Pelton Rates Free Agent Destinations

Over at Basketball Prospectus, Kevin Pelton looks at potential landing spots for free agents in the summer of Lebron. It’s definitely worth a read, but here’s the money quote:

So what did the Knicks lose to get the room to sign two players? Jordan Hill’s three-year projection is for 10.6 WARP; he’s not Brandon Jennings or Ty Lawson, but he does figure to become a useful player. The way I valued the 2011 swap, it cost New York 0.4 WARP, and the 2012 pick only cost them 0.7 WARP. The difference is enough to drop the Knicks below Miami in this analysis, and it stands the potential to be a disastrous trade if the 2011 and 2012 picks are in the lottery, but if New York is successful in free agency it will barely miss them at all.

Based on talent, cap space, and draft picks, NY looks like a middle-of-the-pack destination for marquee free agents. We have cap space aplenty, but are likely to have a woefully thin roster going forward. That’s hardly a bombshell for Knickerblogger regulars, but the details make for an insightful read. So check it out.

Pelton’s analysis raises a couple of interesting questions for Knick fans.

1. Will Knick fans support a non-LeBron rebuild?

What if unassailable intelligence–I’m talking Peter Vescey-level sources here–confirmed that Walshtoni knew all along that LeBron would never leave CLE? LeBron was always a myth intended to make cap management easier to swallow. The real plan A has always been, let’s say, Nash, Lee (or Boozer), and Dalembert at reasonable prices. Would Knick fans riot? Either way, it’s possible that the wisest play for Donnie Hoops is a combo of second-tier free agents (at second-tier prices), trades, and low-cost picks rather going for LeBron, Bosh/Johnson, and eight D-Leaguers.

2. What subjective factors will play the biggest role in free agent movement this summer?

Pelton’s analysis looks at talent, cap space, and draft picks. He (wisely) stays away from subjective factors. Yet, we know those can “tip the scales” at times. (Who thought Turkoglu would go to Toronto?) Even with LeBron, Walsh must still find talent at a discount (or at least without a premium). But how?

Coach D’Antoni – All else equal, he’s probably NYs biggest intangible asset. That’s not without caveats though. If I’m guaranteed 1-7 in the rotation, I prefer D’Antoni to Spoelstra, Del Negro, or [insert new NJ or LAC coach] for the same money. If I’m the 8th/9th guy in the rotation, maybe I’d rather play for the minimum somewhere else since I might never see the light of day. (D’Antoni’s a pair of glasses away from being a Larry Brown-level diva.)

Unsettled rotation – Although portrayed as a weakness, I see this as an asset in the market. No starting spot is guaranteed. Add in D’Antoni’s penchant for unorthodox lineups, and NY can look solely at talent regardless of position. That’s a flexibility few other teams will have.

The brand – It is easy for New Yorkers to overstate people’s desire to live, work, and play in the city. However, many commentators oddly dismiss the strength of the “Knicks” brand outright. When companies rank the world’s best brands they’re essentially looking at a brand’s marginal ability to attract resources. Some brands are better than others, even after prolonged underperformance. Take Alabama football. Five years ago Bama was losing at Hawai’i. Now, Alabama is football royalty again and in on every top recruit. It doesn’t take as much to revive some brands as others.

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11 thoughts to “Pelton Rates Free Agent Destinations”

  1. The problem i see is that 2nd tier FA rarely come at 2nd tier prices. The max salary flattens the curve talent/salary, so you have to hope to get the maximum talent you can at the same price as everybody else.

    I figure that Walshtoni really thinks we have a real opportunity at landing big this summer; if not, the Jeffries trade doesn’t make any sense since he is coming off the books in 2011 anyway.

    Maybe plan B is finding 2nd tier FAs that suit D’Antoni system and then get some good role players off Eddie Curry expiring contract; so we become like Phoenix Suns. If we become something like 3rd in the East, i’d be quite happy.

  2. This team has a lot of needs (lol).

    The most pressing is obviously a big man to guard Cs and protect the paint when our perimeter players get beat. Right now the combination of Lee and anyone else is comically bad defensively and on the boards.

    I think the key is to decide whether this team can win a championship with Lee at the C. IMHO, it absolutely cannot. Even though his offensive versatility seems to improve against Cs, he is atrocious against them defensively and does close to nothing to protect the paint. He can’t block shots, rarely alters shots, and rarely takes charges. He’s a huge liability on that end. So IMO he’s going to have to be a PF teamed with a specific kind of C for it to work well enough to contend for a title. The issue there, right or wrong, (don’t blame me I’m only the messenger), is that D’Antoni likes stretch PFs that can space the floor and shoot from beyond the arc. For better or worse, that’s his system. So it’s really hard to find a solution for Lee and the Knicks that can both win it all and fit the system. IMO one of them is going to have to go (Lee or system). Once that decsion is made, it gets easier to decide who or what kind of player the Knicks need to bring in.

    We also need a legitimate PG and SG.

    If Sergio can show something over the next few weeks, I’d be willing to gamble on him for next year unless a clear cut high quality PG becomes available via trade.

    There are a couple of high quality SGs available. It’s just going to get tricky to not overpay (specifcially for Joe Johnson).

    Finally, I tend to value players based on their stats. But I think in order to win it all a team needs a super star and/or a few high level all-star caliber players that can play well at “boths ends” of the court. Assuming we can’t sign Lebron (and I think the chances are basically zero), we might have to swallow the bullet and overpay “a little” for one or two legitimate all stars. If we bring in 3-4 above average role players at fairer prices, IMO we are doomed to mediocrity. I’m patient enough to wait for Curry’s contract to either be traded or come off the cap in order to get the players we really need.

    I also think everyone should be on the table for a trade in order to bring that kind of player here including Gallo, Chandler, Lee, and Douglas.

    While Lee is already an excellent all star caliber offensive player and good rebonder, he’s below average on defense at PF and totally useless against Cs.

    Gallo may develop into an all star talent at both ends, but I am less optimistic now than I was a month or so ago.

    Chandler is one of our best two way players, but unless he improves his handle and outside shot his usage is going to be limited. His top is going to be solid role player or very marginal all star.

    Douglas looks more like a solid role player.

    Guys like that can be replaced. Two way all stars cannot. That’s
    what we need.

  3. Ford and Hollinger did a “Future Rankings” article on ESPN this week ranking teams in multiple categories. The Knicks future was ranked 16th overall, but Market 4th (LA, Miami and for some reason Orlando [my guess is because of the lack of state taxes in FL]), Management 13th (I think this is about right), Money 1st (we have the most cap space this offseason), Current Players 27th and Draft Position 30th because we sacrificed all of it.

    Now, if we strike out on LeBron/Wade/Bosh, there’s no one we can sign that would really elevate our Current Players much higher than the 15-20 range, right? And our draft position is still terrible because of the swap, and giving up 2012 pick. I’d probably rate NY market at 2 or 3 just because people consider things like weather too and LA and Miami are significantly better in that regard.

    The management rankings were interesting, with the usual suspects (SA, OKC, Houston, LA, Boston) at or near the top. I think Dolan drags us down there because D’Antoni is a big draw and Walsh has an excellent reputation.

  4. Iserp – The problem i see is that 2nd tier FA rarely come at 2nd tier prices.

    :: Part of that is because so few teams have cap space. They’re stuck with the MLE and… well, we know how that goes.

    I figure that Walshtoni really thinks we have a real opportunity at landing big this summer; if not, the Jeffries trade doesn’t make any sense since he is coming off the books in 2011 anyway.

    :: Well, getting Jeffries off the books is a necessary condition for doing something big this summer. It doesn’t mean that it will happen.

    If we become something like 3rd in the East, i’d be quite happy.

    :: Ain’t that the truth.

  5. IMHO, I don’t think Donnie feels we need LeBron. If I remember correctly, I was reading an article in September about Wilson Chandler and Gallo being “Knicks of The Future.” They are both SF’s, the same position LeBron plays. I mean if we can get LeBron, its a no-brainer. But honestly, Walshtoni must have 3 really good back-up plans. One that would be very interesting would be the rebirth of the Suns. Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Raja Bell sounds quite familiar. Add a PG like Sergio Rordriguez, Bill and Will as slashing wings, and Gallo as the premier shooter, all in the D’Antoni SSOL system. Sounds like a team I’d enjoy watching. Only problem is will Joe Johnson and Amar’e take less than the max, so we can bring in a Carlos Boozer/David Lee type (Preferably Boozer, he hasn’t suffered a losing season in quite a while, and actually plays defense).

  6. Boozer’s a weird defender.

    When he’s on, he’s definitely on, but he also has had some pretty goddawful defensive seasons (worse than Lee’s current season).

  7. Oh, I forgot; is it too late to establish Bill Walker as a new fan favorite? I personally think he’s the most athletic player the have had in a while. He gets his first start tonight, I feel like he won’t disappoint.

  8. Massive,

    If Donnie doesn’t feel that his (or any) team needs LeBron, he should be fired. LeBron is, without question, the most athletic, versatile, and efficient player since Michael Jordan. He’s as dominant as Shaq and Duncan were in the early 00s, and he can guard five positions. Hell, Shaq, who has played with All-NBA talent his whole career, said this season that he could be a head coach in the NBA right now. That’s a hell of an endorsement!

    While Johnson and Amare are outstanding talents, no one can touch LeBron right now, and he’s got seven years of peak play ahead of him, without a hint of injury risk or body-wear. Additionally, he’s not a small player, so he’ll probably remain dominant into his mid-thirties.

    Without Lebron, the Knicks have a very slim chance at becoming a championship contender. You see how Wade has languished without a premium player behind him (and that will not change in NYC). Amare played with a two-time MVP (who, while maybe not deserving of the award, is a top-three point guard each year, and is having a career year at what, 36?) and couldn’t get into the Finals. Bosh plays for the Raptors.

    There is no Plan B, because Plan B means losing in five games in the conference semifinals. Would that justify the Jeffries deal?

  9. I trust the greed of players and agents.

    we got a lot of money to spend. and in times of crises, that’s good.

    most of all, a lot of money can be made in NY in other ways.

    lebron has overgrown cleveland, and I don’t see him going to work every day watching jordan’s statue.

    he can start a rivalry with Kobe by going to the Clippers.
    that makes a lot of sense.They got a lot of young talent. If just they weren’t the Clippers…

    or he can Resurrect New York, a place where in any case he can really build a legacy.

    you really see him forever in “mistake on the lake?”
    the guy is ambitious…he is the chosen one…he will choose the biggest stage.

  10. I think its important to remember that LBJ would not just be coming to NYC.

    He is invited, to resurrect a beloved franchise.

    If he can come and accomplish that… he will be on a very short list of the greatest NYC athletes of all time. He has the ability to be up there with Ruth, Messier, Mantle, Clyde…

    The draw of NYC to LBJ is different the the draw of NYC to a guy like Lee or TMac or Bosh or even Wade. They can all become great players who are loved in the city, but LBJ can step it up on a higher level.

    People underestimate the impact he will have on this city with basketball. It would be insane. And if he actually manages to win one here?!?!?!? wow. It would be a celebration like this city has not seen in a long time. The knicks have 100% of the fans (at least for now) something none of the other sport teams have.

    If he chooses to stay in Ohio over trying to make it in the big city… then good for him. Lots of people dont want to risk failure and stay home…. There is a commendable aspect of staying there for the fans. I get it, and I respect it.

    I just dont buy that one of the most ambitious athletes ever is going to pass up the opportunity to become the king of the greatest city in the world. Those opportunities are very rare indeed and dont come around very often.

  11. gbaked-
    I hope your right but that sounds like wishful thinking. I just don’t see lebron leaving his city. For one reason, if he leaves witbout winning he would be hated in his hometown like buckner was in Boston. Secondly, if he leaves is he really going to take on a rebuilding project(the only way he does is if Wade decides to abandon Miami and join up in ny…. If your keeping score that’s two superstars selling out their respective hometowns for a rebuilding project, it’s a long shot at best).

    Our other FA options aren’t too exciting ?!?
    Bosh, amare, Johnson are all questionable leaders… while identity is trully our most pressing need.

    In the end I think DW went ‘all-in’ but might have been better off waiting it out considering the crop of FA talent after next season( and held onto those picks) ….however, I thnk he had no choice since us Knick fans wouldn’t have waited around for another season to rebuild.

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