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Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Could Rondo To New York Look Like?

Christmas day comes with many traditions depending on your culture. Some people make certain types of food, others go through elaborate present exchanging rituals, and some use the time for spiritual endeavors. For NBA fans, Christmas marks the start of dreaming of mid-season trades. Reporters are eager to dish out such treats to good little boys and girls of naughty and nice teams alike.

Unfortunately with trade rumors, it’s not clear which are true, which are planted by teams to alter player values, and which are pure speculation put into type. To isolate true possibilities from vision of sugar plums, we need ESPN’s trade machine to account for monetary concerns.

The first rumor is the Knicks attempt to acquire the Celtics’ point guard Rajon Rondo.

Rondo-Knicks

The first thing to notice is that the Knicks cannot trade Bargnani ($11.9M) or JR Smith ($5.6M) until June of 2014. Rondo makes $11.9M, so to find a suitable match, New York would need to send one of their large contracts, namely Stoudemire, Anthony, or Chandler. In this deal, I think Chandler would be the likely target. The interesting thing is that Chandler for Rondo works straight up under the salary cap, but I don’t think that’d be enough for the Celtics to bite.

Here’s a trade that could work under that framework:

NYK
Rondo
Faverani

BOS
Chandler
Shumpert
Hardaway

New York gets back a center, and the Celtics take both of the Knicks prized young guards. If a trade like this went down, you’d have to wonder what the lineups would be for New York. Most likely the depth chart would be:

C Bargnani, K-Mart, Stat, Faverani, Popcorn Vendor, Aldrich (only if down by 25 or more)
PF Melo, Metta, Stat
SF JR Smith, Metta, Melo,
SG Felton, (Prigs), Udrih, Murry
PG Rondo, Felton, (Prigs), Udrih, Murry

As you can see, the Knicks have the PG and F spot set, but they are incredibly weak at the swingman spots. Also the center still seems to be a problem, despite the number of players who fit the position. Maybe a way to even out the deal is for the teams to throw in Felton for Courtney Lee. New York could try to get Olynyk instead of Faverani. In any case, there is a framework here that could be built upon to make a deal, depending on the desires of the franchises.

Another rumor that has been circulating is Carmelo Anthony heading to the West Coast. This could happen in two ways. The first is to combine the Carmelo Anthony rumor, the Rajon Rondo rumor and the Pau Gasol rumor. The framework for this deal would look like this:

NYK
Rondo
Bass

BOS
Gasol

LAL
Carmelo Anthony

Honestly I’m not sure if any of these teams would be happy. The Knicks wouldn’t think that Rondo and Bass make up for Carmelo, the Lakers might not want to pair Carmelo and D’Antoni again, and would the Celtics trade Rondo for just Gasol? So the basic structure of this deal is possibly flawed.

What if the Knicks didn’t give up Carmelo in this deal & instead sent Tyson Chandler? One deal would be:

NYK
Rondo

BOS
Gasol

LAL
Chandler
Bass

To even things out I would probably modify it to:

NYK
Rondo
Hill
Kaman

BOS
Gasol
Shumpert
Hardaway

LAL
Chandler
Bass

New York would get a pair of centers to replace Chandler. The Lakers would have a pairing of Kobe and Tyson. And Boston would get Gasol along with the two young guards. My guess would be LA might say no to that, so you could send Shumpert/Hardaway to LA instead. When the dust settles, the Knicks would have a depth chart of:

C Hill, Kaman, K-Mart, JD’s Bass Player, Aldrich (when the white flag’s flying)
PF Bargnani, Stat, Melo
SF Melo, Metta, JR
SG JR, Felton, (Prigs), Udrih, Murry
PG Rondo, Felton, (Prigs), Udrih, Murry

One final consideration is the Clippers getting involved. Much like the original Laker trade, the basic framework that works under the cap is to send Carmelo to the Clippers, and this time the Celtics get DeAndre Jordan.

BOS
D. Jordan

NYK
Rondo
J. Crawford
Matt Barnes
A. Jamison

LAC
Carmelo

The Clippers need to shed contracts to ‘cquire ‘Melo, and they’d have to send Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and Antawn “Seriously He’s Still Playing” Jamison back. If Boston doesn’t think Jordan is good enough in return for Rondo, they can pressure New York to give up Shumpert and/or Hardaway. One or both fit under the cap. If the Clippers need a center back, they could ask for Aldrich, which means they’d have to send out another unused guy like Wayns. The Knicks might push for the Clippers first round pick Reggie Bullock, but he hasn’t shown much yet at the NBA level, to give them some depth at the GF spot. That deal would look like this:

BOS
D. Jordan
Shumpert
Hardaway

NYK
Rondo
J. Crawford
Matt Barnes
A. Jamison
R. Bullock

LAC
Carmelo
Aldrich

The final tally for New York would look like this:

C Chandler, Kmart, Stoudemire, Hey where did that stiff guy go?
PF Bargnani, Stoudemire, Jamison?
SF Barnes, Metta, Bullock
SG Crawford, uhhhh Felton?, (Prigs?), Udrih?, Bullock, Chris Smith!!!
PG Rondo, Felton, (Prigs), Udrih, Murry

Probably a little less balanced, especially at SG/SF depth. Bullock was a bomber in college, so maybe he can find that niche in the NBA.

From the Knicks’ standpoint, there are some ways for the team to improve mid-season. From these examples three team deals work better for the Knicks. If New York trades Tyson Chandler one-on-one with Boston, the Celtics don’t have a good center to send back to New York, which just exacerbates their weakness. Hence the Knicks would be wise to seek out a third team to make a deal. Also there is the possibility to move Carmelo Anthony, if the team decided to go in that direction.

77 comments on “What Could Rondo To New York Look Like?

  1. stratomatic

    IMO

    1. Anything that gives up more than Chandler for Rondo is a bad deal for NY (especially BOTH Shumpert and Hardaway)

    2. I can’t see any way that Boston would take back Gasol in any kind of deal unless it sheds some bad contracts and they plan to let him leave or move him somewhere else. He’s on his way down and they are trying to get younger to rebuild.

    3. Melo to the Clippers as part of a trade makes some sense because it’s the only market other than NY he would consider, he has always been rumored to want to play with Chris Paul, and the Lakers are probably out of the question.

  2. flossy

    If we trade Melo to the Clippers, we’d better be getting back Blake Griffin, that’s all I can say.

  3. Thomas B.

    Mike,
    I think you should look into being the Knicks’ G.M. You proposed 6 trades and none of those trades mentioned the Knicks sending a draft pick away. Thanks for that.

    For me, the problem is you can’t move the two players I’d like to move (Smith, Bargs) so you are forced to move the two players I’d rather not move (Shump, TH3, who btw should spend some time working with Allan Houston on the form. TH3 tends to take shots with his right foot well in front of him which I think makes his jumper erratic at times but thankfully I’ve watched about 40 total minutes of his play this year, so what do I know?)

    I think there is also the wait it out option. For the right players, Rondo will still be around for the taking in the off-season. At least then you can really start blowing things up. Stat’s expiring!! Smith and Bargs can be moved. As for Felton, just disguise a rocket ship as an all-you-can-eat diner. After he walks in–and he will–“mission control, we have the package. We are go for lift off.”

    With no picks, we need to scout the hell out of the foreign players for help.

  4. flossy

    Also, out of all of our trade assets (Melo, Chandler, Shumpert, Hardaway, 2018 pick), only Hardaway should be untouchable, IMO. He is the only beacon of light in this season of sadness–a young two whose shot is pure and who neatly splits the difference between Shumpert’s crisis of confidence and JR Smith’s utter lack of conscience when it comes to shot selection.

    Obviously his defense needs work (welcome to the NBA) and he’s not much to write home about as a rebounder, but my observation that his body type and shooting form remind me of Reggie Miller prompted me to compare their rookie stats and, well….

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=hardati02&y1=2014&p2=millere01&y2=1988

    The resemblance is uncanny, except that Timbo Slice is dramatically less turnover prone. That is a young player you do not trade.

  5. flossy

    TH3, who btw should spend some time working with Allan Houston on the form. TH3 tends to take shots with his right foot well in front of him which I think makes his jumper erratic at times but thankfully I’ve watched about 40 total minutes of his play this year, so what do I know?

    Timmy has an eFG% of .573 and is shooting better than .400 from 3 for the season. One thing I’ve noticed is that he always manages to square his shoulders to the basket no matter how off-balance he is when he releases the ball, which probably mitigates the footwork somewhat. But seriously his shooting form is maybe the only thing *not* broken about the Knicks this season.

  6. vincoug

    I’m sorry but none of these trades are in any sense realistic in what Boston would look to get back in return for Rondo. Keep in mind that this is a team that just traded KG and Pierce, on their last legs, for three future 1st rounders. All of these trades have the same problem for Boston: they’re getting back young role players, a good veteran if they want to compete now, and no draft picks. Shumpert’s been so bad that he probably has 0 trade value at the moment; Hardaway is nice but does he project to anything more than a role player?; and Tyson only makes sense if they’re looking to compete now, something they’re obviously not if they’re trading their best player.

    Oh, and the trades involving the Clippers? If the best player Boston is getting back is DeAndre Jordan? No way Boston goes for that. DJ is terrible! He’s awful on offense and defense. The only thing he does well is rebounding.

    Basically, what it comes down to is that we don’t have the pieces to put together a reasonable package for Rondo. If we really wanted to make a move for Rondo we should probably be looking to trade Tyson to OKC for a package of Perkins, picks, and draft picks and then flip those assets along with Hardaway and Shump to Boston.

  7. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Just a side note, I didn’t make these deals from my perspective as a GM. My goal was to look at what was possible and/or probable by the parties involved and attend to what their needs might be.

    If the Knicks wanted to make one of these trades, it would have to look like one of the above due to the restraints of the salary cap. Very easily they could add/subtract players or even draft picks to either side of the deal, depending on the negotiation.

  8. Knicks4Eva

    Isn’t Rondo a notorious ***hole?

    Isn’t he known for arguing with coaches…and you know Doc Rivers has a bit more gravitas than Woodson, who would get eaten alive by Rondo?
    He’s obviously an enormous upgrade in every other way, but this is already a team that largely consists of the uncoachable and the unlikeable, why make that worse? He isn’t good enough (and no one knows how much he lost with his latest injury) to put our group over the top, even if we got him for Murry and Chris Smith. It’s also possible that I could never root for the guy after his years in Boston, though I’ve proven myself wrong about that kind of thing before.

    I’d rather see a Felton/Shump for Lowry than have to lose Chandler for heaven’s sake.

  9. Hubert

    If we trade Melo to the Clippers, we’d better be getting back Blake Griffin, that’s all I can say.

    I feel like this makes so much sense for all parties involved. Thus it will never happen.

    Would we want DeAndre Jordan? It probably makes more sense to trade Chandler individually, but Melo & Chandler to the Clippers for Blake, Jordan, Crawford, Bullock and picks wouldn’t be terrible.

    Also, out of all of our trade assets (Melo, Chandler, Shumpert, Hardaway, 2018 pick), only Hardaway should be untouchable, IMO.

    I wouldn’t mind selling high on Tim Hardaway. It’s perhaps unfair to him, but I’m haunted by the ghost of Landry Fields’ great start and not completely confident this isn’t just a hot streak.

  10. Hubert

    By the way, I’m looking forward to the meet up on Saturday night at Idle Hands. Seems like you guys are only promoting it on Twitter, not here. Would be great to meet some of the other posters and enjoy the game together. Perhaps you can throw a notice on the site somewhere?

    If not, well, Saturday night, Raptors game, there’s a meet up at Idle Hands in the East Village with the KB and P&T folks and posters.

  11. Hubert

    As for Rondo, I just don’t see Ainge trading him to us unless we can offer him twice as much as anyone else, and we can’t. Remember, this is a guy who facilitated trading Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons simply to prevent us from getting him. Zero chance we see Rondo in a Knicks’ uni via a trade that involves Boston, IMO.

  12. d-mar

    If I were Ainge, this would be my plan:

    1-Initiate talks with the Knicks regarding Rondo and get the media all hyped up about it.
    2-Propose a completely unreasonable trade, expecting that Mills would initially reject it
    3-Wait for Dolan to intervene and give away the store in order to bring in another high profile player to NY

    Other GM’s must look at us the way an expert poker player looks at a newbie – if you wait long enough, he’ll do something stupid and you can pounce and take away all his chips.

  13. hoolahoop

    Rondo has a history of fighting with coaches and teammates in Boston. That’s not the type of guy you build around, especially in a dysfunctional organization like the knicks.

    Before the knicks begin to start making bad trades, they need to replace Woodstupid and see if they can right the ship.

  14. yellowboy90

    Can the knicks dump Bargs and trade for Spencer Hawes and make him the back up C? Any Scenario for that?

  15. Hubert

    If I were Ainge, this would be my plan:

    1-Initiate talks with the Knicks regarding Rondo and get the media all hyped up about it.
    2-Propose a completely unreasonable trade, expecting that Mills would initially reject it
    3-Wait for Dolan to intervene and give away the store in order to bring in another high profile player to NY

    The store has already been given away. Masai Ujiri is the new store owner.

    I have to imagine our best offer wouldn’t be the best Ainge can get.

  16. Zanzibar

    Uh, pardon me, but why do we want Rondo? Lowry’s average WS/48 the past 5 seasons is .143 compared to .136 for Rondo. He’s better than Rondo at everything except passing. And he’s not recovering from a major injury which could impair Rondo’s speed and shot creation ability. And Lowry would be about 7m cheaper. At this stage, I hope we continue to stink, Melo wants to bolt to Clips at trade deadline and we make 3 simple trades:

    (1) JR/3m/2018 draft pick for Lowry
    (2) Melo for Griffin/Bullock/filler min contract(s)
    (3) Chandler/Felton/Prigs for Perkins/Adams/Jackson (Prigs/Felton thru OKC trade exceptions)

    In summer of 2015, here’s our 7 contracts: Lowry/Jackson/Shump/Hardaway/Bullock/Griffin/Adams. We’d also have about $22m free cap plus 5m MLE plus BAE plus 1st round pick. Use the cap to pursue value players like Millsap (PF/SF) and Robin Lopez. If Durant wants out of OKC in 2016 and is interested in Knicks, we have tradeable pieces OKC would want. If not, we have an excellent deep young athletic team.

  17. lavor postell

    How about a 3-way trade between the Knicks, Suns and Clippers?

    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine

    Clippers receive Chandler and Melo, Phoenix gets Blake Griffin and the Knicks get Dragic, Plumlee, one of the Morris twins, DeAndre Jordan, Reddick and two firsts from Phoenix as well and a first from the Clippers.

    This would give us three picks in this draft albeit not in the lottery, but you get some nice young pieces in Dragic, Plumlee, Morris and Jordan. Reddick has tremendous value on a 4 year contract which can easily be flipped to a contender at some point in the summer, or perhaps you can pull in a 4th team to pull in and grab another first rounder from. Jordan and Morris’ contracts expire in 2 seasons and you could see how they play out to guage whether they are worth re-signing or perhaps move when their value peaks.

    I also don’t think this totally screws us in the here and now and still would give us a puncher’s chance in the Atlantic. Dragic would give us the flexibility to play a ton of two pg lineups and Plumlee and Jordan are probably an upgrade over the minutes we got at center from Bargnani and STAT.

    For Phoenix they don’t really give up a ton and get burgeoning young star in Griffin and the Clippers probably become the favorite in the West for the price of Jordan, Griffin, Reddick and a late round first. If anything the Knicks should try to get a 2016 first out of the Clippers as well.

  18. Brian Cronin

    This line from Woody sums him up so well. When asked about Melo coming back tonight and whether it might be too much for him to return on the first night of a back-to-back, Berman writes “Woodson wouldn’t rule him out completely, saying the back-to-back isn’t a factor for the coach.”

    Of course it isn’t a factor for the coach.

  19. Brian Cronin

    The modern NBA is kind of funny in how plugged in the players are due to social media and the like. I just saw a tweet from Jarrett Jack where he replied to Jalen Rose’s tweet about his (Rose’s) top 12 current NBA players. Jack was writing to Rose to stick up for LaMarcus Aldridge being left off of the list, a player Jack has never played with in the NBA (and they weren’t college teammates). That’s pretty interesting of Jack to do that.

  20. Thomas B.

    Timmy has an eFG% of .573 and is shooting better than .400 from 3 for the season. One thing I’ve noticed is that he always manages to square his shoulders to the basket no matter how off-balance he is when he releases the ball, which probably mitigates the footwork somewhat. But seriously his shooting form is maybe the only thing *not* broken about the Knicks this season.

    Point taken. I don’t think he is a bad shooter, I just don’t see the classic footwork you’d see in a Ray Allen. I think his shoulders and release point are very good. Overall he shoots very well, but I’ve seen a number of waaaaaay off shots. Maybe it is feet, maybe he is just a nervous rookie, maybe bad shot selection. I’m not sure, but the footwork you can control/teach.

    When you ave a guy like Houston available to you why not use that?

  21. Frank

    I honestly don’t even know why we’re talking about this. We’re doing it because Brian Windhorst said that this was the plan? Since when did he become the source of news on the Knicks?

    I know this is an ESPN affiliate but we’ve all seen this story before with the ESPN national writers like Broussard, Windhorst, etc. They make up random stories based on someone’s twitter feed, or someone’s girlfriend’s dad’s quote, then put it out for the masses to go crazy over, then they write more stories about the reaction to their made-up story, thereby amplifying their own previous story and page hits.

    Do the Knicks want Rondo? I’m sure they do. They want everyone. But there is no chance of any of these trades happening. The Clips are a true contender now and they’re only getting better as they play together more. Boston is unlikely to make a trade with a division opponent unless it’s a complete landslide of a deal in their direction (like the BKN trade), and we don’t even have enough assets to make it a landslide like that.

    My preference? My #1 (and quite unrealistic) preference is to blow the thing up. Not going to happen but my feeling is you could get a fair amount for Tyson, Melo, and Shump. Take on nothing past 2014-15. Fire Woodson asap and hire one of the Van Gundys. Play JR, Chris Smith, and Bargnani as much as possible to tank the 2014-15 season. Then you have a clean cap, a very high pick in the 2015 draft when guys like Jabari Parker (if he stays) or Myles Turner etc. may come out. Then sign Kevin Love or whoever wants to come, along with some supporting cast guys.

    It’ll never happen but I think it’s the best way forward. I think we’ve probably seen enough from this crew to know that even if all the injured guys come back, this isn’t a team even with a puncher’s chance at contention. Our coach isn’t good enough, and even though Melo has been great, he and Tyson are not enough.

  22. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    I really don’t see Boston going out of their way to trade Rondo to NY. If we could offer them what the Nets gave them for KG and Pierce, maybe, but not for the yuck we’d be offering.

    The only trade that makes perfect sense for all parties is the NY, LAC, PHO three way that sends Anthony to LA, Griffin to Phoenix, and a bunch of draft picks to NY. But since it makes perfect sense it will never happen, because it involves James Dolan.

    (ps– why can’t Bargnani and Smith be traded before June?? I understand Smith, who signed a new contract in July (though I thought it was either December 15th or January 15th). But Bargnani? Why?)

  23. Frank

    That said… while we’re talking trades that will never happen:

    We get:
    Luol Deng (expiring after this year)
    Carlos Boozer (expiring 14-15)
    Jimmy Butler
    Kendrick Perkins (expires after 14-15)
    Steven Adams
    Andre Roberson (filler)
    Chicago 1st round pick in 2014
    some sort of 1st round pick from OKC

    OKC gets: Tyson Chandler

    Chicago gets:
    Carmelo Anthony
    Iman Shumpert
    Raymond Felton
    Kenyon Martin

    (this works on the Trade Machine)

    So…

    Essentially for Tyson/Shump/Chandler we’d get 1st round picks from both Chicago and OKC, Steven Adams, and Jimmy Butler. We’d have a very clean cap after 2014-15. We’d get Deng as a piece that could be moved at the trade deadline also, or even re-signed if we like him. And we’d probably still be semi-competitive with a starting lineup of Prigioni, Hardaway, Jimmy Butler, Boozer, and Perkins or Adams with JR, Amare, etc. coming off the bench.

    OKC gets Chandler, who will be amazing next to Ibaka and playing off Westbrook and Durant. I would immediately install them as the favorites to win it all this year and next if for no other reason than the fact Perkins will no longer be a black hole for them.

    Chicago gets Melo/Shump. ‘Nuff said. A core of Derrick Rose, Shump, Melo, Taj Gibson, and Noah would be pretty formidable. Thibodeau will be able to hide Melo sufficiently for them to remain a top defensive team. Rose and Melo would finally have true running mates on offense. Felton would be their starting PG this year and a pretty reasonable backup for Rose in the future. And Thibodeau would love Shump and K-Mart. I think they’d be pretty strong 3 or 4 seed this year, and would be a contender next year when Rose is back.

    Who says no?

  24. Dan Panorama

    I almost never think this about fantasy trades, but that three-way with OKC and CHI makes a huge amount of sense for everyone involved. Too much sense to ever happen.

  25. lavor postell

    @ Frank

    I’d probably say no, because I don’t believe we could flip Deng this season for anything since we acquired him after December 19. Also if I’m trading away Melo, Shump and Chandler I need more than Deng’s expiring, Butler, Adams and 2 picks. I still think getting Phoenix and their desire for a star and the Clippers and Paul’s dictate to win now together in trade will yield the best results from the Knicks.

    Both have pieces and young talent that would allow us to remain competitive now and make a run at the Atlantic, will be more than willing to give us first round picks in their desire to compete now and maintain cap flexibility to make a run at big name free agents in 2015. Dragic eats into 2015 cap space, but a core of Dragic, Shump, Hardaway Jr and Plumlee with a slew of young talent via the draft picks we acquire could be enticing for free agents in 2015. At the least it gives us a ton of assets to make moves and gives us a solid young core to develop.

    Anyways doesn’t really matter because none of this is going to happen. I fully expect us to max out Melo and then continue to mortgage the future for a ceiling of a 50-win ECF exit.

  26. vincoug

    @ Frank

    Whoa, I never considered Chicago as a willing trade partner but that makes a ton of sense. The only problem is Melo would have to agree to resign there or else Chicago wouldn’t do it. I’d also still be interested in Melo to LAC, Blake to PHX, and picks and young players to us.

  27. Frank

    FWIW (not much), I think Melo would be crazy not to resign in Chicago. High level coach, defensive protectors behind him in Noah and Gibson, and Derrick Rose, who would be the best player he’s ever played with. I think it’s a no-brainer for him.

    I think the Chi-NYK part could happen independently of the OKC part, which I added because I thought trading out Tyson to get a high ceiling guy in Adams as well as a 1st round pick would be worth picking up Perkins’s deadweight. But I’d be happy just with the Chi-NYK part.

    The only thing that I didn’t really consider is luxury tax situations with Chicago and OKC. Both ownership groups have been very loath to pay the luxury tax, so Chicago may not want max Melo + max Rose + big salaries to both Noah and Gibson. And on the OKC side, they would be taking on about 4 MM more per year in salary with Tyson vs. Adams + Perkins, so that might be a stopping point for them (though easily mitigated by trading out guys like Thabeet or other such roster filler etc.).

    I dunno – makes a ton of sense to me.

    RE: the PHX trade – I don’t actually think Dragic+Plumlee+one Morris + 2 first round picks for Blake is a good deal at all for Phoenix. In fact I think it’s terrible. There’s no way in the world they make that trade. Are there rumblings that they want to dump Dragic and pick up a “star”? And by the way both Morris twins have been playing great. Check out their stats compared to Griffin, and remember Griffin makes 3x what they make combined.

    http://bkref.com/tiny/ubKdg

  28. Frank

    Jimmy says we’re not trading anyone

    My 4 year old also promises not to fight over toys with his sister. I put about as much stock in what Dolan says today as in what my boy says.

    That said – doing nothing is not that bad for us. In that setting the only bad thing that can happen is giving Melo the super-max. Otherwise the housecleaning will take care of itself.

  29. Hubert

    I honestly don’t even know why we’re talking about this. We’re doing it because Brian Windhorst said that this was the plan? Since when did he become the source of news on the Knicks?

    I just assumed Mike K knows this and was showing us how implausible the rumor is.

    The Clips are a true contender now and they’re only getting better as they play together more.

    I don’t think they are. I think Melo for Griffin, or simply acquiring Chandler to replace Jordan, would make them so, though. They are our best potential trade partner if we’re willing to give up on this core.

    Problem is, I doubt we are.

  30. Dan Panorama

    Doing nothing is surely better than a panicked win-now trade, which is probably the only alternative Dolan was considering.

  31. flossy

    Hah, that trade to Chicago is funny in the sense that Carmelo would be twice getting traded to a team where he’d be paired with another high usage scoring star with horrible knee problems and an elite defensive center with his own injury issues. Melo and Rose makes mores sense than stat and melo, but I wouldn’t sign an extension in Chicago until I knew that Rose would return to his pre-injury form, which is a huge looming question and not at all a sure thing IMO.

  32. Hubert

    ps– why can’t Bargnani and Smith be traded before June?? I understand Smith, who signed a new contract in July (though I thought it was either December 15th or January 15th). But Bargnani? Why?

    good question. I thought the same thing when reading the article. Mike? Anyone?

  33. Frank

    btw no one in the world is taking JR with that knee, that contract, and that brain.
    i don’t know, maybe sac would take him if we took back Rudy Gay. But that’s it.

  34. Hubert

    I feel like Charlotte would take JR Smith. They need a wing player, they can’t sign free agents, and it’s not like Michael Jordan doesn’t make bad decisions. But I think JR has to get on one of his hot streaks before anyone wants him.

  35. mase

    Why does everyone want to trade melo?

    Here are some ideas, If we can get Lowry while keeping hardaway I’m in, I don’t know how you do that. Or wait In two years bargs, stoudamire and chandler come of the books, roughly $40m, that’s a good position to be in to sign Rubio or rondo, ( both would want to play with melo), and Aldridge… Unless you can move our big contracts now I think we might have to wait till we are in a better position to deal.

  36. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure it should be January 2014, not June. I believe JR is eligible to be dealt on January 15th.

  37. Frank

    Not that I believe Dolan, but it’s the right move for him to personally tell the team that nothing will happen. I can imagine there is a lot of unrest in that locker room now, not knowing whether guys like THJ and Shump will be traded, whether Woodson will be around, etc.

    I had a feeling Woodson got some vote of confidence when he came out and actually said “I expect us to win the division like we did last year”. I mean, that is the most self-serving comment ever considering no one else other than the similarly debacle-ish Nets are even trying to win the division. Also, he basically came out and called the players out (again) by saying he doesn’t want them to switch as much as they do (even though that’s his MO going back to Atlanta). The one thing that gives it credence is Tyson’s comments about how the switching really limits what he can do in terms of covering those PNRs.

  38. Brian Cronin

    They seriously ARE going to win this division. It is hilarious but I think it is true. This division really is that bad.

  39. Hubert

    Why does everyone want to trade melo?

    I think the thinking is that, despite him playing very well, we are going nowhere and we don’t have the flexibility to improve ourselves until 2015, and the appropriate thing to do is begin again. That, and he’s a free agent, and he’s not stupid, so he might just want to leave.

    I think we’re committed to him, though. The only deal I could see happening is Melo for Blake, but I honestly think we’d turn that down even though we’d be foolish to.

  40. Brian Cronin

    I would be fine with keeping Melo if it was not for the Super MAX, but I don’t see any way that Melo would opt out of his contract to re-sign with the Knicks for less than the Super-MAX. It would make absolutely zero sense.

    Opt out of a contract that the Knicks don’t want him to opt out of, then re-sign with the team that looks pretty shitty right now for less money? How does that make any sense?

    The Knicks are so going to re-sign Melo for the Super-MAX and therefore ruin their chances of winning anything for the next four years. And that’s only if Melo even gives them the chance to ruin their team! He might not even want to do that! He might just leave. That’s why trading him now makes some sense. They avoid crippling their team for four years by giving him a super max and they avoid the risk of him leaving to join a different team.

  41. MKinLA

    The probability of the Clips moving Blake is close to zero. DeAndre Jordan is a good defender and a reasonable finisher on offense, not just a rebounder. Boston is no-way, no-how taking Gasol, Chandler or any other player north of 30. Why would Chicago want to replicate the formula (Melo, Chandler, Felton, Martin) that can’t get it done in NY?

  42. Frank

    Opt out of a contract that the Knicks don’t want him to opt out of, then re-sign with the team that looks pretty shitty right now for less money? How does that make any sense?

    He wouldn’t be opting out for less – he’d be opting out to get more long-term security.

    Right now the Knicks can theoretically offer him 5 years / 130MM or ~26MM/per, whereas other teams can offer him 4 years / 96MM or ~24MM per. I could realistically see him signing for 5 years, $115MM or so with a contract structure like this:

    2014-15 – 22.5MM (max)
    2015-16 – 20.8MM (prev salary minus 7.5% = maximum allowed decrease in salary)
    2016-17 – 22.4MM (prev salary + 7.5%)
    2017-18 – 24.05 MM (prev salary +7.5%)
    2018-19 – 25.8MM (prev salary + 7.5%)
    Total is 5 years ~115MM.

    That way he gets $19MM more guaranteed than he would with another team (which is likely much more than his market value will be when he’s 36)– BUT in that pivotal 2015-16 year he would have his lowest salary, a “reasonably” manageable 20.8 which is a $3.3MM savings over what his actual max would be (24.14MM) if they gave him a 7.5% raise from the 22.5MM max 2014-15 salary.

    Honestly, I think that’s a pretty reasonable number for both sides at an average of $23MM per year. And assuming we sign another free agent after the 2014-15 season to a 4 year deal, the two of them would expire at the same time.

  43. mase

    What is the super max?
    30m?
    That still gives us room for another max player…

    Or trade with Toronto who wants out of derozens contract, and Lowry…would they take amare ?

    I would hate to be stuck with derozen for 4 years

  44. Frank

    Why would Chicago want to replicate the formula (Melo, Chandler, Felton, Martin) that can’t get it done in NY?

    First of all, the trade had Chandler going to OKC, not Chicago. Second, Rose, Shump, Melo, Gibson, Noah is FAR superior to Felton, Shump, Melo, Bargnani, Chandler. And Thibodeau is 10x the coach that Woodson is. That’s why Chicago would do it. IMHO.

  45. DRed

    If Melo pots out, would another team even offer him max money? There seem to be fewer stupid front offices. Do any of the dumb ones have the cap space?

  46. knickster

    A far more interesting topic is the power balance between Carmelo and the Knicks when he opts out. I’m no expert, but it seems to me Carmelo does not have many options. I think the Knicks should offer a 3-year contract at 17 million per.
    Melo is not worth more than that. This is JR all over again: a player the Knicks value much more than the rest of the NBA. The Knicks will be bidding against themselves.
    My reasoning is that for Melo to get a max salary, several things must happen. Let’s get the number of teams that could offer a max contract:
    1. Pool #1: number of teams with enough cap to offer a max contract
    2. Pool #2: from pool #1, number of teams WILLING to give Melo a max contract when he is entering the last stage of his career.
    3. Pool #3: from pool #2, teams that Melo would be happy playing for.

    I suspect the final number is very small – his tenure with the Knicks has greatly diminished Carmelo’s reputation. He has been exposed as a pure scorer with little else to offer.

    I could be wrong, but that’s my take on it.

  47. mase

    Melo is a max player, he’s fifth in the league in jersey sales. ..is he a top. Ten player? Prob not,that’s where the Knicks have leverage.

  48. er

    What? There are 10-15 teams that would kill to sign melo to the max. Talk about delusional. Just to name a few, Orlando, Chi, Bk, Phx. Come on man. Melo is a box office draw and a damn good player smh. I believe the top three ws/48 seasons in Melos career are in NYC. Besides his atheticism I think he is peaking as a player. Any team with cap money would try to sign melo this year smh

  49. ephus

    I have no doubt that the Lakers, Sixers or Magic would make Max offers to Melo. Remember that Wilt lived in NYC when he played in Philly. And they will have cap space.

  50. flossy

    What? There are 10-15 teams that would kill to sign melo to the max. Talk about delusional. Just to name a few, Orlando, Chi, Bk, Phx. Come on man. Melo is a box office draw and a damn good player smh. I believe the top three ws/48 seasons in Melos career are in NYC. Besides his atheticism I think he is peaking as a player. Any team with cap money would try to sign melo this year smh

    Instead of calling other people delusional, try naming some teams that actually have max level cap room this summer (hint: not Brooklyn or Chicago) and aren’t in some cultural backwater where no celebrity wants to live (hint: not Phoenix AZ or Orlando, FL). If it were *just* about money he would have never left Denver. But Melo wants a combo of 3 things: max money, tons of media attention and a team ready-made to win now before his skills fall off. The only team that even comes close to offering that is Dallas and I think Cuban would probably not waste money on a big three of Dirk, Melo (who are about as redundant as they come) and Monta Ellis. Or maybe he’ll rejoin MDA in LA and learn the joys of playing 2nd fiddle to a way-past-his-prime Kobe. LOL

  51. Hubert

    MKinLA
    December 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    The probability of the Clips moving Blake is close to zero. DeAndre Jordan is a good defender and a reasonable finisher on offense, not just a rebounder.

    Is it, though? I feel like Chris Paul and CAA could make that happen. Blake had a very disappointing postseason, and they are long shots for the title. I think their odds would improve with Melo. And if we packaged Melo and Chandler, I think they’re co-favorites along with Indiana and Miami.

    DeAndre Jordan is mediocre.

  52. ThisIsTraps

    This is fun, even if it’ll all never happen. If there’s ever a trade destination for Melo, though, I think the Lakers or Rockets are it. Morey must know how successful Melo at the 4 can be, and maybe being on his own super-team will cool Melo’s jets a little.
    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=mq5tzyf

    Knicks get:
    Lin/Okafor/Hou 1st/Phx 1st

    Rockets get:
    Melo/Metta

    Suns get:
    Asik/Motiejunas/Casspi

  53. er

    Way to change the goal posts flossy. My only point was that teams would sign melo to the max. Not where melo wants to go or where makes the most sense.

    But here are some

    Bulls
    Sixers
    Orl
    Dal
    Phx
    Bk

  54. Frank

    I think there are enough teams with significant cap space that it’s very unlikely that 1 or 2 of them don’t take a run at Melo. I expect the Lakers to take a run at him for sure, even if they have to dump D’Antoni overboard — a 4 year 24MM/year contract going from age 31-35 isn’t that horrible in today’s NBA. Dallas could make a run too considering Dirk probably only has 2 or 3 years left. The Sixers could make a huge push, and would be a very fun team with MCW, a healthy Nerlens Noel, Evan Turner, Melo, and 2 high first rounders in 2014. What if they get the #1 and 8 picks and get Wiggins and someone like Aaron Gordon — then they would have MCW/Noel/Wiggins/Gordon all on rookie contracts and would still have a boatload of space. You don’t think Melo would want to go there? Philly is a real city and has a great basketball history. The Wizards will have max cap space also, and a Wall, Beal, Melo, Nene, Gortat team is pretty nice. And on and on.

    All it takes is the threat of one of them offering max to Melo for us to have to pony up. The idea of us offering $17MM/year is IMHO ridiculous because it’ll be way below market and frankly insulting to Melo (and it is insulting). It’d be the best way for us to lose him for nothing.

  55. knickster

    @50 – it’s not delusional at all. Read my post again and give it a chance. For example, Chicago, Brooklyn, Clippers, Indiana, Miami, Houston, Oklahoma, Denver, Minnesota, San Antonio, etc., most likely won’t participate in the circus, for different reasons.

    Lakers have roughly 35 millions committed to Kobe and Nash. Will they exhaust the cap with Carmelo, having seen how that type of plan ( spending all the money on 3 max players, two which don’t play defense, and then not having money to put a decent support cast together) spectacularly backfired in NY? I’m not sure. I’m not even sure Carmelo will want to play for Kobe…lol

    So what is left? Carmelo putting his cards on the table, going back to a small market and confirming what everyone knows: the only reason he is opting out is to maximize income. Even Ruruland has come to that obvious conclusion!

    Once again, i may be mistaken, but it appears like melo does not have a rosy road to his max millions.

  56. knickster

    @56: 17 millions per year is not insulting when you realize I could give you a list of 15 players whose teams would not trade straight up for carmelo, for different reasons (current salary, age, skill, popularity, potential, etc. – or a combination of those). He is not as valuable to *better* teams.

    Lebron, Tony Parker, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Lamarcus aldridge, Kevin Durant, Kyre Irving, Nowitzky, Kobe Bryant, Rose (when healthy), Chris Paul, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Lilard, Wade, John Wall, etc.

    Even a rookie like michael carter-williams is far more valuable than carmelo. That’s the way to judge what Carmelo is truly worth: expected salary versus what he brings to the table. From that perspective, he is not even top-25.

    Running for cover….

  57. Hubert

    Knickster, it’s not delusional, but it wouldn’t happen. The only way the Knicks can get Melo for less than the max is if he willingly takes it. For one thing, we’re not the kind of team that drives a hard bargain. For instance, in addition to giving JR the most money available when he had no other offers, we threw in an opt out clause, promises of playing time, and a roster spot for his idiot brother. If we were to then turn around and play hard ball with Melo, he would rightfully tell us to f ourselves and take the Lakers offer out of spite. Throw in the fact that his agency pretty much runs us, and you’re just not going to see a hardline approach, even if it isn’t the smartest idea to give him a super max contract.

    And the Lakers will certainly offer him the max, as would any team who can this summer.

  58. flossy

    Way to change the goal posts flossy. My only point was that teams would sign melo to the max. Not where melo wants to go or where makes the most sense.

    But here are some

    Bulls
    Sixers
    Orl
    Dal
    Phx
    Bk

    Wow, much reading comprehension!

  59. ephus

    Chicago and Brooklyn are capped for this summer.

    Philly, Phoenix, Washington, Lakers, Utah, Miwaukee and Orlando will all have space. Eliminate Utah and Milwaukee, and all of the others are potential landing spots.

  60. Zanzibar

    I think their odds would improve with Melo. And if we packaged Melo and Chandler, I think they’re co-favorites along with Indiana and Miami. DeAndre Jordan is mediocre.

    Hubert, imo you’re not properly valuing Jordan. Tyson and Jordan have roughly the same career TS% on the same usage. Their DRR and ORR are about the same. Jordan’s a better shot blocker and rim protector while Tyson’s a better help defender. Jordan’s main problem is his FT% (his eFG% is higher than TC) but it appears the Clippers feel they can live with that or they would have tried to trade him this past off-season. Plus he’s only 25yo. Both TC and Jordan clog the middle. In other words, Tyson’s not really that much, if any, of an improvement over Jordan and the Clips would have to give up another good player to make the salaries match.

  61. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    I think that, in a vacuum, there are lots of teams that would give Anthony a max contract. His perceived value is high (scoring, All Star, jerseys, etc), and his real value is still high too, so I’d imagine that he’d have a lot of teams throwing a lot of money at him (teams throw a lot of max money around for a much worse product).

    But NBA teams don’t operate in a vacuum, so Knickster’s pool system is useful. However, keep in mind that teams will make moves to create space between now and July, so the pool will grow (or shrink), and exploring the pool now doesn’t do a whole lot of good.

    Griffin, on the other hand, has a much higher perceived value (highlights, car ads, etc), than real value (basketball production). So LA would be smart to trade him (especially if they get Anthony in return). He’d also be just the kind of person that Dolan would want, because his perceived value is so high. But the Knicks wouldn’t be smart to try to get a tent-pole in an Anthony trade because they are in a condition that requires them to diversify and replenish their assets. They are old and their cupboards are bare. They have no chance develop a competitive team around Blake Griffin. But Phoenix could, and they want to trade young assets for a “star”, so it really makes too much sense for those three teams to get together before the deadline and work it out.

    some cultural backwater where no celebrity wants to live (hint: not Phoenix AZ or Orlando, FL).

    You’re probably trying to make a point, and not insult people who live in and/or enjoy these cities, but that point is weak. There are only 30 teams, and they can’t all play in Miami and Houston (the only two cities to land any top tier free agents in the last 4 years). PHO and ORL are viable candidates if they have room and young talent in place. Not all that long ago ORL attracted GHill and TMac, and Pho attracted Nash…

  62. flossy

    Last year the Clippers were more than 6 points/100 possessions worse on defense when DeAndre Jordan was on the floor. This year it’s around 3 points worse. For his entire career it’s something like 1.5 points worse with him on the court. The guy is just not an impact defender (or rather, he has an impact… and it’s bad), let alone even remotely comparable to Tyson Chandler.

  63. ephus

    If the Knicks want to put together Rondo and Carmelo Anthony, here is a trade that works through Phoenix:
    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=lye538x

    Knicks send Shumpert to Boston, Chandler and Felton to Phoenix.
    Phoenix sends Okafor’s expiring contract and three 2014 first round picks (protecting their best pick among Phoenix/Washington/Minnesota/Indiana) to Boston.
    Boston sends Rondo and Wallace to New York.

    Boston does the deal because they get out from under Wallace’s three years, Shumpert to be part of their guard rotation and three picks likely to be in the back half of the first round in the best draft since 2003.

    Knicks do the deal because they keep Rondo and are much more likely to keep Melo. Wallace is a small price to pay.

    Phoenix does the deal because they unexpectedly have a deep roster and none of their picks are likely to be in the lottery. They probably do not have room for 4 non-lottery rookies.

  64. flossy

    Philly, Phoenix, Washington, Lakers, Utah, Miwaukee and Orlando will all have space. Eliminate Utah and Milwaukee, and all of the others are potential landing spots.

    I think you can safely eliminate Phoenix, Washington, Utah, Milwaukee, Orlando and probably Philly. To believe that Carmelo Anthony would willingly walk away from New York in order to take on a rebuilding project in an irrelevant media market disregards everything we know about Carmelo Anthony as a person and sports celebrity. None of those teams are one Carmelo Anthony away from being anything resembling a realistic title contender, and all of those cities are cultural/media backwaters compared to New York City.

    Los Angeles is really the only viable option IMO, and I think everyone involved would be in for a Bad Time if he ended up going there (not that it would stop him–I’m sure he and Kobe are both delusional enough to think that the two of them combined equals instant contender, and there’s the question of him hating their coach, though I think that the Lakers brass would ditch MDA if he were an impediment to getting Melo).

  65. ephus

    OK. If you want to go outside the box, the Spurs will be in a position to offer Carmelo Anthony around $17 million to play alongside Duncan/Parker/Ginoboli/Leonard. San Antonio is not a media center, but it would provide a clear chance at a championship and allow Melo to shed his image as a selfish player.

    I understand that people here would love to see an end to the Knicks catering to CAA. I just think that it is highly unlikely that if Carmelo exercises his ETO he would resign with the Knicks for less than $20 million/year.

  66. Zanzibar

    Last year the Clippers were more than 6 points/100 possessions worse on defense when DeAndre Jordan was on the floor. This year it’s around 3 points worse. For his entire career it’s something like 1.5 points worse with him on the court. The guy is just not an impact defender (or rather, he has an impact… and it’s bad), let alone even remotely comparable to Tyson Chandler.

    According to 82games.com, the Clippers have been better with Jordan on the floor the past 3 seasons (10-11, 11-12, 12-13). TC and Jordan have similar games and they both are paint cloggers. Why would the Clips want to give up a young player for an older declining injury prone player with similar stats/game especially when they’d have to throw in Dudley or Barnes to make the trade work? If Chris Paul wanted Chandler on his team, we would have heard about it last summer. BTW Hollinger’s site has Jordan 8th in terms of value -added among centers (stat based on PER but since Jordan has low usage it makes it all the more impressive).

  67. Owen

    Deandre is good. And he doesn’t get hurt all the time. I think playing with Paul helps his numbers in every respect. But most of those alley oops you see on sports center don’t make themselves.

    Why anyone would prefer Melo to Blake is a mystery. Blake is what, five years younger?

  68. max fisher-cohen

    IMO, the best trade the Knicks could make would be something like this, getting back their own pick from DEN along with another 2-3 picks from Denver and LAC. They take on everyone’s problem contracts and give them back good players, and for those 2 favors, they get even more young talent than they would in a straight up trade. We shouldn’t be worrying about bad contracts at this point since we’re not going anywhere for at least a couple years, at which point those contracts will be moveable.

    The great thing about this trade is it gives the Knicks a special kind of leverage. The value of their 2014 pick,, is somewhat controlled by the moves NY makes, so if DEN doesn’t do the trade, NY can threaten to just take Griffin straight up, possibly improving their record and lowering the pick’s value. The pick has more value in NY’s hands than in Denver’s.

    Flossy said: “Also, out of all of our trade assets (Melo, Chandler, Shumpert, Hardaway, 2018 pick), only Hardaway should be untouchable, IMO.”

    Hardaway doesn’t shoot well off the dribble nor does he finish well in traffic or draw contact (1.9 FTA/36) nor does he show promise as a defensive player in terms of his strength and length. Hardaway’s best case scenario, if he continues to improve and maintains the elite shooting, is IMO Kyle Korver. Korver is a valuable player at about $5-$7m/year, but he’s not an elite player. Is there a chance he ends up better than that? Sure, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    vincoug said: “All of these trades have the same problem for Boston: they’re getting back young role players, a good veteran if they want to compete now, and no draft picks. ”

    I don’t know. The Brooklyn picks have dramatically improved in value since the beginning of the season thanks to the Nets’ poor play. Boston might be able to use its massive cache of assets this summer to build an elite team on the fly.

  69. Brian Cronin

    I understand that people here would love to see an end to the Knicks catering to CAA. I just think that it is highly unlikely that if Carmelo exercises his ETO he would resign with the Knicks for less than $20 million/year.

    I think that’s absolutely correct. I just hope that Frank is correct and that Melo will at least knock $5 million off of what he could possibly make as a Knick. I used to think that that was realistic. Since the “I want to be a free agent” announcement I am doubting it.

  70. mokers

    We can’t give Hardaway an all star spot yet, but he has enough athleticism to be able to guard either of the backcourt positions and probably a lot of the smaller 3s in the league. Elite length? No, but he is 6’6″ in shoes with a 6’7″ wingspan and 8’5″ standing reach. For comparison, Reggie Bullock who had a better defensive reputation is 6’7″ in shoes with a 6’8.5″ wingspan and 8’6″ standing reach. Hardaway actually completed more bench reps than Bullock so I don’t think getting stronger is out of the realm of possibility. All numbers courtesy of draftexpress.

    For his shooting, he has shown good numbers in different situations both at the rim and pull ups:

    http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Tim-Hardaway-Jr-6368/

    Not a yearly all-star, but a person who can bring speed and athleticism at the SG position. Very valuable pice considering where the knicks drafted him.

  71. Brian Cronin

    Oh definitely. I’m quite pleased with Hardaway. He’s a perfect example of why you don’t give away draft picks, even if they’re not lottery picks, and especially not for Andrea freakin’ Bargnani.

  72. flossy

    Hardaway’s best case scenario, if he continues to improve and maintains the elite shooting, is IMO Kyle Korver

    LOL, best case scenario, really? I posted the comparison above, but just to recap, he’s outplaying rookie-year Reggie Miller across the board. I think it stands to reason that his defense will improve (as almost all players do after their first year), and he certainly has the athleticism to increase his FT attempts (he is shooting .667 within 5 feet of the goal and .590 within 8 feet).

    He has scored more than 5 times as many points at the rim as Korver this season in about 2/3 as many minutes, and his ability to score in transition is already light years ahead of spot-up specialists like Korver.

    I don’t have access to any kind of synergy numbers to address your claim about his off the dribble shooting, but assuming what you claim is true, a) why assume he couldn’t improve this part of his game in seasons to come, and b) this is no reason to assume he’ll never be more than a Kyle Korver type player–someone who, by the way, has made a whole FIVE unassisted field goals all season in more than 800 MP.

  73. Hubert

    Why anyone would prefer Melo to Blake is a mystery. Blake is what, five years younger?

    It shouldn’t be. Carmelo Anthony is better at playing basketball than Blake Griffin right now and is likely to continue to be for the next 2-3 years when Chris Paul is in his prime. And Carmelo Anthony would likely improve playing w Chris Paul.

  74. max fisher-cohen

    @flossy Any rookie who has a good rookie season can be compared favorably to some previous all-star. The difference is a very small percentage of guys develop into stars. I could make the reverse comparison — look what happens when I change the search terms. All the sudden, Hardaway looks like the next Richie Frahm or Gary Neal or Toney Douglas.

    I’m not saying that Hardaway Jr. is without a doubt a role player. I’m just saying he’s got a lot of flaws too that could prevent him from becoming a big time player, the biggest one being a real problem creating his offense off the dribble. He was so bad at it early in the season that he doesn’t do it anymore, and the reason you see his rim eFG% so high is because most of his layups come off runouts, and it’s great that he can run the floor so well, and maybe in an offense like Denver’s, he could be really effective, but I don’t see him ever being more than a good spot up guy in the halfcourt (like Korver) unless he learns to facilitate, create contact in traffic, and improve his defense, all of which are just as difficult to improve upon as shooting.

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