NYT: The Douglas Dilema

I had a nagging Feeling Toney Douglas felt lonely, so I wrote about him for Lady Old ‘N Gray:

With their Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat last Wednesday, the Knicks brought an end to one of the franchise’s strangest, most unpredictable seasons.

It seemed appropriate, then, that the injury-worn Knicks would be forced to turn for a stretch to third-year guard Toney Douglas. He only had two points and a single assist in eight spot minutes, but Douglas’ court time also amounted to the only semblance of a full circle this season.

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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at ESPN.com, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

108 thoughts to “NYT: The Douglas Dilema”

  1. Nice article.

    With the new CBA, the margin for error is much lower. It looks like the $3.7 MM that the Knicks have tied up in Douglas and Balkman will meaningfully impinge upon their ability to bring back Novak. I think that Lin stays (via the MLE), Fields stays unless he gets an offer above the mini-MLE and Smith goes (someone will offer him the full MLE). Novak is not coming back for the BAE, and the Knicks do not have anything more to offer.

  2. Novak might just stay because he will have Early Bird after the 12-13 season (assuming this current NBPA appeal doesn’t give it to him this offseason). He can sign the BAE with the 2nd year being a player option, then renounce it and get his raise. It’d be a risk but if he’s happy here and trusts that he can come close to this year’s production, he’ll get to have his (slightly smaller) cake and eat it too.

    I dunno – I obviously wouldn’t blame him if he gets more money elsewhere, but he’s a freaking cult hero here after being essentially ignored the rest of his career. I’d hate to see him end up like Shawne Williams, who was very prominent here and now has completely fallen off the map.

  3. In order for Novak to take the BAE (with a player option for year 2), he would have to be confident that the Knicks would use their Early Bird rights to give him the mid-level salary after next year. Given the rest of the Knicks’ salary commitments, that would virtually guarantee that the Knicks would be over the apron, and hence would lose their MLE.

    I would love it Novak decided to take that risk, but I think he will get at least a mini-MLE offer elsewhere. Hard to turn down that sort of money on a wink and a nod.

  4. It would nice if could trade TD + $3 mill for any 2nd pick. The other team basically get a player for free and possible even make some money off the deal.

    Here my stab at offseason GM. We lose Novak and don’t resign Bibby. Sign Reggie Evan as my rebounding and defense PF. Given his bad season sign Felton to BAE with a chance to start.

    Under contract
    Amare Stoudemire 19,948,799
    Carmelo Anthony 19,450,000
    Tyson Chandler 13,107,838
    Toney Douglas 2,067,880
    Iman Shumpert 1,680,360
    Renaldo Balkman 1,675,000
    Jerome Jordan 762,195
    Josh Harrellson 762,195
    Signing
    JR Smith 2,858,824 (20% raise)
    Jared Jeffries 1,352,181 (Vet min)
    Jeremy Lin 5,000,000 (MLE)
    Raymond Felton 1,980,000 (BAE)
    Laundry Fields 1,500,000 (Eary Bird)
    Reggie Evans 1,352,181 (Vet min)
    2nd Rnd Pick 473,604 (Rookie Min)
    73,971,057

  5. @4, the numbers are a little bit better than you indicated for Jeffries and Evans. Players at the veterans’ minimum are charged to the salary cap at the second year veterans’ minimum ($854k) even if they are entitled to more because of their longer tenure. So your roster would be roughly $1 MM less: $72.9 million.

    Also, the Knicks will not be able to use $3 MM cash to sweeten Douglas to get a draft pick because they already used that $3 MM as part of the Turiaf trade to make from for Tyson Chandler. Once we get past the July moritorium, the Knicks will again have the $3 MM to play with, so they could then trade for the rights to someone who had just be selected in the second round.

  6. @5
    I used this for (vet min). I believe they are both 10 year Vet.
    http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba-minimum-salaries.

    I think we need draft shooter, but not going to venture guess who.
    This is also 14 roster so I would like to sign shooter to vet min, but I’m still unsure when your are allow to go over the Apron.

  7. @6 — you are correct that Evans and Jeffries both would be paid as 10 year veterans, but they would only count against the cap as if they were 2 year veterans. Here is the discussion from Larry Coon’s website (www.cbafaq.com)

    When a player has been in the NBA for three or more seasons, and is playing under a one-year, ten-day or rest-of-season contract, the league reimburses the team for part of his salary — any amount above the minimum salary level for a two-year veteran. For example, in 2011-12 the minimum salary for a two-year veteran is $854,389, so for a ten-year veteran, with a minimum salary of $1,352,181, the league would reimburse the team $497,792. Only the two-year minimum salary is included in the team salary, not the player’s full salary. They do this so teams won’t shy away from signing older veterans simply because they are more expensive than younger veterans.

  8. There were many things to be learned from the Miami series, but one of them is that we can’t expect Melo to be responsible for defending LBJ AND carry the offense. He can do it for stretches, but having a guy who can credibly defend him semi-1-on-1 would be huge.

    In that light – I think Pietrus is the guy for us. Historically he has been a very good defender, and I remember quite well the job he did on Lebron when he played for Orlando. He’s a career 36% shooter from 3 so he needs to be semi-respected.

    If Pietrus can’t be gotten, what do people think about resigning good ol’ Billy Walker? He’ll be a vet’s minimum guy who can shoot the 3. He’s boneheaded at times, but when he’s engaged, he’s a reasonable defender, good rebounder, and can get quite hot from 3 point range.

  9. @7
    Thanks – that why like this blob site, most people on here quite educated on the in and out of NBA. With that I would say can we get Carlos Delfino as shooter for Vet min. Made 3.5 mil last year so min might too low.

  10. Delfino – Hollinger write-up
    Defensively, he again did solid, if unremarkable, work, with the most notable accomplishment his ranking fourth among small forwards in steals per minute. The Bucks used him as a defensive stopper on the wing, and that might be asking a bit much every night, but he’s competent. With Stephen Jackson on board, Delfino may shift down to shooting guard at the defensive end, where his size could be more of a weapon but his lateral movement will be a greater challenge.

  11. @8 Pietrus seem like good choice also. Either way it has to be Vet min type players.

  12. In the one game where Billy Walker came back after his surgery, he looked as if he had put on 15 pounds during his recuperation, and not in a good way. If Walker is in shape, he is a reasonable thought for the veteran’s minimum.

    The lesson that I take from the Miami series is that the key to controlling LBJ is to keep him from getting transition baskets. That means getting at least three men back on defense every possession, plus picking him up as soon as he crosses mid-court. If you turn LBJ into a jump shooter in the half-court, he is still a strong player, but he is not a dominant force.

  13. Bill Walker would be Ok – he is such a horrible passer though and fouls at the worst conceivable times. Pietrus is having knee surgery this summer. Do we really need to add another player to the Knicks with knee issues? We need to sign healthy players not coming off knee surgery as a start. Maybe Delfino? Also, we could have had Shump on Lebron if he wasn’t injured. Besides, I’m not sure anyone can effectively guard him…I thought Melo did a decent job and look at his numbers – Lebron got his regardless. He needs to be team-defended. He also doesn’t have that scorer’s assassin mentality, so even if he could go off for 50, he’d rather get his teammates involved. Bigger problem was Wade and Bosh going off IMHO.

    Frank:
    There were many things to be learned from the Miami series, but one of them is that we can’t expect Melo to be responsible for defending LBJ AND carry the offense. He can do it for stretches, but having a guy who can credibly defend him semi-1-on-1 would be huge.

    In that light – I think Pietrus is the guy for us.Historically he has been a very good defender, and I remember quite well the job he did on Lebron when he played for Orlando. He’s a career 36% shooter from 3 so he needs to be semi-respected.

    If Pietrus can’t be gotten, what do people think about resigning good ol’ Billy Walker? He’ll be a vet’s minimum guy who can shoot the 3. He’s boneheaded at times, but when he’s engaged, he’s a reasonable defender, good rebounder, and can get quite hot from 3 point range.

  14. johnlocke:
    Bill Walker would be Ok – he is such a horrible passer though and fouls at the worst conceivable times. Pietrus is having knee surgery this summer. Do we really need to add another player to the Knicks with knee issues? We need to sign healthy players not coming off knee surgery as a start.

    Considering we are scraping the bottom of the barrel for vet’s minimum guys, we need to find guys that may be undervalued by the market. Guys coming off outlier bad seasons, guys coming off injuries that have taken longer to come back than originally thought (ie. like Azubuike getting signed by Dallas). I’d almost take it as a positive that Pietrus is getting knee surgery this offseason (assuming it’s not like a reconstructive-type operation) – fewer bidders.

    Another guy that might be interesting is Dominic McGuire – I remember in the games we played against GSW this year, he really bottled Melo up. Long, athletic, great rebounder, tough defender. Not a great offensive player but if you look at his #s, his TS% has improved significantly over the last 2 years (up to 48.7 this year – obviously not great but again – we’re talking minimum guys here). He’s got some nice peripheral numbers (great rebounder/shot blocker) at the 2/3 spot, 1.4 steals/36, 3.5 assists/36). He doesn’t shoot the 3 like Pietrus, but at this point we should be interested in low-usage defenders that have some sort of upside. He would fall under this category.

  15. Either way – we looking for minimum salary players to guard LBJ. That not best way get over the hump.
    Also the Gap seem to have widen between LBJ who flirting with historically PER season vs flatline Melo.

  16. JC Knickfan:
    Either way – we looking for minimum salary players to guard LBJ. That not best way get over the hump.

    I would prefer to say that given our current financial situation, we are looking for undervalued assets with a particular skillset – one of which is to try and somehow guard the best player on the planet. Since players coming off injuries and players who are defensive specialists who don’t put up great measurables tend to be undervalued, those are the ones we should be devoting our limited resources towards.

  17. We were the 5th ranked defense in the league and near the bottom in offensive efficiency. We were also near the bottom in three point shooting. Finding a cheap player who can ‘guard Lebron’ would be a mistake I think. There is no Lebron stopper out there, and certainly none that we’re going to get on the cheap. We need some sharp shooters that can knock down shots and we need dependable point guard play (starter and back-up). We can stick Shumpert on Lebron if it comes to that in the playoffs.

    Frank: I would prefer to say that given our current financial situation, we are looking for undervalued assets with a particular skillset – one of which is to try and somehow guard the best player on the planet.Since players coming off injuries and players who are defensive specialists who don’t put up great measurables tend to be undervalued, those are the ones we should be devoting our limited resources towards.

  18. I’m not singing Delfino’s praises…just pointing out that he’s healthy. Per my above post, our most important needs are in order…1) back-up/starting point guard; 2) three point shooters (particularly if we lose Novak) and 3) a slashing/shooting SF that can defend…I don’t love Delfino, Pietrus or Walker…but would take Walker over Pietrus coming back. Also Walker’s still only 24.

    JC Knickfan:
    Delfino – Hollinger write-up
    Defensively, he again did solid, if unremarkable, work, with the most notable accomplishment his ranking fourth among small forwards in steals per minute. The Bucks used him as a defensive stopper on the wing, and that might be asking a bit much every night, but he’s competent. With Stephen Jackson on board, Delfino may shift down to shooting guard at the defensive end, where his size could be more of a weapon but his lateral movement will be a greater challenge.

  19. One player who might be up for consideration: What do you guys think of Terrence Williams?

    T-Will has always had incredible talent. Rebounds and assists at an outstanding rate for his position. He’s only a mediocre shooter and has a rep as a bit of a headcase, but he’s so skilled and only 24. If he goes unclaimed for a little bit, he could be a superb FA target. He would add a new dimension to the offense, as he would be the best player on the roster at creating for others outside of the PG position. He can play the 2 or the 3 legitimately as well, standing a solid 6’6″.

    And he’s always been a good defender, where he would have great value in this system. Hard-nosed defender, and forces turnovers. Could you imagine the havoc a Lin-Shump-TWill-Melo-Chandler line-up would cause?

  20. Both Melo and Lin can found people 3pt shot. That why include
    Delfino who 0.362 career from 3pt line as replacement for Novak whose also not defensive liability. Also expect Lin improve hopefully alot from 3pt line. 32% is actually near bottom for PG %.

    T-Will only 31.5% from 3pt though not shot that much. Honestly don’t know much about him.

  21. JC Knickfan: T-Will only 31.5% from 3pt though not shot that much. Honestly don’t know much about him.

    He’s not a huge threat from deep. That’s a weakness. He’s also a poor free throw shooter, which is a way bigger concern to me. But he’s a guy who can actually play point forward for stretches, and is able to create for others extremely well. He’s had stretches of solid 3 point shooting but he’ll never be a true shooter. You still need to guard him out there to some extent though. He’s better than Landry, that’s for sure.

    He’s a defender who rebounds better than almost anyone at his position and has great passing and slashing skills. I’m a fan, especially if we can retain JR.

  22. EDIT: *If we lose JR and retain Novak. TWill would create tons of open looks for Novak, but he’s ball-dominant so he would limit JR.

  23. So we’re probably losing Novak, Smith, and Jeffries.

    And once Lin and Fields (Fields?!?) are signed, we’ll only have $1.9 mil to fill out the roster? Yikes.

    Amar’e for Rashard Lewis is sounding more and more enticing. Get it done, Glen!

    (or, I guess we can sit around and hope that it’s been a lifelong dream of Steve Nash, Ray Felton, and/or Marcus Camby to play for Mike Woodson for the league minimum.)

  24. What’s the point of STAT for ‘Shard again? For the vague chance at CP3 next summer?

  25. If Fields’ open market value is really $5 mil (didn’t somebody suggest that in a recent article??) then he has a lot of trade value. Personally, I think he has more value league-wide than posters here give him credit for, but I can’t see him getting a $5 mil/year offer from anybody. Maybe $2-$3 mil is more likely. If that’s the case, maybe he can net the Knicks a first rounder this June. The Warriors have their own lottery pick, the Spurs’ 30th pick, and 2 2nd rounders. Perhaps they’d like to bring The known commodity of Landry Fields home to the Bay Area in exchange for the 30th pick. That way the Knicks can save on the tax line and have a pick. Too much to hope for??

  26. I think Jeffries will stay.
    I think one of Novak and JR will stay.
    I don’t think Washington even sniffs Amare for Rashard. Rashard’s contract is super-valuable, and I’m not sure what Amare and Nene would be doing together in the frontcourt there. Unless he really turns it around next season, I think Amare is here through the end of his contract.

    The good news is that I think we’ll have some semblance of roster stability for the next 3 seasons – something we haven’t been able to say really since the 2001 season. Our starting lineup going forward will be Lin, Shumpert, Melo, Amare, Chandler. If Lin continues to improve and Shump can continue to shoot the 3 like he did post-ASB (35%) and defend like a fiend — that’s a very good starting lineup. I assume if we have a 9 man rotation, the other 4 to play (in no particular order) will probably include 2 PF/C types (some combo of Jeffries and/or Harrellson and/or Jordan and/or Novak), a backup PG, and a backup swingman. If JR AND Novak leave, then the two backup backcourt guys must be able to shoot the 3 with consistency.

  27. Stat for Rashard or Elton Brand… to have $$ in one of the best free agent classes since Lebron, Wade, Bosh and Stoudemire were available:
    Unrestricted Free Agent Options include Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Martin, Ginobli, Josh Smith, Milsap, Al Jefferson,
    I’m not including great RFAs such as Harden, also potentially available. If the Knicks want to start playing chess and stop playing checkers…2013 should be where Grunwald tries to take us to the championship level.
    Also can you imagine a starting 5 of Chris Paul, improved Shump, Melo, Defensive PF/SF, and Chandler. That would be the best defensive team in the NBA + Lin and shooters off the bench.

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/2013-nba-free-agents

    TelegraphedPass:
    What’s the point of STAT for ‘Shard again? For the vague chance at CP3 next summer?

  28. johnlocke: Stat for Rashard or Elton Brand… to have $$ in one of the best free agent classes since Lebron, Wade, Bosh and Stoudemire were available:Unrestricted Free Agent Options include Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Martin, Ginobli, Josh Smith, Milsap, Al Jefferson,I’m not including great RFAs such as Harden, also potentially available. If the Knicks want to start playing chess and stop playing checkers…2013 should be where Grunwald tries to take us to the championship level.Also can you imagine a starting 5 of Chris Paul, improved Shump, Melo, Defensive PF/SF, and Chandler. That would be the best defensive team in the NBA + Lin and shooters off the bench. http://www.hoopsworld.com/2013-nba-free-agents

    I don’t feel comfortable with all this. It assumes Shump+Lin grow in a linear manner. Also it may not be necessarily true. You couldn’t convince me before this season that Rondo-Avery Bradley-Pierce-Bass-KG would be the best defensive lineup in the league. I don’t think these things are so easy to predict.

    We’ve watched this team rebuild for years. We already tried this, and we didn’t land LeBron. I also don’t feel comfortable subjecting this team to intentional punting. I don’t think it would be good for their attitude or morale.

  29. TelegraphedPass: We already tried this, and we didn’t land LeBron. I also don’t feel comfortable subjecting this team to intentional punting. I don’t think it would be good for their attitude or morale.

    We tried rebuilding through financial flexibility twice now. 1996 and 2010. Neither time worked. BUT, we’ve tried throwing money at mediocre players a lot more than two times, and those results have brought us a whole lot of nothin’ too. I vastly prefer the calculated risks of Donnie Walsh to worrying about the attitude and morale of Jim Dolan’s misfits.

  30. Z: We tried rebuilding through financial flexibility twice now. 1996 and 2010. Neither time worked. BUT, we’ve tried throwing money at mediocre players a lot more than two times, and those results have brought us a whole lot of nothin’ too. I vastly prefer the calculated risks of Donnie Walsh to worrying about the attitude and morale of Jim Dolan’s misfits.

    Our players aren’t mediocre though. Maybe overpaid, maybe overrated. I don’t feel strongly about either of those terms at this point for Melo, STAT, or Tyson. I feel like those three are mismatched, and I lean towards trading either STAT or Melo, but I don’t see success in a rebuild. There’s just too much that could go wrong when we have top tier talent right now.

    They may not be Hall-of-Famers like LeBron, Wade, or Chris Paul, but you can cleverly build a title team around this level of talent. I just feel like it’s a huge gamble, wasting years for the opportunity to acquire a true superstar.

  31. Trading Stat not horrible ideal. Argument continue that Melo/Stat offensive games are too similar and will continue having trouble playing together. The only problem with these suggestion is we taking player back that will provide very little output. Lewis look like pure salary dump as he pretty much done and Brand look like shell of himself. We still be Cap hell in 2012-2013.

  32. I guess it depends on what you believe and your goals for the franchise.

    My goal for the franchise is a championship team, not a 2nd round exit.

    Some folks believe Amare and Melo may work and Amare may learn to rebound and play defense like a PF. I don’t.

    Some folks believe last year was a blip and that our injury prone PF will come back bigger and better over the life of his contract. I don’t.

    I believe in Lin and Shump…I think in 2013 they’ll be primed to be part of a legit championship contender.

    We’re not intentionally punting. We’d be adding a serviceable player in say, Elton Brand, in the short term (one year). Also Carmelo plays better with Amare off the floor and we’ve seen the Knicks be successful without him when the team is healthy.

    This is not a situation where it’s Lebron or bust, we already have Carmelo, the strategy would be putting in place a more complementary offensive/defensive player to Carmelo (Paul, Howard, Josh Smith). At worst, we replace Amare with more complementary pieces for the team as it’s built. Look at the list of available options in 2013. There are tons of potential options that would make us a better overall team.

    TelegraphedPass: I don’t feel comfortable with all this. It assumes Shump+Lin grow in a linear manner. Also it may not be necessarily true. You couldn’t convince me before this season that Rondo-Avery Bradley-Pierce-Bass-KG would be the best defensive lineup in the league. I don’t think these things are so easy to predict.

    We’ve watched this team rebuild for years. We already tried this, and we didn’t land LeBron. I also don’t feel comfortable subjecting this team to intentional punting. I don’t think it would be good for their attitude or morale.

  33. @32 – I hear what you’re saying, but we have to be completely realistic here. NO ONE IS TAKING AMARE’S CONTRACT.

    I would wager that given the length of the contract, the fact that it is uninsurable, and that Amare’s effectiveness and health (amazingly, not the knee!) are in decline, that it is the new Rashard Lewis or Gilbert Arenas contract, ie. the worst contract in the NBA. And given the new CBA, it is basically unmovable. No one will take an aging, uninsurable, less effective player when that contract takes up more than 1/3 of the cap.

    So yes, I get that you want CP3 and whoever in 2013, but it’s just not happening. We should concentrate our collective (and powerless) energies on talking about more realistic things that might help us get at least to the ECF if not NBA finals.

    1) Health
    2) Continued improvement by Lin and Shump
    3) Lucky/skillful drafting with what picks we have left
    4) More diamonds in the rough (ie. waiver pickups or low-priced FAs) unearthed by the FO, like Shawne, Novak, Lin, etc.

  34. Honestly, Amar’e for Brand should be a no-brainier. It saves $40 million and Brand has been a better player the past 2 years and is a better it. Not sure if Philly would make the trade, but it’s not outrageous to think that they would, I suppose. I hope the Knicks FO would pounce, if that trade was dangled

  35. Frank: @32 – I hear what you’re saying, but we have to be completely realistic here. NO ONE IS TAKING AMARE’S CONTRACT.

    +1. The only way to get someone to take Amare’s contract would be either (1) to sweeten the deal with a player who has a contract well-below market (Shumpert) or (2) to take back contract(s) that are just as bad and just as long. I cannot imagine the Sixers trading Brand for Stat, even if that deal was offered earlier this year. The Wizards will get a lot more positive value for Rashard Lewis. If the Knicks wanted to move Stat to DC, they would have to take back Blatche and Lewis, and include at least Shumpert and a re-signed JR Smith.

  36. Fair point…but you realize that for every crap contract that has ever existed an NBA GM created it right? All I’m saying is that we should be seriously exploring that option as our first option. If not, then we can do all the other things being discussed to be a top 4 eastern conference team.

    Frank:
    @32 – I hear what you’re saying, but we have to be completely realistic here. NO ONE IS TAKING AMARE’S CONTRACT.

    I would wager that given the length of the contract, the fact that it is uninsurable, and that Amare’s effectiveness and health (amazingly, not the knee!) are in decline, that it is the new Rashard Lewis or Gilbert Arenas contract, ie. the worst contract in the NBA.And given the new CBA, it is basically unmovable. No one will take an aging, uninsurable, less effective player when that contract takes up more than 1/3 of the cap.

    So yes, I get that you want CP3 and whoever in 2013, but it’s just not happening.We should concentrate our collective (and powerless) energies on talking about more realistic things that might help us get at least to the ECF if not NBA finals.

    1) Health
    2) Continued improvement by Lin and Shump
    3) Lucky/skillful drafting with what picks we have left
    4) More diamonds in the rough (ie. waiver pickups or low-priced FAs) unearthed by the FO, like Shawne, Novak, Lin, etc.

  37. All the proposed lineups I have seen here show us keeping JR and losing Novak. I like JRs defense but it’s hard to argue with Novaks three point shooting. Is there some way we could sign and trade JR and the be able to keep Novak?

  38. Now that Derrick Rose is announced to be out for 8-12 months, the one intriguing trade possibility is Carlos Boozer. Boozer/Brewer for Stat/Shumpert would work under the salary cap. Chicago might not be willing to do it, given the spacing problems from having Noah and Stat on the floor at the same time.

    I am not certain that Lin/Brewer/Melo/Boozer/Chandler gets the Knicks closer to winning the East. And it certainly does not get the Knicks any salary cap relief.

  39. Frank:
    We should concentrate our collective (and powerless) energies on talking about more realistic things that might help us get at least to the ECF if not NBA finals.

    1) Health
    2) Continued improvement by Lin and Shump
    3) Lucky/skillful drafting with what picks we have left
    4) More diamonds in the rough (ie. waiver pickups or low-priced FAs) unearthed by the FO, like Shawne, Novak, Lin, etc.

    No offense, but talking about health is boring. And talking about the continued development of Lin and Shump is boring, until we actually see them improve on the court next year. And how much can we really talk about the 48th pick in next month’s draft? And only the super-geeks of the NBA fan-blogs even know who you’re talking about when you bring up Dominic McGuire or Marco Bellini :)

    So call them futile if you must, but I’d much rather read about possible trades that could actually work wonders for what ails the team. (and, yes, trading Amar’e is a longshot both because of the Knicks loyalty to him(?) and because it takes two to tango, but we’ve learned over the years, the only contract in the history of the NBA that was truly unmovable was the unexpiring contract of Eddy Curry. Everybody else has been fair game. Raef LaFrentz was traded 1 year into his $80 contract and again at age 30 with 3 years left on it… Larry Hughes’ 5/$70 million contract was dealt not once but twice before it was an expiring deal… Juwan Howard was once traded with over $40 million left on his contracts… Pena Stojacovic was traded with $60 million still on his all shooting no defense contract… (even the $15 million owed to Cutino Mobley’s broken heart was movable!!)

  40. @Frank and johnlocke,

    I actually think STAT’s contract isn’t nearly as bad as it appears. He started off the year horribly but as time went on he showed himself to be the same devastating force off the PnR he’s been his whole career. He finished the year shooting nearly 50% as the roll man and scoring at a PPP rate of nearly 1. That’s extremely efficient. He’ll never be a good defender, but that didn’t stop this team from being a top 10 defense for the season. Top 5 for much of it. His defensive weaknesses weren’t that egregious.

    My concern is the offensive fit of STAT and Melo. Regardless of your attitude on either, Coach Karl and Coach DA have shown that it is possible to build elite offenses around each of the star forwards. We have yet to demonstrate a consistent ability to run a strong offense with both. In that sense, I’m willing to consider moving STAT for a forward who fits more naturally with Melo (Bargnani perhaps). Or trade Melo for an elite PnR PG like Jose Calderon, though we’d be selling low cuz TOR lacks other assets to package with Jose.

    Despite their now more visible warts, both Melo and STAT are great players. Unless we’re getting an offer that makes this team immediately fit better, I’d rather focus on Melo and STAT developing better chemistry. I don’t think it’s more reasonable to expect CP3 to opt out of LAC to play alongside Melo in a year.

  41. In a pure salary dump, after July 1 (once A. Jamison’s contract expires), the Knicks could try to send Stat/Shumpert to Cleveland for the rights to whomever Cleveland picks with the Lakers pick plus Boobie Gibson. Let Varejao play the 5 on defense, with Stat getting to PnR with Kylie Irving.

    Knicks would then have a rotation of Lin/Fields/Melo/Novak/Chandler with Smith/Gibson/Jorts/Cleveland draft pick as the rest of the rotation. Still does not clear out enough room to offer a Max Contract for 2013.

  42. johnlocke:
    Fair point…but you realize that for every crap contract that has ever existed an NBA GM created it right? All I’m saying is that we should be seriously exploring that option as our first option. If not, then we can do all the other things being discussed to be a top 4 eastern conference team.

    Some folks believe that the stupidity of NBA GM’s is so infinite that any possible deal, no matter how unlikely, has a legitimate shot of happening.

    But I don’t.

  43. All the proposed lineups I have seen here show us keeping JR and losing Novak. I like JRs defense but it’s hard to argue with Novaks three point shooting. Is there some way we could sign and trade JR and the be able to keep Novak?

    Nope. The only way Smith signs with the Knicks is if he gives them a discount because he wants to play here. Therefore, he wouldn’t be involved in a sign and trade with the Knicks where he would take less money and then not even end up a Knick.

  44. Whoa there, Z. Peja was an important part of one of the best teams in recent history to not win a title. His injuries limited him more than anything. If he stayed healthy he would be a valuable asset to any team.

    And I’m not sure I consider Belinelli or Dom obscure players. Both spent time as starters for NBA teams during their careers. They may not be stars, but we’re not talking about Lester Hudson or Blake Ahearn here.

    Finally, I think you’re making a huge leap assuming trading Amar’e Stoudemire (one of the better roll men in NBA history) for a washed up version of a washed up Rashard Lewis would make this team better. How? By being much worse and then hopefully signing Chris Paul or Dwight Howard? What if they both decide to play together for another team instead? Didn’t we just see that happen? Why go through that every time there is a big free agent summer?

  45. You really cannot compare the way GMs did business before the new CBA with the way they’re doing business now. There is now a much harsher penalty for teams going over the luxury tax and there is much more difficulty building a team that goes over the luxury cap. Therefore, long-term gigantic contracts have a significant downside that they did not use to have. So they will not be traded the same way they used to be.

  46. It’s not based on belief it’s based on history. Not all GMs have the same goal….(championship, selling tickets, making the fan base ‘happy’, whatever) ….if Amare has a strong start to the year, it’s not out of the question that someone would bite. Amare is not Steve Francis or Penny Hardaway post-surgery

    Doug: Some folks believe that the stupidity of NBA GM’s is so infinite thatany possible deal, no matter how unlikely, has a legitimate shot of happening.

  47. If Memphis can figure out its salary cap issues (they are over the luxury tax right now), they are team most in need of what JR Smith has to offer. The Grizzlies defense and team ethic is so strong that they could handle JR Smith’s wild style to obtain the offense that Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo could not.

  48. Even if it were possible to trade Stat, such a move would make for horrific karma. I don’t think we can afford it metaphysically.

  49. I know it’s way early, but can you imagine if the Celtics made the NBA Finals by beating Atlanta, Philly and Indiana?

  50. If anyone just watched Lebron James decline to assert himself offensively in the last :30 of Game 2 against the Pacers, you saw the counterpoint to all of the attacks on Carmelo and hero ball. When Michael Jordan passed off to teammates for buzzer beaters, it was only after he drew the defense to himself to get wide open looks for Steve Kerr/Paxson/Armstrong etc. LBJ did not do anything even vaguely threatening on three straight possessions, just allowed others to try to win the game.

    James is earning his reputation for coming up small in crunch time.

  51. Z: …but we’ve learned over the years, the only contract in the history of the NBA that was truly unmovable was the unexpiring contract of Eddy Curry. Everybody else has been fair game. Raef LaFrentz was traded 1 year into his $80 contract and again at age 30 with 3 years left on it… Larry Hughes’ 5/$70 million contract was dealt not once but twice before it was an expiring deal… Juwan Howard was once traded with over $40 million left on his contracts… Pena Stojacovic was traded with $60 million still on his all shooting no defense contract… (even the $15 million owed to Cutino Mobley’s broken heart was movable!!)

    Really, Z? How movable was Allan Houston’s max contract? Steph? Throw Curry (non-max) in the mix and you have 3 contracts that nobody woud have taken on within a year after they were signed until they became expiring. Unfortunately, STAT’s max contract is in that territory right now, unless you throw considerable sweetener into the deal, which would only further compromise our future. Is there a team out there stupid enough to take on STAT’s uninsured 3-yr max contract with his knee, back, eye, and D issues? Would that trade actually improve the team without being followed by some other high-stakes move that might not pan out?

    The probability of Amare being traded before next season in a way that helps the Knicks is no greater than the probability that Shump becomes the next Dwyane Wade and Lin the next Chris Paul. Hence, the discussions are equally intriguing or equally boring to me.

  52. TelegraphedPass:
    Whoa there, Z. Peja was an important part of one of the best teams in recent history to not win a title. His injuries limited him more than anything.

    Yeah, definitely, Peja was a very valuable player in his prime. But in his 30s he was a giant contract attached to a breaking down body and that contract was traded twice. (which was the reason I brought him up).

    TelegraphedPass:

    I’m not sure I consider Belinelli or Dom obscure players. Both spent time as starters for NBA teams during their careers.

    If you polled all the people who could name all the cities with NBA teams and asked them who Dominic McGuire or Belinelli play for, I’d bet the number of correct answers that weren’t blind guesses would be <5%. (Take me, for example. I can name every GM of every team, but I have no idea who McGuire is, and I have no idea who Belinelli (I thought his name was Bellini) plays for these days. (but that’s just me :))

    TelegraphedPass:

    Finally, I think you’re making a huge leap assuming trading Amar’e Stoudemire (one of the better roll men in NBA history) for a washed up version of a washed up Rashard Lewis would make this team better. How?

    I think that the long term benefits of trading Amar’e for Lewis vastly outweigh the short term costs, which, frankly, I think are marginal, if that. I said when Amar’e got hurt that the Knicks would be fine and people yelled at me and said I was “out of my mind”. ( http://knickerblogger.net/knicks-morning-news-monday-mar-26-2012/ ). Well, they were 22-25 with Amar’e this year (.468) and 18-5 without him (.783).

    Amar’e IS a good player, but he is redundant next to Carmelo and…

  53. People, even if we still had the amnesty clause and waived STAT with zero cap effects, it would still not get us anywhere near a max contract in 2012. Quit it with the fantasies:

    2013 salaries:
    Anthony: $21.5m
    Chandler: $14.1m
    Lin: $5m
    Shumpert: $1.8m
    7 minimum salary cap holds: $3.5m
    Total:$47m
    Cap space: $11m
    maximum contract for CP3: $17.5m

    I also don’t understand why people would want to pair Paul and Anthony after seeing how he and Lin and he and Lawson did not exactly have a symbiotic relationship. The ideal PG for Anthony was Billups: A guy who can spread the floor, create his own offense when necessary, and play defense. If I was building an all-Anthony with talent less than or equal to the current Knicks starting lineup, I would build something like this:

    C: Marc Gasol (defense, rebounding, solid range on jumpshot)
    PF: Anthony
    SF: Jared Dudley (40% 3pt shooting, capable defender)
    SG: Dorrell Wright (38% 3pt shooting, capable rebounder)
    PG: James Harden (good shooter, robust defender, capable at creating his own shot, smart enough to be able to get Melo the ball in his good spots)

    Harden isn’t a pure point, but he can score as a second option as well as spread the floor. Wright and Dudley are bench players on most teams but fit well due to their shooting ability and solid defense as complementary players. Gasol is a huge defensive player who can still make a 16 footer to keep the paint open for Anthony.

    Talent wise, this team is not much different from NY:

    Chandler = Gasol
    Anthony = Anthony
    Stoudemire > Dudley
    Shumpert > Wright
    Lin < Harden

    But it would suit Anthony much better. Too bad it would be virtually impossible for NY to create a team like this.

  54. Z: Yeah, definitely, Peja was a very valuable player in his prime. But in his 30s he was a giant contract attached to a breaking down body and that contract was traded twice. (which was the reason I brought him up).

    Amar’e IS a good player, but he is redundant next to Carmelo and…

    Amar’e and Melo are not redundant. They are actually very different kinds of scorers. Wade and Lebron are redundant, but because they’re both ball-handlers and are great in transition you don’t have marginal returns issues.

    The Knicks need a fulcrum to the offense to maximize all of its disparate parts. While Melo and Amar’e aren’t redundant, they aren’t complementary either, you know the drill by now: you need a ballhandler/penetrator/pnr guard.

    Amar’e was a 615 TS player in the final 24 games (including playoffs) of the season.

    SO, there’s no reason to suspect that he can’t be an absolutely dominant scorer with a point guard like Lin (obviously he’s one if the union wins and we get to sign Nash).

    You want a diverse offense in the playoffs, as you can see. The Celtics have a very diverse offense. The Thunder, Lakers, Spurs, Miami with Bosh even Indiana — they all have multiple ways to generate shots.

    And, yes, believe it or not, a strong side pick and roll attack will get Melo easier shots on the weakside. And we started to see that a dominant Melo Iso/post-up game will get Amar’e and Lin great shots on the weakside.

    I’m not buying the idea that Melo and Amar’e can’t both be extremely effective at the same time. Billups was not an Amar’e pg. Lin was much closer than Billups, and that’s when Amar’e started to get back to his regular efficiency dominance.

  55. Max,
    I definitely respect your opinions, but come on man. James Harden at point guard? Paul is better than Melo, if we got Paul, the whole notion of ‘building the team around Melo’ would be irrelevant. Chris Paul is already the highest paid player in the league at $16.3M. $17M is plenty — he would be looking for a team he could win with and we could sell him the possibility of paring with a P&R player he knows and loves – Chandler and wing scorer – Melo. Paul fits your description and some for the ideal PG for Paul. Chris Paul can spread the floor, he can definitely create his own offense and he leads the league in steals (2.5) and is a great defender. Please don’t compare Paul to Lin and Lawson…..not in the same league or the same sport. In either case, even if we don’t get Paul, my larger point is that we can use that $18M on Josh Smith, or even Howard. If we got Howard we could trade Chandler. I get the long odds of trading Stat for an expiring contract but in my mind, if we don’t do that, then we’re waiting for his contract to run out, to try to build a true, elite championship contender. I think if Lin gets better, we keep one of Smith/Novak, if Shump recovers fully, if Amare comes back plays well on O and is not a complete sieve on D and stays healthy and if Chandler learns a post move, we’ll be a top 4 team in the East with Miami, Chicago and Indiana, but that’s a lot of ifs and still not a team winning the championship.

    max fisher-cohen:

    maximum contract for CP3: $17.5m

    I also don’t understand why people would want to pair Paul and Anthony after seeing how he and Lin and he and Lawson did not exactly have a symbiotic relationship. The ideal PG for Anthony was Billups: A guy who can spread the floor, create his own offense when necessary, and play defense.

  56. Z-man: Really, Z? How movable was Allan Houston’s max contract?

    Houston was never actively shopped. The Knicks had the chance to amnesty him but didn’t because insurance was paying picking up the tab on it.

    Z-man: Steph?

    Again, it wasn’t that Marbury was “unmovable”, but more that the Knicks weren’t taking on contracts that ran past 2010 and keeping him didn’t cost them anything, as they were already too far over the cap for it to make any difference whether they traded him or not (so even if they offered superior talent, they still would have said no). In fact the Knicks waited until after the trade deadline to waive him because they saw his contract as an asset (they could have traded it for McGrady at the time, I believe).

    The point is, Amar’e isn’t unmovable. People we would logically think to be unmovable get moved all the time.

    Z-man: Curry…Unfortunately, STAT’s max contract is in that territory right now…

    Yes, the fact that Amar’e’s contract is uninsured, a la Curry, does make that the best comp, and Curry was, without a doubt, untradable to the bitter end. BUT, Curry’s contract was uninsured because he could keel over and die, and Amar’e’s is uninsured because of a knee problem; and Curry hadn’t been able to step on a court for years, whereas Amar’e is actually a high producing impact player.

  57. @54 That’s a fun little game. Trying to envision the best type of team for Melo to truly flourish. I would try:

    PG: Brandon Jennings
    SG: Arron Afflalo
    SF: Melo
    PF: Al Horford
    C: Healthy Andrew Bogut

    I think the best frontcourt to pair with Melo is one that rebounds and defends at a solid rate, while both being threats to score inside themselves. Horford is a great passer and a huge threat at the elbow. Melo’s low post offense and isolations would lead to a lot of open looks from the weakside elbow for Horford, and Melo is a good enough passer to hit him there consistently.

    Bogut is one of the best big man defenders in the league. All those horrific injuries have unfortunately diminished his rep, but he’s superb on the defensive end and is strong down in the low post. He’s a smart cutter too, something Horford can capitalize on with crisp passing.

    Arron is there to defend and hit open threes, per usual. There’s a few different names that could be used here (OJ Mayo, Jodie Meeks, etc.). I just picked Afflalo because he’s become a blog favorite.

    Jennings isn’t particularly efficient, or a great passer, but he fits well with Melo. Melo doesn’t need a great passing PG to prosper, he needs a penetrate and kick one. Preferably a guy who can hit threes at a high rate as well. Enter the Jennings. He doesn’t run the offense super well, but he doesn’t really need to. Playing his game by slashing and daring opponents to give him open or semi-open perimeter shots would open the floor for Melo to go to work. If the talent is considered too high, I suppose this spot could be filled about as well by Lou Williams.

    That’s my take on a strong starting lineup featuring Melo. Yeah, I just wasted about a minute or so of your time. My fault.

  58. ephus:
    If anyone just watched Lebron James decline to assert himself offensively in the last :30 of Game 2 against the Pacers, you saw the counterpoint to all of the attacks on Carmelo and hero ball.When Michael Jordan passed off to teammates for buzzer beaters, it was only after he drew the defense to himself to get wide open looks for Steve Kerr/Paxson/Armstrong etc.LBJ did not do anything even vaguely threatening on three straight possessions, just allowed others to try to win the game.

    James is earning his reputation for coming up small in crunch time.

    if anyone watched the miami game tonight, do they still think nash wouldn’t be a good fit running the point after watching chalmers go a crisp 2-10 from the floor with zero (that’s right, zero) assists?

    and you can see how much lebron wants the ball in his hands at decision time.

  59. Max, that’s a great team. But the Knicks can be an excellent offensive team with the parts they’re sure to have next season.

    Knicks fans seem to have reached the conclusion that because Melo struggled offensively in the 20 game sample with Lin he can’t play off the ball, or with a real point guard. That’s really a lazy conclusion to reach.

    If we compare that 20 game sample to the rest of his career, however, it’s pretty clear that Melo is his most efficient when he plays alongside guards that can get him easier shots — and Lin can be more effective at doing that than Andre Miller or Allen Iverson were. If they can do that and spread the floor, and have a strongside attack — Melo will put up monster numbers. he’s only had one of those things at a time in his career.

    Melo had a .475 TS% in the 20 games he started with Lin. He was missing most of his isolation/post-up shots (the few he got), shots around the rim, open weakside-jumpers —–everything. He was probably injured, probably out of rhythm, and the time off hurt his conditioning and lift, IMO.

    Let’s not forget that in the 20 games prior to Lin starting Melo had a TS of just .512 (including the .552 stretch prior to injury)– dealing with all the same things starting in the Memphis game when he got hurt.

    Once again guys, Melo’s most efficient seasons occurred when 50-60 percent of his makes were assisted. There has always been a strong correlation in efficiency between assisted and unassisted makes (or shots taken with or without a pass).

    Last year in New York, more than 80% of Melo’s 3pt shots were assisted– he shot over 40% from 3.

    In Denver, the years he finished in the high 60s low 70s fg% around the rim –where he was among the leaders in the NBA in shot attempts and points around the rim — 60 percent of his baskets there were assisted.

  60. What did we start to see with Melo and Lin? Melo sealing his man early and getting post-ups. Lin finding Melo streaking to the basket on hard cuts.

    We started to see Melo/Lin 1/3 pick and roll — which showed a lot of promise for both players.

    The more comfortable Lin gets keeping his peripheral vision open as he drives, the more comfortable he gets making lobs passes to the post in transition, the more Melo will do those things he used to be so great at doing with Andre Miller, and to a lesser extent, Allen Iverson and Anthony Carter. We saw a lot of flashes of the old Melo where Lin would find him in those situations.

  61. @johnlocke

    First, obviously the team would be better with Paul, and you get Paul in any way you can (IMO, a healthy CP3 is more valuable than STAT & Melo combined). The reason I wrote “why would you want to pair Melo & Paul?” is because, short of ripping off another team for superstar, your goal has to be to get as much value from the talents on your team as you can. The beautiful thing about a Melo led offense is that you don’t NEED a great distributing point guard, so why pair Melo with Paul? You’d be better off trying to put Paul with Chandler and/or Amar’e. Look at the PGs for teams that have had success with similar scorers to Melo — guys who you can just drop the ball into and watch: AI played with Eric Snow, Jordan with Ron Harper, Kobe/Shaq with Derek Fisher, Lebron with Chalmers and Mo Williams, Melo with Billups. None of these guys are true point guards. They are mostly smaller shooting guards with some point guard talent and great defense.

    Melo is NOT a typical wing scorer. Melo is a post player, closer to a power forward than a wing. The difference is a traditional WING player has two main offensive skills: shooting and slashing – skills that allow him to punish teams that double off of them. Prototypical 2nd tier star wing players are guys like Ray Allen, Jason Richardson, Jalen Rose, Steve Smith, and Scottie Pippen. Melo is not great at either of these things. How often do you see Melo catch the ball with the defense rotating and just slash into the paint? It happens, but not often. At his best, he uses his strength to manipulate the balance of other players to either spin towards the rim, or create space for a 15 footer. These skills don’t jive well with playing off the ball, which is what would happen more often than not with CP3 at the helm.

  62. @ruru, my conclusion is based on 1.5 seasons. Amar’e struggled all through post trade Knicks when Melo was the center of the offense. Amar’e struggled early season before we had a point guard. He came back to life when we had a point guard, but Melo struggled. There are lots of excuses like Amar’e being tired out after the trade last year or recovering from injury early season, but the those excuses are piling so high that like a jenga tower, they’re wobbling pretty dangerously.

    The bottom line is I’d guess there have been fewer than ten games where Melo and STAT have both looked good on offense when on the floor together. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Sometimes Melo WILL get hot from 3 and complement amar’e well. Some games Amar’e will just knock down those 18 footers off Melo ISOs and he’ll complement Melo well. These are not their skills though, and so it’s not something upon which you found an offense.

  63. ruruland: I’m not buying the idea that Melo and Amar’e can’t both be extremely effective at the same time.

    I was going to attempt an response, but then I read Max in #64 and he says everything I was going to say and then some.

    I get that all we really can be is hopeful that their water can be turned to wine since neither one is probably leaving any time soon, but the excuses are getting as big as the sample size now.

  64. @ruru, I agree that it is possible that the two can work together — that the fragmentary evidence you cite could maybe one day be sustained across an entire season — but I think the odds are weighted against it not just for the reasons I state above but moreover because I just don’t think Amar’e can ever be a valuable player on ANY team unless he’s used as a primary scoring option due to the fact that as a secondary option he will almost always give back with his poor defense as much as he gets you on offense. The only way to tilt the scales is to use him a ton and put your other apples into guys who are comfortable as 2nd/3rd options and are indisputable knock down shooters.

    I think the lack of perimeter shooting at virtually every other position (assuming Novak and Smith move on) will put even higher pressure on the possibility of this core’s success.

  65. max fisher-cohen: but the those excuses are piling so high that like a jenga tower, they’re wobbling pretty dangerously.

    Argument by colorful rhetorical flourish isn’t much of an argument at all, max.

  66. Doug: Argument by colorful rhetorical flourish isn’t much of an argument at all, max.

    I feel like I explained my point pretty clearly before making the analogy. You were welcome to ignore it if you felt it was too flowery.

  67. The job of a GM is not to get as much talent from your team as possible, that’s the coach’s job. The GM’s job is to put together the best talent based on a specified goal. Based on the ticket prices, the market and money that the Knicks have, their goal should be to build a championship level team. My point is that you describe the best PG in the game as if he is only good at one thing –“distributing”. He’s a demon on defense, he’s a deadly scorer both one on one and off the dribble when he wants to be. Good luck fronting Melo with Paul on the court. Also I think you underestimate Melo’s flexibility on offense, he can be an excellent off the ball player. He would still get his post ups, etc…Paul is not going to run PnR down the floor everytime. I guess my view is that Paul and Melo would be much more synergistic than you think b/c both players are more multi-dimensional than you give them credit for. We can agree to disagree on that, I guess.

    max fisher-cohen:
    @johnlocke

    First, obviously the team would be better with Paul, and you get Paul in any way you can (IMO, a healthy CP3 is more valuable than STAT & Melo combined). The reason I wrote “why would you want to pair Melo & Paul?” is because, short of ripping off another team for superstar, your goal has to be to get as much value from the talents on your team as you can. The beautiful thing about a Melo led offense is that you don’t NEED a great distributing point guard, so why pair Melo with Paul? You’d be better off trying to put Paul with Chandler and/or Amar’e.

  68. max fisher-cohen: I feel like I explained my point pretty clearly before making the analogy. You were welcome to ignore it if you felt it was too flowery.

    I think your analogy was essentially that we might start applying Occam’s razor to the Amar’e situation instead of continuing to hypothesize without decent grounds. I follow completely.

  69. max fisher-cohen:

    The bottom line is I’d guess there have been fewer than ten games where Melo and STAT have both looked good on offense when on the floor together. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Sometimes Melo WILL get hot from 3 and complement amar’e well. Some games Amar’e will just knock down those 18 footers off Melo ISOs and he’ll complement Melo well. These are not their skills though, and so it’s not something upon which you found an offense.

    Right, Max, he’s struggled with stationary, poor pick and roll passing point guards.

    Amar’e and Melo’s struggles are not related.

    Go look at the games he played in Phoenix when they were without Nash — his overall efficiency in those games is similar to what they’ve been without a pick and roll pg in New York.

    His field goal attempts and usage go down as well.

  70. The Honorable Cock Jowles: I think your analogy was essentially that we might start applying Occam’s razor to the Amar’e situation instead of continuing to hypothesize without decent grounds. I follow completely.

    And the simplest explanation is what? What data do you have to support it?

    I think it would be ridiculously easy to show the difference in Amar’e’s efficiency with and without a competent pick and roll point guard.

    Amar’e was a .530 and .536 TS guy with Phoenix before Nash. He was in that range in the games he played in Phoenix when Nash was injured, and that’s about the area he’s been with Billups and Douglas (and an injured Davis).

  71. Z: I was going to attempt an response, but then I read Max in #64 and he says everything I was going to say and then some.

    I get that all we really can be is hopeful that their water can be turned to wine since neither one is probably leaving any time soon, but the excuses are getting as big as the sample size now.

    These aren’t excuses. Everyone knows Amar’e is one of the best pick and roll big men in NBA history — it’s been proven every year of his career that he’s very average in other situations.

    Why is this so challenging to understand?

  72. max fisher-cohen:
    @ruru, I agree that it is possible that the two can work together — that the fragmentary evidence you cite could maybe one day be sustained across an entire season — but I think the odds are weighted against it not just for the reasons I state above but moreover because I just don’t think Amar’e can ever be a valuable player on ANY team unless he’s used as a primary scoring option due to the fact that as a secondary option he will almost always give back with his poor defense as much as he gets you on offense. The only way to tilt the scales is to use him a ton and put your other apples into guys who are comfortable as 2nd/3rd options and are indisputable knock down shooters.

    I think the lack of perimeter shooting at virtually every other position (assuming Novak and Smith move on) will put even higher pressure on the possibility of this core’s success.

    I agree with this sentiment. If it’s evident that you cannot retain Smith/Novak I think he should be moved. I think there are a lot of plausible trades for a guy like Amar’e — there are other bad contracts out there to be sure.

    Wallace in New Jersey (re-signed). Hedo and Richardson in Orlando. Ariza and Okafor in New Orleans. Salmons and filler in Sacramento.

    All of those deals would allow you to re-sign Novak and Smith.

  73. ruruland: And the simplest explanation is what? What data do you have to support it?

    I think it would be ridiculously easy to show the difference in Amar’e’s efficiency with and without a competent pick and roll point guard.

    Amar’e was a .530 and .536 TS guy with Phoenix before Nash. He was in that range in the games he played in Phoenix when Nash was injured, and that’s about the area he’s been with Billups and Douglas (and an injured Davis).

    Right, but that’s why we “Carmelo haters” won’t shut up. It is painfully clear that Amar’e is not worth $20 million if he doesn’t have a top tier PG setting him up… So what does ownership do? They go and trade everything in the garage for Carmelo Anthony, a guy who doesn’t do anything to maximize the guy they’ve already invested $20 mil in… Meanwhile, Deron Williams and Chris Paul both subsequently become available.

    Sorry, but your instance that Amar’e and Carmelo both need a top tier PG to work doesn’t make me feel great about putting 60% of the team’s cap space into those two (especially when it was Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni’s plan to get a PG).

  74. the best comparison for Amare and his deal is Zach Randolph on the Knicks and his deal. not only were we able to move him, but he’s gone on to quite a bit of success and another huge contract.

  75. Z: Right, but that’s why we “Carmelo haters” won’t shut up. It is painfully clear that Amar’e is not worth $20 million if he doesn’t have a top tier PG setting him up… So what does ownership do? They go and trade everything in the garage for Carmelo Anthony, a guy who doesn’t do anything to maximize the guy they’ve already invested $20 mil in… Meanwhile, Deron Williams and Chris Paul both subsequently become available.

    Sorry, but your instance that Amar’e and Carmelo both need a top tier PG to work doesn’t make me feel great about putting 60% of the team’s cap space into those two (especially when it was Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni’s plan to get a PG).

    Who said anything about top-tier????

    I said competent pick and roll point guard. Lin is already pretty close to being that. Felton was that, and he fucking sucks overall. (Amar’e had a .570 TS pre-Billups trade).

    Outside of Miami, shit, maybe you include Miami, you’d be hard pressed to find a top level offense that doesn’t have a penetrating point guard that can run some pnr (not a dominant point guard, mind you).

    Miami and LAL were the only teams in the top 10 in offensive efficieny without one this year (and LAL was outside the top before Sessions).

    http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/teamstats/_/year/2011

    You just don’t find teams that function at a high level on offense without guard penetration.

  76. Z: Right, but that’s why we “Carmelo haters” won’t shut up. It is painfully clear that Amar’e is not worth $20 million if he doesn’t have a top tier PG setting him up… So what does ownership do? They go and trade everything in the garage for Carmelo Anthony, a guy who doesn’t do anything to maximize the guy they’ve already invested $20 mil in… Meanwhile, Deron Williams and Chris Paul both subsequently become available.

    Sorry, but your instance that Amar’e and Carmelo both need a top tier PG to work doesn’t make me feel great about putting 60% of the team’s cap space into those two (especially when it was Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni’s plan to get a PG).

    All of this. I’m not a “Carmelo hater” by any stretch of the imagination, but why trade for him when his strongest skills poorly complement your current star and system. ESPECIALLY when the best pure point guard in maybe ever is available in a couple months. I keep saying this, but I really wanted a Melo for Chris Paul trade. I would even be down with a Melo+STAT for Chris Paul and pray for Dwight this summer. If only because a CP+Dwight core would be so sweet. Sigh.

  77. Jon, I agree that Amar’e is moveable, but only in a deal like the one we made for Z-Bo. We got back Tim Thomas & Cuttino Mobley. We okayed the trade basically with the knowledge that Mobley’s career was over. We flipped Thomas for Larry Hughes — both of them were essentially involved with the team only for the size of their contracts. So we essentially traded Z-Bo for cap space.

    If we did that with STAT this summer, taking back expiring trash players for a year, we’d essentially punt 2012-13 so that we could (assuming we didn’t re-sign any of our FAs this summer for more than a year), we’d go into summer 2013 with…

    Melo: $21.5m
    Chandler: $14.1m
    Shumpert: $1.8m
    empty roster cap holds: $4m
    total: $41.4m
    Cap space: $16.6m

    So we’d be about $1m short of offering a max contract that summer. I guess that would be my plan B, as at least if we were truly terrible next year, we do have our draft pick, and we could sign and trade Lin for a future draft pick. However, my plan A remains trading Melo for 2 wing players who can shoot, slash & defend as well as a decent sixth man/backup point. I think like Z-Bo did once he became the primary option in Memphis, STAT would put up great numbers again. If you look at the math of those two options, you have

    1) Trade STAT for expirings: Carmelo, $16.5m player(s), Chandler, Shumpert, 2 first round picks (from Lin trade)

    2) Trade Melo: STAT, Chandler, Lin, Fields, Shumpert, 2 young wings, backup PG, baby bird rights for Harrellson and Jerome Jordan, 2013 mini mid-level.

    I’ve listed guys I think would be optimal in a Melo trade here before, so I won’t again. U could likely get two young players who can’t get their own shot at anywhere near Melo’s level but who could be highly effective off the space that Lin and STAT/Chandler PnR could create. Guys who can defend, have the potential to grow better, & comfortable not being the center of the offense.

  78. W. Chandler has had too many health issues and is now overpaid, so I’d stay away from him, but I’d do Melo for two Gallinari type players (one of them on rookie contract) and a solid backup point guard who could score. A George Hill type player.

  79. people sure are putting in a lot of thought to an impossible situation. is there any scenario where we will realistically have a shot at beating a healthy OKC or MIA team? kidnapping Popovich might be a start, I guess.

    ruruland:
    Melo for Gallo and W. Chandler=Championship

    I think you mean Dynasty. :)

  80. If you think about it, the pre-trade Knicks plus Lin and Chandler is basically what I’m talking about here. A team on track to win 43 games adds the DPOY and a borderline all-star point guard — that’s not a 55 win team?

  81. Miami is going down. Wade is a ticking clock. He’s 30 and his only effective style of play is Jeremy Lin style throw your body into several 250 lbs men and hope for a call. OKC seems unbeatable though. All we can hope is that egos get to them, causing a messy divorce. Still, OKC is in the west, so the finals maybe?

    I would love to kidnap Popovich. THe guy is freakin’ amazing the way he gets everyone playing exactly how they need to to win. The way he seamlessly adapted as Duncan declined deserves so much props.

  82. max fisher-cohen:
    If you think about it, the pre-trade Knicks plus Lin and Chandler is basically what I’m talking about here. A team on track to win 43 games adds the DPOY and a borderline all-star point guard — that’s not a 55 win team?

    Why can’t the Knicks as constructed be just that if not more? And I think you mean to say the pre-trade Knicks with Felton as back-up and Shump starting, or no?

    Lin in a borderline all-star when we start talking about the pre-trade Knicks, but not when we’re talking about the current team?

  83. max fisher-cohen:
    Miami is going down. Wade is a ticking clock. He’s 30 and his only effective style of play is Jeremy Lin style throw your body into several 250 lbs men and hope for a call. OKC seems unbeatable though. All we can hope is that egos get to them, causing a messy divorce. Still, OKC is in the west, so the finals maybe?

    I would love to kidnap Popovich. THe guy is freakin’ amazing the way he gets everyone playing exactly how they need to to win. The way he seamlessly adapted as Duncan declined deserves so much props.

    OKC is not unbeatable.. Christ.

  84. max fisher-cohen:
    W. Chandler has had too many health issues and is now overpaid, so I’d stay away from him, but I’d do Melo for two Gallinari type players (one of them on rookie contract) and a solid backup point guard who could score. A George Hill type player.

    Two Gallo type players and a solid back-up point guard. Show me that deal somewhere.

  85. johnlocke:
    Stat for Rashard or Elton Brand… to have $$ in one of the best free agent classes since Lebron, Wade, Bosh and Stoudemire were available:
    Unrestricted Free Agent Options include Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Martin, Ginobli, Josh Smith, Milsap, Al Jefferson,
    I’m not including great RFAs such as Harden, also potentially available.If the Knicks want to start playing chess and stop playing checkers…2013 should be where Grunwald tries to take us to the championship level.
    Also can you imagine a starting 5 of Chris Paul, improved Shump, Melo, Defensive PF/SF, and Chandler. That would be the best defensive team in the NBA + Lin and shooters off the bench.

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/2013-nba-free-agents

    I like the Amare for Brand suggestion given that list of FAs in 2013. Deal seems to help both teams.
    Plus I like the Training Day reference, so this is great all around.

  86. And Max, Amar’e’s numbers don’t change at all with Melo on or off the floor. His shooting percentage, however, is 12% lower with Tyson Chandler on it. If you’re going to decide to trade Melo and build your whole offense around Amar’e, you’re going to need to provide a jenga tower worth of excuses as to why that’s a rational move.

  87. ruruland: OKC is not unbeatable.. Christ.

    if they can keep both Harden and Ibaka, they’re only going to get better. I remember when you were saying the Lakers had a good shot to beat them, how are you feeling about that now? :)

  88. max fisher-cohen:

    I also don’t understand why people would want to pair Paul and Anthony after seeing how he and Lin and he and Lawson did not exactly have a symbiotic relationship. The ideal PG for Anthony was Billups: A guy who can spread the floor, create his own offense when necessary, and play defense. If I was building an all-Anthony with talent less than or equal to the current Knicks starting lineup, I would build something like this:

    C: Marc Gasol (defense, rebounding, solid range on jumpshot)
    PF: Anthony
    SF: Jared Dudley (40% 3pt shooting, capable defender)
    SG: Dorrell Wright (38% 3pt shooting, capable rebounder)
    PG: James Harden (good shooter, robust defender, capable at creating his own shot, smart enough to be able to get Melo the ball in his good spots)

    Harden isn’t a pure point, but he can score as a second option as well as spread the floor. Wright and Dudley are bench players on most teams but fit well due to their shooting ability and solid defense as complementary players. Gasol is a huge defensive player who can still make a 16 footer to keep the paint open for Anthony.

    Chandler = Gasol
    Anthony = Anthony
    Stoudemire > Dudley
    Shumpert > Wright
    Lin < Harden

    But it would suit Anthony much better. Too bad it would be virtually impossible for NY to create a team like this.

    This is one of the frustrating things of this Knicks team to me. There really wasn’t a plan – it was just let’s get some big names and sell some tix.
    Think about it. If we didn’t luck into Lin, this wasn’t even a playoff team even though we had 3 All Star quality players taking up most of the cap!
    The team we put out there in the playoffs was the exact team we started the season with, and everyone was complaining abut injuries.
    Your hypothetical team is one that makes sense and one that I could feel optimistic about.

  89. jon abbey: if they can keep both Harden and Ibaka, they’re only going to get better. I remember when you were saying the Lakers had a good shot to beat them, how are you feeling about that now? :)

    One game my friend. You typically see at least one blowout in every drawn-out, competitive series. I doubt we’ll see another one until perhaps very late in the series if at all.

    They’re a great team. But certainly beatable. I still don’t think their style of offense is sustainable throughout the playoffs.

  90. Z: Right, but that’s why we “Carmelo haters” won’t shut up. It is painfully clear that Amar’e is not worth $20 million if he doesn’t have a top tier PG setting him up… So what does ownership do? They go and trade everything in the garage for Carmelo Anthony, a guy who doesn’t do anything to maximize the guy they’ve already invested $20 mil in… Meanwhile, Deron Williams and Chris Paul both subsequently become available.

    Sorry, but your instance that Amar’e and Carmelo both need a top tier PG to work doesn’t make me feel great about putting 60% of the team’s cap space into those two (especially when it was Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni’s plan to get a PG).

    + 7562

  91. jon abbey: if they can keep both Harden and Ibaka, they’re only going to get better. I remember when you were saying the Lakers had a good shot to beat them, how are you feeling about that now? :)

    When I saw Ibaka knocking down jump shots earlier this season I was like, man it’s over. They have 4 great players all under 25 who are still getting better.

  92. ruruland: One game my friend. You typically see at least one blowout in every drawn-out, competitive series. I doubt we’ll see another one until perhaps very late in the series if at all.

    They’re a great team. But certainly beatable. I still don’t think their style of offense is sustainable throughout the playoffs.

    the Spurs are playing incredibly well, but I don’t think anyone else has a chance to beat them, except maybe Miami with a healthy Bosh.

  93. I understand the point of view of the “pessimistic” Knick fans here but wouldnt even they like to be able to see this team play an entire 82 game season with Lin playing PG along with the Melo/Amar’e/Chandler frontcourt??

    Thats the part that is making me still be very curious/excited about next season. The depth of the team could be severely compromised with the losses of JR and Novak and not knowing when Shump will be back which would certainly hurt the team assuming the Bird rights case thing doesnt go the Knicks way (seeing as it would greatly help the Knicks if it goes in favor of the NBPA that means it definitely wont go their way lol). Still though I would definitely like to see Lin and the current “Big 3” play an entire hopefully injury free season together.

  94. ruruland said “Two Gallo type players and a solid back-up point guard. Show me that deal somewhere. ”

    We gave up about that much for Melo. It just so happens that Felton’s career has spiraled downward since the trade, and WC has had several injuries. I’ve mentioned a 3 team deal with indiana and NOH before:

    P. George, G. Hill, Eric Gordon (S & T) to NY
    Melo to IND
    Stephenson, 1-2 IND 1st round picks to NOH

    prolly this is a homer trade. I dunno.

    ruruland said “Amar’e’s numbers don’t change at all with Melo on or off the floor. His shooting percentage, however, is 12% lower with Tyson Chandler on it…”

    First, STAT should improve w/ Melo (as he does with other offensive threats), not stay the same with lower scoring. In regard to TC, of course he’s going to get worse. If we ran Melo at center with 4 Steve Kerrs around him, Melo’s FG% would be glorious! But the defense would suck. If you look @ our PP/100 poss. numbers, our offense is significantly worse with TC. Moving STAT to C makes room 4 more floor spacers. As uncomplementary as I find Melo’s game to be, he is a much better floor spacer than TC & a lot of the other dudes who were healthy early-season when STAT played most of his mins (I believe Jorts & Novak were the only guys to shoot above 30% from 3 b4 Linsanity).

    Look, I WISH that Amar’e was tradable for some good wing players and that we could move Melo the 4 and not be forced to start Fields and a recovering Shumpert. In fact, I wrote an article last year about how we NEEDED to trade STAT ASAP bc he was going to fall apart with the way the new roster was constructed, & with his injury history and age, no one would take him. That chance has passed. What other choice do we have but to gamble on STAT? At least if we win 40 games, STAT’s #s will be inflated & we can move him and be left with Lin/TC/Shump core, lotsa $, & whatever youth we get for Melo/STAT.

  95. no trades. Absolutely none. Everybody stays. its that simple, chemistry above all. Boston is ballin outta their minds right now and they are simply not better than we are. We need to be healthy and need to be a TEAM. It simply is not an overnight growth process.

  96. We should know by now these trades for various mid level guys is the long and flashy road that our granny warned us about. We will still end up going out in the first round. Relax and let the guys develop. At this point they want to stay together, someone will take a pay cut and get it made up to him through various other means if they get a chance to stay with the guys they have been through some shit with. I know I would. We have a nice 5 and a nice bench when healthy, fuck it lets go with our squad.

  97. ok seriously tho I really dont want to give up on TD and I really think we have something in Jerome J. a lil more muscle on that kid and I think its just gonna come together for him. He smooth. wont be the first bencher we didnt think had talent.

  98. Z: Houston was never actively shopped. The Knicks had the chance to amnesty him but didn’t because insurance was paying picking up the tab on it.Again, it wasn’t that Marbury was “unmovable”, but more that the Knicks weren’t taking on contracts that ran past 2010 and keeping him didn’t cost them anything, as they were already too far over the cap for it to make any difference whether they traded him or not (so even if they offered superior talent, they still would have said no). In fact the Knicks waited until after the trade deadline to waive him because they saw his contract as an asset (they could have traded it for McGrady at the time, I believe).The point is, Amar’e isn’t unmovable. People we would logically think to be unmovable get moved all the time. Yes, the fact that Amar’e’s contract is uninsured, a la Curry, does make that the best comp, and Curry was, without a doubt, untradable to the bitter end. BUT, Curry’s contract was uninsured because he could keel over and die, and Amar’e’s is uninsured because of a knee problem; and Curry hadn’t been able to step on a court for years, whereas Amar’e is actually a high producing impact player.

    Steph and Houston could only have been moved if the team totally got fleeced in the short run. You could “possibly” do that with Amare, but only at a price that would almost certainly compromise the team for next year. Considering the renovation of the Garden, ticket prices, marketing, etc., that is a virtual impossibility right now.

  99. SangaD:
    no trades. Absolutely none. Everybody stays. its that simple, chemistry above all. Boston is ballin outta their minds right now and they are simply not better than we are. We need to be healthy and need to be a TEAM. It simply is not an overnight growth process.

    BigBlueAL: I understand the point of view of the “pessimistic” Knick fans here but wouldnt even they like to be able to see this team play an entire 82 game season with Lin playing PG along with the Melo/Amar’e/Chandler frontcourt??

    +1000000. We are exactly what people always say about NYC fans – no patience. For pete’s sake, give this team at least a year together to figure things out. Amare can’t play with Melo? Amare’s been freaking hurt so much you can’t tell. No offseason work or even contact with coaches so they know what parts of their game to work on (Amare working on ballhandling? WHAT?!?!?! And gaining 15 lbs of muscle so he can move like a dinosaur?). Ridiculously short training camp. New center out of the blue who messes up what we thought the offense would be (at least for Amare). New ball-dominant point guard falls out of the sky. Oh right, no practice yet again.

    No one will ever take Amare’s contract. We have to just put that out of our heads. Uninsurable, nearly $70M left which is almost 50% of the TOTAL salary cap over 3 years, guy is hurt all the time. Post-new CBA, there are very few contracts like this that are this long. No one will want to be caught in Amare cap hell.

    continued…

  100. I think the best way to maximize our “Big 3” is, no surprise, to play to their strengths. Maybe if Woodson gets a 3-4 year deal, he will have the stones to move Amare to the 2nd unit. Even if he insists on starting him, take Amare out with 6 minutes left in the first, play Tyson and Melo the whole 1st quarter, take Lin out with 4 minutes left in the first. Then bring Lin/Amare in at the beginning of the 2nd with Harrellson or Jeffries and 2 other shooters. Lin is no Nash in terms of PNR but he should be good enough.

    But crucially – I would get into both Amare and Melo’s heads and convince them that they may need to change their games somewhat. Specifically – Amare should give up on wanting to be the primary option when Melo is in the game – instead he should be looking to score off basket cuts, offensive rebounds, and midrange J’s because all that stuff will be open when Melo is drawing the defense. Melo, yes, needs to pass the ball more and take fewer long 2’s. Someone should show him Paul Pierce’s shot distribution and he should try and emulate that. Easier said than done, of course, since Melo wants to set up in the post, but these guys do this for a well-paid living, so they should be able to figure it out.

    Point is – there was no time to install an offense that plays to these guys strengths. On top of that, the Tyson Chandler signing totally came out of left field, so Melo/Amare had very little time to work on skills that would be useful with a player like that on the floor. Training camp this year was about 5 minutes long. I still think this can work, but maybe I’m a hopeless optimist.

  101. Frank:
    +1000000. We are exactly what people always say about NYC fans – no patience.

    I think that patience is taking the time to rebuild properly, and impatience is trying to force ill-fitting pieces together.

  102. How does Brand for Stat help Philly? Brand is a better rebounder, shot blocker and defender (he defends). He scored 6 pts / game less this year, but played less minutes for a deeper team who didn’t need him to score. He is 4 yrs older, but he’s healthy, so at best that is a wash. And……the contract ending next year…..that is HUGE!!!

    I could see Phily doing it if we throw in a 1, and Amare has a great training camp, but if not….no way! why would they accept the Amere risk? They are trying to win NOW.

    And Brand is from Peekskill, which is cool.

  103. Z: I think that patience is taking the time to rebuild properly, and impatience is trying to force ill-fitting pieces together.

    Which makes the million dollar question is when or how long do you you wait before deciding whether the pieces are ill-fitting or not.

  104. ruruland: Who said anything about top-tier????… I said competent pick and roll point guard.

    Well, you said this:

    “Amar’e was a .530 and .536 TS guy with Phoenix before Nash. He was in that range in the games he played in Phoenix when Nash was injured, and that’s about the area he’s been with Billups and Douglas (and an injured Davis)”.

    Nash is a top tier PG of all-time, and he is the only person who has made Amar’e worth $20 million to date.

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