The Fifth Man

One of my favorite movies of all-time is Carol Reed’s The Third Man, where the film’s protagonist searches for the mysterious “third man” who was seen with a friend of his when his friend died.

I am reminded of this today, when I consider our search for the Fifth Man…the fifth guy who we think should close out the end of Knick games.

The other four are fairly easy…Marbury and Curry are the “stars”, they need to be out there. Jamal Crawford is the Knicks’ “closer” (whether that is a good idea or not, he has come through in the clutch enough times that he is going to be out there at the end of the game). David Lee’s rebounding skills are extremely valuable at the end of the game, so he’s a lock.

So those are the four – but who should be the fifth?

Channing Frye and Quentin Richardson are the real candidates, with Renaldo Balkman and Jared Jeffries being the outside shots.

I will be frank, I do not think I have a personal preference between Q and Frye. They are both good shooters. Q is the better defender, but Frye is taller. I think it is a real crapshoot.

What do you folks think?

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65 thoughts to “The Fifth Man”

  1. I think Nate is very underrated and deserves honorable mention since he has has been clutch on numerous occasions. Even Malik has shown some signs, like when he defensively shut down Tim DUncan earlier this year.

    Just a thought but maybe you want to define ‘clutch’ better because the players you mentioned(and didnt mention) are both ‘clutch’ and extremely unreliable at the same time.

  2. first of all, David Lean didn’t direct The Third Man (it would have been much lamer if he had), Carol Reed did.

    the answer to your question is that it depends from game to game, matchup to matchup, are we ahead? are we behind? we’re not the Pistons of a couple of years ago, where it was clear who the five players on the court should be at the end. that’s the exception and not the rule in today’s NBA.

  3. Thanks, Jon! I don’t know why I mixed the two guys up, because, as you know, they are awfully different styles of directing!

  4. Well, THAT was annoying. Especially with New Jersey and Toronto taking care of business.

  5. some good signs, but yeah, no moral victories right now. great to see Q’s offense and Steph’s defense, but not crazy about doubling Arenas at the perimeter on that last play, maybe you try to play it straight-up and see if he can hit a shot. as good as he’s been this year, he hadn’t hit anything from outside all game, I might have taken my chances with that.

    they do seem to be improving as a team game to game, though. another big game against NJ on Friday, they need that one now.

  6. Yeah, I didn’t like the idea of doubling Arenas either.

    ANY shot beats you there, not just Arenas.

  7. And yeah, I actually take some solace in the fact that the team IS beyond “moral victories.”

    They sure weren’t at this point last year.

  8. the entire time I thought Agent 0 was going to drain an outside shot for the game. I agree with doubling him because if the season ended today, he might be the MVP. Plus, he has made 12 shots this year to end a game or quarter and just beat the Jazz with a 3 last game.

  9. not a lot of good choices for Isiah there. it’s not the worst decision in the world to double him, maybe they could have at least waited a couple of seconds to do so, then you cut down the number of passes Washington can make. but we’ve won most of the close games we’ve been in this year, can’t win them all in this league, especially on the road. URGH.

  10. Oh yeah, I don’t mean to sound like I’m saying, “Oh, OBVIOUSLY you don’t double him there!”

    It’s a close call. I personally wouldn’t have doubled him, though, that’s all.

  11. Okay, I just feel that at this point you can’t let Arenas beat you. I would be grilling Isiah right now if he let Hibachi get a shot off with his feet set, but he didn’t and somehow the Knicks still lost.

    Washington has a very good offense and no defense. Nice run in the forth by the Knicks and we just fell short.

  12. “with Renaldo Balkman and Jared Jeffries being the outside shots.”

    Found that to be a bit ironic.

    Personally I prefer Frye unless you need a three…in which case it’s obviously Q.

    ..Also I suppose it could be based on the matchups.

  13. how many teams go with the same five guys down the stretch every game? I don’t think there are many these days.

  14. if we prefer frye for Q,it will be a big lineup and it will be easier to the opponent to double eddie, because our offense will concentrate mainly inside the paint.. frye has a jump hook but i prefer Quentins 3point shooting because lee is in there for some offensive rebounds.

  15. People keep asking ‘why did Jamal shoot the ball so early in shot clock?’
    The answer is simple, lack of confidence…does that make him clutch or not, what do you think?

  16. It seems the Knicks have run into trouble by running out of time on the clock and rushing crappy shots. I’d rather they take, and make, a good shot with a few seconds to go instead. Hell, even 0.1 seconds is enough to make a shot so there’s only so much you can do.

  17. When you are down by one point you do not try to wait for the last shot. The best thing to do is shoot the first good shot so you can foul if you miss.

  18. i disagree, you play for the win and run the clock down otherwise this happens. questionable decision by Isiah because he is trying to win with defense after a possession where Jamison scored with ease…in that situation I miss LB

  19. The on-court decision to double Arenas wasn’t especially bad. The issue is that NY has a number of players who are not good defenders, even in a small area (e.g., Lee and Curry). So, that’s the classic pick your poison situation. And, most of–myself included–us groused at Isiah for not taking the ball out of Arenas’s hands when they played in NY. The fact of the matter is that doubling Arenas worked reasonably well. NY outshot WA (50% to 48.3% eFG). This was one of those games where the difference between the two teams was probably FTs, something eFG doesn’t include. Washington got more attempts and shot a higher percentage.

    Although, we’re beyond moral victories I saw a MUCH improved defensive effort. Washington took far more contested shots in this game than the last and got some bounces too. (One Arenas three point attempt missed short, smacked Etan Thomas in the face, and ricocheted directly to Donnel Taylor standing right under the basket for a layup.)

  20. There were a few freaky plays that seemed to go Washington’s way (balls we almost stole that they ended up getting wide open looks from). But we still had a chance to win.

    I disagree about waiting for the last shot down 1. Because if you miss you can foul and then get another chance to tie.

    I guess in a game such as the Knicks vs Wizards (ie no defense) it would make some sense to let it run down and just take the final shot.

    But I will say that if we let the clock run down and then missed I guarantee people would be on here saying you have to get a quicker shot so you can foul and get another chance to at least tie it.

  21. “in that situation I miss LB ”

    We would not have been in that situation if we still had LB because everyone would have quit by half time and the Wizards would have blown us out.

  22. plus, he would have started Jerome James, Malik Rose and Mardy Collins, just to try a new combo and make sure that as little chemistry as possible developed. how anyone can miss that jerk in any situation after the way he screwed up this team last year is beyond me.

  23. whoever would prefer to have isiah coaching the last 2 minutes of any close game over LB is beyond me!

  24. Has anyone heard the rumor of Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, 2008 first round pick for Kevin Garnett?

  25. Has anyone heard the rumor of Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, 2008 first round pick for Kevin Garnett?


    Wow…that’s a really interesting trade.

    Nate appears that he doesn’t have a future here. Frye and a draft pick are the minimum the Knicks would have to give up in any trade for Garnett (and also what I would have absolutely no problem trading).

    So that just leaves Crawford. Wow…that’s a tough aspect there, as it would leave the Knicks without a back-up shooting guard, right? Unless Jared Jeffries would therefore become the backup shooting guard.


    with Jeffries, Balkman, Collins (hell, maybe even a return for Stevie Franchise?) off the bench.

    Yeah, if that trade is available, I take it.

  26. …and a first round pick. Garnett is an older player but a lot of teams would give up everything to get him.

  27. Yep, another draft pick. It was announced on Michael Kay’s radio show as an unsubstantiated internet rumor. Wanted to see if anyone has heard anything about it. To me it will propel the Knicks to the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

    Garnett does have the game to keep double teams off of Curry. Dont understand why Minnesota will do it.

    I would hate to see Jamaal go, but..I prefer winning.

  28. What would be the cap implication be? Coming from the Timberwolves perspective, they might as well blow up the Garnett era and go another direction. With Garnett on the team, they aren’t going to be bad enough to get a impact draft pick. If it’s early enough for the Wolves to tank in the standings, they will have that pick and the NY pick (and players) which isn’t a bad foundation.

    I hope it’s a swap of draft picks of some sort, Garnett is terrific, but Knicks still need youth with talent.

    And, I do not love the trade, but I would do it.

  29. come on, people, those salaries don’t even come close to matching. Michael Kay is about as on top of this stuff as the bottom of my shoe.

  30. of course he was just repeating what he read in the Post. am I the only one who looks at that deal and immediately thinks “that’s impossible, those salaries don’t come close to matching”?

    if we’re allowed to include Allan Houston (I have no idea) and they throw in Mike James, then the salaries are probably close enough to discuss the actual pros and cons of the proposal. if that was on the table, I’d probably pull the trigger. that would definitely open up a lot of cap room for Minnesota when Houston’s contract expires after this year. but if we’re not allowed to include him in a deal (anyone know the answer to this definitively?), then it’s close to impossible to put together a package that makes sense for Garnett or any other top-paid superstar.

  31. Yeah, you’re right, Jon (and no, I don’t believe they can include Houston’s contract).

    It would have to include Malik (in which case, it matches up almost perfectly), but I can’t see the Wolves being interested in Malik Rose at ALL.

  32. What we need is lee to become a better shooter and frye to become a better rebounder. The #1 thing is these dumb passes and the number of turnover. That is why we lost to the wizards. I think Jeffries is sloppy in the offense and Balkman as well. So, i dont think its that we need a 5th man. I think the pieces are there and need to be tweeked. Qrich looked awesome yesterday, I wish i can see more of that.

  33. i would not take that trade. I say we keep developing the talent that we have. honestly we have a rough chance of making the playoffs. but if we keep developing what we have we will be one of the strongest. Lee, Frye (Robinson (?), Q rich, Jamal.. and specially Curry they are young. Marbury is mid-late in his career and we will need a replacement for him in the next 2 years or so. I like the knicks young talent and we will regret it later on. i love garnett but lets face it, we are working on the future…not a piece to take us to champ status.

  34. I would agree, John, except that I think the only two “future” players that the Knicks just cannot trade are NOT included in this trade – Lee and Curry.

    And if KG wasn’t so darn good, I would also agree, but the guy is a-MAY-zing.

    He’s third in the NBA in PER!

  35. Garnett isn’t nearly as good as his stats, but he is one of the handful of players the Knicks should seriously consider dealing for if possible. so often in the NBA you only go as far as how good your single best player is (Detroit as a rare exception, since somehow they came up with five complementary amazing players after Rasheed was handed to them by Atlanta) and he’d be our best player for at least the next 2-3 years. I do think in general, short of a serious impact superstar or something somehow incredibly lopsided because of circumstance, we should stick with this team and try to develop what we’ve already got.

    as far as Garnett, we do have a good young core, but let’s not exaggerate it too much. our frontcourt is as young and talented as any out there, but we don’t have a real PG. Steph’s been hustling on D to an extent I didn’t think he was capable of, but he doesn’t have the legs to finish near the basket a lot of the time anymore, and he’s so so turnover prone. Crawford is the same as when we got him, he can go nuts at any time, but totally unreliable and invisible for entire games. and both of them have pretty awful basketball IQs, so frustrating as a fan sometimes. LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Dwight Howard, even Deng (still only 21, younger than LeBron!), all in our conference, are better young franchise players than we have. getting Garnett would make us much more dangerous for next season and probably one or two after that, but if something along those lines were on the table, I’d push really hard for Mike James to be included too, as I said above.

  36. Francis and Malik Rose are both signed for the next three years, no way Minnesota would take them in a deal like this. I don’t think there’s a match between the teams that makes sense both ways.

  37. I’d take that deal in a second. Which is why, of course, Minnesota would never offer it. They could get a monsoon of better talent, draft picks, and expiring contracts from other teams. Chicago, Phoenix, Washington, even Boston, would likely bury us with a way better offer. The only way Minnesota would pull a deal that lopsided (and Kevin “I lost five draft picks for Joe Smith!” McHale is the GM to be fair) is if KG demanded NYC or bust and they decided to respect him enough to take an awful deal as a result.

  38. If they were to trade for Garnett they should insist that Trent Hassell be included in the deal. Good defensive player. It is clear this Knick team is one good trade away from being consistently good.

    Or, we can do nothing and wait until next year.

  39. how about doing nothing and focusing on the rest of this season? starting with the war against the Nets tomorrow, huge must-win game for us…

  40. For the most part, I’d prefer to just do nothing.

    Unless, of course, they’re offered a deal that they “had” to make, which I think would include a KG deal, but not much more than a KG deal.

  41. If I am in MN I have not stopped laughing. You guys are smoking crack on Jamal Crawford… a shooting guard who shoots 38% and plays zero D. Nate can do it better right now, at 1/10 the salary.

    I propose – offer Crawford to Seattle, along with Jared Jeffries, in exchange for Earl Watson (and maybe Fortson, to make the #s work).

    NYK gets a PG who’s a great defender and good passer – Marbury spends more time at SG, where he’d be just as valuable on offense and less a defensive liability.

    Seattle gets two players for a guy they don’t love in the first place, since they gave all that $ to (cough!) Ridnour.

    Knicks end up with much-improved perimeter defense.. plus they can be under the cap by summer of 2009.

    Nate gets Crawford minutes… or if it doesn’t work out, “The Franchise” can come back from vacation.

  42. Not 100% sure, but I don’t think the Knicks can trade the 2008 pick since they have already traded the 2009 pick to Phoenix (Marbury deal). I think its the Ted Stepian rule about not having number 1 picks in two consecutive years.

  43. I would rather have Ray Allen than KG because he would be cheaper and we need him more on the perimeter with Q if we want to run and gun. Obviously both would be ideal but since it is as unlikely for us to sign either as much as both we should find young guys who can do similar things, “…and thats my 2 cents”.

  44. “hadn?t realized we traded the 2009 pick, dam!
    thx. again Isiah”

    yeah, well reasoned. I wish he’d stuck with Ward and Eisley at PG, those guys were not just winners at that point in their careers, but also riveting, captivating players to watch.

  45. “yeah, well reasoned. I wish he?d stuck with Ward and Eisley at PG, those guys were not just winners at that point in their careers, but also riveting, captivating players to watch. ”

    you’re right, maxing out on Marbury was a really our only move to make!
    besides who needs 1st round draft picks and cap space with all these playoff wins under our belt.

  46. how many first round picks do you want exactly? we’ve had FIVE the last two years, all on the roster now. and, again, cap space is overrated in most cases, no one seems to get that.

  47. Remember the time Jared Jefferies had 4 points 1 Rebound in 19 minutes, Malik Rose got playing time, and David Lee had 12 minutes total playing time as of the 4th Q and we lost against the Nets

  48. who runs out of timeouts in regulation in the NBA? second straight game that cost us a real chance at the end, inexcusable.

    we’re just not nearly as disciplined as NJ. too many turnovers, zero intimidation in terms of shot-blocking (Jefferson drove the lane at will), and Crawford had his fifth game in a row of thoroughly subpar play. amazing we somehow came back despite all that, but again, no moral victories.

  49. As a qualified black man, I am wholly prepared to come to a wholly subjective conclusion that Isiah is racist, based on David Lee’s minutes tonight, and he still almost won the game for us with 22 minutes. Ive been defending Isiah Thomas like it was my job, but I am dissapointed, dont know what else to say.

  50. As a first time visitor to this blog, I agree with T-Mart mentioning that Lee played not enough minutes (yet again), and still almost won the game for the Knicks.
    Another thing that I didn’t get tonight was, why Isiah called (the last) timeout with 28sec remaining while marbury had a good matchup to get to the basket, and knowing the Nets had one timeout left. I think he should have let play continue…
    Dissapointing loss (again)

  51. I think racist is a strong word to use to describe someone that you do not personally know.

    Food for thought.

    I did appear to me that Channing Fyre is playing well at the power forward spot. This leaves David Lee to play the small forward position where he clearly struggled to guard Richard jefferson. I must admit that it was strange that he sat for a long period of time but the important thing is, he is on the floor when it mattered.

    Ben Gordon ( Chigao Bulls) should be a starter, but he plays a critical role coming of the bench. If Scott Skiles places Ben Gordon in the starting lineup, he loses a big punch off of the bench. I believe David Lee can be valuable off the bench for the Knicks.

    Why did Isiah call a timeout – to make sure that the team got a god shot and set up the defense. He did nothing wrong.


    Dont Blame Isaih. Blame fundamentals. Boxing out is a fundamental. You are going to get the break down in fundamentals occasionally from a young team. Either you trade for veterans or expect many more days like this.

    To me it was a step in the right direction. When the Knicks win games like they played today you will know they have arrived.

    Watching the Knicks is like dating the neighborhood h_e. There are days that she is going to be good to you, but expect her to break your heart on other days.

  52. well, I do think Isiah doesn’t like white players, or non-Americans, but I don’t think that’s why he’s not playing Lee enough. he had this vision that Jeffries could develop into a defensive impact player a la Artest (he was quoted along these lines not too long ago), and he’s bending over backwards to give him a chance to do that.

    tough to give Curry too hard of a time on that play, Robinson not only climbed his back, he came through him, knowing the refs wouldn’t call it. Curry also pushed Collins out of the way on the previous play, allowing Lee to come free for the putback layup, so it works both ways.

    “Ben Gordon ( Chicago Bulls) should be a starter, but he plays a critical role coming of the bench. If Scott Skiles places Ben Gordon in the starting lineup, he loses a big punch off of the bench. I believe David Lee can be valuable off the bench for the Knicks.”

    Jamal is our Ben Gordon, albeit a poor man’s version (even streakier and less consistent), and he’s already on the bench. Lee needs to start, it’s clear to pretty much everyone except Isiah.

  53. Cliff Robinson does not make that play if he has a body on him.

    Is the issue David Lee starting of playing more minutes? Why is David Lee on the floor during the most critical minutes of a game? I think the racist/bias comments about Isiah are emotional comments and lack foundation.

    Who are these white players/non Americans that Isiah should be chasing/playing? Could it be that the Knicks do not have the international scouting in place?

  54. Isiah had to call a timeout before the Knicks’ final basket because Jamal wasn’t in the game.

  55. I agree that accusations of racism seem a little far fetched. I doubt Isiah would have drafted Lee if he were racist, considering there were still other great black college players on the board like Salim Stoudemire and Daniel Ewing, if he were racist. One could argue that Lee was the only big man, and Isiah had no other option, and aside from Ronny Turiaf, they would be right. In the end I do not see the racist argument as legit, leaving the reason Lee does not play a bigger mystery.

  56. My bad on posting twice in a row, but I think it’s much more likely that Thomas has another kind of prejudice. Maybe the reason he’s using Jeffries more than Lee has to do with their shared alma mater, they both went to Indiana. Maybe Hoosierism?

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