Knicks Rumors & News
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Last Season

The Knicks teased the fans winning the home opener scoring a November high 117 points. They went on to lose the next six games and ended the month losing five straight.

This kind of inconsistency caused them to finish as the 11th seed in the East. Their only winning month of the season was in December when they finished 9-6. One of the few bright spots occurred on March 16th, when the Knicks snapped the Mavericks 13-game win streak and beat them by 34 points.

New York has lost 50+ games for the third consecutive year and has not won a playoff series since 2000. For the past two seasons Knicks executive Donnie Walsh has spent his efforts trying to get the Knicks under the salary cap. He has traded away Jamal Crawford, Zach Randolph, Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill in order to get under the cap.

For the first time since 1996 the Knicks are finally under the cap. New York will have a team salary of about $22 million going into the summer. Currently the team has 4 players under contract for next season (Eddy Curry, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Toney Douglas).

Mike D’Antoni won 29 games in his second season which was three less than the year before. He regressed due to team injuries and the rebuilding process. D’Antoni will have pressure to succeed in his third season because the Knicks will have higher expectations (expect a busy off-season). So far he has not lived up to the 4-year $24 million dollar contract.

In his defense he has not had his “kind” of players on the roster. Also, one can say he has laid the blue print for the Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry to succeed. During the regular season the Suns won 54 games and led the NBA in scoring (110 points per game). They are also 4 wins away from the NBA Finals.

New York Knicks:

66% of shots were jumpers

37% of shots between 0-10 seconds

96.1 pace factor (amount of possessions per game)

2nd in 3’s made in the NBA

Phoenix Suns:

67% of shots were jumpers

41% of shots between 0-10 seconds

97.9 pace factor

3rd in 3’s made

What went right

David Lee

David Lee had a terrific fantasy season finishing as the 8th best player according to fantasymonster.com.  He was one of three players in the association to average 20+ points and 10+ rebounds (Zach Randolph and Chris Bosh were the others). In his 5th season Lee averaged career highs in points (20.3), assists (3.6), steals (1.1), defensive rebounds (8,9), field goals made (8.5), field goals attempted (15.5), free throws made (3.3) and minutes per game (37:17). Lee also made his first All-Star team as a reserve replacing Allen Iverson.

According to John Hollinger’s PER (player efficiency rating) he ranked Lee the 14th best player (22.28). This rating was higher than Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Player Efficiency Rating is the overall rating of a player’s per-minute statistical production. The league average is 15.00 every season. “PER takes into account positive accomplishments, such as field goals, free throws, 3-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, and negative ones, such as missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. The formula adds positive stats and subtracts negative ones through a statistical point value system.”

One of the main reasons he averaged 4 more shots this season was Al Harrington coming off the bench. Two seasons ago Harrington started 54 games for the Knicks but just 15 this past season. As a result his minutes declined which cut into his shot attempts.

Lee saw his defensive rebounds rise up due to lack of size in the front court. The team did not start a true center or 7-footer until the 75th game of the season. The team also allowed 84.2 shots per game (4th worst in the league) which gave Lee more opportunities on the glass.

A lot of success is based in the up-tempo and pick-and-roll system he plays in. However, the former first round pick has worked hard on his game to get better. According to HoopsData he shot a career high 43% from 16-23 feet. His 4.9 attempts from this range increased by 3.1 per game from the previous season. As a result he was a mismatch for most centers who failed to guard his improved jumper.  On April 2nd, he logged the best game of his career against the Warriors scoring 37 points, with 20 rebounds and 10 assists. The last player to have at least 30, 20 and 10 was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975.

Lee has developed into an elite passing center setting up his teammates in the half court set (1.9 of is assists led to 3 point baskets). In his last 15 games he averaged 4.2 assists which is tremendous for a center eligible player. He has missed just 3 regular season games over the past three seasons. Lee is one of the most popular players on the team and most fans do not want to lose him to free agency.

Lee finished with 43 points for All-NBA player voting which was more than Carlos Boozer (33), Zach Randolph (20), Al Horford (19), Chris Kaman (9) and Brook Lopez (6).

Danilo Gallinari

Gallinari was a fantasy steal and one of the most improved players in the NBA. The second-year player finished 2nd in the NBA in three pointers made (186) and attempts (488). He made at least one three-pointer in 73 of 81 games played. He finished as a 5th round value on fantasymonster.com which shows he clearly outplayed his pre-season draft position.

On March 23rd, Gallinari told the New York media he wanted to defend Nuggets All-Star Carmelo Anthony. Even though Melo, finished with 36 points the second-year player did not back down and had one of the best scoring games of the season with 28 points. Knowing he can match shots and beat one of the elite players in the game gave him confidence to finish the season strong.

In the final 8 games in April he averaged 22 points and 6 foul shots per game. He was attacking the basket more which caused his attempts to rise. The injury to Chandler also increased his role in the offense as he attempted 16.4 shots in April. Chandler was shut down from the final 14 games of the season with an injured groin.

He averaged 16.9 points at home but 13.2 on the road. You need to take into account that he will be turning 22-years old in August and felt more comfortable playing in front of the home fans. He appeared in only 28 games in 08-09 due to a back injury form which he has since fully healed.

Gallo has been compared to Raptors F/C Andrea Bargnani. However, his improvement from year 1 to year 2 can be compared to Dirk Nowitzki’s.

Gallo

Year 1: 28 games, 6.1 points, 2 rebounds, .5 assists, 1.1 threes, .1 blocks in 14 minutes per game

Year 2: 81 games, 15.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, .7 blocks in 33 minutes

Dirk:

Year 1: 47 games, 8.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1 assist, .3 threes, .6 blocks in 30 minutes

Year 2: 82 games, 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 threes, .8 blocks in 35 minutes

What went right on the offensive side (Al Harrington)

Harrington is one of the top 6th men in the league because he can score from deep and uses his size at the rim. While his stats decreased from the previous season he still averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.9 three’s and shot 75% from the foul line. For fantasy purposes he was a solid player He is a defensive liability and had poor FG % months because of his bad shot selection. Harrington had the 2nd worst +/- rating on the team with -225. DeJuan Blair, Craig Smith and Drew Gooden had a higher PER than Harrington who finished 23rd amongst power forwards.

What could have gone right

Sergio Rodriguez

S-Rod was traded to the Knicks in the McGrady deal and potentially was thought as the future point guard. He shot 49% from the field which set a career high. The former first round pick averaged 6.2 assists per 36 minutes. His numbers would have been higher if he started more than 8 games. Sergio has a $2.7 million qualifying the team can exercise to bring him back. However, there has been speculation that he could return to Europe.

Jared Jeffries

Jeffries was not a popular player in New York because of his inconsistent offensive game and a hefty contract. However, he was one of the best defenders on the Knicks because of his length and ability to guard multiple positions. In 52 games he averaged 1.1 blocks and 1 steal per game. If he continued this pace he would have been one of 7 players to average 1-1 for the entire season.

Jeffries was also an important piece in the zone defense. His +18 in “clutch time” showed he was important to team in “clutch time”. Clutch time can be defined as the 4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left and neither team ahead by more than 5 points. Despite having an overall -23 +/- it was the lowest rating for a player who played at least 36% of the Knicks minutes.

Disappointments

Chris Duhon

Despite shooting 27.2% in his first 17 games he was in the starting lineup until February 3rd. He enjoyed fantasy success in the previous season when he averaged 11.1 points, 7.2 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 36 minutes per game.

Due to his erratic play his points, rebounds, assists, three pointers, foul shots and minutes per game all decreased. His shot selection was one of the main reasons for his poor percentages. In his 7th year he shot a career low 34.9% from three. Opposing teams did not guard Duhon tight as he continued to miss open shots.

He played 8 games off the bench and had 15 DNP’s due to Toney Douglas’ increased playing time. Duhon may have been a fantasy sleeper coming into this season but he was very frustrating to watch.

Nate Robinson

The term “Fantasy Zombie” can describe Nate Robinson. He set career highs with 17.2 points, 4.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals last season. Entering his 5th season one would think he would match or come close to the previous numbers. This was not the case as he had a falling out with D’Antoni just as Hughes did. Nate was benched in 14 straight games but erupted for 41 points against the Hawks when he finally returned to the lineup.

That performance could not save him as he was traded to the Boston Celtics for Eddie House, Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens. To make things worse he was benched two games by the Celtics which cost him a $1 million dollar playoff bonus. He has been a non-factor in the playoffs so far.

Looking Ahead

Bill Walker

Walker scored a career-high 28 points with six three-pointers in the season finale vs. the Raptors. In 27 games with the Knicks he averaged 12 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 threes, .9 steals, 51.8 FG% and 78.7 FG% over 27 minutes. Per 36 minutes that comes out to 15.4 points and 4.1 rebounds. In 8 games in April he averaged 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 threes. Walker will be turning 24 in October and should be in much better game shape next season. Dropping some weight will put less pressure on his surgically repaired knees. I think he should play on the Vegas Summer team to refine his skills during the off-season. He has an $854,000 team option for next season which is likely to be picked up.

Toney Douglas

Douglas started his first game on November 11th scoring 23 points. Despite missing several games and receiving inconsistent minutes he had 7 games with 20+ points.  In 12 games as a starter he averaged 14.5 points, 3.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 three-pointers per game. TD had to share time with Sergio Rodriguez in the back court and had to endure Duhon, starting 59 games. He had the 11th best PER amonst rookies (14.95) finishing above Brandon Jennings.

Limited Ceiling

Wilson Chandler

Chandler is a solid player who is getting better but I do not see the ceiling being very high. Besides Gallo he is the only other trading chip that the Knicks have on the roster. Chandler increased his scoring and field goal percentage this past season. This can be credited to averaging 1.7 more shots at the rim and decreasing his three point attempts by 1.5 per game. I just question his hunger and desire to take it to the next level.  His offensive game is streaky and his true role on the team should be as a defender.  He made a game-saving block which secured a win on March 9th vs. the Hawks. Depending on who the Knicks sign this can hurt his progression in the offense.  He will be a restricted free agent next season.

Chandler had surgery on his ankle last June to remove bone spurs which could have affected his slow start. He averaged a season low 11.4 points and shot 40% from the field in November. Chandler had surgery again on his ankle in April. He had another surgery on his groin (sports hernia)  and the recovery time is 6-8 weeks.

Earl Barron

Before we appoint Earl Barron the next Patrick Ewing his damage came towards the end of the season. Consider, he last played in the league in 07-08 (Heat) and never averaged more than 7 points or 4 rebounds in his previous three seasons.

Barron started the final 6 games of the season and showed the Knicks what a 7-footer can bring. He had 4 games of 12+ rebounds and it allowed Lee to shift to his natural power forward position. However, he shot 44% from the field mainly because he settled for 16-23 foot jumpers. From this range he converted just 30% of his shots. The Celtics finished the regular season as the second worst rebounding team which can explain Barron’s 18 rebounds (8 offensive).  The team should bring back Barron as a backup center.

Big Name Mid Season Acquisition

Tracy McGrady

Tracy McGrady did not finish what he started when the Knicks traded for the 7-time All Star. He made his debut on February 20th scoring 26 points vs. the Thunder. However, he finished the season averaging 8.2 points which was his lowest total since his rookie season. Due to fatigue and knee pain he averaged 3.3 points on 29% in games with 0 days rest. The highest paid player in the league last season admitted he did not fully grasp the playbook. At least the Knicks were able to give up two contracts in the process. 

Worst of the Worst

Larry Hughes

It is hard to believe Larry Hughes has made $84 million in his NBA career. Besides his ability to score he has been labeled as a selfish and arrogant player. Hughes had a falling out with D’Antoni because he complained of inconsistent playing time.  He called out the Knicks coach after he was benched for two straight games.

As part of the T-Mac trade the Knicks sent Hughes to the Kings on February 19th. The Kings waived the 11-year pro who signed with the Bobcats. In 31 games with the Knicks, Hughes shot 36% from the field and averaged 9.6 points while getting paid $13.6 million in the process. In his 11 years he has played for 7 different teams.

Forget About Em

Jonathan Bender

Jonathan Bender was a failed experiment which had little expectations. Bender was the 5th overall selection in the 1999 draft by the Pacers. The 7-footer last played in the league in 05-06 but showed his rust in his time with the Knicks. He averaged 4.7 points in 25 games and his season ended early with a broken wrist.

Eddie House

In 2005-2006, Eddie House averaged 9.8 points and 1.5 three-pointers per game. In 18 games with the Knicks he averaged 6.4 points and 0.8 three pointers. He shot 33% from the field and 25% from three. These percentages are significantly down from his previous seasons. He also missed the final 7 games with a knee injury.

Eddy Curry

Eddy Curry was a borderline all-star caliber player in 06-07 when he averaged 19.5 points in 81 games. Since then he has been a complete bust and an easy target for the media to exploit. Besides from being out of shape he has endured constant nagging injuries which have kept him off the court. Over the last two seasons he has appeared in 10 games. The nightmare is going to end next season which is the final year in his contract. His $11.3 million dollar salary will be coming off the books and is just another example of a bad contract the previous management traded for. The team has to buy him out or trade

Free Agency

The Knicks have to renounce Lee’s rights so they have the chance to sign two max players. By doing this he has the right to sign with any team he wants. If the team does not renounce his rights, the cap hold is $10 million which prevents the team from having room for two max contracts. The team also has the option of a sign-and-trade with Lee.

The Knicks will have $34 million dollars in cap room to re-build their roster. Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are the cream of the crop in terms of the unrestricted free agents this summer. It is also no surprise both players were 1 and 2 in PER last season. Nets, Bulls and Heat are the other teams expected to draw interest from the marquee free agents.

If James or Wade passes on New York, the other top free agents are Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay and Carlos Boozer. Another possibility is for the Knicks to sign one player now and wait until next off-season when Carmelo Anthony is a free agent.

“While the Knicks will target LeBron James first, they are no less interested in Dwyane Wade, a source tells ESPN’s Chad Ford”

According to the source:

Plan A: Pair James and Bosh

Plan B: Wade and Bosh

Plan C: James and Wade

Plan D: James or Wade and Dirk

Other free agents:

PG: Shaun Livingston, Steve Blake, Jason Williams, Raymond Felton and Luke Ridnour

Target: Livingston. Over the final 9 games of the season, Livingston averaged 15.8 points, 3.5 boards and 6.4 assists, shooting 65% from the floor and 79% from the line. So far he has overcome his knee injury and is worth looking into.

SG: Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Kyle Korver, Raja Bell, Roger Mason and Luther Head.

Target: Korver. Kyle Korver would be a good fit to replace Eddie House off the bench. Korver led the NBA in three point % in the regular season (53.6). Over his career he has averaged 1.7 threes per game.

SF: Rudy Gay (restricted), Tyrus Thomas, Rasual Butler, Steve Novak, Antoine Wright, and Dorrell Wright.

Target: Rudy Gay. He will be turning 24 years old in August and has averaged at least 18.9+ points the past 3 seasons. This past season the 6’8” swing player averaged 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals, .8 blocks and .8 threes per game. In his four years in the league he has missed just 7 regular season games. The Grizzles can match any offer within 14 days to keep him.

PF/C: Brendan Haywood: Udonis Haslem, Louis Amundson, Theo Ratliff, Craig Smith, Brian Skinner, Kurt Thomas, Matt Bonner, James Singleton, Amir Johnson

Target. Brendan Haywood. The 7-footer had a bounce back year averaging 2.1 blocks per game (tied for third in the NBA) in 77 games. Before he was traded to the Mavs he was averaging 10.4 rebounds with the Wizards.

One of the rumors out there is the Knicks trading for Spurs PG Tony Parker. While Parker is still considered an underrated player he has a lot of mileage since entering the league in 2001. Another rumor is trading for Hornets PG Chris Paul. While this may seem un-realistic he is owed about $31 million and has a $17.7 million dollar player option in 2012-2013. Darren Collison played exceptionally as a rookie and has a cheap contract. He started 37 games averaging 18.8 points, 8.8 assists, 1.4 steals on 48% from the field which is ul like  Chris Paul.

Bill Simmons from ESPN has thrown out the idea for the Clippers trading Baron Davis for Eddy Curry. Davis is signed through 2012/13 with about $42 million left on his contract. He is 31-years old and missed only 10 games last season. Throughout his career he has missed 20+ games multiple times. However, he has the potential to put up big numbers in the Knicks system. Among active players he is 5th with 5,499 assists, 6th with 1,418 steals, and 16th with 1,225 three-pointers.

State of the Team

Needs improvement everywhere

-1st in opponent FG% (48.6)…Top 12 teams in this stat all missed the playoffs

-Tied for 3rd in opponents score (105.9)

-27th in defensive efficiency (109.1 points)

-Teams ranked 17-30 all missed playoffs but 1

-11-46 (when opponents scored 100+ points)

-3rd in opponent’s total rebounds (44.9), T-4th in opponent offensive rebounds (11.7)

-T-27th in rebounds per game (40.5)

-3rd worst rebounding differential (-4.5)

-Tied for last in blocks per game (3.7)

-Opponent’s PF had a PER of 19.4 and center’s had a PER of 20.5

-Only 36 players in the NBA averaged a PER of at least 19, which means opposing bigs feasted on the Knicks under-sized frontline.

Bringing in high-profile names on paper will put fans in the seats but it also has to fix the underlining problems. Adding a post defender, shot blocker and rebounding help are areas that need to be addressed.

If the Knicks want to fully construct the blueprint of D’Antoni then Walsh needs to bring in a point guard who can run the offense, athletic bigs who can shoot-finish on the fast break and shooters/scrappy players off the bench. As I wrote before the similarities in the Knicks and Suns offense exist. Now, Walsh needs to bring in better talent.

Can the Knicks turn it around?

The Knicks were within 6 games of .500 and .5 games out of the 8th seed on January 3rd. They have the cap space to lure high-profile free agents and have a core of young players who are getting better. With a lineup of Duhon, Chandler, Gallinari, Lee and Jeffries they went 15-16. Their worst records occurred when Hughes or Harrington were in the starting rotation which is not a surprise at all.

The Utah Jazz owns the Knicks first round pick this year (Stephon Marbury trade) which is going to be the 9th overall pick. However, they purchased a first round pick last year from the Lakers could do the same this year with a team like the Hawks or Grizzles. The Knicks traded away their 2012 First Round Pick in the T-Mac deal.

2010 NBA Draft

The Knicks will have 2 second-round picks in the 2010 NBA Draft. One of them was acquired from Denver in the Renaldo Balkman trade. Last year several players slipped into the second round that has made an impact. DeJuan Blair (37th overall), Jonas Jerebko (39), Marcus Thornton (43), Chase Budinger (44), and A.J. Price (52)

It is very early in the draft process and things can change but here are some players I would target:

Larry Sanders (VCU): Sanders has entered the draft skipping his senior season and plans to hire an agent. He is 6′11″ with a 7’7 wingspan and is a two-time defensive player of the year in the CAA. Sanders averaged 14.4 points (53.4% from the field), 9.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks for the Rams last season.

Jarvis Vanardo (Miss St): The senior was named SEC defensive player of the year for the third straight year (2008, 2009, and 2010). His 564 blocked shots are the most of all time and he is the only Division 1 player to record 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 blocks. Despite being 6′9″ he is a tremendous athlete and has a 7′4 wingspan.

Greivis Vasquez (Maryland): Vasquez averaged a career-best 19.6 points and 6.3 assists in his senior season. The 6′6″ guard was named to the second-team All-American team. The Caracas born player also averaged 4.6 rebounds and 2 threes a game which shows versatility. His size, shooting touch and ability to get to the rim would be essential for the new Knicks back court.

Honorable mention: Jimmer Fredette (BYU) and Craig Brackins (Iowa State)

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