Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Roster Spots

Recently there’s been some discussion in the comment section at KnickerBlogger about the Knicks roster needs. Coach D’Antoni is known to keep the rotation short, but a 7 man team seems to be small even for him. The problem seems to be the lack of quality at the end of the Knicks’ bench.

Malik Rose saw time early on, but D’Antoni probably got tired of seeing Rose end up with the ball under the hoop and unable to finish. (I sure was!) Roberson made a name for himself in the summer league, but played his way out of the rotation. Jared Jeffries, who was supposed to perform a cocoon act reborn as a D’Antoni center, has been more caterpillar than butterfly. Additionally the Knicks have Eddy Curry who is suffering from a knee injury, Danilo Gallinari who is suffering from a back injury, and Jerome James who is suffering from sucking. James actually saw some live court time in the Knicks blowout of the Kings, but even against Shaq, James and his valuable 6 fouls stayed rooted to the bench.

Obviously most of these guys are not good enough (or healthy enough) to help the team this year. With the retirement of Mobley and the possible buyout of Marbury, the Knicks may have two roster spots open. But the question remains what kind of player(s) do the Knicks need?

The most glaring need is guard, or more specifically point guard. Duhon takes the lion’s share of the duties, with Robinson giving him a breather for a few minutes a night. This works out when the pair are healthy, but recently Robinson’s injury exposed the lack of depth. The Knicks third (and last) guard on the roster, Roberson, was unable to run the point. Roberson is more of a undersized scorer, and D’Antoni was so reluctant to use him that the he prefered the Knicks to have 5 forwards on the court instead of Roberson guiding the offense.

New York needs a point guard, not to make the rotation but rather to provide insurance in case either Duhon or Robinson get hurt again. Even if an injury forces this guard into action, they would only see 5-10 minutes to give the starter some breathing time. The Knicks don’t even need to swing a deal to acquire a player of this type. Jared Jordan was just signed to a NBDL team, and former Knick Frank Williams is already one of that league’s better point guards.

As for the second roster spot, interior defense is an issue, but this is a hard need to fill. Players that can block shots, rebound, run the floor, and don’t embarrass themselves on offense are much more difficult to find. To borrow from David Berri, there’s a short supply of tall people. The Knicks wouldn’t be able to grab a player like this off the developmental league or waiver wire. They might be able to find a player that does two of these, but that player isn’t likely to break the rotation. A player like Joakim Noah might be a good fit, but the Knicks are low on resources to make a trade like that.

Instead the Knicks should concentrate on another weakness: small forward. Wilson Chandler has supplanted Quentin Richardson from the starting lineup, and has performed admirably for a 21 year old. However Chandler shows his age often. He settles for the jump shot too often, isn’t great at finishing around the hoop and doesn’t pass well. I can’t think of another player that hits the backboard on the corner three as often as Wilson. Although he’s the Knicks best shot blocker in the rotation, he’s not freakishly athletic like Prince or Marion.

On one hand I’m reluctant to suggest the Knicks grab another SF, since that may cut into Chandler’s time. And on a rebuilding team, giving minutes to your young small forward is a good thing. However in a Hermian world where teams play to win the game, getting a SF that can rebound, defend the paint, and score inside would help the team greatly. Of course the Knicks gave away just that type of player (Balkman) and it’s likely the Knicks will grab Ewing Jr. in an attempt to fill that role.

John Hollinger usually notes that when a team suffers from an injured player, it’s not the drop-off from the starter to the first reserve that hurts the team the most. But rather the team suffers because they have to dig deeper into the bench to replace the minutes that the reserve player used to fill. The Knicks started off the season with a decent rotation, but as injuries and trades have robbed them of quality players, the end of the bench has come back to haunt them. Even if players like James, Marbury, and Rose aren’t playing much, they’re taking up roster spots of players that could be contributing. By robbing the team of players that might prove useful even in spot minutes, these players are hurting the team just as much as if they were playing badly on the court.

30 comments on “Roster Spots

  1. ess-dog

    There are many ways you can go here. Do you add for this year or the future with trades? These roster spots could be valuable in bringing in 2 expiring contracts for one bad one (I’m looking at you Curry) or we could try to actually trade for a player we want to use in the future. Maybe a Curry and Chandler deal for Caron Butler? We have the ability to make a move for the future if one presents itself. If we want to fill ths spot for this year, I would first get a backup pg so Duhon doesn’t die (in case we want to resign him.) Then I would add rebounding help with PEJ at the 3 (since Al and Timmy don’t board at the 4.) Or we could make a minor trade for a Brendan Haywood type…

  2. Greene

    Mike, you make some great points here. That said the only person that I have seen hit the backboard on jumpers more than Chandler was Balkman (Jarred Jeffries may actually be the worst shooter ever to grace an NBA team actually). Balkman was a great finisher on the break, decent shot blocker for his size, but was not at all a good shooter and his defense was at times great but not consistent. Chandler is much better at stopping dribble penetration it seems and Q Rich for all his offensive inconsistency is a good defender and rebounder for his size. The more Balkman played last year the more his weaknesses and lack of effort were exposed. He even went into Isiah’s doghouse for not practicing hard last year when Isiah was barely even running practices. Get off the Balkman bandwagon. He’s not that good and wouldn’t be difference maker on this team. Between Chandler, Q, Harrington, Jeffries (when he returns) we have plenty of rotation depth at the 3. Focus where you were correct. PG and PF/C.

  3. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Frank if you’re having problems (although it seems that this one made it through) make sure to register. I get tons of spam and have to be aggressive removing it.

    Hmmm maybe I should move to a “you have to be logged in to comment” system and get less aggressive with regards to spam removal?

  4. Dan Panorama

    One other PG issue — Duhon was supposed to be a two-year placeholder, but has anyone started to consider the possibility we may have to resign him to be attractive to the 2010 free agents? He’s becoming the face of this team in some ways. All this makes trading Curry more urgent and Lee look more and more like trade bait.

  5. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Mike, you make some great points here. That said the only person that I have seen hit the backboard on jumpers more than Chandler was Balkman (Jarred Jeffries may actually be the worst shooter ever to grace an NBA team actually). Balkman was a great finisher on the break, decent shot blocker for his size, but was not at all a good shooter and his defense was at times great but not consistent. Chandler is much better at stopping dribble penetration it seems and Q Rich for all his offensive inconsistency is a good defender and rebounder for his size. The more Balkman played last year the more his weaknesses and lack of effort were exposed. He even went into Isiah’s doghouse for not practicing hard last year when Isiah was barely even running practices. Get off the Balkman bandwagon. He’s not that good and wouldn’t be difference maker on this team. Between Chandler, Q, Harrington, Jeffries (when he returns) we have plenty of rotation depth at the 3. Focus where you were correct. PG and PF/C.

    Wow I mention his name once in parenthesis and I’m on his bandwagon? Geez it must be that sensitive of a subject when the whisper of his name evokes such passion.

    As for the backboard – the interesting thing about Chandler is that he takes that shot frequently. And I’d bet dollar to donuts he’s not hitting many of them.

  6. o_boogie

    GSW waived Richard Hendrix. Thunder has a plethora of big men, Swift, Sene, and Petro, one of which should be available. Also, Wilcox is 6 mill coming off the books after this season, he may be available.

    Would any of these guys fill our needs?

  7. finestrg

    I think a couple of D-Leaguers might do the trick and give us exactly what we need: Courtney Sims and Smush Parker. You get both for the rest of the season – low risk/very high reward players.

    Sims is absolutely tearing up the D-League right now (24 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 4.8 bpg) – he’s listed at 6’11, 230. Perfect guy to plug into the rotation as that back up big off the bench. I originally thought Justin Williams might be a good choice to add as a rebounder/shot-blocker on the cheap in the off-season, but someone on the UK forum mentioned Sims as a possibility and I agree – looks like he could bring more to the table than Justin Williams…

    Smush Parker’s a little turnover prone but still putting up decent numbers himself (18.4 ppg, 8.4 apg, 5.1 rpg, 44% FG, 42% 3pt FG). Already has some pro experience with the Lakers where he did a pretty good job playing next to Kobe. Like I said the turnovers look like they may be a problem but with the fast pace D’Antoni likes to play, turnovers on the whole have been down this year. Fun system with less thinking looks like it equals less mistakes so far with D’Antoni. He’d be perfect backing up both Duhon and Nate and allow those guys to get the proper rest they need to stay fresh.

    Possibly 2 nice young additions here w/o giving up any assets like you would have to in any trade, however small..

  8. italian stallion

    I don’t think we should use any of our tradable assets for a SF until we get to see Gallinari. He could be playing again in 4-6 weeks and is almost certainly going to get some minutes just to get him some experience and to see what kind of skills he has. If he gets injured again, it might make more sense, but I don’t see getting another SF to be as important as getting another combo guard or defensive big man. Winning this year is simply not that important.

  9. italian stallion

    I don’t think we should use any of our tradable assets for a SF until we get to see Gallinari. He could be playing again in 4-6 weeks and is almost certainly going to get some minutes just to get him some experience and to see what kind of skills he has. If he gets injured again, it might make more sense, but I don’t see getting another SF to be as important as getting another combo guard or defensive big man. Winning this year is simply not that important.

  10. D

    Mike,

    Great breakdown but ive gotta disagree. SF? really? it seems like everyone on the knicks is a SF: Chandler, Qrich, Gallinari are pure SFs and Jefferies, Harrington, and Thomas all are like 3/4 players who could play SF. and don’t forget the 2010 plan – the king plays SF (but under D’antoni I think hes a 4)

    I think we could def use better play at the SF position, but if you can only add one guy, I think the biggest help would be a defensive big man just for games against teams with big front courts as i said on the other post

  11. Thomas B.

    Maybe a Curry and Chandler deal for Caron Butler? We have the ability to make a move for the future if one presents itself. Or we could make a minor trade for a Brendan Haywood type…

    I like what you are thinking but I doubt Washington gives up on Butler. They would more likely want to move Jamison, but his new contract is not an attractive feature for NY.

    Too bad we could not get Camby. Balkman plus Rose’s expiring deal should have been enough to pry him from Denver. Camby Lee Harrington Richardson Duhon with Robinson Chandler Thomas Jeffries as reserves could be over .500 in the East. Oh well.

    I agree with Mike in that we need a point/combo guard to help shore the back court.

  12. jon abbey

    my worry at this point is actually winning too many games. checking out Chad Ford’s sample lottery, we end up with a pick in the early teens most of the time, and that’s not going to get us Thabeet or the starter-quality PG we need.

    so get another guard to take some load off Duhon, but keep losing close, well-played games, please.

  13. KnicksFan420

    I think the lee debate is way too redundant. Hes a solid player that i firmly believe all other 30+ teams would like to have. Now in terms of his monetary value is going to be interesting whether some team with major capspace believes they can use his energy, and consistent rebs # and is a proving to be a solid pick and roll threat. Jumper is decent enough, i think the shot in LA was a confidence booster. He clearly isnt going to be the focal point in anyones offense aside the picks-n-rolls but he finds a way to be productive regardless and that has value. I do think hes gonna need some help this yr with all those 7-footers, i mean hes a undersized PF playin C lol, i dont want to see him breakdown…

  14. Caleb

    I wouldn’t give up any asset for stopgap players — only for draft picks, good young players on rookie contracts or the unlikely possibility of a borderline All-Star, that we’d want to keep. I’d do a lateral move, like a Chandler for Noah (though I doubt the Bulls bite on that one… not with Deng around… maybe if we took Larry Hughes off their hands, too… which would also solve our guard problem… but I digress.)

    I agree that guard depth is our most important short-term hole. But IMO Richard Hendrix (cut yesterday, as someone noted) is easily the best FA to come available this season. His college #s were good, and he was playing very well in the D-League (14 points, 11 boards a game). He can get up and down the floor. At 6’9, 250, he can play minutes at center right now… and might be a long-term keeper. He’s a cheap, no-downside/decent upside prospect.

    I don’t know what to think about the guard fillers… they’re not going to play unless someone gets hurt, so you’d hate to give up a long-term roster spot. Maybe a 10-day deal for someone like Frank Williams, see if it’s a fit. I know he gets love here, and puts up numbers in the D-League… I just don’t know. He’s been a pro for a long time and hasn’t cut it in the NBA… maybe it’s bad luck but maybe there’s a reason. Would he really be better than Roberson? I guess he could at least run the point… but I haven’t totally given up on AR. He’s been awful, but he’s very young and inexperienced. It’s not inconceivable he could grow into the role we had planned for him — 5-10 mpg gunner off the bench.

    On the trade market, we all know about the long-term need to move Curry & Jeffries. Obviously we should see what we can get for Rose’s expiring contract. And I would also be shopping Q & Harrington. Q has been pretty good this year, and Al is on a roll, but it’s highly unlikely we re-sign either one of them in 2010. The cap space they take up would be reason enough… but aside from that, I doubt Q’s back will hold out. Sell high on that one. And with Lee, Chandler & Gallinari around, where does Harrington fit in a year or two? We don’t have to move those guys any time soon, but if we get a good offer.. .a 1st round pick or better… take it.

  15. GodSaveTheKnicks

    I like the comments on here in regards to trying to fill the gap with D-Leaguers. Keep throwing crap at a wall and see what sticks.

    You know these guys will give tons of effort.

    I’m going to agree with Italian Stallion. It’s not worth sacrificing long term financial flexibility to do something this year. We’re not beating the Celtics or Cavs and getting a trophy this year.

    If only we could hypnotize Joe Dumars into trading us Rodney Stuckey…

  16. Caleb

    Erich Doerr had Hendrix as the 4th-best big man prospect in last year’s draft… his pace-adjusted win scores was about the same as Joakim Noah the year before (both as juniors).

    To be less technical… he was a really good player in college. At a big SEC school (Alabama), in 30 minutes a game he snagged 10 rebounds, blocked 2 shots and scored 18 points, shooting 60% from the field. There’s no reason to think his game won’t translate — he’s NBA-sized and did fine at the draft combine.

    It’s hard to see why Hendrix wasn’t a first-round pick. (He went #49). All I can say is that — between slipping in the draft, and now being let go, perhaps the background check and off-court habits are a problem. But I’ve never read anything to that effect, and as a mid-season FA pickup, there is zero downside to giving him a roster spot.

  17. Owen

    Caleb, you have my vote for best candidate to be Knicks GM.

    I saw Hendrix play in college a few times. He is a beast. He reminds me a lot of Paul Millsap, who I love, and who has shown exactly what he can do with Boozer out.

    That said, I have a feeling that he doesn’t “fit in the D’Antoni system.”

  18. Caleb

    “I have a feeling that he doesn’t “fit in the D’Antoni system.”

    I wonder about this… It comes up a lot. I have a counter-theory, that D’Antoni’s “system” is not so fixed. He makes sure to put the best players on the floor, and in Phoenix and New York that’s meant smallish lineups with lots of shooters. That also accounts for the short rotations — he wants the better players to get more of the minutes, even at the risk of fatigue. If I’m right, he would adapt his system (and rotation) if he had a player, like a Millsap, who was very productive but not his usual “type.”

    His pushing for the Shaq trade tends to support this theory.

    His pushing Balkman out the door tends to refute it.

    I would say we don’t really know.

  19. jon abbey

    “His pushing for the Shaq trade tends to support this theory. ”

    from his comments to Vecsey recently, this sounds like it was more about dumping a disgruntled Marion who was killing the team’s chemistry than being especially excited about getting Shaq.

  20. Caleb

    His pushing for the Shaq trade tends to support this theory. ”

    from his comments to Vecsey recently, this sounds like it was more about dumping a disgruntled Marion who was killing the team’s chemistry than being especially excited about getting Shaq.

    I don’t disagree – but the bottom line was that D’Antoni was fine bringing in a guy who didn’t fit his previous style, at all. (tho I think it was a stupid trade, myself)

  21. ess-dog

    If G.S. let Hendrix go, that’s reason enough to go after him. The Magette fiasco is just the most recent proof that G.S. has no idea what they’re doing over there…

  22. david

    I think there might be room for a deal with Memphis that both helps us in the long and short run…Trading Curry to them, but packaging it with the expiring contract poo-poo platter (rose, james etc.) in return for either contracts that run out in 2010 (Darko) or contracts that run through 2011 but are smaller than curry (jaric). They are going to be a serious player in free agency this year, and with a few more contracts might be able to either sign a big time player (boozer?) or take a big contract in a trade. For us, we’d save 2010 money and Darko might be worth 10 minutes off the bench. I mean, he sucks, but does he suck worse than minutes 30 through 40 from tim thomas?

  23. david

    Also, I think Hendrix would be a nice pickup, for the short and long run. Again, I’m not sure where the idea that every player on a D’Antoni roster has to fit the D’Antoni system idea came from. The Suns had a series of somewhat slow big men — Kurt Thomas, Brian Skinner etc. — who he used when matchups dictated and who usually got a little run with the second unit regardless.

  24. italian stallion

    I wish I was a fly on the wall during the conversations Kerr and D’Antoni had over Marion and Shaq both before and a few weeks after that trade.

    The one thing that seems to be fairly consistent about D’Antoni’s words and actions is that he doesn’t tolerate headache players, laziness, self centered play etc.. Those guy wind up in his doghouse. He really tries to promote a hard work, team oriented, upbeat, and winning attitude. He rarely says anything negative about the team or individual players even after a very bad night. He’s always trying to build them up, focus on the lessons learned from a bad play or game etc… I like him a lot.

    When I look at the individual players on the Suns now, I can’t help but think they should be better than they are so far this year. Something is wrong there.

  25. TDM

    I’d take Hendrix if available. However, I also just read that Bayless is getting restless up in Portland and demanding some type of change – either PT or a trade. Also, I’d still be interested in Marcus Williams if he is cut by GS.

    Regarding Frank Williams, I was always a fan. When he played in NY he was one of the only guys on the court that showed any heart. I remember specifically in the Game 1 loss to NJ when Collins was charged with a flagrant foul against Tim Thomas, Frank was the only Knick that returned the favor, albeit against Kidd. The rest of the team just sat there like a bunch of nancy boys. If he’s physically up to it, I’d be happy to see him in Knick blue again.

Comments are closed.