Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Knicks Morning News (2014.05.19)

  • [New York Post] Van Gundy would welcome ‘talk’ with Jackson (Mon, 19 May 2014 05:59:46 -0400)
    Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy isn't sure if Phil Jackson would call him, but if he did, he said he'd be willing to bury the hatchet and talk hoops….

  • [New York Daily News] LOVE TO HAVE YOU: Knicks trying to pry T-Wolves Kevin (Mon, 19 May 2014 04:44:20 GMT)
    The Knicks are hoping that this is their Summer of Love. The Knicks and Phil Jackson are expected to try to trade for Kevin Love, as the Minnesota All-Star forward wants to leave the Timberwolves and continues to have the Knicks on his list of potential landing spots.

  • [New York Times] Pacers Pull Away, Top Heat 107-96 for 1-0 Lead (Mon, 19 May 2014 07:19:51 GMT)
    The Pacers waited all season for the playoff rematch with Miami.

  • [New York Times] Kawhi Leonard Puts His Frisbee-Size Hands to Work for the Spurs (Mon, 19 May 2014 01:13:09 GMT)
    The legend of Kawhi Leonard’s hands has grown along with his role as a do-everything swingman for the Spurs, who will host the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals.

  • [New York Times] Pacers 107, Heat 96: Composed Pacers Muscle Past the Heat (Mon, 19 May 2014 00:45:53 GMT)
    The Pacers were the deeper, more composed and cohesive team, spreading out the scoring with six players in double figures in upending the defending champion Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

  • [New York Times] Pacers Pull Away From Heat 107-96 to Take 1-0 Lead (Mon, 19 May 2014 00:13:56 GMT)
    Indiana is done talking about home-court advantage.

  • [New York Times] George Sparks Pacers to Game One Win Over Heat (Mon, 19 May 2014 00:04:38 GMT)
    The Indiana Pacers delivered one of their most balanced performances in a shaky post-season to beat the visiting Miami Heat 107-96 on Sunday in Game One of the Eastern Conference finals.

  • [New York Times] Sports of The Times: N.B.A.’s On-Court Leader Embraces Off-Court Mantle Without Fear (Mon, 19 May 2014 00:03:40 GMT)
    LeBron James has willingly injected himself into the controversy over Donald Sterling’s ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.

  • 70 comments on “Knicks Morning News (2014.05.19)

    1. Frank O.

      …and so begins the season when players and coaches raise their values by involving the New York Knicks.

      Kevin Love, who doesn’t appear to see the Knicks as a front runner, is apparently desired by the Knicks. So either the Knicks will make a bad deal to get him, or they’ll raise the price for some other team.
      Tyson and Iman are expiring and attractive pieces. But in my heart of heart, I don’t want to give away more picks. I want to use guys like that to amass picks…

      Oh, and apparently Mark Jackson is in the conversation.

    2. Farfa

      It is one thing for the Knicks to be interested in Kevin Love. Hell, I’d guess almost every team is interested in Kevin Love (save, maybe, for the Clippers and the Blazers, who have already the right personnel at the PF spot and would gain no benefit by playing Love at the 5). It is another thing for Love to be interested in the Knicks. Why would he? If for example we are able to nab him (Tyson + Shump + THJ + pick/s), this is what our roster would look like:

      Starting five: Scrap heap PG – JR – Melo – Love – Aldrich
      Bench: Pablo – Scrap heap SG – Scrap heap SF – Amare – Bargnani – Murry – Odom?

      Where “Scrap heap” is a veteran signed at the minimum, so the three of them could be Steve Blake, Kent Bazemore, Chris Douglas-Roberts or something like that. Not a bad roster for the East, but it just barely guarantees a 5th seed… nothing to write home about.

      If I were Love and if I really was intentioned to win, you know where I’d try to go? San Antonio. Or Oklahoma City.

    3. max fisher-cohen

      Isn’t like Klay Thompson alone more valuable than anything the Knicks can offer? I imagine GSW would be willing to offer something like Thompson, Lee and Harrison Barnes, possibly more.

    4. Farfa

      @3 I think Barnes, Lee and Thompson is actually too much. Barnes, Lee, eventually (but only eventually) Draymond Green and some picks will do. If I am Minnesota then I try to send Lee elsewhere for other picks/prospects… Maybe Phoenix (Lee for Marcus Morris, Alex Len, the Indiana pick and a 2nd rounder)?

    5. lavor postell

      @Farfa

      Golden State doesn’t have a lot of picks to trade after trading away 2014 and 2017 first round picks and 2015 and 2016 second round picks to Utah last summer in order to clear enough cap space to acquire Iguodala. Minnesota willshould be able to get a lot better package than Barnes, Lee, Green and some second round picks once multiple suitors enter the fray.

    6. Farfa

      @lavor

      Right, they don’t have valuable picks. But if I were GSW management I wouldn’t want to send away both Barnes and Thompson for Love, given that the Wolves have put themselves in the position to be lowballed… and the other offers (as for now) they could receive are something like “Parsons/Jones/Asik/Beverley + pick/s” or “Lakers pick + ?” or “Sullinger/Green/Bradley + Celtics pick” or “nothing else because no matter how fun they are, no superstar gives a f*ck about the Suns”. The Suns would be great for Love, but it seems like no-one (that is, no star player) right now wants to give a chance to that organization, which is a frigging shame, because “Markieff Morris/Marcus Morris/Archie Goodwin/Alex Len + at least two 2014 1st rounders and a 2015 1st” is a nice package. If Love was more open to other markets, then GSW would have to send both Barnes and Thompson alongside Lee.

      Other fun suggestion: Westbrook for Love + a Minny pick.

    7. KnickfaninNJ

      The trick in trading for Love is not do you want him, but how much value you give up and whether you leave yourself with a coherent team after the trade. Jackson is completely unproven in whether he can get reasonable value in a trade (although he’s probably very good at assessing the value of the team he’s left with as far as winning games is concerned). The one advantage he has is that he might make players want to come to NY. But I am not sure that advantage will help much in the case of Love. Howard didn’t want to go to LA and he was traded there anyway. Love could get traded to a team he doesn’t want to be on also.

    8. JK47

      Oh yeah, sure, Kevin Love is coming here. I’m so excited, I’m gonna go ahead and order my Kevin Love Knicks jersey right now.

    9. Frank

      I see Maccabi Tel Aviv just won the Euroleague title with a team that apparently is seriously under-talented. Why isn’t David Blatt a coaching candidate for Phil? He doesn’t run the triangle but he apparently does have a heavy dose of Princeton in his offensive system. Does that count as enough of a “system” for Phil?

    10. JK47

      How about hiring Jeff Van Gundy and playing some freakin’ defense for once? Is “playing defense” a “system”?

    11. lavor postell

      @8

      You wouldn’t want to move Barnes and Thompson for Kevin Love? Idk I think if those 2 and Lee is what was required to get Love the Warriors pull the trigger.

    12. Frank

      How about hiring Jeff Van Gundy and playing some freakin’ defense for once? Is “playing defense” a “system”?

      Honestly I think we would be fine with running the exact same Bargnani-less offense as we did in the second half, and just having JVG run the defense and keep Melo out of iso-Melo in the 4th.

    13. KnickfaninNJ

      Blatt seems like a good idea for a new coach. But it seems like Phil wants a person he can influence. I am not sure Blatt would qualify in that sense

    14. Frank O.

      If we’re not chasing a very good point guard, we haven’t learned a damn thing.
      Kevin Love is as good as his point guard can make him on offense.
      Sure, he’ll board, but I would expect his numbers to seriously decline playing on a team with Ray Felton as the pG.

      No, we need a point guard and we need picks.

    15. JK47

      No, we need a point guard and we need picks.

      The Knicks need good basketball players, period. We’re gonna need a long term answer at pretty much every position unless Melo stays, in which case we’ll need long term answers at the other four positions.

      And honestly, I don’t really see Melo staying. The smart play is to tank 2014-2015, trade whatever pieces you can for draft picks and hit the ground running in the 2015 offseason with your lottery pick and a bunch of cap space. I can’t see Melo re-signing for a discount when there’s one tank season already baked into the cake.

    16. johnno

      In the extreme unlikely event that the Knicks were able to acquire Love, is anyone else out there concerned that he and Melo won’t mesh well on the court, at least defensively? For some reason, Love has pretty much escaped serious criticism for his defense but, from what I have seen of him, he is almost as much of a sieve on the defensive end as Harden (which might help explain why, for all of his talents and skills, his team has never even sniffed the playoffs).

    17. Frank

      And honestly, I don’t really see Melo staying. The smart play is to tank 2014-2015, trade whatever pieces you can for draft picks and hit the ground running in the 2015 offseason with your lottery pick and a bunch of cap space. I can’t see Melo re-signing for a discount when there’s one tank season already baked into the cake.

      I think if we hadn’t gone 15-5 in the last quarter of the season then Melo would be gone for sure – but with that finish, I think it would be a relatively easy sell for Phil to say that the whole year was Woodson’s fault (true) and that with some tweaking of the roster (ie. add Lamar Odom, sit Raymond Felton, add anyone else to play PG) that this team is a playoff team. It’s not just an easy sell – it’s probably the truth.

      It still boggles the mind that Woodson just would not believe that the Felton/Pablo/Shump/Melo/Tyson lineup was a good lineup even though it went 15-1 last year against a tough schedule. Even THIS year when it was “less effective” that lineup still boasted an ORtg of 112 and a DRtg of 96 – a net +16 on a team that was a net -1 for the year. The most damning thing is that Woodson only played this unit together for 134 minutes.

      It boggles the mind that he kept throwing Bargnani out there even though it was basically incontrovertible that the Knicks were horrible when he was out there.

      It boggles the mind that Melo showed he was wearing down in the 4th the whole year and he kept playing him crazy minutes and asking him to go 1-on-5 the entire 4th quarter.

      So – I think with Woodson gone and with a coach that Phil has a strong rapport with, Melo will stay.

    18. Jack Bauer

      There is as much of a chance of Kevin Love suiting up for the Knicks any time soon as me suiting up for the Knicks

      These rumors are an asinine waste of time

    19. Sakei99

      Just face reality, tank and rebuild. Kevin Love ain’t walking thru that door. That’s what fucking happens when you trade every pick you have for Andrea “Air” Bargnani, Raymond “Draw Dat Gun Charge” Felton, and the Rotting Corpse of Marcus Camby. Actually I see now not only do we not have any draft picks this year but none in 2016 either.

      So to recap we have no talent on-board, no assets except Shump and Chandler, and rebulding isn’t even an option becuz we don’t have any picks regardless.

      And yet somehow people believe Melo is not only going to resign, but take a paycut to play with this band of shit? If so, ask yourself this, is your last name Dolan?

    20. johnlocke

      if kevin love is traded, who the heck are we selling melo or us fans on in 2015? Aldridge is not leaving Portland, so best hope is a 30+ year old Marc Gasol? :/

    21. Brian Cronin

      For those of you yearning for JVG, do note that there’s no way that he wouldN’t just be doing iso-Melo himself at the end of games if he were here.

      However, the upgrade in defense he would bring would still probably be worth the trade-off.

      I just don’t think he seriously wants to coach somewhere where he is not more protected from interference (basically, the same sort of reasoning SVG had when he took the Detroit job – “Hmmm…I could go to GSW and coach, but I just saw how micro-managing the GSW management is or I could go to Detroit and be my own boss and not have to worry about micro-managing – I think I’ll pick the latter.”

    22. Mars

      One thing I like out of the Knicks this season that I haven’t seen in ages is the patience they have shown. We can all talk about how bad Dolan has been but the truth is that I really like what I have been seeing lately and part of that is because of Phil. I believe no matter what happens we Knicks fans have something to look forward to in the future.

    23. Hubert

      I try not to think about this team too much these days with the other MSG tenant bringing me so much joy. But I really don’t like that our coaching search is getting hung up on former Jackson triangle point guards. Some good coaches have already been hired (Kerr, SVG), others are rumored to be getting moved (Thibodeau) or hired (Hoiberg). And JVG is available. Honestly I think I’d rather have any of those coaches with Steve Mills as GM than have Phil Jackson as president and no coach because we’re waiting for OKC to be eliminated so we can talk to Derek Fisher.

      I hope all you guys are Rangers fans, too, because it’s fun to have nice things some times.

    24. Brian Cronin

      One thing I like out of the Knicks this season that I haven’t seen in ages is the patience they have shown. We can all talk about how bad Dolan has been but the truth is that I really like what I have been seeing lately and part of that is because of Phil. I believe no matter what happens we Knicks fans have something to look forward to in the future.

      I dunno, they tried to move extremely quickly on Kerr, he just turned them down. Their current patient approach is only because their one and only candidate turned them down so they’re thrown for a ringer. I guess it is true that it is good that they didn’t just pick a random coach right away as a replacement, but I think they were sort of forced into their current period of patience (including the fact that one of the coaches they’re interested in hasn’t even finished playing basketball this year, let alone officially retire from playing basketball, so he has to do that before they can even interview him).

    25. Brian Cronin

      What’s going down in Memphis right now is a perfect example of why it is so important to play for a non-crazy owner. The new management team in Memphis clearly did a great job last year and their coach was excellent. However, the CEO has decided that he doesn’t like them so it looks like they’re going to fire everyone (they’ve already fired the assistant GM and are parting ways with their CEO). Kerr, though, was caught in between two crazy owners in Lacob and Dolan, so he was in a bit of a damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario.

    26. lavor postell

      The criticism of Jackson isn’t fair to me. He wanted Kerr, he gave him a fair offer, which was pretty great for a first time head coach and then when the Warriors gave Kerr a 5-year deal, rather than just matching it or one-upping them financially, he stuck to his guns and basically told Kerr that if he wanted to come to the Knicks he should, but if he wasn’t sure he should scope out the GSW situation. To me that’s intelligent management and it hasn’t really set us back in looking for coaches other than SVG going to Detroit for a role he never would have received with the Knicks. So now having missed out on his primary choice, he’s moving down the list and doing his due diligence, while waiting for Fisher to be available.

      I’m willing to wait until mid-to-late July to see how everything shakes out before I start criticizing or praising Jackson. I do think that he’s being very deliberate and the fact that he’s been extremely involved in interviewing draft prospects and in the process is good in that I think the Knicks will definitely buy into the 2nd round a couple of times and that while the media has an aneurysm trying to pick the Knicks’ next coach for us, there’s no noise being made about any potential 2nd round targets the Knicks may have.

    27. Brian Cronin

      The guy had one and only one coach in mind and instead of keeping that coach to himself, he leaked the name to the point where Kerr was hyped up so much that this guy, who had never coached before in his career, was being offered a five-year deal for $25 million by the Warriors. Is there any way in the world he gets that offer if he hadn’t been hyped up as Phil Jackson’s one and only coaching choice for the Knicks? That’s close to what D’Antoni made from the Knicks when they gave him a Godfather offer back in 2008, when D’Antoni was coming off of two Western Conference Finals appearances in four years (and four straight second-round appearances in those four years) and a Coach of the Year Award!

      So we’re supposed to be impressed that he’s doing his due diligence and handling the coaching search properly now?

      It’s not some ground-shattering fuck-up by Jackson and I’m certainly not condemning Jackson as an executive in general for a single fuck-up, but it was a fuck-up.

    28. mokers

      When I talk about patience it is more along the lines of my assurance that in previous years, Dolan would have signed Calipari for 5 years if he didn’t get Kerr and would have packaged Shump for Josh Smith in an effort to make the team look better for Melo. Admittedly, this is damning with faint praise, but it leads me to believe there won’t be Bargnani-esque moves this offseason.

    29. stratomatic

      There are only 2 coaches out there worse than Mike Woodson when it comes to offensive strategy.

      1. Mark Jackson
      2. Brian Shaw

      Once we eliminate those two my heart will stop palpitating.

    30. lavor postell

      @ Brian

      He didn’t leak the interest in Kerr. Jackson’s interest in Kerr traces back to the potential Kings move to Seattle last summer in which Jackson had talks about taking over basketball ops for the team and apparently had talked to Kerr about coaching the franchise. The Warriors were going to go after Kerr even if the news hadn’t been leaked. It came down to money and location and like you said the Warriors were offering Kerr absurd money and a better location for him personally. That’s what it came down too and that wasn’t going to change regardless of whether the news was leaked or not.

    31. stratomatic

      It boggles the mind that he kept throwing Bargnani out there even though it was basically incontrovertible that the Knicks were horrible when he was out there.

      Woodson is a likable guy, but he’s obviously incompetent on almost every level.

      1. He is horrible at recognizing the most productive players on his own team.
      2. He is horrible at putting together lineups.
      3. He is horrible at late game strategy.
      4. His defensive strategy may be OK with the right personnel, but it was wrong for the Knicks this year and he couldn’t adjust.

      The only reason he did well for awhile was because he inherited a pretty good team. When he took over Melo, JR, and several other players were in the midst of a mutiny to get rid of D’Antoni. The locker room was split right down the middle. Once the Melo forces got rid of MDA, they started to play hard again. Woodson changed very little, but the change of coach had a huge impact on the effort level of the team. Once he started actually making his own decisions it was all throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something stuck. Once his spaghetti luck ran out it became obvious he was clueless.

    32. stratomatic

      He didn’t leak the interest in Kerr. Jackson’s interest in Kerr traces back to the potential Kings move to Seattle last summer in which Jackson had talks about taking over basketball ops for the team and apparently had talked to Kerr about coaching the franchise.

      This is correct.

      Kerr was all set to take over the coaching job there. That’s why Jackson thought it was essentially a done deal in NY. The only thing that could possibly happen to derail it happened.

      Mark Jackson got fired and that put a better location and deep pockets in competition with the Knicks.

    33. lavor postell

      @stratomatic

      Exactly. Our best stretches last season came when he was forced to play small due to injuries and then failed to give the results any credence. This carried in to this season when he refused to play the Felton-Prigs-Shump-Melo-Chandler lineup many minutes together.

    34. Z-man

      I don’t agree, BC. Just because he lost out doesn’t mean he f’d up. It was common knowledge, even before the Warriors were eliminated, that Mark Jackson would be let go. Until that job was filled, the Knicks probably had no shot of signing Kerr unless they absolutely bowled him over with a deal. In that case, we’d have a coach that was here against his better judgment who only took the job because of the money and would be ruing taking the job once things got tough knowing that he passed up the opportunity to coach GS. Your main criticisms were that we were too vocal and didn’t have a plan B, but I don’t understand whether that would have made any difference.

      The only shot we realistically had of signing Kerr was if SVG took the GS job. It actually almost worked, as it seemed that GS had given up on Kerr and went after SVG. If Jackson laid low, GS just would have hired Kerr outright.

      So in retrospect, it could be fairly argued that Jackson played this hand as well as he possibly could have played it. He very nearly bluffed GS, the only team with a better hand to play, out of the game. Once they were players again, he did the right thing and folded, rather than the wrong thing, which was to have a bidding war to entice Kerr to pass up a much better job (all things considered).

      It’s not like 12 other viable candidates were snapped up since the Kerr deal, so there wasn’t even an opportunity cost to the play. So while the situation had a disappointing outcome, I would not classify it as a f-up.

    35. Brian Cronin

      If Kerr was his one and only candidate for the job, I would term losing him based on one year and $5 million to be a fuck-up.

      If they made Kerr that offer and he turned it down for Golden State, fair enough, but after making him their one and only candidate and hyping the guy to the moon, they then didn’t match his best offer.

      If he is the one and only candidate Jackson wanted for the job, how do they not even try to match Golden State’s offer? They were already prepared to offer him $5 million per year and just one year less. If they offered him five and he turns it down, then fine, they did their best. They didn’t do that.

    36. DRed

      Have we discussed Mozgov’s Russian Esquire photo shoot? Because that shit is pretty weird.

    37. Z-man

      But if they match the offer, it’s pretty clear that he takes his preferred job, clearly they would have had to beat the offer. If they better the offer, they are overpaying a guy who didn’t really want to be here.

      I think you are vastly overstating the “one and only guy” part of this…he was the first and preferred, but not the one and only. Again, what was the opportunity cost? If there was none, then what’s the big deal? And if it is clear that Kerr would not have come here for equal $, why bother with the offer?

      Maybe if they had offered 5/25 right off the bat, Kerr would have bitten, but don’t you think he’d be kicking himself for not waiting, especially once SVG was out of the picture? It was clear from the beginning that Kerr didn’t really want to come to NY for family reasons, and that he was only considering it because his friend Phil was in charge.

      F-ing up to me would mean that Jackson not only whiffed but missed out on a desired 2nd choice (didn’t happen) or overspent to hire a guy without a track record who ultimately didn’t really didn’t want to be here. From my perspective, no harm, no foul.

    38. Cock Jowles Has Predicted the Last Three Knicks Seasons

      Kawhi Leonard is the real fucking deal. That jump shot is so smooth I can’t take it.

    39. Mars

      Can’t forget the patience shown at the trade deadline and also with the firing of woodson although we can agree that he should of been gone a long time ago this move by Dolan is showing that he is taking a different approach than his normal ways. Any other season we would aleady have a different Knicks team and coach who all wouldn’t finish the contracts given to them by Dolan. Oh and a lot less picks than we already have.

    40. Brian Cronin

      And if it is clear that Kerr would not have come here for equal $, why bother with the offer?

      If it is clear, then sure, but I don’t think it is clear at all. They never offered equal money. Had they and he said “No, I prefer GS,” then yes, I would not think it was a fuck-up.

    41. EB

      To the people complaining about the Love/Melo defensive combo. You do realize Love just needs to be better on defense than Amare and Bargnani? That’s not asking much. .

    42. BigBlueAL

      Read a fact earlier tonight talking about Conf Finals matchups where 1 team went 4-0 vs the other like OKC did vs the Spurs this season. Last time it happened was 1994 when the Knicks went 4-0 vs the Pacers.

      I remember being so excited when the Pacers beat the Hawks in the 2nd rd that year. Knicks were going to have homecourt against a team I didnt think was that good. After easy wins in Game 1 and 2 I was assuming a 5 game series at worst (I had similar expectations the rd earlier against the Bulls, I should learned from my mistake during that series). Even after losing Game 3 and 4 I assumed Knicks would at worst win out easily at home and win the series. Safe to say Miller’s epic 4th quarter in Game 5 changed my mindset lol.

    43. Farfa

      Sometimes I wonder what is so hard in following the Spurs model. It’s kinda jarring that other franchises can’t seem to recreate that blueprint. I understand the whole Duncan thing, that in turn gives strength to the whole Popovich thing, that in turn gives strength to the whole Manu thing etc.; anyway, how can it be that no other franchise has tried to replicate that even if not with the same exact ingredients? Is it just that they can’t because they are limited by the personality flaws in the management and/or in the players? I guess so. NOH seems poised to follow suit, we’ll see if even them will fail (they need to get rid of Gordon. After that, it could be a downslide).

    44. Frank

      Sometimes I wonder what is so hard in following the Spurs model. It’s kinda jarring that other franchises can’t seem to recreate that blueprint.

      You need an all-time great coach, an amazingly patient and secure GM (ie. willing to make picks that may not bear fruit for several years) who is unencumbered by the owner, and 2-3 HoF level stars who are willing to be dramatically underpaid. All at the same time. The coach/GM is somewhat doable, but the 3 stars willing to be ridiculously underpaid? It’s almost impossible in today’s NBA.

      Duncan came into the league in 1997 — his max salary at this point SHOULD be 29.6MM – instead he’s making 10.

      Parker made $13.5MM in 2010 – instead of getting max raises like everyone else does, he’s had a salary frozen at $12.5MM since — instead of the $17MM he could be making.

      Ginobili made $14.1MM in ’12-13 — he could/should be making 15.2MM this year — instead he’s making 7.5.

      So we have Duncan taking basically a 70% pay cut. 70%!!! Parker taking a ~25% pay cut. Ginobili taking a ~50% pay cut. where are you going to find guys willing to do this?

      (I’d love to say “not in American-born players” but that’s probably oversimplifying)

    45. lavor postell

      @48

      I agree with all of that, but even given all the factors you mentioned, the most important fact is that having a top-7 player in the history of the game in Duncan for the duration of his career makes all of that possible. It’s incredible to me how good Duncan has been and still is at this page. He’s anchored top-10 units on both offense and defense throughout the course of his 17 year career, during which time the Spurs have never missed the playoffs or won less than 50 games, barring the lockout shortened 98-99 season, when they won the championship.

      When him and Kobe call it a career the media and Kobe fanboys will talk ad nauseum about how Kobe was the greatest player of his generation, top-5 all time, closest thing to Jordan, etc. The thing is if you took a poll of GM’s and coaches and asked them if they could have had one of them over their careers 90% will say Duncan. Unassuming and unselfish, Duncan’s been the ultimate team player over the course of his career, yet been capable of stepping up individually and delivering when it’s been required. A genuine once in a lifetime kind of player.

    46. johnno

      “the most important fact is that having a top-7 player in the history of the game in Duncan for the duration of his career makes all of that possible”
      Not to mention that you have to be “lucky” enough to have your hall of fame center get hurt so that your team stinks the year that Duncan is the best player in the draft, then have your HOF center come back and be willing to gracefully and graciously mentor the guy who is taking his place and “pass the torch” to him. I can’t believe that no one else has thought to do that.
      Steve Martin used to do a routine in which he talked about how to be a millionaire — “First, get a million dollars…”

    47. Farfa

      where are you going to find guys willing to do this?

      Wait, wait. I didn’t mean literally like the Spurs. What I did mean, however, was that you need to build your team around team-first guys. If those three guys wanted to get some more millions, they could certainly have, but they could be stuck in basketball hell instead of playing for the third consecutive year in the WCF and tying the most wins by a trio in the playoffs. There are some of them guys around the league (Millsap at 9mln/year?). Also, having this CBA structure means that giving the max to someone is a surefire way to make a big gamble (and maybe shoot yourself in the feet). To make an example: if Durant is really the guy he seems, I’d put all of my money on him not taking the max in 2016 to stay in OKC. That would be a super smart move. It’s not a given that your superstar has to take a max. It’s a given only if the culture of your team is bumbling; otherwise, the current CBA encourages stars to take a cut to win. Simple as that (btw, this is the reason why the Lakers are probably doomed for the next two years).

      The really difficult part is to find THE superstar willing to take a pay cut, and that’s why I emphasize high character in your best player. I don’t want to delve too much in Melo things, but if Melo was really willing to win, then by all means he should take a massive pay cut and take around 15mln/yrs. I fully understand if he (or anyone else) goes for the max: after all, that is his money. It’s just that with the right mindset it’s much easier to win, or at least to compete.
      The Miami Heat 2010 presentation was ugly, pompous and probably misguided, but those three guys made a sound and somehow selfless decision that paid big sports dividends.

    48. d-mar

      @50 I think it was “how to be a millionaire…and never pay taxes” but I get your drift.

      Speaking of Duncan, I believe the Celtics had the worst record the year he came out. That and the Len Bias tragedy will forever be lamented by C’s fans (although they did have former player McHale gift them Kevin Garnett, so there’s that)

      Tonight, I’m hoping Boston’s lottery curse continues and they end up out of the top 5.

    49. Farfa

      Not to mention that you have to be “lucky” enough to have your hall of fame center get hurt so that your team stinks the year that Duncan is the best player in the draft, then have your HOF center come back and be willing to gracefully and graciously mentor the guy who is taking his place and “pass the torch” to him. I can’t believe that no one else has thought to do that.

      Nope. This is how the Spurs won their first title. Then they added Parker with the 28th pick. Then they added Ginobili with the 58th. Then… etc. etc. But overall, they instilled a culture. They chose character over talent. They put people in the right place to utilize at best their talents. They kept their vision focused, (almost) never wavered, and even produced a plethora of successful coaches and GMs. This is not luck. This is sound judgment, not overreacting and thinking always 4 steps ahead. This is the model. They (almost) never overpayed anyone. They develop talent from scrap heap, continuously. They transform most of what they touch into gold, and if it doesn’t work, well, it doesn’t work and that’s all.

      Luck? Yes, some of that. But Cleveland lucked into James. Minnesota lucked into Garnett. They couldn’t keep’em aboard, among other reasons, because they didn’t have to culture to do that. It’s hard, but not as hard as we think it is. Keep an eye on Atlanta and New Orleans. I hope one of them can follow suit.

    50. lavor postell

      @52

      I’ll be rooting for the Lakers, Celtics and Nuggets to finish out of the top-5

    51. DRed

      Duncan came into the league in 1997 — his max salary at this point SHOULD be 29.6MM – instead he’s making 10.

      Well, Duncan has made 224 million dollars in salary alone by this point, so you can see why he’d be willing to earn less to stay where he’s comfortable and keep on winning.

      If b-ref’s contract info is accurate, the Spurs still have a 7 million dollar cap hold for Robert Horry, which is pretty ridiculous.

    52. Farfa

      I have this useless prediction:
      1 – Lakers
      2 – 76ers
      3 – Magic

      And then so on. Lakers are too smarmy not to grab 1st overall pick in the best draft of the decade… in the only draft where they’ll pick in the high lottery. And Bucks are too unlucky not to miss entirely the first three picks.

    53. johnno

      “It’s hard, but not as hard as we think it is.”
      Maybe it is extraordinarily hard, which is why no one has been able to replicate it. You don’t think that every single team that tanked this year (like 1/3 of the league) has visions of picking a high character, unselfish all-time great in the draft this year and then building around him and guys like him for the next 18 years? How many of the lottery teams will succeed in doing it? My guess is none.

    54. DRed

      Keep an eye on Atlanta and New Orleans. I hope one of them can follow suit.

      New Orleans seems to have no idea what they’re doing. I know the west is good, but it’s really difficult to only win 34 games while employing one of the most productive players in the NBA.

    55. Farfa

      You don’t think that every single team that tanked this year (like 1/3 of the league) has visions of picking a high character, unselfish all-time great in the draft this year and then building around him and guys like him for the next 18 years?

      Honestly, I don’t know (and I don’t think I know better than them; I just think that character gets really, really underrated by many decision makers). When you pick 1st (or 10th, fot that matter), you draft for talent, that’s obvious. But after that, what do you do? This is what matters. Do you try to build a steady relationship with your budding stars or just throw yourself to their feet to get them everything they wish, hoping they don’t just walk away for greener pastures? Do you throw money at them like there’s no tomorrow or try to weigh pro and cons to determine if giving them all that money is worth it? If you can’t build that relationship, if they don’t understand the need for sacrifices to win, then by all means let them go. This should be a easy-ish model.

      Look, I may be wrong, but you know what looks like the Spurs model? Many happy families (there’s a reason why the “Spurs dad” meme caught on in some circles, after all). Happy families are built on understanding your limits, maximizing your good sides, keeping everything in check from time to time, trusting everyone else in the family to make good decisions and so on. Sorry for the cheesy (and again, maybe wrong) comparison, but how many times have you seen a dude lose his mind for a smoking hot girl, just to throw himself at her feet and give everything she wants in fear that she will leave him for a better guy? And how many times have you seen a happy family come from that scenario? When someone makes a desperate, not necessarily rational move (see: give the max to DeMarcus Cousins or – here’s hoping not – give the max to Melo so he doesn’t leave), that someone has put himself on a hot seat and won’t probably build…

    56. Farfa

      New Orleans seems to have no idea what they’re doing.

      I completely agree. But they have most of the right pieces. If only they got rid of Demps (and limited the impact of Benson’s anxious ownership getting a good President of Basketball Operations) they should be in the best position of them all. Davis is just the high character superstar I’m talking about, on par with Durant (albeit not talent-wise, not yet).

    57. johnno

      “Look, I may be wrong”
      Actually, I think that you are 100% right and I also think that the analogy, while maybe a little cheesy, is an apt analogy. I just think that it is extraordinarily hard to do — both in professional sports and in family building.

    58. Farfa

      I just think that it is extraordinarily hard to do

      Maybe I could be biased because my family kind of works like that. Also, my family is really small. But I can tell you one thing: it’s all in the mindset. Maybe some days you’ll feel like you failed (8th seeded Grizzlies beating 1st seeded Spurs in 2011), but if you play the right way you’ll never feel like you won’t have another chance. Luck plays a role, sure (again, stretching the analogy: you have to meet the right person, and she/he has to like you back; also, the health of your relatives sometimes is completely beyond your control, and it can get damningly frustrating). But actively trying to put yourself in the right mindset probably does most of the trick, even in basketball.

      Trying to sum most of my ranting: too many idiot (err… self-absorbed) owners treat basketball like some kind of a mindless slot-machine romp, strangely not understanding that the most durable success come from small, consistent steps. Following the Spurs model as I intend it doesn’t mean to win 50-plus games for 15 consecutive seasons (and probably counting), it’s aritmethically impossible even for 10 teams to pull it off at the same time; it just means to have a quiet, focused direction based on simple but strong values (as, for example, the ’90s Utah Jazz did having the right guys in the right places). That is what shouldn’t be that hard to do.

    59. Cock Jowles Has Predicted the Last Three Knicks Seasons

      Say what you want about Wins Produced, but the Spurs picks tend to be good at “producing wins,” and end up being similarly productive in the NBA.

      Their success is about long-term strategy, but they’re also outstanding with tactical thinking in the short term. Kawhi Leonard was projected among the best draftees of his class, and look what he’s doing now. Watch Game 7 from last year. The kid is a superstar in a role player’s clothing.

    60. stratomatic

      Say what you want about Wins Produced, but the Spurs picks tend to be good at “producing wins,” and end up being similarly productive in the NBA.

      You are not the only person to notice that.

      What the Spurs do well is pick up those kinds of players when they represent good value, fit them together properly, and then use superior understanding of the stats (Pop) to get the greatest possible efficiency out of the players and thus team.

      You aren’t going to build a championship team off Wins Produced if all the players you pick generate their value the same or even in a similar way. They understand the need for a balance of play making, scoring, rebounding, defense etc.. and get high value players with different complimentary skills.

      Melo + Amare = 1 + 1 = 1.5
      Amare + Nash = 1 +1 = 2.5

    61. d-mar

      Without Duncan, you can add all the good value, high wins produced players you want, and the Spurs aren’t winning any championships. (And without Popovich, they most likely don’t get 4 chips either)

    62. DRed

      Without Duncan the Spurs are drafting higher, and increasing the chance they get a different really good player. Yeah, Duncan has helped. He’s a great player. But the ability of the Spurs to consistently find and develop really good players late in the draft suggests they would have been able to identify and develop really good players early in the draft as well.

    63. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

      Sometimes I wonder what is so hard in following the Spurs model. It’s kinda jarring that other franchises can’t seem to recreate that blueprint.

      I think Dallas has the same model. They’ve been loyal to their core players over the years, and the players have been loyal back. They have a kind of “family environment”, and they’ve had success because of it.

      (OKC would be wise to employ the model, too, since they already have the player, which, as stated earlier, is the hardest part.)

    64. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

      the ability of the Spurs to consistently find and develop really good players late in the draft suggests they would have been able to identify and develop really good players early in the draft as well.

      Sure, the Spurs lucked into Duncan. But if they had gotten the #1 pick the next year instead, they probably wouldn’t have selected Olowokandi with it. They probably would have drafted Nowitski and still won a bunch of titles.

    65. lavor postell

      @DRed

      I agree they still would have found and developed really good players, but Duncan is the greatest hybrid PF/C of all-time who had great success in both a slower, isolation and post up heavy game and the small ball, fast paced, spread offenses of today’s NBA. They may have still won a championship or two along the way without him, but the sustained success they’ve had during the Duncan era I don’t think would have been matched if they had missed out on him.

    66. Z-man

      “Kawhi Leonard is the real fucking deal. That jump shot is so smooth I can’t take it.”

      I was wondering why we would be singing Leonard’s praises on a night when he has 16 points on 16 shots….

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