Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part IV

Part I here.
Part II here.
Part III here.


During the summer it was assumed that both Stephon Marbury and Zach Randolph would be playing for other teams once the season started. Yet somehow both managed to stay on the New York roster. Randolph was twice mentioned in trade talks, but both times it seemed that the other party wanted too much to take his contract off New York’s hands. Unable to move Randolph, it was thought that the Knicks would play him only to keep his trade value high.

But a funny thing happened on the way to salary cap freedom, Randolph has begun to fit into D’Antoni’s system. He has had the third most minutes in preseason, and was second in points per game. Like Crawford, Zach was fond of caressing the ball and pounding it into the hardwood for 10 seconds before shooting it. I thought that and Randolph’s lackadaisical running of the floor would make him a poor fit in the Knicks’ new offense. However Randolph has adapted his play and his efficiency in preseason has improved (TS%: 57.2%, eFG%: 53.9%).

The Knicks are still looking to move Randolph because he doesn’t fit into their long term plans. A good season (or half season) from Zach would benefit the team not just on the court, but in front office negotiations as well. As long as Randolph gives the same effort throughout the season that he has in preseason, and avoids any off the court incidents the Knicks should be able to move him to a team looking for scoring and rebounding. Already there are rumors that some teams are interested in acquiring him, and the season hasn’t even begun yet.

Randolph and Marbury weren’t the only two Knicks expecting to change zip codes. David Lee’s name was often named in trade talks, giving WOW loving Knick fans summer nightmares. It wasn’t that Walsh wanted to move Lee, but rather other teams saw him as the Knicks most valuable player. Lee’s skill set allows him to fit on just about every NBA team and make a positive contribution, hence why so many teams are interested in acquiring him.

A fan favorite, Lee doesn’t have many weaknesses on the offensive end. He’s great at finishing around the hoop, and he’s been able to slowly expand his repertoire away from the hoop. While Lee doesn’t have the bevy of moves that Zach Randolph does, he’s able to drive to the hoop from the mid post and finish with a handful of different moves. Additionally his jumpshot has come a long way since his rookie year, as Lee hit 40.5% from outside (compare to Randolph’s 38.9%). Critics of Lee’s low volume scoring (9.4 FGA/36) should note that his turnovers are low (1.5 TO/36) and his shooting percentages are through the roof (career: TS%: 62.1%, eFG%: 57.5).

Unfortunately Lee’s inspired play doesn’t translate to the other end of the floor. His blocked shots (0.4 BLK/36) and steals (0.8 STL/36) are low, and his man to man defense is suspect. Lee’s only contribution to defense is his tenacious rebounding (11.1 REB/36). If Lee were above average in any defensive aspect, he’d be an All Star. His mediocre defense will keep him on the caliber of NBA starter, albeit a very good one.

Liked it? Take a second to support Mike Kurylo on Patreon!

Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

24 thoughts to “Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part IV”

  1. Sonuva@#$3 PEJ just got cut. I admit he’s raw, but come on. Do we really need that many guards on the team?

  2. Do we need that many guys who can’t play, on the team?

    Could see this one coming a mile away. They signed Roberson to a guaranteed deal this summer – obviously they think he can play.

  3. Do we need that many guys who can’t play, on the team?
    Could see this one coming a mile away. They signed Roberson to a guaranteed deal this summer – obviously they think he can play.

    Thinking a bit clearer now, I realize I shouldn’t be blaming Roberson. He supposedly provides the outside shooting we need, and I don’t have a problem with keeping him, for now. I guess I just lashed out at the first name I saw in addition to PEJ’s. But I agree, we have too many proven deadbeats on the bench, so I hope we can dump those other players for something.

  4. I would’ve much rather seen Malik Rose or Jerome James evaporate than PEJ, but who would have seriously thought Walsh would pull the trigger on either one of them? I understand his philosophy about not buying out/cutting players with sizable, guaranteed contracts, however I simply don’t agree with it in either of their cases, because I do not foresee either of their contracts being willingly taken on by another team without far too much talented youth being given up by our side as sweetener. Who knows. Hopefully I will be proven wrong and one of/both of them will be involved in a deal at some point–one that is not utterly detrimental. It’s a shame they still warm the pine while PEJ cannot. Financial responsibility is a bitch.

  5. Ted – I believe in drafting the better talent. I just don’t think there was any reason to think that Gallinari was a better talent than a lot of the guys drafted later than him. Maybe the best talent with a three point shot, or the best talent who was a “D’Antoni guy.”

    His Italian league stats weren’t as good as Bargnani’s, who was one of the worst players in the NBA last year. His euroleague stats were nothing special. It smacked of a glamour pick to me, a way to accentuate D’Antoni’s arrival in New York, his fresh way of looking at things, etc etc.

    I think all the players were risks after the Love, Rose, and Beasly trio. My approach would have beeen to take a risk at a position where we have a gaping hole to fill, rather than a position where we already have two very solid prospects and two veterans, and which we hope to fill with Lebron in a few years.

    I would have been much happier if we had ended up with say, Speights and Joey Dorsey. But of course, they don’t fit into the D”Antoni system.

    And that is where my problem lies I think. I like how D’Antoni makes me feel about the team, but that is basically just saying I like the fact he isn’t Isiah. As for the rest of it, i.e. the idea that he has reinvented basketball, or has the ability to perform some sort of miracle by telling his players to shoot a lot, I don’t know, I am not buying. Specifically, this whole idea that you don’t need a center on a basketball team if you are spreadng the floor with shooters and running in transition. It just strikes me as alchemy.

    It worked in Phoenix because he had three of the top ten players in the league. Yes, you can play without a legitimate center when your small forward and power forward are Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire. But how that will work here in New York, I don’t know.

    I am happy Isiah is gone (though still with us thankfully) and that is a huge accomplishment. And I think Duhon was a solid addition. But other than that, I don’t think its been a great offseason.

    Now, somebody tell me, should I trade Dalembert and Fernandez for Lee and Bayless?

  6. The biggest problem with keeping Roberson and cutting PEJ is that we have an overabundance of healthy guards that can play major minutes and are all better than Roberson but we have very few frontcourt players that are not fighting injuries.

    Q is one bump away from missing major time with his back, Jeffries is out and seems injury prone, Gallinari and Chandler are both returning from injuries, Curry and James are out of shape so that only leaves three froncourt players players with no injury question marks Lee, Rose and Randolph as opposed to five backcourt players with no injury question marks.

    The chance this team will need another 3/4 is much greater than the chance this team will need another 1/2.

    As for upside I do not believe either will ever be more than marginal NBA players. Roberson is an undersized SG without tremendous athletic ability, he projects to be a career end of bencher at best. As for PEJ he is 24 and still really raw. If he was 19 then you could hold out hope for him to develop but he is not. He is three years older than Chandler. There are much better young athletic SF prospects than PEJ.

    Neither is a big loss but we need to sign another forward at least until Jeffries returns. I could see depth becoming a problem and I do not want to see anymore 4 guard lineups.

  7. Isiah isn’t gone. Isiah was talking to Walsh about players just recently. And don’t forget Isiah is the one who scouted and approved the drafting of Gallinari.

    I understand the 2010, plan but I still hate this move! Hopefully, they will announce that Ewing is going to the D League and they can sign him next year. If not, f the Knicks. I hate them.

  8. The draft I would have liked would have been trading down to pick up another pick and taking Speights and Chalmers. Then we would not have had to pick up Duhon and theoretically we could have targeted a better long term piece like Childress or JR Smith. Oh well I can dream.

    As for us now I am hoping Gallinari becomes a solid NBA player because I think solid is about where his upside rests. I could easily see him becoming an average defender and averaging 17 pts 8 rebs and 3 asts with average efficiency in a couple of years, I could also see him becoming a bad defender, averaging 17 pts 6 rebs 3 asts with poor efficiency as well. What I cannot see is him becoming a great defender, great rebounder or becoming a high volume, high efficiency scorer, maybe a high efficiency low volume scorer or an average efficiency medium volume scorer but never both high efficiency and high volume.

  9. Ewing was a marginal player. I’m not going to get all bent out of shape given the problems this roster has.
    I mean, Richardson is still a starter on this team.
    Crawford is still a starter on this team.
    James is still on the bench.
    Marbury is still a Knicks player.


  10. i’m disappointed we kept failed guard roberson over rookie athlete pat ewing. when you throw in the deserved nepotism, keeping ewing should’ve been a no-brainer.

  11. they could have at least threw the fans a bone and kept pej, especially being that this season already looks like a wash! jerome james does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! NOTHING ! NOTHING! …… NOTHING! Give him his money and let him walk, dolan has given away more money than that and im sure he wont miss it. That would have been a nice give back to the knick fans AND to Big Pat, who this organization has for whatever reason failed to show any appropriate appreciation to…imo…

  12. I agree with Capt. Merlin. I would much rather see James or Rose cut and PEJ kept on. I say that not because of some great love of PEJ or his potential; I say that because I REALLY WANT JAMES GONE!!
    Having said that, PEJ was not going to help the team much this year. But at least i could look at him on the bench and say: “Awwww, little Patrick Ewing. Isnt he cute sitting there at the end of bench, never playing, cheering for the actual players. Why if he could just give out some towels it would be the 90’s all over again.” Instead, I have to look at James and say “God, what a waste of space. Is he sitting on two bench seats? Oh my God, it’s THREE bench seats!”

    Chances are that Gallo and Ill Will will help us forget all about PEJ. Anybody else excited about opening night. I just hope Nate Robinson does not address the crowd the way he did before the start of last season. It struck me as an odd move having a third year player, a reserve at that, speaking for the team. It really showed the lack of leadership on the team, and served as an ill omen for the season.

    Who would you folks like to see address the crowd as the Knicks’ rep this year?

  13. Who would you folks like to see address the crowd as the Knicks’ rep this year?

    I should say what KNICK would you like to see address the crowd. I dont need a wise guy like my buddy TDM answering with “Lebron James.”

  14. Ben R,

    I think that Danilo has the POTENTIAL to be high-volume/high-efficiency, and plan to post some stats later this week for Euroleague-to-NBA players to put him in context.
    His efficiency numbers aren’t bad (55.7% TS% in Euroleague), and you have to remember that he was basically put in a Kevin Durant situation in the Euroleague: a 19 year old rookie asked to lead a bad team. One thing that really sticks out about him is his ability to get to the line. Scoring is about the only area where he has the chance to develop into a special player, of course, and his rebound and block numbers are pretty weak even for a 3. I think the Kukoc comparisons are serious overkill, but he should be a good playmaker and passer for a forward.
    Anyway, I want to look at the numbers a little closer and post my thoughts later. I did some similar research around the time of the draft, focusing a lot on Pau as I remember since he was another young star. Some players that young improve their outside shooting rapidly while others never improve, I suppose the answer to why is more evident in the tape than the stats (although lower level stats would probably help).
    I don’t see much about Danilo that screams PF, so maybe he is a tweener, but we’ll see how he develops I guess.


    Agree with most of what you said about the draft, except that I wouldn’t have really cared about a gapping hole. I would have taken whoever I thought was the best prospect (and obviously would have had a lot more information to make that decision were I the Knicks’ GM). I think Dorsey could play for D’Antoni and probably Speights too. If you’re a good player–and not overweight/slow as molasses–I think you should be able to play in the wide open offense, although I suppose it suites some players more than others.

    I don’t know if quick shots necessarily help an offense, but I’m a big fan of motion. The Suns were a 60 win team without a center because they had 3 great players and some other good ones, but I think the Knicks can be decent without a center because they have decent players (very broadly speaking).
    Defensively, they’re going to stink. But otherwise I don’t think they’ll really miss a legit center: Lee and Randolph (and maybe Chandler, if preseason’s an indication) rebound like most centers and if they’re scoring efficiently and Curry’s hanging around the edge of the rotation the Knicks could be ok if they really play like a team on offense (or we can celebrate a high lottery pick…).
    I realize WOW placed a huge value on bigmen, which makes logical sense given their scarcity and potential contributions on both sides of the ball. But I’d be interested to hear more of your reasoning behind needing a center to be good. Most teams around the NBA are functioning with a PF or weak C at the 5. Of the top 10 offenses, only Orlando had a really strong “true” center (with Andrew Bynum missing half the season). The Warriors, Hornets, Celts, and Mavs have low-usage/high efficiency Cs, a lot like David Lee in that regard. Okur had the lowest eFG% of Utah’s starters, and Toronto played Bargnani and Nesterovic a combined 43 mpg for 70+ games each. Wallace/McDyess/Maxiell got the lions share of minutes at the 5 for Detroit.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a Randolph/Lee frontcourt as a long-term solution, or anything more than decent in the short-term.

  15. Ted – That’s very interesting about Gallinari. Amazing that he posted a ts% that high with a fg% that low. Will look forward to reading your analysis.

    RE Centers – The Knicks were 10th in offensive rebounding, thanks mostly to Lee and Randolph, but only 21st in the league in defensive rebounding. I think that is an issue. I don’t know who the centers are in the league, and who are the power forwards. I don’t really understand why Garnett for instance is a Power Forward and Perkins is a Center. Why Oberto is a center and Duncan is a PF. Why Okur is C and Boozer a PF, when Okur is the one shooting threes. Is Gasol not a center? Really? Bynum is the prototype, but I think Gasol fits the mold as well. Most of the top offensive teams had an effective high usage big man. Detroit, New Orleans, and Golden State are the exceptions. Chandler led the league in offensive rebounds. Biedrins was 8th. And they both converted what opportunities they took extremely efficiently. Detroit had the sixth best offense despite being 15th in efg and 13th in ft/fg. The strength of their offense was low turnovers (t-3rd) and offensive rebounding (6th), which definitely wasn’t coming from the perimeter.

    My point is that I think that Walshtoni’s approach of acquiring talent that “fits” the 7SOL system is a bit misplaced. So far, just with small moves, with Balkman, Gallinari, Roberson, PEJ, etc there is a definite trend and I don’t like it. The Duhon acquisition I do like and cuts against the grain, but also confirms a perimeter orientation.

    I generally don’t think systems matter as much as people think. Talent is what really matters. You could have had a top five offense with Marion, Stoudemire, Nash, and Barbosa etc running any system. People forget this, but three years before arriving in Phoenix, Nash was the point guard on the most efficient offense of all time. The Mavericks were the best offense in the league three years in a row with him a the helm. Nash has played on offenses ranked so in the past eight years, 4 1 1 1 1 2 1 2.

    Personally, at this point I would trade Gallinari for Chuck Hayes or Carl Landry right now in a heartbeat. Not that the Rockets would do that trade. What can I say? I grew up in the nineties, watching the greatest defenses of all time dominate in the Garden. To me, trying to pull of the 7SOL offense when you dont have any Hueys (high usage high efficieny players), you have only one Louiey (Low usage high efficiency player), and you have a boatload of, I don’t know, Hules (high usage low efficiency player) well it’s even stranger than the acronyms I am trying to coin.

    Scoring is overvalued in this league. That has the been the problem with the Knicks for the past five years. We have overvalued High Usage Low Efficiency Scorers. I think the Knicks need to go in the opposite direction. I want them to exploit scoring bias by collecting low priced, low usage talent that we can assemble around Lebron if and when he arrives. That has been my position pretty consistently.

    The only thing i can see us doing for the next three years is to work to try to create a team similar to the one Philly assembled around Iverson. And then add a real superstar. You can win that way. And winning is what counts. Anyway….

  16. Cutting Ewing Jr., a young player with potential upside AND public relations value, is an Isiah Thomas move. Any of the worthless, overpaid vets should have been cleared out in favor of a youth movement. Isiah made the same mistake with Nichols last year. Why release an unknown entity, especially when the players we keep we already know suck! Why fire Isiah at all if we replace him with a guy that makes all the same mistakes? We fire Isiah and we are left with pretty much the exact same lineup as last October?! What’s wrong with this franchise?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  17. Ewing Jr doesnt have upside. It was a nice story to see him follow his dad’s footsteps, but he wasn’t good in college and he wouldn’t be good in the NBA. You said Nichols has upside? Where is he playing again?

  18. Owen,

    I think Amare’s as much of a C as a lot of guys around the league and certainly a huey, so the Suns more or less had a C by that criteria. The Suns also managed 54 wins when Amare went down for a season, using mostly Boris Diaw at the 5. Their defense was only 16th in the league that season, but their offense was 2nd without much of anything resembling a C (Kurt Thomas for 53 games and of course 2 All-NBA players).
    I’m just saying that I think the Knicks can be about average offensively with Lee (their huhe, or hopefully a muhe) and Randolph (if he can transform himself into a hume or mume) playing most of the frontcourt minutes, especially because Curry can be an effective high usage offensive center off the bench (TOs and all). Their defense will stink, but aside from transition opportunities (which the Knicks should get more of than they have been) I don’t know why the 2 are directly related (I mean 1 + 1 = wins vs. loses but you can be an above average defense and a below average offense, and in the East recently that’s usually enough to contend for the playoffs).

    I think D’Antoni’s system has been overhyped and the talent he had underappreciated, but I am a believer in the motion offense. It’s just good basketball.

    The offseason was ok I guess. The Balkman/Gallinari swap sent a potentially bad signal: overvaluing scoring/jump shooting and undervaluing defense/rebounding. However, there are definitely question marks about Balkman and we’ll have to see how Gallinari develops.
    I hope that Walsh doesn’t give D’Antoni too much of a voice in personnel matters (you know, the whole specialization of labor thing), so that’s another bad sign.
    Besides Duhon, another good sign is what didn’t happen: impatient Isiah-like moves. I mean it’s not like a GM has to bat 100% to build a contender, they just have to not be terrible.
    Walsh’s absolute refusal to cut anyone with a garaunteed contract is strange and really irks me. Seems very stubborn. His love affair with Al Harrington also irks me.

    I too would have loved to see the Knicks go for a more defense, efficiency “Moneyball” approach. The 2 coaching candidates I liked were first Skiles and then Avery Johnson (although they’re stubborn, overbearing personalities might have been terrible fits for the Knicks). And I certainly think it will be impossible to seriously contend on a consistent basis down-the-road without a top 10, top 5 defense.
    From a team building perspective, the reason I liked the D’Antoni signing is that most of the Knicks’ (overpaid, “untradeable”) talent lies on the offensive side of the ball. By focusing on offense, they’re going to raise the trade values of everyone in the rotation. As long as Walshtoni doesn’t buy the hype, this should allow them to infuse talent relatively quickly. And the 2010 cap space can be spent on a few Childress, JR Smith, Carl Landry type bargain FAs (examples from 2008) if LeBron/Bosh/Wade don’t bite.
    Dolan might also have his heart set on being the east coast Suns… remember that everyone was saying that Isiah was trying to do so (even him, wasn’t he?) when he was more trying to be a deadball 90s offense without the defense to complement it. Wonder if Isiah wasn’t paying lipservice to the notion because it’s what Dolan wanted.

  19. “Ewing Jr doesnt have upside. It was a nice story to see him follow his dad’s footsteps, but he wasn’t good in college and he wouldn’t be good in the NBA. You said Nichols has upside? Where is he playing again?”

    It’s not relevant whether D. Nichols or Ewing Jr. turn into good pros. What is relevant is that Knick management chooses to give roster spots to Collins, Richardson, James, Rose, and Marbury– 5 players that have proven to be failures and/or have no future with the team.

    The Knicks need to rebuild and it is done with holding onto young unknown entities over well-known flops.

    The only potential for any excitement from this team is to play the kids and hope they do okay.

    Watching another season of Randolph, Curry, and Crawford and the rest of the 2007-2008 Knicks jack up dumb shots and play no D is a waste of time. Nobody but the die hards on this site will be watching the same load of crappy players play another 82 games.

    I personally would rather lose 50+ games with a team made up of Ewing Jr., Nichols, Jared Jordan, Taureen Green, Bobby Jones, Chandler, Gallinari, Robinson, and Lee than lose 50+ games with the current roster of proven losers.

  20. I think the key to the Ewing move is what eventually happens with guys like James, Marbury and Rose. If we wind up trading one or more of them later on this season for more value than we would have added with Ewing, then it was a smart move to not buy any of them out. If they play out the season and then are gone, it was idiotic. We could have bought out at least one of them for either the same or less money than we will pay them anyway, and adding Ewing’s salary was basically a non-event.

  21. Good post Ted. I agree it’s important that they didn’t do anything colossally stupid.

    I don’t know, we have such a long way to go with this team before we are even respectable that complaining about the Gallinari pick is somewhat senseless. We will probably have four more number ones in the fold before we have a winning record, (although I guess we traded one), so it’s not make or break.

    If D’Antoni can achieve a change in the reputation of Crawford, Curry, and/or Randolph, enough to get them traded, they will definitely have my support 100%.

    Let’s get this season started already….

Comments are closed.