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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Stephon Marbury

KnickerBlogger: When Marbury first arrived in New York, the Knicks’ offense centered around his pick & roll game. Stephon was never a top flight offensive talent, but was consistently good, a near All Star. However in 2006 Larry Brown insisted on stamping his brand of basketball on the offense and curtailed Marbury’s game. The Knick guard had career lows in assists and points (per 40 minutes), even lower than his rookie year as a 19 year old neophyte. Consequently Mabury’s PER dropped from a steady 20/21 to a pedestrian 16.5. Surely it seemed that Marbury’s decline in production was caused by Brown’s iron fist.

Going into the 2007 season Marbury should have reverted to his old form. Not only was he freed from Brown’s restrictive offense, but he would be playing for the former point guard that acquired him. Unfortunately for Coney Island’s brightest, Marbury’s numbers didn’t recover to his pre-Brown levels. Instead Stephon’s numbers declined for the second straight year, and again he set career lows in assists and points (per 40 minutes). Marbury’s drop in assists is alarming as his 5.9 AST/40 is sickly for a point guard. So what’s the deal? After 2 consecutive declining season is the Knick guard washed up?

My answer is ‘no’, or better yet ‘not exactly’. The Knick offense moved away from the pick & roll, Marbury’s bread & butter, to a more open offense. As last season began, Isiah installed “The Quick?”, an amalgamation of offenses. As described by coach Thomas, “The Quick?” was modular where the non-post players took turns running the point. So it’s not so much that Marbury became a worse player, but instead it’s the Knick offense diminished his role.

Last year Marbury was unable to dominate the ball as he was accustomed. To exacerbate the problem Marbury had to share the backcourt with another ball-happy guard in Steve Francis. More often than not, Marbury was a spectator watching his teammates run the offense. Often he had trouble feeding Eddy Curry in the post, and without constant possession of the ball his scoring declined. A master at the pick & roll, Marbury was mortal outside of that role.

On the other hand, Marbury’s shooting percentages improved from the reduced usage. His eFG% and TS% (48.0% and 53.9%) were above their career averages, and his 3P% (35.7%) was the highest of his career. He also turned the ball over less than ever (2.6 TO/40). As an added bonus he seemed to put an extra effort into the defensive side of the ball. Whether or not this actually improved his defense is debatable, as his numbers at 82games are awful. The Knicks were 5.4 points worse on defense with Marbury on the court, and point guards averaged a healthy PER of 17.4 with Steph on the floor. Marbury’s main weakness is his poor lateral speed as last year he absolutely got killed by quicker point guards. Still the effort was a departure from previous seasons where Marbury seemed disinterested on his own end of the court. There were times he took the tougher assignment by taking on the opposing SG, and on some nights he did a fair job. But as we learned from Jamal Crawford, the NBA is such that you need consistent production every night, and overall on the season Marbury’s defense was still below average.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: C+

2008 Outlook: With Marbury entering his 30s, the Knicks will eventually need a new starting point guard. Stephon entered the league at the tender age of 19, and has been an iron man for most of his career. Combine his long tenure with his high minute per game average, and that’s a lot of wear and tear on his 6-2 frame. He has missed more games in the last 2 years (30) than he did in the 8 seasons prior (25). Marbury was never a good defender to begin with, and although he’s putting in more effort on the defensive end, he still gets beaten by inferior players.

One indication that Marbury still has life in those $15 shoes is that his free throw attempt per field goal attempt rate hasn’t declined. Aging players that have lost a step become less able to get to the hoop and draw contact. Since Marbury seems to still have his athleticism and has trouble setting up his teammates in Isiah’s offense, Zeke should put some more pick & roll plays into the 2008 Knicks playbook. This is especially true considering the acquisition of a second post player with a range on his jumper, in Zach Randolph. Looking at some of the other options at guard, namely Crawford and Collins, increasing Marbury’s shot attempts in the offense wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

At this stage of his career, Marbury is no longer the focal point of his team’s offense. However even with his reduced role, he is still an efficient scorer. One thing Isiah might try in 2008 is to reduce Marbury’s minutes per game. The Knicks aren’t suffering from a lack of depth as Nate Robinson earned MVP honors in summer league, and Mardy Collins is useful with his stout defensive presence. Since Marbury’s reduced role in his offense seemed to increase his defensive desire, a decrease in his minutes might invigorate Stephon and produce better defensive results on the court.

Brian Cronin – My strongest memory of Marbury from this past season is the stretch after Crawford and Lee went down that Marbury seemed like he determined that he had to score like crazy for the Knicks to have a chance at winning – so he just went out and did that, scoring 23, 34, 38 and 40 in his next four games, lending credence to the argument that Marbury was allowing his numbers to go down for the betterment of the team, which is nice to see from a player (and another reason why basketball statistics are so difficult – as Marbury’s numbers were worse than normal for the “betterment of the team”).

I think a C+ is fair. I was considering a B-, but yeah, that’s probably a BIT high. I wish Marbury would be able to find Curry in the paint more often, but at least, as Mike mentions, Randolph seems to be a good pick and roll partner for Marbury.

Oh, and Marbury also gave us one of the comedic high points of the past NBA year, so that’s something, right?

57 comments on “Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Stephon Marbury

  1. Frank O.

    I know some folks love this guy, but I never liked Marbury’s game.
    Are these the qualities one needs in a PG?
    – His game acumen is weak.
    – His scoring is inconsistent.
    – He doesn’t work the boards much.
    – He has trouble passing into the post.
    – He prefers finding his own shot more than his teammates’.
    – He tends to pout when things don’t go his way, which would indicate a lack of mental toughness.
    – He is a classic matador defender, more interested these days, but still easily bypassed by quick, and not-so-quick guards.
    – His size also is a liability when his lateral speed is so limited.

    I disagree that his attempts were down because of Francis. Francis hardly played. His attempts were down because he played besides a black hole in Crawford. Shots once reserved for Starbury were being imprecisely taken by Craw.

    In my view, this was probably one of the worst acquisitions in Knicks’ history, and that is saying a lot. It was a classic case of the Knicks dealing from a position of desperation and weakness, basing the move on hopes rather than reality.
    I fear the Randolph trade was made under similar circumstances.
    I don’t think the Knicks could rid themselves of Marbury sooner. His public comments have only reinforced my belief that Starbury isn’t that bright, and hasn’t mentally improved. He speaks with the sophistication of a child. However well-regarded his current effort with sneakers is – and I admire his efforts – his intellectual development seems to have stopped sometime in high school. Either that, and I’m willing to believe that I’m being to harsh on this point, or he simply chokes in public forums and can’t help but seem inept.
    But what I found striking was he seemed to have no ability to communicate effectively, and a primary responsiblity of a point guard is communication.

    As long as Marbury is running the Knicks offense, if that is that you want to call what he does, the Knicks will be a mediocre team at best. Marbury would have to undergo some kind of radical metamorphosis to become a winner in the NBA at this late stage in his career.
    Best case scenario for me is that he and Randolph work the pick and role well together, allowing Randolph to become Mailman-lite.
    But that doesn’t cover up other glaring weakness.
    The Knicks would be served better with a pure point-guard, assist machine with smarts and use Marbury as a bench option in a rotation.

  2. Sean

    Ok some thing I would like to add to this. First no one talks about how more controlled the Knicks are when marbury is in the game. Im sure if you look it up they damn sure turn the ball over less. Secondly no one was good at getting Eddy the ball except Crawford.an honestly I think thats more a testiment to Eddy not the guards. He took way too long to establish his position an stayed stationary on the right side of the block for way too long. Secondly Marbury defense you guys are seriously underrating especially since he had to guard two guards because Crawford wasn’t strong enough. an lets all please focus on Brian’s part of the article where you can actually see Marbury’s numbers increased dramatically after Crawford, lee, and Q got injured.An yet we still call him a me first guy when its clear he sacrificed his numbers for the team. If he was so me first y would he ruin his career numbers of 20ppg an 8rpg

  3. Caleb

    Steph is obviously in decline, but I think he’s still a decent player. At this point in his career, he could benefit from careful coaching, putting him in good positions to succeeed. In my mind, this would include a move to shooting guard where his lack of lateral speed (and sore knees) would be less exposed on defense, and which would free him up to be more of a driving scorer. He’s never been a pure shooter, so the Curry-driven offense doesn’t play to his strengths. Unfortunately, a move to SG would require a trade since there’s no one else on the team who comes close to being able to run the point. In the meantime, running more pick and roll would probably help.

    As an aside… what do you think of the defensive composite ratings on 82games? I spent a lot of time looking through them the other day (Steph is rated 1 out of 100, for those who haven’t seen). Most of the ratings seem more or less on target, but there are a few head-scratchers, especially among the guards… Deron Williams rated 3, Jarrett Jack 8 and Chauncey Billups 48, in other words still below average.

    Those of you who have spent more time analyzing the method – what do you think?

  4. Peter

    I actually think Marbury has improved his game this year. For one thing, it seemed that when he was on the floor (as opposed to crazy Nate, and Mardy Collins who will some day be a solid backup PG) the team seemed more under control…obviously, he’s never going to be Steve Nash, or Jason Kidd, but he’s becoming good at changing the game while not having the ball as much as he used to.
    He averaged 8+ assists for most of his career, and earlier this year, he said he’s playing less aggressively because he’s trying to get everyone the ball. Most of his assists came out of the pick and roll. It was something that he had to adjust to this year when the offense was not run through him, but run through Curry (and we can talk about the deficiencies there, starting with his being a little slow to establish position). Marbury has never had a dominant big man to play with. not even KG, because KG does not play like a big man on offense (he plays that way on defense, but still). He had Amare Stoudemire for like 2 minutes, but I’m not sure he could be considered a true back to the basket type of player (although he’s developing rapidly). So, yeah, going from a pick and role offense to one where you dump it into a big man where you see tactics you might never have seen used against you before (like fronting and such) might be a little difficult.
    That being said, I do think that C+ is a good grade for last year (D- for the first 3 months, then a B for the rest of the year till injury). But for Frank O. to say that he was the worst pick up in Knicks history….compared to who? Luc Longley? Glenn Rice? Keith Van Horn? Fred freaking Weiss? They were all far, far, FAR worse pick ups than Mr. Marbury.
    Also, scowling does not = bad player. I get the feeling that the people who use this as a complaint simply don’t like Marbury and use anything against him to put him down. Talk basketball, not facial expression. That’s like Joey Crawford giving Tim Duncan a T for laughing on the bench.

  5. Adam F

    I really like Stephon, and I think he took too much heat for the fact that he was a very good player, but probably not a max player. Therefore, after his first couple of months in NY, many fans turned on him because of his ridiculous contract. Contract aside though:
    Clearly Steph isn’t the player he once was, but I don’t know if he’s necessarily a significantly worse player. He can still be a dominant scorer in stretches, but he’s really not a pure pg in the Knicks new system. Also, I completely agree with Sean that the Knicks seemed much more under control with Marbury in there. While defense was never his forte, I happen to think, despite 82games.com, that he improved his defense and has become at least respectable on that end.
    I think he’s more of a B, because while he wasn’t spectacular, his willingness to let his team grow, his patience, his effort on D, and I think his increased effeciency are qualities that are really helpful to this team.
    Just want to point out, that I think Steph’s most underrated quality is his patience. Unlike AI another scoring (albeit much better than steph) small guard, Steph understands that the Knicks are kind of retooling right now, and he has not demanded a trade, nor had many media outbursts, which is a testemant to his improved character, and a worthwhile quality for a team leader.

  6. BigEastBball

    I am pleasantly surprised to see how much support Steph has in the posts above. I’ve always irrationally liked the guy and rooted for him. Up until two years ago I thought he was wildly underrated. Anyhow, with respect to this past season I think it would be useful when analyzing Steph to bifurcate his season. He seemed SO much better in the second half of the year. Both defensively and offensively. It’s almost like he finally grasped IT’s gameplan. And the Knicks clearly played better (offensively at least) when he was on the floor. Just my 2 cents.

  7. Dan Panorama

    I’m curious what his second half numbers were – I bet they were way better than his previous season and are probably a much more accurate baseline of where he is at this point.

  8. Truth Spitter

    Ok now your grades are just racist. Marbury had a fantastic year. I was waiting to see what you gave him before I responded to your evaluations. David Lee gets an A plus while Marbury gets a C plus. Yeah right. You have lost all credibility.

  9. Mel

    Dan ,

    from jan. 1st on marbury avg. 19 points a game., 5.6 ast. shooting .428 from the field and 38% from 3 pt. range.(his last 41 games)

  10. Mike

    Its probably not ideal to have a PG that cant feed the post on time and in correct position when your offense is a “power offense”

  11. Frank O.

    Racist?
    Ridiculous. Lee was the most productive Knick and he was earning $18 million a year less than Stephon. That’s not a race issue…

    Okay. Let me take RESPECTFUL exception to some of the things said here…promising not to call anyone a douche bag or racist…

    Peter: Longley, Rice and Weiss, et al, I would suggest, are not exactly the proper context in which to evaluate the trade for Stephon.
    Stephon was gotten in his prime, was a point guard, and was given max money…he was supposed to be a difference-maker.
    None of the other guys were in their prime, or even considered particularly good when the Knicks got them, and they were gotten as role players, not the franchise guy. For that reason, the Stephon trade was disasterous/devastating for the Knicks’ franchise. Stephon was never been a difference maker as was expected.
    Also Peter, the point guard is supposed to be a team leader. When he pouts, as Stephon does, and is widley known for doing…it’s not a looks thing. It’s a leadership thing. He should be rallying people. Now, he has shown some improvement, but it can still be a problem.
    Adam F., the fact that he is a max player is an important part of why the Knicks have cap troubles. Max players that have max output aren’t a cap concern. Stephon is a problem because he’s not a difference maker…the Knicks are not much better with him on the court as compared to him on the court. If I’m reading 82games.com, in fact, the Knicks are a net 1.1 points worse when he is playing. (I think that is correct.)
    Also, Adam F., and others, I would at least hope the Knicks would be more in control with Marbury, a veteran when compared to a rookie and sophomore guard, who are raw, and paid 18 times less…the comparison is like saying a 14-year-old reads well when compared to a 7-year-old. So I take issue with that logic.
    Lastly, and this is where Knicks fans have had their worldview distorted: those who defend Stephon keep saying he seemed to improve in the second half, but at their very best, the Knicks were less than a .500 team. In the second half, he became more the guys as injuries took their toll. Of course, his stats improved.
    And when someone compared AI and Stephon, saying they are score-first guards – and Adam, i know you had a caveat there – AI being a score first guard lifted his team from mediocrity to the finals. Steph’s score first mentality has never advanced past the second round, I think.

    He’s not a max player, but he drags on the Knicks with a max salary and the ball is in his hands more than any other player on the team.

    I concede two points, however:
    Part of his problem passing to Curry was Curry’s poor positioning, but it was clear that Curry’s positioning didn’t seem to bother Crawford…which to me indicates that Crawford and Curry – who are close friends have rapport, whereas Steph wasn’t that thrilled conceding the franchise player title to Curry
    And I suspect Steph’s assists numbers suffered because the Knicks couldn’t hit the ocean with a rock….

    It’s not all Steph’s problem, but with great wealth comes great responsibility. He earns more than twice as much as the next highest paid Knicks. He earns more than $19 million.
    Part of that is the Knicks fault…But Steph isn’t doing his part either…

  12. Adam F

    Frank O. – I understand the problem that Knicks fans have with Steph because he is a very good player with a horrendous contract. But I don’t think its Marbury’s fault that he is a max player. He was offered a Max contract and accepted it, as i imagine, any of us would. To factor that into his grade is unfair, because he doesn’t really control that. Few players, especially at 25 (when he took the contract) would take less money.

    Also, the only reason I brought up AI, is because for a while the two were compared, they were drafted in the same year, they are/were both prolific scorers (AI the better of the two), and while now I don’t think they are really spoke of in the same sentence, i bet marbury think of himself as a near equal to AI.

    However, unlike AI, or many other NBA gunners (including that one on the Lakers), Marbury has been real patient with the developing roster, and that is an important quality for a leader on this team, in the media mess that is New York.

    Let me just be clear, I am not saying AI and Steph are at all equally talented players, all I was comparing is their patience with developing rosters, and that Marbury’s willingness to let the team around him grow has been helpful.

    BTW, appreciate the “respectful exception” haha

  13. Z

    The Isiah Thomas/Stephon Marbury regime peaked the day Marbury declared himself the best PG in the NBA.

    I have no idea how it happened or why, but Isiah and Marbury’s first half season saw the Knicks improve, give hope to its fans, make the playoffs, and set the stage for a new era in Knick history.

    The 2004-2005 season started promising too, with the addition of an exciting Jamal Crawford. I think the team was leading the Atlantic early on.

    Then sometime around New Years Day of 2005, Marbury declared himself better than Kidd, Nash et al, the team lost 15 games in a row, and since that day the franchise has wallowed in frustrating oblivion.

    I have no idea if there is a logical correlation between Marbury’s statement and the fate of the franchise the past 3 years– if he put too much pressure on himself, if he motivated other teams to beat him, etc…; or if it is purely coincidental. Obviously his declaration did not lead to Larry Brown being hired or other detrimental moves by the front office, but it seems like such a landmark point on the success graph of the Isiah/Marbury administration.

    Marbury is a connundrum– just like the rest of the Knick roster. Theoretically he should be playing for competitive teams every year, but for some reason every team he’s on pretty much stinks, only to get better the day he leaves…

    It seemed that this past season he was okay with not being the “best PG in the NBA” and played the role as he’s probably better suited. Still, the end result was a missed-playoff– or, as a C grade indicates, more of the same…

  14. Frank O.

    I think,and I may be wrong, that shortly after declaring his greatness, he suffered some kind of injury. I forget what the injury was, but when he came back he was hampered for the rest of the run.

    I do think the guy plays hurt a lot. The Knicks do not have the luxury of having him sitting and resting. I think that also affects his outcome.
    My unhappiness with Marbury could turn on a dime should he start to play well and facilitate a solid Knick resurgence…by the way.

    I’ve just been frustrated by the guy from the outset. It may also be Isiah’s failing in elevating Marbury, which was done to build his confidence, and give Knicks fans hope. But it was a disservice to Marbury because he hasn’t been able to live up to the franchise moniker.

    My happy place would be Steph scoring 14 points and averaging 9 or so assists a game, and playing 30 minutes. That would be the best.

  15. Bernard King

    One of the “worst deals in Knick history”? Are you kidding? Okay, he wasnt going to be the franchise savior and deliver a championship. He isnt that guy. But look who we gave up in the deal. Howard Eisley, Maciej Lampe, and Charlie Ward (good riddance to all 3) and Antonio McDyess who evolved into a role player for Detroit. Thats the worst trade in Knicks history? Up there with the 6th pick in the draft for Juwon Oldham?

    My god people. Its one thing to make the (correct) point that Stephon isnt the superstar he was billed to be. But lets not get carried away saying it was the “worst deal in Knicks history”.

    At worst, we got a flawed near All-Star calibre player who made us more exciting. The failures of the past few years are not his fault. He has dealt with 3 different head coaches, horrible management and impossible expectations. He has always given his all for the team and never has given less than 100%.

    He may not be our messiah. But the dude wants to win. And he has been a class act.

    Watching Eisley and Ward run the point was like watching paint dry. Made me pine for Edmond Sherrod.

  16. Frank O.

    Sorry King.
    I’d rather have those contracts sunset and have the Knicks in shape to build, rather than being in cap hell forever…
    Wouldn’t it be nice to actually make a deal with a bonifide solid-to-great player, rather than making deals with questionable character guys who come with mega baggage?
    I’m tired of the Knicks dealing based on wishes rather than reality.
    Win now attitude in this situation means win never in most cases.

    And no one questions his effort.
    But would you pay an accountant to handle your taxes knowing he’s failed to meet expectations everywhere he has worked?
    Have his coaches sucked everywhere?

  17. Mike C

    I’ve been waiting to get to Marbury for a while now to bring up a point, but Z kinda took my thunder. Look at Marbury’s career, everywhere he goes, once he leaves the team gets exponentially better almost immediately upon his departure: Minnesota, New Jersey, Phoenix. I pointed this out to a friend of mine the day we got him and we joked hoping we could immediately trade him.

    That being said i remember watching on TV after the Knicks got him Stephon talking about his whole life all he ever wanted to do was play at the garden in a Knicks uniform. this guy loves this team, and for his sake i hope we find a spot for him till hes done (i just hope it doesn’t take very long) He wants the Knicks to be good, he loves this team, so much so hes blind to reality ( i think i heard say something about championship contenders after the Randolph deal) but hes willing to sacrifice whatever he has to for the team, and that helps me look past his shortcomings cause in reality, hes just not good enough, hes not that kind of player. He’d be great if we were a team on the brink of something, but were just not, and we probably wont be till eerily soon after his departure.

  18. Mike C

    the video someone posted earlier is the interview i was talking about i didn’t watch it till after the post.

  19. nate the skate

    How does Steph not get an A+ for future accomplishments? “I’m gonna average like 10 points, 12-13 dimes and two to three assists.” He can predict his future just like he predicts rain. BEST PG EVER!

  20. Z

    “I?d rather have those contracts sunset and have the Knicks in shape to build, rather than being in cap hell forever?”

    Frank O.– I agree with this completely, but I feel like it is a hindsight wish. At the time I liked the trade because it theoretically pumped life into a dead franchise. Knowing what I know now I’d like to take it back, but I can’t be too critical of the trade because of how both Isiah and Marbury rode into town and the team DID get better for that one half a season. I’m still not sure sure how it started to spiral south, but it did…

  21. Caleb

    re: worst deal ever? There are certainly much bigger busts (I can think of at least four on the roster right now) but when contracts that big are involved, the fallout is much bigger when it doesn’t work out.

    When you do a mega-deal, you narrow your options, and hope you can build around the big-money player (or beat long odds by getting multiple stars or semi-stars, late in the draft… we’re part way there).

    Anyway, I think these have been the landmark 21st century deals in Knickland. Four flops and an incomplete.

    – Trading for Glen Rice (instead of letting Ewing’s deal expire

    – Extending Allan Houston (added 2-3 years in the wilderness right there, through 2007, so I’d have to say this is the champion)

    – Marbury (extended the capped out period for 2 years, through 2009)

    – Curry (extended capped-out time through 2010)

    – Randolph (extended capped-out time through 2011).

    How about another poll… will Zach be worth it?

  22. Caleb

    p.s. Of those five landmark fiascos, some are a lot more defensible than others. Here’s how I’d rank them. “Best” means it was semi-reasonable at the time, and affected (ruined) fewer seasons. “Worst” means the opposite, duh.

    WORST
    1. Allan Houston

    2. Glen Rice

    3. Stephon Marbury (burned two seasons, not one)

    4. Eddie Curry (If the picks had been protected, I’d actually say it was a decent gamble…)

    5. Zach Randolph
    BEST (relatively speaking!)

    In retrospect, the bottom 3 (all Isiah’s) each have some logic to them. The top 2 were Jerome James-level idiocy.

  23. Z

    Honestly, I seem to be as conservative a cap commentator as they come around here, but I kind of give the Houston deal as much of a pass as the Marbury one. Of course it was the Houston contract that destroyed our salary situation for years, but I understood the reasoning at the time. Houston was our own free agent who had a fan base in NY and it was apparent that there were no other options to have a player of any significant caliber join the team. Layden definitely overpaid, but I’d rather over pay for our own guy who did deliver really good memories for Knick fans than for other team’s expendable parts.

    I’d put the Rice deal as the worst of the five Caleb mentions, with Curry #2.

    Trying not to sound negative at the dawn of (yet another) new era, I’ll simply say that I’m highly skeptical that the Randolph deal will look much different four years from now than the others.

  24. Caleb

    In fairness, I should say that Houston was a fine player, probably the best on this list. But by the time we re-signed him, he was already in decline, and – if I remember right – no other team was even allowed to offer a $60 million contract; we gave $100.

    Then again, I don’t remember whether the $60 vs. 100 difference really made a difference in the cap flexibility.

    p.s. does anyone else think we would have won a title in 1995-98 if we had signed Reggie Miller inside of Allan, the first time?

  25. Z

    I think the Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley, Clarence Weatherspoon, and Marcus Camby deals were all worse blemishes on the Layden regime than the Houston one. The guy was doling out bad contracts right and left, but at least Houston (an acknowledged Eddy Curry type with regard to his flaws) already had #20 jerseys for sale at Gerry Cosby’s.

    Miller never intended to sign with the Knicks. He used us for leverage. So did Webber. Other would have too, if we had salary cap flexibility to be used against us…

  26. Caleb

    Nah, Reggie would have taken a Knicks offer in a heartbeat. He was a Garden guy, and even though he was still in his prime he and ended up taking less than Houston got. still, tough call… he and Houston were pretty similar, and Reggie was older so Houston was better on the back end of the deal. Still, in that window while Ewing was still a top-level player, I would have gone for Reggie.

    All those deals you mention were awful, and you could sneak the Camby/Nene-Wilcox for McDyess onto the top-5 list… but they were all in Allan Houston’s shadow of Allan Houston. Even if we kept Camby, I think the lineup would have been(I’m sure you’ll correct me if wrong…)
    F Sprewell
    F Camby
    C Nene (or Chris Wilcox, maybe)
    G Houston
    G Ward

    … and no $$ flexibility until 2007. Obviously it’s better than what we ended up with, but I don’t think that group would have gotten past the second round of the playoffs, if it got that far. A long slow decline. Maybe if we picked up a draft sleeper. Ah, what if…

  27. Z

    Yeah– that’s not really a “win now” lineup, but Camby, Nene, Wilcox, and Houston’s expiring pact could have made for an interesting team in 2006.

  28. Frank O.

    Z, Reggie Miller would have been better than Houston for a few reasons:
    Reggie was more durable; and
    Reggie wouldn’t have been killing the Knicks like he did if he were in blue and orange. In some ways, that has been a stroke of genius of the Yankees. They learned to take the war into the board room and worked to deny other teams players that could hurt them. Reggie was one of those players that hurt the Knicks.
    The Houston deal is defensible, however, given how good he was for the Knicks early on. It was mostly his physical breakdown in hindsight that made that a bad deal.
    Again, Rice was a role player. His overall impact on the team was not as great as Marbury’s, who not only got max salary, but also was the primary guy on offense. He ran the team.
    Rice found a place somewhere 15 feet and out and waited for the ball to find him.
    Anyway, I don’t think Houston was such a bad contract at the time: he was a winner and a good team guy.
    Caleb, Rice’s impact wasn’t as great as Marbury’s.
    So, I’m unconvinced. Marbury was the worst because he’s been a proven loser and malcontent his entire career before we got him.

    And I hope he turns it around this season because we’re stuck with him…

  29. Frank O.

    This just in…
    Great…

    LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) ? New York Knicks player Randolph Morris was arrested in Lexington early Tuesday and charged with reckless driving, a court official said.

    Morris, a former center for Kentucky, signed with the Knicks in March, just days after playing for Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.

    He was arrested by Lexington police at 3:10 a.m. ET, District Court Deputy Clerk Glenda Walls said. He was released on a $100 bond, but had a court appearance scheduled Tuesday afternoon, she said.

    The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Morris declared for the 2005 draft but was not chosen. That meant when he returned to Kentucky he was a free agent.

  30. Z

    Caleb and Frank O., re: Reggie Miller– Reggie is a hall of famer. Allen Houston is not. Hindsight says the better move would have been to sign Miller. If Reggie really wanted to be a Knick, though, I think he would have been. The reason he signed for less than Houston is that when Houston signed he lost leverage with the Pacers.

    I don’t think a Ewing-Miller combo would have been too much different than what we got out of Houston. He wouldn’t have retired injured, but the wins and losses would have equaled out. Maybe we would have gone to the finals in ’97. Probably not in ’99.

    In hindsight Reggie was more durable. Not so in the summer of 1996. In hindsight the Houston extension hurt the team more than it helped it. I feel that to judge these deals fairly I have to put myself back to how I felt about them at the time. I didn’t like the price Houston came at, but at the same time I didn’t want him to go.

    I am more critical of the more recent salary moves made by Isiah because it became apparent to me AFTER the Houston and Marbury moves that rebuilding AND taking on long term contracts was a failed strategy. For this reason I am most skeptical of the Randolph deal.

    “Reggie wouldn?t have been killing the Knicks like he did if he were in blue and orange. In some ways, that has been a stroke of genius of the Yankees.”

    I don’t think this is genius of the Yankees. Baseball, without a salary cap, makes this strategy possible, but still not effective. It pretty much creates an arms race that neither the Yanks or the Sox can win. They beat each other up and max out their roster with riff raff while lower budget teams like the Angels, Marlins, and Diamondbacks ultimately beat them in the playoffs.

  31. Z

    “Maybe we would have gone to the finals in ?97″

    I meant Eastern Conference Finals… (something tells me Jordan would have found a way to beat Reggie as a Pacer or a Knick).

  32. Samaki

    I don?t really have much to say other than what has already been said.

    I did want to respond to two things though. First off, you must start Curry and Randolph. No question about it. I do not care how valuable Lee is, Randolph is 25 year old, proven scorer and rebounder in the Western Conference. Lee will somehow find minutes, just like he did last year, and he will do what must be done to continue his level of play.

    Curry and Randolph must work together and play together on the court in order for the Knicks to win. Last year I vaguely remember Lee and Curry playing on the court at the same time, with basically the same surrounding squad, and what were the results? Losing season, no playoffs.

    Yes I know Lee go hurt, but, come on guys.. Lee is not a starting playoff PF for any of the 8 playoff teams in the West last season, and one could argue the same thing for the 8 Eastern playoff teams. He is a superb, stellar 6th man, but that is as far as it goes.

    Secondly, iyamwutiam said: ?It is a long season – and in 82 games – it may be possible to get most of the players 20 -25 minutes a game and keep the group as a whole fresh and play attacking ball.?

    What did we see last season after the suspensions from the brawl against Denver? People were allowed (or had to) play 30+ minutes, due to the Knicks missing up to 5 guys at once. Everyone continually said that because guys were allowed to play for many more minutes than they normally would, the Knicks prospered. I say Isiah forget the money issues, and forget how much each guy is making, forget the ego ? Come up with an 8-9 man rotation, and stick with it. All the great teams have already done so.

    My idea?

    C: Curry
    PF: Randolph
    SF: Richardson
    SG: Crawford
    PG: Marbury
    6th: Lee
    7th: Balkman
    8th: Robinson
    9th: Collins

    While using the next three guys as specialty guys (either shooters/defense[?])
    10th: Rose*
    11th: Chandler
    12th: Nichols

    *Yes I know he is old and goes against everything Isiah is trying to do with a Young squad, but you know what? He is a brilliant basketball player and plays some great defense, doesnt demand the ball.

    13th: Morris
    14th: Jeffries
    15th: Dickau

  33. Adam F

    Samaki – Statistically speaking (and I happen to be one of the less statistic-savvy people on this board) Rose was actually the Knicks’ worst defender, and I think his reputation far exceeds his diminished ability on the defensive end. I would much rather have Morris as one of those 10-12 guys.

    However, I do agree with giving fewer guys more minutes, rather than more guys fewer minutes. I think that was one of – dare i utter his name – LB’s biggest faults was the lack of game-to-game consistency he allowed by having 42 different starting lineups, and not allowing guys to learn to expect a certain number of minutes. Also, when fewer players play more minutes they tend to build an on-court bond that helps them play together (like crawford and curry last year).

    Finally, in terms of David Lee, maybe this is just me finally being convinced by a lot of the guys on this board, but you seem to have vastly underrated him in your post. However, i do agree that he should come off the bench because he is accustomed to and has thrived in that role. I think we can definately find him the 35 minutes a game everyone here is clamoring for, by sticking him at SF for 8-10 minutes. That doesnt necessarily cut out Balkman’s minutes because he can play at SG here and there, I think the BASIC rotation should be (appx. minutes in parenthesis):

    C/PF – Curry (34), Randolph (34), Lee (28)
    SF – Balkman (28), Lee (7), Q (13)
    SG/PG – Steph (34), Q (17), Crawford (30), Nate (15)

    Obviously, Nichols (if not in Europe), Chandler, and Collins, all deserve should get some PT here and there (and will when Q gets hurt). Also we NEED to play Morris, because he won’t resign with us, if he doesn’t think he can get an opportunity here.

  34. Samaki

    Problem is, Lee is an energy guy, like Balkman. If you remember early last season – Remember when Isiah had literally two lineups? he would start the first quarter with:
    Marbury
    Francis
    Richardson
    Frye
    Curry

    And with two minutes left in the 1st quarter, he would sub in: Robinson, Crawford, (Leave Richardson out there or bring in Rose or someone) Lee and Balkman … basically, after the knicks went down by 20, he would send in the second unit, and they would bring us back to within single digits.

    If Isiah were planning to do something like that, I woudl have no problem having Balkman and Lee take over C and PF with 2 minutes to go in the 1st quarter.

    Now, however, that cannot be the case.

    Look, I love Lee as much as anybody, but he is a energy guy. Why is he so amazing? Yes, he is very talented. Isiah utilizes him – dare I say – perfectly. With 4 or 5 minutes to go i nthe first quarter, and another sub-par performance by Channig Frye, Lee would come into the game while the other teams starters were still on the court. At this point, most of the players were fatigued in the other team, meanign Lee, who ALREADY came in with an above average amount of energy, would dominate the boards. he just wanted it more, and had more energy to get the ball.

    If he was ever to start I feel as though he would lose that advantage – which is why starting Curry and Randolph is good for the Knicks at this point.

  35. Miami Knicks Fan

    Marbury’s season was just like the Knicks – impossible to evaluate without breaking it down.

    The Grade – C+, is fair taking the entire season into account; however, it does not do justice to the current state of Marbury’s game nor to an evaluation of the Knicks that bears on the upcoming season.

    For both the Knicks and Marbury – 06-07 was 3 seasons rolled into 1. First was an utter debacle – Francis and Marbury played the worst basketball of their careers on a consistent basis, Eddy Curry totally floundered on offense and defense, and the team was lost. Second, after the Denver brawl, Marbury snapped out of his funk, played very well as did Curry and the rest of the team, and they were above .500 for the next few months and on their way to the playoffs. Third, injuries devasted the squad and they fell out of the playoff picture.

    Now I watched almost all the games, so I know day in day out how these guys played, including the peaks and valleys. For instance, do you remember that for the first month – Curry played awful basketball? I do. Did that effect his grade on this website?

    The point is, Marbury’s stats, offensive & defensive, for the season – are totally misleading and don’t explain anything.

    Marbury was AWFUL, as were the rest of the Knicks, on defense, for the first month of the season. However, as the season wore on, there is no question, a switch was flipped and Marbury became a dominant (yes, dominant) player on the defensive end. I don’t care what anyone here says, I watched the games myself, and besides getting torched by Rip in a game that he himself had 40 points +, Marbury’s defense after the first month was AWESOME. Don’t forget – Marbury’s d stats are skewed by several nights of playing d while injured, as a he played hurt quite a few times.

  36. Frank

    Adam F — I think you should email this minute breakdown to Isiah. I think it’s just about perfect. Best parts? No Jared Jefferies and his airballs from 2 feet. No Jerome James. No Malik Rose, who I really think he is just horrible. I think Chandler plays in about 30 games and average 5 min during those 30. Collins and Nate should split those 15 minutes.

  37. Owen

    “basically, after the knicks went down by 20, he would send in the second unit, and they would bring us back to within single digits.”

    Yes, exactly. Perhaps instead of waiting until we are down 20, maybe Lee and Balkman just should start. That way we can actually get the lead and maximize our chance of winning.

    “Look, I love Lee as much as anybody, but he is a energy guy. Why is he so amazing? Yes, he is very talented. Isiah utilizes him – dare I say – perfectly.”

    This is a rote response at this point. First of all, you don’t love Lee as much as anybody. Second, the reason he is amazing is because he had the best rebounding rate and second best shooting efficiency in the ENTIRE NBA last year, while passing well, committing few turnovers, and playing above average though not exceptional defense. A cursory inspection of 82games reveals that everuone’s favorite “energy guy” was light years better than every Knick in on court-off court, suggesting he is our best player, and therefore ought to play more than those players who aren’t quite as talented.

  38. Brian M

    Just to nitpick, Lee didn’t post the best rebound rate last season (assuming you’re referring to the stat estimating what % of available rebounds a player grabbed). Reggie Evans and Mutombo were both better, while Tyson Chandler’s rebound rate was basically neck and neck with Lee’s.

    But yeah, Lee is undervalued by fans who think of him as “just” a quality energy guy. What makes him transcend your typical highly effective energy guy prototype is that he produces at an absolutely elite level in two areas, rebounding and scoring efficiency as measured by true shooting %, while being solid if not spectacular in other respects. He is a role player, true, but a role player par excellence. Compare and contrast to say Curry, who is at an elite level in only one facet of the game (scoring efficiently in the post) and has several significant weaknesses to his game compared to other players of his type (turnovers, rebounding, shot blocking).

  39. Z

    How does every thread turn into a defense of David Lee’s wonderfulness? Can’ there be a running sidebar that lists his stats for all to see all the time? That way Owen doesn’t need to recite them each week… :)

    “Remember when Isiah had literally two lineups? he would start the first quarter with:
    Marbury
    Francis
    Richardson
    Frye
    Curry”

    Funny– I remember Jerome James as the starting center (it’s true, I got to the games on time…)

  40. iyamwutiam

    Bernard I agree with your points. Frank O – I think it is a major exaggeration to say the worst deal in history – how about the Marcus Camby trade and so many others. Mike C- you have gotten to be kidding me – do you KNOW what the word exponentially means!?!? Z- I do agree that the primary motive of the trade was to get a near all star player who would generate excitement (fill seats)- he certainly was never billed as the ‘saviour’ – there was STILL a lot of work to do with the knicks when he got here – a lot of work- and i agree with yo about all those bad deals – particularly Shandon Anderson, Eisley- there were SO many payed players of less than near all star caliber on the knicks!!

    i do agree (not with the racist – though it may be true :P)- but Marbury as a starter can not or should not get such a low grade- a B- is fair IMHO.

    I think Marbury has been an exceptional professional – especially when thinks of all the differing line ups. I don’t know why people foget -that he has been to the playoffs with every team he has been on. I also think it is pointless to keep rehashing the cap numbers and talking about 2009-2011. In terms of Curry and Randolph you are talking about guys who are 25!! Which is entirely different from signing say Shaq to a five year deal at 34!! Marnury IS leaving the Knicks maybe as soon as end of next year – because if Theo Ratliffe’s 11 Millon dollar expiring contract was so juicey – then Marbury’s is defintiely even more so.
    All of the people loving the stats on Lee – I am not disagreeing per se – but you can’t compare him with a starter- he definitely does not (yet) belong in the special category of guys like Ginobli.

    I mean – he rised his defene, raised his offense and raised his assists- also played hurt and was a solid glue guy- so again C+ is low.

    Anyway – LOVE THIS BOARD and all the contributors :)

  41. Frank O.

    Owen and David,sittin’ in a tree
    k-i-s-s-i-n-g…

    My favorite line?
    “First of all, you don?t love Lee as much as anybody.”

    “…Stop pretending…I love him more, you hussy…!”
    :)
    Sorry. Owen’s got some serious man-love going.
    Give it up, man. Unrequited love is just tragic.
    :)

  42. Brian Cronin

    The comments for every entry seem to turn into “Defend David Lee” because people make comments seemingly every entry like, “David Lee is okay and all, but he’s not really THAT good.”

    If people just accepted that David Lee is really good, all would be right with the world.

  43. Mike C

    yes, i do know what exponentially means. i don’t remember NJ being very good before/during Marbury and after they got rid of him i think they made it to the finals, twice if I’m not mistaken, the T’wolves with Marbury were an exciting young team and thats about it, and after Marbury left KG became the monster everyone was waiting for him to be and they were spoken of in the same breath as the Kings, the Spurs etc. Phoenix had Marbury for a hot minute and soon aftetr getting rid of him they became the team we see today. I’m not saying its because of Marbury (i didn’t offer a single stat) I was just pointing out that it was kinda funny is all.

    I’ll concede that it was maybe just an exponent of 2, and I’ll admit that I’m wrong if you can prove that any of these teams were better with Marbury on them, than after he left.

  44. Mike C

    I’m gonna say this, because i have a feeling someone else i gonna say it, I said an exponentially better team, not an exponentially better record (which is impossible unless they won 9 or less games the season before)

  45. Josh

    If you want to talk worst deals–not just financially speaking or in terms of talent, but just trade for trades sake–you HAVE to mention the Van-Horn, Sprewell did. Nothing could have taken the ‘knicks’ out of the knicks more.

    David Lee is the ‘knicks’. Balkman is the ‘knicks.’ They have that intangible allure because everyone loves them, and that’s something important. When they go out and play, they play hard, and fans notice this and like it. it feeds off each other. If Lee shaved his head, worked the fuck out in the weight room, he’s be starting material on ANY championship-seeking team.

  46. Kevin

    Bernard King,

    A not so minor point with regard to the Marbury trade – the Knicks gave up two #1s. The first turned into Kirk Snyder (but would have been a higer pick if the Knicks didn’t make trade) and the second is protected through 2009 and then unprotected in 2010 (IIRC).

    I still agree that its not the worst trade in Knick history.

  47. Bernard King

    Frank, I dont disagree with saying it wasnt a good trade. Im just saying you need to be careful when you make grand statements like “one of the worst trades ever”. Ive been a die hard Knick fan since 1975 and let me tell you, we have had some doozies.

    Now for sure, Phoenix’ goal was to dump a bad contract and use the cap space to get better. they did that. So from that standpoint its a bad deal because Steph didnt take us to the next level.

    But while its a deal you can certainly criticize and say “wasnt a good deal” lets look at the deals in Knicks history that were truly the “worst deals ever” (anyone remember Scotty Stirling?).

    In recent memory though:

    1. You could argue the deal for McDyess was one of the worst ever. Marcus Camby nd a number one pick (Nene Hilario)? My god.

    2. Steve Francis trade. Completely indefensible on any level. Just no rhyme or reason for it. Most damaging to me is that by trading Ariza, you needed to draft Balkman (fine) but probably gave up Rajon Rondo who could truly be a PG of the future and would fit in great with the Knicks. Way more upside than Collins IMO.

    3. Ewing trade. Beginning of the cap decimation. You let Ewing retire a Knick and retire his contract and the Knicks could have had tons of flexibility. They panicked and it ended up killing the team for the next 10 years (or so).

    As far as WAY more damaging idiotic deals of the past go:

    1. How about trading the 5th pick in the 1987 draft to Seattle for (I think Juwan Oldham). Remember Juwan Oldham? Or maybe it was Gerald Henderson. Yeah, that pick was Scottie Pippen. still think trading for Marbury was the worst deal ever? even more hilarious is that Seattle traded the pick to the Bulls for Olden Polynice (and then drafted Derrick Mckey who was pretty good with Reggie Miller still on the board).

    2. Stirling also made a brilliant trade sending Darrell Walker to Denver for the 8th pick in the 1987 draft (good). Then the Knicks inexplicably traded that pick to Pheonix (I forget for what, but it wasnt much). Pheonix traded that pick to Chicago and the Chicago used that pick to draft Olden Polynice and then send him to Seattle for Pippen. Who was still on that board? Yep, Reggie Miller.

    We got Mark Jackson in the 17th round that year.

    So basically, if we had a competent GM, our squad would have looked like this:

    C – Ewing
    PF – Oakley
    SF – Pippen
    SG – Reggie Miller
    PG – Mark Jackson

    I think we may have contended for a championship or 3 with that squad.

    Lets not even consider putting the Marbury deal in that category of incompetence. Scotty Stirling deserves his own special page in Knick GM incompetence history.

    I will say this though: if you are going to destroy your cap space for a player it better be a guy that can take you to the next level. As much as I like and admire Marbury, he hasnt done it. So lets all agree it wasnt a good trade.

    But it all started with the Ewing deal and devolved from there.

  48. thefatkid

    The Francis trade really wasn’t a bad deal. The Knicks gave up an expiring contract and Trevor Ariza for an All-Star. That’s a worthwhile gamble on any level, even if you think Ariza is a future All-Star (which he clearly never has been/will be).

    The McDyess deal made no sense because it left the Knicks with no center and meant acquiring a chronically injured player. And I don’t even need to go into the Ewing deal, that was just horrible.

    But the Francis deal and the Marbury deal before it were both good trades. You’re talking about dealing a bunch of junk for All-Star guys. Realize that when the Marbury trade went down, Knick fans were saying it was terrible because Maciej Lampe was going to be a spectacular player. Likewise, we heard the same thing with the Francis deal. And Lampe is somewhere in outer Mongolia now while Ariza is a minor role player.

    The Francis trade led to acquiring Randolph for the godawful Channing Frye and what was left of Francis’ contract. Without that deal, the Knicks are stuck with Frye at PF. And for what benefit? To save Cablevision a few pennies? Please.

  49. retropkid

    Bottom line: Starbury doesn’t win. Ask yourself why that is….make all the excuses, do all the evaluation you want…but there is no evidence he can take his team to the top, or even near it. Case closed.

  50. ben B

    josh i kno u said it a while ago, but lee is CURRENTLY startin material on a finals team. look at cleveland for example. if i was them i’d start lee over gooden, or at very least have him play more at the power forward. i’d have him start on the bulls. i’d have him start on the new celtics. i mite not hav him start on suns or dallas or them, but he would play alot

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