The Knicks Want Jeffries

The Knicks have signed Wizards forward Jared Jeffries to their mid-level exception (i.e., 5-years averaging $6 million per). Because the team is over the luxury tax threshold it will have to match the contract dollar-for-dollar in taxes should Washington choose not to match it. The Washington Post is reporting that the contract has language designed to discourage Washington from matching or demanding a sign-and-trade. Jeffries? agent has also made it clear that his client wishes to play in New York. However, matching the offer is not?financially speaking?especially burdensome for Washington, who has the cap space.

So, is this a good signing for the Knicks? I?ll try to look at this from three related (but distinct) vantage points: production, roster management, and fiscal. Even as I type this I?m not sure where I stand, though I?ll note that I have always rooted for him.

Production. Certainly Jeffries? per game offensive numbers fail to jump off the page. Last season he scored 6.4 points and pulled down 4.9 boards. More advanced metrics don?t necessarily make him look any better either. His career PER is 10.5 and he has posted below league average offensive ratings each year of his career. I was particularly interested in seeing how turnover-prone he is, as I?d hate to add another butterfingers to the frontcourt. His career turnover rate is 14.4?not atrocious; an upgrade over Qyntel Woods but not as good as Jalen Rose (12.5 in NY) or Q-Rich (8.7). Fortunately, Jeffries? 13.3 usage rate suggests that his teams have never looked to him for offensive punch.

His calling card, such that it is, is defense. So, how good is he defensively? That is a notoriously difficult question to answer, and probably near impossible to answer for combo forwards using most easily accessible stats. There is no reason to think that Jeffries is not at least the defensive equivalent of any of the veteran small forwards on the roster. So the real question is whether he is an upgrade, and if so by how much? Kevin Broom wrote up a nice piece at RealGM about the 2005 Wizards defense as part of a team defensive charting project he?s been doing. (If you are in a hurry, scroll down to ?Defense By the Numbers? in boldface. Start reading there.) Broom?s game-charted data portrayed Jeffries as a good pressure and help defender, typically assigned the best frontcourt scorer to protect the defensively-indifferent Antawn Jamison. Broom?s criticism at the time was that Jeffries was too often apt to abandon his assignment to help in the post, leaving accomplished shooters wide open 3 pt. looks. That seems to be precisely the kind of thing a young player might get better at over time, though I have no idea whether Jeffries has. Again, the numbers don?t add much clarity. According to his on-court/off-court numbers balance out exactly to zero.

From a production standpoint Jeffries is a gamble; not quite a Jerome James-type nonsensical gamble, but a gamble nonetheless. He?s a role player that doesn?t score. Unlike with an emerging offensive force, where widely available metrics are sensitive enough to provide a decent projection (think Jackie Butler), we are often stuck reading the proverbial tea leaves on defensive-oriented players. There?s nothing to suggest that Jeffries, who is at least 6?10? with really long arms and nice lateral quickness, doesn?t deserve the rep he has as a good young defender but then there is little to support it either.

Roster Management. Between the draft and this signing one might think that Isiah is channeling the dearly departed Larry Brown, given his sudden fondness for defense-first role players. Jeffries, who will play both forward spots, will join a semi-crowded front court. It is certainly reasonable to suspect that Jeffries, even with no other roster changes, will start at small forward alongside Channing Frye and Eddy Curry. Isiah however could also opt to start either of the more perimeter oriented forwards, Jalen Rose or Quentin Richardson. I strongly suspect that David Lee?s future is now at backup power forward rather than small forward, should he remain on the team. I certainly hope that the Jeffries signing portends the end of significant minutes for Malik Rose and Mo Taylor.

If Jeffries actually brings the defense and versatility to the table his reputation suggests then it would seem that Isiah?s strategy is to mix-and-match lineups, similar to the Dallas Mavericks. If this is true, it would seem to contradict his earlier pronouncements that he would shrink the rotation. Even should he be committed to chaining Malik Rose and Mo Taylor to the bench, and even assuming that Balkman?s minutes will be limited, it is difficult to see how Isiah manages front court minutes without thinning out the roster in that area.

Fiscal Impact. As mid-level exception signings go it?s hard to characterize this as outright horrible, if only because Jerome James still anchors the scale at that end?not to mention the training table. Jeffries is a big gamble because he contributes so little offensively that he must play stellar defense, at a position where there are few nights off, or he becomes a net negative. Anyway, if Jeffries really is just a decent defender backed by a pretty good defensive center then why not stay with less expensive options like Qyntel Woods?

I am willing to give Thomas the benefit of the doubt on Jeffries’ talent. I am far less charitable concerning Isiah’s ability to play the market. The full mid-level seems a bit pricey for a defensive role player that is not a bona fide shut-down guy at his position, especially when San Antonio basically turned their mid-level in to Jackie Butler and Francisco Elson. But then, if my understanding is correct, Jeffries already has turned down an even bigger contract offer to sign New York?s offer sheet. Also, the agent?s very public rhetoric?that Jeffries really wants to leave?seems to suggest that he has at least some fear that Washington may match New York?s mid-level offer.

So, numerous paragraphs later I?m still not sure how I feel about this. What about you all?

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Part-time blogger on the Knicks at and Seahawks at In my free time I hang out at the University of South Carolina and occasionally fill thirsty young minds with knowledge about various and sundry things related to consumer behavior and marketing.

45 thoughts to “The Knicks Want Jeffries”

  1. Jeffries would fit pretty well in New York. The Knicks don’t need anyone else who demands the ball, and the Knicks need a starting small foward. Jeffries will work well in New York if Washington doesn’t match.

  2. It certainly is a tough one.

    The one thing Jeffries gives the Knicks (which James categorically did not) is something interesting. Some potential. Something to root for.


    That’s a pretty damn fun starting five.

    But the Knicks, just by shedding expiring contracts next year would be close to the Luxury Tax. THAT’S how much darned dead weight they’re carrying.

    So the idea of ADDING to that is iffy.

    What I like about this the most is that, if Washington DOES match, I don’t think anyone would really care that much.

  3. Thanks for the mention of my article on the Wizards defense. :) Don’t know what happened to the formatting. Here’s a link that’s easier to read

    As for Jeffries — while he has been a role-playing defender for the Wiz, that’s as much because he can’t score as his defensive abilities. He was considered the Wizards “stopper” in recent years, but has received no votes for all-defense. I’m dubious about his abilities to significantly improve offensively. Last season, he at least got to the league average in offensive efficiency, but his game is still very limited.

    Jeffries will play hard and do what his coaches ask of him. I think he’s more active than productive, though. I’d personally let him go because I don’t think he’s worth an MLE contract (certainly not when the team is basically paying double on him). I suspect the Wizards will match, though. If they do, it won’t be a tremendous loss for the Knicks.

  4. Brian,

    The Knicks will still be significantly over the cap next year without Jeffries. HoopHype shows $65 MM, but for some reason that doesn’t include Curry (assume $8 MM), doesn’t include last years three rookies ($5 MM between them) or this years ($2 MM?). Puts the Knicks at around $80 MM for 12 guys. The soonest the Knicks could have cap space is 2009 – do you really want to start spending that freedom on Jeffries?

    The Jeffries move is dumb. Best case scenario is what, good defense – but not all NBA quality and average offense. What is the cost – $10 MM per year (W/ tax) of Dolan’s money (doesn’t bother me, but at some point they will stop wasting money) and playing time.

    So who sits, Balkman a younger, cheaper guy we hope to have good/not great defense and average offense. Q – who we hope is healthy and can play okay defense and shoot three pointers. Lee – who actually rebounds, tries hard on defense and can score a little.

    I’m not sure Jeffries is an improvement and would rather find out if Balkman and Lee are players than watch Jeffries be blah for five years.

    What Isiah refuses to examine is the total cost of a move – talent, financial and opportunity. Do the Knicks have more talent if Jeffries signs – YES, he’s better than some CBA star who would fill out the bench BUT WHO CARES. Are they a better team – I say no because he is no better than the guys he would take playing time from.

  5. Kevin, you have it right my friend. This is a totally dumb signing, which will ultimately hamper the next GM (sooner rather than later, I hope). The team has at least 4 guys who can play 3 and the minutes are going to be tight – now you bring in a 5th? This is a Dolan signing through and through, meaning that Isiah needs a short term fix, just in case some guys get hurt or he sours on someone. If Dolan doesn’t make his dumbass “significant improvement or you’re canned” statement, this never happens. Wouldn’t it have been much more prudent to sign Butler to the 3 year deal than Jeffries to the 5 year deal?

    TRADE SUGGESTIONS: Ok, a little off topic, but instead of bringing in Jeffries, how about getting involved in the Al Harrington deal? You ship Mo Taylor and David Lee to Charlotte, Charlotte sends Talor (on the last year of a one year deal) to ATL, and ATL signs and trades Harrington through Charlotte to the Knicks. They keep Lee in Charlotte. I’d much rather do that than bring in Jeffries.

  6. Butler would have been a great trade asset later this year or next year had they signed him to the mid-level. Jeffires will not represent value and therefore will be just another negative contrcat on the books. As afforementioned, this team is clearly being managaed on a 1 year window. Great if you are close to contending but not when a wrecking ball is what is really needed. How did the Dolans make their money? – could their competitors have been more stupid than them?

  7. Apparently, Plan B if Washington matches is to trade Q-Rich for Darius Miles.

    As bad as Q was last year, this would be hard not to be an improvement.

  8. As much as it is tearing me apart on not matching Jackie Butler offersheet for a Cheap $7 Million for 3 years.

    I LUV the addition of a Jared Jefferies on the Knicks Roster, but I still dont trust Wizards G.M. Ernie Grunfield in not matching the Knicks offer sheet even with their signing of Songaila and Stevenson.

    I would’ve Luv to have signed all three Free Agents Butler, Woods, and Jefferies to the Knick Roster if the Knicks could have gotten rid of Q.Richardson, James, or Malik Rose to the Bobcats open salary cap for nothing in return (I would of even through in a 2nd round pick).

    To have Curry & Butler “MAN” the Center position.
    With 6.11 Frye & Jefferies.
    And 6.9 Lee & Woods.
    Plus 6.6 Rookies Balkman & Collins.
    To go along with Marbury, Crawford, and Francis.

    It would be nice to pick an 8-Man rotation out of the above 11-Players each game.

  9. I have no doubt that Miles is bad, as well, Ted, but man…Q was just useless.

    What is interesting to me, though, is how Q is not even much OLDER than Miles. Man…Miles is so going to be one of those 30 year olds who we’re still waiting to “put it all together,” isn’t he?

  10. Some Comments:

    I don’t think we need to factor in his double contract at all when deciding if this was a good move. That’s Dolans issue and if doesn’t care paying, or he wants to pass that cost on, that’s on him. It’s a drop in the bucket at this point and it’s only a factor if you are viewing this from the POV of James Dolan (i.e. “Man, if I’m dolan i wouldn’t want to play 12 mil for THIS guy”)

    But we aren’t really looking at it from his point of view. We’re looking at this from Thomas’ point of view and for Thomas this is a standard MLE contract. Yes, I realize it impacts him if Dolan decides that deals like this make him cut the money flow to Thomas…..but if Jerome james didn’t make him do that, we can’t sit around and try to guess what silly deal WILL make Dolan do that. That means getting inside Dolans head and that’s a frightening proposition.

    So at that point I think this needs to be looked at essentially the way Crocket looked at it, with maybe some differences.

    1) Chemistry
    2) Production
    3) Replacement value


    I believe this move was made for chemistry reasons just like I think our draft unfolded how it did for chemistry reasons.

    It seems real clear that Thomas believes he has too many offensive threats for the one ball that bounces around the court and so he wants guys that impact the game in other ways….and bringing some intensity to the court isn’t gonna hurt either.

    In that way this was as solid move (especially if you happen to AGREE with that thinking.) Jefferies isn’t a very good offensive threat, but the idea here is that he probably doesn’t NEED to be.

    To me, what this move means is that the Knicks are going to TRY a Francis/Marbury backcourt in which they are the offensive triggermen. If that’s the case you need to surround that pair with guys who don’t need to score to make an impact.


    Much in the same way that Ben Wallace doesn’t need to be an offensive threat to help the Bulls. To me what’s especially impressive about Jefferies’ defensive stats (def. points per 100 pos.) is that his stats are so clearly better than all the other starters on that team.

    Another note is that his PER when he played SF was 11.3. Not great. However, when he played SF, the opposition’s SF had an 8.3. Unless I’m reading that stat wrong that’s a pretty nice gap. If every starter could do that…you’d win a lot of ball games.

    The best thing he could do to boost his production would be to start hitting his FT’s. Not only because it would help him score a few more points a game, but because it would give him the confidence to draw more fouls. One of the big problems with Jefferies’ game isn’t so much that guys don’t pass him the ball, it’s that unless he knows he can score he doesn’t;t look to really challenge a defense. Probably because he knows he’ll get fouled, get to the line, and only hit 1 of 2. He probably figures he might as well give it to Arenas and help his team on the other end.

    But if he can just get that FT% up he’ll make himself more valuable…not really as an offensive player per se, but as a foul creator.

    Replacement Value

    This is my one big beef with the signing. I haven’t broken it all down, but my HUNCH is that you could find a lesser known guy than Jefferies who could do roughly similar things….and pay him 3-4 million less a year. Teams dig guys like this up every so often, but usually they don’t have the kind of offensive team that allows them to give those kind of guys significant playing time.

    We, on the other hand, do have a team where scoring really shouldn’t be a huge deal. If Channing Frye shows any kind of growth as a scorer we will have at least 3 bonafied scorers in our starting 5 and some very solid bench scorers like Nate and Jalen Rose.

    So one if what you need is a hustle/defensive player, don’t you think you could find one for less than 6 mil?

    I mean you could argue that Bruce Bowen is the best of that kind of player in the league and he makes 3.75 this year. We’ll see what happens when HIS next deal is made, but the ponit is that you can find Bruce Bowens out there as long as your have the kinds of players to cover up for the fact that he can’t score. Most teams just can’t do it.

    The only real error I would say Thomas made was not in identifying the KIND of player we needed…and it wasn’t even in picking the EXACT player he did. The problem I have is that I think he could have gotten a guy like him for less.

    The counter to that is that when your team has a 120mil dollar salary what’s the difference between 3.75 and 6? And that answer is: not much.

    But it does speak to a philosophical breakdown this team has had since…at least the Allan Houston signing.

    In summary this deal is good or bad depending on your view of 2 things:

    1) Does it matter to you how much we pay for talent?

    Some would say we’re so far over the cap it doesn’t matter, lets just get good players. Others would say the “right” price is the “right” price no matter what your cap looks like. Folks who believe the former probably don’t mind this deal, the folks who believe the latter are probably pulling their hair out saying “here we go again”.

    2) Do you believe we have a chemistry problem that gets fixed by LESS offensive starters rather than guards who pass more?

    Some folks would say that way to fix our offense is to get Marbury and Francis to play team ball. Some folks would say you let them DO what they DO and you get players around them to supplement the rest.

    Final note:

    I don’t buy the idea that Jefferies takes time away from better players.

    Q was totally unreliable and no GM in his right mind would bank on him turning it around AND being healthy all at the same time. It’s fantastic for statboy fans like me (and maybe some of you) to wax poetic about the guy, but if it was OUR head on the block there is no way in hell we bank on this kid. And I liked the move that brought him here at the time.

    Lee. He isn’t a SF, plain and simple. 82Games seems to clearly show he was a very solid PF and a very subpar SF. He lacks the foot speed/lateral quicks to guard anyone out there. He’s athletic in a straightline run/jump sense, but don’t be fooled into thinking this kid can shuffle those feet. He cant. Secondly, his biggest attribute at SF would seemly be his awsome rebounding ability. However, if he’s out on the wing there’s very good chance he doesn’t have access to as many boards as he normally would and that, to me, nullifies one of this (only?) strengths at that position. Keep him backing up PF’s where he belongs.

    Balkman. Essentially it’s the Q situation without the health concerns. Meaning, we have NO clue what to expect from this guy and there isn’t anyone here that puts their job on the line to start Renaldo Balkman!! It just doesn’t happen.

    Rose. Ok, this is the one guy I’ll guy. To me Rose and Jefferies is the neck and neck battle that must be decided in preseason. To me the choice between the two is simply philosophical. Do you want the better offensive player, or defensive player? Taking the teams possible strategy into account (Marbury and Francis gunning), I don’t see how it can be said Rose is DEFINITLY better than Jefferies. For that to be the case Rose would have to shoot quite a bit since it’s what gives him most of his increased value OVER Jefferies. If there aren’t a ton of shots for him then the better player to put at SF would be Jefferies. His skill set is more applicable.

  11. Having watched Jeffries for 4 years in DC, I really can’t understand the 30m contract. All of this biz about “we already have enough scorers” is a bit misguided. Jeffries is no offensive threat. Zero. Zilch. Null set. Yes, there will be more ‘balls’ to shoot for the others, but five opposing defensive players will be able to collapse on the four you have on the floor not named Jeffries. Jeffries is such an offensive non-factor that defenses simply ignore him, and with no jump shot, foul shot, poor hands and a complete inability to control his body in the air (which makes even the simplest lay-up a hail mary), he never makes them pay. You need a player with at least some offensive skills so that it stretches the defense, making it easier for the other guys. Jeffries has none.

    Defensively, his talent lies in pestering players (with hyperactivity more than prowess) on the perimeter and using his height against smaller shooting guards (at 6’11, he does present some matchup problems at the two). While these are nice skills against mediocre talent, he struggles against top-tier players and is by no means a “shut down” defender. Defensive specialists should also rebound and deliver steals, which Jeffries does not. Comparing him to Rodman or Ben Wallace, etc., is more than a stretch.

    He can play many positions, which is a plus, especially if injuries take out a couple starters. Aesthetically, he’s a bit of an eyesore. He lacks hedgemony over his gangly frame – watch him when he drives – no control whatsoever, and he doesn’t have the split-second body co-ordination needed to time and execute the rebound. He drops passes and sometimes looks a little lost, particularly on the offensive end.

    Overall, a decent piece to fill gaps and bring a little defense if you’re paying him 1.5 million per, but 30m over five is absurd. I think it’s another expensive, long-contract mirage for Isiah and the Knicks. New York needs better long-term planning and more fiscal responsibility.

  12. Unless you’re finding him off the street there is no way a guy like him gets 1.5. I’ll buy that he’s overpaid, but nobody who has started a healthy amount of games in the league, at 24, is getting 1.5.

    A few other things:

    1) His rebound rate is double that of Bruce Bowen and slightly better than Paul Pierce….he’ll be fine in that department.

    2) Steals don’t mean you’re a good defender (A.I. is horrid now), and although steals are important for teams because they change posession, they aren’t the end-all-be-all of defensive rating.
    The numbers that matter more are defensive +/- (in my view) and in that way Jefferies is a very good defender.

    Does he have problems with the elite players? Of course….EVERYONE does. That’s why they’re the best players. If guys like Ruben Patterson really COULD stop Kobe, they wouldn’t be just Ruben Patterson. They’d be….really good.

    3) The contract is overpaying. Few people disagree. But it’s overpaying by so little I don’t see it as much of an issue. Everyone in this league overpays (just as we all would if we were GM) at some point. At least he overpaid for a guy who’s 24….and he overpaid but, at most, maybe 2 mil a year.

    4) If the contest is between a better offensive player who will get 10 shots a game max, or a player who gets 5 shots a game and plays much better defense….it’s close but I’ll take the guy who has the skills that impact the game more. I think it’s close, but Jefferies will do more than Rose will.

    There is a value in “stretching” the defense, but if that value was REALLY REALLY big, every team would start their own Steve Kerr. And they don’t.

    To me the only issue is that ideally we’d have a team that was so good at finding the unknown Jared Jefferies’ of the world, that we wouldn’t have to pay 6mil per FOR the real one. If we had an organization like that we’d be way better off. That’s what makes the Spurs…the Spurs.

    BUT since we DON’T have that I don’t mind this deal.

    At least its for a player who did more than have one good playoff series, unlike Jerome James. Now THAT was a horrid deal that I know every knick fan saw coming!!!

  13. Phillip: Overall, I don’t have much to say about your comments. You’re more optimistic than I would be were I a Knicks fan, but that doesn’t matter much. My main point is to STRONGLY caution you against using the counterpart data for the Wizards. It’s wrong.

    The Wizards do a TON of cross-matching and switching, none of which is reflected in the 82games counterpart stuff. Plus, the position assignments are off. Jeffries, for example, is assumed to have played 42% of the Wizards’ minutes at PF. Leaving aside the fact that the Wizards don’t even use PG, SG, SF or PF designations (they have guards, forwards and centers — or, in the team’s parlance: littles, mediums and bigs), Jeffries was the team’s starter at guard for much of the season. Even that has little relevance when coming up with counterpart assignments because Jeffries would defend anyone from center to shooting guard.

    Before Jarvis Hayes got hurt, Jeffries generally drew the toughest forward to defend. However, the Wizards also often used Haywood to defend bigger PFs, and in those cases Jeffries sometimes was matched against centers. After Hayes got hurt, Jeffries regularly defended PFs, SFs, and SGs. All of this is merely to illustrate that the counterpart data at 82games isn’t very good when it comes to the Wizards. It may be a little better for other teams that don’t do as much hinkty matching up as the Wizards, but it still doesn’t account for help defense, which is extremely important.

    Just one more illustration — my defensive tracking in 2005 (link above) showed Haywood responsible for something like 21 FGA per 48 minutes. The counterpart data shows him responsible for 13.5 FGA per 48. That?s because there?s no accounting for help defense, which again is extremely important.

  14. IMHO here are the positives about the signing of JJ…inter squad games should be downright nasty as all these guys who play the same position fight for PT within IT’s schizophrenic roster; should it end in blood shed(personally I’d root for Q over Marbury)- which begs the question if a max-player should die at the hands of another over-paid player and we get 2 roster spots open do we get cap relief as well? (Isiah has a plan afterall)

  15. IMHO here are the positives about the signing of JJ…he’s tall. Also, inter-squad games which should be downright nasty and televised since all these guys who play the same position have to fight for PT within IT’s schizophrenic roster; should it end in blood shed(personally I’m rooting for Q over Marbury)- which begs the question if a max-player should die at the hands of another over-paid player and we get 2 roster spots open, do we get cap relief as well? (Isiah has a plan afterall!).

  16. KJB

    It seems though, that the 82Games data can be used simply. Taking out WHERE Jefferies played (I’ll conceed that point) the fact of the matter still remains that the team was 4.6 points per 100 pos. better (on defense) with him on the court than off it. Irreguardless of his position or the position he was guarding.

    I would also say that 82 games is solid for measuring because the other good defender using their data is: Haywood Jefferies, which seems to confirm your data in a broad way.

    The specific positional data is probably wrong for all the reasons you said, so maybe direct comparisons with Rose aren’t all that great. However, the key point is still valid:

    Jared Jefferies instantly becomes one, if not, our best defender. He IS a good defender, irregardless of it being “activity” or “productivity”.

    Let me conclude by saying I’m not optimistic in the respect that I think this turns around the team. I just happen to believe that he’s a better fit than any SF we currently have. Though it’s a close toss up between he and Rose.

    It probably isn’t a signing I would have made, but I don’t think it’s a signing that’s really going to hurt us. He isn’t taking time away from better players, and his contract is small beans compared to our other nightmares.

    And all this is taking into account that he doesn’t improve AT ALL. If he did get to the line just a bit more, and improve AT the line, he’d be way more valuable.

    We’ll see how this goes.

  17. Phillip: I agree with you that other information at 82games if very useful, especially the on/off data. My comments were specifically about using the counterpart data and were not intended to go any further than that.

    Jeffries IS a pretty good defender. Not a lock-him-up and shut-him-out kind of defender, but someone who will generally make opposing scorers at least work for their points. At least when he’s not wandering away from Paul Pierce at the 3pt line to double Mark Blount in the post. Ahem.

    At very least, I don’t think he’ll hurt the Knicks when he’s on the court. They’ll want to put scorers around him because he’s not going to create offense on his own. He can help the offense by moving the ball and keeping offensive boards alive (even if he’s not grabbing those boards himself).

    I could see him improving somewhat if he’s able to focus on a single position and more defined responsibilities. With the Wizards, he was kind of a Swiss army knife — they used him for everything. If Isiah gives him a more clearly defined role instead of all the nutty cross-matching the Wiz did, it might benefit Jeffries (and therefore probably the Knicks).

  18. Positives outweigh the negatives here.

    J. Rose is gone within 8 months, Q will spend more time in traction than playing productive ball for the Knicks over the term of his contract. Lee is better at the 4 and Qyntel is a non issue, so there’s not as much redundancy at the 3 as we’ve become used to in the last few years. What this deal does is simply give the team its small forward for the rest of the decade.

    Overpaid (although not atrociously so)
    Mediocre offensive game
    Bad free throw shooter

    Improves our perimeter D (one of the biggest weaknesses last year)

    His double-teaming ability might make up for some of Curry’s defensive mediocrity.

    Hopefully reduces PT of scrubs Taylor and Malik Rose

    Gives the team more flexibility in going big or small.

    Doesn’t bring any baggage or chemistry problems to the team.

    He can play in the spotlight (see Indiana v Duke ’02).

    (Sadly) brings more recent playoff experience than anyone on the roster

    If we’re stuck w/ Marbury, Francis and Curry as our cornerstone stars, the surrounding players need to first and foremost NOT duplicate their flaws and secondly, try to compensate for them. Ballhoggery, poor D, and laziness are the biggest problems with those 3. JJ doesn’t duplicate any and helps alleviate some. That sounds like a healthy fit to me.

    I give the signing a B for now.

  19. Good discussion on this topic folks!

    This is what makes (one of) the best in the NBA-related blogosphere. I have come to loathe the “we rule, therefore you suck!” yelling and screaming that has come to pass for meaningful sports discourse these days. So please accept this communal pat on the back KB readers and posters.

    As for the Jeffries signing, at this point I feel like it’s difficult to get really worked up about any aspect of it one way or the other. It’s neither especially promising or especially poor.

    * Is Jeffries overpaid? Relative to value, most likely, but not egregiously so. Although the precise quality of his defense is something of an open question, he’ll undoubtedly be a real drag on offense. To me, his TS% tells an interesting story. 50% TS doesn’t look bad–and it’s not–until you consider that he doesn’t take many 3pt shots and that Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas both managed over 53% TS. You’d expect a higher percentage from Jeffries in Washington’s offense given his length, overall athleticism, and matchups that often saw him pitted against smaller players. I get that Jeffries is being paid for his help defense but the Knicks aren’t efficient enough to win with a one-man offensive handicap.

    Still, relative to the market, Jeffries is not overpaid. No way Grunfeld lets him leave for less than the full MLE. That would have been bad business, especially with a kid like Jeffries. Grunfeld could have matched knowing that Jeffries would play hard and wouldn’t be disruptive.

  20. Yeah I think David is onto something about the Grunfeld thing.

    Let’s be real, it was total spin to say Stevenson replaces Jeffries. If you look at what he did in orlando the offense only slightly improved when Stevenson was in the game, and the defense got a WHOLE LOT worse. His overall oncourt/offcourt was -9 over his replacment in Orlando. That’s terrible…in fact, it’s the second worst on the team after Travis Diener, who never played.

    Add that to the rebounding rate gap and I don’t see the replacement value, however I conceede that Stevenson might really bloom in Washington…who knows.

    The Wiz will be fine in that they can plug in Jarvis Hayes or Daniels, but make no mistake that they did not replace Jeffries for cheap….they simply went cheap because they had Jeffries’ replacement already on the team. That’s a huge difference.

    That’s why the Wizards would have resigned him for around what we paid him. And David is right in that it was going to take the full MLE to get him.

    We can argue if the market overprices guys like him, but I don’t see the argument that we were the only club willing to go that far down the road on this guy.

    I also agree that the situation isn’t enough to get worked up over, but it is fun fodder for discussion because it’s rank-and-file moves like this that make up the meat of most teams.

  21. I agree that Stevenson is not a replacement for Jeffries. I think that Stevenson is more likely a replacement for Awvee Storey and Donnell Taylor.

    There was lots of spin and smokescreen in Ernie’s press conference. For example, I’m not buying for a second the notion that the Wiz let Jeffries go because his agent said Jared would rather be in NY. If the Wizards had though Jeffries was worth that contract, they would have kept him no matter what his agent had said.

  22. It’s about situation as much as Jeffries.

    I think it came down to the fact that they were juggling minutes as it was and decided they didn’t want to pay for the priviledge of doing that juggling for another season.

    I think they realize that both Jeffries and Daniels deserve to start. I think they realize that Butler is best suited for SF and Butler is clearly a better player than Jeffries.

    So why pay 6 per for the headache of moving Butler to a position he isn’t as good in AND in carving out minutes.

    Bottom Line:

    I think if the Wizards didn’t have Butler, Jeffries would be a Wizard today……and for the entire exception.

    I have very very little doubt about that. But I’ve been wrong before.

  23. I think the Wiz would have signed Jeffries regardless of his stated desire to move to NY, had they felt he was worth it (although, in the Age of TO & Artest, no one wants a malcontent). They didn’t sign him A)because, unlike the Knicks, Abe Pollin is adverse to exceeding the luxury tax threshold. This limits Grunfeld’s versatility with signings (not neccesarily a bad thing, look at the kid-in-a-candystore mess Isiah has wrought with his platinum card). B) intricately related to A) they felt he wasn’t worth the money. Paying him 30m would have kept the Wiz’s status quo as a first, possibly second round playoff team, inhibiting their ability to make the free agent signings (especially up frnt, where they are subpar) needed to nudge them into contention. When the optimism of having new blood, Isiah’s ravings, etc., he will be revealed for what he is: a utility player, nothing more. Nice if you can have him cheap, or in the Knicks case, can afford to overpay, but no starter on a contender. His offense is ugly (prepare yourselves Knicks fans, it isn’t pleasant, and he’s already saying how he wants to be ‘more involved’ on offense). With a D-stretching successor such as Hayes, Blatche, Stevenson or Daniels, starters such as Arenas, Butler, Jamison and even Haywood should have more room to operate and enjoy a small rise in shooting percentage. The Wiz may/may not lose some versatility on the defensive end (It’s hard to foresee how Hayes will rebound from two years of injuries and I haven’t seen much of Stephenson), but overall, Jeffries’ defense is simply not outstanding enough to excuse his offensive limitations. Defensively he has good length against shorter players, is extremely active, takes night-after-night pride in playing hard and can play several positions. However, he has a slow defender’s first step, making him vulnerable to the speediest and best shootings guards/small forwards (notice he doesn’t make a lot of blocks considering his height advantage over said players), nor rebound exceptionally. Poor hands and mediocre reflexes limit his steals. Overall, a nice seventh man who breaks the starting lineup when his size presents favourable matchups. His addition will not help you as much as substracting Isiah would. BTW, great site, New York has the best and most articulate b-ball fans in the world.

  24. It seems to me your post assumes that the problem with the Wizards last year was offense. All this talk about stretching defenses and higher FG%’s, as if the problem was Jared Jeffries bogging down the offense.

    Thing is that he didn’t shoot enough to really cause their FG% problems, and whatever bogging down he did, they still ramped up the pace enough to score almost 102ppg.

    What should trouble Wizards fans is the following:

    Last year WITH Jeffries, they were 23rd in the league in opp. FG%.(Which makes me think their problems are on the defensive end, NOT the offensive end.)

    Where on earth are they going to rank now? ESPECIALLY if they think the answer is DeShawn Stevenson.

    So, if their problem last year was defense and turnovers, and they ditched a player who helped the defense, why is it assumed they made the right move and we made the wrong one?

    We’re the team that needed defense and got it. They’re the team that needed more defense and ditched their best defender and got no defense in return.

    Im willing to admit this baby is close to a toss up for us, but why is it ASSUMED we made the wrong move and they didn’t? I think the reverse is just as likely.

    If I’m running the Wizards I look at shoring up the defense and devising a way to either increase turnovers or decrease our own. What I’m not doing is getting giddy about replacing Jeffries with a – defender.

    Which is why I don’t think they were so ready to get rid of Jeffries. I think it was a close decision. I think the decision came down to small things. Things like…..did the guy WANT to be there!!!!

    To me, when you follow the steps it makes sense. This isn’t a zero-sum game where they let him go because he stunk. He was offered a good deal by them, he signed a good deal with us, and the reason he’s here and not there is because he wanted to be here.

    Some players are so good you can’t let them go even if they want to go. Some players are so bad you can’t keep them even if they want to stay. But in the middle are players where their preference is a tie-breaking factor in keeping them because you’ll only get value if they can squeeze the talent they have out of their body. And they won’t squeeze if they hate being on the team.

  25. Phillip. Good posts.

    Yes, the Wiz are gifted offensively and it is not a ‘problem’ area, per se. However, offense/defense is not something that is ever ‘sorted’, there is always room for improvement. My point is merely that the Wiz may become even better with another legitimate scorer in the starting 5, someone like Jarvis Hayes, who can hit from the perimeter which helps soften up zones, the middle, etc., and is A) crucial for Jordan’s Princeton offense and B) should open driving lanes for Arenas, mid-range jump shots for Jameson, etc. Even if this just means an extra shot or two in per game via higher shooting percentages, it is diffference between 102 and, say, 104/106 per game. The fact that Jeffries didn’t shoot much only illustrates how much of a non-factor he is offensively. The Wiz simply didn’t run plays for him because he has no offensive game – no balance, poor body control, bad mechanics, poor ‘forced’ shot selection. Yes, we may give up another basket or two without him… although with the quick-footed Hayes back, tough Songalia signing on and Stephenson (neither the defensive assassin he thinks he is, nor the non-factor people in here are claiming), this remains to be seen. I may be fan-optimistic on this point, but aren’t we all?
    I agree with most of everything else you say… he’s a middle/middling player, neither good enough to make a team nor bad enough to break it. We would have liked to have kept him at the right price and the Knicks definitely get some versatility on defense. However, the Wiz need help at center and power forward (though we have some prospects at the latter) and we need cap room to make a move. Our defense is particularly suspect in the middle, and we need a bruiser to clog lanes, rebound, block a couple shots. Nice to have size on the perimeter (Jeffries), but the real defensive wars are fought in the trenches. When you say we got ‘nothing in return’, you’re dead wrong, we got room to maneuveur to fill said need in the future.
    As for why Jeffries ‘wanted to go’ to New York, I fear that one of the reasons may have been a desperate Isiah promising a greater offensive role. At the Knicks press conference, Jeffries talked about ‘bringing the ball up’ and getting more involved offensively. If that happens, the great chemistry-maker on D becomes the one-man wrecking crew on your O. At any rate, good luck. The NBA needs a good New York team and your fans deserve one.

  26. Phillip: Where are you getting the idea that turnovers were any kind of problem for the Wizards last season? Last year, they committed the 5th fewest turnovers per possession on the offensive end, and forced the 2nd most turnovers per possession on the defensive end. (The defensive turnovers aren’t necessarily the best sign for an NBA defense, however because teams that force a lot of turnovers tend not to be highly ranked overall — that’s because forcing a high number of turnovers correlates with permitting the other team to shoot a high percentage from the floor.)

    Defense was definitely a problem for the Wizards last season. Kinda interesting that a team with a bad defense would be willing to let a defensive specialist walk.

  27. KJB-

    Yeah I saw what I did, I think I switched those numbers in some hasty data searching. Apologies.

    As far as letting him walk, I really honestly think him not wanting to be there was THE big factor. I diverge from a lot of fans in thinking that them not matching had less to do with his play and more to do with his preference not to return.

    I’m ok with the idea of letting him walk because he didn’t want to be there, but the fact that they didn’t replace him with some defense, to me, was a big mistake. Unless they are somehow changing the team concept and didnt think they needed him.

  28. I only watched a few Wizard games last season on the strength of coach Eddie Jordan.
    I like what he did with the team but the Wizards have to many HOLES. Last season if Arenas went down for two to three weeks the Wizards would’ve became 333% team in those weeks. Maybe because the team was expecting Daniels to do all the little things that Larry Hughes did. Or maybe losing both PG-Dixon & SG-Hughes in the backcourt at the same time took the team in another direction.

    There is one thing for sure Coach Eddie Jordan and Mike O’Koren felt safe and relieved when they had PG-Jason Kidd, PG-Anthony Johnson, and SG-Kittles in their Backcourt for the NETS. Injury to anyone of those players the next one picked it up. Coach Eddie Jordan does not have that in this Wizards Roster.

  29. I think the team totally changed, for the better, when Jordan got his head out of his ass and decided to start Butler. Why he began the season with him on the bench was just puzzling. I dont know it off hand, but their record when Butler started was better.

    What made it so odd was when you saw what Butler did when Bryant was hurt in 04, you could tell he was ready to have a good season.

    As to the depth, I thought they would get more out of Daniels than they did too. I actually liked them trying to cheaply replace Hughes (whom I like too), and felt they did a good job of it at the time.

  30. Phillip, feelings are mutual.

    As to the depth, I thought they would get more out of Daniels than they did too. I actually liked them trying to cheaply replace Hughes (whom I like too), and felt they did a good job of it at the time.

    Letting Jared Jefferies go for a Cheaper Stvenson contract may do good & bad, especially if Stevenson has a succesful season then leave only because the Wizard organization dont want to go over the Luxury Tax to keep a Backcourt unit that works.

    Similar scnerio:
    If the Knicks keep Francis throughout the 2006-7 season because the chemistry of all 4-Guards (Marbury, Crawford, Francis, and Nate) work well together should they keep the same Guards throughout the 2007-8 season with Rookie Mardy Collins having a year under his belt waiting to replace any injuries in the backcourt rotation?
    These are the questions that many members in are asking this offseason. Many members see a successful 2006-7 season with President/Coach Isiah Thomas at the HELM of everything.

  31. I don’t think Jeffries’ agent saying that Jeffries wanted to be in NY had much to do with the decision at all. I think that was pure smoke. Had Jeffries been putting up Garnett numbers, he could have publicly said Ernie liked to have sex with donkeys and the Wizards would have matched. The Wizards didn’t match because they don’t think Jeffries is worth the money, and while they think he’d be useful, he’s not worth the lost opportunities to use those same resources to acquire better players in the future.

    As for Butler starting the season on the bench — that happened mainly because he had trouble picking up the offensive system, which is complex. Antonio Daniels had similar problems. As the season went on and both guys got more comfortable in the system, both guys played better and got more minutes.

  32. It took Butler & Daniels some time to get used to the way PG-Arenas run the offense vs oponents. Arenas breakdown tactics on offense only allow 2 to stretching 3 players to take the most shots in a game. Arenas is so quick and swift with his movements that he becomes open so frequently so he takes that open shot.
    At the end of the game you will see on the stats that the Wizards took 83 shots and Arenas took 25 of those shots and Jamison took 18 shots equaling 43 shots by two players leaving only 40 shots to be taken by the other 7 players in the rotation, and that was when the Wizards Started Butler late in the season. So imagine before that with two new players (Butler & Daniels) just added to the roster?

  33. Kiya: The issue really was not Arenas the PG, but rather the overall complexity of the system. In fact, the Wizards don’t really even have a PG; nor do they have a PF or SF — they have two guards, two forwards and a center. Ideally, the guards are functionally interchangeable; ditto for the forwards. When Arenas was on the floor with Jeffries or Hayes, he did most of the ball-handling. However, when Daniels was on the floor, those duties were shared.

    One other thing that helped Daniels — the Wizards figured out that Daniels is at his best in pick & roll. So, they tweaked the offense to emphasize pick & roll when Daniels was on the floor.

  34. KJB:

    As I said before, some players are SO good that (as you asid) you can’t let them go no matter what. Some players are so bad, you can’t keep them no matter what.

    But in the middle is a group of players where them being there actually matters. It’s the difference between Vince Carters horrid numbers in Toronto and his explosion in NJ.

    We know there’s a value in a player being happy, just as we know that all of us are more PRODCUTIVE at our jobs when we’re happy.

    I think Jeffries fits in that group of players where it might be a tie-breaking vote to keep him or let him go based on his desire to be elsewhere.

    But that’s just my view.

  35. KJB,
    I was being nice by saying that Arenas was a PG but you put it out there to politic on. Although I agree with you, I recall myself saying the samething the season Arenas first arrived to the Wizards. That is why I gave Coach Eddie Jordan and Assistant Mike O’Koren their BIG Props on making a system work.
    Now it is up to Isiah Thomas to do the same with his Guards of Marbury, Crawford, Francis, Nate, and Collins. Q.Richardson is not a Guard in any way or manner in the NBA.

    What you say is true about a player because I had that same problem in High School where I wanted to quit the Basketball team and just play Football untill I transferred to a High School with a basketball coach who only wanted to relate to his players on improving on and off the court.
    Lets say Jefferies want to be a Knick, is he ready for the BIG-APPLE and its MEDIA-FAN-BASE?
    Will Jefferies Play hard like he did the last season of his contract?
    Will Jefferies go on a Season Vacation after getting his Big-Pay-Day Contract like Jerome James did?
    Or will Jefferies play his heart-out for the Man he idoled since he was 12 years old?

    I like the idea of Knicks getting Jefferies at the same time they picked Rookie Renaldo Balkman the challenge in Practice will pay off for both players this season. Plus put PF/SF-David Lee on top of his game & Skillz for playingtime.
    Its all up to President/Coach Isiah Thomas to play each individual to their strengths and skillz this season (something Larry Brown did not do last season).

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