The Glory of Schadenfreude

Besides one (fairly major) thing, tonight’s game really didn’t matter much to the Knicks. They do not own their draft pick, so it really doesn’t’ matter to them where they finish. However, it DOES matter to us fans, because, come on, you don’t want the Bulls to get a high draft pick, just due to schadenfreude – the joy of seeing them NOT happy.

Tonight, in beating Charlotte on an Eddy Curry tip-in of a Malik Rose miss, the Knicks tied Charlotte’s record of 33-49.

After the Knicks’ win, the Bulls lost to the Nets, locking the Bulls into the 5th spot in the playoffs, and picking 23rd in the draft (and if the Knicks pick this year is, in fact, protected only before 24 – that is especially cool – that is the fairly major thing, guaranteeing that the Knicks GET a draft pick this year).

Minnesota tanked, and both Portland and Sacramento lost (Portland against the playoff bound Golden State Warriors – which should be an interesting first round series – Nelson against the Mavericks), so the Knicks will be ranked, at the LOWEST, eighth. They are currently tied for eighth with Sacramento and Charlotte. There will be a tie-breaker that will determine if the Knicks are ranked 8th or 9th or 10th, but the thing most of us I presume are worried about are the Knicks’ chances of gaining one of the top three picks in the lottery.

The way the lottery works, there are 1000 possible number combinations for the top three picks. The team with the worst record gets 250 of those combinations. The second-worst record gets 199 and the third-worst gets 159. Those three teams combine for a 60.5% chance of getting the top three picks.

When there is a tie in the standings, each of the teams that are tied get the average of the possible combinations for their spot. For instance, if two teams are tied for 6th, you would take the average of the combinations for the 6th spot and the 7th spot, which would be 53 (63 and 43).

The Knicks are tied for 8th with Charlotte and Sacramento, meaning they will split the combinations for the 8th, 9th and 10th spots. So they have a three-way split of 56. As that does not go evenly into three, there will be a coin-flip to determine which team gets one less combination than the other two. As Jon Abbey so rightly pointed out, that means the Knicks will most likely have 19 combinations out of 1000.

So they will have a 19 out of 1000 ( 1.9% chance) of getting the first pick, about a 2.3% chance of getting the second pick and about a 3.0% chance of getting the third pick.

Compare that with the 63 combinations the Knicks would have received if they had lost (6.3% for the first pick, about 7.0% for the second pick and about 8.0% for the third pick) and Minnesota and Portland had won, and you can see why tonight was, for the first time in awhile, a pretty good night for the Knicks.

And not a great night for the Bulls.

Ahhh…lovely schadenfreude.

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44 thoughts to “The Glory of Schadenfreude”

  1. yeah, if the Lakers win, I believe our number of possible combos dropped from 44 or 45 to 18 or 19 with our win tonight, meaning the chances of Chicago getting Oden or Durant went from around 10 percent to around 4 percent.

    best night in a while for Knicks fans, sad as that is.

  2. Whew, 8th or 10th somehow sounds worlds better than 5th or 6th. I’m not even going to pretend I haven’t been nervously following the Bulls draft positioning like the entire season.

    Something about the Bobcats just invites tip-ins it seems. A fine end to a disappointing but hopeful season. I personally feel optimistic going into the offseason as opposed to last year, when I was absolutely certain we were screwed forever.

  3. A few observations from the floor. I don’t know if Breen and Frazier got into these points much if at all:

    * It was an excellent push up the floor by Nate at the end, particularly getting the ball back to the middle of the floor. It’s a seemingly minor thing, but after watching Francis’ dribble across the timeline, stop, and pound the air out of the ball until he was tied up–in an otherwise good game for him–I was glad Nate had the ball.

    Pushing the ball up the floor is something I’ve implored the Knicks to do. Getting a higher percentage of shots up while the defense is still scrambling actually plays to NY’s strengths on the offensive glass.

    * As I pointed out to the guy next to me, Gerald Wallace did NOTHING while Mardy Collins was on him. I understand Wallace was hobbled a bit coming into the game but Collins just never game him any space to do anything. It wasn’t until Isiah switched Malik Rose onto him late that he was able to get looks.

    * It was a shame Balkman couldn’t play. I saw one Balkman jersey and a number of University of South Carolina shirts waiting in the area where the Knicks were due to enter the arena for warmups. I suspect he’d have gotten a nice ovation from the crowd.

  4. Would we have been allowed to give the Bulls pick to the Jazz to satisfy the remaining pick they’re owed (via the Suns) for the Marbury trade? If so, wouldn’t we have been better off giving it up this year – as opposed to it ending up in the lottery when the protection runs out?

  5. I agree with Joe. The knicks are better off giving the 23rd pick this year because they might no get a lower pick anytime soon. This team needs a lot of help and a real coach plus needless to say a real owner. It is disgusting to see how we have to settle for following a draft position instead of a playoff position. At least we have the Rangers to root for; hopefully Mr. Dolan would not mess them up too.

  6. I think we’ll be a decent or better team by the end of 2010, but after this year and last, it does make you a little nervous.

    That said, this year is a deep draft and having the pick gives us a good asset to try and move up.

  7. The unusually high quality of the guys projected around our pick and the possibility of packaging it with some of our dead weight (Frye, Robinson) to get a higher pick means we should definitely not consider giving it up to Utah. I would gladly take any of five or six players projected in our range, some of them perhaps even if we had a top 10 pick.

  8. Well, one more season is in the books and, thanks to Isiah, we are not only out of the playoff race but also we are afraid of what the draft might bring.

    That’s amazing. For the second straight year I’ll be having draft day headaches.

    In comparison, Chicago not only is in the playoffs but will have a lottery p?ck as well.

    If the Bulls somehow land one of the top three picks, man, I don’t know.

  9. Dan,
    We have to give up a first round pick at some point whether we like it or not. How many times are we going to have the opportunity to give up a pick in the 20’s? Chances are, NEVER. Bottom line, if this were at all possible (and I’m not even sure it is), the Knicks would have been very lucky to give up that pick THIS year and get out from under any future obligation.

  10. “Schadenfreude: Isiah Thomas will be coach & GM of Knicks next year.”

    right, he was the one who gave away Tyson Chandler, right? oh, sorry, he must have been the one who gave away JR Smith? no? hmmm.

  11. Joe,

    I am starting it now…Next year the Knicks will be amongst the elite in the Eastern Conference.

  12. confucius,
    The Atlantic division will be a lot better next year; Boston, Philly, NJ and Toronto should all improve tremendously. My fear is the Knicks could be lottery bound again…ugh!

  13. Jon Abbey: This is a Knick board so I’ll post this response and then stop out of respect. First off, I’ll admit that last night (along with the NYK victory last week over Milwaukee) killed me. To quote Godfather III, Isiah and the Knicks built me up just to tear me down. It was heartbreaking, but I’ll still take the 3-4 slots the Knicks gave up in teh last month.

    In response to your comment:

    “right, he was the one who gave away Tyson Chandler, right? oh, sorry, he must have been the one who gave away JR Smith? no? hmmm.”

    Isiah Thomas is the “convict whisperer” and thinks he can rehabilitate any and all bad eggs. The Bulls admit they’re not as talented and unload the smelly ones even when they look lovely from the outside. Point to Chandler’s rebouds or JR Smith’s points if you want. We’ll live without them.

    We’re simple folk in teh Midwest and so we go by simple measurements and the bottom line is that the Bulls improved significantly this year over last.

    Yes, we miss the days when with the Bulls down by 18 with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter Tyson Chandler would rebound and throw down a thunderous dunk, screaming at the top of his lungs.

    We miss Eddy Curry scoring his 19 with a blank look on his face while not going after one rebound or making one pass out of the post, or watching his man glide in for an easy layup.

    We miss those days but we’ll take our much better team.

    A reminder, Mr. Abbey, that when the Bulls gave up on Curry the Knicks were the heir apparent to replace the Pistons and the Bulls were cast to the cold, dark wildnerness of the NBA’s cellar.

    Since you’re asking questions I’ll ask just one. Which team — Knicks or Bulls — since that momentus trade made the playoffs?

    Push peas around a plate with your spoon all day by attacking this deal or that. But I wouldn’t trade too much off of my Bulls (including the coach and gm) for your wonderful roster and management team.

    Schadenfreude: Dolan and Thomas

  14. “the bottom line is that the Bulls improved significantly this year over last.”

    did they? we’ll see soon enough, if they beat Miami in the first round. if they don’t, they have the same exact result as last year and Ben Wallace is one year older.

    “that when the Bulls gave up on Curry the Knicks were the heir apparent to replace the Pistons and the Bulls were cast to the cold, dark wildnerness of the NBA?s cellar.”

    what are you talking about? I really have trouble connecting this to anything anyone ever thought or said, sorry.

  15. Anyone read Sheridans blog today? It was about the Knicks, and Isiah standing pat with this year’s roster. I posted part of the blog below.

    Knicks not chasing free agentsposted: Thursday, April 19, 2007 | Print Entry

    “I don’t think I’ll be aggressively out in the market chasing,” said Thomas, who insisted he feels “in his heart” that the Knicks are extremely close to being one of the top teams in the East. I think he’s delusional, but he seemed awfully confident in his plan — which means this is shaping up as a pretty quiet offseason for the Knicks.

  16. palerider,
    any more evidence that isiah needs to go than “standing ‘pat’ this offseason”?

    Hollinger had an artice too, ‘blueprint for the Knicks’…he basically says that Frye holds the key. Having a big man who can shoot (and if Curry can improve defensively, Lee can improve offensively) would round out the Knicks frontcourt for the forseeable future.

  17. Bulls Fan –

    Jon is right, it was a mistake to let Chandler go. But the Curry Trade made up for that five times over. You are getting two high first round talents on rookie contracts. This more than makes up what your overpaying for wallace’s performance relative to Chandler’s. And I agree with you, you have an excellent team, which is reflected by your regular season record, and a much brighter future. than we have.

    I agree with Jon also though, I dont see how you can possibly say that the Knicks were the heir apparent in the East. That is completely wrong.

    And yes, I will reaffirm the obvious, Isaiah is a fool to think the Knicks will be good next year. So is Hollinger. If Frye sprung back to rookie form that would help, but he has been one of the worst players in the league this year, so I am not too hopeful.

    On a separate note, the latest WOW post is very interesting. When the Iverson-Miller trade happened, Dave Berri predicted that the Sixers would finish 35-47, which they did. Not bad for some stupid theory. It’s quite a funny piece actually, with some mordant jokes about economists…

  18. It was a mistake to let Tyson Chandler go? That’s laughable.

    First off – you’re assuming that this wasn’t a career year for Tyson. If this is in fact the best season Tyson ever has, was it really a mistake?

    Secondly – you’re assuming that Tyson would have had the same type of season (and future career) if he had stayed with the Bulls. That’s not knowable, and judging from how little he improved in his four years with the Bulls it’s not necessarily a valid assumption.

    And finally – the Bulls would be heading into a playoff series with Tyson Chandler facing Shaq, rather than Ben Wallace facing Shaq. Would having Chandler guarding Shaq really be better than Ben Wallace? We’re about to find out, but let me answer for you – HELL NO!!

    Tyson can throw down all the meaningless regular-season garbage-time dunks that he wants. The Bulls traded Tyson Chandler and acquired Ben Wallace for this very reason – to defend Shaq in the playoffs.

    What would be worse than seeing the Bulls get the #1 pick? Let me tell you. What would we all do if MINNESOTA gets Greg Oden? I may never watch an NBA game again. There were several teams OPENLY TANKING down the stretch, and Minnesota was one of them. If the worst GM in professional sports (Kevin McHale) is rewarded for losing on purpose, would you Knick fans actually feel BETTER about the professionalism and competition of the NBA, than if the Bulls and John Paxson land Oden?? Come on.

    Kevin Garnett has only missed more than 5 games twice in his career – yet he sat out the last 5 games of the season with no injuries so the Timberwolves could lose and move up in the draft lottery.

    I applaud the Knicks for playing out the string and TRYING to win. How could you guys root for teams that weren’t even trying to be rewarded with apparent greatness like Oden and Durant?

    The thought of the Celtics or Timberwolves or Sonics getting the top pick almost makes me physically ill. It’s despicable.

  19. Owen and Jon Abbey may very well prove to be right about Tyson Chandler. Do want to point out, though, that Skiles and Paxson jettisoned Tim Thomas shortly after the Curry trade. Heavily criticized during the playoffs because Thomas stepped it up. But then he stunk it up this year with the Clippers. He’s a lazy dog.

    Isiah “the convict whisperer” thinks he can get through to these guys and my belief is that damages a team. Paxson gives them one chance (not unlike Mr. Larry Brown) and if they’re not towing the line their gone.

    Thanks for letting me post on your board.

  20. “Isiah ?the convict whisperer? thinks he can get through to these guys and my belief is that damages a team.”

    HUH???????? How does this damage a team??? If you’re implying that he “thinks” he can get through to the team but cannot, you’re wrong. That leaves the other possibility that he “thinks” he can get through to this team and he does. In which case you’re opinion that that is a bad thing is wrong. Which one is it??

  21. T-Mart, if you are implying that Thomas has gotten through and the problem children are performing at peak efficiency my regrets for next year. Have a good summer and good luck in the draft.

  22. “if you are implying that Thomas has gotten through and the problem children are performing at peak efficiency my regrets for next year”

    The more you talk the more you sound like someone who spent the entire season following the Bulls, as a Bulls fan, watching Bulls games. Unless you want to continue sounding off non-sensical opinons about the Knicks, you probably ought to stick to those opinions which at least have somewhat of a Bulls context.

  23. “Isiah Thomas is the ?convict whisperer? and thinks he can rehabilitate any and all bad eggs.”

    This is just wildly unfair – Isiah takes character extremely seriously. He passed up even bidding on Artest for this reason and publicly objected to bringing in Qyntel Woods even at the time of the signing (!) saying he was doing it out of respect for LB. Just look at who we’ve drafted – with the exception of Nate none of them are me-first head cases and even Nate is a good kid but a difficult player not a “convict” or something. Who is this convict Isiah is rehabbing?

  24. Assuming the Knicks dont end up with a top 3 pick this year, the Curry trade was still good for the Knicks and probably is good for both teams. The Knicks were desperate for a quality center and Curry would easily have been the top pick in the draft last year. He has room to improve too, so its not like the trade is a bust. Its not clear yet whether or not Tyus Thomas will be better than Curry. Plus, the Knicks used the trade to get Balkman (trading an expiring contract they got in the deal with Chicago). So far, the trade looks like Curry and Balkman for Tyus Thomas and a swap of this years draft picks. How is that a bad deal for the Knicks? Thomas will be a good player, but we have no idea how good. And assuming the Bulls get a pick no better than 6th, they will likely get a player a bit better than the Knicks will get at 23, but how much better we wont know for a while.

    Knick fans can cry about the Steve Francis deal and a bunch of other crappy deals, but this one so far is a good one for the Knicks. Still, we should have gotten lottery protection on this years swap (at least top 3, jeez).

  25. Why does everyone say Curry has room to improve? Potential to improve is not a given just because a player is under a certain age. Curry is not much different than he was when he entered the League six years ago and has shown no desire to improve on his weak areas, what makes anyone think that is suddenly going to change?

  26. I agree with Bernard King… as long as the pick isn’t top-3 (or top-2, to be more accurate), I’m happy with Curry. As long as he doesn’t drop dead.

    You should ignore these Bulls posters, they are just trolls who for some strange reason seem to enjoy rubbing their success in Knicks fans’ faces. Seriously, if you guys are so happy with your team why do you spend so much time talking ish to Knicks fans?

    You should worry about your team, and wonder how much choking in that last game against the Nets may have cost you… you went from a first round cakewalk against the Wizards to a probably first round loss (again) to the Heat….

    And when they criticize Curry’s passing, I often wonder if Toronto fans get similar sh*t about Bargnani – he averaged less than an assist a game, too. And there is only a three years age difference between him and Curry, yet everyone treats Curry like he’s reached his peak already, yet they afford Bargnani the patience of potential. Hypocrisy.

  27. You can’t compare Bargnani and Curry. Bargnani is primarily a catch and shoot player who has never seen a double team.

    And Bargnani is not in his 6th NBA season.

    Not wanting to compare apples to oranges is hypocrisy?

  28. Bargnani also got about 3 rebounds a game even though he’s 7 feet tall. You gotta hate it when you finally get the #1 pick and it’s one of those Pervis Ellison/Larry Johnson years.

  29. I think Bargnani is going to be a very good scorer and man to man defender, but never much of a rebounder or shot blocker. If I were the Raptors, I would look to move him while he still has the “potential superstar” label.

  30. BernardKing,

    I’ve seen that analysis before – Curry, Balkman and a 23rd pick for Ty Thomas and a number 10 pick. The problem is that freezes all other events and ignores some facts. The problems with the analysis are:

    Tim Thomas – Toronto wanted cap room badly, a deal with Tim Thomas (who they traded to Chicago) or A. Hardaway might have worked too rather than Davis. Assuming nothing would happen here is conservative.

    Tyrus Thomas was not drafted with the Knicks pick – LaMarcus Aldridge was. Thomas was traded to the Bulls with a whole load of Khryapa (Viktor Khryapa).

    Sweetney – who got fat in Chicago. Very disappointing, but counts for something.

    Financial cost – just getting the Balkman pick cost the Knicks $30 MM (Rose’s salary this year plus luxury tax). Last I checked Curry was getting more than the rookie scale too.

    Knicks record. I think the Knicks won more games this year because of the trade than they would have without it. Fewer losses would mean more ping pong balls in the Greg Oden sweepstakes.

    The Knicks will draft between 8 and 10, two fewer wins the Knicks would draft 5th or 6th. Four fewer they draft 4th. Six fewer and the Knicks draft third.

    As Curry is a huge upgrade over Jerome James and Kelvin Cato (yes offset some by Thomas (and this is as much of a reflection of Cato and James than Curry)) – but anyway, four wins is probably the lowside – could it be 10? 10 fewer wins puts the Knicks with the second worst record in the league or a really high probability of Oden or Durrant.

    Considering all of the detail, the cost of Curry, Balkman and a pick is much higher than you would imply. Are you still sure it was worth the price.

  31. Kevin makes some good points.

    The smarter thing to do, in my opinion, was to have not made the Curry trade, then gone ahead and sucked for a couple of years. As it turns out, we sucked anyway. We won 33 games this year. I hated the Curry trade at the time and I don’t really like it any better now.

    Would I rather have LeMarcus Aldridge and another high lottery pick this year– both under rookie contracts– rather than Eddy Curry and Renaldo Balkman? Absolutely.

    I’m just a fan like the rest of you guys– many of you are far more knowledgeable about hoops than I. But if the team had done what I wanted them to do the last few years, we’d have Andrew Bynum instead of Channing Frye, LeMarcus Aldridge instead of Eddy Curry, and a fat, juicy draft pick coming up. Granted, we’d have lost a lot of games, but we lost a lot of games anyway.

  32. “Financial cost – just getting the Balkman pick cost the Knicks $30 MM (Rose?s salary this year plus luxury tax). Last I checked Curry was getting more than the rookie scale too.”

    Since Rose expires significantly before we can get under the cap this cost only matters to Dolan, as does any discussion of luxury tax. I do not care about Rose’s contract if I don’t have to pay it.

  33. Dan – I hear you, but disagree. Did Dolan put the brakes on another move because of Rose’s $30 MM? Did Isiah not try to get Gasol, Garnet or someone else due to the cap issues.

    Simply we don’t know and having our owner throw away money is a bad business decision.

  34. Dan and Kevin:

    This is an interesting discussion and you guys both make some good points.

    Isiah?s ?rebuilding plan? (which I was foolish enough to believe might work) was based on three things: strong drafting, using Dolan?s deep pockets to ?buy? talent, and bringing in young veterans who possessed great individual talent but no understanding on basketball as a team game who Isiah thought were underrated by others and he could turn around. He?s been successful in only one aspect: drafting.

    If you?re at $70 mill for the next few years and have a chance to sign someone you like for the MLE the ?we?re over the cap anyway? line of thinking makes some sense. But Isiah hasn?t stopped at $5 million extra, $10 million extra, but more like $109 million extra (subtracting Houston and Anderson from the payroll to account for all salaries added on Isiah?s watch). The difference between $70 mill and $140 mill is pretty huge and I can?t imagine that it doesn?t negatively affect the franchise. If in no other way, at least because the team is losing, the players are underachieving, and, therefore, their trade values are squat.

    Of course, I think part of the problem was also that Isiah really believed he was adding quality players, and Dolan?s man-crush on Isiah which leads to his blind faith is also troubling.

    This also relates to the previous discussion about Isiah the “convict whisperer:” he thought either that as a group his overpaid underachievers would have enough talent to flourish or that under his guidance they would blossom into great team players with some semblance of basketball IQ and a team-first attitude. Isiah is definitely a “players” coach and executive, and has shown an impressive talent for developing young players (O’Neal, Harrington, Bender to some extent, Artest, Curry, Lee, etc.) and focusing/motivating players with bad attitudes (Artest/Curry).
    Unfortunately, at this point Isiah has wasted tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars either because he’s not as good as he thought, or more likely because it is not possible to take a bunch of me-first players who have little or no understanding of team basketball (Curry, Crawford, Tim Thomas, Marbury, Jerome James, Jalen Rose, Steve Francis) throw in some young talent and have a good NBA team.

    I know this is neither revolutionary nor productive thinking, but just to demonstrate the complete lack of success of Isiah’s plan, imagine if the Knicks had gone with a traditional rebuilding plan: assuming a conservative 8th or 9th pick since 2003 (probably would have been far higher), Isiah takes one of the top 2 or 3 guys available every time (b/c I really think he?s that good), the team focuses almost exclusively on the draft, letting contracts expire and replacing them with Jackie Butler, Ime Udoka, Matt Barnes, and Qyntel Woods types. Us fans might have suffered through at least one year of a Frank Williams/ Howard Eisley, Shandon Anderson, Qyntel Woods (or similar), Sweets/Othella, and Dike type starting 5, but we’re looking at something from

    Gay or Shane Battier

    To, in the best case,

    Chris Paul
    Brandon Roy
    Ariza or maybe a Peja, Al Harrington, or Gerald Wallce type free agent
    Dwight Howard
    Joakim Noah/ Roy Hibbert/ Hasheem Thabeet/ whoever

    as our starting line-up for next year. With a bench of Ariza, Udoka, Barnes, Butler, maybe a 2007 free agent like DeSagana Diop, and a couple 2nd rounders coming off the bench.

    Of course, this is very speculative. For more concrete evidence of Isiah?s complete failure as an executive, consider that 7 teams have improved by 14 or more wins since Isiah?s been in NY (03/04-06/07). None of those teams were playoff teams in 03-04 and all but one (the 9th place Clippers) were playoff teams in 06-07. The Knicks won 6 less games in 06-07 than in 03-04. In fact, in case anyone needs to be reminded, this year?s Knicks won 4 less games than in Layden?s last full season (02-03).

    I spent a lot of time promoting Isiah?s past success in Toronto and Indiana on this very site and telling people to give him a chance: give him 3 years. At this point he?s had his chance and I think it?s time to give Jerry West, Kiki Vandeweghe, or some unknown from a strong front office like Dallas, San Antonio, or Phoenix a chance.

  35. “in the best case,

    Chris Paul
    Brandon Roy
    Ariza or maybe a Peja, Al Harrington, or Gerald Wallce type free agent
    Dwight Howard
    Joakim Noah/ Roy Hibbert/ Hasheem Thabeet/ whoever ”

    Thats a very, very, very best case scenario. But unfounrtunatly because of salary that team would implode. In free agency: Paul would get a max deal, Roy would get something along the lines of 12 Mill a year, Dwight would get a max deal, and whatever center you fill in there would get a deal similar to Brandon Roy, unless it was Joakim Noah who is going to be a slightly more talented Jerome Williams. I do agree keeping guys like Udoka, and Barnes would be good ideas, rather than giving Jared Jefferies 30 Mill, we stay conservitive and Give Udoka 3 year deals worth 6 Million.

    Isiah’s main downfall with the rebuilding process is not paying Jerome James and Jared Jefferies 6 Million a year, its signing them to 5-6 year deals. If he had paid them 8 million a year for two years, it wouldn’t put us in this disatrious position. We MUST set a year at which we want to get under the cap like the lakers have done. For example, if we were to say 2010 make sure many of our contracts expire that year, giving us the option to re-sign players or get free agents that year. We could also sign cheap talented european players trying to make it to the league (see Anothony Parker, Raptors) to give us flexablility for the following year(s). From that point we should never stray too far from the salary cap, just like the Spurs or Mavericks.

    Going back to the Anthony Parker signing by the Raptors, the Knicks must start looking abroad for talent. The 4 teams with the most foreign players are: The Suns, Mavericks, Spurs, and Raptors. The Raptors had an outragous turnaround this year, and in a couple years Brain Colangelo will turn that team around. The Knicks need to infuse foreign players, rather than trying to get the next American phenom. Isiah was looking for the next big time scorer when he aquired Jamal Crawford, Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, Eddy Curry, Quentin Richardson etc… If he used a couple of these guys and complimented them with European players, or as Bill Walton would say “Basketball Players who don’t play positions”, the Knicks could’ve lowered cap and improved play. Then again its not that easy, he would have to find good players rather than signing a few Bruno Sundovs.

  36. 1.That was definitely the best case: it was what I was basically presenting as the best, somewhat realistic, possible turn of events. I think the only very unrealistic expectation there was Dwight Howard. I overlooked the fact that the Knicks were 10-18 before Isiah was hired, or on track to win about 29 games. 29 wins would have tied them with the Suns for 7th (6th plus the newly formed Bobcats). I guess Lu Deng or Andre Igoudala would be more reasonable than Howard. Paul I don?t think is particularly unreasonable. Assuming that a team with Paul at R.O.Y. form, Deng, Layden leftovers, Ariza, and some Matt Barnes? and Jackie Butlers? would finish in the bottom 6 is debatable, but seems pretty plausible.

    2. If the Knicks are paying $140 million (something more like $220 million after the luxury tax) for this roster I?m not sure they would have a problem resigning guys like Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Dwight Howard/Lu Deng to big extensions.

    3. As you point out, Hudson River, it?s probably not a coincidence that the best teams are produced by the organizations with the best understanding and utilization of European basketball. The expanded pool of talent from which they?re drawing is one factor, but I think this is just one indicator of superior management. These teams are also the teams interested in playing a more fundamentally sound, team-oriented style rather than the me-first, dribble all over the court, isolate a 40% shooter like Jamal Crawford, don?t try on defense style personified by the Knicks.

    Anthony Parker could be seen as an example of this: he?s an American former first round pick who went to Europe after failing to stick in the league, improved his game, and came back to the league to find much greater success than the first time around. The Raptors didn?t discover some hidden European talent, and Jamal Crawford probably has more athleticism and ?talent? in his pinky than Parker has overall. However, Toronto?s success shows that ?less talented? or less athletic guys who fill roles and play as a team are more valuable than, well, the guys the Knicks have.
    Brian Colangelo recently made a comment about how the entire organizational culture needed to be changed when he got to Toronto, that seems to be true for the Knicks more so than for any other team in the league.

  37. With Europeans, I think the Moneyball explanation is instructive. It’s not so much that their style of play is “better,” it’s that those players have traditionally been undervalued. As more teams look to Europe, that advantage will disappear. In the same way, high school players were undervalued until teams noticed that you could get a Garnett at 5, McGrady at 8, Kobe at 13, etc. By the time of the Kwame/Tyson/Curry draft, high-schoolers were no bargain.

    In the actual Billy Beane/Moneyball version, once everyone in the league started valuing On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage, Beane started found good “value” in outfield defense and relief pitchers. It wasn’t the particular skill that was important – it was identifying something that no one else was paying attention to.

    As the examples of Billy Beane and high-school ballers show, professional organizations don’t take long to catch up. So what’s the next place to look? I don’t know. Africa? South America? Isaiah seems to have done well with college seniors, who as a group may have been undervalued the past few years.

  38. Dan,

    I am not totally pleased with one of my answers, basically it wasn’t complete. While we can say its Dolan’s money so why do I care, part of the answer is because the Dolan’s didn’t get where they are by throwing away millions. The other point, that the $15 MM for Rose meant a lot to another team. A lot of the money saved went to Bosh.


    I am not sure I follow everything you said – like how the Knicks got Dwight Howard. But basically, there was another way which required patience.

  39. Caleb:
    In the 90s/early 00s, some teams?notably San Antonio, Dallas, and Sacramento?were able to make a killing on draft night by taking undervalued guys. I think that teams have caught on: over the last 4 years an average of 5.75 have been taken in the first round and almost 1/4 of all players drafted have been playing in Europe at the time they were drafted (24%).

    That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re caught up: there seems to be far more variation in the success rates of European prospects relative to where they?re selected compared to U.S. prospects (could be wrong and have no statistical evidence to back this up). This is probably due in part to a lack of statistics or playing time for young players (just like high schoolers), but some of these guys play heavy minutes on club and national teams so I think it’s also because a lot of teams aren’t looking for the right things: overvaluing athleticism/?potential? and undervaluing basketball skills (again, like with high schoolers).

    This kind of leads into the point I was trying to make, which was NOT that the ?European? style in general is better than the American style in general. (I live in Europe and am, in fact, not a fan of European basketball because they seem to have mistaken it for soccer the way they run around like chickens with their heads cut off.) Just that the teams who are doing a good job of scouting and selecting European, or foreign, players (Sacramento a few years ago, Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix, and maybe now Toronto) are not only succeeding because they are drawing from a larger pool of raw ?talent? and athleticism. They are also succeeding because their North American, South American, African, European, Asian, even Australian players tend to play better, “team-oriented” if you will, basketball on both sides of the ball. This is not ?European? basketball, it?s just basketball.

  40. Ted, I agree it’s more about good scouting and talent evaluation, than a particular style of basketball.

    Just like any market, there are always areas that are undervalued and overvalued, changing over time. One recent trend is picking up European free agents already in the prime of their careers – Parker, Garabajosa, etc. So far, they’ve proven to be much better deals than American free agents, say, Jared Jeffries and just about every other mid-level exception signing in the NBA.

    Which sort of brings me to Kevin’s comment. He hints at a real weakness for Isaiah – he has no concept whatsoever of the value he’s offering to other teams. He’s a good talent evaluator, but again and again fails to press an advantage, to use his leverage in a negotiation. I actually think deals like the Rose/Lee trade are a good way to use our only advantage (the ability to afford $$). Without that trade, for example, we wouldn’t have the best player on the team and we’d be the Layden Knicks. But over the long-haul, if you never find a bargain, you end up with expensive assets thatno one else wants.

    A few examples:
    – As many posters have pointed out, our deals with Phoenix and Toronto basically saved the franchises. One level, the deals were ok – we paid a lot of $$ and got good draft picks. But those teams would have been willing to give up much more, just to get the salary relief.

    – The Bulls wouldn’t have matched a $25 million offer to Jamal Crawford, much less $50 million.

    – After the heart fiasco, the Bulls had no hope of re-signing Eddy Curry after 2006. He would have walked. The Bulls were desperate; if Isaiah didn’t want to wait, he could have made the trade for one protected draft pick, much less two unprotected picks.

    – If he wanted to take a flyer on Jerome James… ok. But that deal could have been done for $10 million, tops.

    – He got spooked into taking Balkman by a rumor at last year’s draft (that the Suns were going to grab him). It worked out ok, bc Balkman is easily worth a #20 or better, but we probably could have had him at 29 and grabbed someone like Rondo or Marcus Williams at 20 – then traded the pick for a real asset, not Mardy Collins (don’t get me started).

    The man does NOT drive a hard bargain.

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