Samb A Low Risk For New York

Yesterday the Knicks signed Cheik Samb to a 10 day contract. Samb has played for 3 other NBA teams (the Pistons, Nuggets, and Clippers) but has only amassed 106 minutes in that time. His per minute numbers show him to be a strong shot blocker with a very limited offensive game. In fact his shooting numbers are downright laughably bad (TS% 30.5, eFG 27.3%)

Although I’m a big of a supporter of per minute numbers, 106 minutes isn’t enough of a sample to make a good conclusion. This is especially true with regards to a players shooting percentages, which vary more from game to game than their other stats. Luckily Samb has logged 500+ minutes for the NBDL, and his 14.7 pts/36 on 52.8% TS% in the minor league is encouraging. If you combine his numbers from the two leagues, he projects well for a backup center.

Season   Tm  G  MP  FGA FTA  FT% ORB  TRB AST STL BLK TOV  PF   PTS  PER  TS% eFG%
2007-08 DET  4  31  4.6 2.3 .500 3.5  8.1 0.0 1.2 2.3 1.2 9.3  8.1 12.0 .717 .750
2008-09 TOT 16  75 13.9 2.4 .600 4.3 10.6 0.5 1.4 4.8 1.4 3.4  7.2  7.2 .240 .207
NBA Career  20 106 11.2 2.4 .571 4.1  9.8 0.3 1.4 4.1 1.4 5.1  7.5  8.6 .305 .273
NBDL Career 20 508 12.7 2.8 .744 2.6  9.6 0.9 0.9 5.3 2.1 4.6 14.7 17.9 .528 .497
NBA+NBDL    40 614 12.4 2.7 .714 2.9  9.6 0.8 1.0 5.1 2.0 4.7 13.5 16.3 .490 .458

Samb holds up well when compared to some other NBA centers at approximately the same age/number of years in the league. His rebounding isn’t as strong as Ben Wallace or Andris Biedrins, and Big Ben was chipping in with nearly 2 blocks per 36 minutes. Additionally Samb compares poorly to the lot from an offensive standpoint (if you value his NBA numbers over his NBDL). However his blocked shots are the best of the bunch. In fact there have only been 54 seasons in which a player averaged more than 4.0 blocks/36 in 1000 minutes or more.

        Player   To   G   MP   FGA  FG% FTA  FT% ORB  TRB AST STL BLK TOV  PF  PTS
     Cheik Samb 2009  20  106 11.2 .273 2.4 .571 4.1  9.8 0.3 1.4 4.1 1.4 5.1  7.5
Samb NBA+NBDL   2009  40  614 12.4 .458 2.7 .714 2.9  9.6 0.8 1.0 5.1 2.0 4.7 13.5
  Jackie Butler 2007  69  848 10.8 .539 3.8 .775 3.1  8.7 1.3 0.8 1.3 3.1 6.1 14.6
   Jerome James 2002  72  991 10.8 .481 2.6 .500 3.5  9.0 0.9 1.0 3.3 3.0 6.7 11.7
  Steven Hunter 2004 145 1752  8.3 .506 4.3 .464 2.7  7.4 0.5 0.4 3.1 1.2 4.9 10.4
   Dan Gadzuric 2004 124 2020  8.8 .512 3.1 .500 3.4  9.7 0.7 1.3 2.8 1.3 5.5 10.6
Andris Biedrins 2009 309 7469  9.1 .602 3.2 .535 4.3 12.2 1.5 1.1 1.9 1.7 5.0 12.6
    Ben Wallace 1998 101 1321  5.7 .481 3.2 .347 3.7 10.4 0.5 1.9 2.3 1.3 3.9  6.6

The big question is will Samb ever see that many minutes? It’s hard to tell with D’Antoni. He seemingly coveted Chris Wilcox when in Phoenix, but now that the team has acquired him, the center has yet to see any real minutes. Wilcox has played in only 5 games, and has yet to play more than 12 in any game for New York. My gut feeling is that D’Antoni might throw Samb a few minutes early to see if he’s useful, but that you won’t see him again until the Knicks are officially out of the place race. It’s very likely that Samb won’t see any minutes this year at all. New York may just hold him on their roster for the summer league and re-evaluate him at that time.

To put things in perspective the last time the Knicks picked up a shot blocking center in Jerome James, the deal was 182 times longer than Samb’s. The shot blocker they picked up prior to James, helped them reach the playoffs (Dikembe Mutombo) in 2004. This is a good low risk-medium reward deal for the Knicks. It’s something that the team has been weak at considering the Roberson/Von Wafer mistake over the summer. If Samb can join the legion of NBDLers who have become solid NBA players he will give New York another cheap player to help the team win now. Additionally players like Samb could help New York field a competitive roster for 2011 without hurting them fiscally.

Indexed: Al Harrington

As a Knick fan, Al Harrington can be frustrating at times. Some nights he can explode like he did against Cleveland for 39 points. Other times he can just kill New York’s chance of winning, like he did recently against the Clippers (19 points on 24 shots, including 1-10 from three).

Harrington is a talented scorer at times. He can take his man off the dribble, hit the outside shot, or score in traffic. But what he can’t do it is pass, which becomes more apparent when he drives to the hoop. Often when he gets the ball, I get the feeling that he’s going to force up a shot. Because he doesn’t

Last night was a great example. In overtime against the Spurs, Robinson was hot in overtime, but gave the ball to Harrington twice in a row. Both times Harrington took shots. The second one was a prime example of the bad side of Al Harrington. There was a minute left in OT, and New York was clinging to a 5 point lead. The Knick offense was just setting up when Harrington just drove to the hoop with his head down. He missed the shot and opened the door to a possible Spur comeback.

That play inspired me to create this:

Knicks denied Disabled Player Exception for Mobley

Steve Adamek of the Bergen Record reports that the league denied a disabled player exception for Cuttino Mobley late Friday.

The league, Walsh said, essentially determined that Mobley’s heart condition, which forced him to retire shortly after the Knicks acquired him from the Clippers on Nov. 21, but with which he had played this season, was a pre-existing condition.

Mobley is now like anyone else on the roster. The Knicks could buy out his contract, worth more than $8.9 million this season and another $9.5 million next season, which would clear a roster spot (he would be waived), although the money would not come off their cap. They could also simply waive him without a buyout.


Obviously this closes the door on a number of possibilities Donnie Walsh had to alter the Knicks’ roster. A two for one deal to move Marbury is now even more unlikely unless a small contract like Anthony Roberson’s is bought out. The denial also prevents Walsh from trading the exception for a player with up to a 4.5 million dollar contract.

Curry To Go

With the Knicks finally poised for considerable salary cap space in 2010-11, the LeBron James countdown has officially begun. More than a year and a half before it’s possible, New York is already salivating at the chance to welcome James to the fold. But it’s no foregone conclusion that The King will join the Knicks. James says championship contention is his top priority, and we should take his word for it. If that’s the case, the Knicks have a long way to go to before they can secure James. Building a championship level supporting cast will be a difficult journey. And it’s one that must begin with the trade of Eddy Curry.

The Knicks will be expected to lure a second superstar to play sidekick to James. According to current salary commitments, the Knicks will have enough room under the cap to offer two free agents the max if they don’t re-up their current core of young players–Nate Robinson, David Lee–and pick up the team options on Wilson Chandler ($2.1M) and Danilo Gallinari ($3.3M). To keep their youngsters, and still sign two max FA’s, the Knicks must unload Eddy Curry’s contract ($11.2M) without taking on 2010-2011 dollars.

Curry has his flaws, but due mostly (or exclusively, really) to his scoring talents, he’s still an above average center in a league that starts Udonis Haslem, Zaza Pachulia, and Robert Swift at the pivot. Curry’s not playing right now, so a trade is highly unlikely. But we can dream of the day the Knicks’ league-leading pace will artificially inflate his per game numbers. Better yet, we can speculate on how exactly to get rid of him.

Mr. Curry to the Courtesy Phone
For the sake of argument, I’m assuming that teams that would want a player like Curry are in need of: (a) bench/low post scoring; (b) big man depth; (c) are playoff bound in 2008-09; (d) and won’t have cap space in 2010 anyway.

Also, for the sake of argument, I’m assuming that the Knicks are literally willing to give Curry away. If I were Donnie Walsh, I’d trade Curry for a sack of potatoes, as long as the tubers’ contract expired on July 1st, 2010. Of course, the Knicks could get lucky and find a team that’s willing to trade an unprotected first round pick for Curry, but for that to happen, they’d probably have to trade Isiah Thomas to the Clippers first.

None of the following deals are likely, but to prevent the absurd, I’ve omitted possible trades to teams like Chicago and Milwaukee that may need a player with Eddy Curry’s skill set, but don’t want Eddy Curry.

CHARLOTTE Nazr Mohammed & Adam Morrison for Eddy Curry
Off-court, Charlotte would prefer to unload Gerald Wallace’s contract. On-court, they need a center to move Emeka Okafor back to his more natural power forward position. Okafor’s defense can cover for Curry’s lapses, and vice versa. They’d be great platoon partners.

Charlotte won‘t make the playoffs this year, but they are looking to reorganize their team. Various rumors suggest they’re ready to give up on Morrison, and could use Curry’s scoring instead. The salaries match, but Nazr has 2010 money on the books, so the Knicks would only save about $4 million. The Knicks would decline Morrison’s option and renounce his rights.

With Nazr for Curry, they’d have an easier salary to unload in the off-season, and that $4 million in savings can help off-set the salary commitment for their 2009 first round draft pick.

NEW ORLEARNS Mike James & Hilton Armstrong for Eddy Curry
The Hornets are getting absolutely nothing out of James and Armstrong, with the former losing his rotation spot to Devin Brown and the latter doing his best impression of a lamp-post fifteen minutes a game. With front court depth a major issue heading into the post-season, the Hornets could jettison two players who don’t contribute for a third big man who can provide scoring punch when Tyson Chandler or David West take their breathers.

Curry has always been an embarrassingly bad rebounder, so it may come as a surprise that he could actually help the Hornets in that regard. Believe it or not, his career rebound rate is slightly superior to Armstrong’s. And Curry would do it while scoring twice as much. We focus on Curry’s flaws so often, we often forget how many teams play total stiffs just by virtue of them being the tallest guy in the gym.

The Hornets are playoff bound and will need some help to get past the Lakers. Curry doesn’t come cheap, but one wonders if they’d be willing to roll the dice with the man-child, picking him up to provide the front-court depth and second-team scoring they so desperately need.

DENVER Steven Hunter and Chucky Atkins for Eddy Curry
Like the Hornets, the Nuggets can trade two players who have spent most of the year in business suits for a productive big man. Considering they’ve played Renaldo Balkman at the pivot, they could use a center that puts the ball in the basket.

Hunter and Atkins come to the Knicks for blatant salary implications, while Denver gets another scorer. In fact, with Denver’s trade exemptions, they could acquire Curry without giving anything more than a 2nd round draft pick in return. But considering that Denver is reluctant to pay the luxury tax, the Knick could do them the favor of taking back some monetary flotsam in return.

Playing the Field
There are other deals that make less sense. Would Dallas trade Jerry Stackhouse and Antoine Wright for Curry? It would help their bench scoring, but eat up their 2010 salary cap flexibility. Maybe Atlanta could unload two unproductive point guards in Speedy Claxton and Acie Law for Curry. Washington could trade the Knicks two centers who don’t even play: Etan Thomas and Darius Songalia. But stuck in the Eastern Conference basement, and with a pair of intriguing, young bigs, would they bother? Would Sacramento shuffle about salaries, getting Shareef-Abdur Rahim and Mikki Moore off the books for Curry?

Knicks fans are dreaming of bringing James to New York in 2010. But unless the Knicks can unload Curry’s contract before then, it’s unlikely they’ll be in position to assemble the championship-level supporting cast James demands. Considering the cost of Curry, the Knicks will have to get creative to clear him in time for what could be a very special summer.

Crawford traded for Harrington

Rumors reported at the Knicks Fix and the New York Post. So what would these deals mean to the teams involved?

UPDATE: ESPN is reporting the deal is a Crawford for Harrington straight swap.

Crawford for Harrington

Does it work for the Knicks: Yes.

Walsh lavished tons of praise on Crawford when he arrived in New York, but who knows what he was really thinking. Obviously getting under the cap is a priority for the Knicks, so it’s possible that he’s willing to sacrifice Jamal for the greater good. Or it’s also possible that Walsh’s kind words were a way to increase his value so to trade him. Maybe watching Jamal’s inability to fight through anything resembling a screen up close soured Walsh on Jamal. The Knicks are deep at guard, and if they get desperate enough they can activate Marbury.

Does it work for the Warriors: Yes.

Harrington has been feuding with coach Don Nelson & has appeared in only 5 games this year, so the Warriors aren’t really losing anything by trading him. In Crawford they get another scorer, something Nellie can’t have enough of in his system. And Golden State is short a guard with Ellis’ injury. It’s possible that Nelson can get Jamal to improve his play, but even as-is he’ll help them out more than Harrington currently is

Malik Rose for Harrington

Does it work for the Knicks: Yes.

They’re not saving any cap here, since Malik’s deal runs out this year. But they’re getting a more serviceable player in Harrington. Rose is one of the smarter players in the league, but watching him trying to score in the paint with George Constanza’s ups has become almost comical.

Does it work for the Warriors: No.

It doesn’t make sense for Golden State other than slashing a year off Rose’s deal. Hoopshype has them at $39M next summer with Harrington, but they don’t have Ellis & Biedrins at $21M total. So they would be at about $50M next year – I’m not sure if that’s a big enough savings to dump Harrington. They would not benefit this year with this kind of deal. Unless the Knicks are sweetening the pot (and I don’t mean Mardy Collins), they could do a lot better than Malik Rose.

Quentin Richardson for Harrington

Does it work for the Knicks: Maybe.

Unlike Rose, Richardson is mildly useful, and the Knicks are paper thin at small forward. Richardson is actually shooting well (3P%: 38.6%, eFG%: 54.3%, TS%: 56.8) and can rebound (6.8 REB/36). However he seems to have lost his ability to create shots, and doesn’t score much (13.0 PTS/36). Harrington could play SF, but like his former coach Mike D’Antoni likes to play small, which means Harrington would probably see a lot of minutes at the 4 as well. Harrington would be an upgrade over Richardson, but it’s a lateral move.

Does it work for the Warriors: No, not really.

Richardson’s contract is almost as big, and just as long as Al Harrington. Is Quentin Richardson an upgrade over Al Harrington? So why is Golden State doing this move? Other than to dump Harrington for a semi-live body, beats me.

Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Clippers
Jamal Crawford to the Warriors
Cuttino Mobley, Al Harrington, and Tim Thomas to the Knicks

Does it work for the Knicks: Yes.

This would hurt the team this year, as the Knicks would be thin in the frontcourt. David Lee, Al Harrington, Wilson Chandler, Tim Thomas, Jared Jeffries?, Eddy Curry?, Danilo Gallinari?, and Jerome James? One thing is for certain – Lee’s rebounding would almost have to go up due to the lack of competition. The timing would be almost just right with Jeffries scheduled to come back from injury in the next week. And they would get enough players to offset the major minutes lost to Randolph & Crawford.

But from a salary cap perspective, this deal is nearly a home run. New York sheds nearly $29M in 2010 and the only overpriced contract would be Eddy Curry’s $11M (and perhaps Jared Jeffries $7M). It would be the first step toward respectability, and would be a major victory for Walsh to get rid of these contracts only a month into the season.

Does it work for the Warriors: Yes.

It’s the same deal as #1.

Does it work for the Clippers: Yes.

Los Angeles tried to extract a draft pick for taking Randolph’s contract off New York’s hands over the summer. It’s ironic that the Knicks appeared to be the desperate ones this summer, and the Clippers operating from a position of strength. However 11 games into the season, and the tables have turned.The Clippers are 2-9 with the league’s second worst offense. With their new acquisitions Baron Davis (29 yrs) and Marcus Camby (34 yrs) being on the downside of their career, the Clippers need to start winning now. Randolph will give Los Angeles some scoring and should compliment the defensively minded Camby & Kaman.

Hahn: Grizzlies/Knicks Can’t Meet On Zach Deal

Yesterday Alan Hahn reported that the possible deal between the Knicks and Grizzlies is dead. Although the deal seemed to “heat up” as the papers caught wind of it, New York President Donnie Walsh called the deal “dormant” more than a week ago.

Knick fans are probably unhappy with the news, as most fans are anxious to see Randolph in another uniform just so that David Lee can inherit the starting role. I put myself in the position that I’d rather see no deal than a deal that hurts the Knicks. Trading Randolph fits with both the short and long term plans of New York, and it’s entirely possible that the Knicks can get a better deal down the road. At worst you’d think the Memphis deal should still be available in February.

There is other thing I noticed in Hahn’s article:

It was the second time this offseason that a chance to move Randolph’s three-year, $48 million contract did not result in a trade. The Clippers had interest in him back in July, but also wanted the Knicks to give up a first-rounder in a deal that would have sent a second-round pick to New York. Walsh said no to that and the Clippers instead traded the second-rounder to Denver for Marcus Camby.

Like myself, Hahn believes that Los Angeles wanted a first round pick in order to take Randolph off New York’s hands. To me it doesn’t make sense that New York would refuse to trade Randolph for nothing in return to the Clippers, then work on a deal for Darko & Marko with the Grizzlies. Given Donnie Walsh’s tenure in the business, it seems to make more sense that the Clips wanted a first rounder instead of Walsh failing to realize that getting nothing for Randolph was a smart deal.

And this from Hahn’s chat:

[Comment From Big Wayne]
If Jamal Crawford has a breakout season this year under Mike D, do you think he’ll opt out of his deal next summer?? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing if he did that??

I think he will, Wayne and if I were his agent I’d advise him to. Jamal is nearing 30 so this may be his only time to cash in with free agency. I think if he has a breakout, all-star type year, he would have to opt out. Now, would Jamal agree to take around the same amount of money (which helps the Knicks payroll) in exchange for a long-term committment? That’s what we have to see. It’s a critical year for Jamal. He has to prove not only that he can consistently score and play defense, but he can be a leader, too.

This is interesting. Let’s just assume that Hahn’s correct and Jamal does opt out. If the Knicks don’t resign him, they’d be saving $10M in 2010. This would leave the Knicks with a hole at shooting guard, unless they can get a good shooting guard in the draft, cheaply in free agency, or as their big free agent in 2010 (Wade?). However Walsh has said publicly that he likes Crawford (on many occasions) so you’d have to wonder if he’d offer Jamal a long term deal to stay.