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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unsung Knick History – When the Knicks Pulled the WRONG Name in a Lottery

This is the fifth 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.

We are all familiar with one of the greatest days in New York Knicks history, when the Commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, pulled out an envelope that had the New York Knicks’ name in it that signified that the Knicks had won the #1 pick in the 1985 NBA Draft (a pick that everyone knew would be Patrick Ewing).

But do you know about a different lottery, of sorts, that took place over thirty years before the Ewing lottery? A lottery that the Knicks had a 2 in 3 chance of getting a Hall of Famer? A lottery that the Knicks managed to pick out the sole non-Hall of Famer in the bunch and yet came away from the day thrilled with their pick? Well, if not, let me tell you about the 1950 Chicago Stags Dispersal Draft Lottery and how Bob Cousy was nearly a New York Knick.

The Chicago Stags were one of the founding teams of the Basketball Association of America in 1946, and they actually played in the very first BAA Finals, losing to the Philadelphia Warriors in 1947. Although they continued to put together an above-average squad in each of the next three seasons (making the playoffs every year) their attendance figures were really quite low. So low that they folded after just one season in the NBA, 1949-50. The team did not decide to quit until AFTER the 1950 NBA Draft, and in fact, they actually picked up a player from a different NBA team that had went under a few months earlier, the Anderson Packers (Anderson, Indiana, in case you didn’t know what state Anderson is in), who had held a league-wide dispersal draft of their players. The Stags picked up guard Frankie Brian, who was Second Team All-NBA in the 1949-50 season (like the Stags, the Packers were not a bad team, they just didn’t draw enough fans).

You might think it odd of a team to participate in a dispersal draft when they, too, were considering going under, but the Stags owners had a plan. They went to the other NBA owners and held secret auctions for their players. If they were going to go under, they were at least going to make a few last bucks in the process. Ned Irish, Owner and President of the New York Knicks, was very active in trying to pick up as many of the good Stags players as he could, with four-time First Team All-NBA guard/forward Max Zaslofsky his main target. Not only was Zaslofsky a star, but he was actually from New York! Averaging over 20 points a game during this time in NBA history was extremely difficult (usually just two guys did it each season) and Zazlofsky had already done it in back-to-back seasons, 1946-47 and 1947-48. The only knock that there was on Zaslofsky was that he was a bit of a “let me get mine first” guy, but still, he was an extremely skilled scorer.

The Philadelphia Warriors were also in on the Zaslofsky bidding. Meanwhile, the last place Boston Celtics and their owner Walter Brown and General Manager Red Auerbach were complaining to NBA Commissioner Maurice Podoloff that the players should be put into a dispersal draft and, since the Celtics had the worst record in the league, that they should be allowed first pick (and, naturally, Zaslofsky).

Podoloff decided to step in and take control of the situation. He decided to determine values for each of the Stags players, and the other teams would pay the cost to help pay off the debt that the Stags owed the league. Podoloff doled out the players to teams that he felt were best benefited by the player in question. That was fine for the lower rung players, but for the really good players, the other teams insisted on different treatment. First off. Tri-Cities Blackhawks owner Ben Kerner argued to Podoloff that the aforementioned Frankie Brian (the guy the Stags got in the Packers dispersal draft) should get to come to the Blackhawks because Kerner and Brian were close friends (that is a weird argument) and the Blackhawks could use the player (seeing as how Brian was the second-leading scorer in the NBA in 1949-50, that is not much of a surprise). Podoloff agreed, but only if the Blackhawks would trade the rights to the player they picked in the 1950 NBA Draft, which was the 3rd pick in the draft (4th overall because the Warriors had used their territorial pick on future Hall of Famer Paul Arizin). The Blackhawks gladly agreed, especially since they were having trouble signing the pick, a three-time All-American guard named Bob Cousy.

Bob Cousy was a star at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, particularly known for his flashy style of play. When he declared himself for the 1950 NBA Draft, there was heavy pressure for the Boston Celtics to take the local kid with the number one overall pick. But the Celtics, who were always looking for size back then, took center Charlie Share instead. After the local press began their outrage, Red Auerbach made the famous quote, “”We need a big man. Little men are a dime a dozen. I’m supposed to win, not go after local yokels. Cousy was devastated. Cousy actually went to visit Celtics owner Walter Brown to ask if there was some way that Brown could acquire Cousy. Brown told him no. So Cousy was stuck with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. Cousy didn’t even know where the Tri-Cities were (they’re the Quad-Cities now, I believe – four towns right next to each other on the border of Iowa and Illinois). So he requested a fairly outrageous sum of $10,000 if were to move out there. Blackhawks’ owner Ben Kerner countered with $6,000. Cousy refused to report. So when Kerner was given the option of trading Cousy for Brian, he leaped at the opportunity.

So Podoloff now decided that since all three teams wanted Zaslofsky, he would hold a lottery between the three teams. They now had three backcourt players and three teams looking for backcourt players. So he wrote the three names on three pieces of paper, folded them and put them into a hat of Danny Biasone, the owner of the Syracuse Nationals.

The three players were now Zaslofsky, Cousy and Stags point guard “Handy” Andy Phillip, a member of the second team All-NBA team and the league’s leader in assists per game (a feat he would duplicate in 1950-51 and 1951-52). Phillip would go on to play in the first five NBA All-Star Games and be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961. Phillip and Zaslofsky were the clear highlights of the three-man draft.

Ned Irish of the New York Knicks picked first and he was thrilled to pick out Zaslofsky’s name. The Celtics picked second (despite many stories to the contrary that they went last) and picked out Cousy’s name. Walter Brown was highly irritated. He felt he had just been screwed out of Zaslofsky, and now he didn’t even have the best consolation prize!! Eddie Gottlieb of the Warriors picked last, getting Phillip.

Zaslofsky lasted just two years as a Knick before being traded along with Jim Luisi and Roy Belliveau in 1953 for Jim Baechtold, who had been the second pick in the 1952 Draft. None of the four players had much of a career in the NBA, although Zaslofsky did make one All Star Game as a Knick in 1952.

Phillip, as I mentioned, went on to a Hall of Fame career and Cousy…well…thirteen All Star Games, ten first team All-NBAs, two second team All-NBAs, one NBA MVP, two Finals MVPs and six NBA Championships later, Cousy was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971.

If the Knicks of the 1950s and early 1960s didn’t have bad luck, they would have no luck at all.

Thanks to John Taylor’s The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Golden Age of Basketball for a lot of great information!

If you folks dig these stories, you’d probably also get a kick out of my Sports Legends Revealed site. There is an archive of the ones about basketball here. My weekly LA Times Sports Legends Revealed this week is a cool basketball-related one, as well! Check it out here.

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 – When the Knicks Pulled the WRONG Name in a Lottery

  1. lurts

    Great history lesson. Again. Thanks!

    I remember that when the New Jersey franchise in the ABA, the Americans, soon to become the Nets, had their first season they heavily promoted that their coach was Max Zaslovsky. I never got it until now.

    I have his autograph someplace from the ill-fated play-in game for the playoffs in the ABA’s first year. Tne Americans, with Leverne Tart and Walt simon, tied for fourth place with the Kentucky Colonels, with Louis Dampier and a great forward I am blanking on. The Americans played in the Teaneck Armory, which had booked a circus, so the game was moved to the Long Island Arena, home of the Ducks in the EHL, and long since torn down. The Arena apparently had promised a floor, which it laid over the ice but was warped and dangerous. The fans and players mingled over the useless floor in that cold mausoleum of a building, with the red tape marking the 3 point arc coming up off the floor, until the game was declared a forfeit.

  2. ess-dog

    This is basically just an “F__k you” from Portland to us and Rudy. Jealous boyfriend stuff.
    I can see why we’d want Rudy. We kind of need another ball-handler and a true 2 guard and he fits both. But he’s not worth Randolph (or a 10-12 pick) by any means. Even though I don’t love the idea, turning one of Chandler, Walker, or Azu into a 1st rounder plus another one of those guys is the farthest I’d go. Basically something like a #18 pick and Walker.

  3. tastycakes

    In other news, Atlanta tried to trade us Jamal Crawford’s contract for Amar’e Stoudemire and Donnie Walsh said NO.

    Duh.

  4. Nick C.

    To Digress, That was a great story. It gives a lot more flesh and blood to the story about how Bob Cousy became a Celtic.

  5. massive

    I think this Rich Cho guy think our GM is David Kahn.

    Another great story, sucks we didn’t get Cousy though. I am glad that ended up playing where he wanted, even if it was in Boston.

  6. Ted Nelson

    I don’t think it was totally crazy for Portland to *ask* for Randolph. Whether or not they expected to get Randolph is another story.
    A. They might simply be starting the negotiations high… making a show of how much they value Rudy… bluffing maybe.
    B. They get to see if the Knicks will actually do it. You don’t know unless you ask. Seeing as Randolph is injury prone and a poor shooter, wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for an NBA team to miss his value or want something more certain. I’m definitely glad Walsh is the Knicks decision maker, though, and turned this idea down… Randolph + a 1st… really…
    C. They might not want to trade Rudy, but this way can both tell him they’re trying and show him that they place a high value on him.

    It’s interesting to consider what Rudy’s value is to Portland. He’s signed to a rookie deal for 2 more seasons, so it’s understandable if they don’t want to take a bigger salary liability on (Chandler, Walker, and Azu are all 2011 free agents, for example)… plus they have to make salaries work. Rudy might get crowded out by Roy, Batum, Bayless, Wes Matthews, and Babbitt (and Elliot Williams, and Armon Johnson, and Dante Cunningham)… but he might not. Babbitt is a rookie with no track record and questionable athleticism (what’s even his position?). Matthews only has one season (that wasn’t that great anyway) and might regress, plus he may be a Pritchard signing? Bayless might be better off at the 1 with Roy running the offense. With a good season Rudy absolutely could be their 3rd wing player. Even if he’s not, as a playoff team and aspiring contender Portland can use the 3-pt shooting and injury insurance. It’s not entirely clear if his perceived value will go up or down this season, and despite his trade demands Portland doesn’t have to be in a rush since he’s locked up for 2 seasons. Portland is in a position where they can see how all their young perimeter players do this season and then trade whoever doesn’t fit long-term next offseason. Draft night might be the time to deal Rudy, when someone you really like is slipping down the draft board and you think you’re getting great value or when some team doesn’t really value their mid-to-late-1st round pick and wants immediate help.

  7. Caleb

    in the reported trade, the Pacers, not the Blazers, would get Randolph. The Blazers would get a likely lottery pick, maybe high lottery. The Knicks would get screwed.

    So the fantasy could be coming from either Portland or Indy or Fernandez’ agent.

  8. MSA

    The problem is that they don’t want Randolph.

    Indiana gets Randolph and Portland gets Indiana’s first round pick.

    I think Portland isn’t making things that harder for anyone who wants Rudy actually. They want a first round draft pick.

    Since the knicks can’t give any until 2012 it will require for us a non playoff team (with a better draft pick) that really wants Chandler to make it work. I wouldn’t put to much hope on that.

  9. BigBlueAL

    Actually the Knicks cant give any 1st round picks away until 2014 since the Rockets basically have their 1st round pick in 2012 assuming the Knicks dont win the lottery that season.

  10. Ted Nelson

    MSA, It’s pretty irrelevant whether it’s Randolph or Indiana’s pick… My point was to ask the Knicks to give up Randolph in order to get Rudy. From Portland’s perspective, if they get a pick that’s likely to be 10-15 at best and another future pick for a guy they drafted 24th overall and has spent 2 seasons on the edge of their rotation… pretty good haul. If there are no other parts to the deal, clearly they view the pick as more valuable than Randolph. I think all my original points are still valid.

  11. MSA

    I don’t desagree with you about the Portland position Ted.

    Portland don’t need Rudy, he has a rookie contract for more two years and have some value around the league. Why would they rush into anything?

    I’m just saying that they want a draft pick. They are not asking for anything out of this world. The knicks look like the most interested team to get him. Since we cannot send a pick until 2014 like BBA corrected me, the Randolph name problably appeared because they can easily find a taker from him from a reasonably draft pick in a three team trade. Same thing about Gallo. They will not get much value from Douglas or Walker.

    Good for us that this not gonna happen.

  12. ess-dog

    I think Walker could be a great answer as a starter at the 2. He could look very good within a lineup of focused players like Gallo, Amare and Felton. Summer league didn’t show what he is capable of (yes his shooting was way off), but he did have some stand out plays here and there.
    He’s a tremendous athlete who can score shooting the ball or driving to the basket, not a bad passer, and hopefully his defense on 2’s will improve with the weight loss/conditioning. I think he’s better at the 2 than Chandler. Chandler is better served backing up Gallo at the 3. Based on PER and Win shares, Walker had a better year last year than Fernandez. I think loading up on offense makes more sense for a D’Antoni club and a lineup of Felton, Walker, Gallo, Amare and Randolph or Turiaf would provide a lot of very athletic offense with enough defense.
    Plus, you’ll have Chandler and either Randolph or Turiaf and Mosgov and eventually Azu to come in and play defense when needed.
    Hopefully Mason can come in and handle the ball a bit at either guard spot since it doesn’t look like Douglas is all there yet (although I like Douglas as a guard on a 2nd “small and fast” team.)
    I think we have enough parts to get it done this season if Mike D. is creative and everyone plays up to their potential. There really isn’t any other sg prospect that could possibly be better that’s remotely available besides Rudy and I’m not sure he’s an improvement, especially at the asking price.

  13. Z

    Caleb: in the reported trade, the Pacers, not the Blazers, would get Randolph. The Blazers would get a likely lottery pick, maybe high lottery. The Knicks would get screwed.  

    Figure if Indiana was willing to do that trade, they’d also be willing to trade straight up without involving Portland. What do you think of Randolph for Indiana’s 2011 1st round pick? Like you said, could be high lottery…

  14. Caleb

    @18 That would be an interesting gamble. I am probably higher on Randolph than most, but IMO he’s worth a high lottery pick. Say, 4-6. So for starters, you wouldn’t consider the pick if it were protected. Maybe top-1.

    But I’d still lean against it. Unless the pick lands 1-4, you’re not getting better talent. And the Knicks are actually at a point where they’re ready to make a push in the playoffs. You’d rather have the player than equivalent, future talent.

    On the other hand, you could argue he plays the same position as Gallo (and Chandler) so if you can get equivalent talent at a “need” position – a center or a guard – it’s a good move.

    For whatever reason, I can’t imagine an NBA GM trading a good young prospect for a draft spot, without knowing who’s available.

  15. Z-man

    I am finding it difficult to imagine that Mozgov will not be a useful player for us. The size, the toughness, the motor are all there. From the clips, it is pretty apparent that he wants to be good. Even though he is already 24, I think he is in a really good situation for rapid development. There is no clear cut center ahead of him and he is under no pressure to score. People have raised concerns about his rebounding, but the tools and the attitude appear to be there. I have been wondering where he would go if the draft was held today. He certainly looks like a mid-first rounder to me.

    With that said, what Walsh has done is pretty impressive. We went into the year w/o our 1st round draft pick and wind up with the equivalent of a virtual lottery pick (Randolph), a virtual mid 1st rounder (Mozgov) a 2nd round project (Jordan) a possible starting 2 (Azu) and 2 quality backups (Turiaf and Mason.) He didn’t land LeBron or the stud PG we need, but at least he didn’t overpay for a fill-in PG or squander valuable trade bait or cap space. Most importantly, he has big-name players (Melo, Paul) actively talking about coming here. Short of LeBron, what more could we have asked for?

  16. Z-man

    PS Mozgov and Russia will play vs. Team USA if both win in their first elimination game (which seems pretty likely.)

  17. tastycakes

    Those Mozgov highlights were majorly impressive. Of course, it doesn’t look like Greece knows about things like “boxing out” or “team defense” but otherwise .. total agreement about him clearly having a motor, good ball-handling skills, staying on his feet on defense. Holy shit, what if this guy is good??

    Felton/Chandler/Gallo/Amar’e/Mozgov opening night starting 5? Or maybe it’s one of those situations where we’ll see Turiaf start the game but only log 20 minutes per?

    Man, I can’t wait, we’re like a month from pre-season yeah?

  18. tastycakes

    Reading that Times article, I’m clearly overreacting to a fan video :)

    Still, very much looking forward to seeing it all shake out. Being a Knick fan has involved a lot of hoping and wishing in recent years. I think we have more legitimate reasons to be hopeful this year than in a long, long time.

  19. Z-man

    TC,
    A couple of things in the article made me optimistic. The working class roots, the late start in b-ball, the way he is trying to learn english quickly, I dunno, seems like a real nice kid who will bust his ass to improve.

    I am deliriously awaiting the season. Win or lose, this team is going to rock the Garden with double-digit thunderous dunks on a nightly basis.

  20. tastycakes

    First preseason game is an exhibition against Milano on Oct 3. Then they play the Wolves on the 6th. Less than a month away!

    Training camp on 9/25 — less than 3 weeks.

  21. Z-man

    As such, here’s a little Anthony Randolph eye candy from his rookie year at age 19:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TJARASNxEo&feature=player_embedded

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgyybTWnyaY&feature=fvw

    We simply MUST NOT trade this guy!!! I like that in the Spurs game (ok the score was disturbing) they posted his stats from the last 4 months of his rookie year, noting the steady and dramatic improvement. The commentators talk about the improvement in his perimeter game, and use superlatives over and over to describe him. He makes plays that bring the house down. His ball-handling is tremendous for a 6’10” guy. Obviously, consistency is an issue and he has absolutely no right hand, but he has budding superstar written all over him. This is not Wilson Chandler, Trevor Ariza, or Channing Frye. He is the best chance we have had of getting an all-NBA player in the rough for nothing (Lee could have been lost w/o anything in return and Randolph’s ceiling is way above Lee’s.) DO NOT TRADE HIM!!! Not even for Melo…there, I said it!

  22. DS

    Tastycakes, Z, and others working this weekend:

    I generally feel about int’l prospects playing in the WBC and Olympics how others felt about a player’s performance in the Vegas Summer League:

    If a guy sucks, then you can conclude he prob. won’t be much in the NBA. If a guy does well, it could go either way; he could end up being good or bad in the NBA.

    Although, if Mosgov plays very well against Odom, Durant, Tyson Chandler, Love, and Iguduola that prob. bodes pretty well. More so than a player lighting it up in the Summer League.

  23. DS

    Which leads me to an interesting question:

    Would you be happier if the U.S. beat Russia and advanced in the tournament? Or if Mosgov put up 20 and 10 and the U.S. was eliminated??

  24. Kikuchiyo

    Moz looked good again today. He looks well-rounded and active. I like how committed he is to the offense, always moving and getting to his spots. I don’t see him becoming a starter anytime soon, but I think he can really help on the second team and whenever fouls or opposing teams’ size requires another big body. One goal for this year would be to keep Amar’e at PF for as much time as possible. Just Turiaf/Randolph/Curry (ahem) isn’t enough to guarantee that, but Mozzie Bear will help.

  25. Z-man

    I watched the entire Russia-NZ game today. Some thoughts:

    The game was extremely physical. I don’t watch much international ball and don’t know whether that is typical, but it reminded me of ’90s NBA playoff basketball. Both teams were absolutely relentless on the defensive end, but Russia was deeper, bigger, and more talented and just wore NZ out. The game was closer than the final score indicated, mostly due to NZ’s relentless hustle and early poor shooting by Russia.

    It was hard to get a good read on Mozgov. He came into the game when NZ was winning 9-2, immediately converted a 3-pt play on a post move that started 18 ft away and ended with a point blank layup, then commits 2 quick fouls (one was 80 ft from the basket, incredibly dumb) and doesn’t reappear until midway through the third. From that point on, he was very tough and constantly in motion, but not very polished. Made a couple of impressive hustle plays, including one where he dived to the floor, came up with the ball and passed it successfully. He also threw an ugly kick-out pass into the third row. He was a dominating presence, but fouls and lack of finesse kept him from dominating.

    Mozgov was by far the biggest and most physically imposing guy on the court and NZ had absolutely no answer for him. However, Mozgov’s only offense was on layups, put-backs, and FTs. I will say that he was taking a beating from the smaller NZ players and just powered through the fouls. His FT form is close o perfect, which bodes well for some offensive development if he works at it.

    We know about his size, length and motor, but the thing I liked most about Timo is his intensity and toughness. He was totally into the game and constantly in motion, and he looked to mix it up physically. I get the sense that he will not back down physically from anybody. He complained about every foul call and no-call, even when obviously wrong, but then went back for more. He was very active in the post and constantly called for the ball while jockeying for position, then would run out and set a screen and dive to the basket, then post up again. He definitely has a traditional post-up center’s mentality. When he received the ball, he tended to go strongly (but awkwardly) to the hoop, as opposed to, say, the equally raw Jordan Hill of last year whose instincts were to fade away. With his length, if he can develop some footwork down on the block, he will draw fouls (and make the FTs) in the NBA. The narrower NBA lane should definitely help him. The thing I liked least is his propensity to foul, which he will need to work on quickly if he wants to get any NBA burn. PS: Sasha Kaun looked very good, could probably play effectively in spot minutes in the NBA right now.

    Russia probably is no match for team USA, but they will leave it all on the court. If USA is flat, Russia gets hot, and the refs let them play, they certainly have a very remote puncher’s chance, but my guess is USA wins by at least 30.

  26. slovene knick

    @Z-man
    the game NZL:RUS itself presented almost unbridgeable threat to my love for basketball…It was intense,yes, but total lack of finesse and added value.

    And on Mozgov:Your evaluation is perfect.
    I still think that his ceiling is good back up C.In his fearlessness he tends towards dumbness.

    If the Russians beat USA at least three Russians are E.T’s.

  27. DS

    @35 – Selfish and Un-American :)

    @36 – I think this the 2nd time you’ve mentioned Mosgov’s ceiling as backup center. Is it IMPOSSIBLE that Mosgov could be another Divac? Another Sabonis? Even Mark Eaton? Even if he has a 10% chance of achieving this, you still have to say he has a higher ceiling.

  28. Ted Nelson

    Not to take too much away from Timo’s performance against New Zealand–I generally agree with Z-man’s assessment of him–but it’s New Zealand… They may be intense, but they’re not very talented. No one over 6-9 even played in the game for them. They don’t even have a player from a European club team, let alone an NBA player. Kirk Penney is the only player on their team I know anything about.
    If Timo weren’t generally dominating teams like that, there’s no way in the world he’d succeed in the NBA. Kaun likewise has a tremendous advantage against that team. NBA bigmen are obviously a different level of competition, dozens of levels higher really. This is not to say that Timo and/or Sasha Kaun can’t succeed in the NBA, it’s just a bit like watching tape of Kansas v. mid-major with no bigman to judge Cole Aldrich.

    Timo and Sasha should likewise have an advantage against the US (not nearly as much, especially if Chandler gets more minutes… but Lamar Odom and Kevin Love aren’t Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins… or even NBA 5s). Overall I don’t know that Russia has the shooting to beat the US. Could always get lucky. Russia is a physical team and the US is so athletic that they should be able to deal with that. It’s a huge step up from the Iran, Tunisia, Angola run the US has been on, though. Definitely a test for US, but on paper I wouldn’t say Russia is a lot better than Slovenia and Brazil, if at all. US has to be ready to get smacked in the jaw a few times by Russia: I would say their biggest risk to lose besides lucky shooting by Russia or really terrible shooting by the US is if they’re stunned by Russia’s physicality.

    Overall I have been impressed with what I’ve seen of Mozgov in the WC. As others have pointed out, he’s got NBA athleticism, a good “motor,” and some tangible skills as a scorer, rebounder, and defender. I’m not big into starter/back-up distinctions, but I think he definitely has a good shot at being an NBA rotation player. His minutes will probably be limited at least the next couple of years (so he’ll be called a back-up), but I think he’ll be a good contributor at a valuable spot (with some mind-blowingly frustrating tendencies to be sure).
    I don’t agree that the goal is necessarily to play Amare at PF–Knicks best case scenario probably has Amare, Randolph, and Gallo as their 3 best players… guys you want on the court together at the 3, 4, 5 as much as possible and playing some D’Antoni ball with another shooter or two in the backcourt (Felton probably means 1 more often than 2)–but hopefully Timo is and/or develops into a valuable rotation piece.

  29. Ted Nelson

    DS,

    I agree that “back-up” isn’t necessarily the best way to describe Timo’s ceiling. If you’re going to use that distinction, though, (between starters and back-up, with no regard for rotation) it makes a decent amount of sense as a projection. He’s raw enough that for the first two years at least I’d expect him to limit his own minutes through fouls and mental mistakes (plus, it’s Mike D’Antoni and he’s a traditional 5…). If the great Gallo/AR hope comes close to the hype and Amare is Amare, that makes Timo a back-up.

    Sabonis and Divac aren’t the first comparisons that come to mind for me… Both were good-to-great technicians by 24 years old, Sabonis being one of the great technicians of all time and a HOFer if he came over in his early 20s instead of when he was 31. Both also had range out to 3-pts on their Js. Overall maybe his absolute ceiling in terms of value is as high, but for the foreseeable future (i.e. maybe he develops over the next few years) it is more physical and less technical. I get that your point is as good as them–and while I think it’s optimistic I pretty much agree with your point–just saying…

  30. Frank

    If he shows me a little Tyson Chandler that would be a high enough ceiling for me. Rebound, play defense, catch the lob or finish the roll from Felton, and use your six fouls to knock Lebron and Wade on their butts if they try to come to the rim.

    His stats haven’t shown any of the passing or mid-long range shooting ability that made Sabonis and Divac such great players so I think it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see that at this stage.

  31. Z

    Haven’t seen him play, but from the sound of things perhaps we could hope Mosgov becomes a Marcin Gortat quality player? A valuable big man who can bang and finish and provide a defensive presence.

    Sabonis and Divac would be great, but as Ted says, they had great skill and finesse. We can dream he’ll be that good, but such expectation may overshadow more realistic projections, which are still very positive. Sure, If he develops an 18-footer he could be the next Rik Smits; if he grows a few inches he could be the next Mark Eaton. But even if he is only the next Chris Dudley, Greg Kite, or Herb Williams, he’ll contribute in the league for a long time and will be a coup for whoever got him over here.

  32. Robert Silverman

    Hate falling back on the “Euros can only be compared to Euros” thing, but from (the very limited time) watching him, I think the best NBA comparable for Mozgov could be Marcin Gortat, aka “The Polish Hammer.”

    Plus defender/shotblocker, good around the rim, limited if efficient offensive game, high foul rate.

    If the Nix got something like Gortat’s age 24 season (12.6 mpg, .567 FG%, 3 RPG, 4.5 PPG, 0.8 Blocks) from Timofey, I’d be tickled fuchsia…

  33. Ted Nelson

    I generally like the Gortat comparison. I don’t think Gortat is as athletic. Gortat is bigger, but Timo is plenty big himself. Overall impact could be similar, though, as a very good rebounder, efficient low-volume scorer, and solid defensive presence.

    I don’t know if it’s a perfect comparison, but getting the sort of Tyson Chandler or Andris Biedrins production from Timo would be great. He may not have as complete a defensive skill set as a Tyson Chandler, but their statistical profile could be similar if Timo is a hit and his athleticism is as good as it looks.

    Some other possible comparisons:
    -Erick Dampier, Brendan Haywood, Joel Przybilla: I think he has the athleticism and/or fire to distinguish himself a bit from this group and be a better fit for D’Antoni, but his production/impact might be pretty similar. Athletic big with strong build, a bit scoring volume challenged but efficient.
    -DeAndre Jordan… again probably more fire, but I see some similarities. Jordan is also a strong athlete, he rebounds well and shows flashes, not a volume scorer, and his rawness keeps him off the court.
    -Older school: Felton Spencer, Tree Rollins, Dale Davis…

    “If the Nix got something like Gortat’s age 24 season (12.6 mpg, .567 FG%, 3 RPG, 4.5 PPG, 0.8 Blocks) from Timofey, I’d be tickled fuchsia…”

    If he plays as well as Gortat did in 08-09, I hope he’s getting more than 12 mpg… but, yeah, I’d be very happy.

  34. Z

    Thanks for the link, Ted.

    Not sure if “10 to 15 minutes” qualifies as “big minutes”. Sounds like he’s asking to be the back up center on a team that hasn’t played a starting center in years…

    (Also love D’Antoni’s newest tactic of instilling work ethic in players: begging them not to be lazy!)

  35. Z-man

    Like your list of big, big men with limited offensive skills but functional games overall. Haven’t heard Tree Rollins’ name in a while! Hell, why not bring up The Human Eraser while we’re at it?

    Re: Gortat, I should correct you in that Mozgov (7’1″) is actually bigger than Gortat (6’11” according to B-R). Gortat would be very optimistic ceiling in the short run, but who knows? I will say that considering that many were clamoring for us to sign Gortat for the mid-level exception not too long ago, Timo should at the least represent excellent value at half that price. If he does turn out to be as good as Gortat, or most of the others you mention ( I recall Felton Spencer as being more of a lumbering stiff, but that was probably imprinted via his short stint with us) I agree that he should play more than 12 mpg on a team without a clear-cut starting center.

  36. KnickfaninNJ

    I have to say that Mozgov doesn’t remind me much of any particular NBA center I remember. He’s much more mobile than Smit’s was and scores differently. Gortat is not the scoring threat that Mozgov is and doesn’t move the same way. Mozgov definitely has a physical style, but he doesn’t defend the same way as some of the physical centers I remember and he scores more than they do. Maybe there are some sort of similarity scores that can be done for him?

    Overall, I was favorably impressed watching him. He showed a post up move once that I saw, but not very often. If he can do that and score off the pick and roll the way he does, he could be a big scoring threat. And some of his blocks are very athletic. So I don’t think he will be a slouch on defense.

  37. TDM

    Based on his performance so far, I’m more optimistic about Mozgov than I was initially. However, I’m not certain why posters think that he is a plus rebounder. He’s averaging 18 minutes and 3.7 boards per game against mediocre, and often undersized, talent. By my calculations, that works out to around 7.4 boards / 36 – those are Curry-like numbers against lesser talent.

    http://turkey2010.fiba.com/pages/eng/fe/10/fwcm/player/p/eid/4728/orderby//ot//pid/56224/rid//sid/4728/tid/381/tid2//profile.html

    This is precisely why the Knicks needed to sign a guy like Barron. Granted Amare and AR will play some at the 5, but neither one are best suited for that role. Curry has gone awol, Turiaf is dealing with his latest injury (knee), and Mozgov is unproven against elites. Its looking more and more like PEJ (another forward) is going to make the roster, while Barron is going to get scooped up by a contender. Epic fail.

  38. rama

    “Epic fail” not signing a third string center? (Fourth string, if they want to get value out of Eddy before trading him…and fifth string, if you count Amare’s minutes at the 5.)

  39. TDM

    @51 – who’s your C1? There is a reason that Turiaf has never played starter minutes. Mozgov? Even he admits that he’d be thrilled to get 10-15 min/game. The only value Curry has is that his contract is expiring.

    Its called depth at a position where the Knicks have none.

  40. Ted Nelson

    Z-man, interesting. I guess Gortat looks bigger since he lumbers a bit and is maybe thicker… I had in my mind that he was 7-2 for some reason, but draftexpress also has him measuring pre-draft at 6-11 without shoes.

    TDM,

    “I’m not certain why posters think that he is a plus rebounder.”

    The same thing came up in the last thread. He’s pulled down 13 and 11 reb/36 against Eurocup comp in ’09 and Euroleague comp in ’10, respectively. A whole lot of offensive rebounds. I don’t think he’ll get 13 reb/36 in the NBA, but I also don’t think he’ll get 7.4. We’ll have to see, but before this tournament there was plenty of reason to believe he was a beast on the boards. Now that certainly has to be revisited, but I wouldn’t rule it out based on 100 minutes of action either.

    http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?pcode=LLK

    Timo’s also putting in 25 pts/36 on the tournament, Russia’s go to scorer when he’s on the court and leading scorer overall. Might grab a couple more offensive rebounds in a lesser scoring role.

    It’s Earl Barron… http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/barroea01.html He’s a D-League player.
    If PEJ makes the team it’s going to be on a non-guaranteed contract. He’ll effectively be a practice squad player–a guy who will go hard and push Gallo and AR in camp/practice rather than a 5th string C–and he can be cut the moment Donnie has a 2-for-1 offer he likes. Barron is probably trying to parlay his breakout 7 games into a guaranteed deal, apparently with no luck… much like he had no luck making an NBA team for 2 years prior to joining the Knicks… may very well have to take an unguaranteed deal from the Knicks IF they offer it or look overseas if he wants a real roster spot. He probably didn’t help his cause with whatever that incident of calling Donnie Walsh a liar or whatever was earlier in the summer.

    Amare was the primary 5 on a few 60 win teams for D’Antoni, so I’m not too worried about him playing there.

  41. rama

    “Its called depth at a position where the Knicks have none.” TDM

    1: Amare
    2: Turiaf
    3. Mozgov
    4. Randolph
    5. Curry

    I like Earl Barron, but the sky is not falling if we do not sign him. Amare may want to play the 4, but for big stretches of the game you know he’ll be at the 5, probably with Randolph at the 4 and Gallo at the 3. Let’s be conservative and say 10 mpg. Turiaf is clearly a backup 5, and a good one who will likely eat up 20 mpg. Mozgov will be happy with 10 minutes, which will be against bigger, more physical centers. He’ll probably get 4 fouls in those 10 minutes, but seems a worthy project for what he can bring next year or the year after, with some seasoning. So we’re at 40 mpg, leaving a few minutes for Randolph in a small lineup from time to time or, toward the beginning of the season, a few minutes for Curry to show SOME value for trade purposes. Doesn’t mean Curry will play, and we don’t expect him to be here after February, but until then it would be a good move to get him burn so that he’s more than just an expiring contract.

    So, we don’t even really have enough minutes for the guys we’ve got. Mozgov has more upside than Barron. Turiaf is proven. Amare is our best 5, though he doesn’t want to play there much. Epic fail? Practice player. Just like PE. Who can be cut if the right deal demands it. Had the Earl of Barron been willing to agree to a non-guaranteed contract, I’m sure we’d have signed him…but without that loophole, I applaud Donnie for again keeping an eye on the big picture and leaving himself wiggle room to continue to improve the club.

  42. TDM

    Ted –

    “It’s Earl Barron . . . He’s a D-League player.”

    So is PEJ – one that hasn’t played a single minute in the NBA. To date, his claim to fame is that he was traded for rights to Frederic Weis. Nuff said.

  43. Ted Nelson

    From 53:

    “If PEJ makes the team it’s going to be on a non-guaranteed contract. He’ll effectively be a practice squad player–a guy who will go hard and push Gallo and AR in camp/practice rather than a 5th string C–and he can be cut the moment Donnie has a 2-for-1 offer he likes. Barron is probably trying to parlay his breakout 7 games into a guaranteed deal, apparently with no luck… much like he had no luck making an NBA team for 2 years prior to joining the Knicks… may very well have to take an unguaranteed deal from the Knicks IF they offer it or look overseas if he wants a real roster spot. He probably didn’t help his cause with whatever that incident of calling Donnie Walsh a liar or whatever was earlier in the summer.”

    I don’t know why you are so convinced A. that Earl Barron is any good and B. that the Knicks other 5 guys who can play C will be so atrocious that a D-Leaguer would be an improvement. It’s just a rumor at this point that PEJ will even make the team. Would I care if Earl Barron were the Knicks probable 15th man instead of PEJ? No. The only way I would care is if it prevented Donnie–who has said he DOES NOT and WILL NOT cut guaranteed contracts–from making a 1-for-2 deal that would help the Knicks.

  44. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Giving up future draft picks… and rising to $17M versus $4.5M… for a WP/48 increase in the thousandths. But he can score in bunches, so.

    Sounds smart. Let’s rehire Isiah, too.

  45. ess-dog

    OK, here’s my first run at the minutes/game:

    Felton – 30
    Chandler – 25
    Gallo – 35
    Stoudemire – 35
    Turiaf – 25

    bench

    Douglas – 20
    Randolph – 30
    Mosgov – 15
    Booky – 20
    Walker or Mason – 10

    I just get the feeling thus far that Chandler and Turiaf will start, even though I see both as bench players eventually. I would love for Randolph to start, but unless Stoudemire embraces playing more center, I don’t think it will happen. But he should get at least 30 min. a game at sf and pf. Azubooky, if healthy, will play and could eventually start. If unhealthy, those minutes will go to Walker and/or Mason. I’m pulling for Walker, but if he starts slow, he might be out of the rotation all together. I think the team would be stronger if Randolph started instead of Turiaf and Douglas or Walker started at the sg instead of Chandler, but hopefully Chandler can get off to a good start this year. Clearly he or Booky need to be traded and the sg position needs improvement, but at least we have good depth at the 2 and 3 if not top notch talent.

  46. rama

    ess – if the Knicks play five minutes more than the limit in each game, we’d win every time for sure….

  47. BigBlueAL

    Didnt see the Spain game today but from everything Ive read Rubio was apparently absolutely awful today. Anyone here who saw the game, was he really that bad??

    Must say from what Ive seen of him I wouldnt call him a bust or necessarily overrated but I certainly dont think he will be anywhere near a Top 5 PG in the NBA, heck not sure if he would even be a Top 10 PG. Funny thing is he kinda reminds me of Felton a bit. He does seem to be a better passer (albeit way too wreckless for me) but both are guys who would rather drive than shoot and even then they both have a hard time finishing. Seems to me the main value in both of them comes in the defensive end.

  48. BigBlueAL

    You know Ted its funny cause Rubio has been a big deal since even before the 2008 Olympics which was the first time I saw him play and it is pretty hard to remember he is still only 19 I admit.

    Like I said I dont think he is overrated or gonna be a bust but he might be a bit overhyped perhaps. Again though if he does become a borderline Top 10 PG in the NBA by no means would that make him a bust, far from it actually. But again I see no chance he becomes anything near a Top 5 PG. I mean just off the top of my head just going with younger PG’s in the NBA will Rubio be as good as CP3, Deron Williams, Rondo, Westbrook, Rose?? Let alone guys like Steph Curry or even Brandon Jennings??

  49. massive

    I agree with Ted in 63. As he gets older he should learn to control his game and not make so many reckless passes, and just improve his game overall.

  50. ess-dog

    It would’ve been a fun matchup with the Wolves if Rubio was in the NBA. Him vs. Felton. Pekovic vs. Mosgov. Love vs. Amare.

  51. massive

    Doesn’t Minnesota run the triangle offense? Not sure how Rubio would work in that system, it would be interesting to see, though.

  52. Mulligan

    massive: Doesn’t Minnesota run the triangle offense? Not sure how Rubio would work in that system, it would be interesting to see, though.  

    That’s always the icing on the cake for me when I find myself contemplating the madness of Khan (which is not all that infrequent): Not only do you draft a bajillion point guards, but you ostensibly have an offensive system in place that minimizes the need for a dominant point guard. Brilliant.

  53. Mulligan

    Guys, I’m dying over here. We have another month until training camp starts. What can I do to pass the time. Anyone have any favorite basketball movies to recommend? Not proud to admit it, but I just watched LBJ’s documentary. “Meh”

  54. kburt8

    Mulligan,

    Hoosiers is an obvious choice, but if you’re watching LBJ documentaries you’ve probably seen it once or twice :)

    I’ve heard that Above the Rim (Tupac, Marlon Wayans, Bernie Mac) is entertaining and has an excellent sound track. Haven’t watched it myself but might check it out.

    I also like The Basketball Diaries as it is a good film that explores the effects of drug abuse, sexual trauma, and writing on the development of a young man and also has the unintentional comedy of Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg attempting to portray basketball stars.

    My last recommendation, the 2009-10 NYK Highlight Tape. Only problem is the runtime…just 9 minutes.

    Any others worth checking out?

  55. Brian Cronin

    Rubio could absolutely be as good as Rondo, Westbrook and Rose.

    Likely not Williams and almost certainly not CP3, but he could easily be as good as those other three players. It’s not like those three don’t have massive deficiencies in their own games.

  56. Z

    TDM: This is precisely why the Knicks needed to sign a guy like Barron…Epic fail.  

    I agree it’s a colossal display of incompetence, but I’m not quite sure it falls into the “Epic Fail” category. Epic Fail is usually reserved for the true managerial disasters of our lifetime, like when we didn’t match Jackie Butler’s offer from the Spurs, or when we let Randolph Morris walk to the Hawks.

  57. BigBlueAL

    I read Hollinger today say a good comparison for Rubio would be Shaun Livingston. I know Hollinger is not a big fan of Rubio because of his shooting numbers.

  58. Caleb

    @73 It’s an interesting comparison, in terms of style – tall lanky guys,very good defenders at a young age, sometimes spectacular playmakers, can’t shoot. At this point you can’t help but see it as a jab at Rubio, but it’s hard to get a handle on just how good Livingston might have been, without injuries. Rubio is already more accomplished, I’d say, and not a totally hopeless shooter.

    I think he has pretty much held up his value as a top-5 pick, maybe top-3. His skills are pretty unusual which makes it hard to find comparisons. Most of the very good or great non-scoring PGs, do it more on fantastic athleticism – thinking of Rondo or Westbrook. Ricky isn’t slow, but he’s not that kind of athlete. He still looks like a skinny teenager so I’m guessing he’ll get stonger and maybe faster.

    Then there’s Jason Kidd… awful shooter, unreal playmaker. Very good but not unreal athlete. But Kidd was also like a football safety, and he’s the best PG rebounder in history. Ricky doesn’t match up, but IMO he has a similarly spectacular feel for the game.

    @70 – as you can tell from my avatar I am a big fan of the book. The movie, not so much. They took an entertaining, quirky, unapologetic memoir and turned it into a cartoony after-school special.

  59. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, I think that Livingston is intended as an insult, but Livingston before the injury looked pretty damn good.

  60. Frank

    Rubio HAS been pretty invisible against not-exactly top-flight competition during this tournament though…

  61. Ted Nelson

    re: Rubio

    His hype did start at a very young age, and not every prodigy lives up to the hype. For every LeBron there’s a Lenny Cooke or Darius Miles and for every Dirk there’s a Darko. Being incredibly good for a 15 or 16 year old does give you a much better chance of also being incredibly good when you grow up, though. Rubio is one of the best players in the 2nd best national league in the world at 19, so he’s still on about the same track as he was breaking into that league in his mid-teens.

    I agree with Brian and Caleb in terms of what makes a very good player. If LeBron or Chris Paul is your standard, you’re going to be disappointed 99% of the time. Rubio’s chances of being as good as Chris Paul are very low, and I would say the same for John Wall, Derrick Rose or any other PG.

    I also don’t know why he can’t be as good as Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry… He’s never be as athletic or good defensively as Westbrook, and he’ll never be the shooter Curry is. Westbrook, though, has had a TS% of .490 both his seasons in the NBA. Curry’s assist rate as a rookie was 24.6.

    Rondo’s about as good as Deron Williams and 2 years younger, so I’m not sure why Rubio could be as good as Rondo but not Williams.

    While it falls into the typical only comparing guys to their own race thing, I would have to compare Rubio to Nash. Rubio isn’t likely to be as good a shooter or as efficient a scorer as Nash, but his upside is as a great passer who scores efficiently on a lower than average volume… i.e. Nash. What he loses in scoring efficiency to Nash, Rubio is likely to make up for in defense… maybe more than make up for. I don’t know that Rubio will be a 2-time MVP, but I certainly think he has a solid shot at being a top 10 NBA PG.

    Kidd comparison also has some merit. First for the passing. I would say Rubio is a better shooter: at 19 Kidd hit 28.6% of his 3s at Cal. Rubio isn’t built like Kidd, but he is a strong rebounder for a guard. He got more boards per minute in Euroleague this season (4.9 per 36) than Manu Ginobili did at 24 in the Euroleague, and Manu is a strong rebounding guard in the NBA. He won’t be Kidd on the glass, but he should be up there with the Manu and Rondo type guards at a reb% around 8-10.

    re: Rubio v. Livingston…

    I see some parallels, but… Hollinger expects Rubio to horrifically injure himself his first few years in the league? Livingston wasn’t living up to expectations before that point, but his strong 09-10 season suggests that without the injury he might have gotten significantly better. As Caleb points out, Livingston never had the success against high level competition Rubio has enjoyed. He was an freak project taken out of HS. Rubio is a star against the 2nd and 3rd best professional competition in the world and generally holds his own in international competitions against grown men as well (the other day aside).

    The bit about Rubio not being able to shoot is overdone. He’s not a plus scorer, but he hits outside shots: he’s hit 40% of his regular season 3s the last 2 seasons in Spain FORTY PERCENT…, and hit 36% of his 3s in Euroleague. 40% 3-pt shooting… horrible. He was 19 and playing against the best competition anywhere outside the NBA. His finishing is worse than his outside shooting in reality.
    Shaun Livingston, on the other hand, has hit 6 NBA 3s in 5,000 minutes… Rubio takes about 2 3s per game. Clearly they are really similar. Rubio is also the best playmaker in Europe and clearly one of the best at the World Championships… but, yeah, Shaun Livingston…
    Would like to see the article before I actually criticize Hollinger.

  62. Ted Nelson

    “Rubio HAS been pretty invisible against not-exactly top-flight competition during this tournament though… ”

    4th in assists per game in the tournament as a 19 year old is invisible?

    7.7 ast/36, 2.5 TO/36, 4.4 reb/36, 2.1 stl/36… not what I would call invisible. He’s been awful scoring the ball, but his peripherals are there. He’s also a full 2 years younger than any US player.

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