2009 Game Preview: Knicks @ Thunder

A slight change to the Knicks’ Week in Advance that you have come to depend upon.  Instead of the weekly article, I will provide a preview/game thread as often as I can.  This will give you up to date info on the match ups rather than week old data.  This also gives me more air time on the site so it’s a win-win for us all.


New York won the first of two meetings against Oklahoma City 116-106 at MSG on November 14, 2008.  New York prevailed due to a large edge in 3 point field goals made (7 vs. 1) and free throws made (29-40 vs. 17-24).









New York Knicks-Offense














Oklahoma City Thunder-Defense














New York Knicks-Defense














Oklahoma City Thunder-Offense
















What to watch for: Defense.  While Oklahoma City comes into this game with a 4-30 record, the match up against New York could be favorable for them.  What little success Oklahoma City has enjoyed this season came against poor defensive teams.  Oklahoma City earned wins against the Raptors, Grizzlies, Timber wolves, and Warriors who are 23rd, 21st, 26th, and 30th in defensive efficiency respectively.  New York is 22nd in defensive efficiency so that put us within Oklahoma City’s reach.  The Knicks need a strong defensive effort to win tonight.  Furthermore, Oklahoma City is last in offensive efficiency (97.6) and eFG% (44.8) so a strong defensive effort should be an effective win strategy.  The Knicks played with a good deal of defensive energy against the Celtics but we need to see that energy on a consistent basis.  Speaking of consistency…


What to watch for 2: Wilson Chandler.  Much has been made of Chandler’s recent productivity so it will be nice to see if he sticks with what worked for him against Boston (getting to the line, drives to the basket, good shot selection) or if he reverts to his old form (too many 3 pointers and long jumpers).  Chandler-and the rest of the team- needs to make a conscience effort to get in the paint.  Oklahoma City lacks a player that can block shots and stay on the court for more than 15 minutes.  This should cue New York to drive early and often.


What to watch for 3:  High Pick and Roll.  I have not watched many of New York’s recent games (thank you very much RCN cable for not carrying NBA TV) but it seems that I haven’t heard much about the high pick and roll lately.  If New York has gone away from that play, I think this would be a good game to bring it back.  Oklahoma City’s corps of centers (Sene, Petro, Swift, and Collison) is largely inexperienced, ineffective, and foul prone.  Because Lee and Duhon run the pick and roll effectively, it would be nice if they brought that back against Oklahoma City’s slow front line.






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.

Breaking Down the Memphis Offer for Zach

According to multiple sources, the Memphis Grizzlies have put an offer on the table to the New York Knicks: Zach Randolph for Marko Jaric and Darko Milicic. From Memphis’ side, they would gain a scorer they sorely need since the departure of Pau Gasol. New York on the other hand would rid themselves of Randolph’s contract, and would be able to hand over the starting PF job to USA Select Team member David Lee. But how much does this help the Knicks in terms of future cap space?

In 2010, the year of multiple big free agents (LeBron, Wade, Bosh, etc.) Zach Randolph is scheduled to make $17.3M. Of the contracts they would be receiving, only Jaric would still be on the books for $7.6M. So the Knicks would shave off approximately $10M. According to Hoopshype, with Randolph the Knicks would be at about $45.5M. So one might assume saving $10M would bring them well below the cap which is currently set to $58.6M.

However Hoopshype doesn’t factor in players with team options, nor do they factor in players who get their contracts extended. If you add in Danilo Gallinari’s $3.3M, Wilson Chandler’s $2.1M, and this year’s #1 pick ($2M-$3M) the Knicks salaries creep up to $54M (with Randolph). Additionally the team may sign David Lee and Nate Robinson to contracts as opposed to letting them leave as unrestricted free agents. These two could well bring them in the $64M – $70M range.

So if the Knicks accept this trade now, they would be faced with a tough decision down the road. Option “A” would be to Let Lee and/or Nate walk in free agency without anything in return. This way they would definitely be in the range to grab a top free agent. But the team would be weaker and less palatable to free agents. Option “B” would be to accept the trade and resign Lee and/or Nate now in order to get them cheaper. Of course this would probably still put them over the top free agent limit in 2010. Option “C” would be to accept the trade and hope to trade one of the following players in the near future: Eddy Curry ($11.3M in 2010), Jared Jeffries ($6.9M), Marko Jaric ($7.6M), or Jamal Crawford ($10.1M). In this option, not being able to move one of these players could mean the loss of a free agent.

Donnie Walsh is also facing another dilemma. Is he getting enough in return for Zach Randolph? With Memphis’ cap situation, they could make the trade without offering Jaric. But obviously they gain fiscally by moving Marko’s contract. Walsh might be able to get the Grizzlies to accept an offer for just Darko or even to throw in something better (perhaps a future pick or one of their guards). If they hold onto Zach, the Knicks could get more in return from another team especially if his offensive numbers increase in D’Antoni’s offense. Additionally playoff bound teams may get more desperate to improve themselves as the season wears on.

If Walsh accepts this deal and lets Lee or Nate walk, he’d be getting little in return for these investments. However it could turn out that getting nothing for these players benefit the team the most if they are able to land a superstar player. That’s something New York has lacked since Ewing was in his prime in the mid-90s. Ironically getting the worse of these two deals, but improving the team greatly would be the opposite of Isiah Thomas’ modus operandi. Thomas was able to make every trade seem to be in his favor, but the team always ended up worse.

Personally I would take the deal, but I don’t think it’s a no-brainer. If he accepts, Walsh will have some tough decisions to make. In the present he’ll have added another player to an already crowded roster. There’s a reason no moves have been made yet, possibly to have leverage over a buyout of Marbury, Rose, and/or James. This trade could undermine any behind the scenes bargaining that’s already occurred. And in the future he’ll have to figure out what do if he can’t move a lesser Knick (Jaric/Jeffries) for a shorter contract to make cap space for Lee & Robinson.

[edited to reflect the #1 pick.]

How Does Marion Staying Put Affect the Draft?

As you may or may not have heard, while Shawn Marion and the Heat have not agreed to a new contract as of yet, Marion has announced that he will not opt out of the final year of his contract (I wouldn’t walk away from $17.8 million at his age, either).

With Marion definitely staying put, this apparently may affect Pat Riley’s decisions regarding the draft, specifically what he does with Michael Beasley. Read More