Treading Water

I think, going to the West, 2-3 seemed like a realistic expectation, although 3-2 was clearly the hope. Basically, the Knicks are a pretty bad team, which means they should be able to beat bad teams (Seattle and Portland), lose to good teams (Clippers and Suns) and toss ups against other pretty bad teams (Sacramento).

However, 2-3 also brings the Knicks to only a game out of first place, which is basically the same place they were when they left on the trip. Treading water, but at least they are not drowning!!

Meanwhile, Steve Francis’ time as a Knick appears to be basically be over, as the Knicks have allowed him to go to Houston to rehab his knee with John Lucas. Francis says he wants to stick around, but by the Knicks allowing him to leave the team to rehab, that doesn’t seem all that likely (if he was actually part of their plans, can you really see them letting him leave the team like that?).

Here’s an interesting question…with this particular lineup, who would you rather be the guard who gets benched when Nate Robinson returns – Mardy Collins or Nate himself? I’ve been really impressed with Collins in the little time he’s played, and with this specific group of players, he might be a better option (specifically his ball-handling and his defense) – but Robinson has such talent – it too much to bench, I guess. But what do you folks think?

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52 thoughts to “Treading Water”

  1. Nate Robinson has tremendous talent, but hurts the Knicks more than he helps them. Unless one of the old school coaches gets hold of him and straightens him out his talent will be wasted, and his value will not rise above being an NBA circus attraction.

    The problem with guys like Nate and Marbury is that they want to emulate Alan Iverson instead of Jason Kidd.

    I just wish these guys wanted to win more, and be superstars less. That’s what made our beloved Knicks so great in their championship era.

    Trade Nate.

  2. Steph’s been great for a month running now and getting better every game at running the show and not trying to be Iverson. For now at least he’s enthusastically bought into the Eddy offense and the Knicks have been a much better team because of it. Just saying – it seems a weird time to dump on him for wanting to be “the man.”

  3. I think it has ALWAYS been odd to rip on Marbury for wanting to be “the man.”

    Who was he supposed to defer to when he joined the Knicks?

    The best scoring option was almost always number 3.

    Now it isn’t, and he recognizes that.

    And he was great in Phoenix helping Stoudemire develop. Amare DID win rookie of the year with Phoenix with Marbury as his point guard.

  4. Dan, I hear you. Marbury’s seems to be trying to play more within the framework of team play, and the Knicks’ record reflects it. On the other hand, he’s still is a long long way from the level he could be at if he truly mastered the role of a point guard.

    Brian, it’s not odd to rip Marbury for wanting to be “the man” because that mentality leads to ugly, losing basketball. Playing hoops, especially at the point guard position, is not about ” being the man or deferring to” someone else. Great basketball is an improvisational dance to break down the defense and move the ball to a teammate for easy baskets. Ironically, Marbury actually would be “the man” if he was as singlemindedly focused at getting other players the ball for an easy two instead of himself. Watch Nash or Kidd. They’re always looking to break down the defense and pass to someone else. That’s the most effective role a point guard can play. That’s the only way a point guard should play. LB knew that and was not going to defer to Marbury’s “be the man” brand of losing ball.

    That’s the reason, withstanding his tremendous innate talent, Marbury will never ever ever win a championship regardless of who he is teamed with. That’s what pissed LB off and why Phoenix got rid of him. If you traded Marbury for Nash, Phoenix’s offense would stagnate, and the Knicks would run away with the East. Nothing to do with talent. It’s all about playing the right way.

  5. Nate’s immaturity and lack of discipline shadows his talent. He needs to get more focused and serious. I like the guy and he is a crowd attraction, but I do like the way collins has been playing and I would like to see more.

  6. Collins or Nate isn’t even a question, the Knicks need Nate’s shooting (and Richardson’s) despite his flaws, Collins has shown very little so far. I also am willing to believe all of the stories we’ve seen in the last few weeks that we’re going to see a “new Nate” post-brawl, until he shows us otherwise.

    my ideal rotation as of now:

    Curry-38 minutes
    Frye-34 minutes
    Lee-36 minutes
    Richardson-30 minutes
    Marbury-34 minutes

    off the bench:

    Crawford-32 minutes
    Jeffries-24 minutes
    Nate-12 minutes

    Balkman comes in if they need an energy burst, Malik Rose for a defensive stopper at PF, Jerome James if they’re playing Shaq or Yao or someone like that, but otherwise the 8 man rotation above is the one to shoot for.

  7. It’s simple: cut down the rotation to eight (as in the eight guys involved in the win vs. Utah) or even nine–move robinson, and maybe collins for a REAL stopper (not jeffries) or draft picks. Get rid of James too. The core is solid for the future, especially with Francis on his way out.

  8. “cut down the rotation to eight (as in the eight guys involved in the win vs. Utah)”

    the three guys off the bench in that game were Malik Rose, Cato and Balkman, that’s not going to cut it most nights, sorry.

  9. Brian,

    I think with Mardy Collins and Robinson you can play that one matchup by matchup, as both are likely to come off the bench.

    I was a Collins fan at Temple – I loved his D. I think he can give us the best perimeter D we’ve had since Frank Williams.

    p.s. How ’bout them Seahawks!!??

  10. I agree – play them by matchup…if you need D, put in Collins…if you need instant offense and energy put in Robinson

    And if I had to pick just one I’d go Robinson, if for no other reason than I haven’t seen enough of Collins or been that impressed by him when I have.

  11. Hoolahoop,

    I dont get Marbury and Nate is trying to play like Iverson.

    They may have similar games, but their mentality differentiates them. I have heard Kobe Bryant refer to Iverson as an assasin. Stephan could be, but he has not hit that key shot or free throw. Had he done this, our view of him would be different. In addition, Allen’s knowledge and understanding of the game appears to be better than Stephan’s.

    Nate is an exciteable player and it up to the coach to channel that energy in the positive manner.
    I agree that Nate and Mardy Collins should be a two headed monster. Nate for offense, Mardy for stability and defense. And to think of
    is it a bad thing if Nate develops into a Iverson like talent?

    I hate any LB reference. To me he did not do his job last year. He clearly had an agenda which was
    Isiah’s job. Had he done his job, Frye and Robinson would have been further along.

  12. “I was a Collins fan at Temple – I loved his D. I think he can give us the best perimeter D we?ve had since Frank Williams.”

    Talking about damning with faint praise…how does Frank Williams keep coming up on the boards? Dude did NOTHING during or after his stay with the Knicks.

  13. Confucius,

    Yeah, don’t want to bring up LB either, but I have to say he really did a number on the team. But I also believe that any other coach you put on that bench would not have been half as sucessful (I use this term loosely) as Isiah simply because he has their trust.

    With Isiah on the bench, Steph’s confidence is at an all time high. Even though he defers to Eddy offensively most times, you can see his stats improving by the day.

    Its been great seeing him run this team post brawl. I find it hard to imagine Nate, Stevie, or Mardy being able to have as much success given the same amount of minutes.

    I may not expect a lot from them this year, but I do expect to see them come in game in and game out with the effort expected from a team born and bred in New York.

  14. “how does Frank Williams keep coming up on the boards? Dude did NOTHING during or after his stay with the Knicks.”

    I guess you weren’t around for the ’04 playoffs? Williams was the Knicks’ best defender that series & earned increasing time in each game. He not only played tough D, but showed some moxie. Williams couldn’t shoot a lick (career 35% FG%), but in the limited minutes he played Frank has been the Knicks’ best permeter defender over the last 5 years. Maybe even since Derek Harper.

    JoeNetsFan who never has anything nice to say about the Knicks, after that series said:

    Spark But No Flame – What a heavy-lidded, dull-brained crew this Knicks team turned out to be. Only Frank Williams had anything like what you’d call a “fire.” He tangoed briefly with Jefferson in the 3rd, getting into a bit of a shoving match with him, and both got t’d.

  15. Lol Dave, I wouldn’t be too happy with that Seattle win. Well maybe after the Jets lost to the hated Patriots, I guess you should be somewhat happy with a victory. The Jets should draft a RB or a DT in the first round this year..

    I’m just waiting for the day that placekick holders becomes a specialized position in the NFL, like long snapper. Has this been the worst football year in terms of missed easy kicks?

  16. Man I guess I really don’t remember that – didn’t we get swept? All I can recall is something about Kenyon Martin being a fugazi, back when he still could walk.

    Saying Frank Williams was the only Knick giving it his all in the ’04 playoffs says a lot more about the Knicks that year than anything else. That series was an omen of things to come the next two seasons.

  17. I think the fact that he had one ok playoff series doesn’t make him good. The main thing I remember from that playoff series was it highlighted the absolute lack of any interior defense on the team..something that still exists.

    I liked Frank Williams, liked when we took him, liked when he played…but he wasn’t that good.

    That said the Mardy Collins comparison seems pretty accurate – neither have done anything really…they’re both kind of slower players who play good D and don’t offer much offensively.

  18. The Knicks should hire Eddie Lee Wilkins to work with Eddie Curry.

    Rory Sparrow to work with Stephan.

    Charles Smith to toughen up David Lee.

    Kenny Bannister to work with Channing Frye.

  19. Charles Smith?? Charles Smith is the only person who could destroy David Lee’s inside game. Smith could have used Lee as a tutor before game 7 against Houston in ’94, in which he went 2 of 18 from the floor, including 7 or 8 missed layups. That’s 11% for you math buffs. Charles Smith might “toughen up” Lee, but that would only prepare him to ride the pine after his ability to finish goes down the drain.

  20. not only was the prior guy joking, but you somehow mixed up Charles Smith and John Starks. not even sure how that’s possible…

  21. Yeah, I also don’t get why it is weird to say Frank Williams was a good defender.

    That was about the only thing he DID do.

  22. I liked Frank when we had him but I liked him more on potential than anything else. Now we know he had a lot less potential than I might have thought then.

  23. If a guy made both of his free throws in his only NBA appearance, you wouldn’t say he’s the best free throw shooter in NBA history.
    Why are we talking about Frank Williams?

  24. I don’t know about Mardy Collins. Isn’t he supposed to be a point guard? In 96 minutes he’s managed all of one assist. Yinka Dare was a better passer, apparently. I don’t think you can bench Nate (who I am not fond of) for Collins at this point…

  25. Frank Williams also had a nice run of play right before Isiah traded for Marbury. If I recall correctly, it was during that stretch that both Clyde Frazier and Zeke compared Williams to Frazier. here are his stats from that 6 game stretch:

    2003-12-20 NBA NYK* ATL 0 23 4 9 0 1 2 2 0 2 2 9 2 0 1 1 10 10-18
    2003-12-23 NBA NYK* MIN 0 15 2 4 0 0 2 2 0 1 1 3 0 1 1 1 6 10-19
    2003-12-26 NBA NYK MEM 0 25 8 15 0 2 2 2 0 3 3 6 0 0 5 5 18 11-19
    2003-12-27 NBA NYK MIA 1 29 5 8 2 4 2 2 0 2 2 4 2 0 3 3 14 12-19
    2003-12-29 NBA NYK ORL 1 22 7 9 4 6 0 0 1 1 2 5 2 1 2 3 18 13-19
    2003-12-30 NBA NYK* MIA 1 26 3 9 0 1 0 0 0 2 2 7 2 0 2 1 6 14-19

    nothing superhuman, but the aforementioned good D, and the team went 4-2, and about 12 ppg 6 apg over 50 percent on fgs, 6-13 from 3, and 1.3 steals in 24 mpg. Per 40 mpg, we’re talking 18ppg, 10 apg and 2.3 steals.

    That’s certaintly a starting-caliber PG in the NBA, comparable to what Deron Williams is doing in Utah or what Andre Miller has done over the years. Coupled with the fact that Cleveland was more than willing to do a Darius Miles – Williams swap straight up and one can see that Williams was hardly a stiff. Of course the Marbury trade ended all that tout suite. It’s just a reminder how much pure luck plays in detrmining a player’s fortunes/”talent”.

    Imagine if the Miles/Williams deal had gone through. Think 2.5 years of playing alongside LeBron woulda kept Frank out of the D-League (where he currently resides)?

    Or if Isiah had taken a more traditional (some might [like me]) say logical) rebuilding path — letting McDyess’s contract expire, dealing Van Horn for an expiring instead of Tim Thomas, Dealing Kurt Thomas for young players/expiring deals/draft picks, etc. etc., one could certainly see Williams as the cornerstone (or at least a building block) in a rebuilding effort.

  26. Ken-

    Excellent memory. I forgot about that stretch until I read what you wrote and then it all came back to me. I remember (now) having discussions of how well the team was playing when Frank Williams was in the game. Then we made the deal and it was pretty easy to forget about Frank.

    Looks like it was probably more of an aberration anyway but still fun to recall.

  27. Fellas,

    I you were GM of the Knicks what trade would you make in hopes of improving this team?

  28. Yea my bad on the chuck smith-john starks thing, I was looking at box score and the names are next to each other. I noticed it as soon as I entered. the point is charles smith was aweful in that game, but i got no excuse for that john starks mix up.

  29. “If you were GM of the Knicks what trade would you make in hopes of improving this team?”

    the Knicks don’t need a trade, they need to give this set of players a chance to actually play together and develop.

    they need:

    Crawford to become at least somewhat more consistent (possible, he seems to be moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. I’d put him back to sixth man and start Q at 2 guard, but I doubt Isiah will do this)
    Jeffries to contribute more often like he did in the first quarter in Seattle (also possible, he’s barely played so far this year and must be rusty)
    Frye to find slightly more of a place in the offense and continue working on his D
    Marbury to keep playing like he has been the past month or so (and how about him actually playing a little D recently!)
    Curry to keep being dominant in the post and continue working on his rebounding and shot-blocking
    Lee to play as many minutes as he can stand
    Robinson to get more under control (not sure if this one’s possible, but we’ll see soon enough)
    Richardson to stay healthy
    Balkman to develop any kind of shooting touch (I think this will happen, but probably not this year)
    Francis to never return

    if this doesn’t get them to 38-40 wins and a run at one of the last playoff spots, they can reassess in the offseason. we should all be rooting for the Bulls to lose as many games as possible, and hopefully the first round pick we get back from them will be someone able to contribute, preferably a guard. but honestly, short of a legit franchise player (and Curry is moving in that direction), they’ve got all of the pieces. you need to let players play together for at least half a season until you really know what you’ve got. I have no problem with the constant player merry-go-round the last few years, the roster Isiah inherited was beyind brutal. but now we need to see what this team, as presently constituted, can do. any trade this season will just delay this process even further.

    this is a big week for the Knicks, they need to take at least 2 of these 3 home games, preferably all 3, if they want to make a real run at .500 this season.

  30. Frank Williams isn’t that good, he plays for Sioux Falls in the D-League. He let himself go showing up to Bulls training camp, and they decided to put him on waivers. I have no idea where Sioux Falls is, but its not good.

    The Knicks shouldn’t make a blockbuster, they are almost as much of a revolving door as Toronto. If they were to trade up in the draft or getting rid of Steve Francis’s huge salary then that would be commendable. Unfourtunatly the latter will not happen, but here is the trade they could make:

    Sonics get: Nate Robinson, Kelvin Cato, Bulls 1st Round Pick, Knicks 2nd Round Pick*

    Knicks get: Nick Collison, Sonics 1st Round Pick, Sonics 2nd Round Pick*

    The salaries match up and because this years draft is probably going to be extremely talented moving up could be a big deal in both the first and second rounds.
    *Assumeing Knicks have better record at the deadline

  31. something with Seattle could work, but I don’t think that’s it. this team needs Nate right now, I don’t think Q is fast enough to guard guards all of the time, and no way Mardy Collins is ready for an actual role.

    with the crowd cheering for Jerome James in garbage time the other night and Seattle desperately needing a C, maybe they could send him back there, maybe for Fortson (expiring contract, wouldn’t play except in emergencies) and the rights to a first round flip after Chicago flips with NY.

    but like I said above, I don’t want to touch the eight man rotation unless it’s a situation like when Baron Davis became available a few years ago for nothing at the trading deadline. barring that, let this core play!

  32. jon- I feel what your saying about letting the core develop…at the very least until the end of the season. I do like Q starting over Jamaal, when he’s back maybe the bockers can play actual D, instead of standing in the zone. But Nate should never ever play. He just is not a good enough defender, and offensively he destroys the Knicks gameplan of working entirely through Curry because he can’t make an entry pass and he makes to many wild dives into the paint. I agree Mardy is not ready for a real role, but with Q back he doesn’t need to play either. Now I’ll be really original and say my ideal rotation:
    off the bench-Lee-Crawford-Balkman-Malik.
    In the end I agree with you jon, find a core and LET IT PLAY!

  33. Sonics fan here … Seattle would have less than zero interest in Jerome James.

    w/r/t Nate Robinson for Nick Collison it’d have to be part of a bigger trade package, Nate wouldn’t even be able to get minutes behind Ridnour and Watson. I’m not a big fan of sub-6 ft guards though so apart from bringing out the UW homers it doesn’t do much for me.

    Question to the assembled fans of Knickdom: do y’all think the Knicks would be into acquiring Ray Allen for Q-Rich and Malik Rose … it’s a crazy trade idea I had this morning. I figure the Knicks still have to move Franchise’s contract and figure out the rotation, but they get a top flight SG in return. Seattle gets two younger more defensive oriented players to retool with and shaves a year of salary commitment off their books.

  34. I think NY would do that in a second, yes. a two-man game of Curry and Allen? I’m drooling…

  35. Ray Allens jumper is money and if he were available for Q-Rich and Malik Rose it should already have been done. Ray Allen is a legitimate super-star, plus the Knicks have and a possible “best center in the East” in Eddy Curry. that is a poor man’s Kobe-Shaq/ D-Wade- Shaq. The Knicks also have some solid role players if they fit into their roles (as the Vets in Miami did). Thats a playoff team in the Atlantic Division no question.

  36. When watching the Knicks, they at times seem clueless on defense. They need a rotation of intelligent, disciplined players to give them some ‘D’. Nate is out, Q is in, Collins is in. Mike Breen keeps saying ‘lack of effort’ but Kenny Smith calls it ‘lack of recognition’ which is another way of saying ‘lack of basketball intelligence’. I agree with him 100%. Unless they’re in a deep hole and need instant ‘O’, Nate stays on the bench.

  37. I have a hard time believing the Sonics would be interested in dealing Ray for Malik and Richardson. The Sonics, like the most teams, could be looking for some “younger” talent, but I do not think that the 32 year old Rose qualifies, especially on a team stacked at pf and center like Seattle. Like Hudson River said above, if it were available it would already have been done.
    I still think the Knicks should let the group they have now try to put something together, which should not be too difficult in the disgraceful Atlantic Divison. Let’s see what this group can do, and maybe make some moves in the offseason if they cannot put a legit postseason run together.

  38. Toronto is good if they all stay healthy, Bosh and Ford are both impossible to guard and the rest of their team is coming together well. the Knicks will really have to pick it up to stay with them, I think.

  39. Toronto worries me more than any other team in the division right now. No one is talking about it, but the no. 1 pick (the quietest number 1 ever it feels like) Bargnani is starting to play really well with extended minutes and has a ton of upside. Guy could be a legitimate Nowitzki – a seven footer with an unstoppable three pointer and the ceiling seems pretty high in general for him. As it is, he’s already playing like a solid sixth man or even starter.

  40. I don?t know about Mardy Collins. Isn?t he supposed to be a point guard? In 96 minutes he?s managed all of one assist.

    You have to remember that a good chunk of Collins’ minutes is coming in as a defensive sub. Hard to make an assist when the other team has the ball, and you’re coming out after a change of possession.

  41. Bargnani also has another weapon that Nowitzki doesn’t, and never has, had. That is a legit low post threat playing alongside him. CB4 is a beast, and one on one in the post he’s close to impossible to stop. Teams started to double once he got the ball, but he’s so fast that did not always work. Now they leave earlier, sluffing down before the pass, which leaves guys like TJ Ford, Mo Pete, and especially Bargnani tons of room to operate.

  42. Speaking of young guys with tons of upside(sarcastic), the Knicks are rumored to buy-out Steve Francis’ deal. The Sixers want to do the same thing with Chris Webber, so why don’t we trade for him. His deal is one year shorter, and as long as he never gets playing time this is a deal that would greatly benefit the Knicks.

  43. damn, bryan colangelo?s the man once again. Anyone else read ?7 seconds or less??

    I didn’t find out about it until just recently! I really want to read it.

  44. Sonics get: Nate Robinson, Kelvin Cato, Bulls 1st Round Pick, Knicks 2nd Round Pick*

    Knicks get: Nick Collison, Sonics 1st Round Pick, Sonics 2nd Round Pick*

    Actually the salaries don’t match up. Collison signed an extension before the season, making him a base year compensation player, meaning that for any trade his salary is equal to 50% of his salary next year. I’m not gonna bother looking it up because I’m sure it’s at least 3 million higher than the 1.x million nate makes.

    As far as ray allen for Q and Rose… I’m not sure why I’m wasting my breath on such a ridiculous proposal, but I can’t help myself. I don’t think the Sonics would take Rose and Q if the Knicks were giving them away, not at their current salaries. Both of them make like $7 million of I’m not mistaken. Rose shouldn’t be playing more than 15mpg – does that make him a $7 million player? Q has no trade value until he can play for quite a while without sitting. He has no medical insurance on his contract becaues the insrance company looked at his back and decided he was likely to have chronic back problems. He has only played over 65 games once in the last 4 seasons. He’s already missed, what, like 12 games this year? He’s definitely not on pace to break the trend.

  45. Nate really learned how to keep his mouth shut after the brawl? That was very clear with his trash talking the referee at the end of the Bobcats game. I say get rid of this guy.

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