Celtics All In With KG Deal

The Boston Celtics have acquired their second All Star since the season ended. According to a few sources, Minnesota has agreed to send Kevin Garnett to Boston. The players included aren’t official yet, but it’s possible that Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, and a piece of paper with Theo Ratliff’s signature on it will be included. Other possibilities include Sebastian Telfair and Ryan Gomes. Earlier this year, the Celtics traded the #5 overall pick to Seattle for Ray Allen. It’s clear that Danny Ainge is cashing in his chips in an effort to win now. Ainge failed to (re-)build a winner around Paul Pierce, trying to combine failed draft picks (Troy Bell, Dahntay Jones, Delonte West, Tony Allen) with overpriced veterans (Theo Ratliff, Gary Payton, Michael Olowokandi, Ricky Davis). So instead Danny Ainge has gone “Flip That House” on the Celtics roster, and have instantly upgraded at 2 positions.

As a Knick fan I’m a bit disappointed that Garnett, a top notch NBA superstar, will be playing against New York for a division rival. In a way I wonder why Isiah couldn’t match or top the deal, since we should have more talent than the 24-win Celtics. You seriously have to wonder how much Ainge and McHale’s Boston ties helped to solidify this deal, because you think a few teams (Chicago, Detroit, Toronto) could have matched this offer as well.

However just because Boston has the most potent trio East of the Mississippi, doesn’t guarantee them a spot in the Finals. Garnett, Allen, and Pierce are all on the wrong side of 30, and they missed 66 games combined last year. The one problem with this deal is that it leaves Boston with few pieces left to surround this talent. While top flight talent is one criteria for building an NBA powerhouse, one thing that separates the good teams from the championship level teams is depth. That said there’s just too much talent with these three players for this not to work. As long as all three stay healthy, they can make a serious postseason run. Now that Danny Ainge is all in & his friend just passed him the ace he needed, Ainge needs to finish the job & surround this trio with quality role players for it to work. But at least for him, the hard part is done.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

120 thoughts to “Celtics All In With KG Deal”

  1. Ha! You just used a poker metaphor just like Bill Simmons! :)

    By the by, it seems weird that Simmons is so happy about this deal when he seemed quite unhappy with the idea of KG for Jefferson before, making the decent point that Jefferson isn’t THAT much worse than KG right now, and will likely be better than KG in a couple of years.

    That, by the way, is the main reason I think the Celtics got the deal done – Jefferson is better than anyone else any other team had to offer, outside of perhaps David Lee, and Jefferson is more of a “build your team around him” type of player.

  2. Let’s be honest about the missed games things. Garnett was NOT hurt. It was a fake injury. The Wolves were in tank mode. Pierce was hurt for a while, but were the celts not tanking he would have played at least 10 more games. You are allowed to be concerned about Ray Allen’s ankles, but he was never a guy who played off of his athleticism, so I wouldn’t be too worried.

    As far as other pieces go, I think Rondo can play the point effectively. There will be no pressure on him, he plays good D and he’s a good distributor. Center is a question mark for the C’s but all they need is someone serviceable. The C’s take flyers on say Melvin Ely and Kelvin Cato or Mike Sweetney, probably pay them 1 or 2 million each, and combine them with Kendrick Perkins to cover that spot. They also may still have Gomes, who could play up front with Garnett against smaller lineups. Tony Allen backs up the 2 and the 3. Telfair maybe backs up the 1, but hopefully the celts find someone who plays more in control, more of a role player. I mean look at the role players who have been on the last two Eastern Conference Champions…. Miami had a washed up GP, Jason Williams, Antoine Walker. Udonis Haslem, Zo, James Posey? They are smart older players (except maybe walker), who, were they free agents today, would be lucky to get the full MLE. The cavs were even worse. Larry Hughes has been dreadful on offense ever since he broke his finger a few years ago. Eric Snow, Damon Jones, Sasha Pavlovic? They had three decent players outside of Lebron – Z, Gooden and Varejao. Again, all flawed or inconsistent players.

    I’m not denying that they are thin now, but look at the three superstars they have – KG and pierce both are great two way players and excellent passers. Both of them have shown willingness to defer shots to other, sometimes less talented players. KG I would argue is more suited as a complementary player. He is a good but not great scorer, but is an excellent passer. For a Pierce reference, remember when the C’s looked like they might get AI? Pierce was quoted as saying something like, “Sure, bring him in. We would have no problem sharing shots. Remember, I played with one of the biggest chuckers of all time in Antoine Walker.” Having these extra scorers around will allow Pierce to focus and devote more energy to defense, something he is very underrated at.

    A second thing to consider here is that although they have three scorers, they have three EFFICIENT scorers who don’t mind scoring off of passes. AI and Carmelo, by contrast, both are effective taking the ball to the rim. Pierce can spot up. Allen loves to spot up. I’m calling the celtics for 55+ wins and the definite favorites to represent the East. I’ll call them the tied for 2nd most likely team to take out the spurs this year, after Phoenix and tied with Houston (Dallas peaked already. Dirk will never be the same).

  3. Just nitpicking,sorry, but Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones never played for Boston. I know they show up on draft history sites but they were part of draft day deals that landed Boston Marcus Banks and Kendrick Perkins. Marcus Banks was a bust–on the court anyway, dude’s making a ton of money–but Perkins is okay. For a 27th pick, he’s not bad. He offers good post defense and rebounding, has good makeup and he’s not a vacant head whose a cipher with the ball. That’s a plus.

    On the trade, I don’t think the Celtics are recklessly cashing in on their future. For that to be the case, their future would have to be especially promising, which is not the case. If they had kept Jefferson, they would have floundered in irrelevent mediocrity anyway for the next three years. Then Pierce and Allen would have declined Boston would be left with only Jefferson and huge holes in the roster. A three to four year championship window now is better than playing for the unknown in the future, which wasn’t all that promising to begin with.

  4. Knicks lineup is still better than the celts,even if they’ve got KG.
    we’re better on physicality and on defense, the only
    issue on us will be on the team chemistry.
    lets just hope that starbury will be a pass first guy and jamal start shooting from better angles this upcoming season.. and we will be trashing those grumpy old men.lets go knicks!

  5. after this trade the celts will only have 9 players under contract. with no bench, no backup C, no PG with experience. Rondo is ok, but hes a tweener, not a pure pass 1st PG. but also has only 1 terrible yr under his belt.
    This move will make the celts competive but i believe that if they dont go far in the playoffs and get ousted in the 1st round, KG will opt out anyway and leave boston with everyone holding their crotches.
    Celtics better make sure they get deep in the playoffs or KG will opt out (to get more money and/or go to LA wit Kobe or PHO wit Nash) Those teams are closer to championship level than the celts who havent been relevant in a while.

  6. if you’re gonna put three superstars on a team, pierce, allen and garnett are a nice batch. they’re all relatively unselfish players who will actually share the ball in the hopes of winning a championship together.

    as a knicks fan, i’m very worried. but i really didn’t have delusions of grandeur either.

    before anyone starts touting boston for a championship, just remember: as far as big threes go, nash, amare and marion have a better supporting cast than the celtic trio. and they may not even come out of the west.

  7. Felix, the Celtics will have 11 players after this trade once they sign their second round picks Gabe Pruitt and Glen Davis. I’m pretty confident they will add more. There are not too many good players still out there but it becomes much easier when you’re just looking for specialized role players.

  8. After the Allen trade this is a necessary move. Boston put a clock on success when they traded for Allen and this completes the picture. They will be shallow but other than Chicago, they are the best team in the East and with their experience they may very well be able to make the finals this year and lose, much like Cleveland, to the West. That is if they can even stay healthy enough to compete.

    With that said I think that Boston has really screwed up long term. I do not think they should have traded for Allen and this compounds that mistake. Boston will get two or three years of relavance and then after resigning Allen and Garnett to long contracts, they will slip slowly into mediocrity and be very bad for at least 4-5 years.

    Boston had a great young core and had they traded Pierce for a marquee young player and moved forward with a young core of: Rondo, West, Tony Allen, Greene, Gomes, Jefferson, the #5 pick and whoever they got for Pierce they would have been young and exciting team for a long time.

    In four years if not alot sooner West will be better than Ray Allen and Jefferson will be better than Garnett, top that with the other assets like the #5 pick, the future firsts Boston is giving up, and the other players included in the trade and you have a bad move.

    Even if everything goes right and they win a championship before slipping into 5+ years of ageing veterans and cap hell, is it even worth it? Is a championship worth morgaging your future, I say no.

  9. “Is a championship worth mortgaging your future, I say no.”

    I’d say definitely, but I don’t see this Boston team winning one. their best shot will be in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, after Doc Rivers is long gone and they’ve had a chance to add some real role players.

    “In a way I wonder why Isiah couldn?t match or top the deal, since we should have more talent than the 24-win Celtics. You seriously have to wonder how much Ainge and McHale?s Boston ties helped to solidify this deal, because you think a few teams (Chicago, Detroit, Toronto) could have matched this offer as well.”

    do any of those teams have an expiring contract as big as Ratliff’s? I know we don’t. but yeah, definitely the Boston ties helped, I think.

  10. Yeah, I think the move is worth it for Boston. I just don’t think it’s, like, a total no-brainer or anything.

  11. In four years, West could be better than Steve Nash and Jefferson better than Duncan. What does that mean? Do you really did West is going to ever be more than a role player and that Jefferson becomes a transcendent legend? Even after dealing away so many players, the only potential star they gave up was Jefferson and he’s more in the second-tier category.

    The young core they gave up wasn’t all that special. It was the same young core that lost 18 games in a row and were competitive in about 2 of them. Certainly it wasn’t comprised of elite prospects and it had zero chance of maturing into a championship squad. A potential young championship core is something like what Portland has. Now that is something you don’t dismantle.

  12. I’d take one championship and a decade of mediocrity over having a young, exciting team for a long time.

    You have to roll the dice sometime; with weak competition in the East and lots of star quality players available for cheap the Celtics thought this was the time and I agree with them. It just sucks that they extended Rivers before making these deals…

  13. The good news is Doc Rivers is coaching this team. It will take the Celtics half a season to figure out Doc’s in over his head. Then they’ll spend the rest of the season looking for someone to replace him. In addition Allen will not make it through the season.

    Hopefully David Sterns has realized the ref were in too much control of the game and Pierce will actually have to earn his points. Rather than getting them from the free throw line.

  14. I think that after the Telfair and Allen deals this was a good move.

    However, their young core could have easily included Brandon Roy, Randy Foye, or Rudy Gay with the pick they gave up for Telfair, and Jeff Green, Yi, Corey Brewer, Brandan Wright, or Joakim Noah with the pick they gave up for Allen. Add a young player or two they could have gotten for Pierce and suddenly their young core could have included 3 great young players, AJ, West, Gomes, Perkins, Rando…a very promising 8 man rotation.

    My point is that if Danny Ainge had done things right he could have assembled a team that went deep into the playoffs every year for a decade. I’d much rather have that than one ring and a bunch of first round exits. That’s assuming that Boston ages poorly.
    Having already acquired Ray Allen and Sebastian Telfair I think he had to make this move. I’m not sure why McHale didn’t get Rando on top of everything else.

  15. “It will take the Celtics half a season to figure out Doc?s in over his head. ”

    I think they already know that, it’ll take half a season to fire him.

    “My point is that if Danny Ainge had done things right he could have assembled a team that went deep into the playoffs every year for a decade. I?d much rather have that than one ring and a bunch of first round exits.”

    I think you’d be pretty alone in that, amongst players and fans.

  16. I agree that Boston’s young core was NEVER going to develop into a championship contender. Boston was playing the waiting game with them for 2-3 years, and no one outside of Al Jefferson was maturing into a franchise quality player. Gomes will be a solid starter, never an All-Star. Same for Delonte West and perhaps Gerald Green.
    The Ray Allen moved smelled desperate, but now that they have KG, I think they need to really pick up a veteran PG and one more hustle guy to make it to the 3rd round in the east. Possibly the Finals, but I don’t see Ray Allen making it through the season and playoffs without injury. And the Spurs and Suns still seem better than the Celts.

  17. “My point is that if Danny Ainge had done things right he could have assembled a team that went deep into the playoffs every year for a decade. I?d much rather have that than one ring and a bunch of first round exits.”

    Really? I don’t understand that at all. The point of the game is to win the ring, not to contend every year.

    I can guarantee you that Dallas Mavericks fans would trade their 7 years of 50 win regular seasons and postseason eliminations for 1 ring and 6 terrible seasons in a heartbeat.

  18. “I can guarantee you that Dallas Mavericks fans would trade their 7 years of 50 win regular seasons and postseason eliminations for 1 ring and 6 terrible seasons in a heartbeat.”

    I wonder, would Knick fans trade all of the 90s away for one championship? I mean imagine Charles Smith hit that layup, they get past the Bulls, beat Barkley’s Suns. And then the team falls apart. 30-40 win seasons for the rest of the decade. No Allan Houston. No continued rivalry with the Bulls. No Game 7 against the Rockets. No ’99 Finals team. No rivalry against the Heat.

    Not saying whether I would or wouldn’t, just throwing that question out there.

  19. It’s a no-brainer for Boston, since they had no opher options. They’ll be interesting to watch and pretty good – maybe 50 wins, enough to contend in our crummy conference. But this is the high point – maybe next year, if they can add a good FA at a discount. Rondo is a great defender, which works for that mix.

    On the other hand, the Big Three are already in decline. I love Ray Allen but if I was a Celtics fan I’d be having nightmares about Rolando Blackman. As a Knicks fan, I’m not worried… by the time we’re (hopefully) playing meaningful playoff series, Boston will be finished for another 10 years.

  20. of course, no Allan Houston, probably no far over the cap silliness for the past 5-6 years. what we’re talking about is basically what’s happened to Chicago (although they won six rings). they had some awful seasons and are now building a young core.

    switching sports, Florida is a great example of this, I’m pretty sure that Braves fans would trade their teams over the last decade in a second.

  21. And I’d definitely take a championship over years of contending. Baseball is different – the best team doesn’t always win; it’s whoever’s pitchers are healthy, and whoever gets hot in October. In baseball, you just have to be in the mix of the best 4 or 5 teams each year and hope for the best.

    In the NBA, barring the rare catastrophic injury, the best team really does win… if you can put yourself over the top to have the best roster, you do it.

    Not that Boston has anywhere near the best roster in the NBA now…

    …but especially after the Allen trade, this was their only option – then pray that Rondo or Big Baby turns into a real player, and/or that they land an impact free agent next ear.

  22. “I wonder, would Knick fans trade all of the 90s away for one championship? I mean imagine Charles Smith hit that layup, they get past the Bulls, beat Barkley?s Suns. And then the team falls apart. 30-40 win seasons for the rest of the decade. No Allan Houston. No continued rivalry with the Bulls. No Game 7 against the Rockets. No ?99 Finals team. No rivalry against the Heat.”

    Absolutely. No ’99 Finals? The Knicks first title in 30 years would have been worth that. No rivalry with the Heat? Who cares, any time we got bored with the current Knicks we could pop in that championship season DVD. Seeing Ewing win a ring in NY would have been awesome.

  23. “Rondo is ok, but hes a tweener, not a pure pass 1st PG. but also has only 1 terrible yr under his belt.”

    Rondo had a pretty good rookie season, I’d say. He’s not some stud PG by any stretch, but he’s a good defender, a good glue guy with the three shooters, and he actually is a pure, pass first point. I don’t know where you’re getting the tweener thing from — did you mean Delonte West? Now THAT guy was (and is) a tweener.

  24. ?I wonder, would Knick fans trade all of the 90s away for one championship? I mean imagine Charles Smith hit that layup, they get past the Bulls, beat Barkley?s Suns. And then the team falls apart. 30-40 win seasons for the rest of the decade. No Allan Houston. No continued rivalry with the Bulls. No Game 7 against the Rockets. No ?99 Finals team. No rivalry against the Heat.?

    So would I trade a championship in 1993 for never experiencing:

    -The heartbreak of watching the Knicks lose game 7 in Houston in 1994

    -Watching Ewing miss that point-blank finger roll against Indiana in the semis in 1995 after Miller hit those two 3s in a row in game 1

    -Losing in 5 to the Bulls in 1996

    -Watching PJ Brown’s thuggery destroy our 3-1 series advantage in 1997

    -Losing in 5 games again in 1998 (though beating the Heat that year was definitely sweet)

    -The miraculous and magic run to the Finals, including Houston’s shot, the 4 point play, and Houston’s delirious MSG game 6?

    Without question, yes.

    In fact, the only real downside is that it would have forced me to have some sort of positive memory of Charles Smith.

  25. Beating Jordan in his prime would make all the suffering afterwards worth it…even 10 years of ineptitude. The only time MJ lost in his prime was his return from baseball year, during which he was working the rust off. Knicks beating them in 1993 would have been Ewing’s greatest legacy: the only superstar to beat Jordan in his prime.

  26. I would not trade it at all. I have watched my favorite football team win it all and while it was great so were the memories of coming close and competing every year.

    That 99 finals run is one of my fondest sports memories I would not trade that for anything.

  27. I think whats amazing is the number of non-playoff teams in the East that have improved themselves, whether through the draft, trades, or free agency. Obviously the Knicks have improved as well in this off season but the interesting question is, whether the Knicks improvements will be enough for them to even make the playoffs.

    I think that the Celtics, Bobcats Hawks and Magic are all going to be demonstrably better than they were last year.

    In addition of all the playoff teams I think only the Nets will be signficantly worse. Perhaps there will be sme slippage from Detroit. I think chicago will be very good, the wizards, if healthy can make a long playoff run and the heat, raptors and cavs should all be about as good as last year. There are a lot of slightly above average teams out there and frankly I doubt that the Knicks moves will be enough to separate them from the crowd.

  28. Frankly, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    Chemistry takes time. It took almost all of last season for a great defensive player, Ben Wallace, to gel and integrate with a great defensive team, the Bulls.

    How long will it take KG, Ray Ray, and PP to gel under the esteemed tutelage of Doc Rivers? They have a two-year window to win the whole thing, and it’ll take them at least one season to gel and to figure out that Doc is incapable of coaching to the next level.

    This is what happens when you’re a GM (Danny Ainge) who is always waiting on the NEXT big thing. He couldn’t build a winner, so he tanked to get Oden or Durant, and when that didn’t work he tried to catch the falling knife by trading for Ray Ray and KG. Never try to catch a falling knife!

    This is a move that smacks of desperation, and it could only be pulled off by the two most desperate GMs in all of sports. If only we could get Matt Millen in on this deal somehow!

    Boston may or may not compete for the East, and they’ll be ushered out of the first round by (Pick one:) Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, or Toronto.

  29. Oops…I meant – Boston may or may not compete for the Atlantic, and they’ll be ushered out of the first round…..

  30. I think if you break down what Ainge did piece by piece you could find fault with the Ray Allen deal. But his stated goal was to amass enough young talent to make some deals and build a winner. On its face, Ainge did what he set out to do, and probably has removed his name from among the worst GMs in basketball at least.
    Gain some altitude and look what the man did:
    He’s got three bonafide all stars side-by-side-by-side, and gave up a series of players with “upside potential.”
    On the other hand, McHale showed why he is still among the worst GMs around.
    The Bulls won with Jordan, Pippen and Rodman, and the rest were pieces. KG, Allen and Pierce, all two-way players with defensive intensity and unselfishness, all in their prime, could make a serious run at a title. They hurt you inside and from long range. They are a very tough team to cover. Someone mentioned the Suns. I think the Celtics top three compare quite nicely with a team that SHOULD have won the championship last year.

    The Knicks, on the other hand, have huge questions.
    Will Curry improve?
    Will Randolph be as productive as he was last year?
    Will they work well together? Both have shown trouble adapting to change.
    Will either player play defense? Neither has to date.
    Where does David Lee play, and will he be effective after his ankle injury? His athleticism defines him. Lots of players haven’t bounced back from a bad ankle, especially one that was poorly diagnosed to begin with.
    Will Q’s back be well enough for him to contribute? Not all players do well after fusing vertebrae, and he was a good player, not great, at his best.
    Will Marbury learn to pass again? He certainly hasn’t shown the ability to feed Curry in the post so far. And is he really willing to get only 9 points a night? He hasn’t been very willing on that front either.
    Will Balkman be effective, and where will his minutes come? I’m sorry. Regular season isn’t summer league, guys.

    I’d rather have three all stars, proven players, than all the question marks we have right now.
    One thing about Knicks fan sites: statistics are fine, but most of what I see are extrapolations…which translate into hopefulness.
    Knicks fans are so hopeful, but we have no sense of what reasonable expectations are.

    If all those questions I raised about the Knicks come back with positive answers, the Knicks are competitive and a playoff team.
    But by no stretch of the imagination are they going deep into the playoffs.

  31. The East does look better, but with the Knicks depth they’re better positioned to withstand injuries. I expect them to be a playoff team. Down the roard, considering there are several players still @25 and younger, the roster is reasonably promising.

    Boston is just in a different place. The top 3 does match up Phoenix, but the next 4-5 players on the Suns are all better than anyone else on the Celts’ roster. (Diaw, Barbosa, Hill, Bell). Plus, they have Atlanta’s draft pick next year, while Ainge gave up all his 1st rounders in the deal). You have to say that Boston looks more like a good 45-50 win team, than an actual championship contender. And this is it – they’re not getting better.

    At this point, it’s a decent deal for Ainge and McHale. The reason they’re terrible GMs is that they let their respective teams get into this situation in the first place. Especially McHale, who not only failed to build a team around Garnett but passed up much better offers the last two years. At this point, this was probably the best deal he was going to get.

    Mitch Kupchak should take note.

  32. It’s virtually impossible NOT to make this move if you are Danny Ainge, particularly given what has come before it. This was a no-brainer for any EC team. Chicago may rue its decision not to pursue KG with more vigor.

    Going forward I think the Celts have to find a veteran point for the playoffs. I generally think experience can be way overrated, but all things equal you want an experienced point in the playoffs when the game slows down and every possession is a game-changer. Wouldn’t Brevin Knight be perfect for them to come in and play alongside Rondo?

  33. Boston may not look Championship calibur now, but I doubt the Celtics are going into the season with its current roster. I fully expect Ainge to use their mid level exception to acquire some much needed role players. Their acquisitions will probably propel them higher in the standings.

    With that being said, I’m not sure but hope the Knicks can make the playoffs. Assuming Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Boston comprise the first four seeds, that leaves Toronto, New Jersey, Washington, New York, and Orlando (and Charlotte?) fighting for the last four seeds.

  34. How long before Boston picks up Chris Webber. I don’t think he’s been picked up and they need some size. Plus he’s another vet with hunger for a championship. Thoughts anyone?

  35. Webber is looking at Orlando and Dallas apparently. Boston would be a great fit though for his talents.

  36. In the last 20 years, 7 teams have one the NBA champions. The Pistons have done it with two different cores, so let’s call it eight. Throughout that time we have seen many teams build and become perennial contenders without winning a title. You can’t count on a young core to just become NBA Champions if you keep them together. The Celtics did the right thing, seizing their best opportunity to win a championship.

  37. How are we better as a starting 5 than the Celtics? Curry could start for them at center and arguably Marbury over Rondo (but actually a guy like Rondo probably works with Ray Allen better than Marbury would).

    I dont see how you could argue that Randolph is an improvement over Garnett. Certainly Pierce at the 3 spot is superior and Allen is superior to anything we have at the 2 spot. Heck, if Garnett plays center and Pierce the 4, you could even argue Wally S is better than any player we have at the 3 spot.

    Id pretty much trade our whole starting 5 for their starting 5 right now with no remorse. Id obviously like our bench better than theirs.

  38. The Celts will obviously be better than the Knicks in 2007-2008, maybe next year too, but it’s apples and oranges… I don’t think they have nearly enough for a real championship run, and the Knicks future, 2 or 3 years down the road, s much brighter, when Boston looks like Miami witout DWade.

    I’d rather root for up-and-comers – which we might be – than a team with no cards left to play, and still not good enough to contend. May will be depressing in Boston.

  39. For the record, David Berri had Rondo ranked as the #1 rookie according to his wp/48 metric. Better than Roy.

  40. for those knocking Rondo, take a look at his game log: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/4149/gamelog

    Check those numbers out the last month of the season – not only was he mature enough to not shoot when he was off (his lowest FG% games are also by and large his lowest FGA games), but check out those steals and rebounding numbers – 2.5 spg and 5.8 rebounds. Those are elite numbers for a point guard. This guy contributes in many ways on the floor – an ideal complementary player to a team. 5.5 APG is also nothing to shake your head at considering the celtics were playing with a skeleton roster.

  41. Matthew – Renaldo Balkman was actually the top rookie in WP48. Rondo led in actual Wins Produced. He played nearly 800 minutes more last season.

    I wonder if you are right Jon. Would Ainge trade Rondo for Roy straight up? I sort of doubt it. Ainge is well known to be in love with Rondo, and the kid had a great rookie season.

    A few things there. The WOW data show they were both excellent, above average players last year. Rondo has an edge, but it was just one season, and there isn’t a huge difference between them.

    Roy is also two years older than Rondo.

    Rondo is an outstanding defender. I think he was in the top 15 in the NBA in Defensive Composite Score over at 82games.

    He is certainly a better fit for the Celtics going forward, given that Roy is more of a shooting guard, and the Celts have Ray Allen.

    Rondo is not a good scorer, and there is a profound scoring bias in the NBA, but if you can look past that, its easy to see why he might be just as valuable of a player as Roy. Maybe they wouldn’t trade Roy for him, but I think most Gm’s who picked higher than Boston would trade their pick for him.

  42. we’ll get to see about Rondo this year, that’s for sure. I’m not really knocking him, I just don’t think he was the best rookie last year, and don’t know how much you can take from games that Boston was trying to tank. we’ll know pretty quickly how good he is this season, though.

    if only Isiah was in a position where he had no choice but to play Balkman 35 minutes a game…

  43. So Gomes was included in the deal, too?

    Wow…the Celtic bench is going to be high-larious.

    But as we have seen from Phoenix and Detroit, if the starting five stays healthy, sometimes you can make do without a bench.

  44. The Celtics bench should be okay. They already have Tony Allen, if I were them I would pick up Ruben Patterson for insurance on the wings, either Cato or Mutombo to play some minutes at center and see how much money Brevin Knight wants to play the point. That should keep them competitive this year, and then they can add the icing on the cake for the MLE next year.

  45. Keep in mind that’s a big if when Garnett may be a trooper but Allen and Pierce have an extensive history for injury…

  46. Yeah, I see depth as a big issue for the Celtics not just because they need some players other than their big 3 in order to be successful, but they need to be able to give the big 3 some quality rest without hemorrhaging away points. If they feel compelled to go with a Phoenix style system where all 3 of those guys rack up tons of minutes, it’s going to hurt them considerably in the short term (higher injury risk) and the long term (they’ll wear down faster). Hollinger thinks they only have 2 good years in them, maybe 3. I think they’re a pretty good bet for 3, with the biggest danger being Ray Allen breaking down. Regardless, it’s a short window and without quality depth it will only get shorter.

  47. I’ve been a massive KG fan for years and believe that he has even had a better career than Tim Duncan. The last couple of years my big fear for him is that he gets traded to a team that just needs him to be KG in order to win a title…just as he is starting to lose it. Idiot writers and fans then use this as justification for saying that he was in fact never really a “winner”. Does anyone doubt this is how it is going to work out?

  48. Nash, Stoudemire and Marion didn’t rack up many minutes though. It went 32, 35 and 37 respectively for the three of them. They had a small rotation but usually they blew out enough teams that all three got ample rest.

    Not sure the Celtics will have that luxury but having three top players will enable at least one of them to be on the floor at all times and for at least one to get rest. The presence of at least one of them should prevent hemorrhaging.

    Theoretically, it should be a situation where they all get more rest no matter the depth situation than previous seasons because when your team sucks and relies so heavily on you, you almost have to play 40 minutes a night. The team can’t afford to have you sit out for too long. I think overall elite quality is more influential than average depth in determining whether or not your best players can get enough rest.

  49. I enjoy the Knick blog. Boston just got a LOT better. I have followed the NBA for 45 years. The Celtics greatly under performed last year. I have NEVER seen an NBA team lose 7 of it’s best 8 players to injuries AT THE SAME TIME but that’s what happened for two weeks. Another week their entire starting five was out. They had guys dressed who couldn’t play to keep the league happy. At one point they had a 6-5 center with their 4 big men down. Rumor had them suiting up Clifford Ray to meet the team minimum. 20 of their losses were 3 point games with under a minute to play. Garnett won’t let that happen. Boston will kick ass in the second half of the season.

  50. The KG trade was a no-brainer– as it would have been for just about any team that could have gotten their hands on him.

    The aging trifecta that Ainge has put together is definitely a win now approach, but that’s the same approach NY has taken, only Ainge now has three all-stars to the Knicks none.

    The Celtics of KG, Pierce, and Allen are not the same as the Rockets with Hakeem, Barkley, and Pippen.

    Anyway, I hate the Celtics of course, but I like having them competitive. It’s good for the league and good for the conference. I just hope (wish) the Knicks are competitive with them.

    Oh, and “I have NEVER seen an NBA team lose 7 of it?s best 8 players to injuries AT THE SAME TIME.” Crazy shit like that tends to happen when you are jockeying for draft position.

  51. “The aging trifecta that Ainge has put together is definitely a win now approach, but that?s the same approach NY has taken…”

    That’s a misinterpretation – our salary looks like a win-now situation but all the key players except Marbury are on the upside of their careers. Whether they’re any good is another question!

  52. The thing is… wasn’t this exactly the sort of trade that Isiah had supposedly been stockpiling assets for?

    I thought the rebuilding-on-the-fly strategy was all about getting enough young players and picks together (and hold onto a nasty expiring contract or two) so that you could eventually swing them in a package for a superstar. Could we not have traded Lee, Balkman, Chandler, Nate, Rose and 2 picks for KG? (Not saying we should have, but couldn’t we have?)

    I have very little respect for the moves Ainge has made since taking over in Boston, and as a Knick fan, I hardly lamented the fact that he drove them into the ground. But he just did exactly what Isiah has been promising Knick fans for the last 3 years — he delivered the Big Ticket.

    KG is an incredible player, and he has never played with anyone as good as Pierce OR Allen. Also, these guys may not be spring chickens, but they all have at least 3 years left in the tank. And if Ainge can’t quite get the mix around them right this year, he’s going to have a couple more chances to do so.

    Another question: would everyone still think Doc Rivers was a terrible coach if Bill Simmons hadn’t been hammering him for the past 2 years? Hard to look good when your team is crap.

    Lucky goddamn Boston fans.

  53. the Knicks still have 3 PF’s (Lee, ZAch, Curry) for one spot…Three pg’s (marbury, craw, nate) none of which can play any defense, and an undersized sf(Q rich)…who cares about Celtics they will be fine, its our roster that will be pressed to make the playoffs!!!

  54. Z..It wasn’t “crazy shit” because when Boston had 7 of their top 8 out in the BEGINNING of the season and 4 or 5 had surgery. No player does that for draft position. They had Jefferson, Perkins, Ratliff, Olankandi, Powe and Scalbriny out. Tony Allen (6-4)and Gomes (6-6) at center? That was November. I watched them on satelite and I think one time the league knew they only had 6 who could really play because the refs called the game funny. What happens in Oct and Nov ain’t about draft choices.

  55. I wouldn’t in a million years trade the early-mid 90s Knicks for 1 ring and a bunch of mediocre seasons. I do not, however, see that as a good example of what we’re talking about. If the Knicks win in 93 they’re right back in it in 94, 95, 96, 97. They primarily built with youger guys and kept a pretty consistent core for a while.

    Chicago is an even worse example because they were a dyansty built primarily with a draft pick, MJ, and a draft day trade, Pippen. They dominated the NBA 6 out of 8 years. Even once they were irrlevant it wasn’t because they had aging veterans with enormous contracts.

    If the Celtics do in fact win one championship and then fall into salary cap hell/ irrelevance for several years there are some better examples.

    The 99 Knicks would be one. They won the East with Camby, Spree, and Houston, added another high priced aging shooter thinking they were a real contender, and we all know the rest. That team, I would argue, is the reason the Knicks fell into salary cap hell/ irrelevance, not the early-mid 90s team.

    The Heat might also be another example. They actually won the thing, but if, IF, they get swept in the first round for the next 5 years, was that one win really worth it??? They could have built with Wade, Odom, Butler, etc., made some shrewd moves and still could have won a title down the road, just with several other deep playoff runs along the way.

    I also like the Marlins/Braves example.

    I’ll take KG, Pierce, and Allen over AJ, Gomes, and West any day of the week. I would also trade a raw young core for a real title shot. And if Ainge makes a few good moves the Celtics seem to have that shot.
    What I don’t agree with is that all Ainge did was trade a raw young core. He acquired guys (or contracts) like Raef, Cardinal, and Wally. He used mid-late firsts mostly on raw projects/ceiling guys, then traded away some high lottery picks at points where in a few years I think we’re going to look back and see that there were some important pieces on championship contenders available. I would argue that he overpaid for an aging shooter in Ray Allen.

    The way I see it, Ainge went all in once and lost big. So he borrowed a $152 million dollar chip from his buddy to go all in again. That might be enough to cover up all his past mistakes, as always time’ll tell.

    My point was that had he managed things better from the begining the Celts could have made the playoffs this coming year with a strong young core and maybe even had the chance to add KG to a young core more along the lines of Roy, Rondo, whatever they could have gotten for Pierce or just Pierce himself, something besides Theo Ratliff and I don’t know maybe they got a draft pick or something to show for Antoine Walker… like Jason Terry for example, someone other than Brian Cardinal, someone other than Wally, plus maybe a lottery pick/mid first this past year in what could be one of the best drafts ever.

    That would give the Celts a bright present and future.

  56. I’m a Knick fan and I am one of the few being honest saying I would kill having Garnett her. Boston fooled around with a bunch of kids more talented than what we got here and they just couldn’t win close games. If Pierce didn’t do it alone they lost by under 3. The Knicks are overstating their young talent. Wish fans would be honest and admit Balkman will never be anything but a very average player. Boston had four young guys better than him. It takes trades and vets to win. If healthy last year Boston finishes 10 games ahead of us. Just a fact and we should face it. I wanted the Knicks to get KG but they didn’t make it happen and Danny Boy Ainge did. He brought Ray Allen to Boston just to sweeten the pot for KG. Boston is in the top six teams in the league overnight. They lost 20 games by less than 3 points. Won’t happen that much now. I’ll catch them on satelite because they will be fun to watch.

  57. The issue isn’t whether the Celtics can get to the Finals, it’s whether they knock the Knicks out of a play off spot…which seems possible, if not probable.

    If so, you Curry lovers may finally see the light…you Zeke fans can follow him out of town.

    Knicks definitely had the pieces to get KG. KG is a tremendous talent, wingspan d to guard the paint, inhales d boards like few others, and can knock down 15 footers when a teammate needs the paint to produce…and passes. NY would’ve loved him, a deal with Curry in it would’ve gotten him.

    The Knicks have improved from last year, but so has the rest of the East. I love the Knicks but have so little respect for Zeke as a coach, Starbury as a leader, and Curry as a go-to guy, I’m almost pulling for them to miss the play-offs, so we can clean up the mess once and for all.

  58. yea tehy had all that young talent an lost all those games what exactly are you saying. First off tony allen is not that great an didn’t play alot last season. secondly they traded ricky davis for Wally deal went wrong should have kept davis. third gerald green did absolutely nothing last year how the hell is he more talented than Balkman he shoots even worst than Renaldo. Ryan Gomes hes nice but hes 6’7 250 lbs in the western conference an not very athletic at best he might become something close to Kenny thomas. Umm last time I check David Lee numbers from last year was alot better than anything Kenny Thomas has done in his career. Do we need to talk about Telfair? The only actual talent minnesota got was Al jefferson thats it thats all everything else is they have potential? So lets not start this crap about celtics having better young talent. An PS lets not crown Danny boy executive of the year yet championships arent won on paper

  59. Okay, I’m assuming the Celts core will be competitive for about 2 years, and depending on who they add, another 2 years.

    But how is the Celts cap situation now?

    And Garnett somehow gets stuck with a no draft pick situation again is just strange. At least Boston had the good sense to condition the draft pick they trade away.

    The East is much more exciting this year. I’m okay with the Knicks as is, the roster could be better (if Isiah was going to blow his wad, I wish it was for a player like Garnett rather than Curry), but the Knicks are young and hopefully hungry.

  60. I heard the KG trade was contingent on Garnett signing a 5 year $100M extension after this contract. That would put KG there making max money for the next 6-7 years (depending on whether the extension is after this year or next). KG has been on a decline the last couple of years and will probably only be worth his money for the next couple of seasons.

    I am not sure if I would have been happy if Isiah had traded Lee, Balkman and pieces for Garnett and then stuck us with an aging superstar making max money for 6+ years. Even if that superstar is as talented as Garnett.

  61. I agree with Shanoe. I think we’re overstating our young talent as well. There’s no way Minnesota would take Lee, Balkman, Nate, Chandler, Rose, and two picks for KG. Their total salaries don’t add up to Garnett’s anway. The prized possessions in the deal to Minnesota were Al Jefferson and Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract.

    Jefferson is a 22 year old with great upside that Minnesota can build around. As much as I love David Lee and Balkman, they’re just role players. Ratliff’s expiring contract (near 12 million I believe) would free cap space the following year. One of the picks Minnesota got from Boston was actually their own 2009 pick (the one they sent to Boston in the Wally trade). With how bad they’re going to be the next couple of years, that could end up being a top 5 pick.

    The picks that the Knicks could have sent would be low teens at best. And remember, prior to the draft, the C’s had offered their number 5 pick along with half their team to Minny anyway.

    Knicks just didn’t have the right assets to pull if off. On a brighter note, I will be enjoy watching the C’s when they visit the garden.

  62. After this deal, I thought to myself, well the Celtics will want to do whatever they can to add suitable role players and backups since their roster is so thin after this deal.

    So what team in the NBA has way too many players and a need to get rid of some: the Knicks.

    Took a look at the ESPN trade machine and the Celts roster. They have almost no wiggle room. There are some bad contracts (Kendrick and Scalabrine) and a dearth of centers and effective guards.

    While the Knicks would have no interest in helping the Celts, taking advantage of any situation should be looked into. But without a third team, the Knicks (I live in a Knickcentric universe) won’t be able to unload players with the Celts.

  63. Agree we didn’t have the pieces to make a deal – Lee & Balkman would have been just as good or better than Jefferson, but NYK would have had to include big junk contracts – we don’t have anything expiring this season, except Dickau & Jones. The instant cap space, plus high draft picks – the more I think about it, McHale did well. Even if Boston is happy with the trade, it’s hard to see why Ainge had to give up so much. Minny was desperate and their leverage wasn’t going to get any better.

    And if this is a grading session on Danny Ainge, don’t forget that Paul Pierce was on the roster when he got there – that’s a pretty good head start.

  64. The only bad thing I can say about this trade for Boston is that it leaves them WIDE open to injury a la the Wizards from last year. If Garnett goes down they are completely screwed– they currently don’t even have one serviceable frontcourt player other than him. Barring injury though– I have trouble believing they aren’t the team to beat in the East right now. They would kill Cleveland and their one man show. Maybe have some problems with Detroit and Chicago. But they have a good low post-scorer in Garnett who also passes very well to go along with two excellent shooters and drivers in Allen and Pierce — well matched offensive talent unlike our team. Add Rondo who is an excellent backcourt defender and any stiff to provide fouls and minutes at C and you have a very good team. Only DoC Rivers can mess this up.

    I agree that Minnesota would never have taken Lee/Balkman etc. for Garnett. Real GMs don’t operate based on WP48 or whatever stat because they realize that in a team game these numbers actually mean very little, especially in terms of trades where the players in question will be in a completely different environment.

    Al Jefferson, by the way, is a complete stud– not Garnett level but he’s nearly as good as Zach Randolph in the post and far superior defensively. And he’s only 22.

  65. And one more thing– Pierce and Allen are by far the best players that Garnett has ever played with — and he took Spree and Cassell and almost beat the Kobe/Shaq Lakers. Pierce is twice as good as Spree and Allen is also way better than Cassell. Minny had no other players of note during those years as well and still were major contenders in the West amongst the Lakers, Mavs, Kings, and Spurs. None of the current eastern conference teams could even have sniffed a series win against any of those teams.

  66. I am not an IT fan, but he can’t be blamed for not bringing KG to the Knicks. McHale was never going to do a deal with Thomas. McHale is one of the worst GM’s ever and passed on better deals (Phoenix and Chicago) than this.

    Like most of you, I think that KG is great and he has not been with two more talented players. But, he’s been with a much better eight.

    The East is getting better and while I think that Boston will jump up significantly in wins, I don’t think that it will make much noise in the post season. Look at the Bulls (as another poster said) after the addition of Wallace with a solid complement of starters and extremely deep bench. It’s a very tough league and I think that Boston has a lot of work to do before they are title contenders. I have real doubts that Ainge is going to be able to put the other pieces in place.

    I also think that this is good for the Knicks in that if this doesn’t wake up the kids to go 100% all of the time, nothing will.

  67. Frank – A couple of things are different about this Boston team and the Wolves team with Cassell and Spree. For one Garnett has declined sinifigantly since then, also Cassell is an underrated player playing a much more important position then Allen. I would also say that Cassell then is at least as good if not better than Allen now.

    While Spree then is not as good as pierce now he was a much better defender and was good enough offensively to be the third option.

  68. Frank, not sure why you’re ripping Lee & Balkman via WP48 – whatever the weaknesses of the stat it’s obvious to the naked eye the Knicks were vastly better with them on floor. There’s no reason to think it wouldn’t translate to another team. Are you suggesting they looked good bc of Curry?

    Lee was as good as Jefferson this year, although Big Al is two years younger which does make him an even better catch. But the capper for Minny is that they didn’t just get a big-time young player; they get cap room next summer and multiple draft picks, including a surefire lottery pick (Minny’s own).

    Garnett did perform miracles getting that one good team to the conference finals… but I wouldn’t get carried away, the Western conference wasn’t nearly as strong then – after beating Minny, the Lakers were absolutely destroyed by Detroit. And KG is 4 years older now.

    Still, as long as all three guys stay healthy, Boston will be very good, no doubt.

  69. I have to argue with Shanoe and Daniel about the C’s plans. Ainge didn’t see this trade coming until after the draft. Ray Allen was his “Plan B panic mode fire sale” on draft day, when KG refused to come to Boston. It wasn’t that management shunned Boston’s 5th overall pick and package of players, it was KG’s refusal to go to Boston. Check out Stein’s article on Glen Taylor and McHale on ESPN today.

    I don’t want us to give Danny Ainge too much credit by viewing the Ray Allen trade as his way to “sweeten” the pot for KG…have there been any quotes indicating that thinking for ainge? Did he ever admit, or did any anonymous team sources admit, to this plan? Ray Allen as sweetener?

    Second, Jefferson is way better than any of the young talent the knicks can offer; he’s more complete than Curry, bigger and more offensively skilled than Lee, and Balkman’s offense hasn’t come around. Maybe in 2 years we can change this assessment, but Jefferson is right now more enticing than NY’s youngsters.

  70. Jefferson may be a great prospect, but he has to answer some of the same questions as David Lee does… he’s only been a really good player for 2/3 of a season. Can he keep it up? With his history of weight problems, I’m not ready to give him a plaque in the Hall of Fame yet.

  71. Okay, this Lee-Balkman lovefest is getting kind of silly.
    You can build a team around Al Jefferson. For G— sakes…Jefferson put up 16 ppg, 11 rpg, .7 spg, and 1.5 bpg…, which on the whole makes him a better, more well-rounded player than Edy Curry…

    Lee and Balkman are role players. Even if they improve, they will never be more than role players.
    And Balkman…well, Knicks’ fans perspective is so warped they see his energy as somehow elevating him to be a very good player. There are plenty of energetic guys in the NBA. There is a reason Balkman is rated three deep on the Knicks depth chart at his position. And he is three deep on the Knicks, a team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs. And so what. He did well in summer league. Big deal. Largely he is playing with a bunch of college kids and wanna-bes. He should be dominating.
    I just think there is a need for a reality check. Sure the stats are useful, but you have to take into account the size of the sampling, and you don’t have diddly-squat to sample from either Lee or Balkman.
    If any team ever made a concerted effort to shut down either player, they would disappear. But of course no team would put their efforts into that because neither player is worthy of that kind of attention.
    I mean, last year was the first time teams started to devise ways to stop Curry.
    Jefferson soon will be a guy other teams will need to focus on stopping, and he has the tools to still be very productive.

    I like both Lee and Balkman, and I hope they continue to develop. But neither guy can carry a team. And it’s not even clear Curry or Randolph, both one-dimensional talents, can carry a team.
    If you wanted to land KG, you would have needed to have Curry in the mix with both Lee and Balkman and an expiring contract of some size to have made it worthy of comparison…and even then, I think Jefferson is a better, more well-rounded player than Curry.
    The reality is the Knicks this year will be a marginal playoff team, struggling to land an 8th or 7th seed in a weak, but improving division.

    The Randolph trade has pushed back the Knicks’ ability to become a viable threat to improve because we eat another bad salary.

  72. “…which on the whole makes him a better, more well-rounded player than Edy Curry”

    You could say that about at least half the centers in the league.

    “Lee and Balkman are role players. Even if they improve, they will never be more than role players.”

    If your only definition of a valuable player is a guy who shoots 20 times a game… sure. Is Ben Wallace a role player? Bruce Bowen? Rasheed Wallace? Dikembe Mutombo? All very different, but all became All-Stars (or close) without creating many shots, to say the least. Lee’s offense is better than any of them, and Balkman showed in summer league that while he can’t shoot, he’s a much better ball-handler than he ever had a chance to show last year.

    “He did well in summer league. Big deal. Largely he is playing with a bunch of college kids and wanna-bes. He should be dominating…”

    Balkman fans aren’t basing their opinions on summer league. When he played with the big boys, in limited minutes, he was very good. Most notably, he ranked statistically as one of the best defenders in the league. I’m not a slave to statistics, but the stats gibe with what was obvious to anyone watching the games. If he stays #3 on the depth chart, the coach should be fired.

    “The reality is the Knicks this year will be a marginal playoff team, struggling to land an 8th or 7th seed in a weak, but improving division.”

    No argument there. I haven’t seen anyone here saying we’re ready for a championship run.

    “The Randolph trade has pushed back the Knicks? ability to become a viable threat to improve because we eat another bad salary.”

    Whether or not you like the Randolph move, the team’s promise to become a “viable threat” isn’t based on cap space – that was three years away anyway, and now it’s four years away. It’s not based on Curry or Randolph becoming a superstar – they won’t. It’s based on having a lot of promising young players. (surrounded by overpaid losers, but that almost doesn’t matter). To become a truly good team, we don’t need for all of the prospects to pan out, just some of them. It’s not one of the best rosters in the league, but it’s not one of the worst, either. It’s a better time to be a Knicks fan than it is to root for, say, Miami or the Fakers.

  73. Frank O. – I do not understand what you have against Lee. You act like he scores 6 points a game or something. Last year he averaged 14.4 points per 40 minutes. Jefferson averaged 19.1 that is 4.7 more points. It took Jefferson 6.0 more shots in those 40 minutes to accomplish that. So Jefferson despite being the #1 option for stetches last year managed to average less than 5 more points per 40 than Lee.

    Also Lee averaged less fouls, less turnovers, more assists, more steals, more defensive rebounds and more offensive rebounds per 40 last year than Jefferson. Jefferson did average 1.3 more blocks per 40 than Lee. So you are telling me that averaging 1.3 more blocks and 4.7 more points on 6 more shots while doing everything else worse makes him worlds better than Lee.

    Also while Jefferson is a little more than a year and a half younger he has been in the league a year longer and has alot more NBA experience. (almost double the minutes) So I would put their overall potential development as fairly equal.

    Balkman was just a rookie that played limited minutes last year but in his time on the court he was a dominant defender making the Knicks considerably better defensively by just being on the court. On top of that he shot very efficiently for a rookie with a efg% of over 50%. (Granted he did not shoot alot) Balkman also in his limited time on the court had a better rebound rate than any other SF or SF/PF combo. (better than Marion, Odom, etc.) Balkman also averaged 1.7 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.7 blocks per 40 when he was on the court last year.

    Add Balkman’s appearant high Basketball IQ, and ball handling skills and there is alot to be optimistic about.

    There are alot of players in this league that can average between 18-20 points per 40 minutes, but not alot that have the intangables that both Balkman and Lee seem to possess. I would not trade Lee for Jefferson in a million years, and I would rather have Balkman than anyone else that Boston could have offered, except maybe Rondo who I would say has similar type potential.

  74. Ben, I have nothing against Lee. My gripe is Knicks fans’ – including me from time to time – who are more hopeful than honest.
    Even as you describe Lee v. Jefferson, you throw in huge caveats like,
    “So Jefferson despite being the #1 option for stretches last year managed to average less than 5 more points per 40 than Lee.”
    The key point there is Jefferson was the #1 option, meaning teams were geared to pressure and stop him. Whereas Lee’s points tended toward garbage points, i.e., put backs, lay ups, etc. He rarely had a play run for him. So he does not attract the kind of attention Jefferson does.
    So I would argue that Jefferson scored four plus points per game more than Lee when often the opposing team was focused on stopping him.
    There is a big difference I think between a 20 ppg guy and a 14 ppg guy.
    Again, I like Lee’s game. I think the Knicks have too many guys that need the ball to be effective (Curry, Randolph, Marbury, and Crawford). So he’s a good fit for the Knicks.
    And Caleb, every All Star you named was at one time or another in their careers the best defensive player in the game. I’ll remind you that Lee is not a great defender. His bpg is .4, pretty weak for a PF. Every guy you named blocked more shots on average than Lee last year, except for Bowen who equaled Lee’s total. But everyone knows Bowen to be a shut down defender, although a dirty one.
    Lee’s offense is better than them true, but his D doesn’t even approach their level. Not even close.
    As for extrapolating statistically based on people with relatively few minutes as Balkman and Lee, it is a real stretch, in my humble opinion. I don’t profess to be a stats guru like some of the folks on this board. I admit it’s why I read this page religiously. You all are great at it.
    But I also know it’s dubious to base projections on such small samplings.
    Balkman didn’t play in crunch time. He got a lot of garbage minutes, whether the Knicks were way up or, more likely, way down. He had his moments, but if he were that good, he would have seen more minutes, rookie or not. At PF, he resides behind Randolph and Lee on the depth chart. At SF he would be behind Q, although now ahead of Jefferson, unless Q moves to SG, where he should be, with Crawford behind.
    Under that scenario he could start at SF, but his shooting is a real problem there.
    I was basing my depth chart on his projected position of PF. I think he would work at SF. Having him and Crawford on the court together would give them decent defense on the perimeter.
    I agree on intangibles, both Balkman and Lee are important to the Knicks future.
    I would have been more excited if we had given Frye a chance to adjust. Frye, Lee and Balkman gave the Knicks a solid core of big, young front line guys, and great trade potential when some of these A list players’ contracts expire. And if any our guys developed into A list guys, all the better.

    Lastly, i made the point that they will be hard pressed to be a 7th or 8th seed in the east. I don’t know anyone that thinks that they are “ready for a championship run,” as you put it.
    I do think there are a lot of people on this board that think the Knicks are going to make the playoffs. I hope they’re right, but the top six teams in the east aren’t going to drop out, some got better, and several other teams also improved…
    A lot will need to go right for the Knicks to take an 8th seed.
    And Caleb I make the cap point because it has been a repetitive problem for the Knicks. The best way for them to be relevant again is to get under the cap and shed bad contracts. I’m not sure a one-dimensional guy like Randolph is worth what the Knicks have to pay him.
    And to use the logic I see here, Lee was likely to get as many rebounds, and begin to push closer to Randolph’s point total per 40 minutes to be a viable starter at the PF position for far less money than the Knicks have to pay Randolph.
    Under that scenario, Lee would have started over Frye, knocking down 15 per game and getting 15 rebounds per game, based on projections over 40 minutes…(that’s not factual. I’m just suggesting his 40 minute projection would show improvement)
    But I suspect that as a starter, teams might focus more on him, and Isiah didn’t think his numbers would hold up over 40…

  75. Balkman gets a lot of love on this sight because people who watched him play regularly saw that he has the potential of being the next Scottie Pippen– they are similar in size and position, both rebound well and are their own outlet man to start the break, both play strong defense, and both came out of obscurity to make people notice them in the NBA. If he cut his hair, they’d probably look similar too.

    All that said, Balkman still has a long way to go before he actually becomes the next Pippen, and hasn’t really shown that his offensive game can ever be at that level. His rookie year only offers observers the hope that he continues can project that high.

    That also said, Pippen landed in a good situation and was not a franchise player, except when on the same franchise as MJ.

    Point is, with regard to a KG deal this summer, the timing was not right. Balkman is still too much of an unknown entity to command that much value. Boston’s package of players and salary relief was simply better than what the Knicks could offer. Maybe in three years McHale will look back (from a beach in Tahiti) and say “man, I could have had Lee and Balkman instead of all that crap I got from Boston.” As with most sports deals, time will tell.

  76. Z – Complete agreement here. Excellent post.
    Sorry Owen. Your post made me smile.
    I usually agree with your posts since I’ve been reading this past month. I just don’t see these per 40 projections for Lee or Balkman as particularly valid when comparing role players to guys that are their team’s top one or two players and who garner the full attention of the opposing teams.
    Nearly everyone sees Jefferson’s upside taking him to a franchise player level talent.
    No one sees Lee that way.
    And Balkman, I think, is too raw, too new, to even be in that conversation. What we do know is he can’t shoot a lick right now, and can play hellacious defense, and rebound.
    That nice for a new kid.

  77. “the team?s promise to become a ?viable threat? isn?t based on cap space – that was three years away anyway, and now it?s four years away. It?s not based on Curry or Randolph becoming a superstar – they won?t. It?s based on having a lot of promising young players.”

    I’d say Isiah’s promise to fans the Knicks would become a viable threat is based completely on Curry becoming a superstar. All of Isiah’s drafting of young players has been tangental to bringing in guys like Crawford, Curry, and Randolph. The Curry trade cost the most, and absolutely ties his success to Isiah’s.

    The theoretical “promise” to become a viable threat, though, is absolutely via salary relief coupled with the promising young players.

    McHale, for all the grief he gets, now has promising young players and a lot of cap space to work with in ’09 when very good players will be available. His job of making Minnesota seductive, though, is much more challenging than making New York seductive (especially since the only think attractive about Minnesota was that KG was never leaving).

    “It?s a better time to be a Knicks fan than it is to root for, say, Miami or the Fakers.”

    Miami and the Fakers have both won champoinships in the past 4 years. Unlike Ted Nelson earlier in this thread, I would take what they had along with what they are going through. Besides, both teams have one of the best players in the world on their rosters, and are one good move and some luck away from winning it all again. The Knicks are not as close as either team– both will be under the cap in ’09 and have a legit franchise player.

  78. Z, my last comment only reflects my own reasons for thinking the Knicks have a promising roster. You’re right Isiah’s public posture is different. That’s why he makes most commenters here very nervous.

    This year will be fascinating, because the deep roster gives Isiah the coach a lot of choices, and his PT decisions will reveal whether he truly believes that Curry is the key, or if he’s willing to hand the reins to other, better players.

    I mentioned Miami and LA because they HAVE been successful recently. They have good reputations, but at this point, they’re running on superstar fumes – there’s no reason to think either team will be much better than the Knicks this season (if they’re better at all), and they’re going downhill. If you combined both rosters, Andrew Bynum is the only guy who a)has a good chance of being a starter in the league; and b)still has his best days ahead of him. I’d say the Knicks have several players who probably qualify (Lee, Balkman, Robinson, Morris, Chandler, Randolph, Curry).

    I’m agnostic about the real value of cap space. It’s hit or miss – just because the Bulls are good now, don’t tell me they had the right strategy by sucking wind for five full years after Jordan quit.

    I think the most important thing is collect good young players, no matter what the price. As long as the owner is willing to spend, you still have flexibility via trade.

    And sure, it makes your GM job a lot easier if you have a Wade, a Kobe or a KG on the roster. But no one’s about to trade five first-round picks for Marbury.

  79. “I mentioned Miami and LA because they HAVE been successful recently. They have good reputations, but at this point, they?re running on superstar fumes – there?s no reason to think either team will be much better than the Knicks this season.”

    I agree both team’s best years are likely behind them for a while. Still, they are able to remain competitive enough to dream championship while they ride down hill. I think the Laker’s were very close to getting KG but that McHale valued Jefferson and Ratliff marginally higher than Bynum and Kwame. He probably didn’t want to personally hand another banner to the Laker’s to raise, so did the Celtic deal.

  80. As for Lee and Balkman…

    Lee was the de facto starter last year. He played 30 minutes a game (well, 29.8), more than Frye. And he played as well as any power forward in the league except for Garnett, Nowitzki and Duncan (if you consider TD a PF). Now… it was only half a season, so I’m not ready to say that David Lee IS one of the top five power forwards in the game. But if he does it again this year, I won’t be surprised.

    And Frank, I think you’re shortchanging his defense. He’s at least average in my subjective opinion, and also – as noted already – the Knicks allowed 2.5 fewer points per 48 when he was on the court, than when he was on the bench. Beyond that, most post players seem to improve on D as they get older, savvier and stronger. I don’t think he’ll ever be an Oakley (or a Mutombo!) but then again he’s probably a better offensive player than either of them.

    Balkman is harder to measure, because the sample size (minutes played) is much smaller. But he’s not a total unknown. He was a four-year starter in college, and some of the smarter stats gurus (like Dave Berri) predicted his NBA success. So while he hasn’t really proven himself, there’s no reason to think that his strong play last year was a fluke, either.

    “Nearly everyone sees Jefferson?s upside taking him to a franchise player level talent. No one sees Lee that way.”

    This week they invited Lee to scrimmage with the USA Basketball team – the other invitees were Devin Harris, Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis and yes, Al Jefferson. I think that gives some idea of the players that NBA execs consider to be Lee’s peers. And don’t forget he was named MVP of the rookie-soph game; coupled with his high-school slam-dunk championship he’s clearly one of the greatest All-Star performers in recorded history :)

  81. I think Al Jefferson has a good deal of potential to be a solid all-around player, but come on he’s not exactly Tim Duncan. His 16 ppg came as the #1 option on the NBA’s 28th ranked offense. I think he’ll be good, but calling him a sure thing “franchise player” on the offensive end??? On defense is where I think AJ has the most potential. Him, Brewer and Gerald Green could form a pretty tough D in a few years.

    I really haven’t seen enough of him to have an opinion on whether I’d rather have him or Lee or Balkman. But I will say that I certainly wouldn’t mind having him.

    Z- Not sure anyone is calling Balkman the next Pippen. He just looks like he can be a great defender and a pretty good player overall. I’ve honestly never once heard him compared to Pippen, and I think it would be a joke if he were at this point.

    The Lakers don’t fit the profile of what I’m talking about at all. They 3 peated and then dumped Shaq while he still had a good deal of value. The specific situation I was talking about was the Celtics if they win 1 ring and then fall out of contention for a long period… in which case they will not have a Wade or Bryant. Although they’ll have Eddie House and Jackie Manuel and maybe Ryan Gomes apparently (not exactly the supporting cast I was envisioning for the new Big 3).

    Frank O.-

    “He had his moments, but if he were that good, he would have seen more minutes, rookie or not.”

    coaches are human beings my friend, they do make errors.

    ” Having him and Crawford on the court together would give them decent defense on the perimeter.”

    Did I miss something? When did Crawford become even an average defender?? I wouldn’t be suprised if Clyde coined the term “matador D” with him in mind.

    Not sure that coaches were losing much sleep at night trying to figure out how to stop AJ and the great 2007 Celtics O. If you want to say that Balkman played a lot of garbage minutes, you have to also recognize the fact that AJ’s entire season was garbage minutes. The Celtics might as well have been eliminated form day 1. I saw Balkman enter some games well before garbage time and have a clear impact on the Knicks’ D (not to mention overall play). I needed absolutely no stats to observe this, I just wantched the game and saw that the Knicks played much better team D with Balkman in there. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact they actually played some team D with Balkman in there.

  82. Caleb-

    The Bulls strategy changed completely once John Paxson took over. You have to seperate Jerry Krause’s Baby Bulls from Paxson’s team. He made the playoffs in his second season having inherited little of value outside of Curry and Chandler.
    His strategy had nothing to do with sucking for 5 years, Krause was fired for the failure of that strategy.

  83. I’m not knocking Paxson; unlike Krause he knows how to draft. My point was that Krause’s strategy – lauded at the time – was to clear tons of cap space and convince big-time players to fill the roster. Obviously, it failed.

    I’d say that most championship-level teams build their roster on the fly, either by trade (Miami, Detroit), or picking up their star player in the draft or on a cheap contract and watching him develop (Dallas, San Antonio, Cleveland). Or look at Boston – they didn’t get where they are with cap space.

    Phoenix with Nash (maybe Utah with Boozer) is about the only example I can think of, of a team launching itself into contention by signing a big-money FA. Even then, Phoenix already had Stoudemire, and Utah was able to land Williams with a #3 pick.

    Chicago thought they were going to pull off the FA strategy this past season, but then Tyson Chandler went and had a better year than Big Ben, ouch.

  84. the only way in which Balkman is comparable to Pippen at this point is that they’re both perimeter players who are clearly superior athletes to the vast majority of players in the league, looking like men amongst boys. Balkman definitely has potential (far from a sure thing, obviously) to develop into a completely unique player, a la Pippen/Anthony Mason/Rodman. that’s pretty prestigious company, but he has a pretty unique skill set.

  85. “”Lee was the de facto starter last year. He played 30 minutes a game (well, 29.8), more than Frye. And he played as well as any power forward in the league except for Garnett, Nowitzki and Duncan (if you consider TD a PF). Now? it was only half a season, so I?m not ready to say that David Lee IS one of the top five power forwards in the game. But if he does it again this year, I won?t be surprised.” – Caleb

    Ok wait. I think the Lee supporters are on crack now. Top 5 PF? Are you kidding? Here’s my list of PFs that are better than David Lee and will be for the rest of their careers– in no particular order and irregardless of contracts, which really have no bearing on how good a player someone is:

    1. Duncan
    2. Nowitzki
    3. Garnett
    4. Elton Brand
    5. Stoudemire
    6. Boozer
    7. Bosh
    8. Rasheed Wallace
    9. Al Jefferson
    10. Pau Gasol
    11. Jermaine O’Neal if he = PF
    12. Maybe Okafor — that one’s close.

    I honestly think anyone would have a hard time arguing with these players — and perhaps the top 5-6 players on that list are SO MUCH better than Lee that they shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence.

    So PLEASE people– put your PERs and your WP48 and defensive +/- away in favor of common sense. As Frank O. says, most of these guys put up better numbers against double and triple teams every night and all play better defense than Lee. I would love to see Lee’s numbers if he were the focal point of the offense or even if the other team kept one guy at home on Lee. Let’s see….I would guess 9 ppg, 11 rpg, 4 turnovers/game. And 8 of those points would come on offensive rebounds from other people’s shots. He’s a GREAT complementary player who really knows how to put himself in good spots to succeed, and he is an exceptional rebounder, but to put him in the same breath as the guys on that list above is just crazy talk. Can you imagine Stoudemire’s stats if people paid as little attention to him as they do to Lee?

    Maybe what people need to do is make stats based on the defensive attention that players garner. How people do against single coverage, double coverage, and no coverage (ie. someone doubles off of Lee, leaving Lee open for a great pass from someone else, after which he does what many 6’9″ players do when they are 1 foot away from the basket with no one looking at them– dunk the ball with high percentage of success – the revered eFG%). If Lee still comes out well with this kind of analysis, then I will jump on the bandwagon. But until he does, I just can’t believe that his success isn’t determined in large part by the fact that the other teams don’t spend much time worrying about anything but his rebounding.

  86. I completely agree with Frank. I think we have to get over our man-crush on David Lee. He fails in comparison to anyone on Frank’s list. If it wasn’t for Okafor’s injuries, I don’t even think David Lee is close to Emeka. I don’t remember which game it was specifically, but there was one game where Okafor had (10?) blocks against the Knicks. Not many can impact a game defensively quite like Okafor.

  87. Frank —

    Here’s what I don’t get. You write “But until he does, I just can?t believe that his success isn?t determined in large part by the fact that the other teams don?t spend much time worrying about anything but his rebounding.”

    By that reasoning, shouldn’t Lee’s sick rebounding numbers get the extra credit Jefferson’s scoring numbers get in your book? If teams are worrying about his rebounding (and they are) by making sure they devote a player to boxing him out (and they did) his rebounding totals are even more impressive than they look on their own (which is pretty damn impressive).

    The first 7 on your list are clearly, no question, better players than Lee. O’Neal too, I think. But the other players have qualities — Jefferson and Gasol’s scoring, Okafor’s defense — that roughly equal what Lee does. Jefferson may become an excellent, lead your team type player, but last season he was just a good player who also happened to get the ball a lot.

  88. Garnett put up 22.4/12.8/41 last year. Do those numbers indicate a player who is a shell of himself, buried under the landslide of his decline?

  89. Lee reminds me of Jeff Foster a bit. I’m not trying to insult him, I know he is far more athletic and exciting to behold; I just think they have the same single-minded focus and intensity on rebounding and almost never initiate their own offense. Neither are also shotblockers. Of course Lee is better. He actually has secondary offensive skills while Foster has none. But they’re both in the same category of players with Lee occupying a higher ranking.

    Another comparison and probably a better one in terms of trade value and value to their clubs might be Andris Biedrins.

  90. From Frank’s PF roster, it was an oversight to leave Boozer off my list of PFs who played better than Lee last year. I was thinking of Stoudemire as a center, since that’s where Phoenix uses him, but sure – he was better, too. You could argue for O’Neal or Okafor, who are much better defensive players than offensive players, so their games are harder to measure… so I guess I should have ranked DL somewhere from #5-8.

    But a lot of these names are here based on reputation. In the 50+ games he played last year, I have no trouble saying Lee was better than Gasol, Wallace, Chris Bosh or even Brand, who had a down year. Jefferson, maybe.

    Lee has been an All-Star level player for all of 50 games, so he hasn’t yet established himself there. But he’s also just 24, clearly on the upswing and it’s not ridiculous at all to project him as a top-5, or at least top-10, PF.

    As for defense… Lee isn’t nearly the worst on this list. Gasol and Nowitzki couldn’t spell D. Not sure about Boozer. And Stoudemire can be good, but he’s also a foul machine – I think he led the league when he was playing longer minutes.

    And sure, if Lee got double-teamed all the time, he probably wouldn’t actually LEAD the LEAGUE in FG%, like he came within .01 of doing this year… but it’s not like he’d score 8 points a game. He’s not Ben Wallace on offense. And that’s besides the point, anyway. He is a top-notch player, whose best skill is rebounding, not scoring. If it were easy to rebound like that, everyone would do it.

    And yes, he does remind me a little of Jeff Foster (or vice-versa). As Nick points out, Lee is a significantly better version, with athleticism, passing ability and more offensive game, but if Lee’s ankle never heals, he’ll probably be Jeff Foster, who’s still pretty good.

  91. Yeah, that is the scary thought – that Lee’s ankle injury will keep him from being an All-Star level player, like he was last year.

    As for the PF list, wow, it is amazing how many good power forwards there were this past season.

    Anyhow, yeah, Frank, Lee is probably worse than most of those players, except Wallace (Wallace isn’t the focus of the team EITHER and he still put up considerably worse numbers than Lee) and Okafor (Jefferson, we shall see – at the moment, yeah, he’s probably better than Lee).

    So I’d have your list:

    1. Dirk Nowitzki (because Duncan is no way a power forward)
    2. Kevin Garnett
    3. Elton Brand
    5. Carlos Boozer (Again, Amare is a center – especially with Grant Hill on the team playing the 3 and Marion the 4)
    6. Chris Bosh
    7. Al Jefferson
    8. Pau Gasol
    9. Jermaine O’Neal – I think he’s probably a center, too – but you can make a real argument that he’s a PF, so I’ll put him here
    10. Zach Randolph
    11. David Lee

    Basically the same as your list, Frank, and my only question is – how the heck is 11th on that list a NEGATIVE for David Lee?

    Those are 10 excellent ballplayers ahead of him on that list.

    Please note that the respective great NBA centers list is pretty darn sparse (Duncan, Yao, Amare, Howard and…uhmmmm….Camby and Okur, I guess…Shaq?), so the power forward spot is a very stacked position in the NBA, so if David Lee is the 11th or 12th or 13th best power forward in his third year in the league, that’s really not a knock on Lee, but rather, a compliment.

    Beyond that – PLEASE, Frank, drop the Murray Chass routine. Just make your arguments. Leave the condescension for…well, just leave it, period.

  92. LOL — point well taken Brian. Don’t know why I’m being so inflammatory here– I think it is just this man-crush, as Daniel so fittingly put it — is just running out of control.

    So here is my reply to you– There is nothing wrong with being the 11th or 12th or 13th best PF in the league (although that really is just above average when you think about it in a 32 team league). Also — if you’re going to take out Stoudemire you may as well just put Marion in his place, who is one of my favorite players in the league.

    Anyway, back to Lee — It’s just that when we’re putting David Lee, who by all accounts is a great guy, great teammate, fantastic rebounder, low salaried, knows how to put himself in position to succeed, and I’m very glad that Isiah drafted him as a steal at the end of the 1st round — when we start talking about putting him in the same class as guys like Brand and Bosh, it’s just flat-out (in my mind at least) crazy. These guys are such well-rounded players. Brand is a great rebounder, excellent shot-blocker, can score in the post, hit the 18 footer. Bosh is ridiculously good as well (can you believe someone as smart as Joe Dumars took Darko over this guy, not to mention Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony? That’s gotta be one of the worst draft picks ever, close to Frederic Weis in terms of not just taking the obvious guy.)

    And Caleb — there is not a chance that Lee is better than even Rasheed Wallace — if Rasheed felt like scoring 20 ppg I have no doubt he could do it. Rasheed is a dominant low-post scorer when the Pistons want him to be, can shoot the 3 very well, and is one of the top low-post defenders in the league. So he’s a nutball. Even so, we would be SO MUCH better off (other than age) with him in our frontcourt rather than Curry or Randolph.

    And KnickFan — Lee IS a great rebounder, probably one of the top 3-4 in the league — but is he really so much better of a rebounder than any of the guys on that list? Enough so to balance out the fact that he’s not very good at shooting a 15 foot jumper, creating a shot off the dribble, posting up, passing, or playing great on-ball defense? He doesn’t need the ball to succeed– that I will give him in spades — and that is a skill that so many players in the NBA lack — but I don’t think it makes up for the weaknesses in his game to the point that we can put him in the same breath as the guys on that list.

    And to all — I really don’t mean to come off as condescending — this is a great board and I love the discussion on it. Can’t imagine how much fun it will be when there are actually games being played!!

  93. “Not sure anyone is calling Balkman the next Pippen…”

    …Are you kidding!?! I’ve been saying it for years…

  94. “These guys are such well-rounded players. Brand is a great rebounder, excellent shot-blocker, can score in the post, hit the 18 footer. Bosh is ridiculously good as well”

    I am going to dissent here. I will give you KG, TD, and Nowitzi. And perhaps also Boozer, who emerged as an elite power forward this year. But Lee’s stats compare very favorably to all of the other players on that list.

    Lee is a better rebounder than every player on that list. And he is the most efficient scorer. What’s left is scoring volume, which is not the most important quality of the three.

    You cant compare JO and Wallace to Lee off last years numbers. It just isn’t close. At the very least you have to put enormous stock in their defensive abilities. JO had a ts% 15%! below Lee’s, didnt rebound as well, committed more turnovers. Wallace was 13% ts% below, and MUCH worse as a rebounder, to the tune of six rebounds per 48. Wallace is enormously overrated as a player. He is good, no doubt, but not elite.

    Elton Brand is a great player. He had an off year last year I think. But it bears mentioning that his Lee’s rebound rate was 50% higher than Brands. Yes, Brand can score, at a pretty high efficiency, but you are giving away a lot on the boards.

    Al Jefferson is another great young player, all the players on the list are great, but there is no reason to prefer him over Lee. His TS% is 10% below Lee’s. He doesn’t rebound at a higher rate. He blocks more shots, and thats about it. You have to place an enormous premium on the ability to be a primary offensive option to say his numbers were better than Lee’s.

    With Bosh, more of the same. Bosh is a scorer, which is why you like him. But he doesn’t rebound as well as Lee, and rebounding is the most important function of a power forward.

    Zach Randolph had a good season last year, but his TS% is one year removed from a 48.3% mark. Good players in the NBA are usually found above the 55% mark. Again, no reason to think he is better than Lee.

    Gasol is a good player. I would consider him a center.

    In the final analysis, what you are really saying, is that Lee can’t be classed with those players be because he doesn’t score as much as they do. And given that he is a better rebounder than all of them, and a more efficient scorer, that seems like a simple surrender to scoring bias.

    Lee could raise his scoring totals easily enough. Shooting 37.5%, with no fts, on eight extra attempts per 48, his shooting numbers would come out better than Jefferson’s. It would make him a less valuable player, but you would then have to concede he was actually better than Jefferson.

    I sense you disagree also because you figure all the players on the list could do what do Lee does as well as he does, if they were asked to. Maybe so. But maybe not. Most of the players on the list need to have the ball a lot to be productive. I actually count it as an advantage for Lee that he can be so amazingly productive without needing the ball. That’s a very special skill in the NBA that few players have.

    I have said I am not ready for a coronation quite yet, but I think man crushes are totally appropriate in this case. Lee’s numbers are really really good. And its not just the rebounding and scoring efficiency. His on court/off court is also better than every player on that list other than TD, KG, and Dirk, who are totally in their own league in that respect.

    So there it is, yet another defense of David Lee. I can’t wait for the season to start, hopefully I wont have to write these posts anymore, and can go back to trying to find a starting center Eddy Curry is better than.

  95. “Z- Not sure anyone is calling Balkman the next Pippen. He just looks like he can be a great defender and a pretty good player overall. I?ve honestly never once heard him compared to Pippen, and I think it would be a joke if he were at this point.”

    I’m not saying Balkman is the next Pippen. I do think they have a similar athletic build, a similar style in terms of what they bring to the floor, and a similarly obscure basketball background. Did anyone think Pippen would be Pippen after his rookie year?

    Besides, if one can say: “David Lee gets an A. And of course he can improve?he?s not Dave DeBuscherre [sic] yet but he could be” (retropkid, 8/1/07) then I think it’s just as fair a statement to say the same thing, only replace Lee and DeBusschere with Balkman and Pippen (or Nate and Iverson, Mardy Collins and Eric Snow, or Eddie Curry and Eddie Lee Wilkins).

    It’s all completely speculative, but that’s what is great about having young kids on the team– we can hope “best case” projections for them until they don’t pan out, crush our dreams, and/or get traded for over paid vets…

  96. This whole David Lee discussion feels so funny to me because I actually think the guy is great.

    I just worry that until he learns some other offensive skills such as a reliable 15-18 footer, he has already reached his offensive ceiling — which is fine for now. His job is to clean the backboards and score when secondary opportunities present themselves.

    Otherwise, where are his other offensive opportunities going to come from? Is he suddenly going to get 3-4 more offensive rebounds per game? Unlikely. Driving to the bucket? Probably not. Posting up? Probably not. Being available when Steph/Crawford are doubled and dish to him? Not sure if he’ll get more per minute than he got last year. An extra 8 shots per 48 would be more than double the amount of shots he took last year. I just don’t see that happening. He only took 10+ shots in a game 10 out of 58 games played last year. And if he took those 8 shots with the defensive heat that Jefferson gets, I highly doubt he would make 3 of them. I think even if he took 20 shots/game it would be extremely unlikely that he would average 20 ppg unless half those shots came off someone else’s action.

    Again, there are only so many opportunities that present themselves in a game for someone like Lee who cleans up the garbage and picks up easy baskets when someone dishes to him. So when you say he is an efficient scorer it’s true– he does a lot with the chances given to him. That’s valuable. But to extrapolate his 7 FGA/game and say he could do the same with 2x the number of shots is a big stretch because most of those extra shots will not be gimmes right at the rim. And you can bet that if he somehow does manage to score this efficiently with 14 shots per game, the defense will clamp down in a hurry and that efficiency will disappear in a heartbeat.

    So– Until he learns that jumper I really have a hard time imagining him scoring more than 12-14 ppg. With the jumper I might upgrade to 16-17 ppg but I still think that’s a stretch. I guess we will see.

    And re: Jermaine O’Neal and Rasheed — these guys are really great defensive players which just like your rebounding cannot be taken lightly. JO changes the game with his shot blocking and also averages >10 rpg per 48 which by all accounts is pretty good. Re: Rasheed– I happen to have a soft spot for him because I feel like his versatility is so valuable. And I don’t think you can judge his rebound numbers because of what they ask of him on offense which in many cases is to camp on the perimeter and shoot the 3 better than anyone 6’11+ not named Nowitzki should shoot it.

    And just a side note– Zach Randolph is not on my list — I think someone else added him on. He’s a maybe better than Lee overall in my book.

  97. Rasheed Wallace career 3-point percentage is 33.9; he’d be a better player if he never took them. It reminds me of when Webber was aactually a great post player but still chucked up 3 or 4 3s a game. Ugh.

    Aside from that, I like Rasheed, and he is a very good defender, but on the downswing if you ask me.

    As for Balkman, Pippen is a massive stretch – Pip was basically a 6’7 point guard with a handle. But if you’re looking for an optimistic but not totally unrealistic high-end comparison… how about Gerald Wallace? There’s a guy with no jumper whatsoever who is still a borderline All-Star, great defender, even an 18-point scorer.

  98. Frank:
    I missed a lot of this chatter last night, but I couldn’t have expressed what you did about Lee better.
    I think he’s great for the Knicks. The fact that he fills an important role for them is enough. But he is a good player on what was a very bad team.
    Remember the holes in his game, which will be holes in the team when he starts:
    – he has no mid- or long-range jumper
    – his D is marginal, the 2.8 point differential when he’s on the floor notwithstanding
    – matched up with some of the power forwards on Frank’s list head to head, he’d probably get eaten alive by 60 percent of them on any given night, forcing the team to constantly adjust as he is beaten off the dribble or down low
    – he’s not a great ball handler; and
    – he is unable to create shots for himself.
    But as a third or fourth option, who has no plays run for him and is not a focal point of a team, he’s valuable.
    And Owen, he is an efficient scorer because of the types of opportunities he gets and because teams don’t deny him on offense. He’s usually operating without the ball.

    But, again, as Frank said, this whole thing feels strange because I love the guy. I just think the expectations on this board by some folks are just unreasonable, and characterizations inaccurate.
    An energetic Lee does three key things well: he can rebound, finish around the basket, and make his free throws.

    An energetic Balkman is even more raw as a talent. But he is good at two things: he can rebound and play D.

    I’m glad to have them. I’m hopeful they will improve. They might help us get the eighth seed.
    But I suspect our future rides more on:
    – whether Curry and Randolph can play well together and play D
    – whether Marbury can become a pass first point guard running and offense
    – whether Q can stay healthy
    – whether Crawford’s shot selection can improve.

    If all those things happen and Lee and Balkman live up to a fraction of the expectations I see for them on this board, the Knicks might just win the 7th or 8th seeds.

    Reading this note, I realize I’m a wet blanket, but the Knicks have a lot of questions (some would say problems).
    And it is unclear Isiah is the guy to coach these players…

  99. Franks – Look. Am I on record saying that David Lee will make us a championship contender? No. Did I say he was a once in an epoch player? No. I have said pretty consistently that I think we are probably a 42-45 win team next year if the cards fall right and Isaiah does the right thing. I think its pretty clear that even with basically the bsst player in the league, Garnett, you can have a bad team. One player is not enough.

    But there is no reason to diminish what Lee did last year. He is CLEARLY the best player on the Knicks. On a team of very unproductive scorers, (Crawford, Curry, Marbury) he stood out by being a hyper-productive non-scorer. You guys somehow turn the fact that he isn’t a selfish, one-on-one, iso-oriented chucker into a fault, but actually it’s an enormous strength.

    “he can rebound, finish around the basket, and make his free throws.”

    This totally misses the point. Lee was the BEST player on your list in the first two categories, and third on the last one. He is an exceptional rebounder and high percentage finisher. Rebounding and scoring are the two most important skills in the NBA, and you just can’t dismiss out of hand the fact that the he is best in the league in one of those categories, and best in the league on one of the two major components of the other.

    The question here is not whether Lee is KG or Dirk or TD, because he is not. The question is, how much did he contribute to the Knicks last year. It’s clear to me, and I think most people on this board, that Lee was the MVP of the Knicks last year. How he gets his points, what he looks like as a player, whether he can hit a jumpshot, how much upside he has, or whether he has a ceiling, those things don’t really matter at all. Points are points, rebounds are rebounds. The Knicks were 9 points better with him on the court. That’s a better differential than anyone on the list not named TD, KG, or Dirk. And when Lee played more than half the game, the Knicks were 21-22. When he didn’t, they were 12-27. That is the bottom line. Lee is a winner.

    It’s possible that Lee peaked last year in his second year in the league. He probably won’t lead NBA frontcourt players in two major categories every year of his career. But he doesn’t really have to improve that much from where he is. Add a few more points to his scoring average, and voila, his numbers look elite.

    If Lee and Balkman play more next year, the Knicks will win more. It’s as simple as that. I am not saying they will be a great team. Curry, Crawford, and Marbury are not good players, and there isn’t much that can be done about that. But Lee and Bslkman, if properly utilized, might be enough to get us into the playoffs.

  100. I agree with most everything Owen just wrote, but I’m again feeling a bit melancholy because I think the realization just set in that the MVP of the Knicks, and the other guy generating a lot of excitement, Balkman, are both role players.
    That does not bode well for the Knicks.
    The rest of our roster, as Owen points out, is not very good.
    Marbury – who many thought had a great year, isn’t a difference maker
    Curry – his weaknesses are many-fold and not worth restating.
    Randolph – is a complete unknown in the Knicks’ scheme, but it is known that he can be trouble off the court and doesn’t play defense.
    Crawford – who Isiah loves, but who I believe kills the Knicks with his shot selection and defense (I made a typo earlier. I would love to see Balkman and Q on the floor because it would improve the perimeter D)
    Q – has a weak back.
    And then a crew of sad characters following.

    Man, I’ve got to stop writing.
    I’m going to go back and read some of the more optimistic posts to at least try to feel better about the coming season…

  101. OK Owen– point made. Again, and I think I probably speak for both Franks here — we love David Lee. We think he’s great. And while he might be the best statistical and most efficient player on the Knicks, it has been said on this board “I wouldn’t include him in a trade him for Kobe Bryant” or “he is one of the top5 PFs in the league” — these statements are just patently ridiculous. So those statements aside, I think we understand each other and are in many cases making the same point.

    And for the record, I have said all along this would be my starting 5 for the Knicks if it were up to me (it’s not):

    C: Curry
    PF: Lee
    SF: Balkman
    SG: Q
    PG: Marbury

    To have arguably our 2 best outside shooters on the court with our low-post force and then 2 guys who run the break, play defense, grab rebounds, and score in all the little ways– that is a good lineup in my book. Lee’s and Curry’s defensive weaknesses would be mitigated to some extent by Marbury, Q, and Balkman, who are probably the 3 best perimeter defenders we have. And we would have our 3 best rebounders on the court for their positions at the same time– Q, Balkman, and Lee. Randolph, Nate, and Crawford could provide scoring punch when needed off the bench ~30-33 min/game, and Jefferies or Collins could bring some defensive energy if necessary.

  102. I agree that is the best lineup, almost, although I think Randolph can slot in there and play for Curry and be effective. But good we hashed this out.

    I made a list of my top five power forwards on the top thread, and Lee isn’t on it. But I think he is certainly a top ten talent at the position. As I noted there, and as Lisa noted, a disproportionate number of the best players in the league play PF or C, so its a bit misleading to count the fact he isn’t a top 5 PF quite yet against him. He will get there I think.

    Vis a vis Kobe/Lee, that was a hypothetical where we were asked to ignore age and salary. If you take salary into account I don’t think there is any more valuable player than David Lee in the league right now. He is a top twenty frontcourt talent making a million dollars a year. Certainly, If you were building a team from scratch for next year, with the intention of winning the most games for the least amount of money, Lee would be a clear number one pick.

    That I think would be an interesting premise for a post actually, while we are dogging out the summer. KB, how about it? Why don’t you give us your Value for Money list, the best team in the NBA for the least amount of money.

  103. “You guys somehow turn the fact that he isn?t a selfish, one-on-one, iso-oriented chucker into a fault, but actually it?s an enormous strength.”
    Well said Owen. The whole post was great and my thoughts pretty much echo yours.

    As Frank says, I think both sides are more or less on the same page. The more extreme statements on both sides are causing the miscommunication. That said, I wouldn’t trade Lee for Kobe (who, by the way, seems to me to be one of the worst teammates in the league and not a guy I’d particularly want on my team right now) makes more sense to me than saying that everyone is smoking crack…if David Lee took 15-20 shots a night he’d score 9 points. 8 of them on put backs meaning he’d go 4 for 20 with 1 FT. That seems pretty ridiculous to me.

    Most NBA teams don’t give guys free passes on the boards and to the basket just because their game plan wasn’t focused specifically on stopping them: NBA teams were, in fact, not giving David Lee easy looks on purpose. As someone else said, if shooting 60% and grabbing so many boards was easy, a lot more guys would be doing it.

    Yes it’s easier to convert a put back or on a cut where you’re wide open then by dribbling around and throwing up a wild jumper. Or shooting a mid-range shot with a man in your face. But fortunately basketball is a team game. Having the skill to create one on one is valuable…but if you play good team basketball you should be getting a lot of your looks by moving the ball and moving yourselves to get quality open looks.

    That’s one big reason the Spurs are such a good basketball team and so much fun, in my opinion, to watch. TD doesn’t just get the ball in the post and make two defenders look silly by dribbling around them and dunking. He plays team basketball, usually with four other guys on the court who are excellent passers, shooters, and defenders. He makes double teams look silly enough of the time to command them, but when they come he burns the D with his passing.

    There are tons of NBA players who could score 20 ppg or close given the minutes and attempts. On the 2007 Knicks I would list Marbury, Crawford, Q, Nate, Francis, Curry, Frye, Lee…probably missing someone. That was a lottery team. Duncan, Parker, and Manu could probably all put up 30 ppg on seperate teams if that was their goal. Horry could have put up 20 ppg in his prime and both Finley and Barry did. Instead they play as a team…does that mean that they are worse than someone who puts up 25 ppg on one of the league’s worst teams??? It’s popular to look at someone and say that in isolation they would do this or that… the problem is that basketball players are never in isolation, so their ability as teammates is very important.

    I also don’t think Lee is incapable of hitting a mid-range or perimeter jumper at around an average rate for a PF. He just doesn’t push the issue. His outside shot isn’t consistent, but he’s not exactly Reggie Evans or something.

    In listing guys like Marion, Stoudamire, Boozer, Bosh as better than our boy Lee (not saying they’re not), you might want to consider that their PGs are all among the top in the league in terms of assisting %: % of FGM while they were on the floor they assisted. http://www.82games.com/random28.htm
    I don’t have it in front of me, but I believe Stoudamire and Marion are usually among the top players in the league in terms of % of their FGs which are assisted.
    Having some very good players around them certainly helps PGs like Nash, T.J. Ford, Deron Williams, Jose Calderon… but my point is that it’s not like the Suns just give Amare the ball at the 3 pt line stand around and let him do his thing. Lee lacks Marion’s perimeter shot and Amare’s low post moves, but put him on the Suns with Nash and co and given the looks (meaning probably not if he’s in the same front court as both Marion and Amare) I think he could put up 20 ppg easily.

  104. Owen, trying to give me homework? I’ll do what my Math professors in college would do when they were stumped by something. “I’ll leave that as an exercise for the students.”

    Great fucking discussion guys. Soon people are going to stop coming here for the writing and just go to the comment section. That is if they aren’t already doing it.

  105. I am sure -like myself – a lot of guys are puzzled with HOW exactly Danny Ainge pulled this off. In fact when the news first came out I refused to believe it -until I actually saw KG at the press conference. In my mind – the answer is K. McHale and Glenn Taylor. Even KG mentioned he changed his mind after talking to Taylor. When the OWNER of the team comes to you and says your holding back the franchise (which you put on YOUR back for 12 years) – it’s time to go – even if it is hell (Boston).

    Basically – your talking about trading 3 number one draft picks (including Jefferson), two guys who can be cut soon and Theo Ratliff (11 million dollar expiring contract), and cash considerations. In addition, the picks make no sense to me – since with this trade (Boston) will never ever pick in the top 10 for the next 3 years – so why !?!??!

    I am sure that the knicks,lakers, bulls and Phoenix (who gave away 3 picks) -all had deals on the table – but the celtic connection is what what got it done – not necessarily the best deal. I am pretty sure that McHale is done and knows it and did this deal so he can have a job with the celtics at some point.

    I am more than disappointed as are a lot of players, teams and fans all across the country. I doubt the addition of Ray Allen did ‘anything’ to convince KG – rather as i stated earlier it was Taylor – who basically said – your going to HAVE to go- since Kobe is the only player in the league whose contract actually says he has approval of trades – where has KG has a trade kicker.

    Also – I have heard no news on the contract extension – and looking at hoopshype – doesn’t really clarify the situation – anyone having more details on the financial aspect- I see him being paid 23-25 mill for 3 years(?) and then it goes down to 16-18M- not sure if thats the extension? But I think KG would have gotten more on the open market next year.

    Anyway – it sucks that a complete buffoon like Ainge gets bailed out. But hey – we see that in corporate america -all the time.

    As for comparing the knicks to the celtics and blamimg management – whether it is IT or for other teams Mullin/ Paxson/ Kerr etc etc – I don’t think anyone saw this deal coming and there is more to this (behind the scenes). So I think comparing or berating IT for not doing a move (this move) is not fair.

    As for the knicks – I wish people would get off the salary cap situation. I mean – many of us acknowledge it was horrendous before IT came on board. While I am not saying he has done a masterful job – year over year – he has done a better job than Mullin, Aige, Bird, McHale to name a few. This reminds me of the Harrington/Jackson for Dunleavy/Murphy deal. A deal that appears to make no real basketball sense. Mullin should have been fired after dumping ridiculous money on Adonal Foyle, Duneavy and Murphy!!

    I still think that the Knicks will make the playoffs – hey thats why I am a fan :). People are going to nitpick about Jefferson vs Curry, oston’s draft picks versus Knicks, and the quality of their ‘young talent compared to the knicks. But I don’t think – any of the talent (other than Jefferson) had any sway in the deal. Ultimately they did not want to lose KG for nothing next year when he could opt out.

  106. Frank: Your lineup,
    C: Curry
    PF: Lee
    SF: Balkman
    SG: Q
    PG: Marbury
    I think, would cause match up problems for most teams in the east. It would be active, strong on the boards, have inside and outside elements, and offer very solid perimeter defense. Also, everyone has very clearly defined roles.
    I’m not sold that Marbury is a good defender. He’s got a bit of the matador in him, and as he gets older, he tires and his defense suffers for it. But Q and Balkman and Lee together out there…I hope to see that combination.
    But the Knicks, sadly, didn’t spend all that money on Randolph so that he could play understudy to Curry, or Lee.
    Frank’s lineup was one reason why I hated to see Frye go. He was cheap, had skills, and could spend some time maturing behind Lee, and the Knicks would benefit from his nifty mid-range shot when needed.
    And how much better is Randolph than a Lee/Frye platoon at PF?
    Ah, spilled milk
    I’m not sure you can talk about the Knicks credibly without mentioning the cap. It’s everything.
    Isiah needs to put away the check book. As long as he is over the cap, he is ripe to have his pocket picked. They are always dealing from weakness.
    And Isiah is better finding young cheap talent than he is trying to find a talented but flawed player that he is arrogant enough to believe he can save these guys…

  107. “a complete buffoon like Ainge gets bailed out.”

    It is interesting to me that Ainge is not getting credit for landing a player that every Knick fan seems to have wanted as well. Even if McHale handed him KG because they have a connection going back to playing days, isn’t that a valuable tool for a GM to have? Isiah doesn’t seem to have that kind of rapport with anyone in the league. His buddies from his playing days are all highly disreputable people, with the exception of Dumars who hasn’t shown any interest in kicking back excess talent in Isiah’s direction.

    In fact, his crony from his playing days is his own assistant, which is nice and all, but he’d be better served getting Aguirre a GM job on some dismantling organization and then going to lunch on it.

    As for “the picks make no sense to me – since with this trade (Boston) will never ever pick in the top 10 for the next 3 years – so why !?!??!”

    This seems kind of similar to the what people in the Knick’s organization probably said when not protecting their pick in the Eddy Curry deal.

  108. One of the picks that Minny got from Boston was their own, that they had traded to Boston in the Szerbiak deal. That’s probably a top-3 pick…. add Jefferson and the other first-rounder… plus Gerald Green and Gomes who both look like they’ll have decent NBA careers… on the whole I’d say it’s a good haul – not any worse than getting Deng, Gordon and Tyrus Thomas. Ainge paid a lot more than he had to, if you ask me.

  109. “Balkman similiar to Pippen”. LOL, that’s classic. Not even on Pippen’s worst day. Even as a rookie Pippen could score. He was a tremendous ballhandler and passer. Balkman is just an athletic freak. The sf position has been an eyesore for the Knicks for years. Isiah just do the deal for Artest already. Give up just about anyone on the roster except Marbury, Curry, Randolph and Lee. This can be a one year experiment if it doesnt work Artest can opt out after the season and we would still have Chandler and Nichols.

  110. Z:
    I am not sure what you could point to -to say that Ainge has done a good job. Granted Chris Wallace did have too much input with his way out there picks of :
    Joseph Forte, Kendrick Perkins, Jerome Moiso- with the only exception being Joe Johnson. As for Ainge other than Al Jefferson (I thik that was Chris Wallace as well though).

    Check out:

    For a few of his spectacular moves. I am not sure what everyone is talkig about in terms of stockpiling talent? Delonte West, Tony Allen? Has Gerald Green even become a 6th man of the year contender? Let’s not forget trading Brandon Roy for essentially Sebastian (I got my own movie) Telfair, trading away Joe Johnson, getting another overpaid dude in Wally, etc etc.

    I think when you contrast that with say (IMO) the worst knicks move :
    James, Jeffries – it is no contest.

    No doubt Ainge pulled off the deal. But it is an amazing coincidence how many times spectacular deals are pulled off when they are about to get FIRED.

    Anyway – I am SURE I am not the only person dumbfounded by the trade – since we all know KG went public in refusing pretty much the same trade. He may put on a smiling face – but—

    I can’t wait till October –

  111. Joined: 26 Mar 2005
    Location: Brooklyn

    Maybe I’ve gotten bored w/Kennedy Assassination conspiracies but…

    Does anyone else think David Stern made a few calls to McHale, Ainge, Zeke and Petrie saying something to the effect of: “You’re gonna make trade Garnett and/or Artest anyway. We need something BIG to get people to stop talking about the fact that games may or may not have been fixed. Just do these deals. Pronto. Tout suite. NOW!”

    Or am I just getting paranoid?

    I imagine the convo went something like this…

    Setting – A wood-paneled office in the commissioner’s office. A bespectacled man places a conference call

    Hey guys.

    Hello Mister Stern

    Hello Mister Stern

    Hello Mister Stern

    Hey Davey!

    So, I don’t know if you lads read the paper, but we’ve gotten in a wee bit of trouble…bookies, gambling, Tony Soprano may be involved. I really don’t know. Those bastards at the FBI won’t tell me shit! The fuckers!

    Yes sir.

    I agree with Kevin. Fuckers indeed, sir.

    FBI my fanny

    Really? When did that happen? I don’t watch the Sopranos anymore. I’m into Entourage. Have you seen the ladies on that show? Sometimes they take their clothes off and everything!

    Well fellows, we need something to…let’s say…take everyone’s mind off the fact that the ’06 finals and the Spurs/Suns ’07 semis may have been…how should I put it…compromised

    Totally agree sir

    Ditto…What Kevin said

    Got your back on this one, your holiness.

    Are the finals over already? Is it time for me to draft yet?

    So. Since you’re going to move Garnett….

    What do you want for him?


    What do you want? For Garnett? What do you have to trade?

    Kevin, you can’t trade Garnett to me. I don’t run a team.

    You run all the teams. You’re the boss!

    Let me start over..

    I want him, Kevin! Can I have him? Please?

    Is that OK, Mister Stern?

    Yes, Kevin, you can trade Garnett to Danny

    Neat-o! He’s my bestest friend

    Garnett’s available?

    He’s mine! Mine! Mine!!!!!! Kevin’s my bestest buddy and he promised!

    Yeah Zeke, you can’t have him! Nyah, Nyah, Nyah!

    Aww crackers…

    I think Geoff has a player he’d like to trade, Isiah

    Chris Webber! Whaddaya want for him?

    You can’t get Webber, Isiah.

    Why not? I want Webber!

    Well, for one his knee cartilage is starting to resemble guacamole. And he isn’t on Sacramento anymore..

    Aww crackers…

    You can have Artest

    Wait a minute, I know that guy…

    You used to coach him.

    No that isn’t it…

    He went bonkers in Detroit…

    No, that’s not where I know him…

    He threatened to take a leave of absence to record a rap album? He knocked over a monitor at MSG? He beat the crap out of his wife?

    No…I remember! He shaved ‘Tru Warier’ into his head! That’s funny ’cause he spelled it wrong! I want him! Can I have him? Please! I’ll clean my room! I won’t run with scissors. I’ll stop sexually harrass…

    Yes! That’s it Isiah. You can have him. But you have to give Geoff something in return.

    Whattaya got?

    Ummm…Jerome James! He’s funny too!

    Let’s start over…


  112. Rumors have Reggie Miller considering playing 15 minutes a game for Boston. Interesting thought. The guy is old as heck but an old Miller for 10 minutes a game is still better than a young stupid player.

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