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Friday, October 31, 2014

Unsung Knick History – The Knicks’ Version of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”

This is the third in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of examinations into different games, events and decisions that impacted Knicks history in some way, shape or form. Stories that are not as famous as, say, LJ’s 4-point play or Willis Reed playing Game 7, but still have a place in Knicks history, especially for die-hard fans. Here is an archive of all the stories featured so far.

If you are unfamiliar with Shirley Jackon’s famous short story, “The Lottery,” well, you should probably stop reading this piece and go off and read that short story first, as A. It’s awesome and B. I’m about to spoil it for my analogy. In any event, in Jackson’s story, the reader discovers that the “lottery” that a small town is holding is actually to determine who gets stoned to death to ensure a good harvest for the town. Well, that was basically what the Knicks used their draft for over a strange five-year period from 1960-1964 where their five first round draft picks (all among the top three picks in the draft) played a combined eight seasons for the Knicks!! Getting drafted in the first three picks is normally a good thing, but for the Knicks draftees, like the “winners” in Jackson’s lottery, it was a sign of impending doom!

Before saying anything about the Knicks’ draft picks during the early 1960s, I should make one very important note – during this point in NBA history, from 1950-1965, there existed something called “territorial picks” where teams could forfeit their first round pick in exchange for being allowed to draft a player who attended college within their “territory” (typically the actual city of the team or nearby cities). This was to encourage local fans to follow the NBA, as they would already be interested in the star player from having followed them in college (the league fudged the rules a bit to allow Wilt Chamberlain to be drafted by his hometown team, the Philadelphia Warriors, even though he attended college in Kansas, outside any NBA territory. The same basic rule allowed the Cincinnati Royals to draft Jerry Lucas, who was technically outside of their territory even though he went to Ohio State). Of the 22 players drafted using this system, half of them are now in the Hall of Fame. Half!! So as you might imagine, the very best players were often selected using this method.

To wit, during the five-year period in question, 1960-1964, the territorial picks were: Oscar Robertson, Dave DeBusschere, Jerry Lucas, Tom Thacker, Walt Hazzard and George Wilson. Half of those players are in the Hall of Fame.

Territorial picks were not counted as being picks (except for Robertson, who was counted as the first overall selection in the 1960 draft because the team using the territorial pick, the Cincinnati Royals, were picking #1 anyways, so it would not have mattered either way), so when I say that the Knicks picked in the top three of the draft from 1960-1964, that’s accurate, but in three of the five drafts, at least one player was taken technically before the draft even began, and usually that player would be one of the best in the country, so the players the Knicks had to choose from would not be as impressive.

That being said, the Knicks still had a disastrous five-year stretch from 1960 through 1964, with their main target in those years being a center who could hang with the elite centers of the NBA, namely Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

In 1960, the Knicks picked third. The number one pick? Future Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson (would have been a territorial pick if needed). The number two pick? Future Hall of Famer Jerry West. The Knicks’ pick? Darrall Imhoff. Pretty rough company, eh?

Imhoff was the starting center and the top player for the California Golden Bears, who were the 1958-1959 NCAA Champions (beating out Jerry West’s West Virginia squad in the last seconds on a shot by Imhoff). Imhoff’s coach, Pete Newell, coached the 1960 US Olympic Men’s Basketball team and he brought Imhoff with him. Imhoff played behind Jerry Lucas, Terry Dischinger and Walt Bellamy, but he got plenty of minutes due to the games all being blow-outs. Drafted by the Knicks, he was expected to be a big contributor to the team, but by the end of the 1960-61 season he was not even the first center off of the bench! The Knicks gave him another shot in 1961-62, but he was disappointing again (he did have the “honor” of being the starting center in the game that Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the Knicks). The Knicks dealt him to the Detroit Pistons after the 1961-62 season for guard Gene Shue.

Imhoff wasn’t much better for the Pistons and they sold him to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1964. Then, unexpectedly, Imhoff began to thrive, even making the All-Star Game in the 1966-67 season. He was good enough that he was part of the package that the Lakers sent the Philadelphia 76ers for Wilt Chamberlain! He played for the Sixers for awhile and ended his career as a backup for the Portland Trailblazers in 1971. Imhoff had the best career of the players chosen in these five seasons. However, he always had trouble with Russell and Chamberlain (like many others, of course).

In 1961, the Knicks were picking second. There were no territorial picks in the draft. The first pick? Future Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy. The Knicks’ pick? Tom Stith.

Tom and his older brother Sam were a wonderful 1-2 punch for St. Bonaventure University, where Tom became the first consensus All-American in St. Bonaventure University history! The Knicks were thrilled to get a star player from a New York university. However, Stith had a major problem when the Knicks’ team doctors took a look at him after he signed a two-year deal with the Knicks. You see, Stith had contracted pulmonary tuberculosis! Yes, the Knicks’ #1 draft pick had TB!

So Stith was sent to a sanitarium where he recovered from the disease. He missed the entire 1961-62 season. He impressively managed to recover in time to play the 1962-63 season, but his skills had atrophied and he was released after playing only 25 games. He went on to have a very successful career in the corporate sector. He passed away in June of this year at the age of 71.

In 1962, the Knicks picked second. However, there were two territorial picks. Those picks were Future Hall of Famer Dave DeBusschere and Future Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas. However, because they chose Jerry Lucas with their territorial pick (a stretch of the rules), the Cincinnati Royals were not able to choose University of Cincinnati stand-out center, Paul “Duke” Hogue, so the Knicks got him with the second pick in the draft (Center Bill McGill, not a Hall of Famer, was chosen first).

The great Oscar Robertson helped convince Hogue to attend the University of Cincinnati, and in Robertson’s Junior year and Hogue’s Freshman, the two men roomed together. Robertson’s greatness convinced a good deal of other African-American players to play for Cincinnati, and they accumulated so much good young talent that they actually were better after Robertson graduated, as he had brought on so much talent. Along with guards Tony Yates (who would go on to coach the Bearcats in the 1980s) and Tom Thacker, Hogue led the Bearcats to the 1960-61 NCAA Championship. The team then repeated in 1961-62, with Hogue being named Most Outstanding Player in the Tournament (that team had also added another strong African-American player, Center George Wilson).

The problem with Hogue was that his skills were best served in the college game, as they played without a shot clock. Hogue was an imposing presence, but he was not a fast presence, and as a result, his game did not translate to the NBA game with the 24 second shot clock. He could not hang with players like Russell and Chamberlain. As a result, Hogue had a rough first season for the Knicks, especially as he was forced to foul constantly. One telling story from his first year as a Knick came when Hogue was late on a Chamberlain drive, so he valiantly tried to stick his hand in front of Chamberlain dunking. Of course, had Chamberlain just continued with his dunk he would have just gone right through Hogue’s hand, drawn the foul and likely would have injured Hogue. Instead, Chamberlain used his left hand to deflect Hogue’s hand and dunked it cleanly with his right. That was the kind of experience Hogue had his first season (he led all rookies in times fouling out of the game). Hogue was dealt to the Baltimore Bullets early the next season, who looked at him as someone who could protect Walt Bellamy (who had gone one pick ahead of Tom Stith in the 1961 Draft, and who, as great as he was, was also not someone you would choose to bang with Russell and Chamberlain on the blocks). He would play one more year with the Bullets before his NBA career was over. He worked in a variety of jobs in Ohio after his NBA career ended, including being a member of the Princeton Schools board of education in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio. He passed away in April of 2009 at the age of 69.

In 1963, the Knicks were picking first overall. There was one territorial pick, as the Royals continued to pick-up Ohio college stars; they added Tom Thacker to their team (Future Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond did get drafted third). The Knicks choose guard Art Heyman.

Art Heyman was a star player at Duke University, and is in the Duke University Hall of Fame. He won the Most Outstanding Player in the 1963 NCAA tournament (yes, the Knicks got the Most Outstanding Player from back-to-back tournaments) and Duke did not even make the Finals! That’s how impressive Heyman was! The New York-born Heyman seemed to be a perfect fit for the Knicks (he even hearkened back to the early Knick teams that had a number of Jewish athletes on the team – Heyman is in the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame). However, Heyman had a bit of an attitude problem.

His attitude issues famously showed themselves in an ACC game between Duke and the University of North Carolina in Heyman’s sophomore year at Duke. In his freshman year, Heyman had been attacked by Tarheel freshman guard, Dieter Krause, during a game that led to a brawl. So the next year, with Heyman now a member of the varsity team, tensions were high and they came to a head in one memorable game between the two teams. First, Heyman felt that a fan had attempted to attack him at halftime, so he threw the fan to the ground. Naturally, this put North Carolina ill at ease (while Heyman certainly was not happy himself). Later in the game, with Duke holding a slim lead, Tarheel guard Larry Brown (yes, that Larry Brown) was driving to the basket and Heyman took him out with a hard foul. Brown took exception to this foul and threw a punch at Heyman. This set off a major brawl. During the brawl, a back-up player for the Tar Heels, Donnie Walsh (yes, that Donnie Walsh) also took a swing at Heyman. All three players were suspended for the rest of the ACC tournament.

So after a strong rookie campaign for the Knicks in the 1963-64 season, averaging over 15 points a game and making the All-Rookie team (first team), Heyman’s attitude problems resurfaced the next season and his minutes fell dramatically and his scoring fell with it. Years later, Heyman himself would say that he just didn’t care that second season. The Knicks cut him loose after the 1964-65 season and he had two unsuccessful NBA stinits in Cincinnati and Philadelphia before going to the ABA for the rest of his career (winning a title in 1968 with the Pittsburgh Pipers).

In 1964, the Knicks once again picked first overall. There were two territorial picks, with the Lakers picking up Walt Hazzard and the Royals picked up another Ohio college star in George Wilson. The Knicks picked forward/center Jim Barnes.

Jim Barnes was a star for Texas Western and was a member of the Gold Medal-winning 1964 Men’s Basketball Olympic team. Barnes actually was an odd duck, in that the Knicks actually got the best of Barnes’ career. After making the All-Rookie team (first team) in his rookie year, the Knicks dealt him in a package to acquire Baltimore Bullets star Walt Bellamy (who the Knicks later dealt for Dave DeBusschere). Barnes bummed around the league for seven years as a decent back-up. He won a title with the Boston Celtics in 1969. Really, now that I think about it, I guess Barnes does not really fit in with the first four players, as he did land the Knicks Walt Bellamy/Dave DeBusschere. I guess I just really wanted to note that the Knicks’ long journey to pick up a star center finally ended in the 1964 draft…with their second round pick, as with the first pick of the second round, the Knicks selected Willis Reed.

Up until 1964, Knick president Ned Irish was the main decision-maker with the draft, but in 1964, he hired Knicks head coach Eddie Donovan (one of over a half dozen head coaches for the Knicks between the late 1950s and when Red Holzman was hired in 1968) as the team’s general manager and turned control of the Knicks draft to Donovan and Knicks head scout Holzman. Donovan helped steady the ship a lot in the draft (Donovan left as head coach after 1965 but stayed on as general manager).

Along with 1965 territorial pick Bill Bradley (the last year of the territorial pick), the Knicks’ draft results were suddenly turning around. 1965 also saw Dick Van Arsdale being selected in the second round. In 1966, Donovan and Holzman picked Cazzie Russell with the #1 pick and 1967 saw them net a certain guard named Walt Frazier with the #5 pick. Yep, things were looking a lot better as the Knicks began to put everything together on the road to their only two NBA titles. Maybe Irish should have turned things over a bit earlier, eh?

Thanks to reader Roy H. Cornely for suggesting today’s topic (well, Roy specifically wanted to talk about Hogue, but I figured Hogue tied in with the five-year period too well to not bring in the other stuff)!

If you have any suggestions for future Unsung Knicks History pieces, drop me a line at cronb01@aol.com! I’d prefer you share your suggestions via e-mail rather than in the comments section, so we can keep them a surprise! Thanks!

78 comments on “Unsung Knick History – The Knicks’ Version of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”

  1. Nick C.

    Awesome. I liked that Wilt – Hogue anecdote. The story reads better than a lot of basketball history type stuff I read FWIW.

  2. Caleb

    Great work!

    Heyman sounds like he’s worth a piece of his own. Not sure why it led to this train of thought, but – were players like Walsh and Pat Riley chainsmokers while they were in the NBA? Or did they only start up afterwards? Obviously attitudes toward tobacco were a lot different in the 40s, 50s and 60s – witness Joe DiMaggio and other baseball players doing ads for smokes – but you’d think it would be tough to run the court, with a pack-a-day habit…

  3. miranda

    Brian, was it Freshman Year that we read “The Lottery”? Excellent reference. I love your posts here.

  4. Brian Cronin

    Heyman sounds like he’s worth a piece of his own.

    I thought about it, but then I thought, “it breaks up this bit and really, his most interesting stuff didn’t seem to happen when he was actually a Knick.”

    But yeah, how crazy is that Heyman, Brown and Walsh story?!?!

    By the way, I forgot to mention that Heyman owns a bar in Manhattan called Tracy J’s Watering Hole, where apparently he hangs out a lot, so any of us New Yorkers could actually meet the guy if we were so inclined!

  5. Brian Cronin

    Brian, was it Freshman Year that we read “The Lottery”? Excellent reference. I love your posts here.

    Thanks, Steve, glad you dug it.

    I honestly don’t recall us reading it in school. I mean, it totally makes sense for us to have done so, I just don’t recall it. I remember a lot of Zora Neale Hurston (which was fine by me, just saying we read a larger than normal amount of Zora Neale Hurston).

  6. Z

    Caleb: were players like Walsh and Pat Riley chainsmokers while they were in the NBA? Or did they only start up afterwards? Obviously attitudes toward tobacco were a lot different in the 40s, 50s and 60s – witness Joe DiMaggio and other baseball players doing ads for smokes – but you’d think it would be tough to run the court, with a pack-a-day habit…  

    First off, another great piece Brian. Keep them coming!

    Caleb– interesting question re: smoking. Donnie Walsh never played in the NBA, and Pat Riley wasn’t much of a player either. Not sure if cigs were what was holding them back. Probably talent was more of an issue than lifestyle.

    I was shocked to find out that Vlade Divac was a chain smoker– he playing in an era where the negative effects smoking were well documented. I’m sure other NBAers smoke, especially the Europeans. Is there a way to tell the effects of smoking by looking at their advanced stats?

  7. Robert Silverman

    Accor

    Z:
    Is there a way to tell the effects of smoking by looking at their advanced stats?  

    Well, the tobacco industry would probably say smoking enhances a player’s ability and also contains rich, smooth flavor.

    (and I say this as a (cough, hack, cough) smoker, m’self)

  8. Loathing

    Couple of odd gags:

    1: And we wonder why Larry Brown is STILL coaching the Bobcats?

    B) Does this mean Heyman should be doing ads for Truth?

    III> Here’s history right here…obviously Isiah did his homework and was convinced the same thing was gonna happen. Yeah, THAT’S it!

    Imagine if there were territorial picks the past couple of years…

    No examples from me, I wanna see what you all come up with…this should be fun.

  9. Mulligan

    Loathing: Imagine if there were territorial picks the past couple of years…

    Lebron James gets drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, oh wait…

    I suppose if there was a territorial pick, the Grizzlies would be pretty amazing.. D. Rose and Demarcus Cousins? Yowza.

  10. ASyrett19

    Knicks would already have Carmelo.
    Which Texas team would have gotten Durant? Would they go by nearest to Austin or draw straws?

  11. massive

    How about Michael Jordan playing for the Charlotte Hornets? Larry Bird being a Pacer? Or Magic Johnson being a Piston? Or Evan Turner and Greg Oden being Cavs along with LeBron?

  12. Robert Silverman

    In this theoretical territorial draft, would ‘Melo (out of Syracuse) not belong to the Raptors? Toronto’s actually closer to the Carrier Dome than NYC is.

    The Nix would likely be stuck w/the best of St. John’s. They’d have Ron Artest, Chris Mullin, Mark Jackson and not much else.

  13. Mulligan

    Robert Silverman: In this theoretical territorial draft, would ‘Melo (out of Syracuse) not belong to the Raptors? Toronto’s actually closer to the Carrier Dome than NYC is.The Nix would likely be stuck w/the best of St. John’s. They’d have Ron Artest, Chris Mullin, Mark Jackson and not much else.  

    Don’t forget Sebastian Telfair. Hell, why not throw in Lance Stephenson and Stephon Marbury since it’s their home town…

  14. Caleb

    Brian Cronin: I forgot to mention that Heyman owns a bar in Manhattan called Tracy J’s Watering Hole, where apparently he hangs out a lot, so any of us New Yorkers could actually meet the guy if we were so inclined!  

    I sense a field trip (next time I’m in town)

  15. Brian Cronin

    In this theoretical territorial draft, would ‘Melo (out of Syracuse) not belong to the Raptors? Toronto’s actually closer to the Carrier Dome than NYC is.

    Presumably Syracuse would probably just not be in play at all, just like players from Kansas would just have to be drafted normally. Although with the precedent of the league wink wink nudge nudging guys like Wilt to the Philadelphia Warriors when he was outside of anyone’s territory, I could easily see ‘Melo ending up as a Knick.

  16. DS

    Is Wilson Chandler really regarded as such a bad player?? [Just to stay on topic I'll point out he would have been a Bull in a territorial draft :)]

    The Knicks apparently can’t deal him for Rudy Fernandez and Chris Sheridan makes it sound like Ill-Will is less valuable than 15th – 18th NBA draft pick and that he is virtually worthless in a trade proposal:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/286/knicks-in-the-mix-for-rudy-fernandez

    This lends credibility to the argument that the Knicks to start winning now to make it easier to collect talent. I, personally, don’t love Ill-Will but I WOULD put him on par with a Trevor Ariza who seems to be more respected and who the Hornets gave up Collison for. If the Knicks had as much cred. as the Lakers or even the Rockets, I feel they could do much better in the trade market.

  17. Caleb

    I’m not sure what you were expecting — Chandler is probably in line to get an Ariza-like, mid-level contract this summer, unless the mid-level exception goes away in the next CBA. I’d say their value, league-wide, is viewed about the same. Which seems right. I have a feeling the Knicks could have traded Chandler for Collison, if they’d been willing to swallow James Posey, like Indy did.

    Chandler was the 23rd pick in the draft. I think he’s been better than that, but I wouldn’t say THAT much better. Maybe a mid-1st rounder. And of course he only has a year left on his rookie deal, unlike a draft pick who is cheap for four years.

    Chandler is our trade bait because he plays the same position as Gallo and Randolph, AND is due a big raise this summer – we’re not going to screw our cap situation, for a backup. Most likely, Chandler is going to the highest bidder, by the trade deadline. Chandler for Fernandez, or a 1st round pick, is a pretty straightforward move. Of course that might change if we move Gallo or Randolph in a separate deal.

  18. DS

    Loathing,

    If territorial picks still existed there would be so much friggin’ carpet bagging that many of the modern players would have gone to different colleges. The Knicks would send 50 reps to high school recruits’ houses telling them to go to St. John’s.

    But for fun, the 90’s Hornets would have been great but who would play point?? Also, they would have just missed out on Jordan.

    C: Tim Duncan, PF: Rasheed Wallace SF: Grant Hill, SG: Vince Carter, PG: Bobby Hurley or Free Agent??

    Bench: Brand, Boozer, Josh Howard, Dunleavy Jr., Maggette, Jerry Stackhouse, Antwan Jamison

  19. DS

    Caleb,

    Well said. I guess I A) accepted the media spin that Ariza was brought in as a star to appease CP3 a little too much B) Forgot that the Rockets didn’t sign Ariza for much money.

    The only thing I remain confused about is whether I’d be happier if the Knicks had James Posey and Collison instead of Chandler and Felton. I’ll give Ray a chance, before I give up on him, I guess.

  20. ess-dog

    Right now I think Ariza is better than Chandler. Not by a ton, but a small notch above. Although Chandler could get to where Ariza is fairly easily.
    I also feel Fernandez for Chandler is pretty straightforward, though the two have very different skill sets. I’m not sure we would “win” that trade, even though Fernandez is obviously a greater need for the current Knick roster. I think we would miss Chandler’s versatile athleticism on both ends.
    I can see Portland thinking Chandler is a little too similar to Batum, despite Chandler being more physical on the inside and Batum having more finesse.
    I would be fine starting the season with Chandler at the 2. The consistency of staying at the two and building off of his last season should be good for him. I think he can at least be an “average” starting 2 guard – on both sides of the ball.

  21. Caleb

    @27, Collison would be a nice piece to have, but I’m not sure he’s better than Felton right now (offense, yes, defense, no)… meanwhile you’d be paying Posey $7 million NEXT season, eliminating our shot at Carmelo Anthony (or whoever).

    I like Chandler ok and he’s still young – he has a real shot to be a good player. But given the circumstances I won’t be upset if we basically hit the re-set button and trade him for a pick.

    Not sure about Fernandez – he was terrific as a rook, pretty bad last year.

  22. Caleb

    @30 well, now that you mention it – yes. (probably – I don’t think Felton’s exact terms have been disclosed). I think Collison/Posey is about $1 million more expensive expensive than Felton/no one.

    Anyway, I still prefer Felton/Chandler. For 2010-2011, I think Felton>Collison and Chandler>Posey. For 2011-2012, it’s an easier call, since Posey’s value is falling. Plus, Chandler’s expiring deal gives the Knicks another $1.5 million flexibility, compared to having Collison.

  23. Brian Cronin

    I was actually encouraged by the Sheridan article about Fernandez. I was wondering why the Trailblazers would want Chicago or Boston’s first rounder, and now it appears clear that they do not want either pick, so I think that puts the Knicks right back into the thick of it.

    I mean, come on, however bad or not great Wilson Chandler is, he’s still a lot better than, like, James Singleton or whoever.

  24. TDM

    Great post BC! Really enjoyed it.

    Regarding the Ager signing, seeing how fields still hasn’t been signed, could Ager just be filler for a proposed trade?

  25. Z

    Brian– was the territorial pick based on where a guy played college ball, or where his hometown was? Seems like the “spirit of the law” was to allow cities to keep their homegrown players, and that back in the 50’s guys tended to go to school in the same state that they were from.

    So, guys like Rasheed Wallace would be drafted by the Sixers and not the Hornets, since he played years in Philly in front of a large fan base, as opposed to two quick seasons at UNC after spurning John Chaney.

    And, just my 2 cents, I actually like the rule, and I’m surprised Stern hasn’t officially re-instituted the territorial pick. He wants players to stay in the same market for their whole careers, and it seems like a Sternian move to extend that to their home towns.

  26. Brian Cronin

    Brian– was the territorial pick based on where a guy played college ball, or where his hometown was?

    College ball, but they famously stretched the rules when Chamberlain would have been outside any team’s territory and said that he qualified for Philadelphia since he grew up in Philly. They likely would have done the same for other similar players (the really big names).

  27. danvt

    I heard that the league fudged the territorial draft rules to keep Bradley away from the Sixers, who were closer to Princeton than NYC.

    On smoking: People knew it was bad for you and killed you long before the 80’s. I doubt a lot of basketball players did it even though there wasn’t the stigma associated. On “Hard Knocks” Mark Sanchez ordered a meat lovers pizza with extra ranch dip. Smoking was probably analogous to something like that. Some day ranch dip will probably have a warning label like “The surgeon general warns that this product should not be ingested by pregnant women or those over forty years of age…” but as of right now, it’s not like people don’t know it’s bad for you.

  28. Brian Cronin

    Interesting, Dan, I’ll look into that! Thanks (heck, that could be a Sports Legends Revealed rather than an Unsung Knick History bit!)!

  29. Robert Silverman

    danvtOn smoking:People knew it was bad for you and killed you long before the 80?s.I doubt a lot of basketball players did it even though there wasn’t the stigma associated.On “Hard Knocks” Mark Sanchez ordered a meat lovers pizza with extra ranch dip.Smoking was probably analogous to something like that.Some day ranch dip will probably have a warning label like “The surgeon general warns that this product should not be ingested by pregnant women or those over forty years of age…” but as of right now, it’s not like people don’t know it’s bad for you.  

    Yes, Dan. But smoking still makes you look super-cool. Eating Domino’s bread sticks w/extra ranch dressing will NEVER, EVER look cool. (Cough, cough, hack, sputter!)

  30. TDM

    I was watching MSG tonight and caught a special dedicated to the Knicks top 25 ankle breaker plays. Half of them were Craw and only one of them was a current Knick (gallo). But it got me thinking – who do we have on the team now that could fill that role … No one really comes to mind (Chandler, Azu, Walker) and the guy the Knicks are chasing (Rudy) doesn’t really fit the mold either. Am I missing someone?

  31. danvt

    Brian Cronin: Interesting, Dan, I’ll look into that! Thanks (heck, that could be a Sports Legends Revealed rather than an Unsung Knick History bit!)!  

    Thanks Brian, I think it’s in John McPhee’s biography of Bradley, which was written mostly when he was still in College.

    Robert Silverman: Yes, Dan. But smoking still makes you look super-cool. Eating Domino’s bread sticks w/extra ranch dressing will NEVER, EVER look cool. (Cough, cough, hack, sputter!)

    I agree, I don’t know where someone got the idea that kids need to dip pizza, but it’s really caught on up here in New England and it’s a really bad idea. Right on a par with cigarettes. Maybe Sanchez should endorse Pizza Hut and cash in before the social stigma takes over.

  32. Z

    Kind of fun watching Ricky Rubio go up against Steph Curry right now. First real glimpse at both. Too bad that draft couldn’t have gone just a little different for the Knicks to end up with one of the two.

  33. Robert Silverman

    Z: This is actually a pretty fun game.
    Rubio is going to be a really good NBA point guard.  

    Oh w/o a doubt. At worst, if he never develops a jumper, he’s going to be a slightly less defensively-inclined Jason Kidd. He doesn’t have to become Steve Nash, but if he can figure out how to consistently hit open 18-20′ shots (like David Lee this past season), he could be an MVP candidate.

    Next off-season, when Felton’s deal becomes an expiring, Walsh’s got to offer almost anyone on the Knicks’ roster to the Wolves to pry him out of there.

  34. taggart4800

    http://www.nba.com/2010/news/features/fran_blinebury/08/19/allen-iverson-possible-teams/index.html#?ls=iref:nbahpt1

    I would like to continue my hatred towards Flan Blinebury. Admittedly his somewhat mediocre career in sports journalism is reflective of his abilities but its his complete disregard for logic when it concerns the Knicks that angers me the most.
    To give those of you who didn’t open the article an outline, he is examining possible destinations for Iverson. From which angle i am not sure as he seems to flip from franchise to player and back without any notice. Top of his list is ny, justified by the fact he epitomises everything about ny and that Mason Jr and Felton aren’t the ‘Answer’ but maybe the ‘Answer’ is….
    Despite the fact that AI is a terrible fit in NY and a million miles away from anything the Knicks want on their roster right now this isn’t what angers me the most.
    His next stop is Charlotte, where Brown has previously dealt with him and could get him to except a role off the bench BEHIND Augustin and Shaun Livingston…. But lets remember AI is better than Charlotte’s previous starting pg.
    Throughout the last year he has produced some truely terrible anti knick articles that just display a complete lack of basketball knowledge.

  35. ess-dog

    Fernandez looked pretty bad in the Spain/USA action I saw last night. Pretty sure he’s not the answer for us. Hopefully we’ll just start off with Chandler, maybe easing Azu in with a dash of Mason.

  36. Ted Nelson

    TDM,

    The Knicks two quickest players have to be Felton and Douglas.

    What % of the Crawford moves ended in pull-up jumpers rather than actually getting inside? My guess would be 99%.

    Robert,

    Rubio’s jump shot is actually not nearly as bad as advertised by some. He’s not a great jump shooter, but he’s not bad. He hit 40% of his 3s in the Spanish regular season and 36% in Euroleague this season. That’s not out of line with that he did in 08-09. (His inside scoring is more the problem than his outside J… though he does get to the line at a good clip in Europe.) A lot of the hype comes without context: stats from when he was very young and the grand total of 3 Euroleague games he played in 08-09 leading up to the draft.

    ess-dog,

    Tough to judge a guy who no one would claim is more than a rotation player and especially whose main strength is his shooting (84 and 89% jumpers his two NBA seasons) based on 1 game…

  37. stratomatic

    I think we should wait for the trade deadline to move Chandler. Even though he’s coming off a variety of surgeries again, he’s going to have way more time to work on his game this summer than last year. Last summer he did virtually nothing in the off season and came into camp with continuing discomfortant.

    We all saw how much more efficiently he could score when he got healthy and reduced his 3 pointers. IMO, if he’s ever going to break out and improve his handle and shooting range this could easily be the year. If he does, his trade value will increase. I see little downside to waiting.

    Besides, Wilson is a much more versatile two way player than Fernandez. Rudy also seems very weak mentally and he’s not going to solve our long term problem at SG anyway.

    If we are going to trade Will I think it should be part of a bigger deal that brings in an all star caliber player.

  38. stratomatic

    I think Rubio is going to have to learn NOT to go for the big/fancy play so often. That kind of thing makes him too vulnerable to turnovers.

  39. ess-dog

    “Tough to judge a guy who no one would claim is more than a rotation player”

    This is true Ted, but this whole chain of events is based on Rodolfo thinking he’s a starter, Portland thinking he’s not, and the Knicks hoping he is… I guess the game just confirmed to me that his value might be roughly the same as Chandler’s or even a bit less (I know, it’s one game.)
    Meanwhile, Chandler ranked 20th small forward by Dwyer:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Ranking-the-small-forwards-20-through-11?urn=nba-264472
    Don’t completely agree with the rankings, but it’s good to see where some non-homers stand on Chandler.

  40. Z-man

    I think a key for the Knicks being a playoff team next year, barring a blockbuster trade, is to be able to put a long, athletic, defensive-minded team out on the floor in crunch time. Chandler fits that role better than Fernandez, and Azu/Mason/Walker/Fields (and even Gallo at times) might be able to do pretty much whatever we would bring Fernandez here for. However, none of them can do what Chandler can do on defense, i.e. effectively guard various 2’s,3’s or 4’s in both big and small lineup configurations.

    I wouldn’t cry if we made the trade for Rudy, but I’m not excited about it either.

  41. Ted Nelson

    stratomatic,

    Rubio is not even 20 yet, so he probably has to learn a lot about a lot.

    As far as trading Chandler… He’s a free agent after the season, so he’s going to have to play A LOT better for a team to give up more at the deadline to chance losing or overpaying him based on less than 1/2 a season with their team. (Fernandez has two seasons under team control… which could fit nicely with the Knicks possibly 2011 and 2012 free agent aspirations.)

    I’m not 100% sure I’d trade WC for Rudy, but Rudy does seem like a better fit on the Knicks to me. Between WC and AR you have 2 wing players you really don’t want shooting outside. If you have Felton, WC, AR, and a C on the court for D’Antoni…………. that puts 99% of the outside shooting burden on 1 guy in a system where 3-pt shooting is highly valued. Rudy, on the other hand, is a true guard and shooting is his biggest strength.

    Fernandez is a solid defender, about average. He is a far better shooter and ball-handler than WC, so given the rest of the wing-heavy roster I think his offense would be a lot more valuable. His contract puts it over the top for me. He’s only 2 years older than WC and has been in the NBA less time. I don’t buy the “Wilson Chandler is way better than he’s played in 3 full seasons because of offseason surgery” bit… He did “virtually nothing” all of last offseason, yet he showed up to camp in NBA shape, logged heavy minutes on a pretty fast-paced team, and was used as a defensive specialist. Guy must be a freak of nature to not work out at all for half a year and still be in good shape even by NBA standards. Maybe he didn’t get in as much work as he wanted to, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t strapped to a hospital bed all offseason either. And it might happen, but suddenly developing skills he hasn’t had his whole life is not a given.

    “Rudy also seems very weak mentally”
    “Besides, Wilson is a much more versatile two way player than Fernandez.”

    What are these statements based on?

    ess-dog,

    Who’s even the Knicks starting SG right now? Unless Landry Fields proves the scouting reports wrong, the Knicks don’t have a single “true” (prototypical) SG on their roster. Rudy would have the inside track on a solid rotation spot at least. He was at the end of the rotation in Portland, and it’s probably more of an issue of having a coach he likes (he feels “values” him or something) than anything. He may play the same minutes with the Knicks, but just get along much better with D’Antoni which makes him much happier.

  42. Ted Nelson

    “I think a key for the Knicks being a playoff team next year, barring a blockbuster trade, is to be able to put a long, athletic, defensive-minded team out on the floor in crunch time.”

    Based on what?

    How about getting to crunch time?

    Defense at the cost of offense is no better than offense at the cost of defense… A team with Felton, WC, AR, and a C (Amare mostly) on the court is going to have only 1 outside shooter.

    WC is a better defender than Rudy. However, Rudy is an average defensive SG in the NBA.

    “However, none of them can do what Chandler can do on defense, i.e. effectively guard various 2?s,3?s or 4?s in both big and small lineup configurations.”

    Sounds a bit like Anthony Randolph. Also, WC is going to be guarding 1 guy at a time (besides switching and zones and help D, obviously). Versatility is nice, but let’s not overrate it. If you have guys who can guard the 2, 3, and 4 it’s less important to have one guy who can do a bit of all 3.
    How many 4s is WC “effectively” guarding, anyway?

  43. Ben R

    I think in a void Chandler is probably a little better than Rudy based on being two years younger and coming off a season on which he improved rather than took a step back. Also he is a better athlete and a better defender, which makes up for the fact he is a worse shooter and ball handler.

    The key thing is that Chandler is a natural 3 who can play the 2 and spot minutes at the 4 while Rudy is a natural 2 who can play the 3 and spot minutes at the 1. We have 3 forwards, 4 if we get Carmelo, that are all better than Chandler, so Chandler’s only role on this team is playing slightly out of position at the 2. While Rudy can play his natural position and even maybe help at the 1, a position that has much less depth than the 4, in cases of injury.

    Chandler is also an expiring contract on a year in which we are saving for Carmelo next offseason and Paul/Deron the offseason after so any big money he will get, realistically 4-7 million per, will cut directly into those possiblities. Rudy has an additional year so we can make the choice to keep him when we’re really looking at Paul/Deron not just hording room for the possibility of Paul/Deron.

    So with that in mind I would take what is possibly a small step down in talent for a huge upgrade in both fit and salary.

    Plus all the points about Chandler’s offseason injuries effecting his play need to remember that Rudy had injuries that hurt his play last year so he is most likely going to take at least the same step forward this year as Chandler if not a bigger one.

  44. ess-dog

    I’m not exactly sure what prototypical is, but I think Azubuike and Walker count as sg’s. Neither probably have quite the ideal ball-handling one would like, but the quickness is there, the shooting, and the ability to get into the lane. Not sure about the passing either, but if Gallo steps up there, it’s not as necessary. I agree that Fernandez fills more of a need, but his decision making is questionable, and he “shooting” wasn’t really there last year. Not sure about his injury, but from what I can tell it was less severe than Wilson’s. I think a straight-up trade is acceptable because of the contract restrictions already mentioned and because we have a “need” at the 2. Otherwise, I think Wilson is more valuable in a vacuum.

  45. Mike Kurylo

    ess-dog: “Tough to judge a guy who no one would claim is more than a rotation player”This is true Ted, but this whole chain of events is based on Rodolfo thinking he’s a starter, Portland thinking he’s not, and the Knicks hoping he is…I guess the game just confirmed to me that his value might be roughly the same as Chandler’s or even a bit less (I know, it’s one game.)
    Meanwhile, Chandler ranked 20th small forward by Dwyer:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Ranking-the-small-forwards-20-through-11?urn=nba-264472
    Don’t completely agree with the rankings, but it’s good to see where some non-homers stand on Chandler.  

    Dwyer’s comments on Chandler aren’t really positive either:

    “I don’t think anyone could ever accuse me of being Chandler’s biggest fan. I think he plays on a bad team (or, at least, what was a bad team), takes a lot of bad shots spread out over the big minutes that he’s afforded in a up-tempo offense and pumps up his per-game scoring totals as a result. And yet, 15 points and five rebounds last year in just under 36 minutes per game on 48 percent shooting. So I have to put him somewhere.”

  46. ess-dog

    Ha, yeah but Chandler had a slightly better year that Richard Jefferson who was ranked #16 so… there is some wiggle room in these rankings. Seems like there’s a big drop off at #8 with Deng. I’d like to think one of our guys (Chandler played most of his minutes at sg no?) could move up to that spot.

  47. Ted Nelson

    Ben R,

    We’re pretty much on the same page.

    “Also he is a better athlete and a better defender, which makes up for the fact he is a worse shooter and ball handler.”

    It’s hard to say whether one makes up for the other without quantifying the gap in each. It would also be important to find out how scarce shooters and decent ball-handlers are compared to defenders.
    Rudy is hardly a bad athlete or defender, either, though I’d agree he’s not as good as Chandler.

    ess-dog,

    I would call Bill Walker a small 3, and not a 2. He has no handle or playmaking ability and struggles to defend SGs. Azu I’d be more inclined to call a 2, and between he and Douglas you might have a decent platoon. Rudy is a nice median, though, where you’re not giving up height or ball-handling.

    “his decision making is questionable”

    I haven’t heard that criticism…

    “he “shooting” wasn’t really there last year”

    His efficiency was definitely worse last season than his rookie year, so it’s hard to say where his long-term level is. However, he still hit an eFG% of 48% on jumpers last season (52% his rookie season). WC hit 39.5% (44% in 08-09). While Rudy rarely gets to the basket, he is actually quite efficient when he does: 60.9% last season and 72% as a rookie. WC was 68.1% in 09-10 and 58.7% in 08-09. Despite the preference for jumpers, Rudy still got to the line as frequently as WC (on the league’s slowest paced team… which also probably fuels the rift between Rudy and Nate… Rudy played in a fast paced attack at DKV Joventut in Spain).

    “Not sure about his injury, but from what I can tell it was less severe than Wilson’s.”

    Pretty tough to quantify, or even to comment on unless you’re a doctor with some knowledge of both injuries. I have no idea whose was worse or impacted their play more during the season. Over the long-term it’s about production.

    “Otherwise, I think Wilson is more valuable in a vacuum.”

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=fernaru01&y1=2010&p2=chandwi01&y2=2010

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=chandwi01&y1=2010&p2=fernaru01&y2=2010

    I’d say it’s pretty close.

  48. ess-dog

    So I guess that’s where Chandler’s value lies right now: Somewhere below an actual blue chip draft pick at the position (Deng, Gay) and somewhere above a declining vet who was once an actual blue chip draft pick at the position (Jefferson, Prince.)

  49. BigBlueAL

    You could add Gallo’s name too actually in the “blue chip draft pick at the position” category since he is ranked one spot below Gay.

  50. ess-dog

    amp;y2=2010Based on PER?
    (By the way, for the Berri faithful, Rudy had a WP48 of 1.31 last season compared to WC’s of 0.47.)  

    I think eFG and TS are more or less the same. The only reason I would put Chandler above Jefferson or Prince is because theoretically, Chandler’s best years are still in front of him, barring further injury. They are all fairly equal stats-wise.

  51. ess-dog

    …and actually, Chandler was at .057. But improving by .004 every year!

    Actually, I’m excited and hopeful for a playoff team. If Felton and Amar’e can just hold their respective stats at even, and Gallo, Chandler and Randolph can just marginally improve (meaning adding .010 – .015 to their TS% and get a similar bump in 2 or 3 other catagories), I would think we could be at least match last year’s Bobcats team and get the eighth seed.
    That would be a great start for basketball in NYC after years and years of abject failure.

  52. BigBlueAL

    If the Knicks dont make the playoffs next season (barring any awful injuries) than as much as I love D’Antoni and have defended him he would have failed big time and will most likely be gone.

    So far every prediction Ive seen from national sites/analysts have the Knicks making the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed so the expectation is definitely to make the playoffs. I dont care if they make it via the 8th seed with only 35 wins just make the freaking playoffs this season and try not to get swept in the 1st round is all I ask for. lol

  53. Z-man

    BBA,
    My understanding is that we retain his rights, is that true for a 2nd rounder? He’s better off over there, as we acquired Mozgov and Turiaf after drafting him; he definitely won’t get any light here. He is a long way from being a productive NBA player, Mozgov is way ahead of him and still might not be ready. Earl Barron, anyone?

  54. BigBlueAL

    Yeah I believe the Knicks retain his NBA rights regardless, I just brought it up because it does theoretically open up a roster spot.

  55. ess-dog

    I will be really dismayed if Fields signs abroad. My guess is that they keep the final roster spot open for any possible trades. Anyone have any ideas for training camp invites? I would give Koby Carl a shot. Or Marcus Landry…

  56. Brian Cronin

    You hold the rights to second rounders who play in Europe. A lot of teams draft guys who they think they can convince to play in Europe until they’re ready to come over to the States. Heck, Isiah once drafted Demetris Nichols under that exact condition and then Nichols reneged on it and the Knicks ended up having to release him, thereby losing their second round pick (and their second round pick from the next season, which they had traded to get the pick they used on Nichols – the Trailblazers later used that second round pick to pick Omer Asik, whose rights they traded to the Chicago Bulls, who stashed Asik overseas until this season).

  57. rama

    I was checking out the available free agents, and it looks like Etan Thomas is still out there. Is that true? If so, wouldn’t he add some good depth at the 5? We can still offer the vet’s minimum, no? We do have all 15 roster spots available, but maybe Rautins is D-league, or Fields starts his career in Europe with James?

  58. Ted Nelson

    I would be surprised if Fields isn’t on the Knicks this season. Not necessarily upset, but surprised.

    Seems like the right move for both Jerome Jordan and the Knicks. If Jordan had been cut he could go to Europe and come back as a free agent if he were to succeed, but this way he’s got a clean NBA slate and an NBA team with an active interest in tracking him and bringing him back. The Knicks obviously win by keeping his rights and getting to see how he develops against professional competition.
    Serbia does surprise me a bit. Hemofarm did play in Eurocup last season (the B division of the Euroleague), I can’t tell if they have a chance to qualify this season again or not (my guess is yes). They also had no C on their roster, so playing time may be easy to come by. However, they were 1-5 (in Eurocup) and their roster is almost entirely Serbians (Jordan may not feel at home… though it could certainly be a good opportunity for personal growth). He probably just took the most money, which is only a bad thing if it came at the expense of basketball development… it’s not clear it did: it’s tough for raw young guys with no pro track records to get on top teams. A strong season for Hemofarm could get him a spot next season on a more prominent European club if he’s not ready for the NBA.

  59. slovene knick

    @Ted
    Hemofarm is in the qualifications for the Euroleague(The division A).
    Will face Hapoel Tel Aviv the upset(won against powerhouse Maccabi) champion of Izrael in the first round.
    Two games will decide who goes to the next round where probably german Alba will be the opponent.I think they have to eliminate three opponents to get to one of the two Euroleague qualifying spots .
    If they don’t qualify then they go directly to the Eurocup.
    That was the euro story.

    Then there is the regional and national league where Hemofarm plays.

    In the regional league Adriatic Basketball Acc.(yes its ABA) they will face 15 teams (from Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Monte Negro)from which four teams are participants in the Euroleague.
    I’d say that this ABA is the third league( behind Spanish and Greek)in quality in Europe.(Ok – shares the third spot with Italian league:)
    Hemofarm won the ABA title in 2005, and has been regularly in the final four of ABA.

    Serbian national league is quite good also.

    So if Jordan gets to be the starting C he could play in about 60 pretty intense(some of them chair throwing) games :).

  60. Ted Nelson

    slovene knick,

    Thanks for the clarifications.

    Ultimately, as a raw young player with no professional experience, Hemofarm and the Serbian/Adriatic league/Eurocup might be the best situation possible for Jordan. Certainly top clubs weren’t looking to sign him. Eurocup may be better than playing for a low-level Spanish team.

    I’m surprised about Serbia in large part because of culture shock. He’s going to be playing with like 80% Serbs and living in a place that may be more of an adjustment than other cities/countries. If the main goal is to spend a year in Europe and then get to the NBA, I would think he’d choose a different place. Obviously he and his agent have to also think about the very real possibility he never makes the NBA and has to maximize his career in Europe. Some success in Eurocup for a year or two could definitely be a good stepping stone to play in Spain or for a strong Euroleague club. This may also prove to be the best way for him to improve and make the Knicks down the road. I guess this is about what I would have expected, so not sure why I was surprised… I guess I just expected the Knicks to sign him.

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