Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Losing <> Rebuilding

People say this is a rebuilding year, we are suppose to lose.

This is rebuilding. It just doesn’t seem like it because this should have been Scott Layden’s responsibility.

this team is four years behind schedule thanks to Scott Layden’s refusal to do anything that resembled a rebuilding process. What we are seeing now is that rebuilding process, more or less, and you can expect to see this for the next two or three years because that’s at least how long it takes to turn things around.

The fans say the Knicks are rebuilding. The press says the team is rebuilding. Even the Knicks front office has admitted as much. But I’m not one who just accepts conventional wisdom. So I ask “should the label ‘rebuilding’ be applied to the Knicks?” I could call myself “Dick Cheney” or “Chancellor of the Klingon Empire,” but if my actions don’t match that of an evil tyrant, then those descriptions are rejected. However if I choose to call myself “KnickerBlogger” and perform duties that others would expect from a “KnickerBlogger”, then the term is accurate.

So what does “rebuilding” mean when applied to a sports team? Rebuilding teams are concerned with winning in the future, while their opposite, competing teams, are concerned with winning now. Competing teams usually trade away their draft picks for players that can help them immediately. For example last year the Spurs traded away a pair of first round picks in order to acquire Nazr Mohammed for their championship run. One characteristic of a rebuilding franchise is a team that stockpiles draft picks or tries to improve on the quality of their picks.

Although there are other elements of rebuilding, such as freeing cap space or trading for players, teams still need the draft to improve themselves. Signing Steve Nash or trading for Shaq would not have made their respective teams championship caliber had those teams not drafted All Stars like Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire, and Dwayne Wade. Building a strong team without the draft is possible, but it’s not a legitimate strategy. For instance, to repeat the Pistons success another team would have to unearth gems like Ben Wallace and Chauncy Billups. Digging through the league’s unwanted bin looking for All Stars is not a high percentage move.

So one way to judge whether the term rebuilding can be applied to Isiah Thomas’ Knicks, is by looking at each trade regarding draft picks and see if it falls under the “win now” or “win later” category.

Thomas’ first major move was to trade the Knicks 2004 1st round pick, and a conditional future 1st round pick to the Phoenix Suns in the Stephon Marbury deal. While Marbury is young enough to be considered “win later”, the picks moved, the contracts taken on, and the young talent traded away pushes this trade into the “win now” pile.

Isiah’s second draft pick transaction was the Keith Van Horn trade. In this deal he sent a 2nd rounder in order to get Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed. A year later the Knicks would parlay Nazr Mohammed into a pair of first round picks, clearly a rebuilding move. So let’s combine these two moves into one and add it to the “win later” pile. On the same day Nazr was shipped out of New York, they sent a 2nd round pick to acquire Maurice Taylor. Isiah Thomas might be the first GM in history to have a “rebuild the franchise” trade and a “compete right now” trade on the same day.

Over the summer, New York made two deals involving their draft picks. A draft day deal had the Knicks moving up from the 54th pick to the 21st pick (Nate Robinson) losing only veteran Kurt Thomas. Clearly a “win later” move. A few weeks after, the Knicks traded for Eddy Curry. Although Curry’s status as a former 4th overall pick, might give the impression of a rebuilding move, the surrounding elements clearly mark it as a “win now” deal. The Knicks gave up a slew of picks, including next year’s #1, the option for the Bulls to swap #1 picks the year after, and two 2nd round picks (2007 & 2009).

If you are scoring at home, Isiah’s Knicks have made 3 “win now” deals, and 2 “win later” deals. Optimists might say that the Marbury and Curry deals were “win later” proposals swinging it 4-1 in favor of rebuilding moves. However let’s look at how Isiah Thomas has treated New York’s draft picks year by year to get an overall picture:

2003: The 2003 draft was handled by Layden, but no players drafted remain due to Isiah’s trades.
2004: Traded away 1st round pick (#16).
2005: Traded away their 2nd round pick. Traded for a late 1st round pick (#30 – David Lee). Traded for a second round pick (#54), then traded that pick to move up to a mid 1st (#21 Nate Robinson).
2006: Traded away their 1st round pick (based on Knicks record – currently projected to be a lottery pick). Traded away their second round pick. Traded for 1st round pick (Spurs – projected to be a late pick).
2007: Gave the Bulls an option to swap 1st round picks. Traded away their 2nd round pick.
2008+: The Knicks have traded away a future 1st round pick that has to be used before 2010. They also have traded their 2009 2nd round pick.

In the 8 years between 2003 and 2010, the Knicks have essentially traded their own first round pick at least 4 times (5 if you include the 2007 Bulls’ swap). They’ve traded their own second round pick 5 times. While they have acquired 1st rounders as well, none will be impact players. In the next three years it’s likely that the Knicks will not have any of their first round picks, and only 1 of their second round picks. Simply put, the Knicks have taken the free draft picks given to them by the league and downgraded them or flat out gave them away at nearly every turn.

Another characteristic of a rebuilding team is a losing record, and right now the Knicks are losing at an alarming rate. However just because a team can’t buy a win doesn’t necessarily mean it’s rebuilding. To use the dreaded “r” word, the team should be actively trying to win in the future. For example the 1997 Spurs won only 20 games, but they weren’t rebuilding. San Antonio lost David Robinson for the year, and they knew they would be getting him back the next season. They didn’t trade Avery Johnson or Vinnie Del Negro for a couple of picks, despite the pair being on the wrong side of thirty. From the evidence above, the Knicks aren’t rebuilding either. They’re just doing a really bad job of “winning now.”


Specials thanks to the below two web sites for providing the information used in this article.

http://www.hoopshype.com/general_managers/isiah_thomas.htm

http://www5.realgm.com/src_future_draftpicks.php

55 comments on “Losing <> Rebuilding

  1. dave crockett

    KB-

    I see where you’re headed, and I generally lean toward agreeing with you BUT I think the instrument you’re using here may be a tad too blunt.

    All things equal, trading away draft picks suggests a “win now” attitude but I see that as more a rule of thumb than an iron law.

    Though Isiah has swung back and forth between win now and win later strategies, the Crawford and Curry deals seem closest in spirit to rebuilding. To the extent that this team has a core it’s Crawford, Curry, Frye, Robinson, and Marbury. Excepting Marbury, those players are clearly still in their growth stage, close to or just entering their peak production years. Still, I hear you. It’s the Tim Thomas and Mo Taylor deals that are most vexing.

    One other thing. I’m a big believer in building through the draft. But, that has limits too. If a team is to get better then eventually it cannot continue to get younger. So I’m not as worried about those picks, especially with the Hardaway contract set to come off the cap. My big concern is that Isiah stay away from more roster wrecking Artest type deals.

  2. dave crockett

    One other point about rebuilding through the draft…

    For the Knicks to truly get a true building block – a potential superstar – via the draft they almost certainly need to land a top 5 (if not top 3) pick. The Knicks have already been bad enough to land #8 (Frye) and #9 (Sweetney) picks. That kind of pick will get you a nice player if you know what you’re doing; or else you just have to luck up on a Paul Pierce. It’s actuallly pretty difficult for the Knicks to bottom out like that in the Atlantic Division – too much parity at the bottom.

    The point is that unless you’re virtually assured of enough ping-pong balls to land a top 3 pick then dealing for young vets with most of their peak production still ahead of them is not a bad strategy at all. Obviously you have to make the right deal.

    Swapping picks with a likely playoff team like Chicago in ’07, which likely leaves us with a pick in the high 20s may not be so bad. We’re probably looking at a 4 year college player who can contribute right away (e.g., Robinson or Lee).

  3. Count Zero

    Agree with Dave. I don’t really disagree that Zeke has made some harebrained moves that don’t fit the rebuilding plan, but your rating system is oversimplified.

    At some point you quit making draft picks and try to build with the talent you have. The key thing when rebuilding is that you have acquired a core group of six or seven players who should all be in their prime at about the same time. We now have Frye, Curry, Ariza, Crawford, Lee, Butler and Robinson, all of whom should be in their prime in the ’08 time frame, although some of them may not look that hot even at their peak. ;) Hey — role players are important too.

    But I agree that the trades for Mo and Malik seem out of line, and it is rather unfortunate that we traded away a potential lottery pick in ’06 for Curry (along with Sweets). Much like dave, what I really fear is another dumb cap-buster like Artest, or a wishful thinking swap for a Jalen Rose. Any trade you make at this juncture of the season should either be for another raw promising player that fits in with the development cycle of the six I named above, or for an ’06 pick.

  4. Dave M

    The Curry trade will make or break Zeke and us.
    This had to be rebuild trade but after 4 years in the league does Curry really have that much upside? We gave up a lot to get a 16 point, 6 rebound center who doesn’t like to play defense or stay in shape!!! Who the hell were we bidding against to obtain this massive unmotivated blob????? Now we have $20M in cap space on two Chicago losers for the next 5 years-that’s no bull.

  5. Gabe

    “2003: The 2003 draft was handled by Layden, but no players drafted remain due to Isiah?s trades.”

    I’m not sure what this means. Can KB or someone else explain? How can Isiah have mismanaged the 2003 draft if Layden was GM at the time? Is there something I’m missing?

  6. KAreem

    Dave,

    Don’t forget about the heart condition. To be fair, Curry could be a 20 and 10 guy if his heart doesn’t explode, he stays healthy, stays/gets in reasonable shape, learns to rebound, and his offensive game develops. Of course, Mike Sweetney could become a 20 and 10 guy too but without all of those problems. I wouldn’t mortgage the future on either of these guys, but at least with Sweets you get more cap flexibility. Oh, and you also get a chance to draft 2 players who could be better than both of them.

    Really, I think these conversations are going in circles. Some people (like Zeke) just don’t understand the value of high draft picks and cap flexibility. Also, there are a lot of Knicks fans that just don’t want to see the errors that have been made. Maybe they’re just optimists. If my team had virtualy limitless resources, high draft picks available, and some pieces to trade and 3 years later they ended up as one of the worst teams in the league with a maxed out cap, traded away lottery picks and no way of improving through the draft, with a core of Eddie Curry, Nate Robinson, Channing Frye, Jamall Crawford, Quentin Richardson and Stephon Marbury I wouldn’t be very happy.

    If anyone here really thinks that this “core” the Knicks are stuck with (and are currently the “core” of one of the worst teams in the league) is the best Zeke could have done with the resources and cap picks at his disposal, I’d like to hear why. Wait, no. Just keep it to yourself.

    Sincerely,

    Kareem

    p.s.

    As much as Rob Babcock has been skerewed and talked as the worst GM in the league, give me Chris Bosh, Vilenueva, Joey Graham, Morris Peterson, Caulderon, tons of cap space and high lottery picks the next 3 years over what the Knicks have. Poop on you Zeke.

  7. Count Zero

    Kareem I don’t really disagree with you as much as you think I do. :) Zeke has definitely done some really dumb things regarding the cap. In fact, I don’t think he has the faintest idea how to manage the cap.

    However, I think that a lot of people are over-reacting to the situation regarding the young players. This team was fighting two awesome beasts going into this season:

    1) New coach who was going to bring in a totally new system
    2) Retooling that left only three players who had spent more than 20 games on the floor together

    Either one of those things would be enough to make a team struggle to find its way. Give Popovich ten new players and only Parker and one other holdover (not Duncan) and the Spurs would be struggling. Throw in the fact that even the three players who have had time together are playing under a new system and…

    I’m not saying the current core is going to be great…on the contrary I have a lot of doubts. I hated the Curry trade when it was made and I can’t say I like it a lot more now. But in all fairness, I think it’s still a little early to render final judgement on a bunch of kids, with no core leadership to fall back on, playing under a totally new system. I just want to see improvement by game 60 — the folks who were predicting 45 wins before the season started were just nuts IMHO.

  8. Steve

    Knicks January schedule: 11 home games (including Washington, Seattle, Atl, Sacto, Orlando and LA Lakers) and 5 road games (with Cleveland being the only team close to being among the league’s elite).

    Happy New Year!

    The only problem is that when you’re a bad team and you play poorly, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing or where. But maybe that might be a time to build something.

  9. Larry Fleisher

    with the 11 home games, remember this is supposedly a favorable stretch now. the milwaukee game began a stretch of 17 out of 25 at home and we’ve seen how the results have been.

  10. Big Fella

    Indeed, Isiah should be fired. He’s just making this stuff up as he goes along. Last year, he said we’re rebuilding through the draft. Now, we have the third worst record in the league and none of our own first round picks for the next three years. Right now we are so screwed because the only way to justify the Curry trade is to make the playoffs this year, and the only way to do that is to probably make some more “win now” trades, which might not even work anyway. Our “core” might one day be ok, but it still lacks a marquee/impact player, the kind you can only get with a high lottery pick, or lots of cap space. Isiah gambled that Marbury could be that kind of player, but he was clearly wrong. I say, fire Isiah, hire someone who understands the cap, and blow it up like we should have done in the first place. Trade Marbury if we can, dump salary, and try to get back draft picks. Isiah is just painting us deeper and deeper into a corner.

  11. dave crockett

    Kareem Said: If anyone here really thinks that this ?core? the Knicks are stuck with… is the best Zeke could have done…, I?d like to hear
    why. Wait, no. Just keep it to yourself.

    Okay, so I ignored that last little part :) But I’ll take a stab at it with one caveat. The best Isiah could have done would probably have left NY with a similar amount of overall talent but in a far better cap position. On that I think we agree; at least that’s what I understand you to be saying with your comment about Toronto. (In fact, this is what Isiah should have done from day 1, instead of the Marbury deal.)

    Where I think we disagree is that I feel Isiah’s record has been more of a mixed bag than an unmitigated disaster. Perhaps that’s just parcing words, but I don’t think so.

    The very intent of the salary cap is to reward franchises for making prudent financial decisions and punish those who do not. The smartest way to escape salary cap hell is to bottom out, build through the draft, and sprinkle in smart free agent signings and trades after putting a young nucleus in place. Yet, I think what gets underplayed is the risk involved in bottoming out and pinning your franchise’s hopes on the bounce of the ping pong balls. To wit, the 2003 draft may go down as the deepest in recent memory. It produced a grand total of four players who at this point in their careers appear to be true building blocks (Lebron, Melo, Bosh, Wade). Outside those players, maybe one player from that draft has been demonstrably better than the player the Knicks got at #9 Mike Sweetney (Josh Howard, the last pick in rd. 1). Again, that was an unusually deep draft. More often, each draft produces two or three star quality players, a handful of very good players, and a sluegh of useful complementary players… at best.

    Though the tenor of your comments make a lot of sense, and no Knick fan can be truly happy with what Isiah has wrought thus far, I don’t think was a no doubt about it, clear cut alternative. I never like the Marbury, Tim Thomas, or Mo Taylor trades, and have voiced that opinion in this forum. However, while you may rather be Toronto you could wind up Atlanta, with cap space and a permanent chair at the draft lottery, leaving it each year with a new it-girl on your arm who is suppose to deliver you from your doldrums watching it never happen.

  12. Steve

    i don’t think that’s a factor in new york, because it’s such a big market that free agents will come here to soak up the bright lights.

    carmelo anthony was born to play in MSG. his wife is an MTV veejay, he starred at syracuse, and he’s got to be feeling jealous of all the hype given to LBJ and wade. all isiah has to do is clear out the cap after next season, and he’ll sign.

    also, lebron said in today’s paper that his goal is to be the richest man in the world. that don’t happen in cleveland, it happens if you live and work in new york (maybe LA). gotta clear that cap!

    finally, i’ll make a friendly wager with any of you: in three years, eddy curry will be a better player than whoever chicago gets with the knicks pick, and mike sweetney will be coming off the bench for someone not chicago.

  13. Kareem

    “The very intent of the salary cap is to reward franchises for making prudent financial decisions and punish those who do not. The smartest way to escape salary cap hell is to bottom out, build through the draft, and sprinkle in smart free agent signings and trades after putting a young nucleus in place.”

    Truer words have not been said. Unfortunatly, the Knicks have the “bottomed out” part handled but got rid of all of their draft picks and didn’t leave any cap space.

    In the words of Big Fella “Isiah is just making stuff up as he goes along.”

    Also, Steve, where can I get in contact with you about the Eddie Curry bet? Can we make it a real wager instead of a friendly one?

  14. Steve

    : ) no way! my last bet for money was in 1988 when i bet that michael spinks would knock out mike tyson.

    tyson floored him in 91 seconds.

    which part do you think is wrong: sweet falling off, curry rising, or pick being mediocre?

  15. Greebo

    Um, to say that the Marbury trade was for “the Knicks 2004 1st round pick, and a conditional future 1st round pick” is just dishonest. Does the name Howard Eisley ring any bells? That trade was all about getting rid of a TON of TERRIBLE Scott Layden contracts for a marquee superstar. Despite (or in spite of) how Marbs has played this season, I would still make that trade every single time.

    Also, to not bring up the tremendous expiring contracts coming off the cap this year and next when talking about the Knicks rebuilding plan is ignorant. There’s your marquee superstar right there. The enormous contracts of Penny and AD (not to mention Houston and JYD) coming off the cap is a difference maker.

    There’s a reason why New York has not entered full-blown rebuilding mode. The reason is that every time you lose more than twice in a major media market, there’s five million people screaming for you to be fired. Does that seem like something that would make you want to lose now so you can win later (when you probably won’t have a job)? Zeke has given us a younger, taller, more athletic team; some of our finest drafts (with not so great placement); and one of the best coaches in the business. I’m not cool with firing him yet.

  16. Kareem

    Steve,

    Curry and Sweetney are pretty comparable I’d take my chances that either Sweets would be better (Curry might also be dead by then) or at the very least the Bulls top 10 pick from this year or next would be.

    Kareem

    Also, Greedo, as a Knicks fan, don’t you want a GM who isn’t worried about the fans not tolerating rebuilding? By not accepting the process and just biting the bullet is how you end up in a perpetual cycle of losing… which it appears the Knicks are in.

  17. Kareem

    Could someone please explain to me the Knicks cap situation for the next couple of years? Does Penny’s contract coming off the books mean they can add a player of similar cost through a trade or sign and trade? Can they get free agents?

  18. Bro. Sweets

    Y’all can call it rebuilding or losing or whatever? I call it a sin and a shame. Larry Brown wasn’t going to be the answer to anything. This man is too old for this kind of aggravation. If I could do one thing I would unload Marbury. He will bring us nothing. Fire Zeke. Keep Larry. This team is damn disgrace.

  19. KnickerBlogger Post author

    “Um, to say that the Marbury trade was for ?the Knicks 2004 1st round pick, and a conditional future 1st round pick? is just dishonest. Does the name Howard Eisley ring any bells? That trade was all about getting rid of a TON of TERRIBLE Scott Layden contracts for a marquee superstar. Despite (or in spite of) how Marbs has played this season, I would still make that trade every single time.”

    The Crux of the article is that rebuilding teams keep draft picks, so I was trying to account for each of the Knicks’ draft picks in any trades. Hence why Eisley doesn’t matter in the deal. However if you want to talk about contracts, his deal expired last year. Meanwhile Marbury is signed until 2009. Don’t defend the Marbury trade as a contract dump, because Isiah has brought on a ton of bad contracts on his own. Maurice Taylor has 2 years left at $9.5M a year. Malik Rose has 3 years left. Jerome James 5 years.

    And if you want to talk about dishonest, Marbury is a “marquee superstar”?

    su?per?star
    1. A widely acclaimed star, as in movies or sports, who has great popular appeal.
    2. One that is extremely popular or prominent or that is a major attraction.

  20. Steve

    hey kareem,

    for info on knicks cap situation, check out hoopshype.com (awesome awesome website), and link to “salaries.”

    they do a darn good job keeping up with signings, and give you a full spreadsheet on the whole team’s contract obligations. i think the league salary cap is around $45 million right now (someone else jump in if i’m off), and you have to be below the that threshhold before you can sign anyone. so penny’s expiring contract doesn’t help them at all, since they’re still so outrageously far above the $45M mark.

    a max salary guy costs $12 million in the first year, so to sign a guy (car-mel-o!) you have to be $12M below the cap (so, around $33M). that’s as much as i know. if others have a better handle on it, please share.

    marbury’s deal runs this year plus three more. he makes around $20M, which is almost half their cap. that means they can’t realistically sign a major impact guy until they move that contract.

  21. Steve

    one more thing: every year, teams get one $5M salary cap “exception” — the right to sign a free agent even if you’re over the cap.

    isiah used it to sign jerome james this past offseason. ugh.

  22. Kareem

    Wow, thanks for the link. I’d challenge anyone that defends ol Zeke to go to that site and look at the other team’s cap situations. Try to find one team that’s in worse shape than the Knicks.

    I’d say it’s analagous to the Yankees spending twice as much money than the rest of the league and having the same record as the Devil Rays.

    One more question: Can the Knicks get back a player with a similar contract to Penny in a trade?

  23. NGLI

    If Zeke trades Penny for Jalen Rose, then I might subscribe to your assessment of the “win now” strategy. However, at the end of the season, what is that…close to 30 mil? coming off the books when Penny and Antonio Davis’ contracts expire. Sounds great to me.

    Regarding Penny and Davis, no move at all sounds like a good move to me. With H20′s 20 mil out of the way, the Knicks could actually get in better financial shape within the next few years. The trade that really bugged me was the Rose/Taylor move (who’s going to want their massive contracts???), but seeing as how Zeke turned that into Frye/Lee/Robinson, it doesn’t seem so bad in hindsight. Lets just see what happens.

    I think that clearing cap space should be the #1 priority for the Knicks. NY needs a superstar, and NY is the biggest market of them all. Still, a sign and trade might be available in the future, even if the Knicks can’t clear out the room (which they won’t any time soon).

    Curry/Frye/Ariza/Crawford/Marbury doesn’t sound like a bad starting lineup to me. Q/Robinson/Lee/Taylor/Butler off the bench doesn’t sound like a bad set of reserves, either. On paper, the team looks good. I think that this losing streak has just freaked the f— out of all the fans, players and management. I would chalk it up to the new LB system and Curry/James’ injuries and lack of productivity. What can I say? A bit of bad luck, and a new hyperanal coach with a history of slow slow slow rebuilding projects that are ultimately successful. Remember his first season in Philly? At the time, I really thought that “this guy is nuts”, but look what happened. That’s part of rebuilding. Rebuilding is ugly.

    With the addition a few missing pieces, a few role players, and some LB magic, and the Knicks SHOULD be alright next season.

    If the Knicks ever landed someone like Melo or James, the Knicks have a solid enough foundation to support a star. I agree with Zeke on that one. The Knicks do have a very talented nucleus of players…they just haven’t figured out how to win yet under LB.

    Zeke has seemingly made a lot of mistakes, but there is a method to his madness.

  24. monkey face

    ok, marbury has to go!!! If you look at Marbury’s career, every team has traded him away after 3 years because he makes the teams that bad.

    When he left NJ for PHO in exchange for Kidd, look how well NJ’s doing now. When he left Pho for NY, look how good PHO is doing now. Does no on see this but me????

    Yes, the ownership has problems, etc. But the biggest problem is Marbury. He is a half court, show off, stat whore shooting guard. He does not care about anything else except for his own stats.

    I hope Isiah realizes that Marbury is a sore loser unlike Kidd or Nash who makes their teams better. And dump his butt somewhere like Atalanta or Toronto where it doesn’t really matter for a 1st round draft pick.

    For the love of God, get rid of Marbury.

  25. mase

    can Marbury be traded for Jalen Rose or will they not touch that deal?
    will anyone touch this contract besides Isiah?
    and finally, if he won’t shoot (orlando game) why is he playing?

  26. monkey face

    Stephon Marbury
    PG — New York Knicks

    Starter

    Marbury’s numbers (20.6 ppg, 8.3 apg, 1.2 spg) are as gaudy as his boast that he is the game’s best point guard. The results speak to the contrary. Four different teams, nine years in the league ? zero playoff series wins. How many relationships with potentially perfect partners ? Kevin Garnett, Amar? Stoudemire ? must Marbury poison before he takes an honest look at the common denominator in his run of bad luck ? himself.
    Text: Paul Forrester/SI.com

  27. jb

    With Marbury’s recent play and nonchalant comments to the media (or nonchalant play and recent comments), it is becoming clear the Knicks might need to consider what they could do to really start “rebuilding.” Granted the knicks have had an injury plagued low-post threat, but it is not working and the playoffs are not on the horizon for this team even in the lackluster Atlantic Division.

  28. Steve

    what’s with larry brown obsession with starting people in their hometown? the david lee start in orlando was the most ridiculous of them all. he’s a classic energy guy off the bench, not a starter. his stat line looked awful, which was completely predictable for a guy who has no business in the starting unit.

    at first, the hometown start thing was just a quirky gesture — harmless while he spent the first month of the season assessing his players. but now, it seems really destructive to building any continuity.

    i’m not saying i know more than a hall-of-fame coach, but maybe that’s just the point. he’s a HOF coach, and he HAS to know that constantly messing with the starting unit undermines the team. i wonder if he’s not intentionally messing with this team to force isiah to get rid of guys he doesn’t like. LB’s a proven winner, but he’s also a proven egomaniac, a high-maintenance coach who has to have everything his way.

    i don’t like steph, but i believe him when he tells reporters that he’s really trying to do what coach says. it would be a shame if LB is intentionally undermining him by playing head games.

  29. Big Fella

    For the love of god, can we please never see Antonio Davis, Jerome James, and perhaps Malik Rose on the floor ever again, except in garbage time? It kills me to see LB have Davis and James starting, and even running plays for them. Go to 82games.com and look at their on/off numbers. Play Jackie, Lee, and especially Frye! They all have game and upside. With them and Robinson, Ariza, Crawford, we’re a hectic, young, and yes, sloppy, team. Rather than just a depressing lottery team with no pick.

  30. Steve

    hey big fella,

    oh man, thanks for that 82 games link. i might have to take a leave of absence from work to sift through all that data. your point about knicks young guns is plain as day in the numbers! LB has even acknowledged it in interviews, but somehow taylor, rose, davis and james still somehow end up getting minutes.

  31. Dave M

    Be careful when looking at those +/- numbers. Our young guns are playing most minutes against non-starters or unfortunately in garbage time which can make them look alot better than they are.

  32. Campa

    Marbury should definitely be traded. He is playing and acting as if he wanted to force a trade.

    The only question to me is when to pull the trigger: now or at the end of the season.

  33. Big Fella

    Great seeing David Lee out there, as well as Crawford and Marbury putting the team on their backs when it counted. They’re a lethal duo when they play with confidence. Stick with the kids, Larry, and let’s settle on a rotation. Great game!

  34. Brian Cronin

    So, on the way to the game last night, I was bitching about how Brown refuses to play Lee minutes, and then I saw THAT.

    Except for the idiotic 19 minutes for Taylor while only 10 for Frye (huh?!!?) and the equally idiotic “Cold Rose” over Frye at the end of regulation, Larry Brown pretty much played exactly the players he SHOULD have played.

    Check out Hollinger’s PERs for this year. The Knicks have five players over league average, and at one point, Brown played ALL FIVE OF THEM!

    I was loving it!

    Marbury at the 1, Crawford at the 2, Lee at the 3, Frye at the 4 and Curry at the 5.

    When’s the last time the Knicks had all five players having a PER of league average? Maybe the Houston/Sprewell/Rice/Thomas/Camby team (which couldn’t work as a cohesive unit, unlike this current five).

    With Robinson, Butler and Woods (and one of the bad old power forwards thrown in just to clog up the space) off the bench, this Knicks team not only DOESN’T suck, they might actually be kinda good!

    Only kinda.

    But still!!

    So please, LB, let me see my Crawford/Steph/Lee/Frye/Curry lineup, or at least the Robinson/Steph/Crawford/Lee/Curry team that played the OTs!!

    Just say no to James, Rose, Davis (except for “required fifth player on the court, not to touch the ball under any circumstances”) and Taylor!!

  35. dave crockett

    Jerome James has been suspended for conduct detrimental. Yahoo! Sports is saying he didn’t show up ready to practice on Sunday. How big a screw up can you possibly be? It’s not like he’s 19 years old.

    I only got to see a bit of the first quarter of last night’s 3OT win vs Phoenix. What you have to like about Lee is that he’s such a tough rebounder and he runs the floor like a deer having played in that Billy Donovan fun’ n’ gun system at Florida. Having seen a good bit of Lee in college (I live in SEC country, S. Carolina), the part of his game we haven’t seen yet – but I suspect we will – is his basketball IQ. Lee doesn’t make many boneheaded plays. He’ll have his hands full playing SF, the NBA’s deepest position, but he’s going to crash the boards hard, run the floor and not do anything dumb.

    Eddy Curry is starting to board. Frankly, I’m finding that a very pleasant surprise.

    Here’s to the New Year!

  36. JK

    As much as Rob Babcock has been skerewed and talked as the worst GM in the league, give me Chris Bosh, Vilenueva, Joey Graham, Morris Peterson, Caulderon, tons of cap space and high lottery picks the next 3 years over what the Knicks have. Poop on you Zeke.

    I was also going to refute your point by point with the raptors deal, but I think this makes more sense. Are you of your mind??

    Also here’s the truth:
    Zeke is 10 times better of a GM Layden ever was or ever will be.

  37. Kareem

    Hmm… very interesting point guy. It is odd however that the Raptors have the same record as the Knicks, more cap space, and first round picks to build around while spending 100 million less dollars a year on their players and coach.

  38. Haz

    Bullshit – no way I’d rather have the Raptors’ roster in terms of man for man talent. Cap space would be nice, but it is hardly relevant as no big free-agents want to go there anyway. The number of marquee free agents that actually sign straight up to a new club is so small: Nash is the only one in recent years that has made a big difference. K-Mart too, but he’s like whatever really…not exactly a bust for a number 1 pick, but not really a top player. Cap space doesnt really mean that much these days…I think its only the psychological thing like the Knicks are spending so much money but they arent nearly the best team…it doesnt really affect us that much how much the Knicks spend.

    If you fools had the Raptors roster no doubt you would be whining anyway – the grass is always greener.

  39. Chase

    too much time on our collective hands. if you think about it: if the knicks start winning – everyone that thinks they’re a gm here shuts up … period. that’s if they keep winning as they did at the start of this month and finish with a competitive record. larry brown, from what i’m seeing, is able to coach people (stars or not) into great teams so i’m gonna hold my tongue because, regardless of rick carlisle’s success with almost the same group, noone saw the pistons becoming the strong team they were in 04 and 05. winning cures “everything”.

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