Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sleeping Knicks Need PJ

Starting at the end of last year, the public demand to fire Rex Ryan began in earnest. The Jets had just finished 6-10, and it seemed that in Rex Ryan’s 4th year the team was headed in the wrong direction. The team changed general mangers and offensive coordinators, but kept their head coach. Ryan gave his detractors more fuel when his starting quarterback was hurt in the final quarter of a meaningless preseason game.

As a Jets fan, I often defended the team’s decision to keep Ryan. Sure Rex has made his fair share of bad decisions. The most egregious being blind to how bad a quarterback Mark Sanchez was, the most critical position in the NFL. To me Rex has one saving grace that makes him better than most NFL coaches. Rex Ryan knows defense.

According to Football-Outsiders, Ryan’s first year the Jets were the league’s #1 defense. Since then the team has ranked 5th, 2nd, and 9th on defense. If having Rex Ryan equates to a top 10 defense, then it reasons that a Rex Ryan coached team will be at least good on one end of the ball and probably never bottom out to an ghastly 1-3 win season. On the optimistic side, giving Ryan a good offense can result in a significant amount of success.

In other words, given Rex Ryan’s expertise on defense, he is likely to be better than the average coach. And since a bad coach can ruin a season (Rich Kotite, your ears are burning) keeping Ryan should keep them from wasting a year when the roster has talent.

Coming into this season, few people thought Mike Woodson’s job would be in jeopardy. Woodson replaced D’Antoni and lifted a team mired in mediocrity. In Woodson’s first half-season the Knicks were 18-6 in 2012, and last year the team won 54 games and the Atlantic for the first time since Columbus crossed it (give or take a century or two).

However this year has been a nightmare for the Knicks. New York ranks 28th out of 30 teams on defense. Much like Ryan was blind to the deficiencies at his most critical position, Woodson is blind to the Knicks’ shortcomings at center. According to 82games, Andrea Bargnani’s affect on the defense is to make the team 11.1 points worse per 100 possessions.

Now if you’re following this analogy, you’re going to guess that I’m going to lobby for Woodson to stay, much like I was for the Jets keeping Ryan. Actually I think the Knicks should cut ties with their current coach, despite his previous success. I’d rather the Knicks sign a coach that’s more like Ryan, one with a strong defensive identity.

Last year P.J. Carlesimo took over as the Nets coach mid-season. Brooklyn was 14-14 at the time, and then won 35 of their next 54 games. Brooklyn lost to Chicago in a 7 game series, and because apparently this wasn’t good enough for the Nets’ owner, Carlesimo was inexplicably let go.

Much like Ryan, Carlesimo can accentuate a team’s defense. His Portland teams ranked between 5th and 7th in defensive efficiency, and even his ’99 Warriors were 10th. That was no small feat given the lineup of Dampier, Starks, Chris Mills, Bimbo Coles and Antawn Jamison.

Hiring Carlesimo mid-year would be a low-risk move for New York. First, a mid-season swap may just jolt this team out of their current slumber. The Knicks have enough offensive minded players, that if Carlesimo can give New York a defensive boost, this is a roster that has some late-seed potential. If P.J. doesn’t work out, then New York can fire him at the end of the season and look for a coach in the offseason. (Unless they need to tank in 2015 where they have their own pick & keep Carlesimo around to run things into the ground). And as an added bonus, any gains made by Carlesimo would be a reminder to Nets fans that their owner is the one more likely to make a rash decision in this city. (Which is saying a LOT.)

Mike Woodson had some success with the Knicks. Unfortunately his flaws are becoming larger by the day. The inability to adjust to Indiana in last year’s playoffs. His inequitable treatment of J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. His mishandling of the center position. His failure to embrace small-ball. The collapse of the defense under his tenure. Only one person can help New York, and it’s not Mike Woodson.

PJ's first practice.

PJ’s first practice.

73 comments on “Sleeping Knicks Need PJ

  1. jotapay

    I’m loathe to admit it, but this is a convincing argument.

    Since Woody took over, I’ve always thought his best skill was a “feel” for the team – he seemed to know what was needed and when, and was able to adjust and turn around quickly after a loss. The Knicks rarely lost 2 in a row under his tenure until this season. But now he simply seems bewildered. He has no idea what to do. He can’t figure it out. He’s lost that “feel”. Doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

    This roster has always been a puzzle of poorly fitting pieces and the flaws this year are even more obvious. They were always there – just buried under a blizzard of 3s last season. Defensive ratings, W-L record, and locker room sentiment aside – when a coach has lost the “feel” I think it’s time to part ways.

    Sorry Woody. You did the best you could with what you had. You deserved better. It’s not you, It’s us. We suck.

  2. bobyank7

    Its not Woody’s fault. The Knicks are terrible. They don’t know how to play the game. A bunch of selfish, untalented losers. Melo is the worst offender. Dump them all and start over. They’re a disgrace. And by the way, losing Chandler, the only real team player on the team, was what really broke their backs.

  3. Mike Kurylo Post author

    From Owen’s article:

    “Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that’s what he needed to get the job,” Blengino said. “But Jack never has understood one iota about statistical analysis. To this day, he evaluates hitters by homers, RBI and batting average and pitchers by wins and ERA. Statistical analysis was foreign to him. But he knew he needed it to get in the door.”

    Some here say that NBA front offices are well aware of advanced stats, and probably have and use metrics that are beyond our reach. I think this proves the opposite is true. If that is happening in baseball, a sport that has had rigorous statistical analysis for decades now, then I’d guess that at least half of the NBA front offices are unaware of the stuff we talk about here daily. I’d safely wager more than 2/3 don’t understand the four factors or per-minute stats.

  4. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Its not Woody’s fault. The Knicks are terrible. They don’t know how to play the game. A bunch of selfish, untalented losers. Melo is the worst offender. Dump them all and start over. They’re a disgrace. And by the way, losing Chandler, the only real team player on the team, was what really broke their backs.

    I’ve been hoping Charles Barkley would come here to comment.

  5. cgreene

    I 100% agree that most teams don’t look at basic advanced statistics. There is no way Woodosn does or cares. He likes being “old school”.

  6. Mike Kurylo Post author

    And if you disagree with this article, you can align yourself with Lupica (granted it’s from a month ago…):

    Knicks’ James Dolan needs to listen to Mike Woodson, the best basketball man in organization

    Now Woodson has to play Bargnani at center with Chandler gone, give him big minutes and hope that he can offer something more than the toreador defense we saw from him in the first four games of the season, while the Knicks try to play small and fast.

  7. SirJim

    If that’s Barkley, shouldn’t all the “terrible”s be “turribles?”

    I was in the same boat as you, Mike. I believed that Woodson was just a victim of injuries and player chemistry issues not brought on by his own doing. After all, he has some influence (maybe) but he’s not the one making the trades or deciding how much salary or how many draft picks he has in the future. As Gary Oldman in the Dark Knight said, he simply has to work with what he’s got.

    The problem is that what he’s got is

    1. A spunky, energetic, selfless 36 year old PG from Argentina who probably spends most of the game removing splinters from his hindquarters
    2. A servicable center who probably won’t cause fireworks but at least would make opposing guards think twice about forays into the paint and can probably clear a few rebounds
    3. Two up and coming shooting guards:
    A). One of which we already know is worthwhile and energetic (sometimes erratic, but effort is always a plus) and is our only two-way player, but has been rewarded with trade rumors and benchings in the 4th quarters of games he could change
    B). The other that has dazzled (albeit with low expectations) that can only expect to see time when his team has already decided the outcome of the game, both of whom are often benched for a guy who is sometimes effective but most of the time frustrating as he dribbles like a failed streetballer and chucks up a fadeaway 20 footer.

    Coach Woodson is bringing out the Natural Ice while the IPA sits on the pine. The most frustrating thing? He must know that these players work. Better than we do. And yet he ignores them, even though he was the one who started Prigs for that stretch last year that thoroughly cemented Pueblo Pepperoni in our hearts.

    Coach, no one gets to work with all the players they’d like (except Coach K during the Olympics, and even he doesn’t get *everyone* he wants), but I’m out of excuses for you.

  8. massive

    Great post, but as a Jets fan, I feel the need to defend Rex Ryan. It’s unfair to say he was blind to the fact that Mark Sanchez sucked just because he kept saying “he gives us the best chance to win.” It was either Sanchez, Tebow, or McElroy. Sanchez is the best player out of the three, which is why the GM lost his job. That’s more than a shame.

    It’s not like he’s making decisions to start worse players, like Felton over Prigiomi, or giving his equivalent to JR Smith all of the snaps.

    I do agree that Woodson needs to go at this point. He’s demonstrated an inability to identify and solve the problems on this team, when it’s pretty simple; don’t play Andrea Bargnani at center. That’s the fastest way to lose basketball games. Oh, and playing this version of JR Smith doesn’t help much, either. Choosing to give Bargs (a player I like for the Knicks) and JR heavy minutes at the 2 and 5 is a disaster, and an inexcusable one when you have Cole Aldrich and Iman Shumpert/Tim Hardaway JR. If Bargs plays 36 minutes a night, just give ten of those to Cole. If JR Smith plays 36 minutes a night, just give 10 of those to Cole. Now Cole Aldrich has 20 minutes and you might get a couple rebounds and hurt people. If you really wanna get crazy, take 5 of K Mart’s minutes and give them to Cole. There are minutes on this team; they’re just allocated terribly.

  9. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Great post, but as a Jets fan, I feel the need to defend Rex Ryan. It’s unfair to say he was blind to the fact that Mark Sanchez sucked just because he kept saying “he gives us the best chance to win.” It was either Sanchez, Tebow, or McElroy. Sanchez is the best player out of the three, which is why the GM lost his job. That’s more than a shame.

    And the tattoo?

    I mean I’ve been thinking long and hard about getting another one. And I’m going to be 100% sure that what I stick on my body for the rest of my life will be something that’s meaningful, looks good, represents me well, etc. I’m not going to just stick on something that’s the best of three shitty options.

  10. Mike Kurylo Post author

    And sorry to Jets-hijack this, but he had Sanchez for years, and he never pushed the organization to get him a real backup? If a head coach goes to a GM and says – hey this QB sucks and we’re going to lose a bunch of games with him behind center – get me another ASAP you think that would have been honored. Or at least come out in the media as a “leaked” story.

    I don’t buy that Sanchez was forced on Ryan.

  11. flossy

    I’d be up for PJ, or, as I have mentioned before, Lawrence Frank, who will surely soon be on the market.

    Both coaches are veterans with track records of top 10 defenses (Frank with two top-5 defensive seasons), yet would probably accept this job mid-season for lack of better options (PJ) or just to spite the Nets (Frank).

    As for Woodson, I think the fact that our best lineup sans Chandler from last season (K-Mart, Melo, Shumpert, Felton, Prigs) is still available to us and yet has seen ZERO minutes this season says all you need to know. The man is clueless and whatever motivational magic he had that got this crew to play hard post-D’Antoni has worn off.

    The one thing that gives me pause is the possibility that some of the baffling decisions re: playing time are coming from above, and that any coach of the Knicks is going to have to trot out Bargnani in the starting lineup as much as Dolan wants, results be damned.

  12. hoolahoop

    I’m not looking to defend Sanchez, but I never understood how he can be judged so harshly while he had no receivers to throw to.

  13. hoolahoop

    . . . .and an inexcusable one when you have Cole Aldrich . . .

    I really don’t understand everyone’s conviction in Cole Aldrich. Unless you’re at knicks practices everyday, there’s no way to know if he’s good or he sucks based on the few minutes he played during garbage time.
    A case can be made to give him a try, but beyond that it’s pure speculation.

  14. massive

    Back to the Jets, stories did come out that Rex Ryan wanted to draft both Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, but management went in other directions. So, again, it’s not like he didn’t believe the Jets needed an upgrade at that position.

    The tattoo, to me, has nothing to do with anything. He got it at a time when he believed Mark Sanchez would be his franchise QB. Things have changed since then.

    And Sanchez was judged so harshly because he had an elite offensive line to protect him. You know what he did with it? He ran into his right guard’s ass. That’s what.

  15. hoolahoop

    It’s not like he’s making decisions to start worse players, like Felton over Prigiomi, . .

    I love Prigs’s game. Love it. . . . . off the bench and limited minutes (20 – 25).

  16. massive

    Re: Cole Aldrich, he’s a proven rebounder in this league on a per minute basis. When your team is losing a lot of games and getting outrebounded, it’s a good idea to play good rebounders. I doubt Cole is Faried or Chandler. But at the 5, he’s our best play because he does the most essential parts of the job better than any healthy option we have right now.

  17. SirJim

    The issue isn’t that Cole is going to change everything, the issue is that he’s an actual center and Bargs can’t possibly be mistaken for a rebounder/shot blocker. He should at least be able to play 20-30 minutes a game until Tyson heals. Playing Bargnani, for all his offensive capability and ability to guard 1v1, is adding holes to an already swiss cheese defense.

  18. DRed

    Right. Playing Cole means that Woodson at least understands that Bargs terrible defense and rebounding are a problem. Right now, I’m not sure that he gets that, which is pretty troubling. This team isn’t that good, but it could be better with an improvement in coaching.

    As for Woodson, I think the fact that our best lineup sans Chandler from last season (K-Mart, Melo, Shumpert, Felton, Prigs) is still available to us and yet has seen ZERO minutes this season says all you need to know.

    And yeah, that just makes no sense whatsoever. I’m not a huge believer in lineup data, but you have to at least run those guys out there together again sometime.

  19. Hubert

    PJ got worked in that Bulls series, so I’d hate to see him as a the long term answer.

    But for our situation, given who is available, and given the ceiling of this team this year, PJ is probably as good a bet as anyone to get us there. Fair call.

    Here’s my only issue, though. I don’t think of him as a long term answer. And past history indicates that once you get in this organization, it takes years of fucking up to get you out of your role. So I’m hesitant to let someone as limited as PJ in to begin with.

    He would be excellent for the short term, I just fear we’d be stuck with him for another 4 years if he gets the job done in the short term.

  20. Douglas

    This thread was a cathartic read. Thanks, Mike and everyone. Even if it changes nothing, it feels better to have a specific target for the outrage and disappointment I feel.

    Owen, thanks for linking the Jack Z article. I remember when Seattle hired Zdurencik, the baseball blog cognoscenti was immediately all over his knob because of his pro-stats reputation. I disliked him after he stiffed the Yankees on the Cliff Lee trade, but it’s nice to have legitimate reasons to loathe him now.

    It’s a weird mixture of sympathy and relief to read about a Mariners franchise that’s toxic like the Knicks. Misery loves company?

  21. Mike Kurylo Post author

    I’m not looking to defend Sanchez, but I never understood how he can be judged so harshly while he had no receivers to throw to.

    I won’t say the Jets had great receivers, but I don’t think they’ve been awful in Sanchez’ tenure. Santonio Holmes, although often hurt, is a good receiver. Dustin Keller was pretty good. Braylon Edwards, Plaxico Buress were big targets. One day if the Jets get a half decent QB, I think Kerley will all of a sudden look “improved”.

    Sure the great WRs always do well, but QBs make guys like Manningham or Kevin Boss or Domenik Hixon into decent options.

  22. Hubert

    Some here say that NBA front offices are well aware of advanced stats, and probably have and use metrics that are beyond our reach. I think this proves the opposite is true. If that is happening in baseball, a sport that has had rigorous statistical analysis for decades now, then I’d guess that at least half of the NBA front offices are unaware of the stuff we talk about here daily. I’d safely wager more than 2/3 don’t understand the four factors or per-minute stats.

    I’d safely wager that Steve Mills’ “statistical leanings” are similar to Zduriencik’s.

  23. Hubert

    I can’t believe the defenses of Woodson. They’re all along the lines of “his players are terrible, they’re selfish, they don’t play defense, it’s not his fault.”

    There are guys who don’t play who can improve this team and he won’t play them. There are guys who continue to destroy this team and he won’t bench them. He is getting the results than any reasonable person would expect from the players he is playing, and rather than change who he plays, he plays them more and expects them to play better.

    This team was never a contender, but it was never this bad either. He is not a victim. He is working hard to make this ship sink.

  24. Mike Kurylo Post author

    It’s a weird mixture of sympathy and relief to read about a Mariners franchise that’s toxic like the Knicks. Misery loves company?

    Quite honestly I find these things relieving. Not in the sense that someone out there sucks as bad as the Knicks.

    But more that knowing that the things that I agonize over with the Knicks (and Jets) are due to idiots. Plain and simple – it’s not that people are knowledgeable of the facts and despite them they make these awful decisions. It’s that they’re ignorant of the facts to begin with. They’re like poker players who don’t look at their own cards, because they think they can win by just reading everyone in the room (which they’re really bad at).

    I can’t understand knowing that per-minute stats or true shooting percentage exist and keeping someone like Cole Aldrich (or David Lee) on the bench. That makes zero sense to me. What makes sense is looking at Cole (or David) and going “meh there’s a lumbering white guy that can’t shoot from 12 feet, he’ll be good for the rest of the team to whip in practice.”

    Believe or not, that gives me peace of mind. I prefer stupidity to malice.

  25. d-mar

    I really don’t get the idea that playing Aldrich over Bargnani is going to solve our problems. Did we get murdered by the Celtics because we got outrebounded or because our center got abused by their center? No, we got killed because our offense was putrid and we let guys like Crawford and Bradley kill us from the perimeter. If you put Aldrich at the 5, and (fill in the blank) PG blows by Felton, yes, Aldrich may be a better help defender than Bargnani, but any PG worth his salt will dish to the now open big man for a dunk.

    Our problems all begin and end at the guard position, if Felton, Shump and JR play like garbage, we cannot beat anyone, no matter who you put at center.

  26. DRed

    I really don’t get the idea that playing Aldrich over Bargnani is going to solve our problems.

    Again, nobody is saying it’s going to solve all our problems. Or even most of our problems. But there’s a problem for which it seems we have a likely solution that we’re not even trying. Which is indicative of further problems. Look, if Felton, JR, Shump and Hardaway all suck on a particular night, there’s not much more Woodson can do, aside from maybe playing Pablo too many minutes. But we’ve seen a lot of games now where our interior defense and rebounding have been lacking. Cole can probably help with those problems. And we haven’t even given him a try, which is what so many of us find frustrating.

  27. Hubert

    If you put Aldrich at the 5, and (fill in the blank) PG blows by Felton, yes, Aldrich may be a better help defender than Bargnani, but any PG worth his salt will dish to the now open big man for a dunk.

    I think it’s the ease with which other team’s score against us that is so alarming. They don’t even have to try hard, or to run tricky sets.

    If AB is in the game (and especially if he is there with JR), all you have to do is run a simple PnR and you can score like 2006 Phoenix Suns.

    Aldrich doesn’t solve everything but he inches us closer to being a real defensive team. And you have to at least attempt it to see. By not attempting it, you’re demonstrating that you’re likely not even aware of how well teams score against a JR-AB PnR. But all the other teams are. So every time they see those guys they know shit just got easy.

    So what does it say about your coach when there is a guy whose per minute data indicates he could help in a situation in which there is irrefutable statistical evidence that we are historically bad? It tells me he doesn’t know. And if he doesn’t know, he can’t fix it. And if he can’t fix it he shouldn’t be here.

  28. SirJim

    @28 And you think it’s better to just have a PG run in for layups than have a legit big man defending the rim, one that actually has a nose for help defense?

    I agree that Felton has left a lot to be desired, but some of this has to be on the lack of interior D. Guards are much more likely to drive when they know that the rim is unprotected, as opposed to the long arms of Chandler or Aldrich gumming things up.

  29. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    the things that I agonize over with the Knicks (and Jets) are due to idiots

    I don’t think it’s because they are idiots (well, I don’t know the first thing about football or the Jets or this guy Sanchez, but in terms of Mike Woodson, I don’t think he’s an idiot). I just think that you and Woodson probably have different things that you agonize over. As a fan, all you care about is seeing the team win. As a coach who makes his livelihood in the league, he probably thinks of ways to not get fired first and wins second. Now, normally “not getting fired” and “wins” have a symbiotic relationship; however, when you work for James L. Dolan, and James L. Dolan fires the GM for not wanting to empty the cupboards for Carmelo Anthony, and James L. Dolan fires the next GM despite putting together a 54 win team with said empty cupboards, and James L. Dolan makes contractual promises to JR Smith, and James L. Dolan continually populates his organization with flunkies, toadies, and patrons, with no emphasis on merit whatsoever, it becomes clear that “not getting fired” has little to do with “wins” within the Knick organization.

    So, unfortunately, I don’t think the Knicks’ coach is driven by stupidity or malice. I think he is acting as adeptly as one can for an employer who is both stupid and malevolent. (How adept is PJ in that regard??)

  30. JK47

    I’ve been a big proponent of using Cole Aldrich more, but rebounding is not what is killing the Knicks’ defense. Their rebounding has actually been pretty similar to what it was last year– last year the Knicks ranked 4th in defensive rebounding, 19th in offensive rebounding. This year they rank 6th in defensive reboinding, 21st in offensive rebounding. Not really all that different. What’s really killing them is the free throw situation on both sides of the ball and the collapse of the team eFG% on offense.

    My theory is that it’s the constant stupid ass switching that leads to all the opponent free throws. It’s just so easy to get the Knicks into a mismatch by just setting a simple pick; teams with competent guards do it at will. It’s a dumb way to play even when you have Tyson Chandler roaming in space erasing some of the mistakes, but with Andrea Bargnani as your designated help defender… Well, it’s no accident the Knicks are 28th in defensive efficiency.

  31. Hubert

    I don’t think it’s because they are idiots (well, I don’t know the first thing about football or the Jets or this guy Sanchez, but in terms of Mike Woodson, I don’t think he’s an idiot). I just think that you and Woodson probably have different things that you agonize over. As a fan, all you care about is seeing the team win. As a coach who makes his livelihood in the league, he probably thinks of ways to not get fired first and wins second. Now, normally “not getting fired” and “wins” have a symbiotic relationship; however, when you work for James L. Dolan, and James L. Dolan fires the GM for not wanting to empty the cupboards for Carmelo Anthony, and James L. Dolan fires the next GM despite putting together a 54 win team with said empty cupboards, and James L. Dolan makes contractual promises to JR Smith, and James L. Dolan continually populates his organization with flunkies, toadies, and patrons, with no emphasis on merit whatsoever, it becomes clear that “not getting fired” has little to do with “wins” within the Knick organization.

    So, unfortunately, I don’t think the Knicks’ coach is driven by stupidity or malice. I think he is acting as adeptly as one can for an employer who is both stupid and malevolent. (How adept is PJ in that regard??)

    A fair defense.

    I can see how playing AB & JR right now may be thrust upon him, but when you look at the playoffs, at that point I don’t see how you can think benching Pablo to play Martin-Chandler lineups that focus on ISO-Melo is somehow a move with “not getting fired” in mind. Nor can I see how benching Copeland could have curried favor with Dolan. I think it’s more likely he didn’t know what to attribute his team’s success to, and he still doesn’t.

  32. Zanzibar

    So, unfortunately, I don’t think the Knicks’ coach is driven by stupidity or malice. I think he is acting as adeptly as one can for an employer who is both stupid and malevolent.

    That’s true but only to a certain extent. For example, Woodson benching Shump for remainder of the game where he had that tiff with Melo is a stark example of him coaching to save his job instead of get wins. But the front office isn’t telling him how to play PnR defense. We have one of the worst PnR defenses in the league and Bargs is one of the reasons why. But why do we ever switch or go over picks against teams with speedy PGs who are lousy mid-range shooters (of which there are many) and just compound the problem?

    The Synergy analysis showed that defenses were most effective when the on-ball defender went under the pick, temporarily abandoning the ball handler and then picking him up again.

    I recall an interview with a long-time NBA bench coach who said it’s a myth that coaches adapt their systems to their players. He cited Pop, Carlisle, Rivers as the only coaches who actually do that. We’re witnessing this inflexibility with Woodson. He uses the same lousy defensive schemes as with Hawks and favors ISO ball. He doesn’t really believe in small ball and stretch offenses. He’s stubborn and slow to react in the playoffs.

  33. nicos

    Aldritch hasn’t played much but he’s been pretty crappy when he’s been in. According to nba.com the Knicks defensive rating when he’s on the floor is 113.8- the worst on the team by almost three points. His net rating trails only Stat and Beno. He can’t defend in space and any pass thrown to him on the move is liable to be fumbled out of bounds. His turnover % is 33.7! I’d expect that to go down with regular minutes but his career to% is a still crappy 21.7. He’s a very good rebounder and has passed the ball well from the high post but he’s a 10th-12th man at best on a decent team. Of course the Knicks aren’t a decent team- they have sucked enough that they should at least try him for 10 minutes a night but acting as if he’s the solution to the team’s struggles is crazy.

  34. thenamestsam

    Again, nobody is saying it’s going to solve all our problems. Or even most of our problems. But there’s a problem for which it seems we have a likely solution that we’re not even trying.

    Pretty much this. I mean I personally think it’s quite likely that Cole Alrdich would be pretty awful if asked to play 20 minutes a game, and I still think it’ s insane that we haven’t even taken a look at it. I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a likely solution to our defensive/rebounding issues, but at least he’s a possible solution right? We know with 100% certainty that what we have right now on defense is not working. It’s not like all of a sudden this same group is going to start locking people down tonight. It just isn’t going to happen. So at some point you have to at least roll the dice, right? We have two back-to-backs this week which means KMart is going to be unavailable or significantly limited in some of these games. What’s the cost to at least trying Cole?

  35. lonsterthemonster

    I’ve been saying for a couple weeks now (though not on this blog) that Woody has to be sent packing. The players are no longer responding to him. It is almost totally on the COACH when you’re team comes out uninspired and not ready to compete…at home especially…and to a rebuilding team as the Celtics are! Absolutely no excuse. My fear is that the team has become too complacent with Woody, maybe viewing him as an “uncle” coaching the team. Whatever it is, it is obvious they aren’t busting their collective tails for him any longer! However, not sure about PJ. No coach is going to takeover mid-season just to coach the schedule out (unless he was already on staff). PJ’s going to demand at least a four year deal. I think Lionel Hollins would be a better fit. Mr. Dolan, please contact coach Hollins and his agent and make it happen!

  36. mokers

    I don’t think PJ would be bad. I know he sometimes wears out his welcome, but I always thought he was underrated. What I would really love is if Rick Adelman were available, but I could do with PJ.

    I think the free Cole Aldrich movement is more about Woodson’s general cluelessness about lineups this year. There is nobody saying he is the next Lin or even Copeland, with potential to turn around a game. But he does represent an obvious need that Woodson seems to ignore.

  37. KnickfaninNJ

    I really don’t understand everyone’s conviction in Cole Aldrich. Unless you’re at knicks practices everyday, there’s no way to know if he’s good or he sucks based on the few minutes he played during garbage time.

    This is very true. I think most of the commentators here want more defense and rebounding and from what we’ve seen of Aldrich it’s very likely he will give more rebounding. But more defense I am not so sure about. Even in garbage time he makes some mistakes and he’s pretty slow. So it’s very possible putting him in is not a net positive for the team.

    The other thing is that although Woody doesn’t seem to make any decisions based on advanced stats, he does understand one statistical thing intuitively that many posters here ignore, and that is the need for a reasonable sample size in making decisions. If Bargnani shoots bricks for the first half, he knows that intrinsically Bargnani is a decent shooter and he could come around in the second half. In the same vein, if JR and Amare come back from injuries and play badly at first, he knows intuitively that they have rust and could get better after some games under their belt (which they are, in fact, doing). He does yank players sometimes in games, but I think this has more to do with things that ought not to get rusty or go cold, like effort or stupid decision making. I think this makes him a good players coach. Player’s can tell that they got a fair shot at shooting well before making decisions.

  38. mokers

    I love what Hollins did in Memphis, but I am not sure he is the right fit here. He loved having Rudy Gay and I thought I read somewhere that is one of the reasons he didn’t return. Not sure the knicks have the personnel for his system, but he would definitely not care what management had to say about how he was doing his job.

  39. DRed

    Aldritch hasn’t played much but he’s been pretty crappy when he’s been in. According to nba.com the Knicks defensive rating when he’s on the floor is 113.8- the worst on the team by almost three points.

    That’s in 4 minutes of playing time.

  40. Mike Kurylo Post author

    I can see how playing AB & JR right now may be thrust upon him, but when you look at the playoffs, at that point I don’t see how you can think benching Pablo to play Martin-Chandler lineups that focus on ISO-Melo is somehow a move with “not getting fired” in mind. Nor can I see how benching Copeland could have curried favor with Dolan. I think it’s more likely he didn’t know what to attribute his team’s success to, and he still doesn’t.

    Exactly. It’s not malice, because that doesn’t explain everything. Dolan doesn’t give a rats ass about playing Cole 20 minutes a game, or Copeland against Indy. In fact if either of these were thought to make the Knicks chances of winning better, Dolan would be for them.

    The only thing that explains this is, in its entirety, ignorance of such facts.

    I watch my kids play games and try puzzles, and things that are obvious to me are not to them. Hence they make mistakes that to you or me seem dumb. To them, they just don’t have the processing power, experience, or information to solve the puzzle or play the game better. It’s not that they’re trying to lose or fail. They just don’t know any better.

    Same thing here.

  41. mokers

    Great link. Knicks roster madness:

    http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2013/12/10/the-knicks-and-their-roster-madness/

    Anthony and Bargnani are the Knicks’ most-used two-man combination and they’ve allowed 109.8 points per 100 possessions with them on the floor together. That’s worse than Utah’s 30th-ranked defense. And their offense is bad, too, so they’re a -10.4 points per 100 possessions with those two on the floor. That’s just plain putrid.
    In 205 minutes with Anthony on the floor without Bargnani, they’ve allowed 91.7 points per 100 possessions (better than the Pacers’ No. 1 defense) and are a +14.9, which is great.

  42. Mike Kurylo Post author

    There are people clearly on both sides of what Cole Aldrich can offer the Knicks. Some think he could be a worthy backup center, certainly someone who can rebound, defend, and score efficiently (BTW I would add he has the potential for passing the ball – he’s had some nifty assists). While others think he’s complete garbage, not worthy of any playing time.

    So how can you settle such a dispute? Give the guy some minutes.

    What would be the only reason not to? The guys you have at center are clearly better and there is no need for Aldrich.

    Clearly that isn’t the case with New York. Bargnani is a liability at center. Amar’e is sucking at both ends of the court. And who knows when KMart is healthy. It’s not like it’s April and the Knicks are fighting for a playing spot. It’s not like the team is rolling and you don’t want to ruin whatever it is that the team is doing well (*cough* “chemistry”).

    The Knicks suck. They’re losing games left and right. The center position is a mess. And it’s only December.

    These are the same circumstances that gave the Knicks Jeremy Lin and Chris Copeland. When you have no one else, and you’re desperate, you go to the next man on the bench. These guys are on your roster for a reason. They are supposed to be NBA level players – so fucking use them!!! The same goes for Pablo over Felton, Tim Hardaway, and even Toure Murry.

    I joked earlier in the season that it’d take Woodson a few weeks to give Cole a try. It’s been over a month, and he still hasn’t seen it as an option yet???

    To borrow a quote a bit, ignorance is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  43. DRed

    The second half of the Celtics game was a perfect opportunity to role out Cole and maybe Murray for some extended burn. The odds of us winning that game at the start of the 3rd quarter were already really low, so why the hell not try? Instead we get Bargs/Stat/Melo.

  44. hoolahoop

    – Re: Cole Aldrich, he’s a proven rebounder in this league on a per minute basis. …..

    - The issue isn’t that Cole is going to change everything, the issue is that he’s an actual center

    - Playing Cole means that Woodson at least understands that Bargs terrible defense and rebounding are a problem.

    Yes, I understand that Bargs is not a real center and playing out of position.
    But Cole has played 8 games averaging four minutes/game. All I’m saying is Cole an unknown commodity. Extrapolating his stats makes no sense. He may suck terribly, given the chance. Or, he may be great. And I agree he should get that chance. But, let’s stop acting like we got Dwight Howard on the bench.

  45. hoolahoop

    Here’s my problem with Prigs: John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Damian Liliard, Derrick Rose . . . . . . . .
    I love Prigs game, but he’s not a race horse. He’s a championship calibre PG off the bench. Starting him and playing him full time minutes could ruin his game and lead to some bad runs against the knicks.

    Felton’s game needs refining, but he more of a prototypical NBA PG. And he only sucks sometimes. Sometimes he’s good.

  46. EB

    @49 I think Prigs is an elite SG in the league, if you play him next to a point he can penetrate. Yeah He’s undersized but he does so many things well he deserves floor time even if he’s undersized. Especially when you consider half our guards and half our players have TS% below .500.

  47. DRed

    I don’t know that I’d call Pablo elite, because he can’t play heavy minutes due to age, but he’s damn good playing the Jason Kidd from last year role. And that also makes it less likely that a young, speedy point guard is going to roast him on the other end.

  48. Donnie Walsh

    I think Woodson should tell everybody to “put a little mustard on those passes” before PJ is brought in. Just to, you know, see how they all react.

  49. Nick C.

    I like Prigioni and what he brings. But, but he only shoots once or twice a game. I think that on on the wrong side of the not taking stupid shots divide. The ball movement is awesome and its why there seems to be less “dribble dribble dribble oops getting nowhere is there anyone to pass to no Ok better just fade away and toss the ball at the hoop.” However, sometimes the best shot is Prigs and he passes it up forcing someone else, who may be a worse shooter, to take a more difficult and contested shot.

  50. nicos

    DRed
    December 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm
    Aldritch hasn’t played much but he’s been pretty crappy when he’s been in. According to nba.com the Knicks defensive rating when he’s on the floor is 113.8- the worst on the team by almost three points.

    That’s in 4 minutes of playing time.

    Well, it’s in 33 total minutes of playing time. My point was that it’s not a given that he improves the defense- he was pretty crappy defensively in the summer league too. He will help with defensive rebounding which should help the overall defensive rating so I’m all for giving him 10 minutes a night. That said, I have seen enough of him to wish the Knicks had kept Diogu (who I think would have gotten minutes from Woody) instead of him.

  51. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Pj over jvg… That’s a bold statement

    I assume that Van Gundy knows how crazy the front office is, and wouldn’t risk his good name coming back. Have you had one of those jobs where the boss is nuts, and the only reason they make money is because they’re in an industry where you can’t fail and the people at the bottom bail them out time after time, right? Once you get a real stable job, would ever go back to work at one of those places?

    Yeah not in a million years. Sure there are some great people there, and you have some fun adventures, but when you get a real job you grab the good people to work with you and never look back.

  52. Mike Kurylo Post author

    I think Woodson should tell everybody to “put a little mustard on those passes” before PJ is brought in. Just to, you know, see how they all react.

    Also spit my water reading this.

    Ironically I could see Bargnani and Prigioni not understanding the English expression and looking towards the break room for some condiment packages.

  53. d-mar

    One of the more annoying things about Woodson (besides his man crush on JR) is in the post game press conference, where he begins every other sentence with “again” even though it’s the first time he’s addressed a particular topic.

  54. Robtachi

    In terms of defensive efficiency and pace, playing Melo and Bargs at the same time creates the same disastrous results as playing Melo and STAT.

    That is to say, Woodson doesn’t even have the excuses of experimenting with a new scenario – we’ve been THROUGH this already!

    I just cannot understand why it’s still happening especially when, by the numbers thus far, Bargs looks to be an ELITE scoring option were he to come off the bench when Melo is not playing. Bargs would wreck opposing 2nd-teamers the way STAT was originally supposed to when first shifted to a bench role, except Bargs has the benefit of being fully healthy and capable of a little 1-on-1 D.

    Mind-boggling.

  55. flossy

    I think Woodson should tell everybody to “put a little mustard on those passes” before PJ is brought in. Just to, you know, see how they all react.

    Just between JR, K-Mart and Metta World Peace, the odds of PJ getting choked out by someone on the Knicks would be astronomical

  56. dtrickey

    I’m not willing to go out an place all the heat on Woodson. From my observations this season, it’s been an entire team effort to suck so far. We all knew that the D was going to suffer a bit with Chandler out, but I think the biggest area of concern has been the offence. Everyone has been flat out ice cold from the field and that tends to force guys like Melo to try and put the team on their shoulders. By extension, Woodson is also to blame in this sense. If players are having an average night, pull them out. It’s pretty simple stuff. I can only comment on what I see game day, so I don’t know what goes on at practice, but I think Woodson needs to be a bit more ruthless when guys like JR are flat out sucking and just bench them.

    The Nets and Magic games demonstarted what this team is capable of from an offensive standpoint. Woodson can’t be out there on the court, but he can be preaching the things that make this team good (ball movement, pushing the ball up the court etc.).

  57. domiknick

    I’ve discussed this with Chris Herring on twitter already but Woodson is greatly lacking something he preached heavily when he first got the job: accountability. It was one of his selling points; that he would hold players accountable. After a start like Sunday’s, why not open the 2nd half with Prigs, Hardaway, Metta, Amare, and Cole? The game was already lost at that point, why not use it to make a point with your comatose starters? JR, Melo, even Felton – at this point they know they can get away with any type of play on the court, and it will not matter or cut into their playing time. There is no accountability. A lot of lip service, cliche answers to interview questions, “players only” meetings promising they’re going to buckle down, but it’s all talk.

  58. Robtachi

    Apparently Dolan was waiting for Woodson immediately following the embarrassment against the Celtics and they had an impromptu meeting with at least one player. I would wager my college diploma that player was Carmelo Anthony.

  59. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    Apparently Dolan was waiting for Woodson immediately following the embarrassment against the Celtics and they had an impromptu meeting with at least one player. I would wager my college diploma that player was Carmelo Anthony.

    Not Chris Smith?

  60. DRed

    Chris Herring

    Asked Woody why Pablo doesnt start when he usually helps NYK get back 2 last yr’s principles. “The East is big, man.” Cites need to match up

    Holy fuck.

  61. lonsterthemonster

    @domiknick – you hit it on the head. No “accountability” this year! (Anyone miss RaSHEED as much as I do?) You can see in the players’ body language that Woody has lost the team. Not sure where this PJ stuff is coming from but he’s not happ’n. George Karl (who profoundly dissed the Knicks and the organization) would be hired before PJ! Mr. Dolan is prolly not gonna hire anyone the Nets have recently fired (see PJ, Avery Johnson). And….no…Phil Jackson isn’t coming out of retirement for this mess! We’re probably looking at Herb to finish out this season!!!

  62. Zanzibar

    We’re probably looking at Herb to finish out this season!!!

    Herb may be the only guy who has enough job security enabling him to confront Melo.

  63. domiknick

    @66 DRed, Herring also quoted Melo as saying Knicks seem to have a “bailout plan” offensively to run iso’s through him when things aren’t working on that end of the floor…but Herring called his bluff and called him out, saying that 3 of first 4 plays in Sunday’s game were iso’s. Whoops.

  64. domiknick

    Btw, starters have been announced for tonight as Felton, Shump, Melo, MWP & Bargs. For our sake, can we pretend that MWP is the starting SF and Melo is the starting PF, even though it doesn’t seem to be listed that way? Also, how bummed is Hardaway that after Sunday, that was probably his only chance at starting for a loooong time, lol.

  65. DRed

    @66 DRed, Herring also quoted Melo as saying Knicks seem to have a “bailout plan” offensively to run iso’s through him when things aren’t working on that end of the floor…but Herring called his bluff and called him out, saying that 3 of first 4 plays in Sunday’s game were iso’s. Whoops.

    No way Herring makes it 82 games without being frozen out by the Garden PR folks.

  66. nyk8806

    no k-mart again tonight. Will “the east is big man” Woodson play Aldrich before garbage time (when we’re down 20 with 4 minutes left)? I’m guessing no.

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