Why the Knicks should leave Artest alone

[Although his original piece was lost due to an electronic malfunction, Lead Roster Analyst David Crawford recesitated these free thoughts about acquiring Ron Artest.]

1. The Knicks are at a crossroads similar to the one they faced just prior to the Marbury trade. Should they import new talent or steady the cap situation and build with the kids? In retrospect, with the benefit of perfect hindsight, it’s hard to see how making the move for Marbury was worth it. Isiah’s real strength is the draft. The Knicks would have been better served to ride out the Anderson, Witherspoon, and Eisley contracts, and develop their young players.

2. Soley adding Artest doesn’t move the Knicks into the top echelon of Eastern conference teams. Although he is an uber-productive player, entrance into the upper tier is at least one or two moves away for New York (plus some time for the youngins to develop together). Certainly Artest could be one of those moves, but if the price to get him includes absorbing another wretched contract, New York can’t make the other move. Each of Isiah’s trades for Marbury, Crawford, and Curry has come with a poison pill contract that has hindered the Knicks from making other supplemental moves.

3. While some have suggested there are similarities between Ron Artest’s situation and the one Latrell Sprewell faced years ago, there is one critical difference between the two. Sprewell was brought onto a veteran team that had its own personality, and Artest would be brought onto a young team as its best player and leader. Unfortunately, Artest is too immature and unpredictable to handle this kind of responsibility.

I would love to see the Knicks make the playoffs, but looking back they also made the playoffs under Don Chaney. It’s easy for some to forget what a pyrrhic victory making the playoffs is when you get swept. This season is about climbing out of the hole, seeing what this team has to develop, and finding what it needs to compete. I’m not against seeing Artest in the orange-and-blue, but I’d be more comfortable seeing that happen after this contract is up in 2008, if he is indeed serious about coming back home.

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Part-time blogger on the Knicks at Knickerblogger.net and Seahawks at FieldGulls.com. In my free time I hang out at the University of South Carolina and occasionally fill thirsty young minds with knowledge about various and sundry things related to consumer behavior and marketing.

26 thoughts to “Why the Knicks should leave Artest alone”

  1. You left out a key issue. The Knicks would have to give up some of their young talent to get Artest.

    The funny thing about Isiah’s rebuilding is that while he seems to get the better player and never really gives up anything – the Knicks don’t get better. The cap problems do get worse every trade.

  2. Good points…I can’t really argue with any of that. Isiah has definitely picked up some dog contracts in trades.

    However, it sounds like you are saying the Knicks cannot possibly be a “get past the first round” playoff team before 2008. I have been all for rebuilding with youth since Riley brought in Mo Cheeks on a walker, but…

    NY 1st round Pick in 2006 — Traded to CHI unconditionally

    NY receives SAN 1st round pick in 2006 — Top 10 protected but this will likely be in the 26-30 range.

    NY 2nd round pick in 2006 — Traded to HOU

    NY 1st round Pick in 2007 — CHI may swap positions with NY so likely end up 17+

    NY 2nd round Pick in 2007 — Traded to CHI

    So…while the Knicks should get better as a result of the “Kids” getting better, there likely won’t be any more young talent coming in via the draft before 2008. Somewhere along the line we have to make some trades that swap excess big men for either a SF or a pure jump shooter or both. The current roster is talent-laden but badly mismatched.

  3. When is it time for a Fire Isiah chant? Or better yet, a ticket boycott of all Knick games so maybe the Dolan’s finally get a clue that you can’t expect fans to allow you to have the most expensive seats in the NBA and consistently run trash out onto the floor.

  4. There are some good points here such as the team Sprewell joined did have a strong figure like Ewing and it did have an identity. Steph on the other hand doesn’t seem to have any discernable leadership qualities whatsoever. As for the point 1, what young talent did we have? Nothing. Plus, this isn’t Denver where the market would accept a couple of terrible seasons in exchange for future success. Also, in regards to point 2, Indiana do not really have bad contracts in Knicks terms. Croshere is probably their worst, majorly overpaid, but his contract only runs another year. As for Artest, his contract is almost too good in that since he is not paid relative to his production, it is difficult to get someone equivalent talent in a trade.

    I think if you can swing a trade to get that kind of talent, do it. Even the limited Marbury did give the Knicks a boost in his first season. Had we not made that trade, it is hard to envisage us doing any better than we are now.

  5. Kevin – You’re right. I left out NY having to give up at least one of the kids to get Artest. Fortunately, Thomas has said no dice.

    Count Zero – Didn’t mean to imply that NY is helpless until ’08. Glad you made the point explicit. Exactly the opposite. I see Artest bringing what ‘Sheed brought to Detroit; putting a good team over the top. Also, given how young the Knicks already are I don’t see the upcoming couple drafts as major problems. I think the real value for improving/good teams is late lottery to the end of the first/top of the 2nd.

    Haz – Actually, my point is that all things considered, two years later the Marbury deal didn’t put us much farther ahead (if at all) than where we are right now. Only the salary cap situation, which would have improved got worse. Given Zeke’s eye for talent it’s not inconceivable that the Knicks could have duplicated the record of the Marbury era, only with younger players and be in a better place financially. NY may not have bottomed out at all had they resisted the temptation to get Marbury.

  6. “Haz – Actually, my point is that all things considered, two years later the Marbury deal didn?t put us much farther ahead (if at all) than where we are right now…”

    Let me restate that… (It made sense in my head but not in print.) Two years after the Marbury deal it’s not clear that NY couldn’t have duplicated its record over that span with younger, cheaper players AND been in a better position via the cap. That’s no slight to Marbury’s talent. It’s an acknowledgement that having to absorb the Hardaway contract in order to get Steph actually dampens Steph’s impact. Isiah couldn’t get the right compliments for Steph’s talents because the roster is loaded with these other bad contracts.

  7. It is, indeed, a really strange phenomenon. If you look at the Knick roster when Isiah inherited and compare that to the current one, the players are monumentally more talented than they were before (I can remember myself praising the fine play of Shandon Anderson and Frank Williams), yet the team has actually taken a step back record-wise. Who’s at fault? The coach! Larry Brown sucks! The man simply does not know how to manage his roster. It is beyond me why this man is still considered a great coach. I guarantee I could coach the Knicks to a win right now.

  8. A problem with the roster is the abundance of OK players, Malik Rose, Penny, Davis, James, Taylor, even Ariza, for all his potential. None of these players really excel at any one thing, maybe James or whatever can block a few shots on his day, but thats about it. We lack a 3-point specialist, or a big rebounder, role players that can come on have an influence in a certain situation. It would be better to have a few players on the bench that are more than just OK at everything, outstanding at nothing. The amount of overall talent on the Knicks is highly misleading, I don’t think you can blame the coach for that. Whether minutes go to Taylor or Davis or Rose or whoever, the production is the same: mediocre.

  9. Young T, good point about the roster and lack of specialists. The Knicks’ highest priority should be getting a consistent sharpshooter, as they have plenty of players that can slash through the lane. Even still, LB has been unable/unwilling to bend his “right way” style of coaching around the roster and use what he has. This accounts for our poor record that is worse than it was at this point last year. I can’t help but think that this would be a better team if we still had Kurt Thomas and not Q-Rich and Nate. At least then we would have a defensive presence in the paint.

  10. Scratch that, the LB’s Knicks just gave up 71 Points to the Hawks and it is only halftime–their highest priority should be acquiring one or more defensive specialists.

  11. I can’t believe they gave up 71 to the hawks in the first half. does larry brown even attend these games??

  12. Young talent is one thing, but Ron Artest…I just remember watching him play in St. Johns. Artest is one of a kind. He’s a headcase, but just remember, he’s OUR headcase. And he’s a spectacular player.

    David Lee is nothing spectacular. Trevor Ariza is nothing spectacular. They’re never going to be starters. Also, Q is a terrible fit for Larry Brown’s rigid offence. No player with the exception of Frye, Curry and Marbury should be untouchable. That’s a solid foundation to build upon.

    Although Nate is going to be quite a player once he gets his head on straight, the jury is still out on whether he’ll become the next Boykins/Webb…however, I think not. He’s a shooting guard in the body of Gary Coleman. He’s got a big learning curve ahead of him. Nate’s fun to watch, but his talent is better suited for streetball than the NBA.

    Anyway, I still think that the combination of Steph and Crawford is the key to success in the backcourt, but Crawford and some young talent for Artest and salary filler, that’s fine too.

    It’s so painful right now…I’m watching the Knicks lose to the Hawks. The HAWKS. Rebuilding? Ron Artest is a friggin foundation.

  13. Where’s Stan Van Gundy going to end up?
    Anyone think Larry may bail out due to health reasons and Stan steps in?

  14. Definitely possible. A couple weeks ago, he made a somewhat conspicuous public mention of his health problems (again). By reminding the press of it, he may be leaving an exit door open for himself if he decides to move on.


    Use your brains and start a “Fire Zeke” campaign. A light bulb must have finally went off b/c Knickblogger finally hit it on the head.

  16. Kareem, although I do think that the Knicks will be better in a few years under LB, I think that Artest will find a permanent home in NY. Simply put, it’s his hometown. For the same reason, I think Steph will stay put–and succeed–as well. Artest, despite his league experience, is only 26 years old. Artest IS young talent.

    If Indiana would have actually accepted a trade of Q or Crawford and Nate for Artest, I might have joined you ing your “Fire Zeke” campaign.

    Frye is a true talent; Robinson, Ariza and Lee will never achieve the level of a true starter.


    1. Gary Coleman can’t win ballgames.

    2. Ariza isn’t going to become the next Tayshawn Prince; Tayshawn Prince wouldn’t have become Tayshawn Prince if he was on a bad team.

    3. Having David Lee and Malik Rose on the same team is absolutely pointless–bricks and rebounds, ok, the Knicks are doing great in both departments already…they’re both useless dime a dozen players.

    Heart only goes so far. Artest, despite his emotional deficiencies, has TALENT. You can’t learn raw talent. I guarantee you that Artest will bounce around the league until he comes HOME to New York.

  17. How one team could give up 12 threes AND 32 free throw attempts, and let a team shoot 63 PERCENT in one game is beyond me. Not to mention the two 30 point explosions by relatively shitty players, and the fact that it was the Hawks.

    I’m gonna eat my own head.

  18. If the Knicks traded Rose, Taylor, Davis and James today for Kaniel Dickens and a toaster oven, not only would I not bat an eyelash, I would probably rejoice.

  19. NGLI:

    That is not what I mean by exercising patience. I mean clean this shit-hole out, get some high lottery picks, and clear cap space to aquire FAs or players through trade. Thinking this roster is going anywhere is insane. As KB said above, Zeke is just extending the misery.

  20. The Knicks ARE rebuilding.
    That’s why their record is worse than it was pre-Zeke. That was a veteran team with a core that had played together for a few years, this is a young team who have bearly played together at all. That’s not to say that this exact roster will be amazing in a few years: some more changes might be required, but the biggest thing required right now is PATIENCE.
    I do think that even without significant changes this team could be pretty good in the near future: had Toronto been patient they might be looking at T-Mac and VC on the wing (assuming Zeke could have convinced T-Mac to stay and on a better team VC never would have turned into sucha p.o.s.), Billups or Stoudamire running the show, and Camby providing interior D. Throw in a few solid role players (or just a few Isiah Thomas drafts) and you might be looking at a contender.

    I’m a fan of LB’s “play the right way” approach. It might mean a worse record and giving the Bulls a lottery pick in the short-run. However, if it means a good team that plays the right way in the long-run I’ll deal with it. A team that plays no defense and has an unstructured offense that consists of Marbury driving and Craw and Q jacking 3s will get killed in the playoffs.
    So, I guess the way I look at it is that I’d rather miss the playoffs this year and get passed the first round in the future than get swept in the first round for the next four years.

    It terms of needed roster changes, I think the main focus should be to improve the D and install more of a team-first attitude. Although this too may improve as players become more familiar with one another and spend enough time with LB.
    This is why my first reaction to the Artest situation was: by all means get him for anything less than Frye or, maybe, Curry. Now my emotions are a bit more mixed: he definitely doesn’t fit my team-first requirement (he is an incredible competitor, so it might just be a matter of getting his respect and commitment). The one thing that gives the Knicks an advantage over some other teams is that Zeke coached Artest. Therefore, he should have more information on whether he’s coachable and also know just how nuts he really is.

  21. Yeah lottery picks would be really promising right now, especially considering Isiah’s sharp eye for young talent.

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