Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Fisher King

Kirby Lee/Getty Images

Kirby Lee/Getty Images

First of all, let me apologize for the headline. It was just too delicious a pun not to gobble it up like so many chocolate-covered cherries. If the Post/News doesn’t steal my Thunder [giggles] tomorrow by running the exact same thing, then you can put me in the pun-itentiary or at a minimum, the pun-alty box [bursts into uncontrollable peals of laughter].

Anyhoo, according to multiple reports, Derek Fisher has agreed to become the HC of the NYK. The all-seeing Panopticon of breaking NBA stories, the man they call Woj, hath twat:

And then he followed hard upon with…

Okay. A couple of things. After weeks of fretting that D-Fish (we’re trying out a bunch o’ nicknames here to start. Coming up with “Son of Wood” takes time.) would go the way of Steve “The Runaway Bride” Kerr and either jump into the warm, comforting embrace of that team with some nice beaches and pretty views of the Pacific Ocean, or return to sort-of play/sort-of coach with Kevin and Russell and Serge and all those nifty cats on the OKC Frackers, he did decide to take up Phil’s daunting challenge.

And despite all of Phil’s talk in his intro presser about “Thinking outside the box” when it came to picking a coach, the only thing outside of it was the bros in his ‘circle,’and it to be in that circle you had to run the Triangle. This guy’s got a seriously fetishistic obsession with geometric shapes, I tells ya.

That made for a relatively short short list, especially when you consider the fact that he/she also had to have played for the Lakers or Bulls (Tim Floyd was not getting a call, is what I’m saying) and eliminated your Van Gundy’s, Karl’s, Hollins’s, McMillan’s or even a name college guy like Hoiberg or Ollie from serious consideration.

To my point, here’s our buddy Howie Beck with a list of the potential assistants:

I’m sure somewhere Slava Medvedenko is wondering what the hell he did to piss Phil off. Probably never finished that copy of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. In fairness to Slava, that ish is long.

So, given the narrow strictures that Phil established, I’m totally cool with this hire. Think about this: if back in January we’d told you that by Father’s Day, Phil Jackson would be running the Knicks and Derek Fisher would be coaching, you’d have asked what substances we were imbibing. It’s still oddly unnerving to think that this is real, and that it might even work.

The fact that Fisher has zero experience might rankle, but that’s also something that Phil wanted. Jackson will be at practice and helping smooth out some of the rough patches as the team gets all Triangle-y and chemistry-y. And this way, Phil can astrally project his soul into a (relatively) empty vessel for what’s sure to be a transition year, with our without Melo. It’s Phil de facto coaching the Knicks without the physical strain of, you know, actually coaching the Knicks. Yay? Yay.

There are also lots of nice quotes from current and former players saying what a cool dude he is, and Fish certainly seems to be fairly well-regarded. He did absolutely fornicate with the canine in his stint with the NBAPA, so if you’re going to toss around the ol’ ‘leadership’ canard, that definitely needs to be mentioned too. Like Stack said:

“Derek has stepped up and has really tried to grab the reins but I think he has to go too. If you’re not aware of everything that’s happened on your watch for so long, I think the whole system is flawed. He’s talked so much about what he’s done. We have shorter salaries, a hard cap. Make sure you take credit for that, too.”

Coaching isn’t running a union, but still, we’re dealing with a pretty big unknown. Then again, what’s known ’round these parts has been almost uniformly execrable.

Lastly, the money.

No, a coach’s paycheck doesn’t count against the cap. And since this only puts a slight dent in MSG’s vault, I really don’t care how many ducats Phil/Dolan/Basic Cable Fees coughed up. It is slightly weird that he got more than Kerr even though Fish-Head was clearly Jax’s second choice.

There’s a ton of noise and very little signal at all when it comes to the exact deets of the Kerr negotiations, so there’s really no way of knowing whether A) Kerr ever gave the Knicks a chance to match Golden State’s final offer and B) whether that would have made a difference. As our man in Casablanca, netw3rk, postulated, “Don’t discount Phil catching feelings after they had (allegedly) a spoken agreement.”

Also, giving 25mil to a coach with zero actual experience is an overpay. Unless the Buss family floated some sooper-seekrit offer that no one’s heard about, the ‘Bockers were bidding against themselves. That’s a pretty familiar turn of events for this team (See Houston, Allan). More importantly, this is bound to happen when you have a GM that–like his coach–has never held that title before.

In any case, a coaching search that feels like it’s taken decades is finally over. Part of me wishes that Phil had been willing to interview candidates that weren’t “his guys,” but this is his plan, and after season after season (save for Walsh’s brief period of Reconstruction) of no plan at all, it’s as good a place as any to start.

One thing I don’t like though. BEARDS.

127 comments on “The Fisher King

  1. Brian Cronin

    Very nice piece, Robert.

    As for the signing, I like Fisher and I think he’ll be a fine coach (and hopefully Jackson will be mentoring him very closely) but 5 years/$25 million is ridiculous.

    Kerr was in the middle of a bidding war and had a much better resume than Fisher and Fisher ended up with the same years/money? That’s just stupid.

    I don’t really care about Dolan wasting his money, so it doesn’t bother me that they’re overpaying him, but damn, they sure are overpaying him.

  2. Z-man

    Brian, you have still not demonstrated factually that there was a “bidding war” for Kerr that involved the Knicks. I did not see a single direct quote from either Kerr or Jackson that mentioned money as the deciding factor for Kerr. We will never know whether Kerr would have signed on the spot for 5/25, and once the GS job became available, there absolutely wasn’t a bidding war…to the best of our knowledge, the Warriors mad a bid and Kerr signed. Should they have made a counter-offer? Why? Kerr’s heart was clearly on the west coast, why even bother?

    You expressed deep concerns about there not being a Plan B at that time. Could it be that Jackson truly wasn’t all that worried about losing Kerr and didn’t panic into offering an outsized contract like his predecessors might have?

    This whole scenario was pretty predictable in hindsight. Phil in effect gauged Kerr’s true commitment by not over-pursuing, and with acute awareness that no one else could woo Fisher until after his playoff run. By making his interest in Fisher known so soon after Kerr went elsewhere, he basically ate a $25,000 fine as an investment.

    I would speculate that the 5/25 contract was to establish that Fisher is not perceived as a consolation prize, less worthy of the $ than Kerr. No one can say, “Why didn’t you go after Fisher first?” Jackson couldn’t have done that at the time even if he wanted to, so Fisher has no reason to feel passed over.

    I give him an A- for the way he handled things and how the coaching search ultimately worked out.

  3. Kikuchiyo

    Was hoping for Jud Buechler, but I suppose this will have to do. For that price, can we ask him to play some PG (given our current options)?

  4. Brian Cronin

    Brian, you have still not demonstrated factually that there was a “bidding war” for Kerr that involved the Knicks

    Of course there was a bidding war. The Knicks offered him three years/$15 million. Kerr wouldn’t sign unless they offered him four. They finally relented and though they had a deal done at four years/$20 million. Then Golden State offered him five years/$25 million. Whether you think he would have gone to Golden State ultimately or not, it is irrefutable that he was bid up to five years/$25 million. There’s no way in the world that that would have been Golden State’s offer if it were not for the Knicks already being there at four years/$20 million. There is some doubt over whether Kerr would have gone to New York if they had matched, but there is no doubt that his contract was the result of a bidding war.

    Could it be that Jackson truly wasn’t all that worried about losing Kerr and didn’t panic into offering an outsized contract like his predecessors might have?

    No, it could not be. Especially since he gave the same “outsized contract” to a worse coaching prospect. I could believe either that Kerr said, “Don’t bother matching” and I could believe that Jackson was pissed off that Kerr shopped his offer after verbally agreeing to take the Knicks’ offer. I can’t believe that Jackson just said, “I’m not that worried about losing you.”

    I would speculate that the 5/25 contract was to establish that Fisher is not perceived as a consolation prize, less worthy of the $ than Kerr. No one can say, “Why didn’t you go after Fisher first?” Jackson couldn’t have done that at the time even if he wanted to, so Fisher has no reason to feel passed over.

    So the Knicks bid Kerr up to five years/$25 million, more money than any team would have given Kerr otherwise, and then the Knicks just give that to Fisher without anyone else bidding against them? So Fisher won’t feel like a consolation prize when everyone knows he is the consolation prize?

    Phil Jackson met with Carmelo Anthony and pitched him the Knicks and he used in his pitch that Steve Kerr was going to be the coach. This was before Steve Kerr had even verbally agreed to be the Knicks coach. Which, while stupid in and of itself, also makes it pretty clear that Kerr was his guy. It’s not like anyone thinks otherwise.

  5. JK47

    Kerr was in the middle of a bidding war and had a much better resume than Fisher and Fisher ended up with the same years/money? That’s just stupid.

    How does Kerr have a “much better resume” than Fisher? Kerr has zero coaching experience, same as Fisher. Kerr does have three years of mixed results as a GM in Phoenix, but I wouldn’t say that gives him a “much better resume” considering this is a coaching position we’re talking about.

  6. Brian Cronin

    How does Kerr have a “much better resume” than Fisher? Kerr has zero coaching experience, same as Fisher. Kerr does have three years of mixed results as a GM in Phoenix, but I wouldn’t say that gives him a “much better resume” considering this is a coaching position we’re talking about.

    Kerr’s executive experience was clearly seen as a plus by teams, as they all cited it. Plus his many years as a renowned basketball analyst on television. I think Fisher will be fine, but Kerr was a better coaching candidate than Fisher.

  7. JK47

    Being an analyst on television, even a good one, doesn’t mean much to me. If that counts for something, then so should Fisher’s stint as head of the player’s union. If anything I would think the latter is more relevant than the former.

  8. Brian Cronin

    It might not mean much to you, but it clearly means a lot to NBA teams, as they routinely hire from the top analysts. Hell, JVG is such a hot candidate nowadays in great part due to his TV work.

  9. Z-man

    BC, my interpretation of a bidding war is different from yours in that it involves concrete offers between more than two parties. There is no evidence that Kerr was offered anything more or less than 4/20 by anyone other than the Knicks at the point he “verbally committed,” nor that Kerr had “accepted” anything verbally (he denies that he did.) There is no evidence that Jackson ever said “what would it take to make you commit to signing a contract right now?” There is no evidence that Kerr would not have taken the job at GS even if they only offered to match the 4/20. Show me one shred of evidence that Kerr would have turned GS down if they offered the same deal as the Knicks.

    Kerr was clearly GS’s second choice, and he still has such a raging boner for that job that he had no qualms stringing out his main man Jax and then leaving him at the altar. If I were Phil, I’d tell him to go F himself.
    Is there any evidence that Kerr said to the Knicks “if you offer me 5/25 right now, I will sign.”? He was clearly holding our for the GS job all the time, and once Van Gundy signed with Detroit, Kerr wasn’t signing with the Knicks, or anyone else, period. That is so freakin’ obvious. The thing I don’t get was why GS upped the offer for Kerr, when he probably could have been had for 4/$20,000,00.o1.

    I agree that Kerr was Jax’s first choice and that Fisher was his second choice. But we will never know whether Fisher being “unavailable” but “in reserve” affected Phil’s willingness to go over the top for Kerr.

    Imagine if Fisher was on a non-playoff team and was thereby available concurrently with Kerr, would Phil have shifted to Fisher once Kerr showed any hesitancy to take the job? We’ll never know, but I think yes.

    And why do you conclude that Jackson viewed Fisher as the “worse coaching prospect?” Both have zero coaching experience, and both have similar NBA experience. Fisher was elected NBPA player rep, Kerr was a TV analyst…

  10. lavor postell

    Teams will cite anything to justify their pursuit of a candidate in the public’s eye. For example, I’m sure that Jackson will talk about how Fisher’s playing experience, leadership, knowledge of the Triangle and veteran savvy were critical factors in him landing the Knicks job. Kerr doing an OK job as an executive under a cheapskate owner in which he clashed with his head coach and compromised the team’s playing style because he thought 35 year old Shaq was going to put the Suns over the top isn’t exactly a selling point. The fact that he was an executive under a previous CBA that bears little resemblance to the various financial restrictions and punishments of the current CBA make it even less relevant imo.

    Who cares about his analysis on TV? There are plenty of guys who know their X’s and O’s well enough to communicate a level of basketball intelligence to a broad audience. That doesn’t necessarily qualify them to be a good head coach. Doug Collins is great on broadcasts and clearly understands the game. He’s proven himself to be a mediocre coach at best. Kurt Rambis sounded like a genius when he was working for the Lakers and was a part of their in studio crew. We all know that he hasn’t covered himself in glory in his stints as a head coach. Hubie Brown and Mike Fratello are both fantastic in their commentary and have had middling results as head coaches.

    Understanding the game and explaining the ongoing action is a lot different from implementing an offensive system, with primary, secondary and tertiary reads, constructing a defensive scheme with preordained rotations and PNR schemes and communicating both of those visions to your players in a manner that they understand, buy in too and execute. That’s why guys like Rambis or Carleismo have received plaudits for their work as assistants but have struggled when they’ve been in charge.

    I think Kerr can be a damn good coach, but nothing about his resume makes him way more…

  11. Brian Cronin

    BC, my interpretation of a bidding war is different from yours in that it involves concrete offers between more than two parties

    Your interpretation also differs from the definition of a bidding war. A bidding war is just someone getting bid up by at least two parties. Sure, more than one party could be involved, but two parties is all you need. For instance, there was just recently a bidding war between Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp for Hillshire Farms.

    Is there any evidence that Kerr said to the Knicks “if you offer me 5/25 right now, I will sign.”? He was clearly holding our for the GS job all the time, and once Van Gundy signed with Detroit, Kerr wasn’t signing with the Knicks, or anyone else, period. That is so freakin’ obvious. The thing I don’t get was why GS upped the offer for Kerr, when he probably could have been had for 4/$20,000,00.o1.

    So freakin’ obvious and yet they had to beat the Knicks’ offer first? And you can’t understand why they had to go higher than the Knicks’ offer? Sure sounds like it is not obvious then.

    I agree that Kerr was Jax’s first choice and that Fisher was his second choice. But we will never know whether Fisher being “unavailable” but “in reserve” affected Phil’s willingness to go over the top for Kerr.

    We know that he pitched Melo on coming to New York on the promise of Kerr being his coach when Kerr himself was unavailable, so availability clearly didn’t matter that much to Jackson.

    Kerr was his first and only choice. Once he was off the table, Fisher quickly became his top choice, so that’s good at least, he did at least get his second choice.

  12. Z-man

    As far as what Fisher got paid, Kerr’s signing clearly changed the market, much as the Ballmer deal for the Clips clearly changed the market for a NBA franchise. Both Kerr and Fisher are being way-y-y overpaid, but who cares?

  13. Z-man

    Maybe I miscommunicated re bidding war, the third party is Kerr. I meant that when Kerr turns down an offer and the Knicks on their own raise it, it’s not a bidding war. It only becomes a bidding war when another team becomes involved, and GS was not involved early on.

  14. Z-man

    Re Melo, I don’t think Jackson is all that concerned with Melo. He knows that Melo is not a true max player and that the only reason to keep him is if he can sign him at a significant discount from the max. He pitched Kerr because that was the only coach he was pursuing, and it looked like he would be the coach. Do you seriously that he was going after Kerr to win Melo over? That would be the dumbest strategy I ever heard: Hey Melo, sign at a discount because I’m hiring a coach with zero experience. Do you truly believe that going after Kerr had anything to do with improving the probability of signing Melo? A rookie coach with no coaching experience at any level? Seriously?

    There’s no reason for me to believe that Melo wouldn’t have preferred Fisher to Kerr. I doubt that Jackson could care less what Melo thought anyway, except for PR purposes. If he does, then he’s not nearly as smart as I thought he was.

  15. Totes McGoats

    Eh..I’m ambivalent to an extent. Hopeful, just not excited. I have no doubts about his leadership and credibility as a player, but my concerns are how will the vets adjust to him? And who are the assistants gonna be? I was higher on Kerr because I thought it was a real chance that Cleamons and Cartwright would be on his staff, and he already has chemistry with those 2. Out of the assistants being bandied about as possible additions to Fish’s crew, only one interests me. And that’s Luke Walton, as he seems to have a bright future in coaching. I’m not a fan of Rambis as a coach even though he has coached the triangle. Cartwright intimately knows the triangle, but I worry about his chemistry with Fisher. Ditto for Cleamons. I’m glad the coaching “search” is over, but now I’m getting anxious to see how Fisher fills his staff.

  16. stratomatic

    I’m glad the coaching search is over, but I’d way rather have Kerr than Fisher. Fisher may turn out to be the better coach, but I already know Kerr’s philosophy on basketball. I know he spent a lot time learning the power of spacing, playing at a fast pace, having a good PG etc…from D’Antoni when he was at the Suns. He’s been talking about those things on air for years. I also know he’s very bright, into advanced stats, and knows the Triangle. So he was ideal to meld that offense into those other concepts. All I know about Fisher is that he wasn’t a classic PG, can hit clutch 3s, and has the respect of players in the union, Kobe, and teammates. I have to trust Phil on his, but Kerr was a no brainer as the first choice. So if we’ve given Fisher more than we offered Kerr, somebody screwed up.

  17. stratomatic

    One other thing, my guess is that Melo likes the idea of Fisher better than Kerr. He probably knows Fisher better from the lock out. Honestly though, I don’t care one way or the other what Melo thinks. If we don’t get Melo at a discount, I don’t want him. We have no chance of becoming a contender until 2015 anyway, so who cares if we take a small step back in the short term if he leaves for a bigger jump forward the following year. Given how much we gave up for Melo, I just hope we at least get some decent value players and/or picks back in some kind of deal.

  18. Cock Jowles Has Predicted the Last Three Knicks Seasons

    When you have bad players, your coach does not matter.

    And that’s factorial.

  19. Z-man

    My first choice was Popovich, but he wasn’t available either.

    Kerr wasn’t really “available” until the GS job was filled, which it never was. He clearly wanted that job all along, not to the point where he would take far less to coach there, but to the point where he refused to sign or to honor a verbal agreement until he was certain that job was no longer available. He had 3 great reasons: GS is the better team with the better cap situation, proximity to family, and a less meddlesome, ignorant and tempestuous owner.

    Anyway, I think that Jowles is essentially correct, it is a player’s league and the team with the best players normally wins. Still, a proven system overseen by a proven winner is more likely to produce more wins sooner, and to sign better players going forward, than what we have seen in recent years. Will Dolan revert to form and undermine Jax’s best efforts? That’s the only real question for me. The coach in the short run won’t make us a contender; maybe a borderline to solid playoff team, but that’s it.

  20. GoNyGoNYGo

    Inept owner
    Rookie GM
    Rookie coach
    Fleeing star
    Gun charges
    Knee debridement
    Shooting guard that can’t shoot
    Shooting guard that can only shoot
    Shooting guard that should be called Snoop dog
    7-foot jump shooter that can’t rebound or block shots
    No draft picks
    No cap space

    What’s to like?

  21. ephus

    The most successful coach in NBA history selected Derek Fisher. It’s clearly Phil’s choice, not Dolan’s or CAA’s or the MSG nomenkultura’s. That is good enough for me.

    I am optimistic that the Knicks will come closer to meeting their potential than last year. Until we see that roster finalized, it’s hard to know what is realistic to expect.

  22. Brian Cronin

    The most successful coach in NBA history selected Derek Fisher. It’s clearly Phil’s choice, not Dolan’s or CAA’s or the MSG nomenkultura’s. That is good enough for me.

    Sure, I like Derek Fisher as a coach. It’s not his hiring that I have a problem with, it’s how Jackson handled the situation to this point. However, the end result was that he did get his second choice and Phil Jackson’s personal second choice is good enough for me, as well. If Dolan was in charge, we’d be dealing with Mark Jackson or Lionel Hollins. Blech. Or John Calipari as Coach and GM. Double blech.

  23. EB

    I have absolutely no reason to believe that Kerr will be a better coach than Fisher. End story. Kerr knows about spacing you say? He knows about advanced stats? Explain why he gave up Marion for Shaq.

    If anyone knows anything about coaching its Phil Jackson, when you have the best players then you have the best coach by default.

  24. Farfa

    It just strikes me as very odd that this is a league where Dave Joerger was thiiiiiis close to get fired (and if we go by the book, it was because the owner never talked directly to him! wowzers) and Derek Fisher receives a Godfather offer ten days removed from playing his last game.

    I think Fisher will be fine. I also think Jowles is right (about 2014/15), so buckle up and let’s shoot for the moon for that elusive 8th seed and one week of playoff basketball in mid-April 2015!

  25. Jack Bauer

    I don’t know if Fisher will be a great coach or not, but I do know he’s
    not Woodson or Isaiah so by default the coaching should be improved next year. Now about that dysfunctional roster…….

  26. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    Not sure why Fisher gets 5/$25. That’s more than he made during any five years as a player. (I’m surprised his agent didn’t try to talk him into retiring sooner!) Jason Kidd had 5 times the playing resume, and a history with the Nets, and only makes $2.5 million a year.

    But the hire is a good one. Everybody knew Doc Rivers would be a better coach than he was a player. And everybody knew Kevin Johnson was well cut for politics. Fisher, it’s been reported, was interested in both, and Jackson was smart to tap him. But with Rivers, it took a little while, and mistakes were made early on. So lucky for the Knicks, there is room for error early on.

    Explain why he gave up Marion for Shaq.

    Kerr didn’t want to trade for Shaq. He was the lone dissenting voice in the room (even D’Antoni wanted the trade). He reluctantly okayed it, knowing it would define his tenure in Phoenix if it didn’t work out.

    Kerr was a good GM, and a good player, and a good analyst. He will be a good coach.

    Fisher’s resume is considerably lighter. But he did take down Billy Hunter, so there’s that.

  27. Brian Cronin

    Appropos of nothing, it is amazing to look back at how shitty the East was back in the early 2000s. Detroit made SIX straight Eastern Conference Finals!! That’s insane! How bad is your conference when one team can make the Finals of your conference every year for six years! Without even making many changes! Heck, with losing Ben Wallace and still going on to making the Conference Finals!

  28. Farfa

    But with Rivers, it took a little while, and mistakes were made early on. So lucky for the Knicks, there is room for error early on.

    To be honest, it didn’t really took long. He was good in Orlando with a good team, bad with an awful team in the early Boston years, very good with a very good team in the late Boston years. Doc is an efficient coach: he can make a team play as well as its core players. And he can develop some of them.

  29. Farfa

    Detroit made SIX straight Eastern Conference Finals!! That’s insane! How bad is your conference when one team can make the Finals of your conference every year for six years! Without even making many changes! Heck, with losing Ben Wallace and still going on to making the Conference Finals!

    Well, they were extremely well coached and had some great players (no superstar, but at least three All-NBA players. I’ll let you decide if the third was Billups or Hamilton). But still, the East has always been super shitty since ’99. It’s kinda fitting that the very first manifestation of these horrible Eastern years were… the New York Knicks.

  30. Frank

    Some thoughts on Kerr vs. Fisher:

    - Kerr was good player.

    - I’m sure he’s a very bright guy. Certainly he’s well spoken, and his involvement at Sloan tells you he’s interested in new ideas about the game.

    - he and JVG are my favorite analysts, so there’s that.

    BUT–

    - as far as I can tell he was never in a “leadership” role on any of this teams. We don’t really know that he can get guys on the same page, control a locker room, inspire players to sacrifice for the greater good, deal with adversity, etc etc. The fact that Phil wanted him probably means that he CAN do that, but we don’t know. On the other hand, it’s probably the one thing we DO know about Fisher – that other players respect him and that he has leadership qualities

    - he was a pretty bad executive. Yes, his hands were probably tied by Sarver, but some of his moves are basically indefensible. The Kurt Thomas + 2 first round picks for a 2nd round pick and a trade exception? Really? Yes I understand Sarver wanted to save money, but you’re really telling me that Presti wouldn’t have done that trade for 1 first round pick instead of two? Or that there wasn’t another taker for Thomas’s not-so-expensive contract ($8MM expiring)? Then the Shaq trade. Then the Shaq un-trade, in which the final analysis shows Shawn Marion (still a stopper and valuable contributor SIX years later) and Marcus Banks for Sasha Pavlovic+corpse of Ben Wallace +2nd round pick.

    I was totally sold on Steve Kerr, so it does feel a little like we settled for Fisher. BUT — like others have said, I don’t see how it’s clear at all that Fisher won’t be better than Kerr. We don’t know how Fisher feels about analytics, but I think it’s fair to say at this point that Phil DOES have interest in it. Fisher was also exposed to Durant for several years, and we all know how obsessed Durant is about analytics. And speaking of Durant… if OKC flames out in the playoffs the next 2 years, it sure would be nice to have Fisher in the room when we’re trying to recruit him here.

  31. Frank

    Re: this coming year — and by the way I am an optimistic person at heart — I would be surprised if we don’t make the playoffs (if Melo re-signs). This is not the most talented roster or the best combination of complementary talent, but there still is talent here. I think we can all agree that the major problems this year were (in no particular order of importance):

    - too many minutes for Bargnani
    - too many minutes for Felton
    - regression of Shump
    - totally unimaginative offense, especially in the 4th quarters
    - completely unintelligible defensive strategy
    - 2-3 months of subpar post-injury JR
    - obstinate refusal to play lineups that everyone knows were effective

    Is it just me or did many of these problems (potentially) go out the door with Woodson?

    - No one knows what Fish will do with Bargnani, but my guess is that he’ll play much less this year.
    - Felton might be in jail or on another team, or if not, will likely be a 3rd PG.
    - completely new offense – who knows if it’ll click right away.
    - completely new defense – anything will be better than last year’s “strategy”
    - healthy JR
    - presumably no more “The East is Big” obsession

    Now add in some wild cards, such as maybe a bounce back year from Shump, some sort of positive development from Hardaway, maybe Lamar Odom gives us 80% of what he was a few years ago.

    I’m optimistic. Who’s with me?

  32. Frank

    i’ll just keep writing.

    Great paragraph from this years-old Grantland article about the Triangle- seems to fit our team well.

    “When I came to the Bulls, Tex Winter and Johnny Bach were the assistants,” says Jackson. “I was relatively ignorant about NBA offensive systems. Well, maybe not ignorant. But certainly naïve. And Tex4 was a big proponent of his offense. At the time, we were running through a sequence of ineffective point guards. Kyle Macy. Sedale Threatt. Sam Vincent was brought in. Craig Hodges was there. But Tex would always argue that you didn’t need a great point guard to win in the NBA. This idea of the point guard dominating the ball is a relatively new idea in the game of basketball, really. … One of the things that’s pretty obvious [about my coaching career] is that I never had to fight to get a dominant point guard. Because once you do that, defenses can align themselves against that one guy. You can pressure the point guard high on the floor and move the ball away from whomever you want to shut down. That was always my defensive philosophy against people like Isiah Thomas and John Stockton.”

    http://grantland.com/features/chuck-klosterman-phil-jackson-tex-winter-death-triangle-offense/

  33. KnickfaninNJ

    I think the team paid a penalty last year because Felton’s personal life was stressed and he didn’t perform well. This helps explain how the Knicks were better on the road for a lot of the season. He probably just couldn’t focus when at home. Assuming something like that doesn’t repeat, yes they should be better. But I am not sure they will be good. That’s a whole different level.

  34. Hubert

    I’m quite torn. Not on Fisher, but on the direction we should go. Phil wanted Kerr or Fisher, he got one of them. I’m fine with it. I tend to like coaches who learned the trade through, you know, coaching. I prefer the guy who cut his teeth as an assistant for years and worked some small head coaching gigs to the ex-player immediately getting a big gig. But this is a unique case. Basically Phil wants to coach but his body won’t let him so he’s looking for some sort of young shell he can mind-meld with to inhabit his body. It’s actually kind of creepy. I’m not sure it’s the best way to go. I think Riley tried to do it with Stan Van Gundy and he eventually learned that he had to let his coach be his own person and that’s what makes Spoelstra so effective. I fear Phil may have to learn this lesson the hard way. But hey, we’ve got time, right? No one is expecting a championship here. Besides, I just spent a year watching a coach with 20 years of experience coach like it was his first year on the job. At least this year when our coach makes terrible mistakes (and he will; by rule, Fisher will make mind-boggling mistakes because he is a rookie) we can chalk it up to inexperience and have hope that it will get better. Last year, we had no cause for such optimism….

  35. Hubert

    But what I’m torn on is what direction we should go in. Watching this playoffs, it’s amazing how far off the pace we are. And I keep reading about how only 8 teams have won a title in 30 years. Chances are you are not winning a title in the next decade without LeBron, Durant, or an amazingly balanced team of extraordinary players.

    How does re-signing Melo help us become any of those three things? The only reason to want Melo back is if you think he can convince LeBron to come here in 2015. And since that is extremely unlikely, I don’t think I want Melo back anymore. Not even at a discount.

    I find myself wondering if Durant and Fisher are tight. I’m wondering if the best way forward for this team is to get whatever assets we can get for Melo and Chandler right now. Let Fisher learn how to coach for a couple years. Try to build a foundation that might be attractive to Durant in 2016. It’s another pipe dream, maybe, but the fall back is OK, too. If we don’t get him, we’ll still be building a solid foundation. It feels to me very much like when Walsh and D’Antoni came here in 2008 and started “Plan for LeBron in 2010.” People talk about that like it was a failure, but it wasn’t. Yes, we failed to get LeBron. But we were still in pretty good shape after we missed out. We had a young, fun, flexible team. We didn’t go off the rails when we missed out on LeBron, we went off the rails when we traded the farm for Melo.

    So if you ask me, we’re at a fork. We can re-sign Melo, or we can retrace the steps we took in 2008. I would do the latter because I think with Phil we have a greater chance of landing the star and I also think even if we don’t, it was still the right plan and worth executing again. We just have to avoid fucking it up if we don’t land the big target. If the worst case scenario is we miss out on LeBron and get our team back to the point it was before the Melo trade, I’ll take that in a heartbeat. Where we were in the months leading up to the Melo trade was, IMO, the highest point this team has been at since 2000, including last year’s team. So if that’s the worst case scenario, let me have it.

  36. lavor postell

    Personally I think Felton just fucking sucks and that’s why he was bad at home last year. I’m hoping I don’t have to watch him run point for the Knicks ever again.

  37. Hubert

    If the worst case scenario is we miss out on LeBron and get our team back to the point it was before the Melo trade, I’ll take that in a heartbeat.

    I meant Durant, not LeBron.

  38. Farfa

    @37-39

    I totally agree. I don’t think we really have a shot at Durant (as of now), but your plan sounds good. Unless we get Melo at an 18mln/yr on average for four years (kind of impossible). So:

    1) 2% chance – resign Melo at that price or
    2) 18% chance – make Melo opt in and look what happens or
    3) 40% chance – sign and trade him to wherever for assets and picks. In this sense I would like to see him traded to the Bulls rather than watch him go to the Rockets, because we don’t really need Asik and/or Lin if we are going the long road. He probably won’t go anywhere else (Boston maybe?), so we’re left with that.

    I fear the other 40% chance: a 120mln/5 yrs offer reekin’ of Dolan fingerprints.

  39. KnickfaninNJ

    We didn’t go off the rails when we missed out on LeBron, we went off the rails when we traded the farm for Melo.

    +1

  40. Frank

    Where we were in the months leading up to the Melo trade was, IMO, the highest point this team has been at since 2000, including last year’s team.

    eehh…. that team was I think 25-23 at the all-star break, relying on playing Amare 40 minutes/game. If that’s a higher point than being the 2 seed and losing a tough series to Indiana (who then took Miami to 7 games), then we have different definitions of highest point.

    now i certainly agree that we gave up way too much for Melo – but to think that that particular team was going anywhere but a 1st round out is probably incorrect recall.

  41. Hubert

    eehh…. that team was I think 25-23 at the all-star break, relying on playing Amare 40 minutes/game. If that’s a higher point than being the 2 seed and losing a tough series to Indiana (who then took Miami to 7 games), then we have different definitions of highest point.

    In the small picture, we were better the year we had the 2 seed, no doubt.

    But if you expand the picture to include assets, future flexibility, the people in charge of the organization, etc, I think 2010 was the moment our long term outlook looked the brightest.

    I think even in the 2012-13 season we knew this team had an extremely limited window. I thought it would be two years. Turned out it was one.

  42. Hubert

    Ultimately (and this is the tl;dr version of my posts), I just don’t see how Melo being here, and the mandate to win now that he brings with him, is what’s best for Phil & Fisher the next two years as they try to build the foundation for this team. Even if it’s at a discount.

    I think the best reason to want Melo here is because he is best friends with LeBron and LeBron MAY want to go somewhere in 2015. That’s why I’ve always wanted Melo to opt in, and I think that’s why Phil asked him too, as well.

  43. sugarslim5

    We didn’t go off the rails when we missed out on LeBron, we went off the rails when we traded the farm for Melo.

    I wonder what rails the knicks were on before they acquired Melo. What was their next step.

  44. Hubert

    I wonder what rails the knicks were on before they acquired Melo. What was their next step.

    Any answer to this question is conjecture, but I’m confident we were on track to end up in a better place than here.

  45. TheRant

    I barely care who coaches this team for the next three years. We have a bunch of mismatched parts and Phil basically needs to do a Donnie 2.0 and get back under the cap and start getting in and developing some young talent.

    Whoever coaches the team, they just need to get to the most urgent matter — tying Dolan to a table and running a drill press through his head from temple to temple. I will support any coach who can pin him.

  46. johnlocke

    Well we were the #2 seed in the East last year. I’m not sure we as an org have fully diagnosed what went wrong – what the root cause was. Depending on what we think caused us to fall from a #2 seed to out of the playoffs is what would give me sense of hope or gloom for the future. We’ve talked about it ad nauseum, but it seems like a confluence of things: injuries (maybe we’ll be more lucky next year), we lost valuable role players (we still won’t have them), terrible coaching (new coach), decline in play to start the season from everyone not named Melo (better training camp? less offseason surgeries?). In the last 2 months of the season we were about 17-6 (what changed?) In December and January we were 2-11 and 5-9 respectively…

  47. er

    Hubert, i disagree wholeheartedly that the team went off the rails by aquiring Melo. There is only one move that Melo being here sort of prevented…..The Amnesty of STAT.

    Now lets go back to 2010-2011. We can go back and have 20/20 hindsight to see that 3 things from that season were fools gold. Amare, Landry Fields and Ray Felton. . All three of these gentlemen were playing out of their minds before the Melo trade. Landry and Felton have been shown to just suck, while Amare broke down with a LESSER role with melo on the team.

    Lets look at assets.
    Gallo
    Mosgov
    Chandler
    1st round pick.

    To me only the first round pick is a loss here. Chandler was up for a new Deal, Gallo is good but no Melo and Mozzy ..eh. Ive said this over and over. The train went off the tracks with the Tyson Chandler aquisition. By using the Amnesty on a player in the last year of his contract, Walsh screwed the Knicks by going for a guy just of a championship in Chandler. This move killed the Knicks 2 fold.

    1. STAT wasnt able to be amnestied
    2. CP3 was no longer in play for NYK

  48. Farfa

    In the last 2 months of the season we were about 17-6 (what changed?) In December and January we were 2-11 and 5-9 respectively…

    Absolutely nothing changed. There were times when Woodson completely lost the team and times when the players were more locked in. In this sense, any guy who can extract a consistent effort from this group is a great improvement over last year Woodson.

  49. JK47

    “Knicks pick up $14.2 million option on Chauncey Billups”

    That was the single worst move of the entire Melo-Stat era.

  50. Hubert

    Well we were the #2 seed in the East last year. I’m not sure we as an org have fully diagnosed what went wrong – what the root cause was. Depending on what we think caused us to fall from a #2 seed to out of the playoffs is what would give me sense of hope or gloom for the future.

    It’s not really about what went wrong. It’s about the fact that the things that led us to that #2 seed in the first place were unsustainable.

  51. Hubert

    “Knicks pick up $14.2 million option on Chauncey Billups”

    That was the single worst move of the entire Melo-Stat era.

    Had we not picked up his option, we wouldn’t have Tyson Chandler and we would have been able to amnesty Amar’e Stoudemire last year. I don’t see how that move, even though it wasn’t smart, really killed us. What could we have accomplished if we hadn’t picked up his option? It’s not like we could have signed Chandler had we just released him. His $4 million buyout would have prevented that.

  52. lavor postell

    Fisher’s press conference makes me feel a lot better. This is a guy that at the least sounds like he knows what it will take to be a good coach in this league and most importantly seems comfortable in his own skin and more than capable of handling the New York media.

  53. JK47

    What could we have accomplished if we hadn’t picked up his option?

    One thing we would have accomplished would have been to not have three extra years of the worst contract in the NBA.

    But in a way, I guess you do have a good point– I mean, we’re talking about people who honestly thought trading for Andrea Bargnani was a good idea. We could have declined the Billups option and they just would have done some other incredibly stupid thing.

  54. er

    I don’t see how that move, even though it wasn’t smart, really killed us.

    exactly…it was the amnesty that did it

  55. Frank

    Even if you just look at Twitter, you can see the respect players around the league have for Fisher. It’s really quite impressive. Magic, Kenny Smith, Greg Anthony, Brian Cardinal, Nazr Mohammed, our own Cole Aldrich, Pau gasol, as well as the already known Fisher-lovers Kobe, Collison, Durant, Westbrook, etc etc etc. Interesting that there were crickets when Kerr was hired…even from his own team. I know there was a lot of pro-Mark Jackson solidarity on the Dubs, but did anyone say anything about being happy Kerr was on board?

    I have a feeling that the combination of Phil, Fisher, NYC, and lots of cap space in 2015 and beyond will be a very powerful combination for upcoming FAs.

  56. lavor postell

    Even if you just look at Twitter, you can see the respect players around the league have for Fisher. It’s really quite impressive. Magic, Kenny Smith, Greg Anthony, Brian Cardinal, Nazr Mohammed, our own Cole Aldrich, Pau gasol, as well as the already known Fisher-lovers Kobe, Collison, Durant, Westbrook, etc etc etc. Interesting that there were crickets when Kerr was hired…even from his own team. I know there was a lot of pro-Mark Jackson solidarity on the Dubs, but did anyone say anything about being happy Kerr was on board?

    I have a feeling that the combination of Phil, Fisher, NYC, and lots of cap space in 2015 and beyond will be a very powerful combination for upcoming FAs.

    Completely agree with you Frank. Not that players are great judges of who’s going to be a great coach tactically, but half the battle is getting guys to buy in to what you’re selling and consistently give you high level effort. Fisher commands that kind of respect and authority and that’s a great starting point for a head coach.

  57. Hubert

    I have a feeling that the combination of Phil, Fisher, NYC, and lots of cap space in 2015 and beyond will be a very powerful combination for upcoming FAs.

    It is promising. And kind of why I don’t want us to blow our wad on Melo right now.

    What does everyone else think? Let’s give Phil & Fish (PhilFish? FishPhil?) the benefit of the doubt and assume we finally have solid leadership in place. Would you rather:

    a) re-sign Melo at a fair rate and have them build around him
    or
    b) start from scratch and let these guys build something new in a couple of years?
    ?

  58. er

    Hubert, why do the two have to be exclusive? All contracts are coming off the books except for Earl Smith. Cant you sign Melo and rebuild?

  59. Frank

    Thinking a bit about the history of the Triangle in the pros — everyone is down on it because “only Phil” has succeeded with it.

    I kinda think that the sample size isn’t big enough.

    Jim Cleamons got one season (96-97) + 16 games in 97-98 to make his mark. Yes, he did terribly (24-58 and 4-12) BUT– two HoF coaches also did very poorly with that same roster — Dick Motta the year before (26-56) and Don Nelson (16-50 the rest of 97-98). And if I remember correctly, Cleamons’s team imploded because of all the jealousy between Kidd and Jim Jackson over Toni Braxton, leading to a midseason blockbuster trade for Shawn Bradley and others. Blech.

    Kurt Rambis got 2 seasons with a horrible roster in Minnesota. The Triangle needs smart players as well as guys who can pass and post. Corey Brewer, Jonny Flynn, and Ryan Gomes played the 1st, 3rd, and 4th most minutes for that team in 2009-10. The following year Kevin Love was better than his rookie year (and played the most minutes), but Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Luke Ridnour, and Darko had the 2nd-5th most minutes. Freaking Red Auerbach couldn’t have won 20 games with that roster.

  60. darkstar

    I think the worst move came earlier – when we let David Lee go to Golden State, and they signed him for $80 million, and we signed Amare, for $120 million or whatever it was.

    Lee’s played at an all-star level or close to it since. And we know what Amare’s done for us. And GS fans complain about Lee having a bad contract, ha!

  61. Frank

    Re: Melo – the potential options, in order of what I would prefer, are:

    1) get him to opt-in. Seems unlikely but maybe there’s an insurance policy out there that could make this palatable for Melo?
    2) failing that, get him to take a deal averaging less than (or near) $20MM/year structured so that his cap hit is least in 2015 and in 2016 somehow, so that even if we selectively swing and miss in FA in 2015, we still have lots of flexibility for Fisher’s little bro Durant in 2016.
    3) sign and trade him (and while we’re at it, Chandler too)
    4) let him walk for nothing (trade Chandler if possible too)
    5) sign him for 5 years and anything greater than $110-115MM.

  62. Hubert

    Hubert, why do the two have to be exclusive? All contracts are coming off the books except for Earl Smith. Cant you sign Melo and rebuild?

    A couple of reasons:

    - Melo isn’t going to sign (and at a discount) if you’re plan isn’t to win now. So I think if you sign him it means dedicating yourself to trying to make the playoffs, which is not rebuilding.

    - We don’t have a lot of assets, so whatever we get for Melo & Chandler would be a key part of the rebuild.

    - Our 2015 draft pick (which we actually have!) is going to be much better if Melo isn’t here.

    (As an aside, there’s a lot of talk about Denver blowing things up, maybe not this year but the next year. Wouldn’t it be our luck if the AB pick turns out to be a lottery pick because both we and Denver stink in 2016.)

  63. d-mar

    A full day of press conferences and interviews, and I didn’t hear the word “again” once.

    I already feel better about this team.

  64. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    we went off the rails when we traded the farm for Melo.

    I think this is true. Only because in the days and months that preceded the trade the two top point guards in the league became available. Dolan was set on a “2 stars” rebuild, which was the right road to take. But he and Walsh installed D’Antoni as the coach, and at that point married themselves to his system. Then they never provided the key element to his system, which was, obviously, a premiere point guard.

    Anthony has played extremely well since becoming a Knick. But the rails were obliterated when they got him. It was obvious 7SOL was over, and D’Antoni would be gone soon after. That left the team, basically, having squandered the rebuild, with nothing but Anthony and Amar’e's broken body to show for it.

    Walsh and D’Antoni both knew that an Anthony and Amar’e pairing wouldn’t yield great results. Walsh wanted to hold out, but Dolan forced the deal. That is, without a doubt, where the rails came off. (And it could have been different… not that it would have happened, but Chris Paul did become available, and went for a package worse than what the Knicks surrendered to Denver)

  65. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, you can debate whether Melo was worth what the Knicks traded for him, but the fact remains that that same offer would have gotten the Knicks Paul if they had just waited on Melo. Going further, it would have gotten them Paul and they would have been able to sign Melo as a free agent if he had been willing to wait to get to free agency.

    I totally understand Melo’s motivations and I don’t begrudge him for them (he did not want to see what the new CBA would do to max contracts – he had no way of knowing that it wouldn’t really change things at all for guys like him), but it sure screwed the Knicks over.

    Similarly, I don’t begrudge STAT getting every last available penny when he signed with the Knicks, but that, too, screwed the Knicks over, as they would not have had the room to sign Chris Paul outright in 2012, which is ultimately why they chose to commit to Chandler instead, as there was no longer any point in trying to wait to see if Paul (or some other major free agent) would become available the next year, as they wouldn’t have the money to get a max guy. So they picked the best under-max guy, Chandler.

  66. cgreene

    Yeah but we have seen guys take less to get to the team they want and we have also seen teams that had a star that wanted to get to them be able to dump salary to do it. The stars control where they want to go.

  67. Cock Jowles Has Predicted the Last Three Knicks Seasons

    ARE WE REALLY TALKING ABOUT CHANDLER’S CONTRACT AS THE WORST MOVE OF THE LAST FEW SEASONS? THE DUDE CARRIED THIS TEAM TO NEARLY SIXTY WINS.

    STOP. TALKING. BASKETBALL.

  68. ephus

    Knicks had a window last year. The loss in Game 1 to the Pacers effectively ended the dream (with a death rattle in Game 6 when Hibbert blocked Melo). It was a good time to be a Knick fan.

    This year was a disaster.

    I do not join with others who think there was an obvious strategy that would have led to a better result. I was against bringing back Chauncey Billups, but letting him go would have left the Knicks with a small space under the salary cap because of his buyout.

    If you click on my name, you get to my blog. The first link is to my article on CNBC about Donald Sterling’s change of mind.

  69. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    To be honest, it didn’t really took long. He was good in Orlando with a good team

    I suppose you’re right. Rivers did win coach of the year his rookie year. He led a horrid Orlando roster to a .500 record. But then the franchise spent a lot of money to rebuild, and Rivers had input into roster creation, yet he continued to be a .500 coach throughout his tenure there. (Obviously, Grant Hill’s health was out of his control, but the team was 1-10 when he was finally fired).

    By using the Amnesty on a player in the last year of his contract, Walsh screwed the Knicks by going for a guy just of a championship in Chandler.

    Walsh was already gone. He’d wanted to stop negotiating with Denver but Dolan intervened and Walsh was gone by summer. Grunwald targeted Chandler, and the only way to sign him was to amnesty Billups. Which, in hindsight, wasn’t the greatest decision, but Dolan is loyal to a fault and I don’t think he’d have used the amnesty on Amar’e even if it was burning a hole in his pocket right now.

    To the “going off the rails” thought, I think that when an owner comes in and supersedes the experienced GM that was imposed on him by the league (because of the owner’s incompetence) that is, without a doubt, an act of “going off the rails”. The fact that everything the GM was afraid would happen has come true only confirms the idea.

  70. ephus

    There is no way that the Knicks were going to use the Amnesty on Amar’e in the fall of 2011. Amar’e had been great during the first half of 2010-11, and his back injury was not supposed to be career-altering. So the choice was amnesty Billups or forego Chandler. I would not have amnestied Billups, because of the risk that Amar’e would have the sort of knee problems that eventually felled him.

    I do not regret the ‘Melo era. 2010-11 gave us the first playoff appearance in years and they looked as if they could take each of the first two games. They led until 11 seconds were left in game 1. Game 2 was one of the great Carmelo offensive games. Knicks should have won if Jared Jeffries could catch the ball under the basket.

    2011-12. We will always have Linsanity. Knicks were not close to Miami.

    2012-13. This was a great time to be a Knick fan. Team won the Atlantic. Got the second seed. Eliminated the Celtics. I got to bring my daughter to Game 1 against the Pacers, which was an electric moment.

    2013-14. The less said, the better. Knicks combined bad roster decisions (Bargnani), bad injury problems (Chandler) and bad play. My one happy memory was seeing Melo re-take the MSG scoring record from Kobe. The season kept feeling to me like the 1984-85 season, when the Knicks followed Bernard King’s magical 1984 playoffs with an awful year.

    In all, there more happy moments for me as a Knick fan during the first 3.5 years of the Melo era than during the entire post-JVG run. If Melo leaves, I won’t regret his time here.

  71. Kahnzy

    In all, there more happy moments for me as a Knick fan during the first 3.5 years of the Melo era than during the entire post-JVG run. If Melo leaves, I won’t regret his time here.

    +1

  72. GoNyGoNYGo

    There is no way that the Knicks were going to use the Amnesty on Amar’e in the fall of 2011.

    I’m pretty sure that they can’t amnesty anyone because they used their one-time amnesty to waive Chauncy Billups and sign Tyson Chandler.

  73. Brian Cronin

    I’m pretty sure that they can’t amnesty anyone because they used their one-time amnesty to waive Chauncy Billups and sign Tyson Chandler.

    He meant that they wouldn’t have used it on Amar’e even if they hadn’t used it on Billups.

  74. BigBlueAL

    Melo has completely won me over. I hope he stays just because Ive become a big fan of his and unlike many here I enjoy watching him play and am very curious to see how he plays in the triangle.

    Thats just me being an irrational fan for the most part though lol.

  75. GoNyGoNYGo

    Yeah. I re-read it and am waiting for the moderator to delete my post. :(

    I’ve been watching the Knicks since the days when Phil played and so I’ve suffered a long time. I just don’t see the path right now. I did 2-3 years ago, even before Melo came. Now, I’m not sure. The only season since the Ewing era that was not a complete horror show was 2012-13. We lost to the Pacers but it ended with hope. I guess, if I knew that Melo was going to do I would at least know what direction I should look in for the light at the end of this long tunnel.

    So there’s a fork in the road, and Hubert asked the right question: With Melo or start over?

    With Melo we have a great player. We may not get a comparable player for 20 years. OK. He’s not LeBron. He’s not Kobe. What was the last great Knicks player of equal stature? You have to go back to Ewing. I would rather have the rare talent. Average talent can be found and acquired. Carmelo Anthony was the reason to watch the Knicks last year.

  76. hoolahoop

    The more I watch San Antonio vs Miami, the more I believe building a team around Melo is an impossible path to the holy grail. Those teams share the ball. Lebron could average 40/night if he wanted to. He could take every buzzer beater. But he’d rather win than be a hero.
    At this stage in his career is Melo going to become anything other than the guy that takes a majority of the shots? We all know he’s one of the best scorers in the league and his talent level is elite. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to win big at the NBA level.
    At the end of last season, the thought of him leaving was deflating. Now, looking at the big picture, it’s tough medicine, but the knicks should let him walk, unless he’s going show how much he wants to win in NY by taking a lot less than he can get from the highest bidder.
    Even still, he may doom the knicks to first and second round appearances for the term of his contract. He’s a great scorer and a warrior, just not a winner.

  77. ephus

    The more I watch San Antonio vs Miami, the more I believe building a team around Melo is an impossible path to the holy grail. Those teams share the ball. Lebron could average 40/night if he wanted to. He could take every buzzer beater. But he’d rather win than be a hero.
    At this stage in his career is Melo going to become anything other than the guy that takes a majority of the shots? We all know he’s one of the best scorers in the league and his talent level is elite. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to win big at the NBA level.
    At the end of last season, the thought of him leaving was deflating. Now, looking at the big picture, it’s tough medicine, but the knicks should let him walk, unless he’s going show how much he wants to win in NY by taking a lot less than he can get from the highest bidder.
    Even still, he may doom the knicks to first and second round appearances for the term of his contract. He’s a great scorer and a warrior, just not a winner.

    I agree with all your observations of last season, but disagree that Melo’s hero ball last season means he cannot be part of a successful team concept. I think that Woodson actually encouraged iso-Melo in the 4th quarters.
    Carmelo was not ball-dominant on the 2012 Olympic team. Perhaps (and I do not know how this experiment would play out) if Melo is coached by Fisher (with the full backing of Phil Jackson) to avoid hero ball at all costs, he can put those amazing skills to work for a winning team. Melo would have to buy in to the Triangle in a way that he never bought into 7SOL.

    I trust Phil Jackson to know how much Carmelo Anthony is worth to his vision of the future Knicks.

  78. DRed

    Carmelo was not ball-dominant on the 2012 Olympic team.

    Obviously, the sample size is small, man. But while Carmelo wasn’t ball dominant in the 2012 Olympics, he wasn’t game dominant either. His Olympic stats are inflated by one preposterous game against Nigeria where he scored 37 points in 14 minutes . Which is fun to type, but that’s not gonna happen against an NBA team. Otherwise, he kinda played like Melo. Which ain’t bad, but there are better ways to spend Jimmy’s money.

  79. hoolahoop

    First choice, second choice, third choice, doesn’t matter. I’d rather have Fisher than Kerr. He seems to have better at relating to players, and strikes me as both, more of a leader, and a better coaching student.

  80. Unreason

    Swap Melo for James or Durant and rerun this past season. How far would this team have gone? Further, of course, but how much? The dreary Bargnacalypse would still be visited upon us. Pipeageddon would still have chewed the ground away beneath our feet, Feltnarok stilled laugh as he swallowed the sun. What could one star however bright do against the darkness of the end times?

  81. ephus

    My point on Carmelo in the 2012 Olympics is that he is capable of contributing without being ball dominant. I would contrast Carmelo with Rajon Rondo, who was cut from the Olympic team because he simply did not have skill set to play in a ball movement offense. Carmelo is a deadly shooter. He can pass well. He gets to the basket if opponents guard him one-on-one when he catches at the elbow. These are all elements that can be part of a strong Triangle offense.

  82. BigBlueAL

    Everyone says the money can be better spent than on Melo but if Lebron or KD aint coming here how much better really can the money be spent than on Melo plus others?? Now Melo at the full max I agree but it seems pretty obvious Phil aint giving Melo full max and maybe not even close to it. Melo at a decent price plus better teammates could be pretty damn good.

  83. DRed

    My point on Carmelo in the 2012 Olympics is that he is capable of contributing without being ball dominant.

    I’ll go you one further. Melo’s problem (on offense) is that he’s ball dominant. Melo’s legitimately terrific at doing certain things, but he’s always just taken too many bad shots. He’s never going to be Lebron or Durant, but he still could be better if he just didn’t take 5 or 6 dumbass shots a game.

    How much of this is on Melo is an interesting question. Like you say, Melo seems like he can pass well, but he’s never passed all that often, which is odd for a player who is good at passing. He’s a deadly open shooter, but he takes a fuckton of contested jumpers. My fear is that even with Phil on board Melo will finally figure out how to play just as his body betrays him. (whoever the player is, I’m never going to be thrilled to hand out a 5 year deal to a 30 year old player who has ended the last two seasons with shoulder injuries) That would be some Knicksy shit.

  84. DRed

    Also, I don’t even want to imagine what Cock Jowles is doing while watching this performance from Kawhi.

  85. ephus

    Carmelo Anthony is a grown man, so it is on him that he has been so ball-dominant. That is clearly his default setting. He has rebelled in the past when George Karl and Mike D’Antoni have attempted to alter his game.

    On the other hand, I see hope in (small sample size acknowledged) Carmelo’s 2012-13 road performance against the Spurs, where he accepted the double team and moved the ball in a victory. If he trusts Fisher (and Jackson), he could be a great Triangle player.

  86. GoNyGoNYGo

    I don’t buy any of the anti-Melo sentiment. What was Woodson’s offense in Atlanta called? ISO-Joe, right? Yeah, Melo is used to playing with the ball in his hands but I don’t buy that it’s all his fault. If you’re a poor coach who is blessed to have a great player, your best bet to win is to give your star the ball, sit in your seat, and watch him light it up. Anthony played his ass off last year but it wasn’t enough.

  87. ephus

    When Carmelo Anthony was in his last season in Denver, George Karl ran a number of sets that had Anthony in the weak side corner to take 3 pointers after the Nuggets ran PnR. ESPN reported at the time (I can’t find the link) that Carmelo broke the play several times because he could not stand being stuck in the corner.

  88. Frank

    When Carmelo Anthony was in his last season in Denver, George Karl ran a number of sets that had Anthony in the weak side corner to take 3 pointers after the Nuggets ran PnR. ESPN reported at the time (I can’t find the link) that Carmelo broke the play several times because he could not stand being stuck in the corner.

    That was the same story that was bandied about during Linsanity – that he couldn’t stand being the outlet guy as opposed to the guy making the play.

    Even so – my uninformed guess is that Melo is a different player and person now than he was even a couple years ago. When what you’ve been doing your whole life has netted you an NCAA championship, 10 straight playoff appearances, and $135MM just in salary, it’s not surprising that you think your way is right. But last year I think we saw him try to do a lot of different things to help the team win. I thought he had his best defensive year since he’s been a Knick. I thought he really did try and pass the basketball, at least in the first 3 quarters. He’s completely changed his shot distribution and worked so hard on his 3 point shooting that I think it’s fair to say that he’s one of the 10-15 best 3 point shooters in the league (taking volume and degree of difficulty into account – ie. he doesn’t get to stand in the corner and shoot open 3′s off other people’s action like, say Anthony Morrow).

    I think what we saw last year is a guy who is insanely competitive despite all the smiling during losses that people get so (ridiculously) upset about. I think/hope he will take to the triangle like a fish to water (see what I did there?!!?!?!).

    Meanwhile – I love how Fish said that he expects the team to be much much better even if they keep the exact same roster — basically straight out saying that Woodson was the problem. Hilarious.

  89. Hubert

    Hubert, i disagree wholeheartedly that the team went off the rails by aquiring Melo. There is only one move that Melo being here sort of prevented…..The Amnesty of STAT.

    Now lets go back to 2010-2011. We can go back and have 20/20 hindsight to see that 3 things from that season were fools gold. Amare, Landry Fields and Ray Felton. . All three of these gentlemen were playing out of their minds before the Melo trade. Landry and Felton have been shown to just suck, while Amare broke down with a LESSER role with melo on the team.

    Lets look at assets.
    Gallo
    Mosgov
    Chandler
    1st round pick.

    To me only the first round pick is a loss here. Chandler was up for a new Deal, Gallo is good but no Melo and Mozzy ..eh. Ive said this over and over. The train went off the tracks with the Tyson Chandler aquisition. By using the Amnesty on a player in the last year of his contract, Walsh screwed the Knicks by going for a guy just of a championship in Chandler. This move killed the Knicks 2 fold.

    1. STAT wasnt able to be amnestied
    2. CP3 was no longer in play for NYK

    A couple things:

    1. Walsh picked up Billups option. Grunwald amnestied him & signed Chandler.

    2. Maintaining amnesty was not going to keep CP3 in play. He was never making it to free agency, you had to be able to trade for him. Giving up the assets that you listed (and they were valuable then, no matter what hindsight has shown us) is what took CP3 out of play.

    I just mention to set some facts straight. Not trying to rehash the argument we’ve had here 1,000 times. The point I was trying to make is that the 2008 plan was sound, even if it didn’t succeed, and I think it’s worth trying again.

  90. Hubert

    I’ve been watching the Knicks since the days when Phil played and so I’ve suffered a long time. I just don’t see the path right now.

    1. I agree.

    2. I don’t think you’re alone. Not just as Knicks fans, but all NBA fans. Who can see a path? I started this whole thing by saying

    Watching this playoffs, it’s amazing how far off the pace we are. And I keep reading about how only 8 teams have won a title in 30 years. Chances are you are not winning a title in the next decade without LeBron, Durant, or an amazingly balanced team of extraordinary players [like the Spurs].

    Who has a chance? Miami, OKC, San Antonio. Maybe the Clippers. The NBA is women’s college basketball.

    The only way to win is to steal LeBron or Durant, or be lucky enough to draft the next one. You can give me “the Presti Method” or “the Morey way” all day. It still comes down to getting lucky. So I’m torn between trying to build the best team we can around Melo (which could be entertaining but almost certainly won’t win anything) and wanting to just lay in the weeds and try to steal Durant in two years.

    It’s pretty hopeless. Great system you built, NBA.

  91. er

    Hey Hubert , appreciate the banter. Concerning KD, why is he put on the level of Lebron here and other places. It has been shown season after season that only one man in this league can carry his team to the finals. LEBRON JAMES. KD won 1 game against Lebron in the finals and his team had Harden, Ibaka, and Westbrook on it. IMO KD is closer to Melo than Lebron.

  92. Farfa

    IMO KD is closer to Melo than Lebron.

    What.

    Ok, KD is not LeBron by any means, and that’s true, but KD is not closer to Melo than LeBron. LeBron is a marvel and a much better player than KD at this point (I mean, at this exact point. The MVP trophy was well deserved in my opinion), but try to put KD in LeBron’s system, coach included, and their team results won’t be that different. 2012 Ibaka didn’t give all that spacing, Westbrook (for all his prowess) doesn’t even know what spacing means and… well… Harden laid an egg in the Finals. Surround KD with shooters in a good system and KD becomes closer to LeBron.

    Now that I think about it, though, Melo in 2012-13 did the same thing… so maybe KD and Melo are really similar?

  93. er

    just to be clear i think KD is a top 3 player, and melo is more 5-10 but the gap between Lebron an who ever is #2 is just massive

  94. johnno

    “just to be clear i think KD is a top 3 player, and melo is more 5-10 but the gap between Lebron an who ever is #2 is just massive”
    Put another way — who in the league could have come close to taking that crappy Cleveland roster nearly as far as LeBron took them? I think that the answer is pretty clearly no one — which pains me to say because I don’t like LeBron at all, but I have to admit that he is clearly the best player in the NBA by far.

  95. Hubert

    er, LeBron is 4 years ahead of Durant on their respective paths. IMO that experience is the only gap that separates them. They are different players but equally transcendent. Barring injury, KD’s time is inevitable.

  96. DRed

    Durant may have been better than Lebron this year. It was certainly pretty close. Lebron is probably still better when he’s fully healthy and playing maximum effort on defense, but I’m not sure he can do that for 82 games anymore (or at least not with this team).

    and melo is more 5-10

    Maybe in the Atlantic Division.

  97. Farfa

    and melo is more 5-10

    Maybe in the Atlantic Division.

    Lol.

    But still, Melo worked well in that “fake PF surrounded by shooters and a dive man” system of last year, you have to give him credit for that.

  98. DRed

    When Melo first got here the argument was that he was super awesome despite his stats because he had a unique ability to make everyone else on the court better. Then Melo actually became a better player, and now the argument is that he’s a superstar but only if you surround him with the right type of players (really good ones). Through it all, people here keep insisting he’s a top 5 (or ten, or even 3) player. There’s always an excuse for why he doesn’t have stats like the other top players. Spacing, hockey assists, Kobe assists, it’s his teammates fault, bad coaching, poor system, intangibles-the excuses keep changing.

  99. lavor postell

    Durant on this year’s Heat team might not even get past Indiana. Put Lebron next to Ibaka and you have the league’s best defensive team. Durant is a transcendent player, but he’s never going to be the two-way player Lebron is and I think his overall offensive game is also not as good as Lebron’s, though he’s creeping closer on that side of the ball. KD is the most prolific scorer in the game and has been for a few years, but he’s not the creative force Lebron is.

  100. johnno

    “but he’s never going to be the two-way player Lebron is”
    Not sure that I agree with this, but I definitely think that it’s not close now. In four years? Who knows.

  101. Hubert

    When Melo first got here the argument was that he was super awesome despite his stats because he had a unique ability to make everyone else on the court better.

    That was RuRuland’s argument, and it was based entirely on correlation = causation. I don’t think he had a lot of backing.

  102. er

    DRED not sure what numbers you are referring to. Advanced stats can be artificially inflated by ppl who care about them. Durant has said he plays with advanced stats in mind and is passive to keep them high. Players like Melo and Westbrook don’t care and take some bad shots. Anyone who doesn’t see that Melo is a top 10 player in this league is delusional. He shot 45% 40% and 85% from the line. I don’t know that those. Numbers are bad…….oh but advanced stats…….

  103. lavor postell

    @105

    I guess we’ll find out, but the fact Lebron can be a lockdown defender from 1-4 is something I don’t think Durant will ever be able to do. Either way Durant may not be ever be as good as Lebron but he’s still really fucking good.

  104. DRed

    That was RuRuland’s argument, and it was based entirely on correlation = causation. I don’t think he had a lot of backing.

    Tell that to Nate Silver.

    Advanced stats can be artificially inflated by ppl who care about them. Durant has said he plays with advanced stats in mind and is passive to keep them high.

    Advanced stats tell me the passive Kevin Durant had a higher usage than Carmelo while missing far less often.

  105. er

    hes a great player KD. A better shooter, but he has 0 post game and can be neutralized with CP3 and Tony Allen. I credit him with taking better shots, and he is more athletic than melo so his fast break points are nice.

    Tell me, what makes him more like Lebron than Melo?

  106. cgreene

    only half jokingly i think the biggest sign Melo is leaving is that Ruru doesn’t post on this board anymore

  107. Owen

    What makes Durant more like Lebron than Melo?

    The .295 in the WS column on basketball reference. Just the .2 actually. The .200 barrier has been a bit of a resistance level for Melo for, well, his entire career.

    Melo may be a top ten player. But there aren’t any numbers to support that fact. And never have been….

    He did play better the last two years than I expected, I will give him that…

  108. er

    Melo may be a top ten player. But there aren’t any numbers to support that fact. And never have been….

    #7 PER
    #10 in Offensive winshares.

    All we need to know about Advanced stats is that Robin Lopez has the #1 Off Rating in the League

  109. Nick C.

    These are sounding vaguely like the “Ben Zobrist led the league in WAR he sucks” arguments on baseball websites.

  110. johnno

    Isn’t WP48 the holy grail of advanced stats on this site? This past season, out of all of the players in the league who played more than 500 minutes, Tyson Chandler was 24th in WP48 and Pablo Prigioni was 27th. To those of you who (a) are WP48 advocates and (b) watched a lot of Knicks games this year, do you really and truly think that both of those guys were among the top 30 players in the league? Seriously?

  111. DRed

    Pablo can’t play big minutes because he’s so old, so no, he’s not a top 30 player. Tyson is still terrific when he doesn’t have the mumps or some sort of physical injury. But you have to take his durability into account. Rate stats are very useful, but it’s not the only thing you should look at.

  112. johnno

    “Tyson is still terrific”
    You really think that Tyson was terrific this year? Wow. I watched about 3/4 of the games this year and I can’t think of more than one or two that I would call “terrific” games by Chandler. To me, he and Shumpert were the two guys who looked like there were merely going through the motions at least 50% of the time.

  113. DRed

    How good was our perimeter d when Shumpert wasn’t out there going through the motions?

  114. yellowboy90

    All I remember of Tyson is his head defending his own Dunk. That and him not being able to catch a bounce pass, maybe like 1/10.

  115. johnno

    “How good was our perimeter d when Shumpert wasn’t out there going through the motions?”
    Lousy, but it was also lousy when he was out there — and remember, he is a defensive “specialist” who brings virtually nothing to the table on offense so, when he’s slacking off on defense — like he did a lot this year — he doesn’t add a whole lot to the team. I’m in the minority here but I think that his and Felton’s stinkfest of a season was one of the biggest reasons that the Knicks were bad this year.

  116. nicos

    Prigioni is a point guard who can’t stop the ball defensively or get into the lane on offense. Those are kind of important things for a point guard to be able to do. His TS% is artificially high given that he only shoots when wide open and often not even then. Even if he could play starters minutes he wouldn’t sniff the top thirty players in the league- he’s average at best. And he actually ranked lower than Felton on ESPN’s new real +/- stat so even when you adjust for line-ups the Knicks were actually worse with him on the floor than they were with Felton. Look, I think anyone would agree that he’s better than Felton but that says absolutely nothing.

  117. DRed

    And he actually ranked lower than Felton on ESPN’s new real +/- stat so even when you adjust for line-ups the Knicks were actually worse with him on the floor than they were with Felton.

    Prigi Smalls was 14th among NBA point guards in real +/-. Ray Felton was 27th. You guys are failing my eye test utterly with your baseless responses. You’ve all clearly checked out after a bad season and are merely going through the motions because you lack leadership intangibles.

  118. mokers

    Prigi Smalls was 14th among NBA point guards in real +/-. Ray Felton was 27th. You guys are failing my eye test utterly with your baseless responses.

    Interestingly, this depends on how you sort the data. If you sort by Raw RPM, Prigs is 14th and Ray is 27th. If you sort by WAR, which uses RPM, Ray is 22nd and Prigs is 24th. So Prigs is better on a rate basis, but because of the reduced minutes was overall less valuable. If Prigs could have sustained more minutes (I blame part on his age, part on idiot coach), he likely would have had more WAR.

    Interestingly enough, on offense, they have Felton at 16 and Prigs at 24. Prigs value comes in defense where he is 10 and Felton is 41.

    Tnteresting to see some of the other numbers of RAPM. Only 10 centers had positive offensive value. All other positions have at least 30.

  119. DRed

    Interestingly, this depends on how you sort the data.

    I sorted by real plus/minus. There is no raw RPM. RPM is a rate stat. According to RPM, the Knicks are (significantly) better with Pablo on the floor than with Ray Felton. For whatever that’s worth.

    Anyhow, RPM is a useless stat , b/c it says Tyson is better than Carmelo. Could you imagine a team of 5 Tysons out there not really trying?

  120. johnno

    If you rely on any “advanced” stat that Raymond Felton ranked as high as 22nd best point guard in the league this year, you undermine your own credibility and the legitimacy of the stat. Did you watch the games? Do you think that Felton was anywhere near the 22nd best pg in the league?

  121. GoNyGoNYGo

    @95

    The only way to win is to steal LeBron or Durant, or be lucky enough to draft the next one.

    Yeah. I kinda feel that Melo might be at that kind of level.

    It’s pretty hopeless. Great system you built, NBA.

    The NBA system isn’t the problem. The lousy way this team has been run is what gives me that hopeless feeling. I would feel better if we had our two draft picks this year and next. This is how the NBA has worked since the days of Bill Russell. The teams with the mega-stars wins. It’s because basketball has 5 starters. Every starter is 20% of the lineup.

    @118

    How good was our perimeter d when Shumpert wasn’t out there going through the motions?

    Lousy. But how was our offense? Shump was a major disappointment.

    @121

    Prigioni is a point guard who can’t stop the ball defensively or get into the lane on offense.

    Agree 100%. He should be a 3rd PG. I like him in that role.

    @125

    Do you think that Felton was anywhere near the 22nd best pg in the league?

    I can count the number of decent games he had last year on my fingers.

  122. Hubert

    Damn, I thought we were past the point where conversations here could devolve into “Melo is a top 10 player” and “stats are stupid”.

    Nicos:

    His TS% is artificially high given that he only shoots when wide open

    I would argue that isn’t artificial, rather it shows both Pablo’s and the stat’s effectiveness. Part of the foundation of advanced stats in basketball is the belief that there are good shots available. A guy who takes and makes them, like Pablo, will look good per advanced stats. The biggest reason Melo doesn’t fare well in advanced stats is that the high number of bad or contested shots he takes comes at the expense of a better shot that never got to be taken.

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