Posts Tagged ‘Knicks’

NBA Free Agency/Trades: Breaking Down the Deals

July 17th, 2010

The initial rounds of trading and free agency are accounted for, with superstars making the biggest splashes. Since LeBron James and Chris Bosh have been talked about ad nauseam, let’s examine which other acquisitions will have their teams riding the crests, and which will have them needing life vests.

Amar’e Stoudemire—New York Knicks

The last time the Knicks acquired a surly, expensive, immature star, Stephon Marbury held the team hostage for half a decade. Amar’e Stoudemire, by default, shouldn’t prove to be that cancerous, but his presence hardly guarantees success.

Stoudemire does bring a lot to the table. He’s explosive off the dribble from 18 feet in, with the kind of primetime athleticism that overwhelms most frontcourt defenses. He can score with his back to the basket, is an excellent mid-range jump shooter, and will even pass when he knows an assist is on the horizon.

He’ll provide the Knicks with the reliable one-on-one scorer the team has lacked, while also doubling as a ferocious screen/roll finisher. Plus, his defense automatically is an upgrade over David Lee.

On the flip side, Stoudemire has a sub-par basketball IQ and no longer has Steve Nash to serve him cookies on a platter. Stoudemire has also proven to be antagonistic when he gets fewer touches than he feels he deserves.

How long will it take Stoudemire to lash out when he realizes that Toney Douglas or Raymond Felton aren’t quite MVP-caliber point guards, or that defenses can devise schemes structured to strictly take him away without Steve Nash reading defenses and manipulating them?

Moreover, Stoudemire’s sad-sack defensive awareness gives back much of the production he puts up.

Perhaps Stoudemire can provide just enough firepower to push the Knicks into the playoffs. But there’s also an equal chance that the reunion of Stoudemire and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni ends in disaster.

Grade: C-

Raymond Felton—New York Knicks

Felton’s a solid point guard who can run an offense and who posted the most efficient shooting percentage of his career last season by taking fewer shots and improving his three-point range.

Still, a career 33 percent shooter, Felton will have to continue to improve his jump shooting to be an asset in the Big Apple. If not, teams will simply go under screens in screen/roll situations, not allowing Stoudemire free reign to roll to the basket.

The last non-shooter the Knicks signed to run the point was Chris Duhon. That didn’t work out too well. Felton could be a similar disappointment.

Grade: C

Carlos Boozer—Chicago Bulls

Carlos Boozer provides the back-to-the-basket scorer the Bulls have lacked for a decade. He has a number of quick spins and fadeaway jumpers in the pivot, is an excellent screen/roll player, and has the quickness to create offense from the high post as well. He’s too short to be an impactful defender, but pairing up with Joakim Noah will alleviate some of his defensive shortcomings.

Finally, the Bulls have an inside-outside pairing that can create havoc in the playoffs.

Grade: A

Kyle Korver—Chicago Bulls

Chicago struggled with their offensive spacing without Ben Gordon last season, something Korver’s presence will take care of. Korver’s an excellent catch-and-shoot player who also knows how to work without the ball and will execute an offensive set. He’s an average defender who can’t create his offense, but he fills a needed role in Chicago.

Grade: A-

Drew Gooden—Milwaukee Bucks

Gooden can shoot and rebound consistently, and he can sometimes drive, post, and defend. Gooden’s problem is a lack of focus that leads to mistakes or passivity. However, he’s better than Ersan Illyasova and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute at creating his own shot and rebounding, and he provides nice insurance at center should Andrew Bogut suffer any setbacks with his various arm and wrist injuries.

Grade: B

Chris Douglas-Roberts—Milwaukee Bucks

Chris Douglas-Roberts is an attacking two-guard who can finish around the hoop, but he’s a poor jump shooter, which limits his effectiveness. He fell out of favor with New Jersey’s coaching staff by complaining about his playing time during the entire 2009-2010 season. With the Bucks, he’ll mostly likely be the team’s fifth wing once Michael Redd comes back and likely won’t see much burn either. How long will it take for him to wind up in Scott Skiles’ doghouse?

However, Douglas-Roberts has talent and Milwaukee didn’t give up anything (a second round pick) to acquire him. If he can understand his role and improve his jump shot, he can become an asset this season and into the future.

Grade: C

Daequan Cook—Oklahoma City Thunder

A shooter who shoots too many blanks, Daequan Cook isn’t NBA material. Expect him to ride the pine in Oklahoma City.

Grade: F

Morris Peterson—Oklahoma City Thunder

Morris Peterson is on the decline, so he shouldn’t factor too heavily into the on-court happenings of the Thunder. What he will provide is a veteran wing to mentor Kevin Durant and James Harden and a player who can hit an occasional three-pointer.

Grade: C

Martell Webster—Minnesota Timberwolves

Webster’s a solid defender and three-point shooter who also gives the Timberwolves a package of athleticism and court IQ they haven’t seen from the wing. That said, he can’t create his own shot, something the Timberwolves desperately need from their wings.

Grade: C+

Darko Milicic—Minnesota Timberwolves

Darko has spent his entire career griping about playing time, under the assumption that he’d be a big-time performer if teams would only commit to giving him 30-plus minutes a night. Not only is he self-absorbed and delusional, but he’s never come close to providing glimpses of potential indicating that he could be an NBA featured player.

As is, Darko has a modicum of offensive talent packaged into mechanical post moves, but he has poor basketball IQ and can’t defend a statue. The Timberwolves are the only team in the league that would willingly start Darko. Consider this season Darko’s final opportunity to prove himself.

Grade: D

Michael Beasley—Minnesota Timberwolves

Beasley’s lack of refinement hurt him in Miami, where he was too unpolished to play smart, winning basketball. In Minnesota, the expectations are non-existent, and Beasley will have room to make mistakes as the T-Wolves’ featured player.

His defense is horrendous, he’s slow to understand what defenses are doing, and his feel for the game is poor—but he has undeniable talent, something the T-Wolves haven’t had much of recently.

With the T-Wolves expected to be down in the dumps for several more seasons, taking a flier on Beasley could pay huge dividends down the road.

Grade: A

Steve Blake—Los Angeles Lakers

The perfect fit for the Lakers, Blake knows how to run an offense, is crafty off the bounce, and is a terrific three-point shooter. Point guards in the triangle don’t have as much responsibility as in other systems. Blake’s main responsibilities will be bringing the ball up, making the correct trigger pass, reading the defense, and either cutting or spotting up based on how the defense reacts to the machinations of the triangle.

Given that Blake has a high basketball IQ, these things will come quickly to him.

Expect him to split time with Derek Fisher, getting more playing time in the middle of halves, with Fisher getting the bulk of the minutes at the beginnings and the ends of halves and games.

Grade: A+

Chris Duhon—Orlando Magic

Duhon’s a smart pick-and-roll guard who makes terrific passes on rolls and sees defenders sagging from the wing or corner. However, he’s a sub-par shooter who was dreadful for much of last season. What’s there to keep teams from going under screens when defending Duhon, preventing open roll lanes for Dwight Howard?

At least, unlike Jason Williams, Duhon’s a sound decision maker and a quality perimeter defender. Duhon should prove to be a better backup than a starter.

Grade: B-

Kirk Hinrich—Washington Wizards

Hinrich is still a pesky perimeter defender who can handle and run an offense. His competitive nature will give John Wall someone to emulate, while also keeping Gilbert Arenas off-the-ball at all times. Hinrich’s ability to spot up and shoot will also allow him to play alongside either guard for short stretches. A smart pickup for a team devoid of good role players.

Grade: B+

Randy Foye—Los Angeles Clippers

Foye’s too short to be a two-guard and too shot-happy to be a point guard. He does do a decent job as a play-maker off the bench for teams that need energy from a second unit. He’s a useful backup, but the Clippers are in trouble should anything happen to Eric Gordon.

Grade: C+

Ryan Gomes—Los Angeles Clippers

Gomes understands the game, but he isn’t able to create his own offense and doesn’t have three-point range. With a Clippers team that features far more play-makers than Gomes is used to in Boston and Minnesota, he should be able to carve a niche for himself as a backup forward who knows how to manufacture offense without the ball.

Grade: B-

Brian Cook—Los Angeles Clippers

All Cook wants to do is stand at the top of the key and launch threes. He needs to shoot them at a high clip, because he can’t do anything else. He can’t defend, he can’t finish, he won’t pass, and he’s devoid of physicality. Couldn’t the Clippers just keep Steve Novak?

Grade: D-

5 Things the New York Knicks Need to Do to Compete With the Miami Heat

July 17th, 2010
South Beach hasn't seen a gang like this since Scarface took a dip in his fountain, so let's forego the cheesy, traditional, sports-related monikers and call the Miami Heat basketball organization what it is—El Cartel. Pat Riley, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade—forget Chris Bosh—run Miami right now and no one makes a move unless they say so. The goal is complete domination of the basketball world. Natural haters, and those wanting to hate, can rationalize their anti-Heat campaign any which way they want; the reality is this team is a lock to win at least 60 games and make a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. A lock. And while fans and sportswriters are spending their time calling LeBron a traitor or whatnot, every single general manager and coach in the league is trying to answer the following question: How do we compete with the Miami Heat? Believe it or not, this includes the New York Knicks, a team whose biggest off-season acquisitions this summer, after successfully landing superstar Amar'e Stoudemire, are Raymond Felton and... Anthony Randolph? Yes, the Knicks. How do they, as a work in progress, give a team like the Heat a competitive 48-minute run, let alone challenge them in the standings? By doing five things...

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NBA Trade Rumors: New York Knicks Want Rudy Fernandez

July 16th, 2010

Rudy Fernandez seems to be the hot topic for the Trail Blazers page on Bleacher Report.

Luckily, the smoke surrounding him is starting to clear up now.

The New York Knicks are very interested in trading for Portland Trail Blazer Guard Rudy Fernandez, and apparently the feeling is mutual, as Rudy wants to go to either the Knicks, Bulls, Celtics , Nets, or Heat.

Out of those teams, the team showing the most interest is obviously New York since they need some help at the wing positions.

The reason this trade hasn't already happened is that the Trail Blazers do not have any interest in any of the players that the Knicks are giving in exchange.

So for this trade to go down as soon as possible, the Knicks have to either give the Trail Blazers draft picks or find a third team to make a trade possible.

The best players the Knicks can give for Rudy are Wilson Chandler and Anthony Randolph.

I doubt they would offer Anthony Randolph because he has huge potential to flourish in the Knicks offensive style.

Wilson Chandler might be more available since the Knicks are not sure if he can play the two-guard position properly.

If the trade were to involve New York's draft picks, the Trail Blazers would have to wait a while for the pick since New York owes Houston their next two first round draft picks from the Tracy McGrady deal.

But as Utah has shown, if you wait for a draft pick from a team like the Knicks, you can have a lot of happiness.

I think the Trail Blazers should either get Wilson Chandler from the Knicks since he has value and could be traded in a package for a player like CP3, or they should get the Knicks' 2013 first round pick.

Hopefully, Rudy Fernandez will be gone from the roster in a few days and we'll have a nice draft pick waiting for us in 2013.

It Looks Like Shaquille O’Neal Will Not Be Going To the Atlanta Hawks

July 16th, 2010

Shaq was going to be heading to the New York Knicks, but that was a false alarm and turned out to be normal buzz within NBA teams. Shortly after that fell through, there was a reported deal in place for Shaq that would send Marvin Williams to the Cavaliers. But now, even that is history. 

AOL Fanhouse's Chris Tomasson has reported that the Hawks do not have the money to keep Shaq on the roster and keep him happy at the same time. They are in need of players and are coming close to that salary cap. 

The only way Shaq will be donning the Atlanta Hawks uniform is if he decides to take the veteran's minimum to be on the same team as Joe Johnson. But what would impel him to take such drastic measures to be a Hawk? This past season, O'Neal made $20 million with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Would he really let so much money go down the drain to end up in Atlanta?

He might have to sign somewhere in the mid $5 million range. If that is the case, several suitors may show up. But then again, his age and his decreasing talent will have many thinking twice. Is he worth giving up a starter? What about a draft pick?

The Hawks certainly were not considering giving up one of their starters for Shaq, so this would have all been about draft picks and prospects. 

Shaq looks only to be a short term option for a team and so many teams will not be willing to give up young talent for an aging star. O'Neal has spoken out about his farewell tour in 2011-2012, so retirement is already in view for him. 

There could be a short list of teams that would like to take on what The Diesel has to offer. But for teams like the Knicks or Hawks it could just be to have that big name and put people in seats. 

A Farewell to David Lee

July 16th, 2010

It's been almost a week since the Knicks have sent David Lee packing for Golden State, and he never got his proper send off.

David Lee was drafted by the Knicks in 2005 out of the University of Florida. Being a reserve for his first few seasons, Lee became a starter and solid contributor once Mike D'antoni arrived on scene as the Knicks head coach in 2008. He had breakout seasons in 2008-09, and 2009-10 where he averaged a double-double.

Last season, he became the first Knick since Patrick Ewing to average 20 points and 12 rebounds per contest. He was also awarded a spot on the East All-Stars, a feat that had not been accomplished by a Knick since 2001.

David Lee was not chased out of town but he was not welcomed back. During the signing of Amar'e Stoudemire and the failed courting of LeBron James, Lee was lost in the shuffle and tossed to the curb like an afterthought.

The Knicks are a better team now than they were two weeks ago, but Lee, playing as an undersized center, held his own these past two years.

A fan favorite, Lee was a player who improved his game week-to-week. His range improved dramatically in 2009-10 and became a quandary to defend. Players who sagged off him paid the price with 15-18 foot jump shots. Those who played him tight were drove past with an array of scoops, finger rolls, and jump hooks.

Lee's game in the post was also high quality. His face up game from eight to 10 feet out was deadly. Lee had an array of weapons including a smooth touch for baby jump shots, and the ability to drive middle with a quick first step. His ability to finish with both hands was also uncanny.

Lee thrived in D'antoni's pick and roll system. He became more adept as time wore on. Lee would often slip the defender with a decoy screen leaving him in a position to seal or catch a lob pass for an easy lay-in.

The high screen and roll also gave the opportunity for Lee to distribute. Catching the ball 18 feet beyond the basket, Lee would often hit cutters with point guard like precision bounce passes. His passing is one of his most underrated parts of his game as he is probably the best passing big man in the NBA.

His defense was his biggest criticism and the key reason why the Knicks did not pursue him more. Lee's natural position is a power forward but because of an undersized Knicks lineup, Lee was forced to play center. Lee was an average on-ball defender but was terrible in his rotations. Not only was he not a threat to challenge shots but he would often shy away from even stepping in the lane to disrupt the offense.

There were even instances where he would literally not move and allow players to get the hoop for unchallenged finishes. Had it not been for this aspect of his game, the Knicks might have been planning their free agency around him.

Despite this, Lee is still the best Knicks player of the last five years. It's sad to see a young star like Lee leave. He has not yet hit his full potential. If he works hard, and improves his defense, Lee could be a top five power forward. His scoring is certainly good enough.

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