The Cost of Duhon

Reading through the KnickerBlogger forums, I came across a thread on Duhon where BigBlueAl stated he wouldn’t “mind keeping Duhon beyond 2010, but at what price?” Good question.

There’s no doubt that Duhon has been a good fit for D’Antoni’s system. Duhon is able to push the ball up the floor quickly in D’Antoni’s offense, he doesn’t turn the ball over much, and tries to get his teammates involved on offense. I would rate him as an above average defender. One bonus to Duhon is that he’s able to defend taller shooting guards, so you can pair him with an undersized SG. He does have trouble with quicker guards, but as Caleb noted guarding quick guards has been extremely difficult since the NBA instituted rules against hand checking.

Although Duhon is a good distributor, his lack of inside scoring hurts him. If he drives to the hoop and if the passing lanes are cut off, he usually ends up turning the ball over or missing the shot. According to 82games, Duhon hits only 43.1% of his shots that are labeled “inside” (compare to Nate Robinson’s 61.0%).

Fans and writers alike have speculated that the Knicks might trade their best asset, David Lee, in order to stay cap friendly for 2010. But the team doesn’t have many other good front court options for 2010. The Knicks would be taking an awful big risk hoping that Wilson Chandler or Danilo Gallinari will turn into a quality starting NBA power forward. Although the team would have more money to play with, they would have a barren front court, making them less attractive to prospective free agents. Even with Lee earning around $10M a year, it’s likely that the Knicks will be able to play free agency in 2010 and then again in 2011

With all the obsessing over David Lee, perhaps the pundits have missed the more pressing question. Maybe it isn’t which Knick forwards will still be wearing the orange & blue in 2010, but rather which guards. Just like with their front court, the team might not be able to lure a top free agent without some quality guards on the roster. New York missed out on grabbing a cheap guard when they chose Roberson instead of Von Wafer this summer.

So far just about every pundit has assumed the team would keep Robinson. In the summer of 2010, Robinson is scheduled to make $3M (qualifying offer) and Duhon $6M. Most likely Robinson will want a raise from his rookie contract, while Duhon may not seek more per year in lieu of a longer deal. So it’s possible that both players will ask for about the same amount of money or be within a million or two. And depending on their cap situation, the Knicks might not be able to afford both players.

Although Duhon may be more valuable to the Knicks, Robinson might be worth more to another team due to his youth and ability come off the bench and score points. It’s a dilemma for the team, and they may not be able to answer that question until after next summer. If the Knicks draft a point guard, then it makes more sense to drop Duhon and keep Robinson. But if they grab a shooting guard, then Robinson could be the odd man out. The Knicks would benefit more from the latter, because they could trade Robinson and receive something in return. It’ll be interesting to see how things turn out.

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Mike Kurylo

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