Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What We Talk About When We Talk About Bargs

Most of the time, a trade is just a trade.  You give x, you get y, and you like the trade if you think y is better than x.  Simple, straightforward, schoolyard to stock exchange.

Sometimes things get a bit more nuanced.  Maybe x is a sure thing while y carries more risk.  Maybe x is valueless today but likely to triple in value next year and y might lose all its value in the same timeframe.  Maybe y is better than x but a lot more expensive.  Maybe y is better than x but you think x could have gotten you z and you like z better than y.  Maybe you think swapping a bunch of letters for one another makes for a poor foundational metaphor for a basketball blog post.  Maybe you’d like me to get to the point.

Nuance is hard, is the point.  It doesn’t make for good marketing campaigns or talk-radio calls or PTI segments or tweets.  The evolution of sports media tends to demand cut-and-dry positions which divide fan bases into ever-hardening camps that cling desperately to any evidence providing confirmation of their preconceived notions.  In the Knicks’ case, hardly a year goes by that isn’t cast against the backdrop of such a debate.  Ewing: Franchise Player or Choke Artist?  Sprewell: deserving of redemption or, ahem, Choke Artist.  Jamal Crawford: Chucker or All-Star?  What is a Marbury? Why is a Nate?  Linlinlinlinlinlinlinlinlin!!!

This season hasn’t even started yet and already – already! – Andrea Bargnani has become a bellwether for fan opinion and a lightning rod for overwrought in-fighting and tension.  This is, on its face, quite silly when you consider that his playing career on the whole has been (and I actually think both camps might almost agree on this) deeply, deeply average.  Relegate his status as a top overall pick to the accidents of history and evaluate his performance on its own merits.  He’s been a very good three-point shooter in three seasons, a very bad one in two seasons, and a pretty average one in two seasons.  He’s used a lot of possessions without turning the ball over much, which is good, but that’s partly because he doesn’t pass much.  He’s grabbed fewer than 10% of available rebounds in 5 of his 7 seasons which is very bad for a seven-footer.  He’s defended poorly on the perimeter but reasonably well in the post and blocked about a shot a game.  He’s made his free throws and missed his two pointers.  Taken together, I don’t know what to call that besides average.  Certainly, it’s hardly the stuff of season-defining controversies.  And yet, here we are.  Why?

I’d say there are two fairly obvious, completely practical debates and one more elusive but more important one.  I’ll take the two practical issues one at a time:

1)      “We gave up too much!” vs. “What are you talking about, we didn’t give up anything!” 

Here’s the fundamental “x vs. y” debate mentioned above and, in this case, I guess it’s a pretty fair fight.  Those focusing on only the player for player part of the deal (more fans than you’d expect) generally ignore Camby and Q-Rich (fair, as neither has any real value at this point) and build their argument around the upgrade from Novak to Bargnani.  Which is fine, I suppose.  The most staunchly anti-trade among us might be able to put together a convoluted argument about how all the Knicks need out of either of these guys is perimeter offense and Novak is a better pure shooter.  For anyone evaluating the deal objectively, however, Bargnani is far better than Novak at creating his own looks and attacking the rim, his shooting can reasonably be expected to improve in his complementary role in the Knicks offense (though the prima facie assumptions held by some that he will immediately and undoubtedly revert to peak form are weird and not particularly persuasive), and his shot-blocking makes him a marginal upgrade from the total zero that Novak provided on defense.  So, yes, the deal gives the Knicks more talent this season.

The draft picks shipped to Toronto are more problematic, however, and the tendency of some in the pro-trade crowd to pooh-pooh them reveals a level of insecurity in the validity of their position.  Draft picks are, of course, draft picks and as long as the Knicks stay good a late first and a couple seconds are unlikely to be franchise changers.  But then again, who knows?  The same variance that underlies the argument to turn picks into present-day talent also has the ability to make them enormously valuable, as evidenced by a list of late-drafted stars that is cited frequently enough to render it cliché and will not be repeated here.

 Regardless, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion regarding the value of these picks; from a talent for talent perspective, it’s hard to call the deal a major coup or an out-and-out disaster.  I think we gave up too much but I understand the counter-argument.

2)      “Can you believe what we’re paying this guy?!” vs. “Who cares? It’s not my money and we were capped out anyway!” 

Bargnani has 2 years and $23 million left on his deal and there are few who would dispute the claim that this is more coin than the skill set laid out above should normally cost.  His contract is a product of a couple different things, among these the residual respect often bestowed upon top picks, his (relative) early-career success, and the 2009 Raptors’ general desperation to do whatever they could to convince Chris Bosh to stay.  It’s a bad contract.  It is.

But then again…

Expiring contracts are valuable.  And that’s what this becomes in a year.  More than that, it expires the same summer that Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler come off the books, thus allowing the Knicks to hit the “Reset” button if things aren’t working out.  It hits the Knicks’ books at a time when they didn’t have any flexibility to begin with and then it disappears exactly when we need it to.

It’s a bad contract in a vacuum but it’s not a horrible contract for the Knicks at this moment.

So, from a practical perspective, it’s a win-now deal at the expense of future picks for a team that can afford it financially.  Looked at that way, it doesn’t seem so different from the kind of trades that happen all over the NBA every season.  Typically, “now for later” moves should be evaluated based on how close you think the team in question is to reaching its goal.   In the case of the Knicks, and assuming the goal of a Championship, the thought that they were one Andrea Bargnani away from an NBA title seems a tad hubristic.  But is it any crazier than the idea that their 2016 first rounder was going to turn into a franchise player?* Couldn’t you forgive a team for trying to get themselves that much closer in a year where its conference only has one great team and that team’s roster construction is so top-heavy that one injury could throw the whole thing wide open?  Might that not be the type of calculated risk that opportunistic management should be encouraged to take, especially in a league that is probably going to have a clear-cut favorite that isn’t the Knicks every season until LeBron regresses or retires?

*Yes, actually, it’s a LITTLE crazier than that seeing as we have no idea who will be on the team in 2015 and the 2016 pick could theoretically be in the lottery.  Still, that shouldn’t be the guiding assumption; its probably a mid-round pick at best.

And yet…

I believe every single word that I’ve written so far and I was vocally against this trade.  And the reason has a little bit to do with where I land on the two very reasonable debates outlined above but a lot more to do with a couple of other (somewhat interrelated) things: opportunity cost and the importance of identity.

The opportunity cost argument is fairly straightforward: a trade can’t only be judged based on the haul that you bring back, it also has to be judged against any other trade(s) that you could have made either 1) using the assets you sent out or 2) in order to bring in the assets you received.

Even if you like Bargnani better than what the Knicks shipped out, you should still consider whether they could have gotten more for their first rounder; after all, this is the last deal the Knicks will be able to make with an unused first-rounder as bait until their 2020 pick becomes available to move.  Further, pro-traders should ask themselves whether Toronto really needed all three picks to say “Yes” to the deal.  Every indication has been that they were highly motivated to rid themselves of Bargnani’s contract and I think it’s more than reasonable to worry that the Knicks bit down hard on a Masai Ujiri bluff and could have gotten their man for just the second-rounders if they’d held strong.  I understand the temptation to say “Screw it, I like Bargs and we got our guy” but asset-optimization considerations like this are what separate run-of-the-mill organizations from great ones.  Seriously, could you imagine the Spurs sending a first and two seconds for a player that everyone and their brother knew was not only on the block but had become the most visible holdover from an era that his team was desperate to leave behind?

While you think about that, think about this: for the better part of a decade under Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas, the Knicks marked themselves as a logical landing spot for any contract that an NBA team had come to regret and wanted to jettison and a logical source of first round draft picks for teams that had anything of value to cough up.  That’s how we ended up with Steve Francis and Glen Rice and Penny Hardaway and Keith Van Horn and Shandon Anderson and whomever else you’d like to name.   And that’s how we ended up without the draft picks that turned into LaMarcus Aldridge, Joakim Noah, Gordon Hayward, Omer Asik, and others.

That’s where the identity part comes in.  That’s where a trade isn’t just a trade but a statement on what kind of a franchise you want to be.   And this, at least I think, is why feelings on the Bargnani acquisition have become so powerful, so reflexive, so unflinching and ossified.   For so many, this trade isn’t about whether Bargnani is worth Steve Novak, or a few draft picks, or $23 million dollars.  It’s about whether the Knicks are pivoting back towards an approach that made them a laughingstock and brought us a decade of atrocious basketball.  It’s about whether lessons that should have been learned fell on deaf ears.  It’s about whether an organization that got run off the floor in the playoffs last year by probably the fifth-best team in the league really thinks it’s worth selling off some pieces of the future – however distant – to make itself one Andrea Bargnani better.  And it’s about whether the Knicks even tried to make the move without giving up the first rounder.

For some, these issues are meaningless – we got a good player, we didn’t give up a good player, we didn’t screw the cap up, and that’s enough.   I can respect that way of thinking, a least to a point.   But for others – and I put myself in this group – these types of decisions have honest-to-goodness value and the strategic motivations that they suggest have meaning that runs so much deeper than the question of who got the better end of a fairly garden-variety trade.

It’s not Bargnani’s fault that I can’t just be happy to have him here and accept the trade at face value.  He seems like a nice guy and he’s certainly a pretty talented ballplayer and he deserves a fresh start after he was buried under the weight of unrealistic expectations in Toronto.   I will absolutely and unreservedly root for him to succeed.   I hope he hits 40% of his threes this year and at the very least I think he’ll hit more than he has in the last couple seasons.  I hope the trade proves to be a triumph and at the very least I think it will make the offense more flexible this year and give Mike Woodson some interesting lineup options.  I hope the Knicks win the title and Bargnani rides a float down the Canyon of Heroes with his arms outstretched and “Volare” blaring from every speaker in earshot.  I hope.

But hope is an awfully bad reason to make a trade and an even worse philosophy to guide the decision-making of an entire franchise.  Hope disappoints too easily and wears thin too quickly.  Hope sees shine and ignores warts and tosses away assets like poker chips in the pursuit of a big pot.  Hope built the Knicks of the first decade of this century.

If you like the trade, I get it.  I respect your opinion, I’m not telling you how to be a fan, I even hope you’re right and I’m wrong.  Hell, I want to like the trade myself because that would mean I think that Bargnani makes them meaningfully better this year (he really might) and that this improvement might be enough to capture a title (unlikely).   You want to view the Knicks as a championship contender and believe me I’m Right. There. With you.

But before I can view them as a title contender, I want to view them as one of the NBA’s savvier organizations, the type that looks at problems from all sides and attributes value to all types of assets and explores all possible solutions and makes not just any good move that becomes available but the best available move.

There isn’t a fast-forward button to a title, not unless LeBron James falls into your lap.  There’s only being a smart team and maximizing on your opportunities and doing this for long enough that eventually you get over the top.  And the struggle makes the victory all the sweeter.

The trade for Andrea Bargnani might have moved the Knicks a step closer to contending for the 2014 title.  I’m just worried that the philosophy behind it, should it prevail, will move them a few steps further away from every title after that.

103 comments on “What We Talk About When We Talk About Bargs

  1. MJG1789

    Cool. Who gets to determine what a savvy move is? When is the determination made? What is the criteria? How do we know which one of us is “right”?

  2. KnickfaninNJ

    Great article. I do know how you feel. In fact, I am for the Bargnani trade when I analyze it, but not when I think about it emotionally or even when I have watched Bargnani in the pre-season. His three point form doesn’t look good to me (too flat a trajectory) and sometimes he looks down right clumsy, especially rebounding. On the other hand, clumsy or not, he’s doing much better than Novak would have. The draft choices don’t bother me as much. Of course, in a way we are giving up some hope by trading them, just the way you described. On the other hand, objectively, draft choices are much less valuable than fans think (or feel, is maybe the better verb here). In the past five years, the Knicks have done better at acquiring talent through non draft means than through the draft, and their actual draft choices in the past five years were good by Knick historical standards. Even looking at the draft choices we got, think of Jordan Hill. He was drafted eighth!, likely much higher than the first rounder we traded for Bargnani. He’s probably better than anybody Toronto will get with our draft pick. But if we traded Hill and Novak for Bargnani, we probably wouldn’t have gotten all the negative press that the actual Bargnani trade did.

    GMs are paid to decide rationally, not by emotion, and this seems a case where Grunwald went with the rational side. Even though Bargnani doesn’t entrance me with his play, I prefer this approach.

  3. Z-man

    This is a very well written article, Kevin. Despite my bickering with some of the writers, I don’t really fall neatly into the pro-trade camp. My feelings are a bit more fatalistic, blended with a diehard fan’s optimism. I can’t control who the team trades for, so unless the trade is obviously franchise-crippling (e.g. Eddy Curry) I hope for the best. Yes, there is rolling-of-the-dice quality to this move, but these are urgent times in light of the “all in” nature of the Melo-Amare-Chandler signings. The fundamental question is: how different is the probability that Bargnani improves in a complementary role and the probability that the pieces given up in the trade can yield better fruit in the future? To me, it’s about 50-50, maybe 60-40 one way or the other. Funny, I felt the same way about the Lin non-matching, and so far it has turned out that it was not the no-brainer that the same crowd poo-pooing this move made it out to be…not that it was definitely a “great” move in hindsight, just clearly not an idiotic one. Yet many took me to task early on for suggesting this.

    My point is, why is it so hard to withhold definitive judgment until we get into the season and Bargnani has had a chance to show what he can bring to this particular table? Is it possible, for example, that he plays to better than career numbers and we can trade his expiring contract next year for a better draft pick or player?

    What I chafe at is the tendency to put Bargnani under an unfair level of scrutiny, where things that would go unnoticed for a fan favorite (say, Novak or Lin) are relentlessly harped on after every game, or even first half. I also am annoyed by the tendency to criticize him for what he never was and was not brought here to be (e.g. a plus rebounder-defender.) Pros and cons aside, let’s be patient and fair.

  4. custer

    Nice post Kevin, I think that was fair to both sides of the argument and well-reasoned. Just wanted to get that on the board, before those of us more prone to vitriolic hyperbole start in…

  5. Kevin McElroy Post author

    Thanks guys. The purpose of this post is not to convert anyone to my way of thinking it bash the trade. Rather, I wanted to make the fairest case I could on both sides to show that it isn’t so black and white and hopefully refine and improve the dialogue about the deal.

  6. KnickFanInCelticLand

    Kevin McElroy:
    Thanks guys.The purpose of this post is not to convert anyone to my way of thinking it bash the trade.Rather, I wanted to make the fairest case I could on both sides to show that it isn’t so black and white and hopefully refine and improve the dialogue about the deal.

    ….and you have done an admirable job at that!

  7. Mike Kurylo

    I agree with kevin’s article, but I think one aspect is missing: the optimism that Bargnani is more than he was in Toronto. That those numbers he compiled with the Raptors are below what his production will be with the Knicks.

    I too hope that Andrea plays much better in New York, and I agree that this is a possibility. However given his numbers I don’t know if this should be the default position. His role will change, especially alongside Carmelo, and that may alter his production. However it’s pure homerism to expect every player that comes to your team to perform better than he has in the past. I expect him to be around 36.1% 3P% and 53.5% TS%, with very poor rebounding numbers. And given his dreadful last 2 seasons, I feel like even this might be slightly optimistic.

  8. ephus

    Very nice post.

    Here are some supplemental thoughts, which should be read as adding to, not arguing with, the article.

    1. On Bargnani v. Novak on defense & rebounding, I believe that people get frustrated with Bargnani’s lack of defense and rebounding much more than Novak’s because Novak is clearly an inferior athlete who is trying as hard as he can, but simply does not have the strength or quickness to defend on the perimeter or rebound. Looking at Bargnani, it seems as if his defensive problem is a lack of effort. Bargnani’s former coaches have certainly flamed him for lack of effort. On closer examination, I think Bargnani lacks the lateral quickness to effectively guard on the perimeter or be a strong rotating defender.

    2. On Bargnani v. Novak on offense, I threw in the towel last year on Novak being able to make teams pay for the hard close out. He simply could not put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. And, for that reason, teams could shut him down anytime they concentrated on defending him (See Miami in the 2012 playoffs). Bargnani can do things that Novak simply cannot. And it is easy to see the surface similarities between Novak and Bargnani (soft, 7′ perimeter white guys) and think that Bargnani can shoot as well as Novak. The data, however, leads me to believe that Bargnani is not going to be as strong a 3-point threat as Novak was.

    3. On the picks, I think the second round picks are virtually meaningless. Second round picks really are treated as fungible by the league. Half of the time, teams pick a player they can stash overseas so that they do not have an additional salary cap hit. While some teams (Spurs) have made several strong second round picks, I do not think that the Knicks walked away from valuable assets with the second round picks.

    4. The first round pick is going be the real measuring stick for the Knicks. If that pick ends up being top 7, it is extremely unlikely Bargnani will produce that…

  9. SomeGuy32

    If you’re going to bring up the picks – how about listing what they actually are:

    Pick #1 – OKC’s 2nd round pick in 2014…. aka one of the last picks in the draft….

    Pick #2 – 2016 first rounder – subject to swap with Denver – making it at best a mid-first rounder if both the Knicks and Nuggets aren’t great.

    Pick #3 – 2017 second rounder – whatever….

  10. Douglas

    Kevin, this is outstanding. I think is the definitive article that sums up the Bargnani discourse on KB that is fair and evenhanded to both sides.

  11. Owen

    This was a great piece, though I think some pruning here and there could have made it even better. Although, this post could probably use it even more.

    Giving up a first round pick was totally inexcusable. There is no way you can justify it. It was a gross blunder that is very likely to hurt the Knicks as badly as many of our other draft pick trades. .

    I also hate the way Bargnani plays basketball. Call me crazy but I don’t see the appeal of a seven footer who plays like he is 6’5. And i see little reason to believe he will improve on his numbers from Toronto.

    More broadly, The Bargnani deal speaks volumes about two things. First, how little the player acquisition model has change in the last 13 years at MSG. Second, how deluded management is about our current and future prospects.

    The Knicks have focused on acquiring one dimensional scoring playmakers for the last 15 years. It hasn’t worked. And the Bargnani deal showed that kind of thinking is alive and well. The Chandler deal is now looking more and more like a total anomaly. MSG also continues to underrate the value of draft picks, a strategy which hasn’t paid off either. You can win without them, it’s true. But it makes it a lot harder.

    Regarding the future, the deal shows that management thinks we are at a spot in the win curve where it’s worth giving up a first for an upgrade. But we aren’t. We were a 54 win team in a historically weak Eastern Conference and we are capped out. The Heat and the Bulls are going to be much better than us this year. The Nets and the Pacers look better too. Our ceiling right now is probably the fourth best team in the East with a fair bit of a downside. We aren’t contenders. It’s fine for fans to hold out hope but it’s troubling from management.

    Finally, a clear signal from the Barg deal was that MSG thinks it will re-sign Melo. It sharply devalued the option to not re-sign Chandler, Amare, and Melo and rebuild with a draft pick and cap space.

    And it’s very easy to argue that it’s that kind of course which is the fastest way to build a genuine contender.

  12. Kevin McElroy Post author

    Here is an email I got from my dad that I think belongs in this discussion:

    “I agree with most of it. As to opportunity cost, true, but we will never know so I don’t focus on it. I understand your concern over the philosophy the trade seems to espouse, but the very fact that his K expires at same time all the others do indicates that this MIGHT be a new philosophy. If Isaiah makes this trade his K expired the year after and they are capped out with AB being best player on team. Free agents have to realize that in 2 years knock patrol consists of shumpert, hard away, Felton expiring and hopefully Melo. Plenty of cap room. If Melo gone we can sign 2 maxes. Maybe we can be Toronto and ship AB, Amare or Chandler out for picks. If he is solid D and boards and Knicks having bad year, chandlers expiring K is golden”

  13. ephus

    Owen: Giving up a first round pick was totally inexcusable. There is no way you can justify it. It was a gross blunder that is very likely to hurt the Knicks as badly as many of our other draft pick trades. .

    I think this is hyperbole. The 2016 First Round pick – as SomeGuy32 pointed out – is subject to Denver’s right to swap. So, it is extremely unlikely to be a top seven pick, unless the Knicks and the Nuggets both fall apart in 2015-16.

    Here are four Knick draft trades that are indisputably worse:

    4. Antonio Davis & First Round Pick for Jalen Rose.

    3. Camby, Jackson & the #7 pick (Nene (could have been Amar’e) for Antonio McDyess.

    2. Two #1 picks (and a lot of players) for Marbury and Penny Hardaway.

    and

    1. Eddy Curry for the 2006 First Round Pick, the right to swap 2007 First Round picks and two second round picks.

  14. Owen

    Ephus – I wouldn’t argue it’s the worst draft pick trade we have made. Far from it. I just think it fits a pattern of jettisoning draft picks for no good reason.

    I thought it was totally unnecessary while potentially very costly. Is Barg really the best we could do for a first?

    And do we really have any idea where the Nuggets will be in two years? The guy who was the biggest reason for their success is the one we made this trade with after all….

  15. ephus

    IMHO, the Nets are currently suffering from a major case of Dolanism. They have traded away as much of their draft future as possible to accumulate their current roster – which I do not think gets out of the second round unless the Nets are healthy when other teams are not (and the Nets are older).

    In 2014 , Atlanta can swap picks with Nets (Joe Johnson trade). The Nets resulting pick goes to Boston as part of the KG/Pierce trade. Probably a 20 – 32 pick in the first round of the best draft in a decade. Nets also send their second round pick to Philadelphia

    In 2015, Atlanta again has the right to swap picks with the Nets. Both swaps are unlikely to happen, because the Nets should be better than the Hawks in both years. Atlanta also get the Nets second round pick.

    In 2016, Boston gets the Nets first round pick (no protection ) and the Clippers may have the right to swap second round picks with the Nets.

    In 2017, Boston has the right to swap First Round picks with the Nets. Boston may be good and the Nets almost certainly will horrible at that point. Atlanta gets the Nets second round pick

    In 2018, Boston gets the Nets first pick.

    My guess is that the Nets will be a horrible team from 2016 – 2020.

  16. ephus

    Owen,

    I agree that the Knicks probably overpaid for Bargnani. I do not see a strong possibility that the Knicks will have a very valuable 1st round pick in 2016, because the Knicks previously traded away a substantial portion of the value of that pick in the ‘Melo trade.

    I expect Denver to be a playoff team in 2015-16 because (1) they get two first round picks in 2014 (best draft for a decade) and (2) their core is signed through the end of 2016.

  17. Owen

    Also fair. I am not lauding the Nets for their management.

    But they do look better than us. Will be interesting to see what the projections look like in the preseason.

  18. Owen

    Strange things happen. And if this pick was so valueless then it makes even less sense to give it away, right?

    I don’t know. The fact that Ujiri was on the other side of both those trades worries me.

    But the truth is, even late picks turn into the Rondo’s of this world far too frequently to throw picks away on mediocrities like Bargnani.

    Interesting take on Denver. Didn’t realize how strong a hand Ujiri left them with. Surprising he left.

  19. Z

    Great piece. Nicely done, KM.

    Z-man:

    What I chafe at is the tendency to put Bargnani under an unfair level of scrutiny, where things that would go unnoticed for a fan favorite (say, Novak or Lin) are relentlessly harped on after every game, or even first half.

    I dare say, this is the problem with New York being a “fresh start” for other team’s non-matured investments. Sinatra didn’t sing: “if I can make it in Toronto I can make it anywhere”, afterall.

  20. thenamestsam

    This was a really nice post.

    I don’t have much to add on top of that other than that while making judgements based on preseason (and particularly a small sampling of preseason) is a dangerous game, I (also) am worried about Bargnani’s shooting form. It’s the kind of thing you can get a feel for during preseason I think and right now Bargs looks more like the 30% shooter he has been the last two years than the guy he was before that and the guy we hoped he could get back to. If he can’t be consistent from downtown it’s going to blunt a lot of the things he does do well once other teams catch onto it. Before he can be a rich man’s Novak he has to be able to do a passing Novak imitation. That’s what I’m watching closely for at the moment.

  21. Nick C.

    While the Nets upgraded by swapping out Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries for Pierce and Garnett, they have a two year window max. Mind you the window before was 0.

    The Knicks window, to me, hinges on Amare. Novak/Bargs ain’t difference makers. Novak can be gameplanned. Bargs just hasn’t, even at his best, been that good a shot maker. Amare can and had shown glimpses of being able to be something special in small doses last season.

  22. Hubert

    A bit off topic, but our coach seems to have no idea we have defensive struggles because, according to Zach Lowe, he looks at points per game instead of points per possession, and we were a top 10 defense in ppg.

    “We were pretty good in terms of our defensive scheme,” Woodson says. “And this year, I just want to magnify it a little bit — to get guys more comfortable with it.”

    “We’ve just gotta clean up giving up so many 3s,” Woodson admits, “and keeping guys off the foul line. That’s just moving our feet and being more dedicated to our rotations. Just things of that nature.”

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/77977/a-third-rate-babylon-the-knicks-potential-problems-this-year-and-beyond

  23. chrisk06811

    It will be hard to assess the value of the picks we sent TOR, because you know they will be misused. Shit, the Raptors took Bargnani first one year.

  24. Hubert

    This part of that article actually infuriates me:

    The Knicks have internal numbers showing that running a pick-and-roll against the combination of Smith (defending the ball handler) and Chandler (defending the screener) was basically the most damaging thing a team could do against the Knicks last season. “Oh yeah,” Woodson laughs when I bring up that stat. “That’s because J.R. just runs into so many screens.”

    He laughs? He fucking laughs? YOU’RE THE GOD DAMN COACH! You know this, it keeps happening, and you do nothing about it. But you sure as hell will get up in Shumpert’s grill if he misses a rotation.

    Every time I get excited about our chances, Woodson.

  25. Hubert

    Btw, sorry to try to change the subject. This was top notch work, Kevin, and I agree with your conclusion. One thing I thing doesn’t get enough distinction is the group that, like you, agrees we paid too high a price and is anti-the-trade, but nevertheless is optimistic about what it can do for us this year.

    Ultimately, this trade isn’t going to sink the Knicks, though, and I think too big a deal is being made of it. We’re going to fail because our coach is a dinosaur who believes the best metric of a good team defense is points per game, who doesn’t think our double-happy system needs any tweaking, and whose accountability system doesn’t extend beyond rookies and 12th men.

    So like you said, it was a tad hubristic to think we were one AB away. In the long run, this team would have been better served holding onto that pick until it gained value and could be used for something better (i.e. the opportunity cost you mentioned). Because nothing short of LeBron miraculously making his way to NY is going to get this core and this coach to a championship level.

    So yeah, I think the trade made us better, but cost too much.

  26. DRed

    Hubert:
    A bit off topic, but our coach seems to have no idea we have defensive struggles because, according to Zach Lowe, he looks at points per game instead of points per possession, and we were a top 10 defense in ppg.

    “We were pretty good in terms of our defensive scheme,” Woodson says. “And this year, I just want to magnify it a little bit — to get guys more comfortable with it.”

    “We’ve just gotta clean up giving up so many 3s,” Woodson admits, “and keeping guys off the foul line. That’s just moving our feet and being more dedicated to our rotations. Just things of that nature.”

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/77977/a-third-rate-babylon-the-knicks-potential-problems-this-year-and-beyond

    What the fuck, J.R.?

  27. Z

    ephus:

    4.Antonio Davis & First Round Pick for Jalen Rose.

    whoa, hold on. The Knicks GOT the first round pick with Jalen Rose. (Isiah effectively bought the Renaldo Balkman pick from the Raptors for $30 million, after taxes).

    (Why, you ask?… Because he gave all his free ones away!)

  28. lavor postell

    That Grantland piece really makes me want to punch Woodson in the face repeatedly. The tenets of switching a lot are high, but when you are switching so much that nobody knows what the proper rotations are, you have a problem. When you also are aware that JR Smith is terrible at defending the pNr, you might want to actually work with him on it, rather than focuing your energy on encouraging him to take on a larger role in the offense. Maybe you have Chandler stay in the paint rather than switching on to a smaller ball handler and leaving the paint completely unpatrolled. Having read this article it’s not surprising why our defense was terrible last year both in regards to allowing points in the paint, giving up uncontested threes and allowing any replacement level point guard to look like some kind of Magic Johnson-Oscar Robertson hybrid.

  29. ephus

    Hubert – If I had a dollar for every time someone nervously laughed when they had a glaring weakness called out, I would be a rich man. That’s just a normal human defense mechanism, which roughly translates to “Oh, you noticed that horrible flaw.”

    I have no doubt that Woodson has called this problem to JR Smith’s attention. The fact that he does not chew out JR in public view is likely the reason that JR has not totally tuned out Woodson in the way that he tuned out George Karl and other coaches. I do not take the laugh as a sign of indifference.

    For me, the challenges of the Bargnani trade are simple: (1) Is Andrea Bargnani a strong enough secondary offensive threat to make teams focus less on ‘Melo during the playoffs? (2) Can Andrea Bargnani play sufficient defense at the 4 to allow the Knicks to keep Chandler/Bargnani/Melo on the floor for extended minutes?

    I do not have even a guess on those two questions at this point.

  30. ephus

    Z: whoa, hold on. The Knicks GOT the first round pick with Jalen Rose. (Isiah effectively bought the Renaldo Balkman pick from the Raptors for $30 million, after taxes).

    (Why, you ask?… Because he gave all his free ones away!)

    You are right. My bad. But not as bad as drafting Balkman over Rondo.

  31. Hubert

    Owen: I also hate the way Bargnani plays basketball. Call me crazy but I don’t see the appeal of a seven footer who plays like he is 6’5.

    I find this to be one of the most peculiar anti-Bargnani arguments. We got him to play a position where last year we started someone who actually was 6-5. So the fact that he’s playing that role but is actually 7-0 and unlike the guy who was 6-5 can actually guard the post and not force us to double as frequently as we did is nothing but a pure positive.

    Why the obsession with his height? He’s not a C. He’s just as tall as a lot of them.

    I feel this whole: “he’s 7-0 he should rebound” argument is about as intelligent as judging a player by PPG. We shouldn’t be sweating how he performed in a position he a) shouldn’t have been playing, and b) won’t play for us.

  32. JK47

    Last year the Knicks were decent enough at defending the 3-point shot, allowing opponents to shoot .357, which is pretty much league average.

    Despite this the Knicks ranked 23rd in the NBA in eFG% allowed, which should tell you this: their real problems came from defending two-point shots, not three-point shots.

    At least Woodson is correct about one thing: the Knicks also sucked in terms of FT/FGA, finishing 24th in the league. So basically they foul too much, and when they don’t foul you, they’re not good at stopping you from making your shots.

  33. Hubert

    And to answer your semi-question, Owen:

    the appeal is that he can theoretically offer the same value in floor spacing on offense as a smaller player without providing the other team the equal or greater mismatch that that defending with Melo plus three players under 6-5 would offer.

    That has value. We probably overpaid for it, but it does have value.

  34. JK47

    Why the obsession with his height? He’s not a C. He’s just as tall as a lot of them.

    The obsession with the height works the other way for Bargs supporters. “He’s a good shooter for a 7-footer.” So what? “He’s very skilled for a man his size.” So???

    I agree with you, though. His seven-footedness is kind of irrelevant to the conversation either way.

  35. Hubert

    JK47:
    Last year the Knicks were decent enough at defending the 3-point shot, allowing opponents to shoot .357, which is pretty much league average.

    Not so fast. We were 4th in 3PA against, despite playing at the 5th slowest pace in the league. That means an alarmingly high amount of our opponents shots were 3PA. So if you’re playing at a glacial pace AND teams are getting the most 3PA (pace adjusted) in the league against you AND they’re shooting at an average clip against you, that’s extremely bad.

    By comparison, look that opponent 3PA for the other teams near us in pace (I cut out New Orleans bc they’re irrelevant):

    Pace rank – Team – pace – opp 3PA

    25 – Indiana – 90.2 – 1344 (2nd lowest in NBA)
    26 – NY – 89.8 – 1789 (tied for 5th highest in NBA)
    27 – Chicago – 89.3 – 1309 (lowest in NBA)
    28 – Brooklyn – 88.8 – 1415 (3rd lowest in NBA)

    30 – Memphis – 88.4 – 1489 (6th lowest in NBA)

  36. BigBlueAL

    The easiest way to solve all the defensive problems is fire Woodson and hire a Van Gundy brother lol.

  37. thenamestsam

    Yeah the nuggets about Woodson in that Lowe piece certainly weren’t especially impressive. The idea that he prefers to measure our defense by raw points allowed is head-scratching and the way Lowe quoted Woodson’s reaction to the JR Smith thing didn’t make it sound like a nervous chuckle. It sounded like a coach who views JR as the lovable screw-up. Ultimately, it does seem like Woody holds different guys to different standards. So far it hasn’t seemed to be a big issue because he has coddled the right guys and been tough with the guys who can take it. In the long-run I don’t think a coach can survive that way, but lets face it – very few NBA coaches are around for anything like “the long-run” anyway and I personally haven’t seen any evidence that Woody is a good enough coach to buck that particular trend. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Knicks look to find a little bit bigger name at some point before the next free-agent recruitment point.

  38. JK47

    Hubert: Not so fast.We were 4th in 3PA against, despite playing at the 5th slowest pace in the league.That means an alarmingly high amount of our opponents shots were 3PA.So if you’re playing at a glacial pace AND teams are getting the most 3PA (pace adjusted) in the league against you AND they’re shooting at an average clip against you, that’s extremely bad.

    By comparison, look that opponent 3PA for the other teams near us in pace (I cut out New Orleans bc they’re irrelevant):

    Pace rank – Team – pace – opp 3PA

    25 – Indiana – 90.2 – 1344 (2nd lowest in NBA)
    26 – NY – 89.8 – 1789 (tied for 5th highest in NBA)
    27 – Chicago – 89.3 – 1309 (lowest in NBA)
    28 – Brooklyn – 88.8 – 1415 (3rd lowest in NBA)

    30 – Memphis – 88.4 – 1489 (6th lowest in NBA)

    That is a good point– the Knicks perimeter defense was not good. But neither was the defense against 2-pointers. The Knicks allowed .497 shooting on two-pointers, which is not a good number. Phoenix, for instance, a terrible defensive team, allowed. 492 shooting on twos.

  39. Unreason

    Nice work Kevin.

    That Grantland piece was also really well done. It captures exactly how I see the Knicks’ defensive problems – the specific flaws and the likelihood that they’ll keep the Knicks from advancing further in the postseason.

    I hope this is wrong, of course: That, as Woodson suggests, they’ll have had enough time master his scheme now. But even if that fixes some problems like running into screens and not switching correctly, I’m not sure it’ll make a big difference. Some basic flaws don’t seem fixable by repetition: Felton’s footspeed, JR’s inconsistent effort, Anthony needing to save energy to carry the offense.

    I have a hunch that playing the guaranteed starters – Chandler, Anthony, and Felton – a lot less might paradoxically help both the D and the O. If Woodson manages their minutes very aggressively and gives 8-9 other guys lots of regular PT he’ll keep everyone fresh enough to sustain a very high commitment to defense on every possession. He’ll give secondary scoring options more time to get in rhythm. He’ll give himself more options for in-game adjustments. And he’ll help keep people healthy and fresh for the playoffs.

  40. Owen

    Yeah, it sux. I am surprised it took you 2.5 years to realize that.

    But hey, once we sign Carmelo to that 5 year extension you have been dreaming about and lock up his versatile two way skills through his age 36 season, everything will work out. So there is hope….

    ruruland:
    Man it sucks to be a Knicks fan, right?

    Knicks suk

  41. JK47

    ruruland:
    Man it sucks to be a Knicks fan, right?

    Knicks suk

    Well, I’ve been rooting for the team since I was 10 years old and Campy Russell was on the team, and I’m still waiting for my championship, so yeah.

    But hey, I do have that first round win against Boston last year to show for the last thirteen years of my life, so I shouldn’t complain.

  42. cgreene

    ruruland:
    Man it sucks to be a Knicks fan, right?

    Knicks suk

    Ru, I am generally on your side of the argument so this is not a question to antagonize… you mentioned SEVERAL times over the summer and last year that your expectation was that Melo would take a pay cut in order to bring in other stars. Are you still of that opinion?

  43. Owen

    Melo isn’t going to take one cent less than the max.

    If he actually cared about winning a championship he would take that pay cut and leave New York, right?

    cgreene: Ru, I am generally on your side of the argument so this is not a question to antagonize… you mentioned SEVERAL times over the summer and last year that your expectation was that Melo would take a pay cut in order to bring in other stars.Are you still of that opinion?

  44. Z-man

    Owen: Giving up a first round pick was totally inexcusable. There is no way you can justify it. It was a gross blunder that is very likely to hurt the Knicks as badly as many of our other draft pick trades. .

    I also hate the way Bargnani plays basketball. Call me crazy but I don’t see the appeal of a seven footer who plays like he is 6’5. And i see little reason to believe he will improve on his numbers from Toronto.

    More broadly, The Bargnani deal speaks volumes about two things. First, how little the player acquisition model has change in the last 13 years at MSG. Second, how deluded management is about our current and future prospects.

    The Knicks have focused on acquiring one dimensional scoring playmakers for the last 15 years. It hasn’t worked. And the Bargnani deal showed that kind of thinking is alive and well.

    Owen, if you are right about Bargnani, then obviously even taking him on for free and tying up a roster spot was foolish. But if he plays well enough, then the deal might look pretty good at some point. How well? How about if Bargs posts something like Gallo’s 2012-13 stats?

    TS%=.561, Rebs per 36 = 5.7, FT per 36 =5.4, 3pt % =.373. Maybe a block more and an assist less per 36… but in that ballpark.

    If you are going to pan the trade, then specify what he would have to do to change your mind in retrospect, keeping in mind that he will never be Dwight Howard or Dirk Nowitski.

  45. mokers

    I know people here get down on the organization, but I am still going to be optimistic while I see progress. Three years in a row in the playoffs. Next let’s try and go a few years in a row with a playoff series win. Even if you don’t believe the knicks are a championship caliber team, I think you have to agree that they are more enjoyable to watch night in and night out than they were five years ago.

    As for the overall way the organization is run, I remember, at age 5, my grandfather telling me the Yankees will never win the world series while the idiot Steinbrenner was in charge. My hope is that the idiot Dolan lucks himself into a championship run or two, purely because he accidentally hired the correct people at one time. Hoping for the Knicks to be run like the Spurs (or the Yanks the Rays) is the dream that is hopeless.

  46. thenamestsam

    Making a declarative statement about whether Melo will or will not take less than the max makes you look awfully silly in my opinion. He doesn’t even know what he’s going to do at this point and yet you do? What if he (god forbid) tears his ACL this year? What if he wins the MVP and leads the Knicks to a title? None of us can see the future and acting like you can is just a recipe to make yourself look silly.

  47. ruruland

    Z-man: Owen, if you are right about Bargnani, then obviously even taking him on for free and tying up a roster spot was foolish. But if he plays well enough, then the deal might look pretty good at some point. How well? How about if Bargs posts something like Gallo’s 2012-13 stats?

    TS%=.561, Rebs per 36 = 5.7, FT per 36 =5.4, 3pt % =.373. Maybe a block more and an assist less per 36… but in that ballpark.

    If you are going to pan the trade, then specify what he would have to do to change your mind in retrospect, keeping in mind that he will never be Dwight Howard or Dirk Nowitski.

    You really expect an answer?

  48. thenamestsam

    mokers:
    I know people here get down on the organization, but I am still going to be optimistic while I see progress. Three years in a row in the playoffs. Next let’s try and go a few years in a row with a playoff series win. Even if you don’t believe the knicks are a championship caliber team, I think you have to agree that they are more enjoyable to watch night in and night out than they were five years ago.

    As for the overall way the organization is run, I remember, at age 5, my grandfather telling me the Yankees will never win the world series while the idiot Steinbrenner was in charge. My hope is that the idiot Dolan lucks himself into a championship run or two, purely because he accidentally hired the correct people at one time. Hoping for the Knicks to be run like the Spurs (or the Yanks the Rays) is the dream that is hopeless.

    +1

  49. ruruland

    cgreene: Ru, I am generally on your side of the argument so this is not a question to antagonize… you mentioned SEVERAL times over the summer and last year that your expectation was that Melo would take a pay cut in order to bring in other stars.Are you still of that opinion?

    Yes.

  50. ruruland

    mokers:
    I know people here get down on the organization, but I am still going to be optimistic while I see progress. Three years in a row in the playoffs. Next let’s try and go a few years in a row with a playoff series win. Even if you don’t believe the knicks are a championship caliber team, I think you have to agree that they are more enjoyable to watch night in and night out than they were five years ago.

    As for the overall way the organization is run, I remember, at age 5, my grandfather telling me the Yankees will never win the world series while the idiot Steinbrenner was in charge. My hope is that the idiot Dolan lucks himself into a championship run or two, purely because he accidentally hired the correct people at one time. Hoping for the Knicks to be run like the Spurs (or the Yanks the Rays) is the dream that is hopeless.

    Boom.

  51. ruruland

    Mike Kurylo:
    However it’s pure homerism to expect every player that comes to your team to perform better than he has in the past.

    And who has said that every player that comes to the Knicks will play better?

    The case for why AB could and perhaps should play better in NYK is rarely acknowledged and if so downplayed by the monolith of critics that are Knicks bloggers.

    I haven’t claimed AB will play better than he’s shown capable of in his career. I have said that he’ll be in an environment where his numbers will be better.

  52. Owen

    I don’t think Bargnani is worth his roster spot. I would rather have Novak and the draft picks. I think he is a terrible player and I think you could have done better with a scrap heap veteran like Matt Barnes than Bargnani. Or anything else really.

    Bargnani is much worse than Gallinari. At the time they were traded for each other, Gallinari was playing better than Carmelo and I am on record saying I wish we had kept him. Obviously we can’t turn back that clock but Bargnani isn’t in the same league as a healthy Gallo. Whether he gets back to healthy we will see.

    If a fully healthy Melo opts out and ends up on another team I will chip in $250 bucks for a Knickerblogger new york meetup bar night to celebrate.

    If he takes less than the max i will eat a sock….

    Z-man: Owen, if you are right about Bargnani, then obviously even taking him on for free and tying up a roster spot was foolish. But if he plays well enough, then the deal might look pretty good at some point. How well? How about if Bargs posts something like Gallo’s 2012-13 stats?

    TS%=.561, Rebs per 36 = 5.7, FT per 36 =5.4, 3pt % =.373. Maybe a block more and an assist less per 36… but in that ballpark.

    If you are going to pan the trade, then specify what he would have to do to change your mind in retrospect, keeping in mind that he will never be Dwight Howard or Dirk Nowitski.

    thenamestsam: Silly? You think Melo is going to turn down 40-50 million?

  53. ruruland

    I’ll be working on a blog post highlighting all the things Owen, Jowles and Dred have written the last two years.

  54. thenamestsam

    Owen: “Silly? You think Melo is going to turn down 40-50 million?”

    I have no idea and neither do you. Lots of other players have taken less to give themselves a better chance at winning and as far as I can tell the idea that Melo is a selfish guy who cares about money over winning is based on a single data point. It happened, he got shit for it and he deserved the shit he got. But to act like that single instance proves what will happen in the next instance does, in fact, make you look extremely silly.

  55. Z-man

    Owen:
    I don’t think Bargnani is worth his roster spot. I would rather have Novak and the draft picks. I think he is a terrible player and I think you could have done better with a scrap heap veteran like Matt Barnes than Bargnani. Or anything else really.

    Bargnani is much worse than Gallinari. At the time they were traded for each other, Gallinari was playing better than Carmelo and I am on record saying I wish we had kept him. Obviously we can’t turn back that clock but Bargnani isn’t in the same league as a healthy Gallo.

    Still waiting on the stats…

  56. Owen

    Bargnani has crossed the .100 mark in WS.48 once (.104 in 1000 minutes two years ago). Gallo has been above that threshhold every year of his career but 1 (.98 in 09-10). And obviously his career numbers are much higher. (.129 vs. .059).

    Gallo’s defensive reputation is also better and as I mentioned he graded out higher in a bunch of apbrmetrics than Carmelo at the time of the trade. Maybe Ruru can track down that post.

    Re Melo taking less, appreciably less, what’s your point Stam? That you think Melo will take 13 million rather than 26 and that we will be restored to relevance? Or that he will take 23 rather than 26? Or restructure at some point to clear a little space for someone? How much money do I look silly for arguing he won’t give up?

  57. ruruland

    Owen:
    Bargnani has crossed the .100 mark in WS.48 once (.104 in 1000 minutes two years ago). Gallo has been above that threshhold every year of his career but 1 (.98 in 09-10). And obviously his career numbers are much higher.(.129 vs. .059).

    Gallo’s defensive reputation is also better and as I mentioned he graded out higher in a bunch of apbrmetrics than Carmelo at the time of the trade. Maybe Ruru can track down that post.

    Re Melo taking less, appreciably less, what’s your point Stam? That you think Melo will take 13 million rather than 26 and that we will be restored to relevance? Or that he will take 23 rather than 26? Or restructure at some point to clear a little space for someone? How much money do I look silly for arguing he won’t give up?

    You would be unhappy no matter how much less than the max Melo signed for, so what’s the point of discussing?

  58. ruruland

    Owen:
    Bargnani has crossed the .100 mark in WS.48 once (.104 in 1000 minutes two years ago). Gallo has been above that threshhold every year of his career but 1 (.98 in 09-10). And obviously his career numbers are much higher.(.129 vs. .059).

    Gallo’s defensive reputation is also better and as I mentioned he graded out higher in a bunch of apbrmetrics than Carmelo at the time of the trade. Maybe Ruru can track down that post.

    Re Melo taking less, appreciably less, what’s your point Stam? That you think Melo will take 13 million rather than 26 and that we will be restored to relevance? Or that he will take 23 rather than 26? Or restructure at some point to clear a little space for someone? How much money do I look silly for arguing he won’t give up?

    So, just to make sure, there are certain apbr metrics you like to discuss at certain times, correct?

    Would you still trade Melo for Gallo, Ryan Anderson, Luol Deng, straight up right now (salary issues aside)?

  59. thenamestsam

    Owen:
    Bargnani has crossed the .100 mark in WS.48 once (.104 in 1000 minutes two years ago). Gallo has been above that threshhold every year of his career but 1 (.98 in 09-10). And obviously his career numbers are much higher.(.129 vs. .059).

    Gallo’s defensive reputation is also better and as I mentioned he graded out higher in a bunch of apbrmetrics than Carmelo at the time of the trade. Maybe Ruru can track down that post.

    Re Melo taking less, appreciably less, what’s your point Stam? That you think Melo will take 13 million rather than 26 and that we will be restored to relevance? Or that he will take 23 rather than 26? Or restructure at some point to clear a little space for someone? How much money do I look silly for arguing he won’t give up?

    The main reason Gallo has been higher in WS though is because he has been nominally a “small” forward even though he is 6’10″ while Bargnani has been nominally a center at 7′. However anyone who has watched them play knows those labels clearly don’t do much to describe their games (since they’re both perimeter players on offense) In Bargnani’s best full seasons he has shot the ball very comparably to Gallo’s best full seasons (on a higher usage), rebounded the ball better, worse passer. And the bar for the trade to be a success is clearly way below Gallo. I mean if we get even 85% of Gallo for Novak that’s a goddamn heist.

    As for Melo you look silly making declarative statements about something you could not possibly be 100% sure about. That’s my point. If you want to change your point to “I doubt that Melo will give up enough money to make a significant difference to the Knicks long-term prospects” like it sounds like you might, then you wouldn’t sound silly at all. That’s something a reasonable person might say and we can have a discussion.

  60. Z-man

    Owen: Bargnani has crossed the .100 mark in WS.48 once (.104 in 1000 minutes two years ago). Gallo has been above that threshhold every year of his career but 1 (.98 in 09-10). And obviously his career numbers are much higher. (.129 vs. .059).

    Yeah, I remember how excited I was when we signed Ronnie Brewer based on his impressive WS48. So, if he posts a .129 WS or better, would that change your mind?

  61. DRed

    thenamestsam: The main reason Gallo has been higher in WS though is because he has been nominally a “small” forward even though he is 6’10? while Bargnani has been nominally a center at 7?. Howeveranyone who has watched them play knows those labels clearly don’t do much to describe their games (since they’re both perimeter players on offense) In Bargnani’s best full seasons he has shot the ball very comparably to Gallo’s best full seasons (on a higher usage), rebounded the ball better, worse passer. And the bar for the trade to be a success is clearly way below Gallo. I mean if we get even 85% of Gallo for Novak that’s a goddamn heist.

    He rebounded the ball ‘better’ than Gallo because he was playing center on defense and was probably spending more time close to the rim. Gallo does sometimes play the 4, but he almost never plays center. Per 36 minutes Bargs has hauled down 5.7 rebounds a game over his career, a .3 rebound per 36 minutes advantage over Danilo. Considering all the time he plays center, that’s pathetic.

  62. Owen

    Ruru – That is not true. Melo has value. Just not anything close to the max through his mid-30′s. But I would rather start over it’s true than re=sign him.

    TheNameStam – Win Shares doesn’t use a position adjustment.

    ruruland: You would be unhappy no matter how much less than the max Melo signed for, so what’s the point of discussing?

  63. ruruland

    Owen:
    Ruru – That is not true. Melo has value. Just not anything close to the max through his mid-30?s. But I would rather start over it’s true than re=sign him.

    TheNameStam – Win Shares doesn’t use a position adjustment.

    So you acknowledge that you wrote those things in the past, the last time the Knicks made a significant trade, right?

    I mean, Melo’s WS/48 have gone up quite a bit since the trade, and paradoxically so given his age/minutes. Yet some people wrote that would occur and anticipate that AB will see a similar statistical improvement in new digs.

    Do your past statements, compared with others you disagreed, at all hurt your credibility regarding AB?

  64. thenamestsam

    DRed: He rebounded the ball ‘better’ than Gallo because he was playing center on defense and was probably spending more time close to the rim.

    It was certainly at least partially attributable to that. “How much” is a difficult question to answer. He’s been a better offensive rebounder than Danilo even though they’re both perimeter players. That at least gives me some pause in saying that it’s entirely due to opportunities. Anyway my main point is that their rebounding is comparable (we can agree on this no?) for their careers, Bargnani slightly better but has also probably had better opportunities, they’re both > 6’10″ and yet one’s rebounding is supposedly singlehandedly tanking our win projection by like 10 wins and the others rebounding is never even mentioned. Solely because of the nominal positions they play. I find that a bit silly.

    Owen:
    TheNameStam – Win Shares doesn’t use a position adjustment.

    My apologies.

  65. SeeWhyDee77

    I would love to comment in detail on this post..great job by the way. But I had an accident involving Snapple, concrete, and a clumsy misstep (that had the wife laughing hysterically)which left me with a broken hand and stitches on said hand. So typing is a tad difficult. I laughed too until I looked at my hand. Anyway..I like the trade..but I think we gave up too much. I think we got a good fit for Melo, one that’s not one dimensional on offense. When Novak was a Knick I wished he could do more than shoot open threes and start next to Melo. Bargnani can. Maybe not a lot better than Novak, but well enough to stay in the game and take pressure off of Melo. *crosses fingers on good hand* please don’t make me eat my words Bargs!

  66. Robert Silverman

    Guys, as part of our pledged effort to better monitor comment threads, I’m here to say let’s tone down a bit. This is an interesting conversation that we’d like to see continue but some of the comments are bordering on personal gibes.

    Thanks.

  67. SeeWhyDee77

    KnickFanInCelticLand:
    SeeWhyDee77,

    Get well soon.I assume the stitches are from injury from broken glass and not as a result of a compound fracture.

    Thanx. And yes it’s from glass and a few scrapes from the concrete.

  68. lavor postell

    I don’t think anybody would suggest that signing Melo to the 5-year, $130 mill max into his mid 30′s would be a great idea, but I’d also argue that even with that contract Melo would have trade value in the league. You’re trying to tell me somebody wouldn’t pull the trigger on acquiring a player of Melo’s caliber, giving the Knicks some cap relief and let’s say maybe 2 first rounders and a couple of seconds? I mean the Nets gave up a king’s ransom for Pierce and Garnett who have been on the wrong side of 30 for quite some time now.

    Ideally Melo would sign for like 15 mill per and we’d be armed with a bunch of cap space, enough to re-sign Shump and Chandler along with say a free agent like Kevin Love. Even otherwise I’d rather max out Melo and then reap the benefits of a trade, rather than simply allowing him to walk at the end of the 2014-15 season without getting anything in return. It makes less sense considering we’ve discussed our lack of both future first and second round picks ad nauseum.

  69. NYdiggz

    WOW!!!! very very very impressed with this read!!!! you have succesfully added a new reader to your blog. you seem to be a cut above some of the other copy and paste material floating around the net. please keep up the good journalism, you have got my full attention and offered plenty of debatable material!!!!!! AWESOME!!!!!!!

  70. danvt

    I just think the bottom line is that we’re in better shape this year than last. We’re younger and more well rounded. You gotta give to get and and AB plus cap space were worth the players and picks. Might it not work out? Sure, but we are in a win now mode with a reload coming in two years. This is not an example of the same flawed organizational philosophy that brought Jalen Rose, etc. KO’s dad said it. The length of the contract is more conducive to the opposite argument.

  71. BigBlueAL

    Cant wait for the discussions here tomorrow when ESPN does their SCHOENE preview of the Knicks with them finishing 7th in the East with 37 wins. That should be fun lol.

    The Pistons and Hawks are 5th and 6th.

  72. BigBlueAL

    Owen:
    We are posted at half the chance of the Nets to win the East. That I know….

    Considering last season not one of the 38 ESPN.com “analysts” predicted the Knicks to win the division I could honestly give a rat’s ass about their predictions. Even Pelton in his chat last week started backtracking about the Knicks since he mentioned them as the team in the East who could significantly win more games than SCHOENE is predicting them too.

    Makes for fun debates on this site though lol.

  73. BigBlueAL

    BTW I dont mind skeptical Knicks prediction articles since Im used to it. Zach Lowe’s article today I thought was a great read.

    Its just that to me I think the Knicks are still being penalized and judged as if its 2006 still. Its OK to say the Knicks are a pretty good team w/o having to throw in a million caveats.

  74. BigBlueAL

    Owen:
    Pistons? Was he kidding?

    Nope. Its Insider articles so not sure if you can read them. The predictions are based strictly on SCHOENE win totals predictions.

    So far this is the order of the East:

    1. Heat 54-28
    2. Bulls 50-32
    3. Nets 50-32
    4. Pacers 49-33
    5. Pistons 49-33 (!!)
    6. Hawks 45-37

    In the Nets article it mentioned them finishing over a dozen games ahead of the Knicks so thats why Im assuming 37 wins for the Knicks. I know they are predicted to finish 7th because their article is due out tomorrow (or rather later today since its past midnight in the east coast) and thats when the 7th seed in the East is revealed.

  75. BigBlueAL

    In the general ESPN.com predictions last month I believe it had the Knicks at 5th with 48 wins. That was a general consensus from all their “experts”. I can live with that even though I disagree but the current SCHOENE predictions are a joke.

  76. Brian Cronin

    Zach Lowe’s article is the reasonable way to criticize the Knicks. Say that they’ll be good but not good enough to win the Eastern Conference unless a lot of things break their way. That’s fair. But seventh in the Conference?! Ridiculous.

  77. Z

    Bargnani was in the hand, so they took it. Was he about to be amnestied? Probably. Were the Knicks bidding against anybody else in the league? Probably not. But… if AB had been amnestied, there is no certainty Grunwald could have signed him (as other teams could “outbid” he Knicks easily, even at a fraction of what Bargnani was owed). So the Raptors actually were negotiating from strength (plus there was something about the deal needing to be made by July 1st I think, so the clock was against NY too (considering Toronto still held their amnesty card)). So all of that helps explain why the Knicks “overpaid”. (though it doesn’t really explain why they wanted Bargnani in the first place).

    As for opportunity cost, there is also the reverse: back in 2009 the Knicks opted not to trade Jeffries and Nate Robinson to the Kings for Kenny Thomas– a contract that expired a year before Jeffries. The result was that they needed to pay a premium to unload Jeffries one year later, and ended up losing Robinson during that time too. So the Knicks really ARE learning from past mistakes (maybe!), because they had a plan that required cap flexibility down the road and had the opportunity to get it, and they did.

    Finally, re: opportunity cost, the picks given up in the Marbury trade were brought up earlier in the thread. The 2004 pick given up turned into Kirk Snyder, a super scrub. However, that pick allowed the Suns to hold onto the #7 pick that year, which they punted on to clear cap space for Steve Nash and Q Rich. They went on to win +33 games the next year… and the punt ended up becoming Nate Robinson, whom the Suns traded to NY to unload the under-performing contract of Q Rich onto the Knicks. (The point of this is– draft picks are valuable, even if the picks turn into duds: Phoenix put up another +7 after the Q Rich trade for a total of +40, all thanks to the opportunity of doing business with the Knicks and their draft picks.)

  78. Brian Cronin

    Well, the Pistons did add Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings to the team while only losing Brandon Knight as a player of note from last year’s not-awful and young squad (young being the optimum word when you’re talking about Drummond, who obviously seems poised to take a big lead forward this season, if only from seeing his minutes increased), so I think everyone here would agree that Detroit did improve themselves (they also added rookie shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the first round of the draft, who has looked good so far, Chauncey Billups and star veteran Italian League player Gigi Datome).

    Heck, I don’t even think it is ridiculous to suggest that if everything coalesces perfectly that the Pistons could be a threat for the #5 seed. But there’s “maybe a threat if everything goes right” and there’s “likely will be the #5 seed.” It’s just absurd. It’d be like a projection system saying that the Knicks should be the favorites to win the Eastern Conference just because there’s a chance of that happening if things break their way. It just doesn’t make sense.

    The most likely outcome is that the Knicks are one of the top 5 teams in the Eastern Conference. The most likely outcome is that the Pistons are not.

  79. johnno

    ephus: You are right. My bad. But not as bad as drafting Balkman over Rondo.

    If it makes you feel any better, here are some of the guys that other teams picked over Rondo that year — Tyrus Thomas, Sheldon Williams, Patrick O’Bryant, Saer Sene, Hilton Armstrong, Ronnie Brewer, Cedric Simmons, Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams, Oleksey Peckerov and Quincy Douby. Oh, almost forgot, and Andrea Bargnani…

  80. ephus

    Yes, but Balkman was selected literally one pick before Rondo and the Knicks were in the market for a point guard. So, they picked Mardy Collins with #29. At the time, I was begging for the Knicks to take Marcus Williams, Rondo or Kyle Lowry. I feared that they would take Jordan Farmar. But Balkman???

    I am hoping that this year will be a good time to be a Knick fan. 2001 – 2010 certainly was not.

  81. Brian Cronin

    It doesn’t make the move any better, of course, but I think it makes the move at least a little more understandable that I firmly believe that the Suns were going to take Balkman with that pick if the Knicks didn’t take him. Note that it was not like Phoenix wanted Rondo either. I think Balkman was their guy. So the Knicks knew that if they wanted Balkman, they were going to have to take him there. The issue, of course, is that neither the Knicks nor the Suns (especially Phoenix, who instead signed Marcus Banks to a big deal rather than just drafting Rondo or one of the other point guards – truly mind-boggingly) realized that Rondo was the better pick there.

  82. Hubert

    I’m not sure what about this:

    mokers:
    I know people here get down on the organization, but I am still going to be optimistic while I see progress. Three years in a row in the playoffs. Next let’s try and go a few years in a row with a playoff series win. Even if you don’t believe the knicks are a championship caliber team, I think you have to agree that they are more enjoyable to watch night in and night out than they were five years ago.

    As for the overall way the organization is run, I remember, at age 5, my grandfather telling me the Yankees will never win the world series while the idiot Steinbrenner was in charge. My hope is that the idiot Dolan lucks himself into a championship run or two, purely because he accidentally hired the correct people at one time. Hoping for the Knicks to be run like the Spurs (or the Yanks the Rays) is the dream that is hopeless.

    elicited this:

    ruruland: Boom.

    But unfortunately we’re unlikely to ever see Dolan emulate Steinbrenner’s success because the playing field is level. If there were no salary cap in the NBA, I’m sure Dolan would have signed LeBron to the $500 million contract he deserves and we’d all be singing his praises. Unfortunately, we need to be like the Spurs because no one can be like the Yankees.

  83. Hubert

    Z (@89), every person in the know I know (Woj, Lowe, Aldridge) has stated definitively that AB was never going to be amnestied. Others have reported that GS offered David Lee.

    He had value. We probably gave up too much for him, but he was never getting amnestied.

  84. johnno

    Hubert: Z (@89), every person in the know I know (Woj, Lowe, Aldridge) has stated definitively that AB was never going to be amnestied.

    And even if he were amnestied, there is a really good chance that some team under the cap might have made at least a vet minimum bid on him so, if the Knicks wanted him, they had to trade for him.

  85. johnno

    ephus: I was begging for the Knicks to take Marcus Williams, Rondo or Kyle Lowry.

    So, if one of your wishes had come true, we would all be screaming about how stupid Isiah was for picking Williams instead of Rondo. For what it’s worth, I remember that draft pretty well and I, too, was hoping for Williams…

  86. Donnie Walsh

    johnno: And even if he were amnestied, there is a really good chance that some team under the cap might have made at least a vet minimum bid on him so, if the Knicks wanted him, they had to trade for him.

    Right. That’s what he said in #89.

    And I don’t care what people “in the know” reported. The amnesty clause was written for contracts like Bargnani. Ujiri made jettisoning Bargnani his #1 priority upon looking at the roster he inherited ( http://blogs.thescore.com/raptorblog/2013/06/01/ujiris-first-task-will-be-trading-bargnani/ ). Teams say a lot of things, and reporters report them. That doesn’t make them “in the know”. That makes them “in the hear”.

    (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/andrea-bargnani-days-toronto-raptors-may-over-170033748–nba.html)

  87. Jack Bauer

    SomeGuy32:
    If you’re going to bring up the picks – how about listing what they actually are:

    Pick #1 – OKC’s 2nd round pick in 2014….aka one of the last picks in the draft….

    Pick #2 – 2016 first rounder – subject to swap with Denver – making it at best a mid-first rounder if both the Knicks and Nuggets aren’t great.

    Pick #3 – 2017 second rounder – whatever….

    Exactly – the only way that pick is a lottery pick is if BOTH Denver and NYK end up in the lottery. Even then NY ends up with the worst of both of those picks. To say it might be a top 7 pick is extremely unlikely. This pick will most likely be mid 20′s THREE years from now. They might end up regretting giving it up in 2016 but let’s not make it into something much more valuable than it is just to bash on Bargnani some more. Also his contract expires a year sooner which will certainly be something useful much sooner.

  88. mokers

    Hubert:
    I’m not sure what about this:

    elicited this:

    But unfortunately we’re unlikely to ever see Dolan emulate Steinbrenner’s success because the playing field is level.If there were no salary cap in the NBA, I’m sure Dolan would have signed LeBron to the $500 million contract he deserves and we’d all be singing his praises.Unfortunately, we need to be like the Spurs because no one can be like the Yankees.

    It’s possible. Baseball payrolls were much closer then. The Yankees really didn’t use their revenue advantage until the late 90s. The Blue Jays and the Orioles outspent the Yankees for a few years before that. Besides, the Knicks still have an advantage in that Dolan is willing to spend luxury tax money where as a lot of teams are not willing.

    however, the overall point is that I will be happy if the Knicks start winning playoff series. If they only manage a true championship contender every 5 years or so, I’m not going to act like the sky is falling. I’m also not saying that there is no way Dolan and Co. won’t prove me wrong, but again, I’m going to stay optimistic in the meantime.

  89. Brian Cronin

    It’s possible. Baseball payrolls were much closer then. The Yankees really didn’t use their revenue advantage until the late 90s.

    The only reason the Yankees got Jeter was because the only other team in the first five picks who were willing to spend the money Jeter was asking for had Cal Ripken on them. The Yankees’ money advantage was important all throughout those 90s teams. Tino and Cone were only available because their teams couldn’t afford them.

  90. Hubert

    And also, don’t forget how vital the two years Steinbrenner got suspended were. That’s when the organization began to switch gears and start the player development route.

    It would be like Dolan getting suspended for two years, and whoever is in charge having the balls to trade Melo, Chandler, and pretty much everyone on the roster for as many draft picks as possible, and tanking for two years, and winning the lottery, and getting a top 5 NBA player out of it.

    That’s kinda the basketball equivalent of how the Yankees got from being the team that your dad described to being the team you know.

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