Good Zings Come to Those Who Wait

It’s a bad time to be a great basketball team.

Let me repeat: It is a bad time to be a great basketball team.

The Knicks are chilling at 11th place (coincidentally the name of Tom Haverford’s latest Pawnee nightclub following the failure of the previous 10) in the vastly improved East with a record of 9-10, and much like the last 5 minutes of a 90s family sitcom, find themselves given an infusion of fresh hope following a period of relative torment. See what I did there? Relative torment? Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving, I’ll be here for the duration of this article and the jokes will only get worse.

I’m not sure whether or not the Knicks are going to be a good enough basketball team to make the playoffs in the surprisingly competitive East this year, but they’ve improved in every conceivable way from last season and are laying the foundation to become a contender again with the probably-going-to-be-Richzingis as the franchise’s cornerstone. What I am sure of is that the timing of their rebuild is very fortuitous, considering the landscape of the NBA and how many years away they are from realistically contending with the league’s best teams.

I hope you all read Zach Lowe’s article on the Knicks and Taps that was published Tuesday on ESPN.com, but if you haven’t, here’s the link: This is a must-read article for Knicks fans, you can come back to my ravings later, in the meantime, click this link!

In a typically phenomenal article by Lowe, a lot of things stood out, but one part that really made me stop and think was when he pointed out that a lot of team executives had quietly decided (and I believe rightly so) that their best course of action for team-building strategy would be to wait out the Warriors.

The Dubs are playing at a historically high level. They have the best record to ever start a season, a once-in-a-universe player who may possibly have signed a dark contract with Beezlebub to make shots no mere mortal would attempt, a “Wait, let me check that again” point differential of +15.4, and a team made up of personnel that fits together like new socks and gets along so well that they have become the basktball equivalent of one of those couples that is, like, baby-elephant-adorable, and you can’t help but be disgusted by them.

Baby Elephant Ballin

But there is nothing disgusting about this Warriors team. They are basketball porn.

…Maybe that’s a bad metaphor for arguing against their being disgusting, but any pure basketball fan can’t help but watch this team in awe. It is easily one of the best three teams I have ever seen in my 25-odd years of watching basketball, alongside the 1995-96 Bulls and the 2000-01 Lakers, and it’s entirely possible that the only thing keeping me from rating them higher is nostalgia.

The Knicks have no incentive to lose this year because of the Andrea Bargnani trade which robbed them (I assume that trade was made at gunpoint) of their 1st round pick in the upcoming Son of the Sports Guy Draft. Knowing this, the Knicks made a real effort to fill out the roster and give Melo confidence that the rebuild was in motion but wouldn’t be a complete demolition. Even so, I don’t think the Knicks imagined themselves to be a playoff team before the season started, and they still may not be because of the improvement of so many teams in the East, but they have every reason to win as many games as possible and get some playoff experience for The Lord of the Zings.

Smeagol Rings

Roughly a quarter of the season has been played, and I think that’s a large enough sample size to judge most teams. Maybe not completely, but like, your typical somewhat-informed neighborly judging. This has been a strange season thus far for a number of reasons, but one of the strangest things is the amount of parity in the NBA. Hell, the Undisputed Champion of Parity, the NFL, is probably jealous. Or at least they would be if they could find time between counting money and measuring television ratings.

By my estimation, the NBA has only three truly bad teams: the Nets, the Lakers, and the 76ers. There are a few other contenders in the West, like Sacramento, Denver and Portland, but so far we can’t definitively say that any of those three teams can’t be competitive against most teams in this league, which means we have 26 teams that could conceivably beat each other on any given night.

If you added that up and thought my math was off, first of all, I was an English major, so give me a break. Second, I left Golden State off the “could be beaten on any given night” list because thus far, no one has beaten them. To be fair, they have yet to play Cleveland, San Antonio or Oklahoma City, the three teams that I think are best suited to compete with them, but to every available statistical measure and test of the eye, they may very well be at a level that none of those extremely talented teams can compete with in a 7-game series.

With that being said, I return to the chorus I began this song with: This is a bad time to be a great basketball team. Knicks fans know this all too well (as do several other franchises that were successful in the same era) from their time being a great team in the 90s while Jordan’s Bulls snuffed out hope like a waiter who tells you they’re out of what you came to the restaurant for in the first place. There’s a consistent historical precedent in this league where being a great team has meant losing to a greater one. The NBA is not an underdog league, in large part due to the playoff structure which heavily favors the more talented team.

That being said, there are always windows of opportunity getting ready to open, especially in today’s NBA where short contracts are the new norm for teams as terrified of commitment as they are of the luxury tax, specifically the uber-penalty for repeat offenders, and so cannot realistically keep a team together for longer than a few years.

Golden State has been afforded a unique degree of roster flexibility because of what is by far the best bargain contract in the league, which pays Steph Curry just over $11 million this year and $12 million the next. But, as their other young players come up for contract extensions like Draymond Green and Klay Thompson did the last two summers, so does the comically underpaid reigning MVP, and this complicates their cap situation. Simply put, it’s going to be impossible to keep the band together.

Getting the band back together

Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli both declined contract extensions and will enter the market as restricted free agents next year. The cap is estimated to rise astronomically from $70 million to $89 million because of the NBA’s new television contract, but even that generous cushion won’t protect the Warriors from the realities of their cap situation. The Dubs are probably going to have to let one of their young assets go or trade Bogut to get out from under the last year of his contract before next season. They have plenty of options, but their bench is going to suffer one way or another. Their top 3 will remain otherworldly, but like every juggernaut before them, they will begin to age and be too pricey to maintain over time.

It’s a sobering reality in the salary cap world of sports, but the best teams are always destined to regress. Golden State isn’t going to anytime soon, but that suits the Knicks just fine. Would you really want to be Cleveland this year, with a literal going-for-broke $110 million dollar payroll and knowing in the back of your mind you may just not be good enough, even if completely healthy, against the Dubs? Would you want to be any of the teams with young-to-middle-aged superstars subject to attrition in the next summer or two of free agency? I know I wouldn’t.

The Knicks will have roughly enough cap room next summer to sign a max contract player, and many want Hassan Whiteside to be that player, despite the fact there is a center under contract for three more years after this one with an average salary of $14 million/year and that the Heat would be guaranteed to balk at a sign-and-trade involving Lopez. They could have more cap room if Afflalo or Williams opts out, or if they can trade Calderon, and I expect some wiggling to happen this summer with respect to the situation at the guard positions, but they will regardless have plenty of room to further improve the roster. And with The Latviathan now joining the well-liked Melo to play 41 games a year at basketball’s Mecca, under the direction of the Zen Master to boot, I imagine there are players looking at the Knicks a lot more closely as a place to sign in the next year or two.

The what-Mario-fixes dream is Kevin Durant, as it is for a lot of franchises, but that won’t be an option this summer. You can etch that in stone. He will sign a 1-year deal in Oklahoma City with a 2nd-year player option to delay signing a multi-year deal until the cap rises once more at a historical rate for the 2017-2018 season, much like LeBron has shaped his last two contracts, so the NBA can stop worrying about the “summer of Durant.” Everyone already knows Durant is going to sign the 1-year contract, but people need things to write about so it’s fun to theorize that maybe Durant might explore free agency this summer. He very well might, just to take in the ego-satisfying experience of free agency, but Durant is signing the 1-year contract if his agent is worth what a VCR is.

Despite the improbability of signing Whiteside or Durant, the Knicks have plenty of options to upgrade the roster this summer even without a 1st round pick. I would take a long look at Demar DeRozan and Mike Conley as options at guard, and you have to at least see what Al Horford would think about a move to NY. This isn’t even to mention the myriad of possibilities for simply improving roster continuity with a couple lower-risk signings like Evan Fournier or George Hill. The important thing here is to note that it’s not a big deal if the Knicks aren’t contending next year, because it is in their best interest to wait out the Warriors, and in their own conference, the Cavaliers, who are set to hemorrhage a lot of their roster over the next two years as LeBron begins the cruel career stage of aging.

The Knicks’ future is bright because of the Kristapocalpyse, but like any religious journey, they’ve got to slog through a lot of tedious shit to get to enlightenment.

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Erik Judd

I'm a lifelong basketball fan whose interests range from some things to other things.

113 thoughts to “Good Zings Come to Those Who Wait”

  1. Durant is 100% to eschew a multi year max contract with his oft broken foot in a year where the cap explodes to sign a 1 year contract to get more later (if his foot survives)?

    And he’s going to do this to have the pleasure of playing with a ball hog star with the knowledge getting out of the west is almost impossible?

    Maybe…..

  2. I want Jordan Clarkson. I don’t care what people say, that kid is going to be a mega star once Kobe’s washed up ass leaves the Lakers. We should buy while his price is low because he will blow up next year. He’s super efficient, works hard as hell, improved his shot, and can drive to the basket at will. Dude’s combo guard skills are perfect for this Triangle system as he is a far more talented version of a Ron Harper type guard.

  3. Right premise, wrong conclusions. While waiting out GSW and Bron, we should try to become GSW not the Pelicans. The difficult part is over: we probably have our Curry or AD. Phil and Fish have bumbled into a perfect situation but I wonder if they have the ability to profit from it. GSW is comprised of a superstar, a group of young 2-WAY players and a couple of defense-minded vets. The home run would be Westbrook and KD signing with Knicks in 2017 (or 2016 and 2017) and the team playing an unstoppable spread PnR offense. We need to position ourselves for that possibility while, at the same time, building along the GSW model and KP’s timeline.

    Melo is in decline. I’ve had patellar tendinitis for a few years and his performance so far this season matches the condition. He’ll have many uneven performances along a line trending down. He’s the 3rd best player on a chip team but 1/4 of the cap is too much for that role. The only hope is that star-craved Lakers would take him in exchange for Clarkson and/or Randle and his wife convinces him to go to LA where he’ll be the star (instead of KP’s looming shadow) and begin a Kobesque 3-year farewell tour. He’d be a waste next to KP/KD/Westbrook and doesn’t fit timeline.

    BTW to make the playoffs we would have to play KP big minutes which could compromise our future. Sadly, Jax and Fish it appears would prefer to crow about an incredible turnaround by making the playoffs instead of building a real foundation for the future. I’m terrified of overuse of KP and even more worried we’re then gonna end up with players like Noah, Pau and Afflalo on long deals. Even Conley is too old given our optimal timeline.

  4. @Zanzibar

    I fully agree 100 percent. My hope is that the Lakers are as dumb as we were to make that trade for Melo. Its the right move for our present and future. I’d trade him for Clarkson and a future pick in a heartbeat.

  5. I am fine if KP plays around 27-29 minutes a game this season. Anything more is too much. The garbage time foolishness of Fisher playing KP in out of reach games has to stop though.

  6. My hope is that the Lakers are as dumb as we were to make that trade for Melo.

    Read this. I’m less worried about Lakers being that dumb and more concerned whether Phil’s that smart. The hope is that Dolan believes he’s got his star in Porzingis and Melo is now expendable although the CAA/opening gigs is still an unknown.

  7. on that note… quote from Twolves coach

    Timberwolves star rookie Karl-Anthony Towns has been watching crunch time from the bench recently, and Sam Mitchell explains why: “Why are we going to burn him out 18 games into a 20-year-old’s career? It doesn’t make sense.”

  8. Some of the minutes talk about KP6 is a bit exaggerated. He’s averaging a little over 28 minutes per game which is well below what rookie bigmen of the past played. Look at Tim Duncan’s, Paul Gasol’s, Blake Griffin’s, etc. minutes per game were in their rookie seasons. They were averaging at least 5-7 minutes more per game than our boy.

  9. Some of the minutes talk about KP6 is a bit exaggerated. He’s averaging a little over 28 minutes per game which is well below what rookie bigmen of the past played.

    Yeah but the trend over the last few games has been very disturbing. That trend corresponds with the huge +/- effect KP’s got on this team. Phil and Fish must know that he’s got to play 35 minutes for this team to have any chance of making the playoffs. And Duncan and Griffin were 21yo (that extra year’s huge at that age) and are not 7’3″”(another huge factor so to speak).

  10. Regarding the T-wolves not playing him in crunch time… just sounds foolish.

    They can easily distribute his minutes to end off games while playing at the limit.

    Getting crunch time minutes at age 20 is fantastic. I love KP being out there if as long as they are within 5-7 points. Anything over that is just foolish.

  11. I’m less worried about Lakers being that dumb and more concerned whether Phil’s that smart. The hope is that Dolan believes he’s got his star in Porzingis and Melo is now expendable although the CAA/opening gigs is still an unknown.

    Lakers would be making a HUGE mistake if they got rid of Clarkson. That kid is super-talented and super-productive on that mess of a team with Kobe chucking up shots. He’s already improved leaps and bounds on his stroke from last season through sheer hard work. He’s got that chip on his shoulder that KP has. I like him a lot.

    It all hinges on Phil first recognizing that Melo is done and that we need to get something for him while he still has value. LA would be a perfect fit. So would Miami if they were stupid enough to swing a trade.

  12. @3,

    Why all the Jacksonian hate?

    He’s trying to be the Pelicans? He bumbled into KP? C’mon… He sent his most trusted advise to bird dog Porzingis for a month. They guy ‘s opinion was he was the best player in the draft. How’s that bumbling into him? Had they lost their last few games and gotten the #1 pick, if they took KAT that would have been fine as he is a franchise talent himself.

    Other than being in such a rush to get rid of Chandler (he might have had a very good internal reason) for sub market value, he’s done an exceptional job. He got a franchise player at the #4 pick that was wildly unpopular at the time. He hasn’t traded any #1 picks. H made chicken shit (Hardaway) into chicken salad (Grant). He found a rotation player from the D league. He purged the roster of selfish players. He picked a first round talent with the 35 pick (Hernangomez). The only long term FA signing is a player in the prime of his career with trade value. The 2 year signings were reasonably priced.

    WTF???

  13. Yeah but the trend over the last few games has been very disturbing

    The kid has averaged 33 minutes the past five games. I get that we have to conserve him. But is him playing that many minutes per in 5 games spanning the past 11 days so much?

  14. It all hinges on Phil first recognizing that Melo is done and that we need to get something for him while he still has value. LA would be a perfect fit. So would Miami if they were stupid enough to swing a trade.

    Melo has a no trade clause. he’s not waiving that to go to this Laker team unless Lala gets an offer for the lead in the next Star Wars Episode 8. Jar Jar Bings Daughter?

  15. He bumbled into KP? C’mon

    We’ve been over this many times. He predicted the team would make the playoffs and we ended up 2nd worst record in the league. Fish couldn’t figure out a way to lose those 2 games at the end of the season which resulted in us getting KP and Grant. Yes I call that bumbling into success.

    If you look at all the positives you listed, they all may be traced to Gaines. Aren’t some of the moves he made on his own cause for concern? His whole marketing approach to free agents? His Triangle or bust attitude? The jury’s still out – all I’ve done is expressed concern.

  16. “Yeah but the trend over the last few games has been very disturbing.”
    Maybe I was reading different game threads than everyone else but I seem to remember a lot of people screaming about why is Fisher so dumb as to not have KP back in the game when the lead is dwindling — including during the game in which he played over 40 minutes. So, I guess the conclusion is that Fisher is an idiot for not playing him enough and he’s also an idiot for playing him too much. We need to fire Fisher and find ourselves a coach who can figure out how to play him more and less at the same time.

  17. Melo has a no trade clause. he’s not waiving that to go to this Laker team unless Lala gets an offer for the lead in the next Star Wars Episode 8. Jar Jar Bings Daughter?

    Remember, he is the man who had this to say about NYC:

    New York is the greatest city on the planet. But you’re not a New Yorker if you don’t wake up in the morning and sometimes say f–k this place. I don’t care who you are — the mayor, governor all the way down to the mailman. Everybody wakes up some days: ‘Hey, f–k New York.

    I can’t imagine he’d want to gut it out with this squad when LA beckons with a better all-around supporting cast.

  18. Seeing the Zinger live tonight. Very excited. Yesterday, I overheard a wise old man talking about him favorably at a coffee shop.

  19. If you look at all the positives you listed, they all may be traced to Gaines.

    And who hired Gaines?

  20. We need to fire Fisher and find ourselves a coach who can figure out how to play him more and less at the same time.

    Actually this is true, despite being an attempt at sarcasm. Perfect example is how he leaves KP into garbage time games like the last one vs. the Sixers while taking him out in the middle of the 4th against Houston despite having no Melo. Its like the dude has zero understanding of leverage situations.

  21. Idk, Melo seems to be fairly content staying on a Knicks team that ranged from below-average to terrible in the past few years just because of the New York media market when he had a very competitive suitor in Chicago. It wouldn’t be surprising if he did the same for LA, especially because LaLa would be very into it.

    He’d definitely accept a Miami trade I think, but that’s not flying with Riley (if by some miracle we managed to get Winslow or even Johnson from the Heat I would give up anything bad I ever said about Jackson and name my child after him)

  22. He’d definitely accept a Miami trade I think, but that’s not flying with Riley (if by some miracle we managed to get Winslow or even Johnson from the Heat I would give up anything bad I ever said about Jackson and name my child after him)

    Sadly, I think Pat is too shrewd to take Melo on. He’s always been a defense first dude with the Heat. It would be heaven to get Winslow for him though.

  23. Maybe I was reading different game threads than everyone else but I seem to remember a lot of people screaming about why is Fisher so dumb as to not have KP back in the game when the lead is dwindling — including during the game in which he played over 40 minutes. So, I guess the conclusion is that Fisher is an idiot for not playing him enough and he’s also an idiot for playing him too much. We need to fire Fisher and find ourselves a coach who can figure out how to play him more and less at the same time.

    I’ve always been consistent about this. I’m way more concerned about the long-term future than making the playoffs this season. What do we gain by making the playoffs? We feel better about not losing the Bargs draft pick? Stupid reason. We will attract free agents? Every player knows about KP; it’s ridiculous to think a free agent would make a decision on whether we finish 8th or 11th in the standings. We should probably cap KP’s minutes at between 25-30 and be very careful on BtoB games. We should be starting Grant and Gallo or at the very least play them big minutes along with KP and Melo. Those would be the actions of a team thinking more about the future.

  24. I would take a long look at Demar DeRozan and Mike Conley as options at guard, and you have to at least see what Al Horford would think about a move to NY. This isn’t even to mention the myriad of possibilities for simply improving roster continuity with a couple lower-risk signings like Evan Fournier or George Hill.

    Tricky. You tried to trojan horse a few terrible ideas inside a well written article. DeMar DeRozan does not actually exist. He is a metaphorical microcosm of what the Knicks should *not* be doing in the offseason with the max-ish cap space he’s likely to take up. The guy does a lot of things reasonably well, but his lack of efficiency and significantly overrated defense make him very, very far from a max player. He is also extremely reliant on getting to line which is one of the first skills to moderate with age. Please no. He may seem young but I would bet a lot of money that his FTA are already in decline by year 3 of his next deal. It is very hard to be an aging, high usage wing who doesn’t shoot 3s in today’s NBA. I also think paying Fournier the money he’s likely to get is probably a big mistake.

  25. If you look at all the positives you listed, they all may be traced to Gaines.

    And who hired Gaines?

    Phil absolutely gets credit for that. But the whole gist of my post is that the direction of this team will now rest in actions taken directly by Phil (trading Melo, signing free agents, how many minutes KP plays, etc.).

  26. I’ve always been consistent about this. I’m way more concerned about the long-term future than making the playoffs this season.

    Ugh, not the Hinkie approach. I am of the belief that the last thing you want to do is tank games if there’s a legit chance to work towards a playoff birth. It just sends a terrible message to your team and fans.

  27. But the whole gist of my post is that the direction of this team will now rest in actions taken directly by Phil (trading Melo, signing free agents, how many minutes KP plays, etc.)

    But wasn’t the choice to pick Porzingis an act solely taken by Phil? Gaines consulted him, as all GMs are consulted by their advisers. I just don’t understand why he doesn’t get credit for guys like Porzingis, Grant, Galloway in this neat dichotomy you’ve created before the 2015 draft and after it?

    Your argument is amounting to a Hinkian call for tanking the season for the future. But as Philly has shown that only defers the rebuilding process by kicking the responsibility of winning games down the road. How does a team grow if you continue to hold it back for a future that may or may not come?

  28. Damn, Willie Cauley-Stein dislocated his finger. He’s out for a month to a month and a half. Shame. I would hate to see that happen to KP. The Raptors would inherit a lottery pick.

  29. We’ve been over this many times. He predicted the team would make the playoffs and we ended up 2nd worst record in the league. Fish couldn’t figure out a way to lose those 2 games at the end of the season which resulted in us getting KP and Grant. Yes I call that bumbling into success.

    If you look at all the positives you listed, they all may be traced to Gaines. Aren’t some of the moves he made on his own cause for concern? His whole marketing approach to free agents? His Triangle or bust attitude? The jury’s still out – all I’ve done is expressed concern.

    Did you expect the guy to come in and say, “yeah… we suck and we are gonna suck for years til I can excise all the detritus?” I’m not sure what having the 1st or 4th pick had to do with Hardaway vs Grant.

    And hiring quality advisers that you actually value is the sign of a good executive and not Jimmy Carter who tried to micromanage the entire government. A top executive knows how to hire and delegate…. you seem to think hiring Gaines was a weakness.

    While I admire the success of the triangle, I am coming to the conclusion currently, the GS offense which screens like crazy to free 3 point shooting is a better choice.

    looking at the GS numbers is just mind boggling. The TEAM is shooting 43.3% on 617 3’s! They shoot 10 more threes a game their their opponents . Iggy is hitting 48% from three.

    More amazing is their improvement around the rim (especially Curry). One would have to be willfully ignorant not to recognize the “system” is a large factor in their success.

  30. Phil absolutely gets credit for that. But the whole gist of my post is that the direction of this team will now rest in actions taken directly by Phil (trading Melo, signing free agents, how many minutes KP plays, etc.).

    And what makes you think Jackson doesn’t consult his trusted advisers on trades and FA’s?

    I just don’t see how Melo ever gets traded to the Lakers. Jim Buss can’t ever take the chance of getting his pocket picked by Phil.

  31. @1 Yes, 100% on Durant. Posted the links for why, but briefly, the reason is $40 million in extra salary, the fact that Westbrook and Ibaka expire in 2017, and if Durant tore his ACL in the playoffs but wanted to come to New York this summer to sit out a year, we would happily throw cash at him faster than a stripper at a bachelor party and tell him to put his feet up until 2017-2018. This is why the injury concern is a moot point.

  32. What I’m worried about is that the Knicks front office looks at how good Porzingis is and decides to go all in on trying to win now. Similar to what Cleveland did when they had Lebron on his rookie deal. After Lebron’s 2nd year, Cleveland signed Larry Hughes, Doneyll Marshall, and resigned Zydrunas Ilgauskas to big money contracts.

    Unfortunately, it already looks like that is our plan with resigning Melo and signing Lopez to his contract.

  33. I just don’t see how Melo ever gets traded to the Lakers. Jim Buss can’t ever take the chance of getting his pocket picked by Phil.

    I am hoping for the Jeanie Buss connection to pay McHale/Ainge-like dividends for us.

  34. “Your argument is amounting to a Hinkian call for tanking the season for the future. But as Philly has shown that only defers the rebuilding process by kicking the responsibility of winning games down the road. How does a team grow if you continue to hold it back for a future that may or may not come?”

    SLOW CLAP. I think KP is better than Okafor but if Okafor had Rolo as his front court mate and Melo teaching him some offensive moves and was playing in a system (however flawed) on a team that had some veteran leadership (however flawed) under Fisher (however flawed) and Jackson (however flawed) where him and Grant were the only rookies and everyone else was buying in (which this team is doing), do you think he’d have the same issues that he’s having now?

    I like what The Knicks are doing. I like that we have a mix of youth and veterans. That we’re building for the future while also trying to be competitive now. This either/or dichotomy that you have to either tank or be a legit contender is such flawed thinking to me. Sure, it sucks to overpay a bunch of veterans to be a middling playoff team and that strategy, especially if you build a team giving away picks like the Knicks have done will screw you. But if you do what Jackson has done which is keep your picks, draft youth, look for D-League talent and sign FAs who are veterans but aren’t super old like Kmart, then you can build and compete. There is something to be said for putting a competent product on the floor. The only way Beal or Conley or KD (pipe dream I know) will come here is if we look halfway decent this season, which we do. I just don’t get the hand wringing.

  35. While Melo’s deal seems like an albatross that won’t be expurgated unless we do it ASAP and under the perfect circumstances I will say that the Lopez contract gives us good flexibility for a trade down the line.

  36. “Perfect example is how he leaves KP into garbage time games like the last one vs. the Sixers ”
    Knicks were up by about 12 with about 6 minutes to go against the Sixers. You’ve watched a lot of Knicks games over the last few years. You don’t think that the Knicks (especially if they didn’t have any of their starters in the game) are fully capable of blowing a 12 point lead, especially against a lousy team? If you don’t, you haven’t watched some of the games I’ve watched because they’ve done it a bunch of times.

  37. Tricky. You tried to trojan horse a few terrible ideas inside a well written article. DeMar DeRozan does not actually exist. He is a metaphorical microcosm of what the Knicks should *not* be doing in the offseason with the max-ish cap space he’s likely to take up.

    Haha love this ptmilo. Fair point, but as fans, we all have ideas. I didn’t say we should max DeRozan, only that he would be a big improvement at guard in a league fairly down at the 2 guard spot. His price might be too high, true, but with a cap set to rise about $40 million over the next two years and the Knicks set to be waaaay below it, they can afford a luxury or two. Everybody is going to cost more money in this league going forward, contracts will look absurd but that’s going to be based on past salary caps.

    Really, what the Knicks have is great roster flexibility at a time when it stands to pay off quite a bit down the road. Worrying about this year, or even next year, is short-sighted. So I agree, they can’t back the truck up for the wrong guy(s) like in years past, but they at least have a clear vision of how to build this roster now that they know what they have with Kristaps.

  38. @35

    I see Hinkie’s dilemma in Philadelphia as metaphorically akin to the gardener who spends all of his money of getting the best strain of seeds for his garden expecting it to grow tall without any quality sunlight, manure, soil, etc. You can have the best material, but if you’re not cultivating it then you’re wasting its potential.

  39. You don’t think that the Knicks (especially if they didn’t have any of their starters in the game) are fully capable of blowing a 12 point lead, especially against a lousy team? If you don’t, you haven’t watched some of the games I’ve watched because they’ve done it a bunch of times.

    Um, that’s my point. It was dumb for Fisher to bench KP (his best defender/rebounder) in the fourth quarter with Houston’s best lineup on the floor because our bench was bound to blow the lead, especially without the team’s leader playing the game. Meanwhile, the next game, Fisher decides to leave KP in the game in what amounted to garbage time minutes with him as the only starter on the floor. That would have been the time to rest KP.

  40. Sure, it sucks to overpay a bunch of veterans to be a middling playoff team and that strategy, especially if you build a team giving away picks like the Knicks have done will screw you. But if you do what Jackson has done which is keep your picks, draft youth, look for D-League talent and sign FAs who are veterans but aren’t super old like Kmart, then you can build and compete. There is something to be said for putting a competent product on the floor.

    Yes! For a knicks fan, just having the team run like a competent franchise for 4 or 5 years in a row would be an immense victory. After that, I want a team that is fun to watch with players who play hard and are easy to root for. Give me some enjoyable basketball for a while first!

    I think Phil has done a good job in that he has cleared the decks without much to work with. I think the Chandler trade is the worst of his moves, but he did that to be rid of Felton. He got rid of players that didn’t want to buy into a system or were not versatile enough. (As an aside, every player he traded got to play on a playoff team, so I am not sure why the ex-players got so pissed about being traded to teams that are winning). Phil has replenished a bit while not sacrificing the future – a huge accomplishment as a NY executive.

    I think we are in a good position to take advantage of cap space the next couple of years. I for one, am not that concerned with having a superstar in the next couple of years. There are plenty of places on the team to improve.

  41. Your argument is amounting to a Hinkian call for tanking the season for the future. But as Philly has shown that only defers the rebuilding process by kicking the responsibility of winning games down the road. How does a team grow if you continue to hold it back for a future that may or may not come?

    Huh? First, 76ers is a sound strategy poorly executed. Embiid was a self-inflicted wound. But I’m not even arguing we should pursue the Hinkie strategy and definitely not tank. I think Grant and Galloway are better than Calderon and Afflalo. Grant is 23yo, he should play big minutes just like 22yo Lillard did for Portland and who then made a big leap in his second season. How are we ever to know how good Galloway is if he doesn’t play his natural position of SG along with KP and Melo and Grant? We’ll have a better read on his spot-up 3 shooting in such a lineup.

    In terms of free agency, all I’m saying is don’t be in a rush. KP/Grant/Galloway/Hernangomez/Lopez/Clarkson? is a great start. BTW Lopez is just fine; problem is he should be setting way more picks on offense (like Chandler) and not posting up as much. Why wouldn’t KD and Westbrook want to join that group in 2017? KP’s better than Ibaka and those other guys are better than OKC’s supporting staff? Don’t go giving 3 or 4 year deals to players like Noah, Pau, Afflalo, etc.

  42. Clarkson becomes a restricted free agent after this season. I want him. He will be very very good. I bet LA could take on Melo’s max contract with the cap expanding without a problem. He just has to want to leave. I wish one of our fellow Hollywood Knicks fans could offer La La her own pilot for another shitty reality TV show.

    LOL

  43. But I’m not even arguing we should pursue the Hinkie strategy and definitely not tank.

    If you’re arguing for a minutes cap on PorzinGod, which you are, then you are certainly arguing for us to tank. Make no mistake about that. He is our best defender, rebounder, and may soon be our best scorer. His play amounts to a +11 differential per 100 possessions, tops on our team. In lieu of such a positive effect, you cannot say that you don’t like his playing more minutes and then say we’re not tanking if we restrict those minutes. As you noted, he’s that important to our success. I’m happy right now with the minutes he’s played and have no problem with the fact he’s played around 33 minutes/game the past 5 games. I don’t think its unreasonable to ask a rookie to play those minutes for a stretch or so.

  44. If you’re arguing for a minutes cap on PorzinGod, which you are, then you are certainly arguing for us to tank. Make no mistake about that.

    WTF kind of logic is that? Playing excessive minutes would be tanking the future for the present. It’s not like we’re playing for a chip this season. I don’t know the right # of minutes for KP and I suspect nobody does but I’d rather err on the side of caution.

  45. Playing excessive minutes would be tanking the future for the present.

    Define “excessive”. I’ll agree with your argument if I can agree with your premise because we shouldn’t have any of our players, especially our budding superstar rookie, play “excessive minutes”. But you haven’t sufficiently defined what you mean by “excessive minutes”. You state this term as if its self-evidently clear as to what such a standard entails but I haven’t seen you establish that standard at all.

  46. I mean, is it considered “tanking” if you let your injury-prone star player take the season off because of a patellar tendon that needs surgery? Or is it just smart medical management? If taking care of your players is tanking, then the Spurs must be tanking every year when they sit Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, etc. While Porzingis is younger, has fewer minutes on his legs, and has no injury risk factors made apparent to us yet, the difference between he and Melo, or he and the Spurs, is only a matter of degree. Why would it matter if we cut his play time back to 25 minutes or so? I don’t really care either way, because I like seeing Porzingis play, and I don’t know if it’ll affect him or his health that much in the future (this stuff is pretty much a crapshoot), but merely giving him fewer minutes (so long as it’s not below like 20 or so) is NOT Hinkian tanking–Hinkian tanking involves deliberately putting the worst team possible on the floor in order to lose enough to secure a high draft pick, which involves having no veterans, operating at the cap floor, and creating what is likely a rather toxic team culture. Cutting Porzingis’ minutes isn’t even in the same universe as that.

    Again, I don’t really think cutting KP’s minutes is that big of a deal, but cutting one of your best player’s minutes or resting him isn’t equivalent to tanking in any way unless it’s operating within a whole system of policies that encourage losing as many games as possible in order to rebuild through the draft.

  47. Personally think Nic Batum would be a great addition in FA, but at this rate he might get a max and I’m not really sure about giving him that.

    Fournier would be a nice addition given his age and continued progression in his all around play this year.

    Clarkson is a very good talent and at 6’5 with a 6’8 wingspan he’s an ideal Triangle combo guard. He has some potential to be a more explosive George Hill which is a damn good player in the NBA.

    Somebody I’d like the Knicks to target in the draft is Tim Quarterman out of LSU. He’s a 6’5 combo guard with a 6’9 wingspan and is good at penetrating.

  48. Again, I don’t really think cutting KP’s minutes is that big of a deal,

    I don’t see how you can say this when he’s our best player. I mean, seriously, the dude sitting down in the 4th quarter of the last Rockets game was the difference between us winning and losing that game.

    Hinkian tanking involves deliberately putting the worst team possible on the floor in order to lose enough to secure a draft pick, which involves having no veterans and creating what is likely a rather toxic team culture. Cutting Porzingis’ minutes isn’t even in the same universe as that.

    Fair enough.

  49. The Zach Lowe article was interesting yet frustrating, which is my response to a lot of Lowe articles. He is a great analyst, and I enjoy his writing tremendously, but for whatever reason, he almost never takes a controversial stance. Sometimes he’ll lean very subtly against popular opinion, but mostly it seems like his main focus in his writing is to add nuance to an existing controversy.

    “This perspective has these pros and cons that you hadn’t thought of, and this other side has these pros and cons that you hadn’t thought of. To me, both sides have a lot going for them, and I guess maybe I side with the first side, but maybe I should be coming down on the other side :-)” That’s what most Lowe articles read like to me. That makes the articles tremendously informative and useful against the backdrop of a sports media that wants everything to be controversial, but it also feels a little deceptive.

    Like in this article, he basically says, “unless the Knicks get lucky enough to get Durant or Westbrook, they won’t win a title with Melo.” If he believes that, then it would be 100% intellectually honest for him to follow with, “the odds that either of those guys come to New York are about zero, so if the team’s top concern is winning a title, even though Melo’s trade value has been undercut by the contract and NTC, the Knicks should move Melo.” But he doesn’t. Instead, he makes an abstract excuse for not doing so — not trading Melo will let the Knicks win ~50 games for a bit and will let NY develop “the rest of the roster around Porzingis in the meantime.” What does that even mean? How does that relate at all to Carmelo’s presence? He wants to come off as balanced, so he’ll never stick the knife in even if he’s laid out the necessary evidence to do so.

  50. I don’t like Fournier that much–he’s just a scoring forward who does everything else at an average or below-average rate. He is pretty good at scoring, but not much else. These players are a dime a dozen in the NBA.

    If we could get a pick somewhere in the 2nd round I’d take a hard look at Gary Payton II (who’s raw but quite improved in his second year and a fantastic defender), Marcus Paige (great candidate for a triangle guard but undersized and not very athletic), Tyler Ulis (another great defender with a good penetration game who’s undersized), Melo Trimble, or the pupu platter of SFs that are sitting in the mid to late second round (SF is a position of need on this team that we’ve forgotten about given our rather poor guard situation.)

    I’d like Justin Jackson or Sabonis a lot but they’re going in the late first or even higher unfortunately.

  51. I don’t see how you can say this when he’s our best player. I mean, seriously, the dude sitting down in the 4th quarter of the last Rockets game was the difference between us winning and losing that game.

    I mean, yeah, as a fan thinking in the short-term, I want to see him on the floor, but as a fan thinking long-term, I don’t really care much if he’s at 33 minutes, or 25 minutes, or 20 minutes, so long as he feels comfortable with his development and PT. Winning a lot of games this season does not matter–this is not the same thing as tanking, which is deliberately losing; all I’m saying is that so long as we’ve improved from a 17 win team to a 30 win team with the concomitant improvement in team attitude and culture any wins over and above that are really just icing on the cake.

  52. He wants to come off as balanced, so he’ll never stick the knife in even if he’s laid out the necessary evidence to do so.

    I don’t think you’re quite being fair here. There is a very legitimate reason why he’s so opaque: because, like many other sports writers, he does not want to alienate himself from the players he is paid to cover. In his recent ESPN radio interview you can see that he has very carefully cultivated close professional relationships with various NBA players. He probably doesn’t want to jeopardize his assess to them by appearing overtly critical of their games. His need to be seen as impartially fair obviously overshadows much of his writing about Melo. Perhaps that is to a fault, but I feel as if he leaves ample opportunity for his readers to read between the lines and put 2 and 2 together in deciphering his more ambiguous assessments.

  53. Personally, I’d like to see us follow a dual track route. Sign Pao, Noah, Batum, even Lin to make us instant contenders even as KP, Grant, Galloway, and Willy continue to progress.

    On another note, wouldn’t it be ironic if we rescued Tim Hardaway in a minor trade with ATL out of the dleague and he became the scoring wing that we’re lacking?

  54. I don’t really care much if he’s at 33 minutes, or 25 minutes, or 20 minutes, so long as he feels comfortable with his development and PT.

    I think we all agree on that. But again, that comes down to defining “excessive minutes”. Its one thing to say I don’t care about the short term goal of winning games if it jeopardizes KP’s long-term health. But its another to express worry about his increased usage because the assumption is that his fragile body cannot handle playing 28 minutes a game this season or 33 minutes the past five games. If anyone is telling me they’d rather us lose more games this season because they’re too afraid to play Porzingis this many minutes then you’re taking it to the extreme of tanking in my book because it assuming a level of risk aversion that is excessively future oriented in logic. As of now his body is handling it.

  55. On another note, wouldn’t it be ironic if we rescued Tim Hardaway in a minor trade with ATL out of the dleague and he became the scoring wing that we’re lacking?

    Tim Hardaway Jr. is not the answer to anything we’re lacking.

    @51 – He’s the master of hedging. He did the same after the Rondo trade where you could tell he hated the move, but then laid out a bunch of reasons why it could work out, but like Ras said a lot of it certainly has to do with maintaining and developing relationships he has around the league.

    I don’t like Fournier that much–he’s just a scoring forward who does everything else at an average or below-average rate. He is pretty good at scoring, but not much else. These players are a dime a dozen in the NBA.

    Fournier is an SG and only got minutes at the 3 because Orlando tried playing small at the beginning of the year. He’s now starting at the 2 and Oladipo is coming off the bench.

    If we could get a pick somewhere in the 2nd round I’d take a hard look at Gary Payton II (who’s raw but quite improved in his second year and a fantastic defender), Marcus Paige (great candidate for a triangle guard but undersized and not very athletic), Tyler Ulis (another great defender with a good penetration game who’s undersized), Melo Trimble, or the pupu platter of SFs that are sitting in the mid to late second round (SF is a position of need on this team that we’ve forgotten about given our rather poor guard situation.)

    I’d like Justin Jackson or Sabonis a lot but they’re going in the late first or even higher unfortunately.

    I like Ulis and Payton. Biggest need for us moving forward is a wing that can create off the dribble for others and get to the rim. A penetrating PG would help too, but the hope is Grant becomes that. I’d at least keep the current PG situation in place through Jose’s deal next year unless a clear upgrade presents itself and addressing it…

  56. I think we all agree on that. But again, that comes down to defining “excessive minutes”. Its one thing to say I don’t care about the short term goal of winning games if it jeopardizes KP’s long-term health. But its another to express worry about his increased usage because the assumption is that his fragile body cannot handle playing 28 minutes a game this season or 33 minutes the past five games. If anyone is telling me they’d rather us lose more games this season because they’re too afraid to play Porzingis this many minutes then you’re taking it to the extreme of tanking in my book.

    Nobody knows the proper minutes so look at it from a risk/reward vantage. What is the risk if we play him too much versus the reward? Isn’t it obvious to err on the side of caution here? That appears to be the path the Twolves are now on for Towns.

    Here are KP’s minutes in the last 6 games: 30, 41, 24, 36, 37, 36. That’s a huge change from the minutes he was getting previously and that’s probably too much. Anything over 30 is probably too much.

  57. A penetrating PG would help too, but the hope is Grant becomes that. I’d at least keep the current PG situation in place through Jose’s deal next year unless a clear upgrade presents itself and addressing it…

    Here is why Jordan Clarkson is so perfect for this team. He can certainly penetrate (among other things) on offense and can play either guard position to accommodate the Grant’s and Galloway’s development. Clarkson could come in be a perfect Ron Harper type PG in our offense but could also switch to the 2-guard position if either one of our young guards assume a level of competence in running the point. His offensive game is this unique blend of skills that adds a much needed backcourt versatility to our roster and our scheme.

  58. Anything over 30 is probably too much.

    For a season or a stretch of games? And if its for a stretch of games, how many? Again, your standards aren’t just vaguely defined they seem arbitrarily drawn. Why 30 minutes? What if he plays 29 minutes and 59 seconds a game? Your entire logic seems extremely presumptive here. All I am seeing is that you’re waiting for the floor to fall from under us.
    Willie Cauley-Stein played 19 minutes a game and just got injured out for 4-6 weeks. Did he play too much?

  59. he does not want to alienate himself from the players he is paid to cover.

    @ras1980

    I’m sure that’s one of his motivations, but who cares? Did Steve Mills and Arron Afflalo’s comments really add much to the article? Lowe is an analyst first and foremost, and I don’t see why he would compromise his analysis so he can have better access. Leave that to the idiot writers who would have nothing to write about without player access.

    And with regard to the idea that people will read between the lines, that’s only true for the choir to which Lowe preaches. If you’re already into analytics and understand some of the details of team-building in the NBA, you probably already know.

    But there are a ton of Lowe readers who come to him because of his reputation and only understand the tip of the iceberg of the analytics/team-building stuff. They’re not going to know the difference between his politically-motivated wavering and his real analysis, and they’re going to leave an article like this probably just more sure of what they thought to begin with.

    And that’s maybe another reason Lowe writes as he does. It educates but doesn’t challenge, and a lot of people don’t like being challenged.

  60. Remember the chip year where no Spurs player played more than 30mpg? I think that tells you something. 30+ is starter minutes and again the risk/reward does not justify playing a 7’3″ 20yo future franchise player those kind of minutes. If you want, use a range of 25-30. BTW where is your cutoff? Do you have one?

  61. if Durant tore his ACL in the playoffs but wanted to come to New York this summer to sit out a year, we would happily throw cash at him faster than a stripper at a bachelor party and tell him to put his feet up until 2017-2018. This is why the injury concern is a moot point.

    How has D Rose come back from ACL surgery? And Durant has a litany of serious foot problems beforehand….

  62. “Tim Hardaway Jr. is not the answer to anything we’re lacking.”
    Now might be a good time to go onto Hawkerblogger to see their reaction to Hardaway’s being sent to the D-League. I imagine that there are a whole bunch of, “Can you believe we traded the #19 pick in the draft for a guy who we’re sending to the D-League” comments. Put it another way — could you imagine what this site would be like if the Knicks had traded the #19 pick in the draft for Jimmer Fredette?

  63. Is there really a big difference between a professional player playing 28 and 33 minutes?

    I can see the point in a big spam like 10 and 35 minutes but I think some are overreacting about this.

  64. Nice article.

    But:

    Would you really want to be Cleveland this year, with a literal going-for-broke $110 million dollar payroll and knowing in the back of your mind you may just not be good enough, even if completely healthy, against the Dubs?

    Um, yeah. In a mofreakin’ heartbeat I would.

    I’m not sure if you meant this literally. Do you really mean that you would NOT want Lebron, Irving, Love, Thompson, Mozgov, etc. on the Knicks this year just because of their suboptimal chances of beating the Warriors and the upcomimg cap problems?

    Having one of the best players of all time in his prime, and a good to great supporting cast isn’t desirable if there’s a more dominant team in the league at the same time? Does that mean anything other than certain dominance is undesirable? As either a fan or a GM, the rosters of teams like Cleveland, OKC, and SA are what you hope to have the luck to be on your team someday so you can enjoy watching them play at the highest level and know they have a fighting chance to win it all. No team is ever guaranteed to win it all. That include this year’s GSW. Turing down having one of those rosters in the hopes that you’ll have an even better shot someday in years to come seems… unwise and unfun.

  65. “If you want, use a range of 25-30
    I agree that this is the ideal range for KP, but I’m not going to lose sleep if he plays 36 minutes in a game that is not a back to back, especially at home, when the team is theoretically more well rested than on the road. By the way, he played 30 against Philadelphia.

  66. Unfortunately, it already looks like that is our plan with resigning Melo and signing Lopez to his contract.

    Methinks you have a Chicken and the Egg problem with this analogy :-) Resigning Melo preceded Zinger’s draft.

    Lopez was a reasonable market based signing. I would be nice if he would play up to his previous few years and thee is zero reason to believe he will not due to his age and health.

  67. The minutes limit people are throwing around sounds completely arbitrary and unjustified. Is there some rash of injured rookies that I haven’t heard about and can anyone actually point to minutes played as the cause?

  68. And that’s maybe another reason Lowe writes as he does. It educates but doesn’t challenge, and a lot of people don’t like being challenged.

    I actually find him very challenging and your issue of complaint is further proof of that. We live in an age of hyperbolic sports editorializing where the Stephen A. Smith’s of the basketball world have made lucrative careers with outlandish buffoonery masquerading as impartial analysis. What often passes for analysis is the type of reductive Manichean logic which portrays teams, players, coaches, general managers, and owners as either good or bad/right or wrong/etc. But here we have a serious sports reporter in Lowe who uses his professional access to NBA players to present multi-faceted and nuanced analyses and you’re deriding it as not being challenging enough because he considers various sides of a topic and refuses to definitely come down one way or the other. I personally find that approach to be more challenging because it forces the reader to read between the lines and assess the argument for himself.

  69. Remember the chip year where no Spurs player played more than 30mpg?

    Tim Duncan played over 30 minutes/game every year of his pro career until he was 33, that includes 39 minutes per as a rookie.

  70. Tim Duncan played over 30 minutes/game every year of his pro career including 39 minutes per as a rookie until he was 33.

    Not according to this Bref screen. Updated: Sorry didn’t catch before 33yo. But why is Pop limiting the minutes off all these players below 30mpg?

  71. The minutes limit people are throwing around sounds completely arbitrary and unjustified. Is there some rash of injured rookies that I haven’t heard about and can anyone actually point to minutes played as the cause?

    No, and that’s my major bone of contention. It just arbitrary preemptive thinking based more on a gut reaction towards caution than any reasoned consideration of the available evidence. I am all for limiting KP6’s minutes if/when he needs it but am against it if the rationale for such an approach to rationing his playing time is fueled by a vague fear of wasting his fragile body. It seems like an extension of the belief that KP is weak and soft and is naturally inclined to wasting away against the grueling NBA competition.

  72. The minute limits stuff is all anecdote unless someone can show that putting a minute limit in place actually makes a difference for a 20 year old. I doubt anyone can do that. Thus, I call bullshit on everyone asking for a minute limit. Playing KP more minutes is no more dangerous than it is for any other player playing a contact sport.

  73. I don’t get this minutes argument.
    If players often get burned out/hobbled by the end of the season – they do. And if they occasionally get seriously injured – they do. And if their risk of burnout/injury is related to mpg – it obviously is. Then you manage minutes to maximize players contributions to team success, while avoiding undue risk of burnout/injury. That’s true whether or not there are prediction models that tell you precisely how many minutes a player should get considering their age, height, weight, style of play, injury history….
    Just because there’s more judgment than analytics involved doesn’t mean there isn’t an obvious and strong case for managing minutes. It just means there’s more uncertainty and grounds for disagreement about what proper limits are for a given player. There is no connection with tanking whatsoever.

  74. You guys know what’s going to happen now right? Both of KP’s legs are going to explode tonight at the 29:59 minutes played mark.

  75. Um, he was well over the age of 33 that season.

    Yes I went back and updated it before your post. But that begs the question: why was Pop playing even the young players under 30mpg? Maybe he knows something about stress and “wear and tear” that we don’t?

    We know that centers have a higher incidence of foot/ankle problems and Zinger’s 7’3″. We know that he put on about 10lbs this summer. We know the European league’s schedule was a cakewalk compared to the NBA. We know Zinger at 20yo is still developing. It’s really not such a stretch to say his minutes should be closely managed. The ones who are arguing for 30+ minutes are those being cavalier until they explain why the risk/reward justifies it.

  76. You guys know what’s going to happen now right? Both of KP’s legs are going to explode tonight at the 29:59 minutes played mark.

    LOL. I mean, just to reiterate an example I used: Willie Cauley-Stein just hurt his hand and is out 4-6 weeks. He played 19 minutes.

  77. Then you manage minutes to maximize players contributions to team success, while avoiding undue risk of burnout/injury… It just means there’s more uncertainty and grounds for disagreement about what proper limits are for a given player.

    So then tell me what should his limit be? And if so, tell me the analytical basis for your determination.

  78. Like in this article, he basically says, “unless the Knicks get lucky enough to get Durant or Westbrook, they won’t win a title with Melo.” If he believes that, then it would be 100% intellectually honest for him to follow with, “the odds that either of those guys come to New York are about zero, so if the team’s top concern is winning a title, even though Melo’s trade value has been undercut by the contract and NTC, the Knicks should move Melo.” But he doesn’t. Instead, he makes an abstract excuse for not doing so — not trading Melo will let the Knicks win ~50 games for a bit and will let NY develop “the rest of the roster around Porzingis in the meantime.” What does that even mean? How does that relate at all to Carmelo’s presence? He wants to come off as balanced, so he’ll never stick the knife in even if he’s laid out the necessary evidence to do so.

    That’s definitely a fair complaint about Lowe. We all have read Lowe well enough that we can do just that (read between the lines ) so he works really well for us, but it’s fair to note that it is probably a bit confusing for new readers of his. Like yeah, he clearly is saying “they should trade Melo” in that article without coming right out and literally saying “they should trade Melo.”

  79. Some of the work I do is in clinical prediction models for patients using a combination of published research and big data. The sources of evidence are tons of rigorously conducted trials and gazzilions of GB of routinely collected health care data. Even with all that, there’s way way more decisions where the evidence is insufficient to confidently say what the right option is for an individual patient, than there are decisions where the evidence is clear. Judgments that aren’t evidence-based are unavoidable. Given the comparatively small sample of players in the NBA, it’s highly unrealistic IMO to claim that a lack of clear statistical evidence means that a decision shouldn’t be made at all or any discussion of it is pure BS. When it stands to reason that something matters you have to manage it even if the evidence for how to do so optimally isn’t clear.

  80. But that begs the question: why was Pop playing even the young players under 30mpg? Maybe he knows something about stress and “wear and tear” that we don’t?

    Pure conjecture. There are many good reasons why Popavich didn’t play his younger players more than 30 mpg, including the fact that he liked his depth that season.

    The ones who are arguing for 30+ minutes are those being cavalier until they explain why the risk/reward justifies it.

    The reward is clear – a playoff birth. But again, you its the same problem with your premise. You haven’t even established a risk here. Where did you get 30 minutes from as the safe measure of minutes per game? This just seems like another arbitrary standard you pulled out your behind.

    It even seems overblown for you to make an issue about playing KP6 over this arbitrary limit when he has played 33 minutes in the past 5 games and is averaging 28 minutes per game.

  81. So why were so many on this board up in arms in recent years about Melo’s minutes, or for those here back then, about Amare’s or who were aghast at the “ride him like Secretariat” regarding Lin. I know Amare was fragile, but Melo was pre knee injury, Lin? Even crappy Duhon was brought up as an example of a player being “burned out” by people with an axe to grind against D’Antoni. I don’t know that it is exactly crazy to at least be conscientious about the minutes played by a kid just out of his teems who, as far as I know, never logged heavy minutes before in his life no played an 82 game schedule.

  82. Given the comparatively small sample of players in the NBA, it’s highly unrealistic IMO to claim that a lack of clear statistical evidence means that a decision shouldn’t be made at all or any discussion of it is pure BS.

    Clear misattribution. No one is arguing that a decision or discussion shouldn’t be made at all. The question is the limit.

  83. Melo is not waving his NTC. Not sure why you guys keep wasting your breath

    He’ll do it if he feel’s he’s not wanted by Phil or Dolan. But it would take the FO being the target of major blowback from the fans and certain media members for that to happen. That’s the real risk in all of this.

  84. @67 You make a good point from a fan’s perspective, for sure. But from a Dan Gilbert perspective, paying a Prokhorovian luxury tax right next year is going to be pretty difficult to swallow.

    I’m not saying Cleveland fans shouldn’t be overjoyed about their team, or fans of any good team. All we want as fans, at the end of the day, is a win to go to sleep after. And we expect the teams we are fans of to do everything in their power to deliver us more of those good days where we rest easy than those bad ones where we go over all the “what-ifs” as we toss and turn.

    But from a team-building perspective, if you can put on your executive hat and imagine it, you’ve got to hate that you can put together a team as good as OKC, San Antonio or Cleveland and still be looking up at this juggernaut in Golden State. The cliche goes that you’re an injury away, and that’s very often the case in the NBA, but that’s probably the only thing that swings the odds towards another team. If the Dubs are healthy, they are winning another title in June.

    We can argue that all we want, because that’s what sports is all about, but that’s my opinion.

  85. He’ll do it if he feel’s he’s not wanted by Phil or Dolan. But it would take the FO being the target of major blowback from the fans and certain media members for that to happen. That’s the real risk in all of this.

    Not gonna happen. That was the point of it.

  86. @86 you said: “No one is arguing that a decision or discussion shouldn’t be made at all. The question is the limit.”

    @44 you said: “If you’re arguing for a minutes cap on PorzinGod, which you are, then you are certainly arguing for us to tank. Make no mistake about that.”

    @75 EB said: “I call bullshit on everyone asking for a minute limit”

    So EB said it directly and you said it was tantamount to tanking, implying it was so unjustified as to be equivalent to intentionally losing games.

    Both of you suggest that because there is a lack of clear evidence about precisely what the minutes limit should be, no limits should be called for. I am saying that a lack of clear evidence isn’t grounds for not managing minutes. Sometimes you have to rely on judgments that aren’t evidence-based.

  87. Furthermore, I don’t know why we can’t let this team play out. Why do you need to trade Melo? There is free agency next year and the development of the youth this year. Heck they could even make a playoff run this year depending on how the team rounds into shape.

  88. If you’re arguing for a minutes cap on PorzinGod, which you are, then you are certainly arguing for us to tank. Make no mistake about that.

    You didn’t present the rest of the post.

    I’m happy right now with the minutes he’s played and have no problem with the fact he’s played around 33 minutes/game the past 5 games. I don’t think its unreasonable to ask a rookie to play those minutes for a stretch or so.

    The point was that he was arguing that we should play PorzinGod less. That’s what I was arguing against when I mentioned the cap – the idea that we are taxing or overplaying him not that there shouldn’t be limits and we should play him 48 minutes per.

    No one is saying he should play unlimited minutes. That’s ridiculous. The question is what the limit should be. I am fine with him playing the range of minutes he’s playing as long as his body is healthy and he’s productive, not with an arbitrary number imposed because people are afraid his body is too weak and fragile to handle it.

  89. Why do you need to trade Melo?

    I don’t think he’s going to age well after this surgery to be honest.

  90. I am saying that a lack of clear evidence isn’t grounds for not managing minutes. Sometimes you have to rely on judgments that aren’t evidence-based.

    So then on what basis do you propose to manage his minutes? I’ve asked the question multiple times and still don’t get an answer.

  91. We know that centers have a higher incidence of foot/ankle problems and Zinger’s 7’3?.

    Do we know this? This article claims to find no difference in injury risk based on height: Link

    We know that he put on about 10lbs this summer.

    So what?

    We know the European league’s schedule was a cakewalk compared to the NBA.

    Still not sure how this supports your argument.

    We know Zinger at 20yo is still developing.

    See above points.

    It’s really not such a stretch to say his minutes should be closely managed. The ones who are arguing for 30+ minutes are those being cavalier until they explain why the risk/reward justifies it.

    Plenty of players have played 30+ minutes and have had long NBA careers relatively free from injury.

  92. @89
    Again I like the piece.

    I’m not sure that I’d feel anything other than elated as Dan Gilbert, though even briefly imagining myself as Dan Gilbert makes be want to run and take a quick shower. It might be a small window, but from his perspective it has to be a glorious one even though the Warriors are amazing. I think we might just have different levels of confidence in how much the future can be predicted (W’s inevitable dynasty) and controlled (likelihood of greater success than current Cavs, OKC, SA). I suspect that’s true whether we’re wearing fan or GM hats. To me it seems overconfident, in other words, to assume that the Warriors are a lock or that a team with better chances than the Cavs, OKC, or SA could be built in the next few years.

  93. @95
    An expert’s best guess.

    I’m not claiming to have a precise answer. I’m just pointing out that the idea of managing minutes isn’t BS or tantamount to tanking because there might not be a precise evidence-based answer.

  94. I am fine if KP plays around 27-29 minutes a game this season. Anything more is too much. The garbage time foolishness of Fisher playing KP in out of reach games has to stop though.

    Some of the minutes talk about KP6 is a bit exaggerated. He’s averaging a little over 28 minutes per game which is well below what rookie bigmen of the past played.

    The kid has averaged 33 minutes the past five games. I get that we have to conserve him. But is him playing that many minutes per in 5 games spanning the past 11 days so much

    It just arbitrary preemptive thinking based more on a gut reaction towards caution than any reasoned consideration of the available evidence.

    I am fine with him playing the range of minutes he’s playing as long as his body is healthy and he’s productive, not with an arbitrary number imposed because people are afraid his body is too weak and fragile to handle it.

    I’ve read this thread twice and I have no idea what you’re trying to argue. You’re fine if Porzingis plays between 27-29 minutes and no more, but not in blowouts, but it’s no big deal if he plays more and the thing we should avoid is setting arbitrary limits (like 27-29 minutes).

  95. @EB 96 Here are the 20yo rookie centers who played more than 30mpg in their rookie season: Shaq, Amare, Brook Lopez, Webber. Scary! If you’re wrong, we’ve significantly damaged our future prospects. If you’re right, we MAYBE make the playoffs. BFD

  96. Furthermore, I don’t know why we can’t let this team play out. Why do you need to trade Melo? There is free agency next year and the development of the youth this year. Heck they could even make a playoff run this year depending on how the team rounds into shape.

    I am not too concerned with record or playoffs, this is a develop/get a better idea of what we have season with KP, Galloway and Grant season for me. Melo, to me, provides cover for all this. He can carry the load offensively (we have spent jillions of posts arguing whether it is as an innings eater or defense tile, it is irrelevant) and with the media.

  97. Here are the 20yo rookie centers who played more than 30mpg in their rookie season: Shaq, Amare, Brook Lopez, Webber.

    And the injury concerns for these players could just as easily have happened if they hadn’t played 30 mpg.

    An expert’s best guess.

    How can there be an expert in the area without having any evidence?

  98. @EB 96 Here are the 20yo rookie centers who played more than 30mpg in their rookie season: Shaq, Amare, Brook Lopez, Webber. Scary! If you’re wrong, we’ve significantly damaged our future prospects. If you’re right, we MAYBE make the playoffs. BFD

    Sorry I have to add Bosh and Dwight Howard to the list who were 19yo. (coded C, C/F, F/C in bref) Still scary when you consider Lopez and Amare.

  99. Still scary when you consider Lopez and Amare.

    In STAT’s case the main issue was that he had an unnecessary microfracture surgery which had at the time (not sure if there have been improvements) a poor success rate in full recovery. After that it was common knowledge that his knees were a ticking time bomb which is why the Suns were only willing to offer him a 3-year full max as compared to Donnie Walsh’s 5 years full max.

  100. The question is what the limit should be.

    The problem is that the proper minutes limit is inherently vague. You can’t supply a hard number that doesn’t risk being arbitrary, but we all know that 48 is too much of a minutes load, and 5 is too little. Demanding a hard number is like demanding to know the weight at which someone stops being thin, or when a collection of sand grains becomes a heap of sand. It’s inherently vague and so impossible to strictly say, but we can use our judgment and past data to conclude what might be a good option in KP’s case. Using our judgment isn’t the same as not using evidence, but it’s more of an admittance that the evidence we use for our decision cannot be quantitative (unless there’s good hard data on how minutes loads affect tall centers in the NBA, which I’m not sure if there is); it’ll more than likely just be predicated on qualitative analysis of past experience. That’s not perfect, but it’s the best you’re going to get in the absence of hard data, and it’s certainly better than just randomly picking a number out of a hat or denying the need for a minutes cap. So if an expert medical professional demands a minutes load of a certain amount, say, 25 or 30 minutes, then s/he won’t be strictly right, but that’s no reason, as Unreason has noted, to discount the need for a minutes limit in general, or to discount the expert opinion. Risk management would urge us to stay on the cautious side when the expected return isn’t much.

    That being said I don’t care much about his minutes so long as they’re not way too much or way too little (with both criteria being the “we know it when we see it” variety) but I think if you want to pinpoint a minutes load it should be in the range of 25-30 a game with occasional increases in close games and occasional decreases in back to backs.

  101. In STAT’s case the main issue was that he had an unnecessary microfracture surgery which had at the time (not sure if there have been improvements) a poor success rate in full recovery. After that it was common knowledge that his knees were a ticking time bomb

    Why did the medical staff feel it was necessary to drill a hole in the knee of a 22yo in the first place?

  102. @49 Thanks RicanKnick, glad you enjoyed it

    @97 Glad you liked it Unreason. And arguing over what we think about sports if a birthright, I respect your take on it.

  103. How can there be an expert in the area without having any evidence?

    In many performance domains, expertise is acquired through training and lots of experience of a particular kind. The kind of experience is called “deliberate practice”.

    In a nutshell, novices attempt to perform the task while observed by people with an established track record of success, then get intensive structured feedback from them. Practice continues over many repetitions with increasing amounts of responsibility until complete independence is achieved.

    In competitive areas, success while operating independently is evaluated through transparent outcome metrics that are known to the members of that community of practitioners and these significantly affect the reputation and positions associated with established expertise. Those metrics are usually crude tallies of success on the major outcomes of interest – cases solved, fires controlled, battles won – and important mistakes to avoid.

    Few fields have excellent prediction models that give precise indications of how to make the decisions that experts routinely make. The burden of gathering and analyzing data needed to understand the determinants of success is very high even in well-defined and relatively simple domains. In complex domains with lots of variables that have complex interactions, it is usually not feasible. The fact that you can’t codify precisely why some firefighter chiefs or submarine captains or heart surgeons are very successful doesn’t mean that there are no expert firefighters, etc. Nor does it mean that they can’t or don’t transmit their expertise to the people they train. They can and they do. It happens the old fashioned way, largely without the benefit of quantitative models and quantitative evidence.

    All of which suggests to me that it’s a good idea to look to Pop for guidance on minutes management.

  104. Now might be a good time to go onto Hawkerblogger to see their reaction to Hardaway’s being sent to the D-League. I imagine that there are a whole bunch of, “Can you believe we traded the #19 pick in the draft for a guy who we’re sending to the D-League” comments. Put it another way — could you imagine what this site would be like if the Knicks had traded the #19 pick in the draft for Jimmer Fredette?

    You don’t have to imagine. Just wait until tonight’s game. At some point the camera will pan towards He Who Shall Not Be Named.

    Then you will feel the shame!

  105. BTW I’m not thrilled with Porzingis being out there during garbage time. I’m not sure if more or less minutes will keep him healthy. I just know that fewer players hurt themselves sitting on the bench than playing on the court.

  106. @ unreason. The example areas you’re giving are quite different than the one we’re talking about. And pop wouldn’t necessarily qualify as an expert based on the examples you’ve given.

    There’s also plenty of examples where people who should be experts are terrible predictors of outcomes. Certainly if some person had an impeccable track record of assigning minutes limits and made a recommendation of x minutes, then we should listen to them. However I don’t know of such a person or even whether such a person could exist.

  107. I’d be more worried about him playing long stretches within games (like playing a full quarter without a rest) than about his total mpg. As long as Fisher is subbing for him as soon as he looks gassed- and I think he has for the most part- then I think exceeding 30 minutes is okay. Right now he looks very spry and I don’t think it’s necessary to have a cap on his minutes but if/when he hits the rookie wall and starts laboring then I hope Fish is going to keep a very close eye on him.

  108. My very uneducated two cents on minutes. I know at 20 years old I could run around all day. By 29 I could still run around but not for nearly as long at a frantic pace. Now granted, I was never a world class athlete on a strict diet and daily routine, however I don’t think the minutes are as big of a deal as fatigue. Obviously just the fact you’re out on the court increases your chance of being injured. I believe there is a correspondence in fatigue and injury increasing. As you fatigue you lose form and dexterity which increases the injury risk. That is what I’m worried about more than actual minutes played. I’m less likely to die in my recliner tonight than my car, but I’m not going to worry about driving it to go watch the game either. Don’t get overly up in arms about his minutes unless hens showing fatigue or he’s constantly playing minutes in games that are out of hand one way or the other.

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