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Friday, May 24, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers 123 – New York Knicks 124 – Game Recap

I beat LA and all I got is this Hezonja block.

Games like this, man. They are exactly what’s wrong with this team. It’s weird to say that after a win, and somehow a wildly amusing one, what with the fact that we swept the Lakers during the worst season in Knicks’ history and forced a loss upon the self-appointed King of MSG. Nonetheless, you just have to look at the minutes allocation to see that one of these two scenarios is in play right now: a) Fizdale doesn’t listen to management and/or b) management doesn’t understand the basic fact that, deep into March in a totally lost season, guys who should be playing lots of minutes should be young and under contract, even if with a team option, for the next season (I’d bet on b, which is somehow scary and very Dolan-like). I know. in the end you’re supposed to play five guys for 48 minutes anyway, and it’s not like our roster is littered with healthy long-term prospects under contract. But, well… let’s take a look at the box score, shall we?

Team expiring: 102 minutes
Team maybe expiring: 29 minutes
Team “we should play more”: 109 minutes (37 to Knox, 41 to Dotson – who, in all fairness, is not guaranteed for next season, but come on).

It doesn’t look that bad, right? Wrong.

I know, I should be prasing these Bron-defeating Knicks and not be so Mitch-centered, but guys, I think we have a huge problem if we don’t recognize the fact that he should be playing 30mpg no matter what and the guys on the court should be passing him the ball every damn time he seals a guard or a wing under the basket. I counted at least 8 such occurrances tonight, and not a single time someone tried to give him the ball. Seriously: he received a grand total of one pass (who he promptly converted) in 15 minutes of play. If he’s as smart as he looks to be, which is at least above-average, I think Mitch has realized how good he is/can be compared to all of the other scrubs on our roster. He’s a rookie and as such certainly shouldn’t be entitled to anything, but believe me, if I was him I’d be sulking quite a bit (and I’m mostly a very happy-go-lucky guy). This season should be about Mitch, Trier (a very blah game), Knox, Dotson and [redacted]. Nobody from the Mud-Hez-Vonleh-DAJ-Lance should play more than 20 minutes in a game, and that’s only when injuries are a factor. Through dungeons and injuries, it’s March 17th and we’re forced to watch Mudiay and Hezonja combine for 69 minutes. Tonight they were very good and so in a vacuum deserved the playing time, but what’s the benefit for us?

Ok, rant’s over, let’s take a look at the game!

For once, the game was actually very watchable. Lots of points scored, a few hot-shooting barrages, not a lot of defense in sight. Now that I think about it, it looked like your typical late-aughts All-Star Game (with much worse players). Neither the Knicks nor the Lakers were able to gain a comfortable lead (the Knicks were up 11 at the end of the first, with a season record of 41 points scored in the period – just after having scored 83 in a whole game against the Spurs), but the Lakers got their 11-point lead much later in the game and looked poised to steal the win. But alas, no, they went back to their terrible status just in time for us to win it in an absurd fashion.

Here’s what happened: with just 3:45 to go, the Lakers were leading 122-111 after a smooth LeBron jumper. From there on, all hell broke loose: Mudiay suddenly remembered how to throw a lob for DeAndre (113-122). Kuzma lost the ball. Knox committed one of his stupid trademark offensive fouls late in the game. KCP missed badly a three. Hezonja missed a three, DeAndre snatched the board (his fourth in the last 90 seconds) and promptly passed the ball back to Mario, who drilled the three. Mudiay committed a stupid foul on Caruso with the Lakers on the bonus, but Caruso went on to shoot 1-for-2. Dotson scored on a stepback long two from the corner. LeBron missed a three, Johnathan Williams (who?) grabbed the board but Hezonja stole the ball from him, the ball got to DeAndre near the basket and Kuzma fouled him. “Who ya got?” calmly drilled both freebies. Bron drove to the rim but got blocked by Jordan and Mudiay got the rebound after a missed tip-in by Extra-H Williams and incredibly passed the ball again under the cup to Dotson who went for a 6th grade-like layup. LeBron shot another jump shot, missed the target, Dotson got the board and passed the ball to Mudiay. KCP fouled inexplicably Mud, who wasn’t even looking at the rim, with just 22 seconds to go and no foul to give. A stone cold Mudiay sinked his free throws, giving the Knicks the lead, and then the masterpiece: LeBron took his sweet time to go for the game-winning layup, only to end getting blocked by Hezonja. The block was as clean as it gets and made for a memorable moment, probably borderline iconic and cult-like.

A few notes about the game (while this would have been a game good for the “good/bad/fun-sized”, it’s too late in the season and in the end it counts for nothing):

– At last, a legitimately good offensive game for Mudiay: 28 points on 11 shots (!), 8 assists, the clutch free throws to win the game. His defense was his usual ugly, but his offense really benefited from the appalling Lakers’ defense. Even bad players can have good games now and then (shout-out to Acie Earl scoring 40 points in 1996 for Toronto).

– I don’t like the fact that Jordan is stealing minutes from Mitch, but honestly, it’s not his fault, so let’s take some delight in seeing him transform into a strange Capela-Jokic off-brand hybrid. He’s averaging 2.9 assists per game as a Knick, while his career-high until last season was 1.5. His last five games: 10.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists. The numbers are cool (his impact, a little less)!

– Damyean Dotson had another good game. 25 points, 6 boards, and a team-high +9 plus/minus. His shooting is very erratic, but we would all have signed up for this with a second-round selection. Over the last 4 games, he’s 16th in the whole League in scoring. I’m not one to value pointzzz that much, but that’s an achievement in itself given the clogged toilet offense we’re running (with a few exception for the DeAndre passing experience).

– Hezonja! Such a sad tale of squandered talent. This kid has all the tools to be a successful NBA player, but no pulse whatsoever. The rare times when he does, he looks like a worldbeater. More often, he’s a hopeless husk of a hope-glazed former lottery pick. Tonight we got good Hez, 17 points on 8 shots, 8 boards, and the block on James. In a lost season, Hez is personally responsible for 2 of the top-5 2018-19 Knicks highlights (the other one, I’m sure you got the memo, is the Giannis stepover).

– Hey, so Knox is able to hit more than half his shots more than once in a month! Problem is, even when he does that he does nothing else and commits a lot of dumb and-one causing fouls. But I like the fact that his shooting splits will look a bit better. Maybe we’ll be able to trade him for a late first.

– I don’t want to talk about Mitch. He’s so misused these days that it makes my soul weep endlessly. I’ll just say that only four rookies in the history of the league rocked a longest streak of games with at least two blocks: Mourning, Shaq, David Robinson and Manute Bol. We’re in really rarefied air.

– I’ve never been a fan of LeBron. I always recognized his greatness – I’m not blind, after all – but his demeanor annoyed me to no end. I made sure to tune into every important Bron game to root against him (as I rooted against Jordan, Shaq, Kobe – I like me some underdogs, that’s what I’m saying). I think the Spurs beating the Heat in 2014 is my happiest non-Knicks, non-Virtus Bologna sports moment ever. That said, even I can’t bear rooting against him anymore. I don’t think I ever saw him so miserable. Every camera cut to him sitting alone on the end of the Lakers bench evokes all sorts of #feels. He’s still an amazing player (who has stopped playing defense), but he went from one-man-army juggernaut to basically an afterthought. I think it’s quite unprecedented and it also speaks volumes about the importance of roster building. It’s not the first time he has bad teammates, but it’s probably the first time he’s had such ill-fitting pieces around him. Someone suggested the Lakers should trade him. I totally agree.

See you tomorrow for the Raptors game! Carry on, just 12 games to the end.

 

 

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60 comments on “Los Angeles Lakers 123 – New York Knicks 124 – Game Recap

  1. d-mar

    I guess I was supposed to be exhilarated by that Hezonga block, but it would have been much more satisfying if it was Mitch or even Trier. Hez is not part of the future of this team (I hope) and it was almost sad watching him stuff a half-interested LBJ.

    Also, I pray that Mills and Perry aren’t using that game to evaluate the Human Dribble, Emmanuel Mudiay.

  2. Farfa Post author

    @2

    Exactly. While the trade market and scrap-heap drafting/signing facets go definitely in the win column for the Mills/Perry regime, there’s still a huge unknown, which is how they evaluate players. If we operate under the assumption that Fizdale has somehow followed some basic set of guidelines, the outlook is a bit bleak.

    Playing your veterans sparsely is obviously ok, as someone is bound to play minutes. Giving 36 minutes to your worst rookie and 15 to your best just doesn’t bode well for the future of the team, no matter how your other center is playing and the fact that you don’t have another small forward (which is not true, Dot could certainly play there in today’s NBA).

  3. bobneptune

    Also, I pray that Mills and Perry aren’t using that game to evaluate the Human Dribble, Emmanuel Mudiay.

    Human Drivel… FYP

  4. Hubert

    we should have a contest for who can guess where Mudiay, Vonleh and Hezonja will be next year and what salary they will be making. DeAndre can be the bonus round.

    Mudiay – New York, $8mm

    Vonleh – New York, $4.5mm

    Hezonja – San Antonio, vet minimum, and somehow Pop will turn him into a decent rotation player on a playoff team

    Bonus round:

    Jordan – New York, $12.5mm

  5. Farfa Post author

    Mudiay – New York, $8mm

    Vonleh – New York, $4.5mm

    Hezonja – San Antonio, vet minimum, and somehow Pop will turn him into a decent rotation player on a playoff team

    Bonus round:

    Jordan – New York, $12.5mm

    This is extremely depressing, because it could be true.
    I feel physical pain everytime I watch Mudiay play. I don’t want to feel this after the next 12 games. Also, DeAndre isn’t bad, but we need to play Mitch

  6. Hubert

    you just have to look at the minutes allocation to see that one of these two scenarios is in play right now: a) Fizdale doesn’t listen to management and/or b) management doesn’t understand the basic fact that, deep into March in a totally lost season, guys who should be playing lots of minutes should be young and under contract, even if with a team option, for the next season (I’d bet on b, which is somehow scary and very Dolan-like).

    I think it’s none of the above, Farfa. I think, for better or worse, Mills and Perry let Fizdale manage his own rotations, and Fizdale occasionally wants to go for some wins.

  7. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    I think we already know how Mills/Perry/Fizdale value players.

    Physically they prefer long athletic players.

    Skill wise they prefer scorers that can create their own shot over defenders and players that are high IQ ball movers that rate well on other non boxscore attributes.

    I don’t think they are so extreme in it that every decision will be driven by those things. But in any relatively close decision they are probably going to favor their own preferred profile in the same way D’Antoni prefers 3 point shooters and Thibodeau prefers defenders. The difference being that D’Antoni finally realized that defense matters and I’m not sure these guys have other than in a theoretical sense. If you really believe defense matters you draft, sign, trade for, and PLAY the defenders together and value the two-way players the most.

  8. Farfa Post author

    I think it’s none of the above, Farfa. I think, for better or worse, Mills and Perry let Fizdale manage his own rotations, and Fizdale is short-sighted coach.

    If that’s so, there’s enough evidence to fire him as soon as we strike out in free agency.

  9. Knick fan not in NJ who thinks our rookies will lead us to a lousy lottery pick in 2019

    I have my DVR set to tape all Knick games, but xfinity has mind of it’s own and avoids the standard MSG broadcast where possible. So when they are playing the Nets, I get the YES network broadcast and this time I got something called MSG OT, where the actual broadcast doesn’t fill the screen and two commentators are shown at the lower mostly not talking about the game. They talked about style and sneakers a lot of the time. They were lively and funny occasionally, but it was a little hard to follow the game. The Guy as your basic homer of a commentator, but the woman seemed pretty good.

    I really missed Clyde.

  10. Brian Cronin

    If that’s so, there’s enough evidence to fire him as soon as we strike out in free agency.

    What’s funny is that I think the only shot Fizdale has of coaching this team long term is if they do strike out in free agency. If they actually bring in Durant and Irving, it won’t be too long before they’re looking for an upgrade. Someone like a Doc Rivers.

  11. Hubert

    This is extremely depressing, because it could be true.

    I think the only way Mudiay isn’t here is if we sign two max free agents. They love him. So even if we get Durant (but without a second max player), I think he’s back. My entry reflects the reality that signing both Kyrie and Durant is a long shot, so the odds are they’ll all be here.

  12. Hubert

    If that’s so, there’s enough evidence to fire him as soon as we strike out in free agency.

    I edited my comment to remove the short-sighted remark. I think he just lacks a consistent approach. There are long periods where he plays the guys we think he should be playing. Then there are times I think he gets tired of losing and puts out the lineup that has the best chance to win, regardless of status.

    FWIW, I also think he doesn’t look at his players like we do. He doesn’t see Mudiay, for instance, as a pending free agent who probably won’t be here next year. He sees him as a young player with a long term future with the Knicks.

  13. Farfa Post author

    What’s funny is that I think the only shot Fizdale has of coaching this team long term is if they do strike out in free agency.

    I agree from a neutral perspective; that said, I wonder what Mills would honestly say to a KB mouthpiece asking him things about a few players. I really think they don’t understand a lot about basketball (Perry looks like he does, but then he goes and drafts Knox, signs Hezonja, trades for Mudiay).

  14. Hubert

    I really missed Clyde.

    Seems like our man started a national conversation on LeBron yesterday. It’s a little unusual for a local broadcaster’s comments to go viral like that.

  15. Nick C.

    Clyde is Clyde. He has the gravitas to say something like that. For the most part I would think MSM would have to stay positive with big stars to maintain access and be positive about the sport they are covering lest they be accused of “spitting in the soup” or something to that effect.

  16. DRed

    The broad idea of trying out highly drafted busts while they’re still young seems like it’s good but the execution of that idea has been poor. Why would you, for example, give up something for Mudiay, a guy whose team was desperate to unload him.

  17. cgreene

    Lot of over reading into the minds of the HC and FO based on a tank season’s minutes allocation and minor roster moves. Who exactly are the “2 way” players on this roster? Vonleh who has gotten a ton of minutes. Mitch who has had limited minutes by did anyone stop to think that may be intentional. There were a few people on this board who thought the Mario move might pan out bc he had shown improvement. Other than that it’s a hodgepodge of nothingness from which very little can be interpreted. They tanked properly. They made a decent KP trade. They didn’t max him. They got Mitch and Trier. They developed some guys and not others. The “major” moves perhaps other than the Knox pick have been solid. I’m pretty sure they know they need guys who can play defense to win.

  18. Owen

    I was tooling through some Win Share college splits. Zion is the best college player for the era they have Win Shares available, which is only 10 years. He and Anthony Davis stand out in a big way with Zion having a clear edge. That says nothing about how their games will translate but it’s pretty amazing nonetheless.

    I think the thing that strikes me more than anything else about Zion is how good he is on defense. People throw out the Barkley comp but Barkley was always a crap defender. Zion looks like an elite defender to me. He doesn’t have a problem staying in front of people. He blocks and changes a ton of shots obviously. He closes down passing lanes at warp speed. And he has the strength to just rip balls away from opposing ballhandlers.

    Looking through the numbers, the other guy who really stands out is Jared Sullinger. That guy was amazing in college and pretty decent in the pros, although I think his defense was sub-par to non-existent. It appears he ate himself out of the league.

  19. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I mean Philly struck out on 3 THREE top 5 picks…

    The Sixers deliberately kept Noel on the bench during a contract year, and wouldn’t you know, he’s #2 in the league in DBPM just behind our Mitch Rob. Not to mention the fact he went #6, but that’s splitting hairs. He is decidedly not a bust.

    I have to believe Fultz suffered an obviously-unforeseeable traumatic injury to his shoulder that he may never recover from, and Okafor was simply a bust (and is slowly crawling out of the abyss — sorta looks like his ceiling is as a Kanteresque big though). But Noel would be an incredible fit on the Sixers at PF/C right now, next to an elite stretch-capable 5 who can switch onto PFs with ease (if he can guard Giannis, he can guard anyone capable of playing in the frontcourt).

    The Sixers did get their starting 5 straightened out this year, but I just don’t see a downgrade going from Harris to Noel. Maybe they give up some offense but get all of that and then some back on D. Simmons, Butler, Noel, Embiid and a 2nd-grader would be a top-5 defense.

  20. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    >Who exactly are the “2 way” players on this roster? <

    Other than KP and Dotson, there were none. That's the point (or more specifically the problem).

    You can make a small case for guys like Vonleh, Jordan and Robinson because even though they aren't offensive threats, Jordan and Robinson score efficiently and it turns out Jordan is also a pretty good play maker. Vonleh is also fine when he's knocking down 3s because he can also handle the ball and make plays.

    If you are going to favor offense over defense, at least bring in very good offensive players. Then you can suffer a little through their lack of defense. But when you bring in mediocre offensive players that can't defend and play them over defenders that can defend, you are not playing the right players.

    If you really believe in defense the idea would be to play Mudiay/DSJ, Frank, Dotson, Vonleh, and Jordan/Robinson together and try to get better ball movement and overall play making from a combination of Jordan, Vonleh, Frank, and Mudiay/DSJ.

  21. DRed

    Looking through the numbers, the other guy who really stands out is Jared Sullinger. That guy was amazing in college and pretty decent in the pros, although I think his defense was sub-par to non-existent. It appears he ate himself out of the league.

    I wonder what sort of shape he’s in now in China. He’s still only 27.

  22. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    The Sixers deliberately kept Noel on the bench during a contract year,

    He was on the bench for merit reasons and because he was a problem in the locker room.

    Dallas did the same when they had him for the same reasons after being sky high on him because they thought he could be their Chandler replacement.

    He’s playing better this year and I guess has accepted his role. The lesson being don’t give up on young players too soon because sometimes they start figuring it out at age 24 or later.

  23. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I think the thing that strikes me more than anything else about Zion is how good he is on defense. People throw out the Barkley comp but Barkley was always a crap defender. Zion looks like an elite defender to me. He doesn’t have a problem staying in front of people. He blocks and changes a ton of shots obviously. He closes down passing lanes at warp speed. And he has the strength to just rip balls away from opposing ballhandlers.

    I agree with all of this, but want to add another thing that amazes me: his ball-handling. For a speeding freight train of a basketball player, he never really looks pressured into a conservative attack when he’s facing his man. And passing out of the double team looks natural, too. And passing in transition. And dribbling with both hands.

    The question to me is whether he’s going to be a low-assist, Barkley-type scorer or if he will become a Simmons/Giannis type ball handler at the next level with defenses collapsing on him like a black hole. And without seeing him in a pro-style offense, it’s hard to say if that’s possible. If he learns to execute the PNR as the ball handler, the league is in big trouble.

  24. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    He’s playing better this year and I guess has accepted his role. The lesson being don’t give up on young players too soon because sometimes they start figuring it out at age 24 or later.

    Most players peak around 24-26, and this is nothing new.

    http://harvardsportsanalysis.org/2015/05/player-progression-in-the-nba/

    The question is whether you give a guy a veteran contract before he’s shown that his peak is worth the money. I’m not going to argue about Porzingis today, but I would not be surprised if he puts up a career season in 2020-21. The question is whether that player will be worth $156M over five (and further, whether Dallas, still a lottery team, is so situated on the win curve to pay a questionable guy that much money at that given moment).

  25. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    I’ve been on board with the anti Mudiay sentiment because I see no point in having a scorer that can’t defend unless he’s especially efficient and does some other things (so toss most of our roster). Players like that should barely even be on a roster, let alone getting major minutes. However, Mudiay is still a very young guy and he’s been a way better player this year than when he came here. He probably still has more upside. I’m not so sure his career trajectory looks as bad right now as it did a year ago. Someone has to play backup in this league. At the right price (cheap), you could do worse than Mudiay.

  26. Nick C.

    It just occurred to me that Anthony Mason was a musclebound 6’7″ or so with a good handle. Obviously he had nowhere near the leaping ability. There really are not a ton of players that size to mentally compare him to.

  27. alsep73

    I have my DVR set to tape all Knick games, but xfinity has mind of it’s own and avoids the standard MSG broadcast where possible. So when they are playing the Nets, I get the YES network broadcast and this time I got something called MSG OT, where the actual broadcast doesn’t fill the screen and two commentators are shown at the lower mostly not talking about the game. They talked about style and sneakers a lot of the time. They were lively and funny occasionally, but it was a little hard to follow the game. The Guy as your basic homer of a commentator, but the woman seemed pretty good.

    My DVR did the same thing, and I have never felt as old as I did watching the last few minutes of the game on that feed. It was like one of those YouTube videos where people react to someone else’s YouTube video.

  28. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    @26

    Dallas hated Nerlens Noel and couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He barely even played. It had nothing to with salaries or win curves. He failed there like he failed in Philly because he wasn’t good enough and was a giant pain in the ass (also, Philly had Embiid).

    The problem with your theory is two fold.

    1. When you draft 18-19 year old players, unless you get a super elite player by luck, you typically won’t know if they are worth the maximum when you are faced with that decision.

    2. If you keep letting potential star players go because you don’t want to pay them without knowing for certain they are worth it, some will prove not worth it and some will turn out to be stars, but for certain you are going to extend your rebuild by a LOT of years waiting to get lucky.

    Personally, I wouldn’t have given a guy like Noel the max without seeing more, but not because of win curve. If he was potentially a legit 1-3 star two way player, I’d do it and move on. It’s a stars league. You need 3 stars (or 2 superstars). I just don’t think he was good enough at that time even though I would have presumed he would get better.

  29. Henry George

    @18

    +1

    I’m thumbs up as well on how this season has progressed. The organization has done exactly what they needed to:

    1. Got a strong developmental coach who’s kept morale high even as the losses mounted. That requires playing some team politics effectively.
    2. Got the kids decent burn and gotten all of them to improve. Expecting more is simply ruinous perfection-seeking that doesn’t appreciate the improvement-seeking behaviors this franchise demonstrates on a daily basis.
    3. Got short and long-term value outta the potential KP contract clustermuck.

  30. Farfa Post author

    gotten all of them to improve

    I wish this was true. We don’t know why some of these kids improved and some didn’t, but I find it very hard to praise the coach here. If you watch the games, you see that not passing the ball to Mitch is a crime against humanity. A lot of those guys simply ignore him and do their things. Even Trier, who in February had a nice thing going with Mitch, right now never passes him the ball even when he’s guarded by a 6’5″ player two feet from the rim. This is not development. It’s random management.

    Or what about this (Kevin Knox’s TS% per month): 43 – 50 – 47 – 42 – 54. While the last number, which is March, is frankly encouraging, I fail to see how such a progression represents improvement. I concede to Fiz the amazing job he must have done to keep spirits up in the locker room, and if we weren’t marred by decades of terrible management maybe I’d be more hopeful, but after 70 games the offense is still “eat what you kill” (save for the high post action by DAJ).

  31. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Dallas hated Nerlens Noel and couldn’t get rid of him fast enough.

    Ah yes, they hated him so much they offered him $70M, which he promptly declined.

    1. When you draft 18-19 year old players, unless you get a super elite player by luck, you typically won’t know if they are worth the maximum when you are faced with that decision.

    Which is why it is, more often than not, a bad practice to draft those players.

    2. If you keep letting potential star players go because you don’t want to pay them without knowing for certain they are worth it, some will prove not worth it and some will turn out to be stars, but for certain you are going to extend your rebuild by a LOT of years waiting to get lucky.

    If he was potentially a legit 1-3 star two way player, I’d do it and move on.

    That’s the thing — if you whiff on those veteran-extension players, you categorically cannot move on. Consider the Rockets: they have pushed all the chips in. This is their team now. If CP3 breaks down, they cannot just “move on” from the contract; ostensibly, if he doesn’t justify the contract, no one else is going to want it, either. And even if they move him, they’re still not going to be under the cap by much. They have to ride it to its very end. They already have $106M committed in 2021-22. The predicted cap is $110M. So that would be $48M in cap space to fill 10 active roster slots.

    The Suns, Bulls and Wolves believed they had their 1-3 stars in Booker, LaVine and Wiggins. Still waiting on them to make the leap — and you’ll see those teams in the lottery until it happens. One bad contract is all it takes to maim a franchise’s growth potential.

  32. Owen

    “I wonder what sort of shape he’s in now in China. He’s still only 27.”

    I read something about him being 280 and having a hard time keeping his weight down but also having a hard time playing at a low weight. Not sure how both those things happen. Either way, eating your way out of the league is a thing that definitely happens to some guys.

    Talking about Zion’s offensive skillset isn’t something I want to do. I don’t have all day and once I start I probably won’t be able to stop.

  33. ess-dog

    I think there’s a little too much hand-wringing here over re-signing Mudiay. Signs really point toward Kyrie signing as the starting pg, and there’s also a good chance we end up with Ja Morant. Both Smith and Mudiay are expendable, although they can always keep/groom Smith behind Kyrie.

    And if we don’t get either of those players, I’m sure they’ll look for a cheap vet pg to put with their big free agent signings. If we sign Mudiay to a long-term deal, that means everything has gone wrong: no big free agents, no Ja, etc. And even if that scenario happens, the team would rather reset and try for free agents in 2020 (meaning only lesser free agents on one-year deals).

  34. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Teams that could burn us at #2:

    Phoenix: they probably take Morant before Barrett
    Cleveland: Sexton sucks but they’re not going to draft another PG when they have holes everywhere but PF
    Chicago: likely to pick Morant now that they have LaVine, Porter, Markkanen and WCJ at 2-5.
    Atlanta: I think they’d even pick Reddish before Morant
    Memphis: hard to see them picking a PG when they have such a hole at wing and Conley signed through 2021
    Dallas: I think they’d pick Barrett over Morant. I think they plan to use Doncic like a Harden-style PG, and maybe see Barrett as a good way to have a long wing defender to handle the opposing team’s PG.
    New Orleans: Jrue Holiday signed through 2022, for better or worse.

    PHX and CHI are the scary ones, and they’re about as likely to pick #2.

  35. Hubert

    I know we touched on this last week, but just look at the breakdown of lottery odds (Chances of getting a top 4 pick):

    1. 52.1%
    2. 52.1%
    3. 52.1%
    4. 48.1%
    5. 42.1%
    6. 37.2%
    7. 32.0%
    8. 26.3%
    9. 20.3%
    10. 13.9%

    God almighty! Look at how much incentive to tank exists after the top 3 picks! Every win can cost you between 4 and 7%. We’re going to see some serious shit in the next month from the likes of Memphis, Dallas, New Orleans, Washington, LA, etc. What a terrible “solution.”

  36. thenoblefacehumper

    That’s the thing — if you whiff on those veteran-extension players, you categorically cannot move on. Consider the Rockets: they have pushed all the chips in. This is their team now. If CP3 breaks down, they cannot just “move on” from the contract; ostensibly, if he doesn’t justify the contract, no one else is going to want it, either. And even if they move him, they’re still not going to be under the cap by much. They have to ride it to its very end. They already have $106M committed in 2021-22. The predicted cap is $110M. So that would be $48M in cap space to fill 10 active roster slots.

    This rather simple idea is why I liked the Porzingis trade so much.

    Let’s say Porzingis breaks out, gets over the injury/fatigue issues, etc. Basically he becomes a superstar. Guess what? The Knicks still aren’t directly hurt in this scenario. Sure, it will suck for the fans emotionally but the team will still be in a pretty decent position with surplus picks and cap space. In no way will they be precluded from putting together a good team.

    If Porzingis doesn’t put it all together, Dallas will be in a major hole when it comes to putting together a contender. They took on all of the risk involved in the trade.

    I say this to point out that when you have a drafted player up for a max extension and you’re not fairly certain they can produce enough to justify it, there’s really not much of a downside to trading them and trying again to land a sure thing. It’s not like you’re never sure if a guy up for an extension will be worth it (this is what Strat makes it seem like)–everyone with a functioning cerebral cortex knew AD/Embiid/KAT/Giannis/Jokic were worth it and those are just the most recent examples off the top of my head.

  37. Hubert

    1. When you draft 18-19 year old players, unless you get a super elite player by luck, you typically won’t know if they are worth the maximum when you are faced with that decision.

    If you don’t know, you know.

    The problem isn’t drafting young guys. It’s overcoming the crippling perception that if you want to keep a player after his first contract you have to give him the max. Myles Turner, for instance, was drafted at 19. He’s really good. He signed an extension that pays him a lot of money and could still provide value for Indiana.

    2. If you keep letting potential star players go because you don’t want to pay them without knowing for certain they are worth it, some will prove not worth it and some will turn out to be stars, but for certain you are going to extend your rebuild by a LOT of years waiting to get lucky.

    Actual stars should get the max. Potential stars should get less than the max. It’s not that hard. If you got a guy like Porzingis who thinks he’s a star but isn’t, the best thing you can do is get rid of him. Signing a nonstar to a star contract will extend your rebuild a lot longer than trading a guy who wants to be paid double what he’s worth.

  38. Bruno Almeida

    @38

    And you can also, you know, offer a less than max contract for guys in the NBA. I know it seems like an alien proposition, but you actually can offer guys drafted in the high lottery contracts that are less than the max and are more in line with their actual production.

    Just because dumb teams are giving maxes to non-productive 22 year olds, it doesn’t mean every team has to do it to every player they’ve invested a high draft pick to get. Teams got swindled by agents and media into this panic state of “we HAVE to max this guys” when that’s simply not true at all.

  39. ptmilo

    If Porzingis doesn’t put it all together, Dallas will be in a major hole when it comes to putting together a contender.

    probably not though. if he gets hurt or plays terribly, yeah, but KP will be at least ditchable at the 25pct level as long as he plays okay. teams who have trouble signing guys or just teams who love the player will take a chance on a big name at the 25pct level, especially if they are young and not playing at the wiggins level of suckitude.

    washington didn’t have to give anything to trade otto porter. the original okc trade for oladipo was basically just under the 25 pct max level (even tho it didn’t happen until a few months later) for a non superstar. if KP signs a max deal (which by definition has no trade restrictions) with dallas and plays only around his 17-18 pre acl level but looks healthy, they probably have takers and would even get some fraction of his cost back…maybe half if you value dsj as low as i do. then they still have luka and tons of cap space and can try again.

  40. Owen

    This has been a long term mystery for me but I also don’t understand why basketball contracts aren’t much more fine-grained like they are in baseball. It makes no sense to me that so many people who are worth less than the max or could be had for less than the max seem to get the max anyway.

  41. ptmilo

    you guys are oversimplifying. the winner’s curse is strong in the nba, it’s not just about
    media panic. some teams get lucky and a myles turner or a steph curry is willing to sign early for a discount. usually that isn’t bc the player is stupid but bc the player is hedging some injury risk or talent risk that the team is bearing. but some players who aren’t worth the max don’t want to hedge and will probably get the max.

    it seems easy to say don’t give it to them but in some cases it isn’t easy. a lot of people laughed at beal but that was a hard decision. he was certainly right that someone would have snap max’d him if the wizards didn’t. even cj probably would have gotten max’d (cf. crabbe’s offer sheet) and while the blazers should have still demurred, it isn’t because you can magically keep him for less just because myles turner took a discount. somebody paid for harrison fucking barnes.

    the nba has massive heterogeneity in team context, plus a stratified max 25-35-super, so it’s not that surprising to see a lot of gravitation to one of the max tiers. it’s true more teams should be stingy, but it’s also true that you have to get lucky to get promising guys to sign submax deals and if not you’re going to lose them.

  42. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    “Which is why it is, more often than not, a bad practice to draft those players.”

    Not exactly.

    That’s one of several reasons why building exclusively via the draft isn’t nearly the panacea people think it is.

    Bottom line is you need stars. You can get them via draft, free agency, trade or a combination of the above. But if you choose primarily draft, almost all the star talent is now located among the 18-19 year old players coming out one and done and not the 21-22 year olds.

    You can probably find more bargains among the older players because everyone is star hunting, but you still need those stars. If you draft young you have to make the decision before you know if the player is worth it fairly often.

    “Ah yes, they hated him so much they offered him $70M, which he promptly declined.”

    They made him that offer after seeing a handful of games after they pried him away. Then they got to see him for another season and wanted nothing to do with him because he didn’t live up to expectations and was a pain in the ass (like in Philly).

    “That’s the thing — if you whiff on those veteran-extension players, you categorically cannot move on. Consider the Rockets: they have pushed all the chips in. This is their team now. If CP3 breaks down, they cannot just “move on” from the contract;”

    The Rockets are “all in”.

    I don’t think they would have done that unless they thought they had a shot at winning it all despite the loss of a few good role players. They have a big 3 in Harden, Paul, and Capela. They’ve added a few players since the start of the season. I don’t think they are good enough, but injuries go both ways. They are a Durant/Curry/Green injury from being in a great spot and still have some chance.

  43. thenoblefacehumper

    This has been a long term mystery for me but I also don’t understand why basketball contracts aren’t much more fine-grained like they are in baseball. It makes no sense to me that so many people who are worth less than the max or could be had for less than the max seem to get the max anyway.

    The majority of the time the max contract functions as a cost-saving mechanism for the owners, as it was meant to do. I think there are some cases where:

    1) the status that comes with being a “max player” encourages players to hold out when they otherwise (like in the MLB) might not, as they should since it’s up to front offices to negotiate a number they think is fair
    2) some teams feel like if they don’t give a guy his max, they’re devaluing their own asset in a way. They’re basically projecting to the world that they think the player has at least some flaws.

    the nba has massive heterogeneity in team context, plus a stratified max 25-35-super, so it’s not that surprising to see a lot of gravitation to one of the max tiers. it’s true more teams should be stingy, but it’s also true that you have to get lucky to get promising guys to sign submax deals and if not you’re going to lose them.

    I agree with every word of your post, but that’s why I’m not sure more teams don’t do what the New York Knicks just did (that was a very odd sentence to think and then type). There are plenty of players that make no sense at all for the original team to max out, but make much more sense as max guys in a different context (Porzingis is a good example here). The best solution for everyone involved is for those players to get traded when they’re up for extensions.

  44. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Actual stars should get the max. Potential stars should get less than the max. It’s not that hard.

    IMHO, that’s where you are wrong. It’s VERY hard. You can’t allow players that are on a good glide path to stardom walk because they aren’t worth it yet. It could take 10-20 years before you finally win the draft or get lucky enough to get the sure fire superstar. You have to use your judgement about where the player is now, what talent level he has, his work ethic, how much upside is left etc.. and pull the trigger sometimes even though the player is not at that star level yet.

    If you got a guy like Porzingis who thinks he’s a star but isn’t, the best thing you can do is get rid of him. Signing a nonstar to a star contract will extend your rebuild a lot longer than trading a guy who wants to be paid double what he’s worth.

    We aren’t going to make much progress in a discussion about Porzingis because I think he’s a lot better than WS/48, BPM, and most people here give him credit for. I think he’s a plus defender and his ability to space the floor as a big man has value that is not accruing to him in those models. I think he’s a hair below a star player now (not a superstar but 1-3 star).

    We are all simply going to have to agree to disagree on how productive a player he actually has been.

    I also think the fact that he was way too thin, weak, used horribly, and asked to do so much in NY leaves a LOT of room for upside from a competent organization and coach as he matures, fills out, and learns.

    If I was a GM, I’d sign KP to a max and say a long prayer he doesn’t get injured badly.

    But to me, without the injury risk he was a no brainer. It seems way too easy to improve on him from here to be worried about the fact that he took dumb shots in NY for a bad coach, with no help, with no real PG, and as the raw project he was perceived to be when we drafted him.

  45. ptmilo

    I agree with every word of your post, but that’s why I’m not sure more teams don’t do what the New York Knicks just did (that was a very odd sentence to think and then type).

    yeah, in a lot of markets where these factors are present this is exactly what you’d expect. and i’m not saying it couldn’t become a trend in the nba either. one unusual counterpunch is that nba players are sometimes worth more to a home team to the extent the fans or the owner builds up an affinity for a “homegrown” player over time. a second is that the average owner is older and might have a much higher discount rate than the overall fan base, so isn’t always as interested in maximizing npv.

    but the increase in player power might change the homegrown effect as it is and maybe the league starts to trend that way.

  46. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Sure, it will suck for the fans emotionally but the team will still be in a pretty decent position with surplus picks and cap space. In no way will they be precluded from putting together a good team.

    I agree, but you say this as if cap space is equal to actually having the player you can theoretically put into it.

    I have defended “cap space as an asset”, but I’d way rather have a bird in the hand than a bird in the bush. It’s difficult to get the “stars” to choose your team when everyone else wants them too (especially when you suck). It’s a million times harder to get one that’s 22 or 23 on the improve as opposed to one that’s in his late 20s or early 30s where you are squeezing the last puffs out of the cigar with a smaller window.

    No one is defending signing a player to max that has very little chance of being worth it, but if you have a young one that looks like he might be in a couple of years, I’d way rather have that than cap space. It’s way too hard to replace stars.

    We’ll see what we do with the extra space we have, but I’m not optimistic we are going to fill it with a star that gives us a long window. Even the very best scenario of Durant and Kyrie doesn’t give us a long window until Durant is on the downside or Kyrie gets hurt (he also has injury risk).

  47. Silky Johnson, Fleet Admiral of the Tank Armada

    In Stockholm on an academic trip and just found out that a member of my cohort is Dwane Casey’s nephew lol.

  48. Bruno Almeida

    But that’s the main point, if you’re sure that Wiggins will get maxed, but you’re not sure he’s worth it, why not look to deal him? Wiggins for example was even a RFA, there was literally zero reason for Minnesota to even offer him a max extension, even if they knew 100% he would get a max offer in the market, because they could then simply match him. It’s just terrible management.

    I agree that it gets a lot harder when it comes to guys like Beal or CJ McCollum, guys who are actually productive and parts of a decent to good team, while being young enough to expect some improvement still. But nobody is here saying Beal or McCollum are absolutely horrible contracts, they’re overpaid, sure, but are decent players a good team can use.

  49. Z-man

    Bucks signed Tim Frazier to fill Brogdan’s shoes for a bit. I think it’s an excellent move considering that there isn’t much out there that’s playoff-eligible.

  50. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    It’s just terrible management.

    Probably championed by the same people who’d argue that a few token wins at the end of a lost season are more important than draft position. “You need to put some confidence in him,” they’d say. “Let him get his rhythm. Show him you’re committed.”

  51. ptmilo

    But nobody is here saying Beal or McCollum are absolutely horrible contracts, they’re overpaid, sure, but are decent players a good team can use.

    definitely not true. there were plenty of posts here saying beal’s max was a huge mistake, worst in the league, worse than melo’s deal etc.

    wiggins everyone can agree on. don’t max shitty players no matter what. kp isn’t wiggins.

  52. Bruno Almeida

    I really don’t recall anyone saying Beal’s contract was the worst in the NBA, I definitely do recall people saying that about Wall, which is a much better candidate. The jury is still out if Beal’s contract was a mistake, it looks like it was considering Washington’s current position, but for me it’s clearly a better deal than the Wall extension.

  53. Brian Cronin

    Bucks signed Tim Frazier to fill Brogdan’s shoes for a bit. I think it’s an excellent move considering that there isn’t much out there that’s playoff-eligible.

    Yeah, that’s about as good as you can hope to get this late in the season.

  54. ptmilo

    this is the first thread google found:

    Actually I’ll take Bradley Beal and his 5 year max deal as most undeserved. Yeah, no way you can beat that.

    Bradley Beal makes more than Melo

    Yup, and they’re both paid a lot more than they should be, but at least now Melo is out of the running for worst contract in the league!

    Mannnn. Beal has played 60 games 1 fucking time in 4 years. And that’s with a career high of 63. He has a .7 win share and a sub .55 ts. That’s not even close. Beal is a barely below avg player who is always fucking hurt. Melo at 32 is twice the value of Bradley Beal

    Yup, and they’re both paid a lot more than they should be, but at least now Melo is out of the running for worst contract in the league!

    http://knickerblogger.net/the-state-of-the-knicks-salary-cap-for-the-2016-free-agent-season/

  55. bidiong

    Actually I’ll take Bradley Beal and his 5 year max deal as most undeserved. Yeah, no way you can beat that.

    Bradley Beal makes more than Melo

    Yup, and they’re both paid a lot more than they should be, but at least now Melo is out of the running for worst contract in the league!

    Mannnn. Beal has played 60 games 1 fucking time in 4 years. And that’s with a career high of 63. He has a .7 win share and a sub .55 ts. That’s not even close. Beal is a barely below avg player who is always fucking hurt. Melo at 32 is twice the value of Bradley Beal

    Yup, and they’re both paid a lot more than they should be, but at least now Melo is out of the running for worst contract in the league!

    Knickerblogger doesn’t forget!

  56. Grocer

    Huh, Lebron took Knox aside after the game and told him he could be a ‘special player.’ Mario must have really pissed him off if he’s trolling the rookie.

  57. Bruno Almeida

    I really did not pay attention then or wasn’t here at the time, and well, this board has seen quite a few crazy stupid opinions too. A lot of the worse contracts than Beal’s came after his, but it’s still a bad take to say he’s the worst contract of the league. I don’t even like the guy and I would never give him a max, anyway.

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