Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Dead Zone

For good or bad, the Knicks have had their share of exciting stories this year. Over the summer New York acquired Eddy Curry, a 23 year old center with heart problems. They’ve grabbed one of the best coaches in the game in Larry Brown, and the Knicks have no shortage of young players. For a few months Channing Frye was one of the forerunners in the Rookie of the Year award. Slam Dunk Champion Nate Robinson is the 5-foot-something guard who combines a football player’s mentality with a childish enthusiasm for the game. David Lee, a solid rebounder, had a dunk last week against the Hawks that showed he might be worth more than the average 30th round pick.

Second year player Jackie Butler just turned old enough to buy beer legally and shows plenty of promise for someone that never played a game in college. That Butler has made it into the big show at all is a story of itself, and if he can stick around in this league it would be an incredible achievement. Those that have read the Last Shot know how perfectly aligned everything has to be to make the NBA and how hoop dreams end more like Darryl Flickling’s than Stephon Marbury’s. A similar statement could be said for Qyntel Woods, who is running out of teams to make himself unwelcome on.

The Knicks picked up Jerome James who would give them size in the middle, something they’ve desperately needed since the days of Camby & Ewing. At the small forward spot Quentin Richardson had the most 3 pointers made in 2005, and the recently acquired Jalen Rose is versatile on the offensive end. My least favorite player last year, Jamal Crawford, has shown immense improvement in his weakest area: shot selection. And finally Steve Francis is a 3 time All Star, and his arrival gives the Knicks an odd scoring punch in the backcourt.

So, how can a team with so many interesting stories field such a boring team? There are too many offensive plays where the ball ends up in the stands. Too many times two players end up in the same spot. On defense, when the Knicks aren’t allowing their opponents an easy path to the rim, they’ve giving them a second chance to complete the job. Too often they’re down by 12 in the first, and you know they’re not coming back.

Knick-nation will spend the next 6 months arguing over who is to blame: Isiah Thomas for assembling a roster of overated players, Larry Brown’s inflexibile ways making a bad team the laughing stock in the league, or James Dolan for his emporer’s new clothes act. And while there is plenty of finger wagging to spread around to those three, as far as I’m concerned the onus for the on the court product belongs to the players and more specifically the veterans.

There seems to be a general malaise among the non-rookies. Against Toronto there was one play that sticks out in my mind, a defensive rebound that bounced past Eddy Curry, Jalen Rose, and Steve Francis before ending up in Raptor hands. These were three veterans with a combined 24 years of experience, and none of them knows that if they see a basketball bouncing past them that it’s a good idea to secure it. It’s ironic, because in that same game Nate Robinson went full speed into the scorer’s table chasing the rock, sending a pile of papers into the air in a failed attempt. How is it that a rookie is setting the proper example in putting the extra effort to get another possession? The sloppy play and lack of effort makes the games painful to watch. The 2006 Knicks are like a Steven King novel, they’re a great read but awful when translated into video.

77 comments on “The Dead Zone

  1. Dan

    The Knicks will rebound next season with improved chemistry. With an entire offseason ahead of them, all players must work on their specific role for this particular mesh of players. Despite all the individual talent, each player must fill a role for a successful 2006-2007 Knick season. Everyone knows Isiah wil make moves, but can the knicks pull it together by next November?

  2. Bulls Fan Here

    Great blog, horrible team…thanks for the draft pick.

    We had a down year losing Eddy and Antonio, but I’m pretty sure that our cap space and draft picks will get us back to our 47 win plateu next season.

    Your team is an enigma. Too many players who rely only on their athletic talent and none on their basketball intellect.

    Thats the biggest thing they’ve rejected of Larry Brown: being educated.

    I’d trade the pick back to you for Frye, but I’ve got a feeling that O’Bryant, if he can be lured out of college, will fill in just nicely for us.

    Maybe you all should go for Jermaine O’Neal. I hear he’ll be available…

  3. dave crockett

    KB-

    I think the lack of hustle you see by the vets has been more effect than cause. I think you see the same sorts of things from lots of guys in the league who are playing out the string in a miserable season. The rooks are all quite aware that they are still auditioning, if not for roster spots on next year’s team then to be in the rotation.

    Pulling back and concentrating once again on the veterans, the broader problem (imo) is low basketball IQ. What you said about two players in the same spot is telling. The offense still has horrible, horrible spacing. The ball is rarely in the right place at the right time, particularly as it concerns feeding the post. (I can think of numerous instances vs Miami this week where Curry had his man pinned and doesn’t get the ball. On one play Francis called him out of post position to come set a screen. I was yelling at the television.)

    Lying beneath the immature spat between Brown and Marbury is the latter’s astonishingly low basketball IQ. Even though Brown behaved like a weasel with Steph he was absolutely correct. Marbury’s comments about having too little freedom are to my mind strongly suggest he doesn’t understand offense outside the screen-roll. It would be like an option quarterback complain about having too little freedom. It’s the kind of complaint you only make if you don’t understand that the ball is in your hands at all the crucial decision making points and that most of the decisions are really at your discretion.

  4. dave crockett

    Clearly some of the blame has to go back to LB. And, perhaps a full offseason training camp can remedy some of the problems.

    Still, even if all that happens it doesn’t explain the team’s failure to defend. This continues to be a terrible defensive team. For that I think Isiah must take the lion’s share of the blame. I think the best point Hollinger has made about Thomas is that he thinks getting the most (offensive) talent in each trade means that you win. Consequently, we have a bunch of guys on this team who share the same fundamental weaknesses: they’re virtually useless they’re scoring and they’re not good defenders–even when they try.

  5. Knicknack

    Yes, this team should be good and they are underacheiving. But, it’s the coaches job to pull it together. I coache lil league and we can’t trade kids and get the talent we’d like. We develop the talent that we have.

    LB hasn’t done that, it’s his way or no way. we all realize the Knicks play lousy man on man defense, but I have yet to see a zone this season.

    Take the talent you have a coach to that level, not your own. Especially with all of the trades this year in mid season. Who really thought SF was going to come in and start play defense all of a sudden. Who thought he’d feed the post considering him an Yao should have be the leagues best one two punch.

    This team was doomed from the start, there are way to many egos on this team and the coach has the biggest. Yes he has done great things with other teams, but he has shown a inability to motivate and inspire this one.

    The players have given up on him and I can’t honestly blame them. They were sold out by Zeke we he traded Nazi for Rose, signed James for all of the exception. And gave up a unprotected draft pick. We could have gotten the deal done without unprotecting the pick. Then he hired a coach that no one who played for him as sad to see him gone.

    What we cold have done with the reminder of the season was set a starting 5, run some trapping zone defense, and make it fun again. It’s sad and tiring to watch this team disgrace the sport. I normally take my teams to a game and we dissect it, we now watch the Knicks to see how not to do things, and I do the opposite of LB coaching style.

  6. JK47

    To me, this is the worst season I have ever endured by any sports team I root for, and I root for some perennial losers. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, friends. Salvaging this team is a bad idea. There is nothing to salvage here. I don’t know what it will take to get Isiah Thomas fired, but what I do know is that he’s still the GM, and as soon as the season’s over he will be allowed to make trades again, which means the team will get even worse. I fully expect Isiah to make several more damaging trades before he is finally, mercifully removed.

  7. SM

    “The players have given up on him and I can?t honestly blame them. They were sold out by Zeke we he traded Nazr for Rose, signed James for all of the exception.”

    How many players even played with Nazr? Steph and Jamal?

    No wonder there’s no continuity on this team – only 2 guys played with the starting C who got traded at the deadline last year.

  8. Knicknack

    “No wonder there?s no continuity on this team – only 2 guys played with the starting C who got traded at the deadline last year.”

    I would still prefer to see Mohammed and Curry fighting for minutes, than to have James hand them over,

  9. Rich

    I just finished reading this book “Foul Lines” written by Sports Illustrated writers Jack McCallum and Jon Wertheim. It’s a very funny satire of the NBA with all the names changed. Everyone gets lampooned, including LeBron, Stuart Scott, David Stern, A.C. Green, Doug Christie, Jason Williams, Master P and others. The flamboyant GMs and owners get skewered too. It’s a very quick and funny read. Here’s the amazon link with some reviews if you want to check it out:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743286502/sr=8-1/qid=…527?%5Fencoding=UTF8

  10. Dane

    Yes this has been the worst and most unwatchable season I have witness as a Knicks fan, Larry Brown has done horrible jobs. How many people share the suspicion I have that Larry Brown willfully did this for some reason only he knows. With this team, many coaches will have it contesting for a playoff spot in the weak Atlantic Division. Although I do not support all the trades that have been made, this roster has been the best in years.

  11. Brian Cronin

    The only hope I see for the Knicks is a trade involving, like, 19 Knicks for one good player next year.

    The team WOULD be improved if they added just ONE very good player rather than the 6-7 good players the Knicks send out there each game.

    I know Garnett is not a possibility, but I wouldn’t mind trading for Randolph (and I gotta figure the Blazers would be happy to part with the guy, as he’s a weirdo making a LOT of money).

  12. Rob Gee

    Dane brings up something to chew on..He said..

    “How many people share the suspicion I have that Larry Brown willfully did this for some reason only he knows.”

    Larry wants the gm job and may be not so subtly sabotaging the clueless Thomas to get him on Dloan’s shit list. The moves that thomas has made show a total lack of knowledge in cap space dealings or anything related to business sense. All three of those guys it,jd and lb deserve each other.3 snakes in the grass.

  13. Ted

    Brian, I am a Blazers fan and trust me, you can have Randolph. I’d take back pretty much anything for him. Would you also like Darius Miles?

  14. Jackson

    Why Zeke would want Franchise on the same team as Starbury with only one ball between them is beyond most sane people..But I think the malaise set in a long time ago in the offseason with that ridiculous deal of Jerome James.It was slaughtered by the critics then and I think they’ve totally been vindicated.I fervently hope Zeke is demoted to Head Scout,whose only decision making capabilities involve drafting picks and deciding which female employees he would like to feel up.I physically hate this Knicks team..:(

  15. Dane

    Honestly, I do not think the Knicks need to trade many people, to right this team, maybe only to part ways with either Marbury or Francis, since they are basically the same type of players. The problem with this team seems to be with the people who are in charge of it. Is it interesting to note that one of the players they traded away, Trevor Ariza, is now playing 20 minutes a game, scoring 10 points per game for the last 3 games and Orlando is winning again, the same player who Brown buried on the injured list and claimed he cannot shoot. Something is going on and it has little to do with the players, if you guys are interested read the article Eddie Johnson wrote on http://www.hoopshype.com I think it gives some insight into Larry Brown operations.

  16. Cips

    So far this season, the biggest (and some would say only) bright light was Channing’s development as a player. He hustled, he showed a great sense of placement on rebounds, and he openly talked of making himself better and trying to make his game as versatile as possible.

    Before his injury, similar to his non-playing of Nate Robinson, apparently he did something that Brown saw as damaging. He lost his starting spot, and was only played for 15-16 a game in March. He was inefficient and looked confused in his little time. And then he got injured.

    The only bright spot of the season, Frye, is in danger, between injury and Brown-treatment, of not being as good as we all hoped.

    Has the man no sense of sacredness? Does he really not know a good thing when he sees one?

    I don’t get it. Every other team with a good rookie doesn’t have to deal with this. Paul, Villanueva, Bogut, Gomes (recently), Felton. All of them have been developed as players are have shown more confidence as the season went on. Frye was great when the season started, then slowly eroded (NBA.Com’s rookie rankings spell this out). I get the feeling that LB got to him after a while, he started to doubt himself (which is a death-knoll for rookies) and then all this happened.

  17. KD

    Good post.

    Channing was damn good from the outset, averaging 10 and 4 and shooting 51 percent over 19 minutes in the preseason, and his November play was a revelation for those who thought he’d be an Antonio Davis-type (baseline jumpers, lots of smarts, nine boards, little else). And from there, whether it’s ennui, The Wall, or lack of confidence, he’s slowly faded.

    You watch enough fourth quarters from the bench, while Malik Rose is on the court trying another up-fake, and it tends to get to you … apparently.

  18. RobG

    To blame this on the coach as a cause and effect is a classic assumption which falls apart in the face of alternative evidence.I have a third possibility as to his declining numbers: teams have learned how to defend against him, and are either paying more attention to him than in October/November, or defenders are getting hip to his moves.

    Whether any, or all of these is responsible for Channing’s declining numbers is debatable. It is a certainty that lack of playing time will be the greatest inhibitor of gaudy stats.

  19. Cips

    You’re right, it’s not totally LB’s falt. It’s a combination of all the elements, I’m sure. Pressure, playing in a system that failed to work as the season went on, losing minutes to Malik Rose, teams spending more attention to him; it all adds up, and the reasons for the final decline are somewhere and everywhere in that list. It’s just frustrating to see so many other rookies coming into their own and gaining confidence, while ours, one of the best ones all year, took steps backwards and got injured.

    I’m just frustrated, is all.

  20. Dave M

    Let’s dream of a Garnett trade. We can forget about Marbury or Frances or James being part of that deal because only Zeke would take on those contracts. My guess is our youth including Frye, Lee, and Curry (heart condition Ok-he played out the season) and a draft pick would be make an enticing deal and make a salary match to Garnett possible with a few other players thrown in.

  21. Marc R

    Do you think there’s any chance Minnesota would trade Garnett as a pure salary dump for the Knicks’ enormous expiring contracts (Jalen, Taylor)? What if the Knicks agreed to take on another bad contract as an inducement, like Marko Jaric?

  22. Seth

    I don’t understand what’s so appealing about Garnett. He’s just one more star who’s already peaked and is owed huge sums of money. Trade is not something that’s going to improve this team, especially with Isiah running the show. We need to get better by growing our own talent through drafts and signings, not inheriting other teams’ expensive projects.

  23. Seth

    Why is that? What’s wrong with sitting tight for 3-5 years and letting contracts expire? Isiah is obviously far too antsy to accept that kind of thing, but in principle i don’t see why it wouldn’t work…

  24. Jackson

    One question Seth.Would you like to see a .300 winning percentage over the next 3-5 years? Which is why Zeke’s been pulling off these boneheaded trades.He knows that NY hates losers and just doesn’t have enough patience for a rebuilding project a la Boston or Atlanta.Pity,cos in my opinion a real “teardown and build em up” would probably bring the Knicks back to the elite within three years.Altough it would entail the following measures:
    1.Get a real franchise cornerstone
    I know this sounds like just about every other team’s refrain.But to me, a couple of lazyass PG/SG tweeners just don’t cut it.
    2.Decide on what your team’s character is
    Right now,this team doesn’t look it knows what play its gonna run the next time it walks the ball up the court.Set a character to your offense.Like with Sactown,U know its gonna be Motion-type offense or with Orlando its goona be a Half Court set type.
    3.Put a muzzle on Larry Brown
    Last time I checked a coach can’t demand a trade.Ask Dolan to talk quietly to LB and tell him to stop undermining his players in the media.
    4.Accept that Curry’s not gonna be Baby Shaq
    Let’s face it.Eddy’s never gonna be a difference making C in this league.He’s about as good as Zy and we should accept that.
    5.Get Q-Rich back in the game
    Q’s been one of the greatest busts of this season.Work him up in the offseason and get him back to his Pho shooting touch.
    And most importantly,DO NOT THINK OF LETTING ZEKE NEAR ANOTHER TEAM’S GM FOR A TRADE.Or better yet, pay the luxury tax from his salary.:)

  25. PTC

    Let me start by saying in some respect all parties are to blame…including a fan base that seems to be impatient with growing pains. That said, here is my post.

    In my view owners worry about owner-type stuff (money.); the GM worries about whatever the owner tells him to worry about; and the players worry about winning..in addition they have other issues to deal with: Image, reputation, how their stats impact their next contract, ect. While fans don’t like that players worry about this….they do and they always have. And I think it’s totally naive to think that the Pistons don’t care about stats but the Knicks do. Winning is a great deodorant.

    In my view it is the coaches singular job to care about one thing: wins. He doesn’t control the cap or how much people pay for a cheap seat. He doesn’t worry about how the team’s scoring average impacts his future contract negotiation. The only thing that matters is winning.

    Why Brown is the most to blame for this situation is because he allowed his ego and reputation to cloud his thinking about one fundamental question: What situation puts my CURRENT players in the best position to win ball games?

    He shouldn’t worry about what players would he rather have. Or what style does HE think SHOULD win games. He needs to look at his team and hide the problems and expose the strengths. I submit that no coach this season has done a worse job of this than Brown. In fact, if I didn’t know better I would think he TRIES to expose our problems and hide our strengths because as we fall, when we build back up to mediocrity he can claim full credit.

    “It wasn’t Zekes players, it wasn’t Dolan’s money. They had all that before I got here. No, the reason we got better was me.”

    Why were his rotations so horrid? Why did he juggle starters for MONTHS. Not a few games or a few weeks…but months? Why did he take offensive minded players and slow down the offense by making a system that didn’t fit the strengths, and then tell them to commit to defense?

    In my view he should have done what Bill Parcells did when he got the Patriots. He had Bledsoe throw 45 times a game. He then came out and said honesty “Hey, I don’t like this style and it’s only as long term as is necessary to change personale, but this is what gives us the best shot to win games NOW.”

    But Brown DIDN’T do that. He whined about how our players sucked. He moaned about all the imperfections and then he totally lost his team. Now, while I admit we do not have good defensive players, at least had he run the offense the players wanted they would, in theory, at the very least put some effort in the defense. Yes they might suck, but they would try because they wouldn’t be miserable every time they saw Browns face. What ended up happening was we have bad defenders who DON’T try because they hate the coach.

    People can blame Dolan, but I think he helps as much as hurts. In my view his mistakes in hiring are made up by the fact that he puts his money where his mouth is. Being a Knick fan means never having to have to let great young players go because of money. Or letting a franchise player go because you don’t want to pay the luxury tax. People can underrate that as much as they want but if our 3 rookies had all been superstars, there is only one team that would give all 3 max deals when the contracts came up…..US. So, yes Dolan is an idiot, but he’s a rich one and that makes him more valuable than 1/2 the owners in the NBA.

    People can blame Zeke and lord knows he deserves some. However, all you need to do is compare the roster he got when he got here (and coach for that matter) and put that roster next to the one he has now….with the coach he has now. Is the team perfect? No. Is it as good on the court as it looked in Zekes head? No. But his job is to bring in better talent than he was left with and, when you take into account what he had to work with, while he isn’t showing he’s a genius, he isn’t the reason we are THIS bad right NOW. AND…I’ll take his last 4 draft picks with any other GM’s last 4 draft picks especially when you see how late most of them were made.

    Brown is the main, not sole, but main problem with this team. His ego, his inflexibility, and quite possibly his interesting penchant for sabotage have hurt this team.

    As far as what to do now it’s simple: Either give Larry every player he wants (which seems to me would be 12 Eric Snows), or get rid of him and bring in a coach that cooks with the ingredients he has instead of complaining about why he doesn’t have X,Y,or Z.

  26. Molson

    haha. The Knicks are the worst team in any level of professional basketball. I delight in seeing them spiral into a horrible mess. It is even better to know that they don’t even get to reap the benefits of being so bad.. given that the Brain traded their pick to Chicago.

    Tell Thomas that I’ve got a nice piece of oceanfront property in Idaho for him as soon as he is interested….

  27. John

    Its been said plenty of times on this blog, but Isiah’s main problem is that he doesn’t know how to build a team with role-players. Yes, the trades have all been upgrades talent wise, but they have been for guys that are strong offensively and offer little else. This roster is full of guys who can score (Francis, Marbury, J Rose, Curry, Frye, Crawford, Q Rich, etc.), but we have no dominant rebounder, distributing point guard, inside defensive shot blocking threat, or solid wing defender (although Richardson has shown flashes). You can’t solely blame Isiah for all the bad long term contracts, as Dolan gave him free reign to make all those signings. But he is responsible for the current team makeup, which again includes a coach who is clearly talented, but one who doesn’t fit (and hasn’t made any effort to do so) with the makeup of this team. You’d think Isiah built the Knicks roster using nothing but NBA Live ’05 player rankings. What’s worse is that this offseason, Thomas will be aiming to make a big trade to shake things up after a terrible season. Scary.

  28. Seth

    I can take 3 or more losing seasons that end in lottery visits. What I cant take are 3 or more losing seasons that end WITHOUT lottery visits and add to the bulging salary. There needs to be light at the end of this tunnel.

  29. mase

    Its not LB’s fault.

    If you have to lay blame then look no further than the guy who hired him…LB is the type of coach who is always going to be unpopular with his approach but in the end his track record speaks for itself. As a professional you have to deal or be dealt.

    Isiah’s moves make no sense. He hires Marbury and then undermines his conifdence by acquiring guys who play exactly the same position and have the equally undesirable contracts, Craw, Q, Rose, Francis…explain the psychology behind that?

  30. Seth

    Isiah is certainly culpable, but how is Brown’s track record applicable at all? If you want to talk about undermining confidence, look no further than Brown’s sleazy shots at Marbury…spoken to the media rather than to Steph himself. Brown simply doesn’t handle his business like a man.

  31. PTC

    Mase

    It’s only relevant to blame Zeke as much as YOU think the players he got aren’t the ones he should have got.

    But I caution you in that evaluating to remember what Thomas had to work with WHEN he got here. You claim that most of our players are flawed in ways that can’t be fixed, but remember that to get most of those players Thomas was dealing guys like Spoon, Van Horn, ect.

    My point is what did you expect him to get for the crap he given when he got here?

    I have NO problem bashing the guy for the James signing. I have no problem bashing the guy for the trade that brought Tiny Tim Thomas here.

    My point is that if you accept we had no financial flexibility to sign guys (we didn’t and that wasn’t his fault) and you accept that the player he inherited were garbage (they were), then the question becomes about what YOU think is a resonable expectation about what kinds of players he could have brought in.

    If you and I are sitting at a dinner table and I trade you a steak for a steak…that makes sense. But if all I have on my plate is a pile of dog crap then what can I really expect to get in return?

    Knock Marbury all we want, but do you even remember what we gave up to get him?

    I DO blame Thomas for his desperate coaching move, however just because Brown was “wrong” for the team it doesn’t excuse Brown actually being this horrid. And Thomas had no way of knowing Brown would be THIS amazingly awful.

    Where I think people go wrong here in evaluation is they look at the players Thomas brought in as if it all happened in a vaccuum. They make the mistake of thinking these are the exact players Thomas wants. They aren’t. They are the players Thomas wants THAT HE WAS ABLE TO GET. And he had almost no assets to get players in the first place.

    To be honest the fact he got Marbury and Francis in the first place is a tiny miricle. One that Brown is flush down the toliet because he refuses to use them properly.

    The players mistakes Thomas has made have been small. Mistakes like spending his MLE on inferior players. But the BIG moves were dictated by what he had on the shelf to give up. And it’s a fact that Layden left him with almost NOTHING to work with.

    And without opening up a whole other can of worms, expiring contracts are overrated vis a vis their ability to acquire top-notch talent.

  32. KnickerBlogger Post author

    “Knock Marbury all we want, but do you even remember what we gave up to get him?”

    Cap relief, any chance of rebuilding properly, etc.

    “Where I think people go wrong here in evaluation is they look at the players Thomas brought in as if it all happened in a vaccuum. They make the mistake of thinking these are the exact players Thomas wants. They aren?t. They are the players Thomas wants THAT HE WAS ABLE TO GET. And he had almost no assets to get players in the first place.”

    Sometimes the best deal is the one you don’t make. To take your dinner analogy, Isiah has traded his doggy crap for a bigger pile of doggy crap and has tattoo’d the word doggy crap on his forehead. No one would be mad at this team if they were a 20 win team with a bunch of expiring contracts, but a 20 win team with no cap relief in site….

    BTW, PTC your post on Larry Brown was dead on. It could have been an article in it of itself. I just think that there is plenty of blame to go around.

  33. PTC

    “Sometimes the best deal is the one you don?t make. To take your dinner analogy, Isiah has traded his doggy crap for a bigger pile of doggy crap and has tattoo?d the word doggy crap on his forehead. No one would be mad at this team if they were a 20 win team with a bunch of expiring contracts, but a 20 win team with no cap relief in site?.

    BTW, PTC your post on Larry Brown was dead on. It could have been an article in it of itself. I just think that there is plenty of blame to go around. ”

    I’ll try to be as efficient with my words as possible.

    I don’t disagree with your post except as much as it’s actually Thomas’ fault. The problem with knocking all of Thomas’ moves outright is that it works under the assumption that Thomas makes decisions based on what is right for the team.

    This is where the talking heads like Bill Simmons show their ignorance. And I don’t mean stupidity, I mean it as I wrote it.

    What Simmons seems to not get is that the direction for the team is set by Dolan and Thomas has to work WITHIN that structure. Once the dual moves of signing Houston and makign the McDyess trade happened this team signed on the dotted line to “win now”.

    Thomas is trying to make the best moves for the team, but in a sense it’s with one arm tied behind his back because of the mandate he is given by Dolan.

    This does not excuse his mistakes. The James signing and so on. But it does excuse the Marbury move, the Jamal move, the Curry move, and some others in which the main argument AGAINST the move is that it hurts our long term interest. Which is the ground you covered when talking about the Marbs move and letting the contracts come off the table.

    Now, we can blame Thomas for not having the gravitas to be able to convince Dolan of the right way to do things, but once we understand the reality that he can’t and we are judging his moves we MUST judge those moves in regards to what he had to work with and what his bosses are telling him to do.

    Where I agree with you is that this team would have been much better off if long term thinking had prevalied in 2000. But it didn’t and Im not wholly convniced that this is the sole fault of the GM.

    The moves to get guys like marbury is only a mistake in as much as you have other deals in place to quickly shed the salary to make us more cap friendly. Since there is no evidence that such a plan would be allowed I can’t knock the Marbury deal even though I fully realize that most fans (if they were in 100% control) would NOT have done the move and instead slashed salary all over the place.

    Where Mase and I disagree is that he views the fault with the talent base of this team. And so the GM and players get the blame because they are the talent and talent acquirers.

    My view is that the talent upgrade is extreme compared to the Layden years and I think the talent has been so misused (and in some cases mentally destroyed) that what is left is a team that other coaches think might be the “best worst team ever.”

    I agree with you that there is plenty of blame to go around, but we are talking about the results of this year and the person with the most control over all the parts that go into the wins and losses THIS YEAR is Larry Brown. Thomas can only control the players he gets. The players can only control their individual self. Brown controls the strategy of the team, the tactics of the team as a whole, and the philosophy of the gameplan. In essesence he controls what the team gets out of itself.

    No team has gotten less out of more than the Knicks. No team has been a bigger bust on the court. And I would submit that no coach has created as hostile and choatic an atmosphere as Brown.

    In my view the only question is not if Brown failed, but by how much….and more importantly…why?

    But that’s my humble opinon.

  34. Marc R

    “Cap relief, any chance of rebuilding properly, etc.”

    What does “rebuilding properly” really mean? I understand that some teams are able to get good by being terrible for a few years, but how many? The Bulls have been bad for many years, and mediocre for a few, but are they really close to a title? Are the Clippers? The Warriors?

    You can say that those teams did not draft well, but that wasn’t obvious at the time they made their picks. The fact is, rebuilding through the draft is a huge gamble because there are so few accurate predictors for NBA success, either in college, foreign leagues, or high school. Classic Moneyball thinking.

    So what did the teams that are successful do? Let’s look at the top teams over the last few years: Detroit, LA Lakers, Phoenix, Dallas, Miami, Indiana, and San Antonio. Well, one thing it helps to do is to have Shaq on your team. There’s only one Shaq though (and evidently no Baby Shaq) so that’s not very helpful. As far as I can tell only one of those teams really created their team by being bad over a few years and getting good draft picks: Phoenix. The others made one lucky or, to be charitable, prescient draft pick: Wade, Kobe, Dirk, Duncan. (San Antonio is a bit unusual because they have great homegrown players, but only one was a lottery pick.)

    The rest of those teams was created largely by using smart trades, not through free agency. (Admittedly, Nash and Shaq (to LA) arrived via free agency, but Shaq was 8 years ago and Nash appears to have been the lone example where a max-level free agent propelled a team to championship caliber.) So the Knicks’ strategy of using trades to build the team (and smart late-round draft picks) doesn’t seem that out of line with the successful teams. In any event, there aren’t a lot of teams that have successfully built to a championship level using the draft and cap room.

    So why hasn’t it worked for the Knicks (yet)? One reason, that is becoming more widely held, is that Larry Brown is currently an abominable coach. Also, obviously, some of the trades have been terrible. (I’m looking at you Stevie and, Malik, you’re lucky you brought David Lee with you.) But one of the things that most of the teams listed above (other than Dallas and, perhaps, Miami) share is that they have played together for awhile and have learned to play as a team. I think that would help the Knicks cut down on the turnovers and would help them trust each other on defense.

    So what is my answer? Fire Brown, of course. Try and dump Stevie. And let the players play.

  35. Marc R

    Actually, I should admit that Denver is the one team that has combined high draft picks, max-free agent signing, and astute trades. They haven’t contended over a long period yet and, given K-Mart’s health and Nene’s imminent departure, it’s not clear they will. But, I’ll concede that they are the one example of a team that has “rebuilt properly.”

  36. Raskolnikov

    It seems not to be the popular sentiment here, but I’m squarely on Brown’s side of how to handle things. The only way to get this ship turned around is to get to get rid of Isiah and to salvage as much as possible from the horrible moves he’s made. Then perhaps we can build a strong foundation from which to move the franchise forward.

    The idiocy of each of IT’s moves have been discussed and detailed. They are familiar to Knicks fans. And as much as the team needs stability, an overhaul of the core is a higher priority. Francis, JRose, and Marbury absolutely kill you with their lack of leadership and their horrid defense. A team can’t go anywhere when those three are considered your leaders. MRose, Q-Rich, and Taylor need to be dumped for whatever can be gotten. The two draft picks and the young players that are on the roster right now should be the direction of where the Knicks need to go towards. Fortunately, finding young hungry players who will hustle on D, even if they are less athletic, is not that hard.

    Some of the players have quit on the season, and the sad thing is that it isn’t shocking who they are. They should not be back next year.

  37. mase

    everyone thinks its Larry Brown’s fault? that’s totally ridiculous.
    They shouldn’t have hired him!

    “Where Mase and I disagree is that he views the fault with the talent base of this team. And so the GM and players get the blame because they are the talent and talent acquirers.”

    Please tell me where its written that the job of a GM is to ‘upgrade the talent level’ at the expense of winning now as well as later?

  38. PTC

    “Please tell me where its written that the job of a GM is to ?upgrade the talent level? at the expense of winning now as well as later?”

    Well mase im not sure what this question is actually asking.

    I laid out my case. The GM has the job of getting the talent. The Owner has the job of paying the talent. The coach, however, has the job of creating strategy and tactics that help the team play together and WIN.

    Obviously, this team isn’t a title contender because of the players we have…and that’s a reflection of Thomas.

    The question is: Are we producing the results (i.e the record) that we should for the talent we have?

    I have seen no Knick fan that actually believes our record is a true indicator of the talent we have.

    So if our talent dictates that we should have more wins then, to me, that lets Thomas off the hook.

    Again, the GM’s job is to improve the talent from when he got here to now. Thomas has done it and I still think people are totally underrating how bad it was when he got here.

    Brown should have squeezed more wins from this bunch and I think one can make the case he has been the worst coach this season. If someone disagrees lay out the argument so I can tear it apart.

    As far as Raskolnikov degrading Marbury, Rose and Francis…here is what I’d like to see.

    Line up Marbury, Rose and Francis against the players they were traded for (from our side) and then make the case that the players we traded away provide more value to ANY team than the 3 we got.

    The case will be very weak and very hallow.

    Is anyone here honestly making the case that Ariza, Penny, Lampe, a partridge in a pear tree, and the THEN corpse of Antonio McDyess actually provide more value to a team than Francis, Marbury and Rose?

    If someone wants to make the case we could have gotten better/different players for the guys we dealt away that’s a case I can buy. But I don’t see the case that all the crap we traded to get these guys could have actually gotten us better players. And I haven’t see that case made.

  39. PTC

    “So what is my answer? Fire Brown, of course. Try and dump Stevie. And let the players play.”

    I don’t understand the rush to get rid of Steve Francis. I don’t think it’s out of line to say that if you look at his WHOLE body of work he is a great player. He also, like Marbury, is one of the few player who has actually tried to change his game for an idiot coach who doesn’t get the fact that it’s a players league.

    I think Steve should get one year of starting on the Knicks before anyone decides his fate. For a team without a dominant rebounding big man I think it’s imperative on a team like that to get team rebounding from all over the place. One thing Steve can do is board really well for a PG.

    Also call me naive but I actually think a smart coach could get Marbury and Francis to co-exist in the same backcourt. Will the defense be hurt? Sure. But it isn’t as if our other SG’s are locking anyone down either….and Francis can score and board better than any of them.

    Im not saying it WILL work, but I’d give it more of a shot than Brown has.

  40. Marc R

    Well, Francis and Marbury will have to coexist in the same backcourt next year because they have truly untradeable contracts. So, here’s hopin’.

  41. Gorky

    We’re definitely getting rid of Marbury. That’s the only possible explanation for getting Stevie, who’s almost the same player. They can’t play together, or Brown doesn’t want to play them together, and he’s the one who wanted Steve Francis. I just hope that Atlanta or Minnesota are desperate enough to take on Marbury.

  42. mase

    The GM got this particular ‘talent’ together including a very talented coach therefore assembling ‘talent’ is not getting it done, wouldn’t you agree?

    “The question is: Are we producing the results (i.e the record) that we should for the talent we have?”

    who cares if we’re underachieving?
    The goal is not to underachieve or overachieve but to be in a position to contend and thats the job of the GM not the coach.

    Also, Its premature to say that Brown’s entire resume should be thrown out the window in lieu of one miserable season because his tenure is just starting. Personally I dont care for Brown and his style of bashing players in the media but Isiah is no prize pig either and is definately more more at fault than Brown for this situation.

    If the Knicks turn it around next year and somehow have a foreseeable future it will be the work of someone else as the GM… hello KIKI!

  43. Raskolnikov

    As far as Raskolnikov degrading Marbury, Rose and Francis?here is what I?d like to see.

    Line up Marbury, Rose and Francis against the players they were traded for (from our side) and then make the case that the players we traded away provide more value to ANY team than the 3 we got.

    The case will be very weak and very hallow.

    Is anyone here honestly making the case that Ariza, Penny, Lampe, a partridge in a pear tree, and the THEN corpse of Antonio McDyess actually provide more value to a team than Francis, Marbury and Rose?

    If this were a 3-on-3 pickup game or a fantasy league matchup, perhaps you may have a point. But the reality isn’t either case. What people are alternately furious at and mocking Isiah about – and with good reason – is that he makes moves as if he were playing Fantasy League after taking crack. I suspect that Brown is subtly pointing this out by his personnel moves late in the season (not that I would have gone with such a route, but it does emphasize the point for those unaware).

    Marbury, Rose, and Francis cannot coexist together for several reasons, the foremost being that none of them play any perimeter D. Not average perimeter D. Not below average perimeter D. Atrocious perimeter D. Having one lousy defender is bad enough. Having 3 together is suicide in the NBA.

    Marbury is a very good point guard, but he’s not good enough to be the best player on a team and serve as the primary scorer *if* the goal is to win a championship. Hence, LB tried to modify his shoot-first game to a pass-first game, resulting in the ensuing friction. In the long run, this is for the betterment of the team, but in the short run this leads to a highly volatile situation. The resolution of which depends on the flexibility of the coach and the maturity of the player. Neither has been demonstrated either quality so far.

    Francis is a great talent, and a good ballplayer. He is a detriment to this team. He is *terribly* situated right now because there is no incentive for him to give more of himself. The season is shot. He was brought in midway, and he might be dealt in the offseason so he isn’t invested in what has gone on so far. There is little incentive for him to work his butt off for the remaining 10 games. Furthermore, his attitude has never been confused with Tim Duncan’s, and it shouldn’t surprised any of us that he has basically quit. Given time, he might be useful here, but there are many reservations I have about being patient with Francis as an option.

    JRose is a negative for the Knicks. He is not a very good player as a total package. For this current situation, he is a terrible fit. He also has little incentive to bust his butt for the team right now. He’s never played much D. He does give the Knicks their best perimeter shooter, and occasionally those flashes help key Knicks’ runs. However, he takes too much off the table to compensate. In a team making a playoff run (Sac, Denver, NJ), Rose makes a lot of sense as a player off the bench. For a basement team which is struggling on defense and is inexperienced, his leads to more problems than it solves.

    These are only three players I’ve discussed and why they don’t fit. I could talk more about each of them. I could talk more about other players (Curry, Taylor, Crawford, etc). I won’t for the sake of brevity. These 3 are supposed to be the Knicks’ 3 key veterans. Think about that. If the flaws of such blunders can be obvious to any fan, how could it not have been obvious to Isiah Thomas before he pulled the trigger on these moves??

  44. Jacob

    > Marbury is a very good point guard, but he?s not
    > good enough to be the best player on a team and
    > serve as the primary scorer *if* the goal is to
    > win a championship.

    Well said. I did some quick research on the impact Marbury has had on the 4 teams he’s played with. Generally speaking:

    - He makes his teams more efficient offensively; they commit less turnovers and shoot a higher percentage.

    - He’s especially good at improving the perimeter players’ efficiency, not so good at improving inside player’s efficiency.

    - He makes his teams worse defensively.

    In other words, Marbury is a big offensive talent, but not a complete player, and this makes him a challenging championship centerpiece at best. You’d have to surround him with Ben Wallace, David West, Joe Johnson and Bruce Bowen to overcome his shortcomings (and play into his strengths).

    Personally, I don’t understand why a former ballplayer like Isiah doesn’t see this. Eddy Curry, Steve Francis and Jalen Rose are about the worst matches with Marbury you could dream up.

  45. PTC

    “Well said. I did some quick research on the impact Marbury has had on the 4 teams he?s played with. Generally speaking:

    - He makes his teams more efficient offensively; they commit less turnovers and shoot a higher percentage.

    - He?s especially good at improving the perimeter players? efficiency, not so good at improving inside player?s efficiency.

    - He makes his teams worse defensively.”

    Im not sure I follow. That would mean that Steve Nash is a worse offensive player and better defensive player than Marbury for what you said to be true (unless you aren’t including PHX in this).

    I would find that interesting because I think the exact opposite is true. Nash helps a teams offense more, while Marbury IS a better defender than Nash.

  46. PTC

    Mase

    I liked your post but I still disagree.

    What you have done is try to make an argument that the players we have not are not superstar players. I don’t know many people here who are gonna fight you on that.

    But that isn’t the issue.

    The issue is: Are guys like Rose, Marbury, and Francis upgrades in talent over the men they were dealt for…Penny, McDyess, Ect.

    I would be interested in someone posting our exact roster before Thomas and our roster today and then going name-by-name, stat-by-stat and make the case taht our roster hasn’t improved in age, stats, and talent.

    I don’t think it can be done.

    The only argument I see even debatable here is what were Browns expectations going into this season that show that he hasn’t disappointed us. The argument that we arent better today than when Thomas got here is just not an argument I can see anyone rationally making…though Im open to anyone giving it a go.

    My view vis a vis Brown would be that our talent in 05-06 improved over our talent in 04-05 and yet we are MUCH worse. Someone explain that to me and I might be willing to give Brown a break.

    Funny thing is…nobody really can.

  47. KnickerBlogger Post author

    “Thomas is trying to make the best moves for the team, but in a sense it?s with one arm tied behind his back because of the mandate he is given by Dolan.

    This does not excuse his mistakes. The James signing and so on. But it does excuse the Marbury move, the Jamal move, the Curry move, and some others in which the main argument AGAINST the move is that it hurts our long term interest. ”

    I think this is where we disagree. I don’t see Isiah as some poor schlep of his circumstances, forced by Dolan to build a winner now. I’m sure during the interview process it was made clear to Isiah that the Knicks front office wanted to win now. And yet he took the job anyway. This isn’t Mitch McDeere in the Firm.

    In this sense, Isiah Thomas is just as guilty as Dolan for the mess the Knicks are in. I’m pretty sure all Isiah had to say “hey boss Eddy Curry is only 23 years old, but with his bad rebounding an no defense he isn’t worth all those picks & that long contract.”

  48. KnickerBlogger Post author

    “So what did the teams that are successful do? Let?s look at the top teams over the last few years: Detroit, LA Lakers, Phoenix, Dallas, Miami, Indiana, and San Antonio.”

    Phoenix drafted two studs in Amare & Marion, and dumped their bad contracts (Penny & Marbury) to rebuild. San Antonio wouldn’t have been a powerhouse if they didn’t draft Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Dallas would have been nowhere without drafting Dirk Nowitzki.

    Although they have Shaq, Miami wouldn’t be an Eastern powerhouse without drafting Dwayne Wade. L.A. didn’t draft Kobe, and Indy didn’t draft Jermaine O’Neal, but for all intentents they got them early enough to build around.

    Detroit did it with shrewed building. They didn’t draft Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, or Rip Hamilton, but they didn’t strangle themselves with the cap or giving out draft picks irresponsibly to do it. In fact when they had those guys (& drafted Tayshaun Prince) they were able to use their favorable cap situation to grab Rasheed Wallace & Antonio McDyess.

    So it looks like a good way to rebuild is to draft a stud, or look for bargains and be flexible. That’s pretty much the antithesis of what the Knicks have done over the last few years.

  49. KronicFatigue

    —–I would be interested in someone posting our exact roster before Thomas and our roster today and then going name-by-name, stat-by-stat and make the case taht our roster hasn?t improved in age, stats, and talent.—–

    But, if we looked at the knicks expected 2007,2008, 2009 rosters before and after Isiah, the picture would be different.

    Every season, i look at the roster and think “ok, if they can just wait it out until year ____, they can rebuild”. the problem is that year keeps getting pushed further away.

  50. Harlemnitez

    Yo, ain’t no way no how we lettin’ the Raptors overtake the Division next year. I heard theyze be signing Big Ben Wallace ’cause he likes Colangelo (Raps GM). If dat happens, they gonna have Wallace and Bosh up front (2 all-stars) with Charlie V. Mike James and Mo Pete in the backcourt. Yo wazzup with that?

  51. Knicks4eva

    I don’t know what you’re talking about ‘HarlemNitez’, but this is a site for KNICKS fans. We don’t want to hear about the Raptors, no matter how amazing they are going to be next year. I also read that Ben Wallace is almost confirmed for the Raps, and yes that would give them a ridiculous frontcourt package, but please my man, stick with the issues like how Larry Brown is going to play Isiah Thomas at the 5 spot while cycling Vince Carter to the 3-guard?

  52. Jeterfan

    What both of you don’t understand is that the Knicks will let Thomas play the 5 only if Vince stops shootin’ threes on the perimiter. Having a GM as a point-guard is gonna be tough, but think about the rebounds for the other team! Nobody ever thinks about the rebounds for the other team! Peace Dogs, I’m going to West 51st streetto meet Angela for some Pizza.

  53. Marc R

    KB, your stuff is usually great, but I have to continue to disagree with you here.

    “Phoenix drafted two studs in Amare & Marion, and dumped their bad contracts (Penny & Marbury) to rebuild. San Antonio wouldn?t have been a powerhouse if they didn?t draft Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Dallas would have been nowhere without drafting Dirk Nowitzki.”

    –As I said in my original post, Phoenix does appear to be the ONE example of success with lottery drafting and then max-level free agent signing. Not exactly a trend and may be the result of either extreme genius or extreme luck. After all, both of those stud picks were selected with the ninth pick. With comparable picks, we got Channing Frye and Michael Sweetney. Both were probably close to the best players available, but neither are likely to be “stud” players. As for Tim Duncan, I haven’t seen too many Duncans in the next few drafts and, in any case, tanking a season or two didn’t work for Boston who instead ended up with Chauncey Billups (long long before he was CHAUNCEY BILLUPS) and Ron Mercer instead of their rightful Tim Duncan. As for Dirk, many an NBA fan has been disappointed to learn that the “next Nowitzki” that his team signed actually turned into the next Lampe. Also doesn’t seem like a viable plan to me. Finally, Ginobili and Tony Parker were drafted with comparably low picks, the likes of which the Knicks own and seem to use well.

    “Although they have Shaq, Miami wouldn?t be an Eastern powerhouse without drafting Dwayne Wade. L.A. didn?t draft Kobe, and Indy didn?t draft Jermaine O?Neal, but for all intentents they got them early enough to build around.”

    –Agreed about the Heat and Dwyane may be more valuable than Shaq. But they do have Shaq and without him I think they’re a good team, but not a contender. In any case, what’s the lesson from the Heat? Hope you get lucky in the lottery one year? Well, the Knicks are following that one as well, with probably the second or third best pick in last year’s lottery, as Dwyane was for his year. KB, were you being intentionally ironic about Jermaine O’Neal? The Pacers got him after 4 years with Portland and just when he started to show his potential. The Knicks did the same with Eddy Curry. Maybe they, like the Pacers, are doing it the right way then?

    “Detroit did it with shrewed building. They didn?t draft Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, or Rip Hamilton, but they didn?t strangle themselves with the cap or giving out draft picks irresponsibly to do it. In fact when they had those guys (& drafted Tayshaun Prince) they were able to use their favorable cap situation to grab Rasheed Wallace & Antonio McDyess.”

    –So what’s the lesson from Detroit? Be shrewd? OK, I’m with you so far. But it’s not a great argument for being under the cap. McDyess was signed with the MLE and Rasheed was acquired via a complicated three-team trade. Both of those things can happen when you’re over the cap, as the trade-happy Knicks have shown. And, by the way, the Pistons threw in their 2004 first-round pick for Rasheed and it became either Tony Allen or Delonte West (and Kevin Martin was nabbed by Sacramento with the next pick).

    “So it looks like a good way to rebuild is to draft a stud, or look for bargains and be flexible. That?s pretty much the antithesis of what the Knicks have done over the last few years.”

    –I think it’s pretty clear that “drafting a stud” is easier said than done, considering the numerous teams that passed on Marion, Amare, and Dirk (hell, even Dumars drafted Darko instead of Dwyane) and the fact that all-time greats like Duncan and Shaq don’t come around every year. Also, the Knicks don’t seem to have to look for bargains since their owner doesn’t mind such an enormous payroll. They do need players that mesh together well though, of course, or at least a coach that cares about winning more than he cares about his ego.

  54. Raskolnikov

    I would be interested in someone posting our exact roster before Thomas and our roster today and then going name-by-name, stat-by-stat and make the case taht our roster hasn?t improved in age, stats, and talent.

    I don?t think it can be done.

    Fortunately for Knicks fans, it can be done and it has been done. An excellent analysis countering this exact point has been done by Harlan Schreiber at Hoopsanalyst. His piece can be found at

    http://www.hoopsanalyst.com/0506tra9.htm

    To quote Schreiber – “This hypothetical team couldn’t be worse than the actual 2005-06 Knicks AND the team would’ve saved about $50 million in salary (plus another $50 million in luxury taxes) AND the Knicks would’ve been under the cap going into next year (and well under the cap for the summer of 2007 when a ton of big names become free agents).”

    To put this in perspective, if the Knicks had appointed Terri Schiavo as the GM after Layden, we would be in a better situation than we are now.

  55. Raskolnikov

    As for Tim Duncan, I haven?t seen too many Duncans in the next few drafts

    That comment fits so well with the recent McD’s All Star Game. The Curry trade could end up being an absolute disaster of the Knicks. I’m not so upset about losing the no.1 overall pick (even though that was stupid). What irritates me is that with the flipping of the 2007 No.1 picks, Isiah gave up any chance of the Knicks drafting Greg Oden. It’s the type of blunder that can haunt a franchise.

    The 2007 pick swap is the move that should be pissing off Knicks fans. Greg Oden looks like the most anticipated and promising big man since Tim Duncan, and the Knicks now have no chance of drafting him.

  56. PTC

    Fortunately for Knicks fans, it can be done and it has been done. An excellent analysis countering this exact point has been done by Harlan Schreiber at Hoopsanalyst. His piece can be found at

    http://www.hoopsanalyst.com/0506tra9.htm

    To quote Schreiber – ?This hypothetical team couldn?t be worse than the actual 2005-06 Knicks AND the team would?ve saved about $50 million in salary (plus another $50 million in luxury taxes) AND the Knicks would?ve been under the cap going into next year (and well under the cap for the summer of 2007 when a ton of big names become free agents).?

    No he didn’t do at all what I suggested. He made the species statement that HE doesn’t think it could get any worse. That isn’t anaylsis that’s guess work…at best.

    What he really shows more than anything is how our cap situatuion got worse. Frankly, I totally agree with him on that, but that isn’t what our debate here is about.

    What our debate is about is if he improved the talent.

    But don’t take my word, please folks go to the site and see for yourself. He doesn’t prove what Rask is claiming he is proving in the slightest.

    His “proof” amounts to him saying he thinks it couldnt be any worse than it is now. And puts up some salary numbers to that talks about the cap.

    I could put up or cap numbers and say that I think it COULD get worse. It would be no different.

    So again I ask:

    Someone honestly tell me that guys like Penny ,spoon, Shanden Anderson, Eisley and Ward are better than Crawford, Curry, Francis, Marbury.

    It can’t be done.

  57. PTC

    I think this is where we disagree. I don?t see Isiah as some poor schlep of his circumstances, forced by Dolan to build a winner now. I?m sure during the interview process it was made clear to Isiah that the Knicks front office wanted to win now. And yet he took the job anyway. This isn?t Mitch McDeere in the Firm.

    In this sense, Isiah Thomas is just as guilty as Dolan for the mess the Knicks are in. I?m pretty sure all Isiah had to say ?hey boss Eddy Curry is only 23 years old, but with his bad rebounding an no defense he isn?t worth all those picks & that long contract.?

    Couple points:

    1) I agree that Thomas knew the rules of the game before he started to play. That was never in question. What is in question is: Given the tools he had to change the roster over, has he done a better than horrid job of it?

    I would say given the players he had here, that he did.

    That is NOT to say he hasn’t made mistakes and frankly I think it’s up to a GM to convince the owner that what the owner wants now is not in the best interest of the club.

    But Im working under the assumption that Thomas didn’t have the gravitas to move Dolan on that issue.

    I guess what I would ask is:

    If you don’t like Francis, what better player could Thomas have gotten for the pile of crap we gave up?

    If you don’t like Marbury, what better player could Thomas have reasonably gotten for the pile of crap we gave up?

    If you don’t like the Jamal thing, knowning that Houston was going downhill and that we needed a SG fast (remember he IS told to win now) what SG that offseason would you reasonably think he could have gotten?

    I don’t see the argument.

    The problem with this debate, it seems, is that we are going in 2 different directions and it’s going to make my argument seem duplicitious.

    1) If the argument is between gutting the team and totally rebuilding OR doing what Thomas did…then I agree that we should have gutted the team. Thats basically the argument made by Schreibler, the link that Rask ponited out. I agree with that arguement and won’t defend Thomas.

    2) If the argument is simply: Has Thomas improved the talent enough to keep his job? Then I would say he has and the argument that he hasn’t has yet to be made by anyone. That is to say nobody has said why the bums we dealt are better than the guys we have now.

    So it’s a little tricky. Your debate with me seems to revolve mostly around “Did Thomas do the best thing for the Knicks?” And I can’t debate that one because I don’t think he did.

    What Im saying is that the reason he couldn’t came from on high and I think it’s commonly accepted that Dolan DID/DOES dictate the overall team direction.

    My debate with Rask seems to revolve around the fault for our teams woes. His point seems to be that it lies with THomas because Thomas hasn’t gotten good players.

    I would say he has gotten good players when you take into account what he had to work with and that the fault is that Brown did very little with the talent he had.

    So this thread seems to be working in a few different directions and I wanted to clairfy where I stood.

    Certainly, if I were Thomas I either wouldn’t have taken the job or I would have convinced Dolan that a total scrap and rebuild was the only way back to greatness.

    But that isn’t the reality Thomas was working with so Im trying to be fair to his ACTUAL situation not the sitautuion we all would like it to have been.

    In essence Im trying to cut down on the Monday Morning Quarterbacking because most of it comes from the vantage point of what he should have done under the assumption he controlled the whole situation….and I don’t think he did.

    Lastly let me say that I am not arguing Thomas (no matter HOW constrained by Dolan he was) has done a brilliant job. Im simply arguing that he’s been adequate enough that our current state THIS SEASON is not mostly his fault.

    Its Brown’s.

  58. PTC

    “The 2007 pick swap is the move that should be pissing off Knicks fans. Greg Oden looks like the most anticipated and promising big man since Tim Duncan, and the Knicks now have no chance of drafting him.”

    I do concur with you here Rask. There is no doubt that Thomas gave up more than he should have on this trade. It didn’t impact us this year (which is where our other debate went), but unquestionably this hurt us in future years.

    To me it highlights Thomas’ arrogance. He was SO darn sure that he had built a playoff team that it didn’t dawn on him that these picks would be worth something.

    While I think with a difference coach we WOULD be in the playoffs I don’t think it’s ever smart to give up assets like that seemingly for the heck of it. I find it VERY hard to believe that this swap was mandatory to pull of the Curry deal and even if it was….that’s a reason NOT to do the Curry deal!!!

    My personal view is that Thomas has a mindset where if he wants a player he WANTS him NOW. And he does whatever it takes to get him. Sometimes thats going to help us, but in this case it certainly hurt us. And, like you, I see no reason why he had to do it. At some point you need to stop and realize that if you’re giving up too much maybe you don’t need what you thought you needed to begin with.

    What makes the Curry move so puzzling was that it was piggybacked on top of the James move. Which, to me, shows a lack of planning. If you KNEW you were going to make a huge play for Curry, why on earth would you give James that idiot contract?

    Similarly, if you really thought James was worth what you paid why would you make the Curry deal that so favored the Bulls? You could claim that the Bulls needed us way more than we needed them because the Bulls had publiclly said they were going to deal Curry because of the heart. They had put themselves into a moral box…why let them out so cheaply? It’s rare when another team gives you the upper hand in the negotiation process!!

    This post might seem a surprise since I defended Thomas prior. But again my defense of him is limited to “Has he improved the team over Layden, and considering what Layden left him?”….not “Has Thomas been a super neat-o GM?”

  59. PTC

    “He could stay in for more than one year? ”

    I say forget the Oden part of it anyhow, the issue isn’t just about Oden it’s about asset management. No matter who is there in that draft, draft picks are really important for teams that are so capped out they can’t make huge FA bids. Why on earth give up the pick (no matter who’s there) when you don’t have to?

    The main problem I have with Thomas is that his seeming hyperactivity to complete deals makes him prone to giving up “one last thing” that makes a trade fall into the other teams favor. It’s like every other Gm can get squeeze out one last drop from us to get a deal done.

    Sometimes that’s ok, but it seems to happen all the time with this guy.

  60. dave crockett

    PTC -

    I agree with a good deal of your analysis in the last couple posts, though not all the conclusions you draw.

    On Thomas: We are in agreement, I think, that Thomas–given that the decision was made and agreed between he and Dolan to NOT to tear it down–has improved the roster talent.

    However, I don’t think you can stop there. (I’m conceding that may have been the parameters of the debate. I’m speaking in a broader sense.) Just because you get the most talent in each individual trade does not mean you have put together the best available team. To my mind that is the central critique of Thomas’ tenure. He seeks to maximize the talent in each transaction, with virtually no plan for making things fit together. As a consequence some of his moves produce redundancy (e.g., Marbury and Francis), such that even the talent advantage he gets from increasing the talent base is offset because players do the same thing.

    The point you make about Thomas’ inability to manage assets, imo, is a direct consequence of his fundamental weakness: a myopic focus on maximizing the talent in each transaction without regard to broader issues of fit. (He is arrogant too but that trait is practically ubiquitous among execs of all types.) That myopia is what causes him to undervalue draft picks relative to current talent–and yet still have a great eye for young talent. It’s what causes him to make lateral moves for what he perceives to be a slightly more talented player (e.g., Tim Thomas for KVH).

  61. Marc R

    Dave-

    Other than the Eddy Curry trade (which, I agree turned out disastrous in including the no. 1 pick unprotected), I think it’s hard to say that Isiah “undervalues draft picks.” According to reports, he patiently held out for a number 1 pick from Phoenix before pulling the trigger on the Quentin Richardson trade and also patiently held out for a number 1 pick from Toronto even though the Jalen trade had been rumored for months beforehand. I know less about the Malik trade, but considering the success San Antonio has had with its late draft picks, getting two no. 1 picks from them must have been tough as well. Of course, I’d trade all those picks for the Knicks’ number 1 this year, but I really don’t think anybody foresaw this team being so horrid. A lottery team maybe, though not likely, but not worst in the league and team history.

    As for KVH for Tim Thomas, that wasn’t a lateral move. The Knicks also got Nazr Mohammed in the deal when he wasn’t exactly seen as an asset around the league. Isiah saw something there and flipped it to San Antonio for greater value (though it probably would have been better to hold him).

  62. KnickerBlogger Post author

    “KB, were you being intentionally ironic about Jermaine O?Neal? The Pacers got him after 4 years with Portland and just when he started to show his potential. The Knicks did the same with Eddy Curry. Maybe they, like the Pacers, are doing it the right way then?”

    Look at the per-40 minute stats for these two players in their first 4 seasons:

    JO: 10.0-12.5 REB/40
    EC: 7.5- 9.5 REB/40

    JO: 1.8-2.9 BLK/40
    EC: 1.3-1.8 BLK/40

    Jermaine O’Neal was better in his first 4 years than Eddy Curry in just about every important stat (for a center): rebounding, blocked shots, turnovers, fouls, etc. Curry has him beat in scoring stats. After their first 4 seasons, O’Neal showed plenty of potential, while Curry has shown a knack at scoring, but he is a liability in all these other areas which is critical for an NBA starting center.

  63. Marc R

    Hey, I didn’t say that Eddy Curry was as good as Jermaine O’Neal. I was just responding to your point that, although the Pacers didn’t drafted Jermaine, they got him early enough that they may as well have. The Knicks did the same with Curry. He’s what Hollinger calls a “second draft” guy, where a team picks him up before he starts to really show his potential.

  64. PTC

    The point you make about Thomas? inability to manage assets, imo, is a direct consequence of his fundamental weakness: a myopic focus on maximizing the talent in each transaction without regard to broader issues of fit. (He is arrogant too but that trait is practically ubiquitous among execs of all types.) That myopia is what causes him to undervalue draft picks relative to current talent?and yet still have a great eye for young talent. It?s what causes him to make lateral moves for what he perceives to be a slightly more talented player (e.g., Tim Thomas for KVH).”

    I essentially agree with your analysis Dave and it’s hard to clear up my point of view because as I posted before there are really 2 seperate debates going on.

    In as much as it relates to your point about the BIG picture, I agree with you 99.99%. Thomas has some huge weaknesses that do hurt our team on a regular basis.

    The ONLY point I might disagree with you on is that I don’t think Thomas is in the mode of trying to make the pieces fit yet, because I don’t think….let me put this a different way.

    I think rebuilding, with no cap flexibility, requires a 2 step process.

    1) Get rid of the crap and get in actual tradeable talent. Typically you can only do that by trading garbage for flawed stars or players other teams are trying to trade for NON-talent reasons.

    2) Once you upgraded the talent you can THEN deal that talent for talent that fits your needs.

    It’s the “beggars-can’t-be-choosers” philosophy. I think for what we are trading it’s more important to simply get the best talent you can first….then work out the pieces later.

    Obviously, we’d all like it if we got a different TYPE of pg or a different TYPE of SF or whatever. But when you look at what we were trading that’s asking alot for Thomas to not only upgrade the talent, but get the RIGHT talent too.

    I think the key is you upgrade the talent FIRST, then when you have players that teams actually want you can then go get the RIGHT players.

    Take the package we gave for Marbury. Is it easier to get Jason Kidd with the package we gave up for Marbury….or for Marbury himself?

    In that way I won’t hold it against Thomas yet that we don’t have all the right pieces. To me it’s enough that in just a few years we went from the Layden garbage to what we have now.

    However, I won’t excuse this stuff forever. Now that we have some talent that is tradable Thomas MUST MUST MUST get the RIGHT parts in here quickly. If he can’t do that in the next few years then it would show he’s incapable of it and it might prove it was never his intention to begin with. At THAT point I’d be with your view 100%.

    But I see him as in stage 1 of the rebuild process and I want to see an ATTEMPT at stage 2 before I conclude that he isn’t up to the task.

    Finally, I’m glad folks are seeing that my defense of Thomas is limited and not that I think he’s this great GM who gets to skate on our woes. It’s more complicated than that.

  65. Les

    “I think the key is you upgrade the talent FIRST, then when you have players that teams actually want you can then go get the RIGHT players.”

    But that’s the thing, does anyone want the players he’s gotten? Do teams really want Jerome James? Jamal Crawford? Q? Steve Francis, whom the Magic were attempting to deal all season because he was keeping touches away from Dwight Howard? They all have exorbitant long-term contracts which make them unusable for cap relief, so any team wishing to acquire a Knick would have to make that player a franchise centerpiece for years to come, which doesn’t seem too likely for any of these guys. It certainly looks like this is the roster that Isiah will have for the foreseeable future, unless he makes a trade in the offseason which sends Rose, Taylor and change to the Blazers for ZBo and Darius Miles. Which no one should put past him, seeing as the idea falls under ‘trade for as many headcases with huge contracts as possible’.

    “Take the package we gave for Marbury. Is it easier to get Jason Kidd with the package we gave up for Marbury?or for Marbury himself?”

    Um… probably the former, seeing as the Nets traded Marbury to the Suns for Kidd years ago and they promptly went to two Finals, so they saw the disparity in playmaking ability. Besides, another swap would never happen today. Have you looked at the Atlantic Division standings recently?

  66. Andrew Cohen

    if Zeke didn’t make any of his boneheaded trades we would have been under the cap next summer and signed either Lebron James or Nowitzski or both. I think the best trade he made was Van Horn-Doleac for Tim Thomas and Mohammed. To bad we don;t have a lottery pick i would have loved to see that Noah kid from Florida on the Knicks.

  67. gwb

    while i agree that brown has done a rotten job this year, it has to be said that the two main culprits for the state of the knicks are james doladn and isaiah thomas, in that order

    1. dolan- what in the world would ever have posessed this man to hire thomas, fired from every job except playing point for detriot(and it pains me to say he was damn good at that job, but ive got to give him his lone prop there.) this man has shown no managerial, coaching or business skills. he may be a decent evaluator of talent on some level, but my god, didnt they look at his resume at all before hiring him? hes been shitcanned from every important job hes ever had. he busted the cba for god sakes! why woul i hire a man to run my team, who had run an entire basketball league into the ground? he couldnt make the fake cheese at the concession stand. if he were running the nacho machine, one day id go to buy some, the cheese would be replaced with warm mucous, the price would be 80$ a tray, and a smilig thomas would serve it to me in his spiffy pink tie yellow shirt combo, all the while telling me it was better than the oter “nacho product”. this is the man that james hired. so dolan is the major culprit here.

    2. thomas. all he has to do is show up and be himself, and the good times roll baby, and they keep rollin until you have a team with two shoot firsthead case sophmoric point guards who have never done a thing of note in the postseason, a fat jerome james who was so happy to be given about sixty times his value that he hasnt been sober since they day he was signed, an arrogant weaseling coach, a pissed off fan base, no draft picks, no cap relief, and the worst record in team history knocking on the door. all he has to do is show up, and these are the results. its like the anti midas touch. anything he comes near immediately turns to poop.
    somebody please prove me wrong.

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