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Friday, October 24, 2014

Knicks Woes Are Unguarded

After a 6-4 start, the New York Knicks agreed to a pair of trades have shipped away their two top per-game scorers. Since that day, the team has dropped 8 of 11 games. One could look at that situation and say Crawford and Randolph were worth much more to this current Knick team than we thought. Certainly this agrees with the traditional wisdom: the Knicks traded 40 points per game. It seems to reason that it’s not easy to make up that much scoring. However a closer look shows that it’s not the quality of these two players, but rather the lack of depth at the guard spot which has caused the team to perform so poorly.

Prior to the start of the season, I called the guard spot the Knicks “deepest“. D’Antoni had a rotation of Duhon, Crawford, Robinson, and Collins with Roberson and Marbury on the bench. However since then, New York traded Crawford and Collins, Robinson hurt himself, and Marbury has Marburied himself off the team. This has left the Knicks without any depth at guard. Over the last few games Duhon has played more than 40+ minutes in just about every game, Richardson has slid over to shooting guard, and D’Antoni has so little confidence in Roberson that he’s used 5 forwards on the floor instead of playing the team’s summer league signee.

These series of events underscore two failures of the team. The first is their dealing with Marbury. Perhaps Stephon’s relationship with his teammates made it impossible for D’Antoni to bring him back into the rotation and still keep his respect. And maybe Marbury wouldn’t have accepted a role off the bench at shooting guard. Obviously we’ll probably never know the truth, but this should have played out before the season started. This way if Marbury refused the playing time the Knicks could have worked on a deal sooner, and replaced him on the roster by the time they moved Crawford and Collins.

The second failure is the team’s lack of roster management. Keeping Roberson over Balkman is proving to be a mistake. For the last two games, the Knicks have had two healthy guards on the roster: Duhon and Roberson. Yet Roberson has racked up consecutive DNP-CDs. In other words D’Antoni thinks so little of him that he can’t even break into the rotation when he’s the only other guard on the team! What does that say about the Knicks ability to scout players? To make matter worse, two players that the Knicks chose Roberson over, Renaldo Balkman and Von Wafer, both recently started & had good games for their new clubs.

Granted New York might not be suffering this much if not for two unfortunate incidents. One being Robinson’s ill-timed injury, the other Mobley’s failed physical. Had one or both of these players been available to play, some of the above problems may not have been as glaring. Although the end of the bench may not be the worst place to make a mistake, right now these bad decisions have cost the Knicks a handful of games. Nonetheless it doesn’t absolve the team of these poor moves. And it may shed some light into some of the problems the team may have while rebuilding a winner.

27 comments on “Knicks Woes Are Unguarded

  1. jon abbey

    I think it also speaks to the relative lack of interest the organization has in winning games this season, as there’s no way a team who actually cares about that keeps Jerome James around filling a roster spot (and a half) simply because they don’t want to buy anyone out.

    Washington is supposedly releasing Dee Brown, he’d be a good emergency pickup until Nate comes back.

  2. Italian Stallion

    I think it also speaks to the relative lack of interest the organization has in winning games this season, as there’s no way a team who actually cares about that keeps Jerome James around filling a roster spot (and a half) simply because they don’t want to buy anyone out.
    Washington is supposedly releasing Dee Brown, he’d be a good emergency pickup until Nate comes back.

    I’ve been thinking about Walsh’s view that teams shouldn’t buy players out. I guess he feels that every player has some value, but I’m not sure if he’s right. He’s certainly more or less right in terms of actually playing value. Even a guy like James could probably find a team to sign him for the minimum. But if a guy is wildly overpaid relative to his ability, he may not have any trade value at all. So if a team is not going to play him, the smartest thing it can do is buy him out – assuming he still has enough ability left to sign elsewhere and you can buy him out at any sort of discount, save money, and open a slot for someone you will play.

  3. Z

    I think player options complicate buyouts. After this season James can exercise his option and be bought out at full contract price. Until then, I think the CBA may only allow up to 50% of the option year to be paid in advance. Therefore, he won’t agree to a buyout until this summer.

    This from the Salary Cap FAQ site:

    “When a contract contains an option year, a buyout amount for the option year can be written into the contract. The buyout amount may be up to 50% of the salary for the option year, and is payable with the exercise of an ETO or the non-exercise of an option.”

    If this is accurate, then it helps (somewhat) explain Jerome James’ continued presence on the Knick roster.

  4. Lonster from Kansas via the Boogie Down

    When will you all “get it”??? Management and coach have no desire to win this year. Their goal is to be respectable…which for the most part…they have been. This is basically an audition year for Nate and Lee. Chandler’s pretty much in. Jefferies may salvage a spot. Duhon will have to become a star to be re-signed. Everyone else will be gone.

    So…just bare with it. 2010 will be here before you can say… D’anphony’s a liar!

  5. Thomas B.

    I agree with IS’ position on buy outs.

    I often look to the bizzaro Knicks (Blazers) for an example of how to rebuild a franchise. The Blazers have followed some simple rules to get back on track while the Knicks broke all of them under Layden and Thomas

    1. Do not trade away draft picks unless you can get excellent value in return.

    The Blazers traded up from 4 to 2 (that was our pick-Thanks IT) to get Aldridge-an up and coming star-in 2006. The Knicks meanwhile traded the rights to that pick to get Eddy Curry-an up an coming reserve. Yeah Layden, I see you hiding in the corner. Dont think you get off the hook for this one you non Amare Stoudamire drafting-Antonio McDyess coming of knee surgery getting-not a single quality draft pick making-moron!!

    2. Dont let unwanted players waste a roster spot.

    The Blazers owed Francis close to 40 million when they brought him in as part of the Randolph trade. The Blazers knew he was not going to be part of the plans so they waived him and ate the salary. The Knicks are sitting on at least 2 maybe 3 players that they dont want and cant use but wont waive-Marbury and James (possibly Rose). Those three roster spots could be used to find the next Ramon Sessions, Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow..ect. Or better yet, to keep the Von Wafers and Renaldo Balkmans.

    3. Add players that compliment each other rather than duplicate each other.

    The Blazers had the choice of taking Oden or Durant. They choose Oden and most people said because you cant teach size. But the real answer is that the team already had a player that can do much of what Durant does and a bit more in Roy. The players would have spent alot of time at the same position, so why do that? Plus Webster does some of what Durant does-not as well but why add a third similar player? The Knicks kept getting more of the same no defense playing-cant be effective without the ball in my hands players. Bewteen Marbury, Crawford, Randolph, Curry, and Francis the only difference is skin tone, and belt size.

    Sheesh

  6. jon abbey

    I don’t think it’s “Walsh’s view” that players shouldn’t be bought out, I believe it’s Dolan’s orders.

    Jason Richardson to Phoenix for Raja Bell and Boris Diaw. Steve Kerr is one of the worst GMs ever.

  7. Moses

    Here’s another take:

    Buying out a player creates a strong incentive for other players to behave in ways that will lead to them having to be bought out as well.

    Good character players will ignore this incentive, but they aren’t really the issue.

    You don’t want to make it easy for bad character players to slack-off and get their whole contracts paid upfront without having to put in the effort of practicing / lifting weights / playing.

  8. Renaldo Balkman's Agent

    Here’s another take:
    Buying out a player creates a strong incentive for other players to behave in ways that will lead to them having to be bought out as well.
    Good character players will ignore this incentive, but they aren’t really the issue.
    You don’t want to make it easy for bad character players to slack-off and get their whole contracts paid upfront without having to put in the effort of practicing / lifting weights / playing.

    Here’s a better idea– don’t give a max contract to a total asshole.

  9. Italian Stallion

    I don’t think it’s “Walsh’s view” that players shouldn’t be bought out, I believe it’s Dolan’s orders.
    Jason Richardson to Phoenix for Raja Bell and Boris Diaw. Steve Kerr is one of the worst GMs ever.

    Walsh himself said he doesn’t believe in buyouts earlier in the season (before the Marbury fiasco) and I believe even pointed to his record at the Pacers.

  10. Italian Stallion

    From the Daily News.

    “CENTER STAGE: Eddy Curry revealed Tuesday that he is still several weeks away from returning from a bruised right knee. Curry is scheduled to receive another injection on Friday and is hopeful that he will be cleared to play before Jan. 1. “

  11. Duff Soviet Union

    That trade is insane.
    Richardson will be making over $12 million a year until 2011!!!

    My view is obviously completely different to yours or Jon’s. Raja Bell is done (9.3 PER this year), Diaw sucks and is probably more overpaid than Richardson is, and Singletary is nothing. So basically they’re giving up nothing for something. Admittedly, this trade makes more sense in a vacuum then when viewed in context (the Suns should probably be trying to rebuild right now), but Richardson isn’t THAT overpaid and his contract doesn’t last THAT long. As for the Bobcats, who knows what they’re doing. Larry Brown is just going to love Diaw, isn’t he? MJ is just another data point that having played basketball is not necessarily the same as knowing much about it once in office.

  12. Gian Casimiro (SSoM)

    Jason Richardson to Phoenix for Raja Bell and Boris Diaw. Steve Kerr is one of the worst GMs ever.

    Saw this, too. I don’t understand it on either end. I thought Charlotte wanted a center to move Okafor to power forward. Diaw doesn’t solve that. Richardson makes $14.4 mil in 2011 but Diaw makes $9 mil till 2012. They gave up Dudley and a second-rounder, too. Has Morrison played well or something?

    On the Phoenix side, it doesn’t solve their point guard need and they gave up their backup point on top of that. And I thought they wanted to improve their defense. So they give up Raja Bell? Well.. I guess they did got younger and more athletic which they seriously needed to do but I just don’t see the direction Kerr’s taking.

  13. jon abbey

    “My view is obviously completely different to yours or Jon’s. Raja Bell is done (9.3 PER this year), Diaw sucks and is probably more overpaid than Richardson is, and Singletary is nothing. So basically they’re giving up nothing for something. Admittedly, this trade makes more sense in a vacuum then when viewed in context (the Suns should probably be trying to rebuild right now), but Richardson isn’t THAT overpaid and his contract doesn’t last THAT long.”

    my view is that they’ve given away all their depth over the last couple of seasons, and now have only seven guys who can play and a huge dropoff after that. if those seven all stay healthy, it could work short-term, but I don’t see that happening. also they’re a BRUTAL defensive team now.

  14. Duff Soviet Union

    Yes, they are a brutal defensive team right now (gee, you mean it WASN’T all D’Antoni’s fault?), and I do think their short and mid term future is pretty bleak. They’re old, and probably a true .500 team (.508 expected winning percentage right now, with Shaq playing pretty damn well) in a conference where that isn’t going to cut it. Where I apparently disagree is that this trade hurts their depth. Bell and Diaw were once upon a time pretty good, but that time has passed. I would say they now have one MORE good player than they used to. The more I think about this trade and where the Suns are/are trying to be, the less I like it, but it still strikes me more as pointless than outright counterproductive. And I still have no idea what the Bobcats are trying to do.

  15. Z

    “they are a brutal defensive team right now (gee, you mean it WASN’T all D’Antoni’s fault?), and I do think their short and mid term future is pretty bleak…”

    Maybe Phoenix would like a guy like Jeffries to “bolster” that D. (since they’re more worried about 2008 than 2010). Do they have any pieces that match up?

  16. caleb

    I like that trade better for the Suns than the Bobcats. They got the best player in the deal, easy. And as long as they have Shaq, who care about 2011 vs. 2012? Plus, Dudley is pretty good.

    They’d be better off trading Shaq and Nash and starting over, but if they’re not doing that, this helps.

    Charlotte, meanwhile, blew a chance to get some real cap space by trading Richardson, and gave away a decent prospect.

    And Thomas B…
    I like your description of the Blazers as the bizarro Knicks. But I don’t know how much we can learn from their situation, aside from that it pays to draft well and manage your cap. They bought out Francis because they could… if we could save money on Marbs, we’d buy him out.

    And with Oden vs. Durant, they did the opposite of what you suggest. THey already had a great rebounding/defensive center (Przybilla) but were only scraping by at SF. And yet in the draft, they passed on the SF to take another defensive-minded center. The right call, in my book – always draft for talent, not need.

  17. Thomas B.

    And Thomas B…
    I like your description of the Blazers as the bizarro Knicks. But I don’t know how much we can learn from their situation, aside from that it pays to draft well and manage your cap. They bought out Francis because they could… if we could save money on Marbs, we’d buy him out.

    And with Oden vs. Durant, they did the opposite of what you suggest. THey already had a great rebounding/defensive center (Przybilla) but were only scraping by at SF. And yet in the draft, they passed on the SF to take another defensive-minded center. The right call, in my book – always draft for talent, not need.

    Thanks for that, but I’m gonna disagree with you in part-small part.

    I do not get the saving money part. If the value is determined by what you get from the player, then Marbs cost just as much sitting on the bench as he does if we waive him today. If we gave him every penny of his salary after waiving him, how would that be any different than what he is giving us for the money? Here or there the price is the same.

    Roy is cloer to Durant than Przybilla is to Oden. What can Durant do that Roy cannot? Pryzbilla did not come into the draft with the same upside or expectations of Oden. I think Oden was thought to have greater potential on offense than Przybilla. You da man an all Caleb, but I gotta disagree with you on this one similarity of Oden and Przy.

  18. JT

    Posted by Rodman9 | December 11, 2008 00:53

    Nice win. On an unrelated topic, I watched the Wolves / Denver game. Melo scored 33 in the third quarter alone! Anyway, Balkman was out there flying around looking great, doing all the little things with high energy…. until it got time to make a lay-up or take a shot. Ouch. Think Donnie got that one right. Still love the guy though.

    http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/basketball/knicks/blog/2008/12/gameday_live_knicks_at_nets.html#comments

  19. Brian Cronin

    It’s a fair point that the trade was more pointless than actually detrimental for the Suns.

    But still, it’s an insane deal either way.

    Kerr doesn’t seem to have any idea what to do with the Suns.

  20. Joe EZ

    Diaw sucks, and Bell is only a defender. J Rich is another scoring option, but not a great ball handler. I think the Suns came off cause they just got rid of 2 bums who were good under diantoni. Diaw had a good season 2 years ago, and disappeared since. Bell is just Bell, nothing more nothing less. Bobcats suck, and had J-Rich who wasn’t doing anything 4 them!

  21. danvt

    You guys really love to complain. D’Antoni and Walsh have been fiscally responsible and have sat the losers down. If Marbury is too much of a stubborn idiot to to take a buyout that’s not this new regimes problem. The media fixation on him also is not. ( If I hear him called a superior athlete to Duhon again I’m gonna barf.) Him and Curry not playing has made us a better team. How much better should they have dealt with it?

    Balkman? We’re still on Balkman? He’s not a good fit for this system.

    My point is that we’re a better team on the floor, despite injuries and we have cap space for 2010. The guys we brought in for Jamal and Zach are arguably better than they were. Mike, you’re much more knowledgeable than me but things are headed in the right direction. Why such a negative piece? and everyone else, why are we talking about Steve Francis and the “superior” Blazer organization? and Von Wafer? and how maybe the Suns will take Jeffries? and that it’s obvious winning this season isn’t a priority?

    The only real beef you can have with this regime right now is that maybe Brook Lopez might look good in a NYK uniform. Still, though, I wouldn’t be surprised Dannilo ends up being a really good player and a better fit. These guys have not been wrong about much.

  22. Owen

    Danvt – I give Walsh and D’Antoni big credit for getting rid of Randolph and Crawford.

    But Roberson is not an NBA player and that was clear after watching him for ten minutes in summer league. I never make spot visual judgments, I love my stats, but you can see what Roberson is instantly, a D-Leaguer.

    We don’t need to argue Balkman again, but the guy is doing exactly what he did in New York in Denver. With a guy like him, the system doesn’t matter. They should have kept him.

    I was down on Walsh, but overall I am feeling a lot better than I did this summer.

    But anyway…

  23. danvt

    hahaha, you put “superior” Blazer organization in quotes. that’s like saying Einstein had “superior” brain power to Pauly Shore.

    I don’t understand this

    Owen,
    One thing I notice about this team is that everyone is supposed to chuck it. Even Jeffries will rise up if he is open. This is to keep the defense honest if nothing else. Now, I always thought that Renaldo could have developed his shot if he had taken more but he fell victim to the ethos of “some guys should not shoot”. Still, there was a lot of evidence that this was not his game. Thus the choice to take a flyer on a shooter.

    As to this thread, when Nate comes back (and if Lee isn’t hurt) we could be a playoff team.
    Maybe then we could all start debating why Pat Ewing Jr. got cut.

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