New York Knicks 108 – Sacramento Kings 115 – Game Recap

There has been some talk about player development around here in the last days (while I missed the Clippers recapping task due to work, I still read a lot of comments!), and how maybe someone in the Knicks organization knows what he’s doing, case in point Mitchell Robinson, who doesn’t foul that much anymore and rebounds better. I think this game showed quite clearly that Fiz has no idea about developing Mitch either, and not because of his 6 fouls or his game-worst -13 +/-.

Look, this season is one of the worst in franchise history and we were supposed to lose a lot (by the way, great job by the Bucks losing to the Suns. We’re back at #30, and that’s great). We also were supposed to trot out some of the worst lineups any hardwood has ever seen, and that’s cool. Not easy on the eyes, but cool nonetheless. In the midst of it, we realized we had on our hands one of the potentially most dominant rim-running, all-around defending centers of the 2020s, and that’s supercool!

So why in the hell this dumb coach insists in playing Mitch with Mudiay and not DSJ?

I already know some of you will get annoyed by my tirades against the coaching staff. I might have been wrong (but only slightly, I guess) in the past about it, but there’s really no silver lining or justification whatsoever in playing our best player in 6 years (there, I said it) with the most passing-averse “point guard” we have on the roster. Did you see the fouls Mitch committed last night? I did. I did play basketball for a while as a big. I know at least half of those fouls stem from the sheer frustration of never seeing the ball come your way. Now, don’t get me wrong. Mitch isn’t, and shouldn’t be, entitled to anything at his point in his career. By that logic, he shouldn’t be frustrated at all. But when all you see around you are scrubs who can’t contribute to wins like you do, and it’s evident that passing the ball in high space to you would result in better outcomes than whatever the other guys are doing, that frustration seeps in and you commit stupid fouls because by then you’re “ok, I’ll just bang with whomever is between me and the basket or between me and a block”.

FFS, Mitch was posting guys last night! And was half-good at it (his first bucket came on a very rare Mudiay entry pass, with Mitch having effectively sealed the shorter Harry Giles two feet from the basket). He also committed two offensive fouls because of that, and if you saw the game you also saw it was because nobody was passing him the darn ball as soon as he was semi-open under the rim. We’re not in 1990s and guys shouldn’t post much, I agree. But if your likely next superstar is adding that to the repertoire, why don’t you give him the ball? It’s not that hard.

[OVERHEATING RISK]

Ok, now that I’m done venting, some notes about the actual game (which wasn’t bad, just kinda meh. It was certainly good for the tank).

The good:

– Allonzo Trier (29 pts, 8 rebs, 2 stl, 0 +/-) is the main reason these games retain some semblance of watchability when Mitch is not on the court. He should also be the main reason to cut Mudiay, like, now and immediately call up Kadeem Allen to sign him to a Jenkins/Ellenson special. Trier is very clearly a ball-dominant, seldom-passing guard (who can create for others, though. It’s just that he’s wired differently) who has a role in today’s NBA. Ironically, his role is exactly the same Mudiay should have (the scoring guard off the bench who can catch fire while occasionally passing the rock to someone). If that’s so, what’s the point in playing them together? Are we trying to do some Humpty-Dumpty weird stuff here? I say let’s focus on the guy we have under contract for at least one more year – and who looks like he understands the game better and can pull countermoves during a single season – and not the other one who probably deserves a spot in the NBA but somewhere else, and anyway will surely be renounced for cap hold reasons oh god I’m venting again. Ok, let’s really focus on Zo: 29 points on 16 shots are very good efficiency, and that’s while going only 10-for-15 from the stripe. He looks like he has developed some pretty countermoves about his main liability during the middle part of the season (opposing defenses forced him to go left and he looked a bit lost most of the times) and now he’s able to delve into the paint almost at will. Sometimes he doesn’t convert, but that’s a great recipe for being fouled a lot, and getting to the line is key for him to maintain his scoring punch. Those 8 boards were pretty good too. If he only upped the number of threes he shoots (while keeping that tidy 38/40% clip) he’d really be a mini-Harden. Good to see him bounce back in the last few games from his mid-season slump.

– Noah Vonleh (9 pts, 13 rebs, 3 ast, +9 +/-) has also bounced back big in his last three games, after a long stretch where he looked completely gassed. It’s difficult to see where he fits in the grand scheme of today’s NBA, but as long as his intensity is there, I don’t think there can be many complaints against him. What really makes the difference for him is his energy level. If it’s high, he can and will contribute a lot. If it’s low, even Lance Thomas at times looks to be more useful. So much for any hope that he was gonna cut it as a credible three-point menace: his 3PT% is at 33.8% for the season (20% in his last 15 games), but if he rebounds like this there’s a clear reason to have him on the court for 15-20 minutes at night, at least until DeAndre comes back.

The bad:

– Uh, spoiler? Emmanuel Mudiay (8 pts, 2 rebs, 5 ast, -4 +/-) wasn’t much worse than DSJ in terms of overall production, same number of assists, same number of turnovers, pretty much same points per shot (Mud 0.88 to DSJ 1.05, both not good). The problem, though, lies in how the team plays when Mudiay is on the court. Fizdale magic calls for a lot of iso plays already, but you see some pieces moving at least adequately when they have faith that, if open, they’ll get the ball sooner or later. DSJ is not a great passer in terms of technique and precision, but he certainly doesn’t suffer from tunnel vision and is able to look for his guys. The only good pass Mudiay can throw is the cross court one out of the pick and roll. It’s a good weapon, but you need a) to have good shooters on the floor, which is not always the case with these Knicks and b) mix it up a lot, especially with a rim-running force in the middle. Add to that the fact that his TS%, while much improved, is still below average (.535) and his WS/48 in his fourth season is worse than Trier’s in his rookie season, age be damned, and I really don’t see any reason whatsoever not to call it a day with this guy. Give him spot minutes only when needed and, again, bring back Kadeem Allen (if Frank never recovers from that groin injury).

Other notes:

– I think I already wrote a lot about Mitch. Just one more thing: tonight he looked a bit dispirited on defense. I don’t know if that’s a side effect of never seeing the ball or just not feeling well (I suspect a mix of both, as in the second half he was more active), but the Corey Brewer to Harry Giles fastbreak pass that saw Mitch stop at half court for a super easy Giles dunk was not pleasing at all. That was the sight of a guy who’s not giving full effort, and I didn’t like it. That said, I hope Fiz stops punishing him by playing him alongside Mudiay so much.

– I dig Corey Brewer’s beachvolley look. Did he get some fashion advice from Jud Buechler?

– Dotson is streaky as hell, but I like the fact that he’s playing a bit more for the team.

– Knox got 21 impalpable minutes, but at least he hit more than half his shots at last. That said his defense is godawful and his fouls are even worse (he has to have the worst and-1/PF ratio in the league). Let the kid get some rest, he’s constantly being embarrassed out there.

– There was a stretch in the early 90s when everybody was looking for the next Larry Bird, hopefully for a taller one. Maybe Luke Kornet and Henry Ellenson wish they were born 20 years earlier (although Ellenson was a first round pick anyway).

– DSJ stuffed the stat sheet but was pretty meh. Still liking him more than every Knicks starting PG since 2012-13 Felton (talk about damning with faint praise).

– Buddy Hield is becoming a very good player. Did Vlade come out on top of the Boogie-trade? And was Vivek not that insane when he called him “our Steph Curry”? I mean, that’s insanity anyway, but on the Vivek scale has to be a 2 out of 10, right?

And now we can pretty much secure a valiant tank win with a loss against Phoenix on Wednesday. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

 

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Farfa

Just an Italian basketball fan with an insane passion for all things Knicks (and yes, linguine Alfredo is not a real Italian dish).

93 thoughts to “New York Knicks 108 – Sacramento Kings 115 – Game Recap”

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

    I still have a tough time processing Durant to the Knicks unless he comes with a bonafide second star. Before the Porzingis trade we were terrible, but you could at least argue we were missing our best player. If we added Durant, we’d actually be adding a #1 and #2 scoring option and could go from there.

    Now we are legitimately the worst team in the NBA.

    He’d more or less be throwing away a year of his prime hoping that player development lead to making a playoff run the following year and then a more serious run the year after that. So if all goes well, he’d be 33 before the team is ready to make a more serious run.

    It’s hard for me to imagine anyone could be that dumb unless the business opportunities in NY totally swamp basketball and there’s no other way to do it. I’m not sure I even want that to happen and I’m open to adding players in their late 20s at part of a rebuild.

    To me, if you sign Durant you are going all in now or you don’t do it.

  2. This quote from Tim Hardaway is great. I love how the last sentence really underscores his delusion.

    Tim Hardaway Jr. on his trade from New York to Dallas in the Kristaps Porzingis deal: “I let (the Knicks) know (in conversations after the trade) that we definitely had something good going here my first time back with KP and myself in the lineup at the same time. I got injured and he got injured and it kind of, really, went down hill from there. I let them know, ‘Hey, what we had here was special.’ And I really think they didn’t give us an opportunity to have KP come back and so on and so on. But it is what it is. You’ve got to move forward. We’re starting fresh here in Dallas and I know everybody’s happy.” New York was 11-10 in 2017-18 before Hardaway Jr. missed 20 games with a stress fracture.

  3. How does a lineup of Rubio/Dotson/KD/Vonleh/DeAndre fair? You then have Mitch/Trier/Lotto Pick/DSJr playing off the bench.

    East playoff team, short of contention. If we sign those guys, we may have money left over and we field the best Knicks team in 2 decades.

  4. Before the Porzingis trade we were terrible, but you could at least argue we were missing our best player.

    You could wrongly make that argument if you wanted to, yes.

    To me the Durant speculation made no sense while Porzingis was here.

    Let’s say we miraculously offloaded THJ and Lee some other way. Let’s give us the cap hold for the 5th overall pick (AKA a lottery disaster but “good” for salary cap purposes. Let’s say we renounce every free agency except Porzingis (including Trier and Kornet), and Porzingis agrees to not sign any offer sheets until all of our other business is done.

    Welp, after Durant’s max we’re left with $22.5M in space. That’s enough to sign…Khris Middleton, maybe? Best-case scenario? There aren’t many good options if your preference is to divide among multiple players, either. So the core we’re locked into is Frank-Dotson-Knox-Durant-Porzingis-Middleton level guy-Mitch-5th overall pick (assuming we didn’t have to trade any of these guys to dump THJ and Lee). That’s, uh, not doing jackshit.

  5. Well, I really nailed it yesterday with my discussion of Mitch and his fouling ways. Although, if two of his 6 were offensive fouls that tempers it a bit. I feel like any project to turn Mitch into a versatile offensive force probably will be a mistake. Just look at Andre Drummond. But whatever, it is what it is.

    Pretty happy I went to bed at 930 last night rather than having any Mudiay inspired nightmares….

  6. Early Bird, I’m on board with your overall strategy of spreading the wealth around instead of adding a second max guy. I wouldn’t get those same players (you can’t have Dotson and Vonleh in your starting lineup without multiple max guys), but I agree with the idea.

    The Heat have blown our mindsets out of proportion. Banking on getting a player like Ray Allen for the midlevel and Shane Battier with the biannual exception is almost as crazy as banking on getting a player of Stephen Curry’s value with the 7th pick. The Heat had LeBron in his prime and still needed those minor miracles and the positive production they got from cheap players already on their roster like Chalmers and Haslem to avoid the fate of other top-heavy, multi-max player teams like the Clippers.

    I’d rather take the chance that Dennis Smith can develop into a merely average PG in his third season and spread the money around. Right under our eyes, we’re watching teams like Toronto and Milwaukee show us that one true max player surrounded by a fleet of plus players is as good, if not a better, way to build a team. Having Durant be our Kawhi/Giannis and hoping Mitch develops into or Siakhim/Middleton is much more reasonable.

  7. He’d more or less be throwing away a year of his prime

    Durant will be 31 before next season starts. He will no longer be in his prime. In fact his advanced stats — VORP, BPM, WS, PER, and TS as well — are already in decline.

  8. Welp, after Durant’s max we’re left with $22.5M in space.

    We have to sign KP to a qualifying offer or a 2 year deal where the 2nd year is a player option with an under the table deal to sign him to a max after the first year.

    In that scenario I think we have significantly more than $22.5M. I haven’t looked at the actual math in a while and it’s possible I’m completely missing someone/adding wrong in my 5 min calculation.

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

    @4

    The toughest things in basketball to get are #1 and #2 scorers that add some value elsewhere and are not a huge liability on defense.

    1. Durant is a given.

    2. KP has been used poorly to date and was miscast as a #1 last year. IMO, he was not ready. Not only that. Hardaway was his #2 for some games, he had no #2 at all after that, and we didn’t have a legit PG. He had no idea what he was doing in that role and was nowhere near ready for that burden. But he showed that despite the misuse, bad shots and bad decisions, no PG, he could hit 40% from 3, 80% from the FT line, and finish around the basket. He’s also a plus defender. His on/off court data screams he adds way more value than the boxscore suggests even when used improperly. That’s a solid #2 option with upside if used correctly.

    After that you are looking to see who develops into a #3 and have to add role players that are defensive stoppers, rebounders, a 6th man, bench etc.. We actually have a few potential options for all those roles now (Robinson among them), will add another in the draft, and could (and still can) always make trades using those assets or picks to upgrade a specific role or speed it up.

    I could have lived with that.

    IMO, Durant alone make no sense at all.

    It will take too long to add a legit #2 and the rest of the pieces if Durant comes alone. At that point, I’d rather try to add a couple of players in the their 20s (maybe someone like Julius Randle) who can be part of the long term core, rent out some cap space for a pick, or roll it over with short term contracts depending on the players and deals available at that time. If Durant comes, it’s all in now or nothing! You need that 2nd scorer and we don’t have it anymore!

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

    I should add that if we somehow do add a 2nd star scorer that’s a better all around player than KP “actually is and will be” for the same or a similar price, then of course we are in a better position. But we haven’t done that yet and it’s not an easy sell when you are this bad.

  11. Early Bird, I’m on board with your overall strategy of spreading the wealth around instead of adding a second max guy. I wouldn’t get those same players (you can’t have Dotson and Vonleh in your starting lineup without multiple max guys), but I agree with the idea.

    But if they get a second max player along with Durant, they pretty much don’t have to lose a single worthwhile player on the current Knicks team other than Jordan and maybe Vonleh (getting Vonleh to take the room exception seems a hell of a lot more likely than getting Jordan to take it, right?). Mudiay and Hezonja would have to go, too, but, well, who cares? So it would be madness to not just take that opportunity. You can still have Dennis Smith Jr. on the team in that scenario.

    The only way you have to lose Smith and pretty much everyone else is if they then also trade for AD.

  12. PG Irving/Smith Jr./Allen
    SG Trier/Dotson/Frank/Jenkins
    SF Durant, I guess? Or would he be a 4?/Knox/#1 draft pick
    PF Vonleh for the room/?
    C MitchRob/Kornet

    You’d have two more spots to fill there (one if Ellensen makes it as a 4 somehow).

    That’s not a bad team. It’s not a particularly great team, but it actually has some upside while likely being a #4/5 seed in the East in their first season.

  13. You know, it just occurred to me that Lance Thomas might actually still be on the Knicks next season. Obviously, they’ll not pick up his option, but at that point, no one else would want him, right? So I could easily see them picking him back up as an end of the bench veteran presence.

  14. A lot depends on our draft pick. Even with 2 legit max players and a developing Mitch, we are one wing short of greatness.

  15. My view is different than most. No matter how lucky or good you are, it is extremely difficult to put together the pieces of a championship team. Over the last decade how many teams have won or been in legitimate contention?

    If you look at team building as holding only a binary value, winning the championship or not, you’re going to field a lot of bad teams waiting for all the pieces to fall in place. If you look at team building as putting a fun product on the floor that perpetually makes playoff runs, then you can sign Durant and avoid being a cellar dweller until another free agent deigns to join the Knicks.

    To clarify, I’m not recommending KD alone over two maxes. That said, it’s a real possibility that we only land KD. We should be happy with that outcome. Unlike LA with Lebron, we can surround KD with actual basketball players. Who those players are I’ll leave up to free agency and the numbers.

  16. A team with Durant, Irving and MitchRob on it is possibly a team with three .200 WS48 players on it. That’s prolly gonna be a pretty good team. The key would be rounding it out with some guys who are strong wing defenders.

    This year’s draft pick will be key. I love Zion and Ja Morant, I’m talking myself into the idea of RJ Barrett as a boxscore stuffer and I like Jarret Culver okay as a two-way player rotation piece. Just gotta dodge that Cam Reddish bullet.

  17. Assuming KD wants to come here:

    1) If we get the #1 pick, take Zion, sign Kyrie.

    2) If we drop to #2/3, pick Ja and sign Middleton.

    Make sense?

    Of course, there’s

    3) drop to #5, quit following the Knicks.

  18. drop to #5, quit following the Knicks.

    A top five pick is still a top five pick! It’s when you drop out of the top five that shit starts to crumble, so it’s still imperative that the Knicks finish #1 overall.

  19. But he showed that despite the misuse, bad shots and bad decisions, no PG, he could hit 40% from 3, 80% from the FT line, and finish around the basket. He’s also a plus defender. His on/off court data screams he adds way more value than the boxscore suggests even when used improperly. That’s a solid #2 option with upside if used correctly.

    As a shortcut, if you have to say all of this stuff about a guy he’s almost definitely not worth 5/$158M.

    What we have now is a chance to add another unambiguously, no-projection-required star to the current team + Durant + 2019 draft pick. That makes the Durant plan make sense, even if it’s still more short-sighted than I’m fully comfortable with.

    As JK47 points out, 3 full-time rotation players with a .200+ WS48 would be nothing to sneeze at. I could be wrong, but I don’t think a single team in the league has that at the moment. A plan that, if successfully executed, would get us there makes much more sense than “hope and pray that Porzingis gets better and less injury prone.”

  20. But if they get a second max player along with Durant, they pretty much don’t have to lose a single worthwhile player on the current Knicks team other than Jordan and maybe Vonleh (getting Vonleh to take the room exception seems a hell of a lot more likely than getting Jordan to take it, right?).

    That’s true, Brian. But there really aren’t a lot of worthwhile guys on the current Knicks team! The guy I’d most be willing to bet on is Smith, and he’d be the one we’re dumping for Kyrie. We’d need a slew of unlikely hopes and dreams to come true to make a two-max player situation work here.

    If we’re being honest, we know Dotson and Trier can’t play 48 minutes at 2 guard for an EC Finals team. Knox, Vonleh, Kornet, and a pick that isn’t Zion can’t play all the forward minutes that Durant doesn’t get. DeAndre Jordan isn’t going to stop liking money. And Mitch, as much as we love him, might not be able to consistently give us 36 minutes of Mitch stuff a night next year (although, given that he is a god, I’d say that’s the most likely thing that might happen).

    We need all those things to happen for a Kyrie/Durant team to have a chance.

    Not to mention we’d need Kyrie not to go bonkers, and Durant to take on the biggest load of his life in his age 31 season.

  21. I would agree that the KD/Irving team probably won’t win a title in their first year, but I have no idea why you think that an Irving-less team has more hope for the future. Plus, it’s not like they won’t be able to run a two-point guard lineup for a good chunk of the game with Irving and Smith.

  22. The guy I’d most be willing to bet on is Smith

    ^ to be clear, I meant of the *questionable* guys (i.e. Smith, Frank, Dotson, Trier, Vonleh, Kornet, Mudiay) (i.e. not Mitch).

  23. Four more months of KnickerNBA2K19FranchiseModer.net. The 2nd week of July cannot come fast enough.

    But he showed that despite the misuse, bad shots and bad decisions, no PG, he could hit 40% from 3, 80% from the FT line, and finish around the basket. He’s also a plus defender. His on/off court data screams he adds way more value than the boxscore suggests even when used improperly. That’s a solid #2 option with upside if used correctly.

    Again, I read a thread backward and I know exactly who writes a quoted post before I get to OP.

    1) a heaping scoop of counterfactual/conditional statements
    2) minimizing the impact of basic basketball functions (i.e. putting the ball into the basket, for one)
    3) claiming that the box score is fake
    4) failure to weigh the risks of a player best evaluated via “upside” against the prospect of a $156M contrade
    5) claiming that a player is underrated because someone else implemented a system that minimizes his talents

  24. but I have no idea why you think that an Irving-less team has more hope for the future

    I think there’s a lot of solid two-way guys on the market you can get for a reasonable price.

    I’d give up Dallas’ unprotected pick for Covington (possibly more if I needed to). I’d give two year deals with $10/12mm AAV to Danny Green and DeAndre Jordan (approximately fair market value). I’d sign a solid backup PG for around $6-8mm (Darren Collison, Rajon Rondo, Jeremy Lin, etc. I’d draft RJ Barrett if I don’t have the #1 pick. I’d use the room on a backup forward like Vonleh or Kornet (or both if their market doesn’t develop). I’d hold onto Knox because I think he might be OK by his 3rd year, but if I had to dump Frank to make room for a real backup PG I’d do it.

    You’d end up with a deep, solid team that could compete with Milwaukee and the only unsure thing you’re banking on is that Durant still has a couple of MVP-level seasons in him and Dennis Smith won’t be so bad that he sinks you.

    1 Dennis Smith, a veteran backup not named Mudiay signed for $6-8mm
    2 Danny Green, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier
    3 Robert Covington, RJ Barrett
    4 Kevin Durant, Noah Vonleh/Luke Kornet, Kevin Knox
    5 DeAndre Jordan, Mitchell Robinson

  25. Four more months of KnickerNBA2K19FranchiseModer.net. The 2nd week of July cannot come fast enough.

    I appreciate your eternal patience. To show my gratitude, I promise to be quiet whenever you guys want to make the blog a circle jerk for liberal politics.

    And I know that seems snarky but I mean it. Sorry to have imposed my anti-political worldview on everyone, especially you, Ntilikilla.

  26. A top five pick is still a top five pick!

    If we get the 5th pick this year, I may throw my half empty bottle of Laphroig through the TV set.

  27. I promise to be quiet whenever you guys want to make the blog a circle jerk for liberal politics

    No, I’d rather hear someone try to justify the President trying to use the Justice Dept. to block a corporate merger to settle a score with a cable news outlet. Breaks up the circle jerk with a little unintentional comedy.

  28. I may throw my half empty bottle of Laphroig through the TV set.

    I recommend finishing it first.

  29. Fizdale’s explanation for not benching Knox, per Iseman:

    “This is from a lesson standpoint for Kevin is not to reset him, to force him to play through all of these struggles and all of this pain right now and fight his way out of this,” Fizdale said. “So that’s why I want to keep him in that lineup, keep him against starting threes as much as possible and let him go through the bumps and the bruises.”

    In the end, Knox’s shooting percentage at this point won’t be too important in the future.

    “No one’s going to look back in eight years at what his shooting percentage was his rookie year,” Fizdale said. “But the lessons that he’s going to learn this year are going to carry into that eighth year. to me, that’s how I’m prioritizing it with him and he’ll fight his way out of it.”

    There’s a lot more there, but I didn’t want to excerpt the whole thing, since Iseman’s one of the better beat writers and could use the clicks.

  30. SO: If Durant signs (not an idiotic notion), AND we get Zion (not an idiotic notion), AND a guy like Kyrie signs (not so idiotic)… would that be the best summer in franchise history?

    Imagine: Kyrie, Trier (i like the kid, he’s efficient), Zion, Durant, Mitch. HOLYSHITHOLYSHIT

  31. It’s a reasonable thought process. It’s not exactly the same process he applied to other struggling young players, but it’s clear he believes in Knox and thinks Frank is a bust.

    This line, though, indicates that he clearly doesn’t know about us:

    “No one’s going to look back in eight years at what his shooting percentage was his rookie year,”

  32. SO: If Durant signs (not an idiotic notion), AND we get Zion (not an idiotic notion), AND a guy like Kyrie signs (not so idiotic)… would that be the best summer in franchise history?

    Oh, easily. I mean, obviously the summer they drafted Willis, the summer they drafted Clyde and the summer that they drafted Ewing would all be amazing times, as well, but a lot of that was retrospect and not at that precise moment. Ewing’s draft would be the only one that would come close to matching it at that precise moment.

  33. It’s a reasonable thought process. It’s not exactly the same process he applied to other struggling young players, but it’s clear he believes in Knox and thinks Frank is a bust.

    There’s no consistency in anything Fiz says. Which, whatever, I get it, so I’m not mad at the guy over it, but it still remains that just can’t expect consistency from him.

  34. “No one’s going to look back in eight years at what his shooting percentage was his rookie year,”

    http://bkref.com/tiny/hSeTz

    I mean, here’s a list of rookies in the 3-point era who had
    (1) under .480 TS% (apparently I can’t write a less-than sign without fucking up the formatting)
    (2) >20 USG
    (3) > 1500MP

    It’s pretty impressive that we have 4 of the 38 currently on the roster and at least three of the others (JR, Houston and Jennings) at one point, too. Impressively bad.

    I doubt anyone’s going to be talking about Knox in 8 years. The Beijing Ducks don’t get much coverage in the states.

  35. I dunno, maybe he’ll prove me wrong but Fiz seems like a BS artist. But the young players like him and there isn’t a miserable funk of an attitude around the team despite how bad the team is. All the vet malcontents got shipped off and the Knicks are the youngest team in the NBA. So maybe he’s the right fit for this particular moment.

  36. I dunno, maybe he’ll prove me wrong but Fiz seems like a BS artist. But the young players like him and there isn’t a miserable funk of an attitude around the team despite how bad the team is. All the vet malcontents got shipped off and the Knicks are the youngest team in the NBA. So maybe he’s the right fit for this particular moment.

    I don’t think being a BS artist is necessarily a bad fit for being an NBA coach.

    That said, if they do land KD and Irving, I would not be at all surprised if he gets replaced by an upgrade in a couple of years. Perhaps they can woo Doc Rivers away from the Clippers if they don’t get Kawhi?

  37. I think the biggest summers in Knicks history since Ewing are currently:

    1. 1998 – when we traded Starks and Oakley for Sprewell and Camby (this one looks better in retrospect, though; both moves were controversial at the time).

    2. 1996 – when we acquired Larry Johnson, Allan Houston, and Chris Childs (but lost Anthony Mason).

    3. 1992 – when we acquired Charles Smith, Doc Rivers, Rolando Blackman, Tony Campbell, and drafted my namesake, Hubert Davis. But we also traded away Mark Jackson and lost Xavier McDaniel.

    4. 1991 – when we signed Pat Riley

    So yeah, Durant, Kyrie, and Zion would surpass all that. Honestly I think any one of those things would be bigger than all that!

  38. I think Fiz is mostly the right kind of coach for a team this young and untalented. The players like him. They play hard in virtually every game, even when they’re getting their asses kicked. (That’s what makes outings like the Clippers game or that one in Utah stick out, because it’s been so rare to see everyone just give up.) Whether his schtick will work on the more veteran team we hope to have after this summer, who knows? But it’s no small feat that there’s been so little drama in a season that will likely end up with the worst record in franchise history.

  39. I’ve been researching the draft, getting familiar with different players and it’s starting to occur to me there is no clear cut #2. Like no concensus at 2. Never seen anything like it before where #1 is practically unanimous but not 2.

    Morant seems uninterested in playing defense, if that’s true I want nothing to do with him.

    Kevin porter is a gamble. Brandon Clarke is a all-world defense with little offense. What gives!

  40. I’ve been researching the draft, getting familiar with different players and it’s starting to occur to me there is no clear cut #2. Like no concensus at 2. Never seen anything like it before where #1 is practically unanimous but not 2.

    Morant seems uninterested in playing defense, if that’s true I want nothing to do with him.

    Kevin porter is a gamble. Brandon Clarke is a all-world defense with little offense. What gives!

    I don’t think that there was a clear cut #2 behind Blake Griffin in 2009. And hell, EVERYthing was out of whack during the Anthony Bennett draft. I don’t think people knew who the first five picks were going to be! I am still flabbergasted by how no team traded down in that draft.

  41. Morant is 6’3” with long arms and he’s averaging 2 steals per game. Granted that is in a scrubby conference but still, steals are usually a decent proxy for overall defense by guards. He also has elite athleticism and lateral movement, so I’m not convinced he’s going to be a bad defender in the NBA. He’s the clear #2 to me, because he has a high floor as well as a high ceiling.

  42. I don’t think pg defense is a make or break concern. Morant would have to be truly atrocious for his defense to be relevant.

  43. And I know that seems snarky but I mean it. Sorry to have imposed my anti-political worldview on everyone, especially you, Ntilikilla.

    How did I get dragged into this? Hell, I didn’t even know you were “anti-liberal.”

    For the record, I am too. But I am “anti-liberal” from the left-wing of the spectrum.

  44. I am just hoping that Fiz is playing Knox to tank. But I am a afraid the real reason is Knox is a favorite of his and admitting he’s not very good will make his stupid 3 on 3 basketball evaluation look bad.

  45. I’m not anti-liberal! I’m anti politics. And I was apologizing (belatedly) for my outburst last week.

  46. Granted that is in a scrubby conference

    that’s the thing with him. he seems to be playing such inferior competition and can penetrate/get fouled so easily. I don’t know how qualify his numbers. Hard to tell if he’s a better PG prospect than Smith.

  47. Never got a chance to say this, but I love your recaps Farfa. Never change. Any updates on your singing competition? Sorry if I missed it. My visits here are super sporadic due to time constraints.

    I had a question. For the offseason I hear a lot on this blog that a successful offseason is KD, Irving, hopefully Zion. If all 3 are not coming, what is the best fallback for everyone? Would KD and Kemba plus Zion still be a good team in your opinion. What about KD and Kawhi? Kawhi and Irving? Really curious about how people here would rank the potential options.

    So let’s say the ranking can be free agent 1, free agent 2, draft pick combos. And let’s make the assumption that a trade for AD would not happen. (though feel free to throw in your opinion on that too).

    I honestly don’t have a strong opinion on this as I just don’t have as much info as all of you. I’m a Knicks fan, but I don’t follow things as much as I do the Yankees in baseball.

    Thanks in advance for the feedback.

  48. I had a question. For the offseason I hear a lot on this blog that a successful offseason is KD, Irving, hopefully Zion. If all 3 are not coming, what is the best fallback for everyone? Would KD and Kemba plus Zion still be a good team in your opinion. What about KD and Kawhi? Kawhi and Irving? Really curious about how people here would rank the potential options.

    If they could get either KD or Kawhi, then I would be okay with adding pretty much any of the other max guys to pair with them. If they can’t get either KD or Kawhi, then I would prefer they not sign any big free agents and just punt this upcoming season, as well. Worst case scenario is that they miss out on KD and Kawhi and then sign Kemba and, I dunno, let’s say Boogie Cousins.

  49. Morant is a far, far better and more willing passer than DSJ, even on his college team where he’s the most talented player by a mile. This is why, in my opinion, he’s a high floor prospect. His assist numbers are really exceptional and when you watch him play you can see why. He has a natural feel for passing the ball.

  50. Hey, that’s a “fun” parlor game: what is the worst possible max FA duo we could sign this offseason? It has to be guys who are realistic contenders for a max deal from someone, as opposed to saying that we’ll use all our cap space to re-sign Mudiay and Vonleh or whatever. Vucevic and Tobias Harris, maybe? Kemba without a genuine superstar next to him is largely a terrible idea, but at least he’d be our best point guard since… Mark Jackson? Clyde?

  51. Hey, that’s a “fun” parlor game: what is the worst possible max FA duo we could sign this offseason?

    Too easy: Mudiay and Kanter :D

  52. @49

    Thanks!

    Re: singing competition

    I got into the finals (April, 27th). I plan to sing “I’m outta love” by Anastacia (of course, in a male key). It’s make or break!

  53. Vucevic and Tobias Harris, maybe?

    I think Vucevic and Cousins would easily be the worst pairing. Vucevic and Harris at least don’t overlap their skills, ya know?

  54. @55

    Especially considering they’re both centers, which is the only role we’ve got covered at least for three more years.

  55. I think in this discussion some people are still really underrating how good Irving and Durant are, specially Irving. He’s by far Boston’s best player, he leads the team amongst the rotation guys in every advanced stat by far. I don’t really think a Kyrie / Durant / Robinson core is worse than Indiana or the Celtics without Kyrie, and it’s certainly a team that could compete with the Bucks, Raptors and Sixers, specially if Leonard leaves Toronto. Obviously the Knicks will have to find the players to compliment them, but it’s still the NBA, teams still mostly go as far as their franchise players carry them. Unless Durant starts declining a lot, I really think they would be positioned to be the 3rd seed in the east at the very least with a couple of decent veterans signed here and there.

  56. Hey, that’s a “fun” parlor game: what is the worst possible max FA duo we could sign this offseason?

    For me, D’Angelo Russell and Jimmy Butler. Russell might not be a max player, but it would be so knicksy to give him the max. And I believe Butler will decline fast, and be a toxic presence in the locker room.

    Another possible worst would be something like Kemba Walker and Tobias Harris: I think they would perform well, like you would expect from their play this season; but that would make the Knicks sit in the middle of nowhere, bottom of the playoff teams in the east for a while.

  57. Man I’m really struggling to beat the Vujevic/Cousins pairing as the worst max duo. I mean, there’s swamp-gas-induced-nightmare-level stuff like maxing Melo again and bringing in Jabari Parker as his understudy, but that’s just fantasy. Right??

  58. Would D’angelo Russell at a first max contract be the worst signing for us? He’s playing like an all-star and is still super young.

    D’Angelo by himself. Not him and another non KD, Kyrie, Kawhi player.

  59. Brandon Clarke is very clearly the second best player in college basketball, but he’s 22.

    Fuck it, I don’t care — I’d take him at #5. I’d rather have a guy at 23 who’s good on day 1 than a guy who’s 19 and probably five years (and an extension) away from even resembling an NBA player. Clarke might struggle against NBA athleticism, but you can’t have that sky-high PPP without some touch around the basket, not even in the NCAA.

    Mikal Bridges is 3 full years older than Kevin Knox, but if you gave me a chance to redraft at #9 and told me I could take Knox or Bridges, I’d take Bridges without a second thought. I would dare anyone on this board to claim that Knox was a better pick at #9 than Bridges would have been. And I don’t even think Bridges is that good, or will ever be that good. (Certainly not as good as Clarke will be in the NBA.)

  60. I think the worst pairing for me would be something like Cousins + Middleton, or Cousins + Vucevic simply because they’re both Centers and Mitchell Robinson also is.

    Middleton is a fine player, but he never should be a max player. He’s going to be 28 soon, he’s not very efficient and he’s a mediocre shot creator, people are getting too caught up again on team success and his playoff performance against Boston last season. At least Vucevic is playing like a borderline superstar this season, which is not the case for Middleton.

    I would also hate to see Russell, because I can’t trust a scoring only guard who’s both inefficient and can’t get to the line, but at least he’s young and has improven, even if said improvement has come from a very low floor of production. I wouldn’t want Harris or Kemba ideally too, but at least they’re pretty good players.

  61. I think in this discussion some people are still really underrating how good Irving and Durant are, specially Irving

    I think they’re incredible. But I also think everyone advocating for them is overstating how easy it is for two great players to carry a team with as many holes as we’d likely have. I’ve seen so many instances of “you can put me on the court with So & So and they’d still win 50+ games.” You can’t hide guys in the deeper levels of the playoffs.

  62. “Brandon Clarke is very clearly the second best player in college basketball, but he’s 22.”

    How are the Knicks two 19 year old first round draft picks working out??

    Sorry -this “22 or 23 is too old” shit is kind of idiotic. There are plenty of players in the hall of fame who came into the league at older than 19 or 20.

  63. I don’t think DRed was arguing that at all. 22 is not too old to draft BPA. Neither is 23. But if the market places outsized value in age, then you should try to draft Clarke with a lower pick and gain assets. He would be an opportunity-cost mistake at #2, even though I believe he’s the 2nd-best player in the class.

    1) You get a player who looks like he could be productive over the course of his 4-year contract, and possibly get his best seasons therein.
    2) You pick up more assets from the pick swap.
    3) You pay a fraction of rookie-contract AAV at, say, 10-12 than you would with a top-5 pick. (Hence why it’s better to draft him at #10 than #4, all else considered.)
    4) You don’t have to guess whether he’ll ever be good when he’s up for an extension. If he bombs, you cut him loose and head back into the draft without having made an extension mistake.
    5) You watch someone else take Reddish or Langford at #4/#5 and laugh your way to the bank.

  64. @68 Maybe I misunderstood your reference to his age, if so nothing personal. There has been a lot of commentary about 23 being too old (most recently regarding Trier) which just seems ridiculous to me.

  65. @66

    But how hard it really is? Houston is basically doing the hard version of this, with Harden doing it all while Paul has been injured for a lot of time, and they’re still 38-25 in the West even with all the injuries they’ve had. Their roster is pretty much Paul, Harden, Capela, Tucker and Gordon with veteran minimum guys or g-leaguers in the other spots. The Knicks would have more room to operate because we have all of our draft picks and should have cap space somewhere in the future unless the young guys play well enough to merit being re-signed.

    With Durant and Irving on board, considering Mitch continues do develop and at least one of the young guys from DSJ / Trier / Knox / Ntilikina / Kornet / Dotson becomes a good rotation player, the Knicks are one or two small pieces away from having a very good team. Now, do I trust Mills and Perry to do it well? Not necessarily, but it really shouldn’t be that hard.

  66. I would use Houston as good example of my argument, actually. We all knew losing Ariza and Mbah a Moute was going to hurt them. They thought “we got harden and paul” we can just put this melo schmuck out there and we’ll be fine.

    Obviously they got crushed with capela and Paul’s injuries, but they were already taking a step back.

    Again I’m not anti Kyrie and Durant. I just think we underestimate how hard it will be to fill out the roster. Those two plus Mitch will definitely win a lot games. 3 seed is a fair prediction. I just see it as a team with a ceiling unless we get the kind of roster-building miracles the Heat got. And there’s a easier path to building a team in the style of the current bucks.

  67. I mean, here’s a list of rookies in the 3-point era who had
    (1) under .480 TS% (apparently I can’t write a less-than sign without fucking up the formatting)
    (2) >20 USG
    (3) > 1500MP

    It’s pretty impressive that we have 4 of the 38 currently on the roster and at least three of the others (JR, Houston and Jennings) at one point, too. Impressively bad.

    Actually, that list gives me a shred of hope when only looking at the 20 yr old and under group. A prime age, non-nutcase JR is a fine outcome for Knox. Antoine Walker might even be his best future comp if we’re lucky.

  68. I would use Houston as good example of my argument, actually. We all knew losing Ariza and Mbah a Moute was going to hurt them. They thought “we got harden and paul” we can just put this melo schmuck out there and we’ll be fine.

    They had a cheap owner that didn’t want to pay the luxury tax and thus squeezed them on the peripheral guys and yet, as Bruno noted, even with all of their bad luck this year, they’re still 38-25 while playing in the more difficult conference. There is simply no way that KD/Irving is not the way to go versus KD/random other guys.

  69. Houston was hampered also by the Ryan Anderson contract eating 20 million of dead cap space, which they had to jump through hoops to eventually get rid of. Mbah a Moute has played a total of 60 minutes this season because of injury and like Brian said, their owner has not wanted to commit towards paying the luxury tax or investing on the team further. Every deal they’ve made in the offseason, Brandon Knight, Melo, MCW, Chriss etc has failed miserably, and they’re still only 6 games behind the first seed Warriors. That’s with Paul missing 23 games, Capela missing 15 and Gordon out for 13.

    If anything, Houston kinda proves that star level production is really what matters. Despite everything I still think they’re a very dangerous playoffs team, if they’re all healthy by some miracle. They’ll be favorites against the Blazers and at the very least equal with OKC and Denver in their first round matchups.

  70. Again, I’m saying (over and over) that you will win 50-55 games with Kyrie and Durant, just like Houston is doing. But Houston is not making the WCF. Maybe not even the 2nd round.

    At the deeper levels of the playoffs, I think one star, one sidekick, and 6 good players (i.e. the Raptors/Bucks model) is a better formula than two stars, Mitch, and a supporting cast made up of players on this roster and our lottery pick (if it isn’t Zion).

  71. I want no stars in this team .. except KD who is the un star if there is such a thing. Give me a bunch of no names
    Like Mitch …basically hungry players not diva kyrie types. He is never happy or he’s injured.

  72. A guy being older than the people he’s dominating is something you have to consider when you’re trying to figure out how he’ll play as a pro, but it’s not disqualifying. Good, older players sometimes bust too, like Frank Kaminsky.

  73. But Houston is not making the WCF. Maybe not even the 2nd round.

    Actually I shouldn’t say that. When healthy they go at least 6 deep. Tucker and Gordon are a lot better than Vonleh and Trier, though. It’s those kind of guys I don’t see how we can get.

  74. age is not the only factor… but it is a big one… and you always have to be very cautious around seniors(and clarke is basically a senior) when they play at a level they haven’t really established before… and clarke is a classic case of exactly that…

    this is where the eyetest is valuable… he basically plays center.. and he’s most certainly not gonna be a center in the pro’s… he simply gets pushed around a lot…. he has no ball handling ability to be a SF … he might be a 4 and the defensive ability is there.. he gets up quick… but if he’s not playing the 4 then he’s gonna need to guard elsewhere and he’s simply too slow laterally or too weak for other positions… in this draft he’s solidly in the teens but in other drafts he’s something like a rakeem christmas… or a late first rder….

    as far as who is #2… there’s plenty of drafts where it’s not really a settled question… this year it’s no different and it’s very close between a couple sophs who have played a lot better than their freshmen years… morant and culver….

    i honestly don’t know who i prefer at this point altho culver is a favorite of mine…. they are both equals imo…. but on the knicks culver is probably a better fit currently altho you shouldn’t put heavy weight on fit…

    as long as we don’t pick reddish… and reddish would be very a knicksy pick… we should be ok in this draft….

  75. It’s been a pretty major development in the NBA market that the “mid-tier” contract has fallen almost entirely out of favor. Players are increasingly sorted by max contract vs exception/minimum contract.

    I point this out to say that it’s extremely unlikely the Knicks could get better value than Kyrie on a max by spreading out the second max slot. The reason this trend is occurring is because teams realized the mid-tier contracts were where they were being bilked (we could not, in fact, trade Courtney Lee for a first round pick whenever we wanted).

    Again, there is not a single team in the NBA right now with 3 full-time players posting a WS48 of .200+. It’s a much more worthwhile goal than 2 players with a WS48 of .200+ and 3 guys in the .100 range.

  76. I could see Clarke as something like Jordan Bell with a jump shot, which would be a pretty valuable player.

  77. @76

    But that’s what I don’t get. The Rockets team that actually made the WCF and won 65 games was built almost the opposite way of what you’re saying. Morey threw every young player he had at the Clippers for Paul, then they were left with a rotation of Harden, Paul, Gordon, Capela, Ariza, Mbah a Moute, Tucker, Gerald Green and Nene.

    Nene, Mbah a Moute and Green were all making under 3 million a year, Mbah a Moute and Green on veteran minimum deals. Then they had Ariza who they got from the Wizards as a throwaway on a multi team deal where they got rid of Asik, and signed only PJ Tucker as a free agent for a deal similar to the mid level exception the Knicks will have available.

    If we have our Harden, Paul and Capela, and we can get minimum deal veterans easily like Green, Mbah a Moute or Nene, then it’s one or two decent moves or young players improving and you have a very solid rotation.

    The Rockets are struggling this year because they have failed to find value on their cheap signings, as they literally only made poor choices in those (Melo, MCW, etc, stuff we at the time knew wasn’t going to work). Not because the model somehow doesn’t work.

    I get what you’re saying, that even if the signings go well the Knicks might top out as a 50-55 win team that never really contends, but I’m still quite sure it’s a better bet than having to get surplus value on multiple smaller deals to build a team around a sole star. I’d rather take my chances on solid veteran wanting to come play with Durant + Kyrie, than having to rely on our front office to win multiple trades or make multiple good signings in a row to get those 6 other good players.

  78. I was going to write a post about people sleeping on the Rockets, but Vegas has them with the 4th best title odds (and second in the west) and that seems about exactly right to me.

  79. Is a 50-55 win team that doesn’t truly contend really that bad of an outcome? I’d be perfectly willing to sign up for a few years of that, especially if we’re keeping Mitch and our 2019 pick (and DSJ, I guess) in that scenario. If we got Zion, it’d be even better. We could cut bait on KD and Kyrie after their contracts run out and pivot to building around Mitch and Zion in their prime. Not the worst strategy.

  80. all that scratching is making me itch

    @80, hey phan, really appreciate your draft insights…year to year it’s something I haven’t kept up with much…

    reading your stuff though I almost sort of/kind of/maybe have a little clue at least of who’s available…

    anyone of interest from overseas coming to the draft this year?

  81. @85

    I’m for the strategy of getting top free agents because I think that’s one of the bad scenarios. We have no idea how the league will look like in the next couple of years. Just Durant leaving the Warriors leaves the field completely wide open, as the Warriors become beatable again and there’s no clear second team to rise to their spot. The Bucks will likely stay a very good team, but they might lose Middleton; the Raptors can very well lose Kawhi, Irving might leave the Celtics… the east specially could be wide open for the next couple of seasons, or it could be a complete bloodbath between 5 good teams.

    In that case, if it’s for Durant and Irving, you go for the gamble. If we end up with a perennial 50 wins team that makes one or two ECFs and then falls apart, well, it kinda sucks but it was a worthwhile gamble to take, it’s still better than the shit gambles this organization has taken for the last 20 years.

  82. If we end up with a perennial 50 wins team that makes one or two ECFs and then falls apart, well, it kinda sucks but it was a worthwhile gamble to take, it’s still better than the shit gambles this organization has taken for the last 20 years.

    And still having our current youths with promise when KD’s contract runs out makes it appealing, one reason I don’t like the idea of trading them for AD.

  83. @87 to clarify I’m talking about the Durant/Irving team. I’m not on board for a Kemba/Harris duo (or whatever B-listers free agency coughs up); I just think the likely outcome of getting Durant and Irving is that we end up a 55ish win team that’s not quite there for contention. I’m fine with that because, in that scenario, we’d still have worthwhile young players in Mitch and the 2019 pick who would be coming into their prime, so whiffing on the Durant/Irving championship window wouldn’t be that bad.

  84. I point this out to say that it’s extremely unlikely the Knicks could get better value than Kyrie on a max by spreading out the second max slot. The reason this trend is occurring is because teams realized the mid-tier contracts were where they were being bilked (we could not, in fact, trade Courtney Lee for a first round pick whenever we wanted).

    This is exactly right.

    It’s those mid-tier contracts that kill you, because it’s very, very difficult to get surplus value on those contracts. You’re paying for what the player has done in the past, and in most cases those players are heading into their decline phases. If you’re paying market value for veterans, you’re not moving the needle much.

  85. And there’s something to be said also about max contracts as an artificial cap on value. If we had no cap rules, guys like Durant or Irving would very likely be paid more than they are being paid right now, specially Durant who has a case for being one of the 5 best players in the league. Signing him to a max, obviously ignoring possible decline for the sake of the argument, is already surplus value in itself as his production is at a higher level than other max players in other teams. In short, you’re choosing between paying a guy 35 million a year or two guys 17 each, but the 17 million guys are properly paid while the 35 million guy gives you surplus value relative to the competition.

    For me, it’s still either go for two of Durant, Irving and Leonard, or don’t go for anyone. See if we get Zion, then move in one of those two directions. The Kemba Walkers and Tobias Harrises of the league are always somewhat available, or similar players will become free agents eventually too.

  86. Good luck in the finals Farfa.

    I’ve been following the comments on player value and saying that players like Durant are actually outplaying their max contract. This brought to mind an idea. Has anyone ever tried to quantify player value in the NBA? I’m thinking along the lines of WAR in the MLB where the general consensus is 1 WAR is worth around $9M at the moment. In the grand scheme of things it is a fairly simplistic measure but is there anything that parallels that in the NBA. How much is a win in the NBA worth? Does something like that even make sense in a cap system?

  87. I agree with Jowles in that I understand drafting a guy like Clarke IF you trade down and get assets. When you’re drafting in the top-10, the objective should be to draft the guy with the most upside who is likely to retain his market value for at least 2 years even if he underperforms. Porzingis is the perfect example. He surely did not reach his upside, but look at the return we were able to get for him even after an ACL tear. WCS has almost no market value. Harrell has tons, but no one in their right mind picks him at #4.

    Of course, if you pick a high-floor low-ceiling older guy like Mikal and moron GM trades up to get him so that you wind up with the high upside guy AND an unprotected first rounder, that’s the best of both worlds.

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