The CBA Knicks

After his trades last week, many people called Isiah Thomas a few cards short of a full deck. When the dust cleared, the Knicks President found himself a few players short of a full roster. Surprised that the CBA was still in existence, Isiah grabbed two players from the league to fill out the Knicks roster.

Jermaine Jackson spent 4 years at Detroit Mercy, and went undrafted in 1999. His NBA experience is limited to a sparse 84 games over 3 seasons for Detroit, Toronto, and Atlanta. Outside of the NBA, the well traveled Jackson played for the USBL, 4 different CBA teams, and 3 different European leagues. Standing at 6’5, Jackson is big for a point guard. Jermaine was voted to the MCC All-Defensive Team in 1999, and could fill the role of perimeter defender, a position the Knicks have sorely needed since the departures of Frank Williams and Charlie Ward.

In the 2003 Basketball Prospectus, John Hollinger called Jackson a “very traditional point”, who had a high assist ratio and low usage rate. The point guard’s problem is his scoring. His college eFG% of 48% hasn’t carried over into the NBA, where he’s struggled to find his shot. With a career 38% eFG in the big show, the NBA three pointer might be outside his range. In his career Jackson has attempted only 13 treys, and hit only 2 (15%).

Oddly enough, Jackson’s limited CBA numbers don’t show him as a timid shooter. His per/40 minute averages are impressive. Not only does he show a sharp eye from downtown (47.5% 3P%), but he has an ability to get to the line (1.30 PSA). So either: a. the 28 year old decided to be more aggressive in an attempt to get another shot at the NBA, b. his wordly experience has paid off, c. the talent level of the CBA is weak, or d. it’s just a fluke.

Jermaine Jackson's CBA stats this year
17.8 53.7 47.5 58.8 1.30 .44

Unlike the seasoned Jackson, Jackie Butler is only 19 years old. This year the two played together for the Great Lakes Storm of the CBA. While Jackson spent four years in college, Butler never made it to the NCAA. He was embroiled in a recruiting scandal with Auburn, had trouble meeting the academic eligibility requirements, and bounced around from school to school. Just when it seemed Butler was putting his life together and going to attend Tennessee, he opted for the NBA draft instead. He hired an agent, ending his college career before it ever started. Just like it did for Jermaine Jackson, NBA draft night came and left Butler behind.

The Timberwolves signed the 6’10 260 lb center for the summer league, but he played sparingly. The neophyte lasted until October, but didn’t score in the 16 minutes of preseason he was given. Undeterred, he signed on with the Great Lakes Storm, and thrived immediately. Starting in 40 of 41 games, Butler was among qualifying league leaders in per minute stats namely points (20.8 7th), rebounds (12.4 4th), offensive rebounds (4.2 5th), and blocks (1.7 4th).

Jackie Butler's CBA stats this year
PTS/40 FG% FT% oREB/40 REB/40 PF/40 BLK/40
20.8 51.0 71.5 4.2 12.4 5.5 1.7

Of the two, Butler is more likely to be a CBA success story ala John Starks or Anthony Mason. He’s relied on his natural abilities up to this points, but he’s going to learn that the NBA has a lot of big bodies. Meanwhile Jackson will unspectacularly settle into a 10 minute a game role. To think either of them is going to be part of the Knicks future in 2007 would be optimistic. However it’s the perfect type of low risk/high reward move where a GM can’t lose, but can win if he gets a serviceable player out of the deal.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

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