
    – Randolph
    – Q
    – Nate
    – Malik Rose

    There are some stinkers, true (see James, Jerome) but I think talent-wise it is an absolute no brainer as to which roster is better. I think in terms of movable pieces that other teams might covet it is an absolute no brainer as to which roster is better. I think in terms of cap-frozen-ness they are the same.

    So in Isiah’s first year they go 33-49 down from 39-43. In year 2 Larry Brown comes and I am of the solid belief that Brown tanked the season ON PURPOSE in a power play with Isiah, and thought that there was no way that Dolan would eat the $40M on his contract. So I give Isiah a complete pass on 2004-2005 because I really think the team was sabotaged.

    Then in year 3, we have a team that has no identity in the first 1+ months and go 9-17, then go 20-17 over the next 1/2 season, nearing .500 and competing for a playoff spot– and then the floor drops out because the entire team was injured and we were starting Mardy Collins and other bricklayers.

    So I think all-in-all he hasn’t done that poorly, or at least I think our sample size is a bit small yet.

    Last challenge — I challenge you to find a GM that could convince Dolan to slash and burn and preside over 3-4 years of unknowns playing at the Garden. Don’t try too hard because that GM doesn’t exist. So before you kill Isiah I think this has to be taken into account.

    That said– the knicks and Isiah have no excuses this year (barring a 4/5 of lineup injured at the same time) so if they stink it up then I’l be on the Isiah-hating side.

    And by the way — last comment– comparing the Knicks last 3 years to Charlotte is completely an apples-to-oranges comparison. Charlotte got to start off with a clean slate whereas Isiah had to dig out from Layden’s bottomless pit with no cap space and no desirable players.

  98. Caleb

    “Phoenix clearly didn?t value Thomas too much, since they traded him away simply for cap space this offseason.”

    That’s a fair point, but you’d also have to say Phoenix pinches pennies more than almost any team in the league — maybe New Orleans and Charlotte. They’ve sold off at least four 1st-round draft picks that I can think of, for nothing more than cash.

  99. retropkid

    You give Zeke a pass for 2004/5???? He has to be accountable — he participated in the decision to bring in Brown.

    All this talk about how he has brought in talent…talent that hasn’t WON!!!!!! Jeez…I’d love to work for you! All I’d have to be is talented, not productive!!!…if Dolan had spent the cash dumping players instead of giving it to Brown in a settlement, the Knicks could have had a clean slate too…it is not apples and oranges — it is embarrassing that a brand new club in Charlotte is as good as the Knicks.

    That said, Frank, I am pretty confident you will be joining me in the Zeke-hating side when the Knicks once again prove to be less than mediocre…If I hear Zeke use injuries as an excuse, I’ll be in the bathroom vomiting while you agree it’s a justified rationale for under-performance…

  100. retropkid

    One more thing about all that “talent” ….yeah, they were so talented that the best they produced was a 37 game stretch record of 20-17 last year…when they finally had “an identity” and before they were decimated by injuries (it had nothing to do with the schedule of course, and oh yeah, they played in the really hard conference right?).

    So you are saying HEY — Our great coach and great talent DID produce above .500 for a stretch! Let’s celebrate that!!!!

    Wow. Are you surprised I am under-whelmed?

  101. Caleb

    I will step in to semi-defend Isiah.

    I see a core of good young players, surrounded by overpaid, mediocre and worse veterans. The good news: the young core (Lee, Randolph, Balkman, even Curry, Robinson, Chandler, Collins & Randolph) is more promising than most teams in the league, though worse than the cores of teams like Portland and even Atlanta. If we more or less sit pat, the team will improve just by the maturation of those players. IT deserves credit for stockpiling this talent.

    On the other hand… this amount of progress is mediocre, considering how long he’s been on the job. The bad gambles are well-documented. And even if this group steadily improves over the next few years, it will probably top out with win totals in the high-40s, and there’s very little flexibility to add pieces to make us a real contender. That would require a few more long-shot bargains, cheap free agents who become starter-level players, or wildly good draft finds late in the first round, as good as Lee & Balkman.

    The pressure is on… if they can’t get over .500 this year, I’d see it as a major failure.

  102. Z

    Caleb– you offer as rational and acceptable a defense of Isiah as I have heard here. I wish I was as optimistic about his success, but I feel that “if they can?t get over .500 this year, I?d see it as a major failure” has been the goal for four years now. I’m not sure why year five will be the one that convinces you the plan hasn’t worked.

    Still, I’d like to address a few of Frank’s points, since I often like what he has to say here:

    “I think one of the reasons the Isiah-haters hate so much is because they probably don?t remember (or have blocked out) the team that Isiah was handed.”

    Two points here– a) most impoortantly, I don’t hate Isiah. Like most fans, I want the team to succeed and if Isiah succeeds I will be elated! That said, he’s been here 3+ seasons and has done little to give fans like me confidence in his ability to succeed. b) I remember that roster very well. In fact, it was thefatkids’s recap of Isiah’s tenure that set this referendum on the regime off in the first place. I understand that, despite the fact that Layden’s squads actually won more games that the roster needed to turn over to become younger and more viable. I truly wonder, though, if in somebody elses hands, the roster could have turned over more efficiently and productively. We’ll never know, but judging by other other team’s “rebuilding” process’ I think it could have.

    “I challenge you to find me a more overpaid and less talented crew than Layden managed to cobble together. I mean, is there anyone on this team that any other team would not take without throwing up in their collective mouths first?”

    Phoenix took a good part of this roster and went on to win 60 games. Of course, if the Kicks had kept Ward, Lampe, et al, they would not have won 60 games, but, in hindsight, letting Anderson, Eisley, Ward, McDyess, Houston, and others sunset COULD have produced as many wins as we have seen thus far AND brought in a more talented roster to work with. (Doleac, whom you called useless, I have to say was probably the most effective partner to Marbury the team had at the time. Other than Channing Frye, he was as competent a pick and roll side kick as the team has seen (Marbury’s supposed forte). Without looking at stats, it seemed that Marbury’s assists were highest when Doleac (or Frye) were hitting the 18 footer. Since Marbury is (was) the defacto franchise player, surrounding him with guys that complement him isn’t an outrageous idea. Doleac was actually traded with the intent to retain when he cleared waivers. He just happened not to, and went on to win a championship when he didn’t.)

    This is easy to say: “I am of the solid belief that Brown tanked the season ON PURPOSE in a power play with Isiah, and thought that there was no way that Dolan would eat the $40M on his contract.” The harder thing to say is: why? He certainly didn’t need the money. He has very nice houses in Malibu, the Hamptons, the Upper East Side, and who knows where else. Before the settlement he was set for life. Also, his health being as it was, he certainly didn’t need to create additional stress for himself, which tanking a season on purpose in a power play tends to do. Brown is a complex character, and his restlessness has obviously gotten the better of him in the past, but to decide a few months into a five year deal that he is going to be a Machiavellian extorter of $40 million without any motivation from the front office or the players seems very difficult to accept. He was truly a bad coach during his one year, but to blame him entirely, in the wake on the ’06-’07 mediocrity is too forgiving of Isiah in my eyes.

    “So I give Isiah a complete pass on 2004-2005 because I really think the team was sabotaged.”

    I have to agree with retropkid when he says “You give Zeke a pass for 2004/5???? He has to be accountable ? he participated in the decision to bring in Brown.” He hired him, a) knowing that if given time he has built contenders everywhere he’s been and at every level (His ONLY two failures being in NY and the Olympics, each time not given adequate time to succeed), and b) that he is a restless, difficult personality to deal with. What exactly was the surprise that Dolan and Isiah realized that made the relationship irreconsilable? The only reason Isiah survived the power play is because Dolan liked Isiah more, and you have already indicated that Dolan is a horse’s ass who doesn’t know shit, so how is his endorsement of Isiah over a hall of fame coach grounds to support of Isiah in your eyes?

    “I challenge you to find a GM that could convince Dolan to slash and burn and preside over 3-4 years of unknowns playing at the Garden. Don?t try too hard because that GM doesn?t exist. So before you kill Isiah I think this has to be taken into account.”

    It is true that Dolan mandated a win now philosophy in the hope that making the playoffs (the only real goal Isiah has had to meet) would generate additional revenue. Still, I think of truly great leaders that have been able to convince their bosses that there are better ways to do things. Maybe it is too much to ask that the man given the reins to the biggest NBA market with the deepest fan support be great at what they do. All I know is Ernie Grunfeld was fired when the team got close to hitting .500 (Caleb’s milestone goal), and that was because Checketts sided with his coach (more important) than his GM (even though he was much better friends with his GM) when the power stuggle became too much for the team to cope with. Grunfeld was accounatable for the slide. He was also a better GM than Isiah.

    “That said? the knicks and Isiah have no excuses this year (barring a 4/5 of lineup injured at the same time) so if they stink it up then I?l be on the Isiah-hating side.”

    And if they contend, I’ll be right back here again next year saying I was wrong and Isiah is the bomb…

  103. Z

    Caleb– you offer as rational and acceptable a defense of Isiah as I have heard here. I wish I was as optimistic about his success, but I feel that “if they can?t get over .500 this year, I?d see it as a major failure” has been the goal for four years now. I’m not sure why year five will be the one that convinces you the plan hasn’t worked.

    Still, I’d like to address a few of Frank’s points, since I often like what he has to say here:

    “I think one of the reasons the Isiah-haters hate so much is because they probably don?t remember (or have blocked out) the team that Isiah was handed.”

    Two points here– a) most impoortantly, I don’t hate Isiah. Like most fans, I want the team to succeed and if Isiah succeeds I will be elated! That said, he’s been here 3+ seasons and has done little to give fans like me confidence in his ability to succeed. b) I remember that roster very well. In fact, it was thefatkids’s recap of Isiah’s tenure that set this referendum on the regime off in the first place. I understand that, despite the fact that Layden’s squads actually won more games that the roster needed to turn over to become younger and more viable. I truly wonder, though, if in somebody elses hands, the roster could have turned over more efficiently and productively. We’ll never know, but judging by other other team’s “rebuilding” process’ I think it could have.

    “I challenge you to find me a more overpaid and less talented crew than Layden managed to cobble together. I mean, is there anyone on this team that any other team would not take without throwing up in their collective mouths first?”

    Phoenix took a good part of this roster and went on to win 60 games. Of course, if the Kicks had kept Ward, Lampe, et al, they would not have won 60 games, but, in hindsight, letting Anderson, Eisley, Ward, McDyess, Houston, and others sunset COULD have produced as many wins as we have seen thus far AND brought in a more talented roster to work with. (Doleac, whom you called useless, I have to say was probably the most effective partner to Marbury the team had at the time. Other than Channing Frye, he was as competent a pick and roll side kick as the team has seen (Marbury’s supposed forte). Without looking at stats, it seemed that Marbury’s assists were highest when Doleac (or Frye) were hitting the 18 footer. Since Marbury is (was) the defacto franchise player, surrounding him with guys that complement him isn’t an outrageous idea. Doleac was actually traded with the intent to retain when he cleared waivers. He just happened not to, and went on to win a championship when he didn’t.)

    This is easy to say: “I am of the solid belief that Brown tanked the season ON PURPOSE in a power play with Isiah, and thought that there was no way that Dolan would eat the $40M on his contract.” The harder thing to say is: why? He certainly didn’t need the money. He has very nice houses in Malibu, the Hamptons, the Upper East Side, and who knows where else. Before the settlement he was set for life. Also, his health being as it was, he certainly didn’t need to create additional stress for himself, which tanking a season on purpose in a power play tends to do. Brown is a complex character, and his restlessness has obviously gotten the better of him in the past, but to decide a few months into a five year deal that he is going to be a Machiavellian extorter of $40 million without any motivation from the front office or the players seems very difficult to accept. He was truly a bad coach during his one year, but to blame him entirely, in the wake on the ’06-’07 mediocrity is too forgiving of Isiah in my eyes.

    “So I give Isiah a complete pass on 2004-2005 because I really think the team was sabotaged.”

    I have to agree with retropkid when he says “You give Zeke a pass for 2004/5???? He has to be accountable ? he participated in the decision to bring in Brown.” He hired him, a) knowing that if given time he has built contenders everywhere he’s been and at every level (His ONLY two failures being in NY and the Olympics, each time not given adequate time to succeed), and b) that he is a restless, difficult personality to deal with. What exactly was the surprise that Dolan and Isiah realized that made the relationship irreconsilable? The only reason Isiah survived the power play is because Dolan liked Isiah more, and you have already indicated that Dolan is a horse’s ass who doesn’t know shit, so how is his endorsement of Isiah over a hall of fame coach grounds to support of Isiah in your eyes?

    “I challenge you to find a GM that could convince Dolan to slash and burn and preside over 3-4 years of unknowns playing at the Garden. Don?t try too hard because that GM doesn?t exist. So before you kill Isiah I think this has to be taken into account.”

    It is true that Dolan mandated a win now philosophy in the hope that making the playoffs (the only real goal Isiah has had to meet) would generate additional revenue. Still, I think of truly great leaders that have been able to convince their bosses that there are better ways to do things. Maybe it is too much to ask that the man given the reins to the biggest NBA market with the deepest fan support be great at what they do. All I know is Ernie Grunfeld was fired when the team got close to hitting .500 (Caleb’s milestone goal), and that was because Checketts sided with his coach (more important) than his GM (even though he was much better friends with his GM) when the power stuggle became too much for the team to cope with. Grunfeld was accounatable for the slide. He was also a better GM than Isiah.

    “That said? the knicks and Isiah have no excuses this year (barring a 4/5 of lineup injured at the same time) so if they stink it up then I?l be on the Isiah-hating side.”

    And if they contend, I’ll be right back here again next year saying I was wrong and Isiah is the bomb…

  104. Caleb

    Z, you may be right that I’m too optimistic. I’d just throw in three points:

    1) What infuriated me about Layden is that – whether by his own accord, or under orders from on high – he built a team where, if everything went right, would make the playoffs and a quick first-round exit. As if Antonio McDyess would be our savior. His approach was insulting to the fans. I like that Isiah aims high, looking to build a long-term championship contender, emphasizing talent and youth — high-risk, high-reward. The problem is the execution, serious belly flops a la Eddy Curry.

    As for:
    “I feel that ‘if they can?t get over .500 this year, I?d see it as a major failure’ has been the goal for four years now. I?m not sure why year five will be the one that convinces you the plan hasn?t worked.”

    Your skepticism is justified but I think there’s a difference. In past years we’ve pinned our hopes (what there was of them) on veterans like Marbury, Curry and Richardson, some of them supposed “stars.” This year, those 3 can be role players. The guys who will either carry the team — or flop, and disappoint us — are younger, and to my mind, much better.

    Finally… all of IT’s problems boil down to one thing: he can’t negotiate. Free agent contracts are bigger than they need to be to land the player. (Not affecting our cap situation, but killing future trade value) In trades, he doesn’t understand his leverage — he essentially saved Phoenix, Toronto and Orlando in those respective trades — and gives away more than he has to, almost every time. The Randolph trade is the one exception, so maybe he’s learning — but I’m skeptical. It’s not a problem with identifying talent; it’s business management. Considering he sank the CBA, the track record isn’t good.

  105. Ted Nelson

    “I challenge you to find me a more overpaid and less talented crew than Layden managed to cobble together. I mean, is there anyone on this team that any other team would not take without throwing up in their collective mouths first?”

    I’ll beat a dead horse…That team had less “talent” for sure, but still produced more wins than last year’s Knicks in Layden’s last full season. We’ll see how this season’s version does.

    The thing is that I wouldn’t compare Thomas to Layden, I think everyone can agree that Layden did an historically terrible job with the Knicks. I’d compare him to all other NBA GMs/Presidents and find below average. Especially considering that he’s paid like $3 mill a year while Sam Presti will get “considerably less” than the $1 mill+ that Rick Sund got: i.e. potential GMs/Presidents would probably be falling over themselves to get the Knicks’ job.

    As far as the roster inherited…the Bobcats inherited nothing but a draft of players other teams didn’t want and a #4 pick, yet still won 33 games last year. It’s hard to call that apples and oranges… I understand the accepted logic that you don’t give away assets, but I disagree with it. As, I think you’ll find, do the Spurs, Suns, all the teams IT has “saved,” and others. This leads me to the point that he could have cut the underacheivers/untalented player (as he did with Shandon Anderson) or let their contracts expire and still ended up with a better team than last season’s Knicks. (The Marbury trade might be one exception, as I understood that Layden was fired in part for refusing to make that deal.) It would seem that he didn’t cut them because he thought what he could get in trades was of greater value…thus far this doesn’t seem to be correct in terms of wins.

    In terms of arguments I’ve seen, the only 3 I think I buy are that Thomas is doing better than Layden, that Dolan is the root cause of the Knicks’ problems, and that the Knicks young core will only get better.

    “I think our sample size is a bit small yet.”

    Mostly because I have no other choice, I’ll wait and see how the Knicks do this upcoming season. As I’ve said, this far into Isiah’s regime I won’t be satisfied with anything less than 50 wins and a deep playoff run… GMs from Joe Dumars to John Paxson to Rod Thorn have accomplished this in a shorter time frame. Even the great Danny Ainge looks on track to accomplish this in a similar time frame to Isiah’s.

    “I challenge you to find a GM that could convince Dolan to slash and burn and preside over 3-4 years of unknowns playing at the Garden.”

    Fans would have responded to wins. Bring in a couple lottery picks, some cheap veterans, and unknowns who play the game hard and the right way and if they win you’d have NY in a frenzy…just want to note that this is how the Knicks’ teams of the 90s were assembled. If someone with a solid track record and celebrity appeal had told Dolan this I think he might have bought it, but I really have no idea. As I said, I’m open to arguments that the man is the root of all evil.

    Was a guy like Jamal Crawford all that “known” when Isiah brought him in? He was a promising young guard who had played on several very bad teams, I’m not sure the average Knicks fan had heard much about him.

    Guys like Mo Taylor, Jerome James, Vin Baker, Tim Thomas, Steph, Eddy Curry, Steph, Francis, Randolph were more known for being fat and/or bad and/or overpaid than anything. I mean people were literally calling Jerome James extremely overpaid when he was on his last (much smaller) contract, it didn’t take a genius to realize that giving him the MLE was a terrible idea.

    The one consistent through Isiah’s moves, in my opinion, is the idea that he could “turn guys around” or get career underacheivers motivated and playing as a team. This was a very expensive gamble for the Knicks, and so far is has worked a lot worse than many gambles involving everything from young players to veterans, free agents to trades to draft picks. I think it was unprecidented, and I was willing to give it a try. 3+ seasons later, I would give it the hook. I could very well be proven wrong this year, as even I am willing to admit that this year’s Knicks have no excuses for not outperforming last year’s Knicks.

    “Finally? all of IT?s problems boil down to one thing: he can?t negotiate.” “It?s not a problem with identifying talent; it?s business management.”

    Good points. I think he also overpays because he’s a “player’s” coach and exec: in the hopes that his kindness will buy him favors down the road and because he played in an era when players weren’t as highly paid as today so he understands that players are the ones who bring in the money and wants to reward them.

    “The Randolph trade is the one exception,”

    He saved the Blazers two year on the cap, took back their biggest headache and PR nightmare, and gave them a very talented young player. I don’t think it’s much different from his other deals in principle, I hope the results are better.

    “I truly wonder, though, if in somebody elses hands, the roster could have turned over more efficiently and productively. We?ll never know, but judging by other other team?s ?rebuilding? process? I think it could have.”

    Well said.

  106. retropkid

    Zeke better than Layden? Sure. But that isn’t the point. That just sets the bar way too low.

    I hope the Knicks win 50 and make a deep playoff run too…and I’ll be the first one to admit I was wrong if they do…but I just don’t see it, in fact, it appears that many teams in the East improved more than the Knicks.

    Relative to other teams in the East, the Knicks bench (the kids) actually looks very good, but the starting five does not. Ironically, a few injuries may even help Zeke balance playing time and keep the players happy — though I am not suggesting injuries are ever good for a team; what I am saying is that Zeke has a challenge this year of doling out minutes, it will be one of the most interesting aspects to watch this season.

    My big beef is that Zeke and Dolan continue to try to lower our expectations to meet their low performances, and make excuses (like foul shooting).

    There is a guy out west who said “Just win baby!”

    That’s what Zeke should hold himself to.

  107. Mr. Black

    Frank O.

    You got it right!! Layden is the root of the problem but Thomas gets much of the blame. Layden put together a group of players with awful contracts. It all started with giving Houston (whom I loved) double what he was offered elsewhere. They traded Ewing for Rice when they should have let Ewing retire or let his contract expire as a Knick. Layden dug the hole deeper by trading Rice for two of his old Utah buddies Shandon Anderson and Howard Iseley. Sure they looked ok with Stockton and Malone absorbing all the defensive attention, but without SUPERSTARS to help them, they showed how truly awful they were.

    Furthermore, Layden was wasting or trading draft picks. Layden recieved two 2001 first round picks when he traded Ewing. Layden traded these pick to get Othella Harrington and Mark Jackson. Had he just kept the picks he could have drafted Zach Randolph and Tony Parker (hindsight being 20-20).

    In 2002, by far his worst move, Layden drafts Nene over both Stoudamire and Butler. Then trades Nene for a player that gave us 18 games in his two year stint!! Plus he traded Camby in that deal. That is just unforgiveable.

    In sum, Layden crippled the Knicks with salary. He traded a first team defensive player (Camby). He missed a chance to draft several great players (Stoudamire, Butler, Randolph, and Parker). He drafted several busts (Donnell Harvey, Eric Chenowith, Sweetney). Though, he is not responsible for Fredric Wiess, that was Ed Tapscott’s baby.

    Enter Thomas. Thomas takes a diffrent approach. Thomas takes on a few bad contracts but he get a draft pick with each of them. The Malik and Jalen Rose deals brought in David Lee, Mardy Collins, and Renaldo Balkman respectively. Trading Kurt brought in Nate Robinson.

    Layden’s mess would take at least 4 full seasons to fix. This is Thomas’ 4th full season. This is also the year that Thomas is free of all the financial obligations Layden left behind (Houston’s and Anderson’s contracts).

    We will start to see tangible results this year. I will not bash Isiah for bringing in young talent. I will bash him for the Jerome James signing. What was he thinking? No way James get more than a 3 year deal from anyone else. He gave him 5 with a player option for 6. How do you do that for a guy with his pedigree? This is way worse than the Ike Austin deal (3 years 18 million).

    The true judging of Isiah should start this year. I say we need to win at least 43 games and we need to leapfrog the Nets in the division.

  108. Ted Nelson

    “Thomas takes a diffrent approach. Thomas takes on a few bad contracts but he get a draft pick with each of them. The Malik and Jalen Rose deals brought in David Lee, Mardy Collins, and Renaldo Balkman respectively. Trading Kurt brought in Nate Robinson.”

    This is only half the story. Trades for Steph, Mo Taylor, and Eddy Curry each cost the Knicks multiple draft picks. Isiah has done wonderful things with the draft, especially compared to Layden, but I think it’s hard to argue that trading away several high draft picks and acquiring late firsts is a net +.

    I don’t see a fundemental difference in approach in terms of overpaying or digging a deeper and deeper salary cap hole.

    “Layden?s mess would take at least 4 full seasons to fix. This is Thomas? 4th full season. This is also the year that Thomas is free of all the financial obligations Layden left behind (Houston?s and Anderson?s contracts).”

    I don’t know how I feel about this. As Z points out, no one else was charged with handling Layden’s mess, so we can’t really say someone else would have done a better or worse job in more or less time. I just think that it’s impossible to say it couldn’t have been done better and more quickly, while it also might have been handled worse. Although with a total of 89 wins over the past 3 seasons I think there’s a lot more room up then down.

    If the Knicks are a very good team season, I would be willing to say fair enough although I would have done things differently and he certainly could have won more games in his first 3 full seasons Isiah rebuilt in about 3 years, which is about the standard expectation.

    As far as how much Layden’s leftovers hurt him… Other teams have had a lot of success “giving away” excessive contracts of underperformers, cutting them, or letting them expire. The Bulls even told Tim Thomas to stay home rather than suit up. Thefatkid might say that they clearly didn’t want to win games. I don’t know if they would have won more or less games with Thomas in uniform, but they not only told him to stay home but also refused to acquire players at a “discount” with his expiring contract and have still won several more games over the past 2 seasons than the Knicks.

    Anyway, this is why I think that Layden’s legacy might be the reason Isiah has failed thus far, but it is not a valid excuse: other guys have come into bad situations and produced championship contenders and even champions in a few years. I think that’s the standard against which Isiah should be judged.

    -On a slightly related topic, another thing I find difficult to understand is how Isiah has “won” so many trades when most of the team’s he’s traded with have gone on to have so much success. The Mo Taylor trade might not have been a big deal for the Rockets, but I think the Marbury, Jalen Rose, Crawford, and Curry deals all have a lot to do with why the Suns, Raptors, and Bulls have become much better teams in the wake of dealing with Thomas. These teams all lost highly paid (after the sign and trades in Crawford and Curry’s cases) starters and supposed “stars,” cleared cap room they have used to sign some of their better players (especially Nash but also Ben Wallace, Parker or Garbajosa) and/or got some very promising youngsters. There are certainly win-win trades, but until the Knicks start to win I don’t think these can be described that way.

    -On another, even less realted topic. I think thefatkid’s proposed team of Igoudala, Ty Thomas, Noah, Daniel Gibson wouldn’t be such a bad starting point for building a decent team. I was too worried about why it didn’t make sense to propose such a scenario to actually think about the players. With those 4 and a few more well placed pieces like, for example, Lee and Balkman (who I know were acquired through Isiah’s trades, but maybe he could have bought a couple picks or acquired one through some other trade and still taken those 2 or 2 comparable players) and you’ve got the makings of a very good young defensive team. Probably wouldn’t be a great offense without some other pieces, but the Knicks were only the 17th best offense last season in terms of offensive efficiency anyway.

  109. thefatkid

    ?I wish I was as optimistic about his success, but I feel that ?if they can?t get over .500 this year, I?d see it as a major failure? has been the goal for four years now.?

    Isiah Thomas hasn?t even been in NY for four years and you?ve been expecting him to produce a better than .500 every year? Talk about impatient!

    ?I don?t hate Isiah. Like most fans, I want the team to succeed and if Isiah succeeds I will be elated! That said, he?s been here 3+ seasons and has done little to give fans like me confidence in his ability to succeed.?

    Well, you?ve already stated that you expected him to be over .500 before he even started the job. How do you expect him to meet expectations like that?

    From another post I wrote:

    ?It was eight years between playoff appearances for the Nuggets, seven years for the Cavs, seven years for the Wizards, and six years for the Bulls, to name a few. The Knicks are on pace to return to the playoffs in year four of the rebuilding process and you?re clamoring for Isiah Thomas? head??
    ?I truly wonder, though, if in somebody elses hands, the roster could have turned over more efficiently and productively. We?ll never know, but judging by other other team?s ?rebuilding? process? I think it could have.?

    Why will we never know? A group of people I know have a contest every year to come up with an offseason plan to improve the Knicks. None of our plans have ever been anywhere near the level of what Thomas? has done.

    Rather than expecting you to make future moves that would be as efficacious as those of Thomas, I?ll propose this contest to you in a different way. Using the benefit of three years worth of hindsight, show us how you would have constructed a better roster in the same time frame.

    And what other teams are you using to form your argument? Please don?t come back with the Suns, Spurs, and Pistons. Most of us understand that those teams had virtually nothing in common with the Knicks? situation.

    ?Phoenix took a good part of this roster and went on to win 60 games.?

    Phoenix happened to have Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, and Shawn Marion. Trading Marbury and Hardaway was simply addition by subtraction for them as it gave those guys, particularly Johnson, expanded roles. The Knicks didn?t have one guy like Stoudemire, Johnson, or Marion, let alone three.

    ?letting Anderson, Eisley, Ward, McDyess, Houston, and others sunset COULD have produced as many wins as we have seen thus far AND brought in a more talented roster to work with.?

    Ok, how? The past few drafts certainly haven?t had more talent than what Thomas was able to pick up in trades. Remember, the only reason Balkman, Lee, Robinson, and Collins are here was Thomas? willingness to take on salary.

    ?Doleac, whom you called useless, I have to say was probably the most effective partner to Marbury the team had at the time. Other than Channing Frye, he was as competent a pick and roll side kick as the team has seen?

    Kurt Thomas was by far the most effective Knick at executing the pick and pop. However, like Doleac and Frye, the fact that he only took jumpers made him a pretty inefficient big on the offensive end.

    ?He just happened not to, and went on to win a championship when he didn?t.?

    Doleac actually did clear waivers and he was subsequently signed by the Nuggets. He won the championship because he signed a rather inflated free agent deal after his strong performance with the Knicks. What was that about Thomas? selling high?

    ?The harder thing to say is: why? He certainly didn?t need the money.?

    I?d say it has to do with the fact that Brown?s a crazy, vindictive, spiteful man. He wanted to hurt the Knicks as much as possible for the perceived slights against him. To do so most effectively he sabotaged the team and then squeezed the franchise for money. Call it adding insult to injury. What a petty, horrible person. Not that I dislike him or anything like that.

    ?Also, his health being as it was, he certainly didn?t need to create additional stress for himself, which tanking a season on purpose in a power play tends to do.?

    I?m not sure how his behavior was stress-inducing. He didn?t have to agonize about how to win games or anything like that. He just had to think up crazy schemes to disrupt the team and make winning games as difficult as possible.

    ?I have to agree with retropkid when he says ?You give Zeke a pass for 2004/5???? He has to be accountable ? he participated in the decision to bring in Brown.?

    You?re right, he does have to be held accountable. But for some reason I blame Brown?s actions primarily on himself. I?m still somewhat married to the concept of personal responsibility, even in today?s society. In my mind, you don?t sue McDonalds for burning yourself with coffee and you don?t blame the boss for being a horrendous employee.

    ?Grunfeld was accounatable for the slide. He was also a better GM than Isiah.?

    I don?t know about a better GM than Isiah Thomas, but he was certainly much better than Layden. Grunfeld?s firing was unfortunate and a very poor decision. He wasn?t fired as a result of being ?held accountable? but moreso because Checketts felt someone had to be fired. It?s that sort of irrational behavior that led to the Knicks becoming a complete mess.

    ?Finally? all of IT?s problems boil down to one thing: he can?t negotiate. Free agent contracts are bigger than they need to be to land the player. (Not affecting our cap situation, but killing future trade value) In trades, he doesn?t understand his leverage ? he essentially saved Phoenix, Toronto and Orlando in those respective trades ? and gives away more than he has to, almost every time. The Randolph trade is the one exception, so maybe he?s learning ? but I?m skeptical. It?s not a problem with identifying talent; it?s business management. Considering he sank the CBA, the track record isn?t good.?

    This is completely untrue and I have no idea how you?ve conjured up this notion. The only non-MLE contracts that Thomas has negotiated are those of Crawford and Curry, both of whom are paid quite reasonably. Thomas has gotten excellent value in all of his deals and he?s used his leverage quite nicely. What?d you expect him to get?

    ?As far as the roster inherited?the Bobcats inherited nothing but a draft of players other teams didn?t want and a #4 pick, yet still won 33 games last year.?

    Clearly something has been lost on you on the relative merits of starting with your pick of players from every NBA team and a commitment of $0 in salaries. It?s a completely different situation that has absolutely nothing in common with what Thomas started with.

    ?This leads me to the point that he could have cut the underacheivers/untalented player (as he did with Shandon Anderson) or let their contracts expire and still ended up with a better team than last season?s Knicks.?

    Ok, what would the roster have been then?

    ?GMs from Joe Dumars to John Paxson to Rod Thorn have accomplished this in a shorter time frame. Even the great Danny Ainge looks on track to accomplish this in a similar time frame to Isiah?s.?

    We?ve been through this, several times. Dumars inherited a highly competitive roster. John Paxson inherited a roster full of young talent and still yielded plenty of lottery picks. Rod Thorn inherited a team with quite a few good players and the #1 pick in the draft. Danny Ainge has been an unmitigated disaster and the only reason he has a chance this year is because of his good friend Kevin McHale.

    ?just want to note that this is how the Knicks? teams of the 90s were assembled.?

    The Knick teams of the 90s were built on the strength of one of the greatest players of all time. The supporting cast is the reason they never won.

    ?As I said, I?m open to arguments that the man is the root of all evil.?

    Why, because he?s a fairly dumb guy who just wants the team to win? He?s hardly Layden, whose craptacular moves virtually crippled the franchise, or Brown, who did his best to attempt to cripple the franchise.

    ?I mean people were literally calling Jerome James extremely overpaid when he was on his last (much smaller) contract, it didn?t take a genius to realize that giving him the MLE was a terrible idea.?

    His last contract was larger than his current contract. And he was the best available player, why not offer him the MLE? The money didn?t matter and still doesn?t. I have no idea why this signing was and continues to be such an issue for some people. It?s completely insignificant. It?s the equivalent of bashing Layden for Slavko Vranes.

    ?This is only half the story. Trades for Steph, Mo Taylor, and Eddy Curry each cost the Knicks multiple draft picks. Isiah has done wonderful things with the draft, especially compared to Layden, but I think it?s hard to argue that trading away several high draft picks and acquiring late firsts is a net +.?

    Marbury was one 1st rounder and one highly conditional first rounder. The ?04 pick turned into Kirk Snyder and the second one still hasn?t been given up. Mo Taylor was a swap of an ?06 second for an ?05 second, hardly giving away multiple picks or even a single pick. Eddy Curry cost the Knicks one first rounder which turned into Tyrus Thomas, thanks to the sabotage of Brown. The other pick was simply a swap, which was hardly an issue. We?ll see what happens to the second rounders. Thomas? basic theory is that the mid-to-late lottery talent available isn?t appreciably better than the later first round talent, particularly when the players he wants are available fairly late. Likewise, the picks he?s giving away are deemed to be of lower value than the players he?s receiving in return.

    ?As Z points out, no one else was charged with handling Layden?s mess, so we can?t really say someone else would have done a better or worse job in more or less time.?

    Sure we can. Try and come up with a better scenario than what Thomas has put together. And you have the benefit of three years worth of hindsight.

    ?The Mo Taylor trade might not have been a big deal for the Rockets, but I think the Marbury, Jalen Rose, Crawford, and Curry deals all have a lot to do with why the Suns, Raptors, and Bulls have become much better teams in the wake of dealing with Thomas.?

    This is completely untrue.

    The Suns became a better team after the Marbury trade because they happened to have three amazing players, Johnson, Stoudemire, and Marion, who, as the 02-03 playoffs demonstrated, were held back by Marbury?s dominance of the ball. Addition by subtraction works if you?ve got the talent in place.

    The Raptors became a much better team after the Rose trade because they completely revamped the team. The cap room allowed them to add more players, but Fred Jones was the only NBA free agent they brought in.

    As far as the Bulls go, they became a better team after the departure of Crawford because they added Gordon, Deng, and Nocioni that offseason. Those additions were completely unrelated to the Crawford trade. After the Curry trade, the team actually got worse.

    The bottom line is that Thomas has given these teams the flexibility that they wanted and Thomas has gotten the better players he wanted. The trades were win/win, which is the basic underlying premise of engaging in trade. The expiring deals were useless to Thomas.

  110. Ted Nelson

    The 2005 2nd we got from Houston was because they signed JVG.

    “His last contract was larger than his current contract. And he was the best available player, why not offer him the MLE?”

    This is why it is not possible to debate with you. Jerome James was the best player available???

    1998-99 $287,500
    2001-02 $465,850
    2002-03 $4,546,000
    2003-04 $4,545,000
    2004-05 $5,455,200
    2005-06 $5,000,000
    2006-07 $5,400,000

    over the next 3 years he’ll get 5.8, 6.2, and has a player option for 6.6.

    There are his career salaries.

    “Sure we can. Try and come up with a better scenario than what Thomas has put together. And you have the benefit of three years worth of hindsight.”

    Like I’ve said, the Bobcats started with nothing, haven’t been that amazing in terms of their moves, and still won 33 games last season. The crazy Blazers who “don’t want to win games” and had only one talented player on last season’s team won only 1 game less than the Knicks.

    I’ll see what I can do. I can’t exactly call up NBA decision makers and say would you have traded me x for y? Or former free agents and say would you have signed with me for x? I can say I would have gotten lucky and won the lottery and you can say that even though your team only won 10 games you still ended up with the #4 pick.

    Then there is the problem of judging the team. The number of assumptions that go into this is incredible, and I don’t see how someone who hates assumptions so much thinks this is the best way to evaluate IT, but here goes…

    I don’t know exactly when contracts would have expired, so I’ll try to just stay away from high priced free agents in general.
    Rather than go through every player I would have added, I’ll stick to the ones that would still be on the team.

    In the 2004 draft I’ll take Andre Igoudala if the Knicks would have ended up with the 9th pick. I’ll also top the Bulls offer of a second and future first for Luol Deng (2 protected 1sts and a 2nd).

    We have a really bad season end up with the #4 pick and I take Cris Paul. In the 2nd I’ll pick up Monta Ellis. I’ll also trade my starting PF Mike Sweetney, who’s been averaging 14 and 8 (and 5 fouls a game) on my 25 win team and is so efficient that statheads love the big guy, for a pick in the 20s or early in the 2nd and grab David Lee.

    This season goes much better, but we just miss the playoffs, end up with the #11 pick, and don’t have to send it to the Suns since it’s protected. I go with Thabo Sefalosha. With my mid 2nd I go with Millsap. I also outbid the Blazers for the Suns #27 pick and I’ve got to choose between Balkman and Rodriguez, because backing up Paul is less of a priority than getting some bigs I take Balkman (who I’m going to assume slides, you can say he wouldn’t but I thought the Suns weren’t interested in people who can’t shoot-odd given their 07 picks of Tucker and Strawberry-and they’re the only ones I heard were interested, if he doesn’t slide I’ll pick up Rodriguez).

    We make the playoffs in 06-07 and I have to ship my first to the Suns. It doesn’t really matter as I’ve never seen any 2007 picks play an NBA game, but let’s say I take D.J. Strawberry in the 2nd.

    “The bottom line is that Thomas has given these teams the flexibility that they wanted and Thomas has gotten the better players he wanted. The trades were win/win, which is the basic underlying premise of engaging in trade. The expiring deals were useless to Thomas.”

    All trades are win/win??? Was the Scottie Pippen/Olden Polenyce trade a win/win? You think Red Sox fans consider the Babe Ruth trade a win/win? C-Webb for Mitch Richmond…

    If these “talented” players don’t help their team win games, what good is their talent? I think you’re going to have to wait until the All-Star break, or even after the season before you can convince me Isiah has done a good job… if the Knicks win around 50 games and at least take their first round series to 6 games I’ll be pretty convinced.

  111. Ted Nelson

    This computer really drives me nuts, didn’t mean to submit that.

    The 2005 2nd we got from Houston was because they signed JVG.

    “His last contract was larger than his current contract. And he was the best available player, why not offer him the MLE?”

    This is why it is not possible to debate with you. Jerome James was the best player available???

    1998-99 $287,500
    2001-02 $465,850
    2002-03 $4,546,000
    2003-04 $4,545,000
    2004-05 $5,455,200
    2005-06 $5,000,000
    2006-07 $5,400,000

    over the next 3 years he’ll get 5.8, 6.2, and has a player option for 6.6.

    There are his career salaries.

    “Sure we can. Try and come up with a better scenario than what Thomas has put together. And you have the benefit of three years worth of hindsight.”

    Like I’ve said, the Bobcats started with nothing, haven’t been that amazing in terms of their moves, and still won 33 games last season. The crazy Blazers who “don’t want to win games” and had only one talented player on last season’s team won only 1 game less than the Knicks.

    I’ll see what I can do. I can’t exactly call up NBA decision makers and say would you have traded me x for y? Or former free agents and say would you have signed with me for x? I can say I would have gotten lucky and won the lottery and you can say that even though your team only won 10 games you still ended up with the #4 pick.

    Then there is the problem of judging the team. The number of assumptions that go into this is incredible, and I don’t see how someone who hates assumptions so much thinks this is the best way to evaluate IT, but here goes…

    I don’t know exactly when contracts would have expired, so I’ll try to just stay away from high priced free agents in general.
    Rather than go through every player I would have added, I’ll stick to the ones that would still be on the team.

    In the 2004 draft I’ll take Andre Igoudala if the Knicks would have ended up with the 9th pick. I’ll also top the Bulls offer of a second and future first for Luol Deng (2 protected 1sts and a 2nd).

    We have a really bad season end up with the #4 pick and I take Cris Paul. In the 2nd I’ll pick up Monta Ellis. I’ll also trade my starting PF Mike Sweetney, who’s been averaging 14 and 8 (and 5 fouls a game) on my 25 win team and is so efficient that statheads love the big guy, for a pick in the 20s or early in the 2nd and grab David Lee.

    This season goes much better, but we just miss the playoffs, end up with the #11 pick, and don’t have to send it to the Suns since it’s protected. I go with Thabo Sefalosha. With my mid 2nd I go with Millsap. I also outbid the Blazers for the Suns #27 pick and I’ve got to choose between Balkman and Rodriguez, because backing up Paul is less of a priority than getting some bigs I take Balkman (who I’m going to assume slides, you can say he wouldn’t but I thought the Suns weren’t interested in people who can’t shoot-odd given their 07 picks of Tucker and Strawberry-and they’re the only ones I heard were interested, if he doesn’t slide I’ll pick up Rodriguez).

    We make the playoffs in 06-07 and I have to ship my first to the Suns. It doesn’t really matter as I’ve never seen any 2007 picks play an NBA game, but let’s say I take D.J. Strawberry in the 2nd.

    So, only using the draft and a couple draft related trades I’ve put together a roster of Chris Paul, Andre Igoudala, Luol Deng, David Lee, and say resigned Kurt Thomas, Millsap, Balkman, Thabo, Strawberry, and Monta Ellis are coming off the bench.

    I also would have picked up a few free agents along the way. Diop I would have given more than Dallas did. Udoka is someone I like alright. Matt Barnes maybe. And I need a backup PG…maybe Brevin Knight.

    So here you have my 2008 team…

    Diop
    Lee
    Deng
    Igoudala
    Paul

    Ellis
    KT
    Balkman
    Millsap
    Udoka
    Matt Barnes
    Brevin Knight
    Thabo
    Strawberry

    Don’t really know what the point of that was.

    “The bottom line is that Thomas has given these teams the flexibility that they wanted and Thomas has gotten the better players he wanted. The trades were win/win, which is the basic underlying premise of engaging in trade. The expiring deals were useless to Thomas.”

    All trades are win/win??? Was the Scottie Pippen/Olden Polenyce trade a win/win? You think Red Sox fans consider the Babe Ruth trade a win/win? C-Webb for Mitch Richmond…

    If these “talented” players don’t help their team win games, what good is their talent? I think you’re going to have to wait until the All-Star break, or even after the season before you can convince me Isiah has done a good job… if the Knicks win around 50 games and at least take their first round series to 6 games I’ll be pretty convinced.

    -On the trades, of course the teams had other players already and added players in various ways after the trades. The trend is still there.

    -Do you really think Isiah was picking Kirk Snyder?? Josh Smith was still on the board, amongst others.

    “The cap room allowed them to add more players, but Fred Jones was the only NBA free agent they brought in.”

    Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa were clearly their 2 best free agents last offseason, it doesn’t matter at all that they weren’t in the NBA. As they were both signed to about 4 mill per deals only one could have been brought in with the MLE.

  112. Z

    I addressed my last comments to Frank. I would have rather seen his response since tfk’s have become predictably irrational. I?m responding– not so much to convince him, but because I too have no life.

    “Well, you?ve already stated that you expected him to be over .500 before he even started the job. How do you expect him to meet expectations like that?”

    Isiah has 4 seasons associated with his name (he was hired in Dec. of 2003. It is now 2007). His first (the one he shared with the anti-christ Layden) was the one that he ended up closest to .500; The one he made the playoffs with; The one that he sauntered out to center court in the Spring of 2004 and said “welcome back to the playoffs New York” with a big Isiah grin, as if he was setting the stage for multiple playoff appearances to come. So yeah, for 4 years I’ve been expecting the playoffs. Call me crazy…

    “Why will we never know? A group of people I know have a contest every year to come up with an off-season plan to improve the Knicks. None of our plans have ever been anywhere near the level of what Thomas? has done.”

    ???

    “Brown?s a crazy, vindictive, spiteful man. He wanted to hurt the Knicks as much as possible for the perceived slights against him. To do so most effectively he sabotaged the team and then squeezed the franchise for money. Call it adding insult to injury. What a petty, horrible person. Not that I dislike him or anything like that.”

    I still don’t get it. He planned to throw the season before it began? What were the perceived slights against him before the season began? The Knicks started terrible and finished worse. There was no point when the season collapsed. It was lost in November.

    Maybe Brown was 100% at fault and is the biggest anti-Christ since Layden (2 whole years), but there is no way to know what went down without being either Brown or Isiah. I think, most likely, they are both to blame equally, and since Isiah hired him in the first place, Layden suddenly doesn’t even look so bad. His flaw was extreme loyalty to Don Chaney, a good person and a decent coach. That helps a mediocre team win more than a dysfunctional GM-coach relationship does.

    (Again, only TFK could make me defend Larry Brown so much…)

    “for some reason I blame Brown?s actions primarily on himself. I?m still somewhat married to the concept of personal responsibility”

    Okay. But taking McDonalds to court over hot coffee is not the same thing at all. Taking the same example, I’d say that if hot coffee is spilled and second degree burns occur at a McDonalds that I owned (and I was a good owner) I would not be happy, if for no other reason than for the bad PR. I would find out who spilled the coffee, and if it turned out to be a meth addict already fired from Burger King and Wendy’s, I’d find the manager who hired that guy and fire him or her. The person who hires the crazy-nut-job evil villains of the world is not fit to hold the hiring card (I think that might be the Peter Principle in effect).

    ?Grunfeld?s firing was unfortunate and a very poor decision. He wasn?t fired as a result of being ?held accountable? but more so because Checketts felt someone had to be fired. It?s that sort of irrational behavior that led to the Knicks becoming a complete mess.?

    My Grunfeld comments were in the context of the Brown-Isiah ?power struggle? (Franks term). Checketts sided with Van Gundy and not Grunfeld when he felt one must go. The result? The team gelled, got it together at exactly that point, and made a memorable playoff run that was bad in the long term, but brought a few weeks of priceless moments. The coach is more important than the GM, especially when the games have begun to be played. Certainly in 2005 one of the two had to go. Isiah was left standing, and that?s why we?re discussing his failures now and not Brown?s.

    Fact is, the Knicks could feasibly have a better team and better future if Layden was still GM and Chaney was still coach. All hindsight/assumption, but to say it couldn?t be lacks objectivity.

    ?Dumars inherited a highly competitive roster.?

    My memory doesn?t remember 2000 too well. I had to review the roster. Hoops Analyst had this to say of the Pistons in 2000: ?[Dumars] had to rebuild a mediocre team with little talent to speak of.? He succeed in turning the two highly paid franchise players (Hill and Stackhouse) into Ben Wallace and Rip Hamilton– the core of a title team. The rest of that 2000 team was Jud Buechler, Eric Montross, John Crotty, Christian Laettner (and some black guys that weren?t much better). I think Dumars rightly gets more credit as a GM than Isiah.

    ?Danny Ainge has been an unmitigated disaster and the only reason he has a chance this year is because of his good friend Kevin McHale.?

    How can one hold it against Ainge that he has friends in high places. GMing is networking.

    ?Try and come up with a better scenario than what Thomas has put together. And you have the benefit of three years worth of hindsight.?

    You are basically arguing that Isiah did as well a job assembling the current Knicks as God could have done. You really don?t think that anybody with three years of hindsight could put together a better team than the one we see today? That is preposterous. (I kind of like it). I guess all I?ll say is that in hindsight, I probably would have lottery protected the Ty Thomas pick.

    ?As far as the Bulls go, they became a better team after the departure of Crawford because they added Gordon, Deng, and Nocioni that off-season.?

    They added Gordon and Crawford became expendable. The Bulls had a feeling Crawford was the least worth holding onto of Hinrich, Gordon, and Jamal. Maybe dealing Gordon and retaining Crawford would have resulted in the same (or better) product. No way to know. Their record, however, reflects that the decision was a good one.

    I’d take Ted’s team over Isiah’s. It’s a rediculous exercise, but I’d take Ted over Isiah, Layden, and TFK as GM.

    All the particulars aside, would it really have been such a bad strategy in 2003 to look toward just one thing: signing LeBron. Worst case scenario: he resigns with Cleveland and the Knicks suck because of it but still have their picks. Best case scenario: the allure and $$$ of NY lure him away and the team gets its true franchise player. That strategy worked for the Lakers when they signed Shaq. It doesn’t matter that they only missed the playoffs twice in 30 years. They wanted Shaq. It was a perfect fit– LA glam, big market. Good for Shaq, good for LA, good for the NBA. LeBron in NY is the same.

    It may not have worked, but it could have, and if it hadn’t I don’t think we’d be any worse off than we are right now.

  113. Frank

    Hi all- have been out of town for a few days and just got back to the board. I love this board.

    So anyway in my defense–

    “I understand that, despite the fact that Layden?s squads actually won more games that the roster needed to turn over to become younger and more viable. I truly wonder, though, if in somebody elses hands, the roster could have turned over more efficiently and productively. We?ll never know, but judging by other other team?s ?rebuilding? process? I think it could have.”

    Like you said — it’s difficult to say what woulda/coulda/shoulda happened with another GM. But I truly think that the degree to which Layden’s last roster stunk in terms of not just ability but assets and cap management made it nearly an impossible situation for any incoming GM. Like someone said in an earlier post, Layden’s roster had no chance to be anything much more than a .500 team and a first round exit– forever! And when Isiah came in he said immediately that he needed to upgrade the talent on the roster even if it required unconventional means — and I think the talent upgrade he has accomplished is really impressive, if not yet producing tangible results (yet). A talent-less, capped-out for years roster with no movable contracts is mission impossible for any GM.

    “Phoenix took a good part of this roster and went on to win 60 games.”

    Already addressed by TFK and others — taking on a couple of useless players when you have young superstars in the making is much different than having an entire roster of useless, unmovable players.

    Re: the Larry brown issue:

    I don’t think Larry Brown was trying to sabotage the Knicks in order to destroy the franchise or to make money. I really think he loves the Knicks and he definitely has boatloads of money. But the roster as it was assembled was not his kind of roster, so I really think he tanked the season and convinced Isiah to make trades like the Francis trade in order to produce a result so terrible that someone would need to be fired. I think he just thought that Isiah and not Larry would be fired, especially given his $40M remaining and his track record. Then Larry would have been made either coach/GM or would have a lot of input as to who the next GM was. And he could remake the roster.

    I give Isiah a pass because even knowing Brown’s past history of wearing out his welcome, I don’t think anyone could have or should have predicted a willful sabotage of his so-called dream job. I think people across the NBA (and this board) were shocked when it turned out so badly. To take the McDonald’s reference someone used above, it’s like hiring the CEO of McDonald’s to make your McDonald’s franchise run better, then having him systematically poison the hamburgers and replacing the cups with dribble glasses on the hot coffee.

    “Maybe it is too much to ask that the man given the reins to the biggest NBA market with the deepest fan support be great at what they do.”

    Actually – you’re totally right. Isiah is not doing a great job — I could never argue that he’s doing a great overall job given the # of wins he has produced — but I think the jury is still out on what the final result will be. Just like Checkett’s jumped the gun on Grunfeld too early when players like Camby, Sprewell, Houston were starting to jell and play well together, leading to that great run, which ultimately led to the awful Frederic Weis pick instead of the obvious Artest pick. I agree that Grunfeld probably is a better GM than Isiah, but I just don’t want to run Isiah out of town without giving his hand-picked roster of good young talent at least 1-2 years of non-injury decimated years to play to their potential.

    And as much as I have bashed Layden on this board — I will give him props for one move, which may surprise you. I loved the McDyess trade when it happened. I thought it was everything Layden had been afraid to try throughout his tenure: daring but with extremely high potential for return as opposed to signing ShanHowardella Eisrringderson. McDyess was potentially a true franchise player — a PF that was likeable, could score in and out, a great rebounder, good shot blocker, and stayed out of trouble. I think he got extraordinarily unlucky with the knee injury, and that trade (along with the Ewing trade) is in large part responsible for the ridiculous hole he created that Isiah is still trying to climb out of.

  114. Mel

    basically Layden took a flawed but EC champ team to the lottery in 2 years as a capped out unathletic aging unit with no young guys worth a darn.

    the 2 1st round picks he got for Ewing he traded for erick strickland and othella harrington , leaving guys like tony parker , okur, gerald wallace and gilbert arenas on the board to be picked by other teams .

    he really did have his chance to rebuild on the fly but choose to put band aids on bullet wounds in a manner of speaking.

  115. Z

    “the 2 1st round picks he got for Ewing he traded for erick strickland and othella harrington”

    Wasn’t Strickland traded for Harrington mid season? I think there must have been another trade that cost Layden the picks. What did they actaully turn into? A lot of people passed on Arenas, Parker, et al. And put major stock in Kwame. Without hindsight there is hardly a guarentee Layden (or Thomas) would have drafted them. (Though I’d take Isiah running my draft over Layden anyday). A few years down the road there are always people you realize you should have taken with the pick. It’s tough to really blame people for not taking guys that slip into the second round. (**unlike ’99 when the Garden crowd was howling for Artest. That one you can place blame for… In 2001 no one was howling for Gerald Wallce or Okur.)

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