Is Basketball Back at MSG? Grading the Knicks Offseason – Part 2

Written by Kevin Meng

Yesterday we broke down the first half of the Knicks offseason.  Now on to the rest of the moves the Knicks made so far this summer.

Signing Courtney Lee to a 4 year, $48 million dollar deal

Not quite sure why Lee chose to play here, but I ain’t mad. In a starting 5 with a scoring forward, a defensive-minded center, the best Latvian big man since Kaspars Kambala, and a penetrating guard with a shaky shot, the one thing this team was lacking was a consistent three ball shooter and wing defender.

Lee has been a positive on the defensive end his whole career, playing bigger than his 6’5, 200lb frame might suggest. He also averaged 39% from bomb territory on 3 attempts per game last season. He was the one of the best shooters on a team that hoisted up the 4th most attempts in the league. With all of the attention on Mr. Anthony, KP, and Rose, he should thrive.

Seeing the deals thrown around for similar players like Kent Bazemore, and the premium put on 3nD wings, signing him for 12 per on average is a great deal. One marker of a good contract is the backend of the deal. A player might be worth their salary in the first two years and grossly overpaid the final two(Luol Deng to the Lakers??), but looking at Lee’s deal, he might even be underpaid in year 3 considering the new cap.

Finding the perfect compliment to the surrounding talent, and doing so on a fair contract? Here’s a big fat A for you, Mr. Jackson.

Grade: A

Signing Joakim Noah to a 4 year, $72 million dollar deal

Not sure if PMFJ still thinks he’s on his hippy retreat in Montana or not, but we have a sinking suspicion that he was on some serious mind altering substances when he signed this deal. When healthy, Noah is a still a very effective defender, good finisher around the rim, and great passer. Add to that his chemistry to Rose and the fact that we didn’t have a center, and the reasons for signing him are obvious. But 4/72 for a guy who can’t stay healthy and is on the downside of his career with a skillset that doesn’t age well? Yeesh.

In this market, players are going to get overpaid. There weren’t many C’s left on the market to get, and even fewer that fit what we needed, but this deal seems more like Phil panicked, realized he needed a C that could pass and be mobile on the court, and blew away the first one he could find with an offer he couldn’t refuse. Noah is still a good player, but he seemed angry at how Chicago did him dirty. Expect a big bounce back from him, but don’t expect him to earn the deal he signed. At least he isn’t Eddy Curry.

Grade: C+

Re-signing Lance Thomas to a 4 year, $27.5 million dollar deal

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Is Basketball Back at MSG? Grading the Knicks Offseason.

Is Basketball Back at MSG? Grading the Knicks Offseason.

Written by Kevin Meng

* These grades are based on the situation at hand, including available players, the current market, the Knick’s cap space at time of signing, and whether or not the player was named Sasha Vujacic or Jose Calderon. It isn’t an evaluation of how awesome the player is*

2015-2016 was supposed to be a rebuilding year where the Knicks added assets, built a winning culture, grew together and attracted a big name to join up with them. There was reason for hope: a young rookie with boatloads of potential, another rookie who had just quarterbacked a solid NCAA squad to a good tournament showing, actual NBA-level talent in Robin Lopez and Aaron Afflalo, and a hungry Carmelo Anthony.

Hopes were relatively high for the Mecca. Could this team make the playoffs? Could they make noise if they got there? Could Kristaps GOATzingis really be this good? The season blasted off into space faster than anyone could have imagined, with the team playing .500 ball 40 games in and playing some top-level squads down to the wire (San Antonio and current ring-bearers, Cleveland come to mind).

Welp, we all know how that ended. The rocket burst in mid-air, with wicked, whipping flames that engulfed any and all things good in the souls of the Tri-State Area. Partly because of lack of talent, partly because of injuries, partly because of Sasha Vujacic, and partly because of coaching.

When the 2016 offseason started, nobody had any clue what was going to happen. PMFJ (Phil M***** F****** Jackson) had a king’s ransom in cap space but precious few assets, an aging star, and raw rookie to build around. Hardly cause for hope.

Yet here we are, not far removed from the mayhem that was 2016 free agency with a….wait….what is this?….an NBA-level basketball team? This must be some cruel joke. Is basketball back at MSG? This team may pose more questions than answers, and it may be a few twisted knees away from mediocrity, but at least the rotation has 7 guys that most people have heard of, and Jose Calderon isn’t playing the point..

* acquisitions like signing our 2nd round pick last season or acquiring some random Euro guy to warm the bench have been excluded for length’s sake. We know our reader’s have short attention spans*

Coaching change: signing Jeff Hornacek

Coaching salaries don’t really matter. Who cares about spending James Dolan’s money? What does matter is their experience, knowledge, ability to motivate, and ability to get respect from the players. When you haven’t proven yourself in the league or in the coaching ranks, then players rarely respect you(David Blatt or Kurt Rambis, anyone?). Continue reading

Knicks 2015 Draft Reaction & Breakdown

Written by Ian Ellis (

Hey guys, I’m baaaaack to help explain what happened last night. The Knicks got three players: Kristaps Porzingis (4th Pick), Jerian Grant (19th Pick) and Guillermo Hernangomez (35th Pick). So everybody calm down, and let’s begin!

Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C, Latvia

Kristaps Porzingis

The Knicks made a huge splash in the draft by taking the big man from Latvia with the 4th pick. To be completely honest, I booed this pick for the first minute after the pick, just like most of the Barclays Center, but after that I reminded myself why I and all other Knicks fans should be excited with the pick. Let’s look more into Porzingis.

Player Analysis


Physical Tools: Porzingis is very long at around 7’3″. May I repeat, 7′ freaking 3″. That’s huge for a player projected to be a PF in the league. Size is not the only thing going for Porzingis, as he is also very athletic. In addition to all of this, he is very smooth and quick like a guard in his movements, he is not just a huge and clunky bigman (*cough* Bargs *cough*)

Shooting: Porzingis has a silky smooth stroke and might be the best shooter in the entire draft class. This, with his superb size, gives him an unblockable shot and allows him to space the floor. In addition he has a very good touch around the basket.

Level of Competition: It should be noted that he played in the ACB last year, probably the best basketball league besides the NBA. Granted, there still is a huge dropoff in play, but it’s good to note that Porzingis probably played against better competition than players like Karl Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor in the NCAA.

Defensive Potential: While Porzingis struggles with defensive concepts (like most young big) and will struggle defending post players due to his lack of strength, he has the tools to become an outstanding shot blocker and pick & roll defender.

Attitude: The problem with a lot of these Euro busts it seems like is that they don’t love the game. For example, when you watch Bargs play, he never seems to really care. From what’s he’s told us, he really cares. He has amazing English, which shows that he wants to learn the game here with language not being a barrier. He’s already said how he doesn’t want to be the next Bargs or Darko or Weis. He’s shown a fire and desire for the game, which I think is important.

Cons: Continue reading

Knicks Roster Mid-Season Grades

Jay’s Grades

Cole Adrich – C

Carmelo Anthony – A-

Andrea Bargnani – C-

Tyson Chandler – C

Raymond Felton – D

Tim Hardaway Jr. – B+

Kenyon Martin – B+

Toure Murry – A-  Continue reading

End of the 2012/13 Season Grades

These are the grades from Episode 202

Jay’s Picks

Carmelo Anthony – A-
Earl Barron – A
Marcus Camby – D-
Tyson Chandler – B-
Chris Copeland – B+
Raymond Felton – B+
Kenyon Martin – A+
Steve Novak – C
Pablo Prigioni – A
Quentin Richardson – D Continue reading

Knicks Roster Mid-Season Grades

In Episode 170 Marc and Jay gave their mid-season grades for the Knicks roster.  Here are the results:

Jay’s Picks

Carmelo Anthony – A
Ronnie Brewer – C-
Marcus Camby – F
Tyson Chandler – B
Chris Copeland – B+
Raymond Felton – A-
Jason Kidd – A+
Steve Novak – D
Pablo Prigioni – C+
Iman Shumpert – B+
J.R. Smith – B+
Amare Stoudemire – C+
Kurt Thomas – C-
Rasheed Wallace – B+
James White – C+

Mike Woodson – B

Marc’s Pics

Carmelo Anthony – A-
Ronnie Brewer – C+
Marcus Camby – D
Tyson Chandler – B+
Chris Copeland – B+
Raymond Felton – B+
Jason Kidd – A
Steve Novak – C+
Pablo Prigioni – A-
Iman Shumpert – B
J.R. Smith – B+
Amare Stoudemire – C+
Kurt Thomas – B
Rasheed Wallace – B
James White – D

Mike Woodson – C+

Grading all of the Trades

For the weeks leading up to the trade deadline all anyone would talk about is where Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Rajon Rondo were going.  Well none of them got moved.  There were a bunch of other moves, so lets take a look at them:

The Wizards acquire Nene, Brian Cook, Clippers 2nd round draft pick (via Hornets)
The Nuggets acquire JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf
The Clippers acquire Nick Young

Denver: B

This was the most surprising move of the day for me.  In the offseason Nene signed a 4 year, 53 million dollar contract.  He also is having a bad season and has been injured constantly, so maybe that made Denver think twice about their franchise center.  In other words Denver decided that their 29 year old center who is injury prone should be sold while his value is still high instead of waiting until the injuries kill Amar’es, I mean Nene’s value and the contract is worthless.

McGee makes dumb mistakes.  A lot of dumb mistakes.  Maybe coach Karl will help with that.  I’m guessing Denver really really hopes that’s the case.  McGee is also only 24 years old, scores as much as Nene and rebounds and blocks much better.  He’s going to get paid this summer, but that contract won’t be as high as Nene’s.  Which is good because Lawson and Faried are going to need bigger contracts soon.

Turiaf and McGee also both fit in the $7 trade exception from the Raymond Felton trade (not as upset about losing him after seeing what a fat mess he’s become in Portland), which means they now have a $13 trade exception.

We’ll see if McGee works well with the rest of the team.  It’s a big risk because Denver is a playoff team right now, but it gives them a lot of cap flexibility and potentially a more lethal scorer in the post.

Washington: D+

I know Washington didn’t want to move forward with McGee or Young, but it looks like they pretty much gave Young away in this deal.  They are also banking on a very high paid and injury prone center.  When you have a young team that is very far away from even making the playoffs I don’t know why you roll the dice on an older center.  By the time Wall and company are ready to make some noise, Nene is going to be as productive as Dampier or worse.  I don’t bet but if I did I would go to the best sports betting sites and put money on Washington really regretting this move in a year or two. Continue reading

Western Conference Mid-season Grades

Oklahoma City Thunder: A+: Having the best record in the league sure silenced the whole ‘Westbrook vs. Durant power struggle’. Reggie Jackson seamlessly filled Eric Maynors shoes after his season ending injury and Harden is making a strong case for 6th man of the year. The only concern in OKC right now is the fact that their starting center, Kendrick Perkins, looks 37 and not 27. With no decent backups this could present a matchup problem in the playoffs should the Thunder run into the Grizzlies or Lakers. Right now though they are enjoying life on the top of the standings.

San Antonio Spurs: A+: Another year, another dominating regular season when everyone thought they were finally finished. They’ve been doing this without Manu Ginobili. Greg Popovich has been rationing the older players minutes which not only makes his players fresh for the playoffs, but also develops the younger talent on the team. He remains one of the best/underrated coaches in the league. It also helps that Tony Parker is having one of the best seasons of his career.

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Eastern Conference Midseason Grades

The season is half over so I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at how each team has fared so far and give them mid-season grades.

Let’s start with the Eastern Conference, going in order of current standing.

Miami Heat: A+: The East is as predictable as the West is unpredictable. I don’t think there’s a person on the planet who didn’t think Miami and Chicago would be the top 2 teams. LeBron is having his best season as a professional and has also managed to stay away from twitter, interviews, hour-long specials, and every other way he put his foot in his mouth last season. The supporting cast is much better this year after signing Battier, getting a steal in Norris Cole in the draft, and having a healthy Haslem and Miller. The road to the finals goes through Miami.

Chicago Bulls: A+: Only one game out of first and that’s with Rose missing a bunch of games. It doesn’t seem to matter who replaces Rose, they continued to win with John Lucas III and Mike James at the point. The best defense in the league and a deep bench. We should really just start the east playoffs with the conference finals, Chicago and Miami are so much better than the rest of the conference it’s almost unfair.

Indiana Pacers: A: This year’s most improved team. People barely talked about the David West signing, that was a very underrated move. You won’t seem them on national TV very often, so they’ve been flying under the radar and have quietly moved up to the #3 seed. This is a young team that’s is in a great situation cap-wise. They’ll need that cap space to make a move to put them in the same league with the top two teams in the conference, but even without making a move, as presently constructed they’ll be a tough out for years to come. Continue reading

Knicks Roster Mid-Season Grades


Carmelo Anthony – B:  He played too much iso-ball in the beginning of the season, but since coming back from his injury has been making a huge effort to move the ball around.  His shot is way off right now but we expect him to look more like himself after the all-star break.

Mike Bibby – F:  I know he’s getting old and he’s lost a step, but how did he forget how to shoot and pass as well?  We had to play shooting guards at the point because he was too bad to play more than five minutes.

Tyson Chandler – A: Exactly what we wanted when we signed him. Excellent defender, low post presence and when a good PG is playing can be a factor on offense too.  He’s currently leading the league leader in field goal percentage.  Needs to calm down on techs or he’s going to be suspended for a number of games in the second half. Continue reading