Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

New York Knicks 87 – Miami Heat 110 – Game Recap

Last Tuesday, I wrote I sensed a win in Miami. Boy, was I wrong! Tonight’s game delivered us our first stinkfest ot the season (and it certainly will not be the last), and there were stretches when it was really hard to keep watching. At least we can take solace in the fourth loss (and get annoyed at the thought that it’s so Knicksy to nail a rebulding/tanking plan in the first season of flattened lottery odds). And finally, some playing time for Mitch!

The adequate (nobody was good tonight):

– Damyean Dotson (20 pts, 10 rebs, 2 ast, -5 +/-) was the lone bright spot tonight. Efficient shooting, even when the game was still on the line, good rebounding effort, average defense. I liked the fact that he was the first one from the bench to enter the game and I especially liked the fact that he got in for Trey Burke, therefore handing over the keys to Frank. The only real basketball issue I have with Dot is that he’s kind of a black hole. If you hand him the rock, chances are he’s gonna shoot. Still, over three games he’s posting a very healthy .185 WS/48.

The meh

– Frank Ntilikina (9 pts, 3 rebs, 5 ast, -9 +/-) had a quiet, but not discouraging game, with a few comforting moments. For one, the offense ran better through him, as he’s clearly our best initiator/passing guard. He drilled a couple threes, and for once had a clear path to the rim and slammed the ball down (even if that was on Miami’s lack of defensive communication and not on his offensive prowess). His defense was quite good, but he has to stop fouling guys who are either not doing anything or have already scored – his foul on Whiteside in the third was egregious, as Frank was not able to keep his momentum in check and fell on the Heat big man after he already scored, handing him a free trip to the line. The problem with Frank is always the same: he’s not hungry for his points. I found myself asking “How many times do we have to listen to Clyde saying Frank should look at the hoop from inside the paint before we give up hope?”; my answer is “a bazillion times”, but really, if he’s not able to fix that his value will keep on being marginal at best. If I had to peg him in a role now, it would be a 15 mpg guy off the bench who handles the best perimeter scorer in the other team. We need him to be much more than that, and he’s so young I feel morally obliged to believe in him.

– Noah Vonleh (6 pts, 9 rebs, 1 stl, -3 +/-) is being consistent in his back up. energizing big man role. He wasn’t good tonight, but his effort alone grants him a mention here. It’s not much, but it’s the best I can do for this game. Actually, he could have ended up in the adequate section, if not for a couple ill-advised shots. For a partially guaranteed contract, he’s really giving a cool return value to the team. He’s earning his minutes out there, and I feel like Fiz is handling him well.

The bad:

– Trey Burke (3 pts, 4 ast, 10% FG, -12 +/-) played one of the worst games I have ever seen a guy play without any explicable reason (like, say, being guarded by prime Scottie Pippen). I’m starting to convince myself that he might be the second main culprit in our starting lineup futility, the first being of course Lance Thomas. He’s not making the offense click, and as soon as his shot is not falling he becomes a clear minus for the team. The first quarter ended with the Knicks grabbing an 11 points lead, but when he exited the game and Frank took on the PG mantle the Knicks were losing 5-7 with 6:16 to go. So the first quarter partial without Trey was 22-9. He was again on the floor for the first minutes of the third quarter, when the Knicks got crushed by Miami offering up zero resistance to the Heat dominance. A bad performance for Trey, and maybe a wake up call for Fiz to try different things with the starting lineup.

– Enes Kanter (8 pts, 5 rebs, 3 ast, -24 +/-) was uncharacteristically rudderless. He looked tired, deflated, defeated throughout the game. He made Whiteside look like the second coming of Wilt Chamberlain, and while nobody was expecting for Enes to match Hassan’s athleticism, at least we hoped that he would outhustle the notoriously inconsistent Heat center. Tonight, that was not the case. I don’t remember the last time Kanter provided so little in terms of everything. Let’s just hope it’s not a trend, since the early symptoms were already showing in Milwaukee.

– Mario Hezonja (13 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast, -3 +/-) went back to bad Mario in this game. He started pretty fine, hitting a couple threes in the first stanza. Apart from that, I’m not sure I saw him bend his legs even once. He looked like those passive-aggressive partners that takes out for dinner after you scold them for not caring about you enough to wine and dine, and then proceed to order half the menu just to throw in your face that they can do those things, it’s you that don’t care about their potential. Just as they will end up throwing away a lot of uneaten food, Mario threw away many shots so carelessly that it seemed he didn’t even want them to tickle the twine. His shooting line for the night: 4/15 from the field, 2/8 from three in 22 minutes. I hoped Milwaukee could be a turning point in his season; I can tell you it won’t be. I fear Mario will be back playing in Europe before 2021 rolls around.

Fun-sized bits (not so fun tonight):

– Tim Hardaway Jr played his usual mediocre game, tallying 14 points on 40% shooting and posting a -21 plus/minus. It’s the second time in a row that he post a -20 or worst plus/minus. I don’t care very much about plus/minus in itself, as it’s incredibly noisy, but I think we’re onto something here. Here’s his NetRtg trend: 22.9, 1.1, -3.8, -32.3, -42.0. If accountability is what Fiz’s aiming for, Tim should be in for some adjustments.

– Lance pulled down 6 rebounds and scored 6 points, and did absolutely nothing else. I feel this has to be the moment when I recall the “He’s gonna be our Draymond Green” Fizdale quote and I urge you to question the sanity of coach Fiz. Also, given the commendable rebounding prowess of Dotson, why are not giving Dot the chance to start at PF?

– Then again, I remember Fiz also said “Emmanuel, we gonna fix you!” to Mudiay, and fix him they did: if he’s not playing he’s a better basketball player than he could be if he stepped on the court.

– Ron Baker is borderline unplayable in nights like these. 19 minutes of play, 1 steal, 1 missed field goal attempt, -13 +/-. Another reason to move Trey to the bench and try Frank as our starting PG. Ron’s PIE for the season is -2.8, good for seventh worst in the whole league (more than 10 mpg). I love his effort and that’s documented, but I can’t wrap my head around his contract.

– Third quarter: Knicks 20, Heat 45. Yikes.

– In the second quarter it was already evident that this game was going to end up in an ass-beating. We were tied while shooting the lights out from three points and getting to line just twice in 24 minutes. It wasn’t sustainable at all.

– Mitch was a welcome sight. 4 points, 3 boards (all on the offensive glass), 1 block. His athleticism is off the charts and he is clearly going to distil every minute he’s given. I hope Fiz finds a way to make him play 8-10 mpg on a regular basis. We need to develop him, as he might be our best young player in a couple years.

– The high note of the evening must have been a back and forth conversation between Mike Breen and Clyde where they tried to remember correctly the names and composition of the Flintstones families, right after Bam Adebayo entered the game (apparently he got his nickname after the super strong son of Barney and Betty). Hearing those two talk about a cartoon melt my heart a little. God bless them for making every potentially unbearable Knick night a little gem, everytime.

Well, I guess our dog days aren’t over, as we’re set to face the Warriors on Friday night. I don’t care for wins, but I fully expect a much better effort than tonight (and some minor tweaks in the rotation, especially in the starting five).

See you soon!

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73 comments on “New York Knicks 87 – Miami Heat 110 – Game Recap

  1. Brian Cronin

    The team stinks but a lot of that is due to driftwood like Lance/Hez/Mudiay/Enes that will float off the roster at end of season and our young guys finding their way.

    While I don’t disagree, doesn’t that just highlight the pointlessness of acquiring guys like Mudiay and Hez in the first place? Hez sucks AND they won’t have him past this season. Why have him at all, then? Why can’t these roster spots go to players like Trier? If you’re going to suck either way, why not collect as many young lottery picks as possible?

  2. Bruno Almeida

    Hezonja’s contract was really nonsensical as it brings literally zero upside for us. I liked the gamble on the guy, but it is super pointless.

    Well, now with the Warriors loss tomorrow we will be 1-5, which honestly makes sense. We beat the only team we are probably better and lost to all of the better teams. Nothing to worry too much about, except for Ntilikina and Burke stinking it up lately. Still too young of a season to be super worried.

  3. Zanzibar

    Smart of you Farfa to wait to post your recaps. There’s a sudden glut of threads on the site and your work tended to get lost.

    While I don’t disagree, doesn’t that just highlight the pointlessness of acquiring guys like Mudiay and Hez in the first place? Hez sucks AND they won’t have him past this season. Why have him at all, then? Why can’t these roster spots go to players like Trier? If you’re going to suck either way, why not collect as many young lottery picks as possible?

    Knicks shouldn’t have given up the 2nd round pick for Mudiay – McBuckets was enough. I would have been fine if they had just given up McDermott and then put Mudiay in G League. Let him work out his problems there first. Regarding Hez, I mentioned this at the time but I would have offered Nerlens a 2-year deal(2nd year team option) at Hez money; Noel ended up taking 1.7m/yr deal with 2nd year being a player option.

    How many Triers are out there? The FO’s done a terrific job in acquiring potential “problem” players Trier and Mitch. I think the FO might have been thinking that if Hez plays well and they strike out on marquee guys, they’d have an edge in re-signing him. He’s young and they would have a lot of info on him. My dream is two of KD/Kawhi/Butler are interested in Knicks and Fiz/Perry/Mills in the room selling them is gonna be a helluva lot better than the comedic Walsh in wheelchair and Dolan reading off index cards. My nightmare is striking out on those guys and re-signing Hez and/or Mudiay if they appear to have “turned the corner”. It looked like Mudiay’s 3FG% improved last season and Hez played better at end of last season. Chimera. I’m almost happy to have Timmy taking the cap because he’s probably gonna end up a better value and player than whoever we would have signed this summer with his money. It’s a seller’s market and a lot of Crabbe-like contracts are gonna be doled out.

  4. d-mar

    Hezonga is the most uninspiring player to watch. He really doesn’t do anything well, except occasionally get hot from 3.

    Those Magic fans must have been so depressed watching this guy for his first few seasons.

  5. Max

    Yesterday was a bad loss because it was against a semi mediocre opponent and “we” gave up early (to allow 76 points combined in the middle quarters is unacceptable).

    But it was a great night for the tanking with Hawks, Bulls and Kings victories.
    I’m afraid of how much Cleveland stinks, Love just signed a new extension and he looks like a retired player.

    I’m listening a Real GM podcast with Danny Leroux and “draft expert” Sam Vecenie, they talked a lot about the 4 horsemen (Zion, Little, Barrett and Reddish), Vecenie said that the consensus between scouts and front offices is that Barrett has the higher floor but the lower potential ceiling.
    I haven’t seen enough but I think I’ll be happy with every one of the four…

  6. Hubert

    But it was a great night for the tanking with Hawks, Bulls and Kings victories.
    I’m afraid of how much Cleveland stinks, Love just signed a new extension and he looks like a retired player.

    You don’t have to be. The three worst teams in the NBA have the same exact odds of landing anywhere in the top 4. The only benefit is having a floor on how far you can drop outside the top 4. But frankly we’re fucked if we pick 5th as much as we are if we pick 7th.

    http://www.tankathon.com/pick_odds

  7. Brian Cronin

    How many Triers are out there?

    Perhaps none, but if there turns out to be none, then they’re no worse off than they would be by having Mudiay and Hez (and, of course, with Mudiay, there’s also out the second round pick).

  8. Max

    @6
    That’s exactly why I’m scared…
    Sacramento, Atlanta, Chicago and maybe Phoenix and Orlando were considered our competitors…
    we don’t need another contender for the 3rd worst spot…

    :-)

  9. Cock Jowles, #1 Purveyor of Wanton Chuckery

    Barrett has the higher floor but the lower potential ceiling.

    Me, I’m taking the 280 lbs. guy with the 6’10” wingspan and 40″ vert who has incredible touch around the basket and runs hard in transition. Those skills and physical traits are obviously valuable in today’s NBA. I could see him as a guy with a .600 TS% in his very first season because all of his scoring is coming from 3′ away. There are very few NBA centers, much less stretch 4s, who can deal with a guy that big and low to the ground. Julius Randle is the last bruising, physically-dominant PF I can recall getting this much hype, and he’s 30 lbs. lighter and 3″ taller. Zion will not be containable by year 3.

    His nose for the ball and the rim are just unmatched. Barrett has the fluidity and change-of-direction stuff and the shooting touch, but that could mean he’s the next Harrison Barnes, not the next Kawhi Leonard. Barrett just seems a little less special to me. There are so many skilled wings in the NBA.

  10. JK47

    Hezonja has the size and quickness to get decent shots but he doesn’t finish strong through contact and doesn’t get his shot off fast enough. He’s like 90% of a good offensive player but that missing 10% is why he’s destined to float around the league as a back of rotation guy on bad teams. He rarely gets easy buckets.

  11. Farfa Post author

    Zion is the guy, especially if we’re bent on maxing KP. Those two should complement each other seamlessly.

  12. Max

    @10
    Yes, exactly.
    Barrett is viewed as the “surest” of the four (Harrison Barnes is a good comp), the other three could become much better… and Zion is a specimen never seen before.

  13. Grocer

    Frank looks improved to me over last season. More confident with the ball, drives more, he’s clearly worked on his deficiencies and just as clearly has a long long way to go. I googled around some but couldn’t find it – wasn’t there a Sloan paper a few years ago about guards developing later than other players? Regardless, he came into the league younger than most and it’s the start of his second season. This is way too early to be able to know if he can put it together. His biggest need is patience from the FO and Fiz. I worry that he just doesn’t fit the timeline they have in their heads and we’ll see another guy get traded before their second contract who ends up a solid player for someone else and who we got nothing much in return for. I don’t much care if he starts or not but he should be spending more time as the primary ball handler – he needs to be pushed out of his comfort zone. Occasionally it looks like he’s out there taking offensive possessions off so he can focus on defense and it happens enough that it seems deliberate. We’re gonna lose a lot of games, there’s no need for that. Cut him back to 20 minutes a game from 30 if necessary, but I want to see him forced to be involved on both sides of the court when he’s out there. He needs to be bringing the ball up. If nothing else it’ll help him learn to evaluate a defense the way he does an offense.

  14. Bruno Almeida

    My real only concern with Zion is injuries. If he stays healthy he’s the pick. I like what I’ve seen from Barrett, I think he’s very talented and will be a productive player, but if he’s more of a shooter than an all-around wing player his value won’t be as high as a guy like Zion that can affect the game in a lot of different ways.

  15. Hubert

    I googled around some but couldn’t find it – wasn’t there a Sloan paper a few years ago about guards developing later than other players?

    I’ve frequently alluded to a Kevin Pelton mailbag in which he documented that taller point guards (Chauncey Billsups, Gary Payton, Rod Strickland, Sam Cassell), take longer to develop than shorter ones and hit their peaks later. According to his findings, we’re probably ten years away from peak Frank. So we’ve got that to look forward to.

    http://a4.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=%2Fphoto%2F2017%2F0602%2Fr215036_576x324_16%2D9.png&w=570

  16. Hubert

    6’10 Barkley seems good to me. Does he defend?

    That’s his wingspan. He’s 6’6 or 6’7 depending on who you read. And we don’t know if he can defend. Or shoot. Or even rebound well. He’s just a physical freak at the moment who overpowers high school kids and Canadian college basketball players.

    A lot to learn about him. Also a lot to love already.

  17. Farfa Post author

    @17

    6’10” is his wingspan, I think he’s listed at 6’7″.

    Edit: Hubert beat me to the punch

  18. Hubert

    We were too far out in the draft to make the move for Doncic last year, but assuming we pick anywhere from 3-6 this year I would absolutely trade my pick plus next year’s pick to move up for Zion.

    And then whatever dumb team makes that trade with us can watch us sign Durant a week later and suck it.

  19. Cock Jowles, #1 Purveyor of Wanton Chuckery

    Dude looks like he has a backup career as a strongman competitor. To be that big and that explosive… this is truly a once-in-a-generation guy.

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/TOWfeHAtuzg/maxresdefault.jpg

    https://mk0slamonlinensgt39k.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/zion_dunk-1.jpg

    https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/postandcourier.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/23/e23a16ac-670c-11e7-9cbe-0b3d93ae25ef/59662fe049383.image.jpg

    https://usathss.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/zion.jpg

  20. Owen

    Jowles is all in. Can’t remember you being this hyped about a guy outside of the obvious stars like AD.

  21. Cock Jowles, #1 Purveyor of Wanton Chuckery

    I would compare him to some other physical freaks like Gobert, Capela and DeAndre, insofar as they have extremely limited skillsets but still dominate inside in virtually every way. You can be one-dimensional offensively in today’s NBA and be a major contributor.

    It’ll be interesting to see whether he learns how to set screens, and what he’ll do against superior low post trap defenses, when he’s not able to simply bully a lesser-built man. If he can find the open man in the corner or cutting to the hoop, he will be a superstar. If he merely bails out back to a covered guard up top, he can be better neutralized. Or I’m totally wrong and he’s going to be a black hole who scores 20 PPG on .650 TS% and ~3 APG, Barkley-style.

    The good thing is that he’s surrounded by talent at Duke, so we’ll actually get to see him in rhythm with future NBA players.

  22. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    Zion Williamson is not a better prospect than RJ Barrett, whose ceiling is “generational two way wing talent.” He dominated the U18 FIBA tournament and lit up Team USA on his way to a gold medal for Canada, then he went undefeated on his way to a national championship in his senior year of high school. And he did it all without a consistent jumper, and all indications are that he now has that jumper.

    It’s a good question to ask if RJ Barrett provides you with much of a premium over the rest of the wings in the NBA, but if the Knicks were lucky enough to draft him we would get to watch Frank and RJ do their best Jordan and Pippen impersonation on defense for the next 12 years.

    On the other hand, Zion Williamson the Knick would be a billionaire at age 30. I can’t imagine the energy in a May playoff game where Zion Williamson throws down a huge dunk over Joel Embiid.

  23. Grocer

    Why would anyone spend the money for that ad space and not hire a competent illustrator?

    Hubert, thanks for the link.

  24. abk

    I wouldn’t get too much hope for particular wings at this point. Even with the worst record we only have a 14% chance at the #1 pick. Assuming they play well this year, we’d be fortunate to get any of the four top wings (Zion, Barrett, Reddish, Little).

    That said, I’m a bit skeptical of Zion. He’s 6’6″ and can’t really shoot. Good but not elite handle or passing. He is super explosive but doesn’t have great lateral movement (would be hard to at his size) sp doesn’t project as an elite defender. His 6’10” wingspan is also actually below average for his size (average NBA wingspan is +5 inches over their height). I thought this was a good breakdown of him: https://www.thestepien.com/2018/08/12/early-2019-draft-thoughts-zion-williamson/

    I am a big UNC fan so I love Nassir Little, but I’d also take RJ Barrett over Zion. Zion just has an odd game for the modern NBA to me, and as that article details he really needs to be used intelligently to maximize his value. Do we have the right coaching staff / front office?

    Will be interesting to see how the college season plays out.

  25. alsep73

    If lineup changes are coming, better to do it before or after the Warriors play us? If you do it now and the guys in new roles (I’m thinking particularly of a certain Frenchman with frosted tips) immediately get destroyed by one of the all-time great teams, does that just mess with everyone’s confidence and set back the experiment? And if you wait and don’t put players in the roles where they’re most likely to succeed, does that set back Operation: Recruit KD?

    (Only half-serious, as Durant would be insane to base such a decision on a two-game sample size this season.)

  26. Hubert

    I guess Morey is thinking:

    My 2019 pick will suck.

    Hopefully my 2021 pick will suck.

    And my owner sucks so bad I won’t be here for 2023 and 2025, so….

  27. Brian Cronin

    I don’t know why the Wolves would accept that deal, though. Don’t they want to compete this season?

  28. ptmilo

    I think you have two panicked teams and almost anything is possible if there’s not a third offer that excites Taylor. It would have to be him and not Thibs making the deal and would probably in fact cement a Thibs exit. If you’re Taylor watching KAT sulk around the court like he’s Bynum you might well do something drastic and you might have already secretly given up on really competing this year.

  29. Brian Cronin

    The Rockets owner sure seems like a moron, though, right? “You can’t re-sign Trevor Ariza or Luc Mbah a Moute, but sure, trade four first rounders for Jimmy Butler.”

  30. Owen

    Four picks really seems like a lot to me. Two have to be the option to swap right? Which may not be exercised?

  31. Hubert

    Thibs may want to compete. But they should be real. Towns is 22 and immature AF. They need time for him to grow up and for Wiggins to run down his contract. I’d do that deal all day if i were them.

  32. dtrickey

    Seems like a reasonable offer. I mean, when has trading 4 1st round picks ever gone wrong for anyone?

  33. Cock Jowles, #1 Purveyor of Wanton Chuckery

    The only way it makes sense is if Morey is adamant that this is their championship window (it is) and he plans to jump ship when Harden begins his decline phase.

    Again we return to parity questions: in a league with perfect parity, you should win a title every 30 years. But the league is one that all but guarantees perennial success for the few teams that have superstars under contract. Morey doesn’t have time to wait for another trio like that to appear. And he’s playing with someone else’s money. If it doesn’t work out, he can decline a new contract and sign elsewhere with a clean slate. I bet there are numerous teams that would fire their GM today if they knew Morey would get on board.

    Paul, Harden, Butler, Tucker and Capela rival any starting five in the league. I don’t see the point of worrying about a 2025 draft pick when the championship window is open right this very moment.

  34. Cock Jowles, #1 Purveyor of Wanton Chuckery

    To be clear, the major distinction between this potential trade and the multi-pick disasters of the past is that this Houston team is very, very good, and their trade target is very, very good. Very different from the Curry trade, where they gave up the farm for a shit player.

  35. geo

    the only relevant question for glen taylor should be – “would danny ainge do this deal”?

    to which – jimmy pack your bags, you are going to houston…

    i play video games…if i did play poker though – i wouldn’t play with morey – that fucker is crazy…

    four firsts…for a one year rental and chance at signing butler long term…

  36. ess-dog

    I wonder what the market for KAT would be? I mean, if you don’t believe in the guy, maybe you can get some good vets and picks for him?

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

    Even if you do resign him, you are signing a thirty year old player to a cap crippling contract. If you don’t re-sign him then you are out four first round picks and have an aging team. I just don’t see it. I’m not sure it is as bad as the Nets Boston deal, but, if made, it’s going to be bad.

  38. Bruno Almeida

    The Rockets are already destroyed in terms of future flexibility anyway, they have 106 million committed until 2022 between Paul, Harden and Capela. It makes more sense than it sounds when you hear “4 draft picks”, it really is all in now or nothing. Paul’s decline phase will probably be ugly and Harden is already 29, the same age as Butler. You do the deal, re-sign Butler and go for it with this core. I mean, as a fan I would be very, very scared as long as the Warriors still probably are better than this team, but there’s a legitimate chance Butler puts them over the edge, as they were pretty close last season already.

    It sounds insane but it might be the best move the Rockets can do to really go for a title.

  39. abk

    Why would Minnesota not take this? Just because Thibs is calling the shots? Butler is clearly gone after this year, and their team isn’t going to win a title this year. That’s a pretty fantastic offer. I wonder what sort of protection there would be on the picks, or if that’s all that’s left to negotiate at this point.

  40. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    Thibs very likely wants what Pop got in a trade, and he’s highly unlikely to get it. You know who absolutely should trade for Jimmy Butler? The Blazers. Thibs might bite in a deal that involved McCollum.

  41. Hubert

    It’s the best move for Morey but the Rockets are going to be fucked long term. Not just the picks, but Butler’s 5 year contract. He’s creating a disaster that he expects not to deal with.

  42. Jack Bauer

    Houston might very well be able to beat the Warriors with Butler, but only if Chris Paul doesn’t get his usual playoff injury and miss some crucial games. Giving up 4 number one picks seems like crippling your future and risky. Especially with an older squad where some of the later picks may turn out to be pretty high. Money sure has some balls and/or plans to exit before the shit hits the fan on that deal ina few years.

    The Cavs look dreadful so far and will be very tough competition in the tanking department.

  43. Cock Jowles, #1 Purveyor of Wanton Chuckery

    I am talking from Morey’s perspective. The assets stay with Houston — they don’t follow him to a new job. We watched him struggle for years to put together a contender with dudes like Lin and Asik. Now he’s got an MVP and one of the all-time great offensive players, a top-3 all-time PG and a tremendous and underrated talent who plays the modern C to perfection.

    If you think that Harden alone will carry you to a playoff seed every year until he’s 35, I don’t see the point in keeping these nebulously-positioned picks hoping you’ll get more value out of them than you can right now. I agree that four picks is about as steep as a franchise-caliber talent could command, and the contract year thing is worrisome, but there’s no team for which it’s more prudent to push the chips in than the Rockets. I’d probably do two firsts and a pair of swaps, with some protections in the event that Paul literally murders Harden by punching him in the balls and Capela decides he’s Dwight Howard and wants to learn post moves.

    Planning for a far-off rebuild when you just lost to one of the greatest teams ever assembled in a heartbreaking Game 7 loss? I don’t understand that at all.

  44. Bruno Almeida

    I think after the Chris Paul extension this move was bound to happen. You don’t extend Paul for so much and so long if you don’t think you can win a title in the first two years of that contract, and to do so they need another guy. Their depth is already screwed by losing Ariza and Mbah a Moute and replacing them with bad players, so there’s no point in trying to get better with marginal, lateral moves.

    I understand the thinking. Like I said, I would be extremely scared if I was a Rockets fan, because there’s a chance the 5-6 years after Harden is gone are going to be the years the Nets have endured after their trade, but at least they have a wonderful core and Butler is not only great but fits very well into the mix with his defense and scoring. It’s 100% not the same as trading for washed up Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett when you have Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez as a core.

  45. 2FOR18, understands math

    For those watching the game, just watch Jokic’s feet for awhile. Looks like a ballerina.

  46. TheOakmanCometh

    Isn’t re-signing Butler going to blow them past the luxury tax? Fertitta wasn’t willing to do that in 2018, why would he do it in 2019?

  47. TheOakmanCometh

    Btw this Cleveland start is bad news. We need them to stay competitive just long enough to maintain their delusion about a playoff push. If they start 4-15 or something, they might just give up and tank.

  48. Cock Jowles, #1 Purveyor of Wanton Chuckery

    I thought Tristan Thompson said that the East runs through them? Who owns their 2019 first?

  49. dtrickey

    I thought Tristan Thompson said that the East runs through them? Who owns their 2019 first?

    Atlanta. Top 10 protected though I believe it defers to a 2020 1st rounder, then 2021 2nd and a 2022 2nd if still inside top 10.

  50. Bruno Almeida

    @58

    Well, he said he wasn’t willing to go deep into the luxury tax unless the team was a proven contender. A team with Butler Harden Paul and Capela is most likely a proven contender, that’s probably what Morey is trying to sell him on.

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

    If Houston and Minnesota make a trade like that other players have to be involved to match salaries. I can see that being work to figure out

  52. Cock Jowles, #1 Purveyor of Wanton Chuckery

    I wouldn’t pay luxury tax for Ariza, either. Poor WS48, negative BPM, 0.0 VORP last year. You don’t spend $15M plus tax money for a guy like that, especially at age 34.

  53. dtrickey

    Houston could send Knight and Nene to match salaries which should come out about close. That being said T-Wolves could also ask Gordon to be thrown in and then another salary to bring it up to Butler’s $20 mill. Knight and Nene would effectively be the cost for 4 1st round picks, given they are both injured at the moment and there aren’t really any basketball reasons to have them on your team.

  54. Bruno Almeida

    Knight or Gordon plus any of Nene or Chriss should work for Butler. Could even maybe be something like Gordon + Knight + Nene for Butler + Dieng, which could possibly be more interesting for Minnesota as Knight and Gordon both expire before Dieng does.

  55. Cock Jowles, #1 Purveyor of Wanton Chuckery

    I’m totally okay with the Rockets not making the trade, too, especially if Butler is rented for one year. Just saying that if you expect Paul/Harden/Butler/Capela to be your starting core for the next three to four years, the future picks aren’t worth all that much. I see Paul being good until he’s 36 or 37, and the other guys aren’t close to serious decline.

    I’d guess that Morey, quite rightly, knows that even he can’t gamble with any reasonable degree of success in the draft. He’d be getting a prime 2-way star for the price of 4 bets.

    Think about it this way: If the Rockets don’t make the trade, the very best case scenario is that the 2019/2021/2023/2025 Rockets are so terrible (or lucky) in one of those 4 seasons that they get a top pick, and get a guy who’s of Butler’s caliber — and have this all go down at the same moment that they’ve got a few other rising stars on their roster. Or perhaps a better case scenario would be that they keep their #30 pick after winning the Finals, and they select the next LeBron James at 30. But that’s, y’know, not reasonable.

    Out of the 101 players who played >2000 MP, Butler was #11 in WS48. You could have 4 1st round draft picks in a single draft and not find a guy of Butler’s mettle.

    I can only make these arguments because of Houston’s position on the win curve. There is virtually no other team for which I’d defend trading 4 first rounders for any player. Even the future MVP candidates like Giannis, AD and Jokic aren’t worth that much.

  56. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    Would Jimmy Butler re-sign in Houston after Tillman Fertita asks him to not take the full max?

  57. Ingmarrrr

    Even the future MVP candidates like Giannis, AD and Jokic aren’t worth that much.

    If you can get AD for 4 draft picks without sacrificing your core you have to do it. Definitely all top 10 teams in the league should. I mean, the goal is a championship right?

  58. Brian Cronin

    If you can get AD for 4 draft picks without sacrificing your core you have to do it. Definitely all top 10 teams in the league should. I mean, the goal is a championship right?

    Definitely all top ten teams, but I think there’s a decent argument to be made that it wouldn’t be worth it to a shitty team.

  59. Owen

    After tax in Texas he probably doesn’t need the full max to break even with being in LA right?

    You can’t trade picks in consecutive years so how would the pick swaps work. If Houston has a worse record than Minny would they get the second instead?

  60. Brian Cronin

    You can trade picks seven years out, so we’re probably talking literally four first rounders.

    2019, 2021, 2023 and 2025.

  61. Owen

    It’s an interesting deal. A first rounder 7 years from now could be a nice asset. But Morey proved during the Yao years he could win 40 games off the scrap heap with Carl Landry and such. So maybe they just aren’t worth that much

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