[Except where indicated, all of this was written about a week before the
draft. Anything added on draft day, such as this sentence, will be in square
brackets like these: "[ ]". The only thing not in brackets that was written
on draft day is the section titled, "The Pick". ]
[[And a few notes were written in the day after the pick was made, this
included. These are indicated by double square brackets like the ones
enclosing this paragraph.]]
I. Team Needs/history
All things considered, the 1997 season was not bad. It started off slow,
pickerd up the pace, had a minor slump and finished 57-25. Then the
playoffs came and they stormed through Charlotte with good solid team
basketball with someone coming up big when needed. And what made it so
promising was the player who stepped wasn't always Ewing. Even better, it
was the three big aquisitions of the summer of 1996: Allan Houston, Larry
Johnson and Chris Childs. The success continued throught first four games
of theMiami series. Suffering only a four point loss in a close game two,
the Knicks were totally everythinging the Heat, with Ewing dominating
Mourning, Houston shooting well and LJ and Childs playing up to expectation.
It looked like an easy series that should have been taken care of in five
games. Well, maybe six, fans began to think during the fifth game due the
lackadaisical effort they were watching. And it was obvious that
Miami did have guts we just needed to get back to New York and wrap this
thing up in the Garden. It would be more fun that way having the home
crowd send us off to Chicago to prove that the final game of the season
wasn't a fluke. Look out Bulls.
More like, look out Ward. There's PJ Brown not liking your position on the
free throw and picking you up and dumping you on your head. And here comes LJ,
Starks, and Houston. Why the hell did they leave the bench? Oh no! What is
Ewing doing wandering around the court during the aftermath of a fight?! FIVE
players suspended! Despite the suspensions, the Knicks still could have won
either game six or seven but lost it. I think any Heat fan would probably
agree that without the suspensions, it would have been a very different story.
Even with the suspensions, the were leading towards the end of game six.
So, that's how the season ended. Some people think that Knicks era
as contenders has ended. The core of Ewing, Oakley and Starks are getting
old and there are younger teams in the East waiting to unseed the Bulls like
Washington, Miami and even Orlando with new coach Chuck Daly. But the Knicks
aren't ready to call it quits and "rebuild". In fact, last summer's moves
rebuilt as they reinforced since LJ and Houston can take over leadership roles
when Ewing, Oakley and Starks move on. But as one reads the roster analysis,
that will become more clear.
End of the season roster (Ewing and Brooks are FAs)
Ewing: He had his best season in a few years despite bad knees. He
wasn't able to practice after being undercut by Rodman in a Knicks win at
MSG. If his knees can be fixed up so they will last 10 months of hard play
and practice, he's the best center in the East next year. Just as he always
had trouble with Cartwright, Ewing will always dominate Mourning and Mutombo
since he taught them everything they know. However, the All-NBA Centers will
be Robinson, Hakeem and O'Neal. But if getting to the finals is the goal, Ewing
has the edge over other big time centers the East. His biggest problem is
age. But at 34, he still averaged 22.4 ppg 10.7 rpg and had 189 blocks. He is
a free agent but wants to finish his career in New York. He'll get a fair
(but still big) contract for about three years, then call it a career. He's
got at least two more all star years in him but it all depends on his knees.
Herb Williams: Thirty nine. That's all you need to know about him. He's the
backup C and he's 39 years old. I am not sure about his contract situation,
but if it isn't too detrimental to the salary cap, waiving him or convincing
him to retire isn't a bad thing to do. He's a good veteran to have around,
but with guys like Ewing, Oakley and Buck Williams for leadership, his fading
skills make him expendable. He's been washed up for a while and it's time to
call it a career. (take a wild guess at what kind of player I'm looking at)
Summary: Immediate help needed. Either a draft pick, FA or trade.
Oakley: 11 ppg and 10 rpg are not bad for a guy his age (he turns 34 in
December). He's still a valuable player and, like Ewing, has a few good
years left in him. He can shoot the outside jumper as well as ever and
his interior defense is just fine. And despite his age, he hasn't lost any
of his vertical leap - he is 6'9" and could leap just high enough to dunk six
years ago and he can leap just high enough to dunk now. While he won't make a
list of top PFs in the league, if you were to stack him up against other guys
who are role player starters, he comes out fine. He did average 11 ppg and 10
rpg which are his career averages. His biggest enemy is age.
Buck Williams: He's 37 and still kicking to the tune of 6.3 ppg and 5.4 rpg
in 20 mpg. He is a decent defender and a good veteran to have around. But he
is rapidly running out of gas. He possible Hall of Fame player who is clearly
entering his last (or definitely next to last) season.
Walter McCarty: He's young (23) 6'10", 230 and a good enough singer to do
the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden once this season. His game
has yet to be proven in his rookie year. Perhaps he can be turned into a PF.
He's too tall and slow for a small forward and a bit too skinny for an inside
player. But remembering him from college, he has fundamentals and can play
team defense. This year should give him an opportunity to prove his worth
as an NBA player. Notice how you can reverse the digits on his age and he's
still younger than the other front court players.
Other players who can play PF: Larry Johnson. LJ was a PF
for Charlotte but is considered a SF with the Knicks. He still has some
good inside moves and is pretty damn strong, but I think his recent back
injuries have grounded him a bit making him more of a small forward.
Summary: Can last another year with these players, especially if McCarty can
bulk up and prove that he can play.
Larry Johnson: LJ was the biggest question mark coming into this season
and finally answered some of them in the post season. The 28 year old, two
time all star was a PF with the Hornets and was traded to the Knicks for
a stronger, better ball handler, better defender in Anthony Mason. But
what he could hopefully do better for the Knicks is not have an ego clash
with Ewing. And all signs point to yes for that. His game suffered a bit
with the trade. He rarely asserted himself offensively until the end of the
season and rediscovered something he'd left in Vegas: defense. LJ seemed
to slim down a bit and become a quicker player, even gaining status as the
Knicks defensive stopper. Stranger things have happened (Greg Ostertag
outplaying Hakeem in Houston for example), but once it did, he seemed to
play a lot better. He had been paying a lot of attention to the media's
criticism of his lack of offense. But he really responded to Van Gundy's
praise of his defense. His offense came as it was called for and as far
as the press went, he told off those "evil men of words" and had a minor
rebirth towards the end of the year. Once he stopped being afraid of how
the media might take to him being obnoxious and loud on the court, his old
persona came back and so did his old game - only with the added defense. This
was very noticeable against Charlotte, even drawing heat from mild mannered
Dave Cowens. LJ blew it off and took it out on the Hornets, scoring 22 in the
final game of the series. While his rebounding numbers could use some
improvement, he is a very good player who is the third or fourth offensive
option and unlike other former all stars, doesn't mind. If needed, he is more
than capable of becoming a go to offensive player. He probably will do more
of next year, making peoplecompletely forget Anthony Mason.
John Wallace: Looked like an all-rookie player after the first month but
soon settled down into a typical rookie role player finishing with 4.8 ppg and
2.5 rpg. He was erratic, but occasionally performed will when he got the
minutes. He's always had the "work ethic" question mark and has made some
dumb mistakes (I seem to recall him getting lost trying to find the Garden -
it's really hard to miss if you're going north on 8th ave or South on 7th).
But, for now he's a keeper and could show some promise. Needless to say, SF
isn't a major concern for the Knicks.
Dantae Jones: Was on the IR list all season. He should be take off next year
and given the chance to compete for time at SF. He's probably the most
traditional SF the Knicks have since both LJ and Wallace were undersized PFs
who were able to switch. But to be honest, you don't really need a Pippen
clone at SF, just someone who can defend one.
Summary: LJ and the use of a three guard line up makes this position fairly
solid, but there are cracks. Either Wallace or Jones need to step up next year
to solidify this spot.
Allan Houston: His acquisition last summer caused a lot of controversy at the
time in Detroit (he never even gave the Pistons a listen) and for a good
portion of the winter in New York ("we paid how much for this guy?"). But
as the season came to an end his shooting improved and he caught fire in the
playoffs showing that the 26 year old is a player of the present and future.
His defense is improving and he is a great outside shooter who is becoming more
of a threat to take it to the hole. He's not an All-Star, but could be as soon
as Ewing is no longer the focus of the Knicks offense. As soon as Ewing
loses a step offensively (and recognizes it enough to allow another to step up)
Houston is the man. He is safely the starter for the next few years and could
eventually be the star of the team. He needs to work on ball handling, passing
and rebounding, but is still a good scorer, averaging 19 ppg in the playoffs.
He stepped up when it counted but stepped off the bench when it hurt.
John Starks: The sixth man of the year in 1997 adapted his role quite well.
He has the role that he needs: the spark off the bench. He's always been a
streak shooter and coming off the bench allows him to shoot away. If he's on,
he stays in. If he's cold, he gets benched. Some people (probably including
Starks) were surprised at how well he handled being benched in favor of
Houston, but he handled it well. Many times the Knicks would play a three guard
line up with Houston, Childs and Starks. It was pretty effective and would
often be used at crunchtime. He'll be 32 next year but still has a few
good years left. Shooting guard will be a concern of the Knicks in the
future but isn't right now.
Summary: just fine.
Chris Childs: Signed a pretty hefty contract after a breakthough year with the
Nets. His numbers were down across the board. He didn't really play well enough
to justify his contract, but he played well enough that the Knicks don't really
need to look for another PG just yet. He's a perfectly fine PG who can do just
about everything well and isn't noticeably bad at anything. His passing,
defense and ball handling are fine and at times he can be a scoring threat.
He needs to assert himself a bit more offensively. I don't think he'll ever
truly earn the money he's making, but he's not bad.
Charlie Ward: Other than costing the Knicks the season with his fight during
a meaninless moment against Miami, he proved that he is a solid backup PG.
He had a few great moments in the playoffs, spaking a key run during a game
in the first round. I don't think he'd ever start for anyone, but he has
proven that he is a suitable backup. With him and Childs sharing the duties
next year, with PT given to the one contributing most that night, the Knicks
are fine in the PG department. Together they averaged about 10 apg which is
not great for a PG and the backup, but it will do for now. However if one
of the top four PGs is left, he will be given a long hard look.
Scott Brooks: A scrub. A free agent who would not be missed. He and Herb
Williams will most likely not be around so that Dantae Jones and the draft
pick will have a roster spot.
Jeff Van Gundy is a hot young coach who is good and will only get better. He's
younger than some of the players, yet commands their respect. Pat Riley once
said that he learned more from JVG than vice versa. Keeping Van Gundy as an
assistant is the only smart thing Don Nelson did during his (thankfully) short
time in New York. He's been able to ward off the Don Nelson effect of turing
whatever he touches to mud. That alone should be worth the contract extension
he received and the Knicks success shows he's a great coach. Next year there
will be the following words engraved on the top of the frame of every locker
door: "During an altercation, players leaving the bench will be suspended for
one game." Actually he's a good enough coach/motivator to never mention it.
Ernie Gruenfeld is a doing a good job as GM. He's made no seriously bad
moves and since the Knicks are owned by a corporation, he has a lot of
freedom with money. The only thing potentially hanging over his head is
Childs' contract. It may be a bit inflated, but it is nothing like that
of Shawn Bradley, Danny Ferry, or Donyell Marshall.
The Knicks need someone who is 6'9" or taller and 240 lbs or bigger. Ideally
the player can play both center and power forward who is a good
defender and good enough offensively to keep the other team honest. The best
way to beat a team with a good center is to make them play defense. Greg
Ostertag is currenly playing well in the finals, but his man is always free
to double Malone. O'Neal, et. al. have great games when they have little to
do defensively except double team. The best offenses have the center down
low rather than roaming the three point line drawing the other center outside
to avoid the illegal defense. The Knicks need someone who can backup both
Ewing and Oakley this year and be groomed to replace one of them in the future.
Since USENET doesn't allow trades or free agent aquisition, this type of player
is the one I must go after.
However, if there is someone who plays PF or SF who too good to pass up,
I may take him. Given the uncertainty of the backups at SF, a very good SF
might be taken with the assumption that a big man can be acquired by other
means. And of course if for some reason, one of the top four PGs (Billups,
Daniels, Knight, Vaughn) is still around, I'll take one in a second. But
no one can convince me that Andre Woolridge, Bobby Jackson or God Shammgod
are worth more to the Knicks than a young big man. I don't think there is
a shooting guard that I'd really want if they slipped. Possibly Derek Anderson,
but I think Starks and Houston are not going to lose anything and are fine for
a few more years.
II. Players considered (written before the draft)
-Scot Pollard (Kansas 6'10" 250) Good size, good work ethic, good defender
(will really benefit from looser whistles). I've seen him play for four years
and know what he can do. He needs more polish offensively (he gets good
position for little hooks but they don't go in as often as they should).
His offensive numbers were down because of Paul Pierce and Raef Lafrentz.
But he averaged about 8-9 boards per game despite playing with Lafrentz for
the last two years (he came off the bench behind Ostertag for two years). Oh,
Lafrentz averaged about 17 ppg and 8 rpg over Pollard's years as a
starter. He played well enough in Chicago to be called an early second
rounder. But given the lack of big men in this year's draft and the fact
that the Knicks really need one since everyone who is over 6'10" 235 (McCarty
has yet to prove he's an NBA a PF) is over 34, Pollard can move up a few spots.
And he's a 100% career three point shooter, taking his only one in his
last home game and making it. However he canned something like 8-18 threes in
an exhibition game, so his jump shot (while ugly) isn't that bad. He has a
very light hearted personality off the court, but is tough on the court.
Most people recognize him for having dyed blond hair, painted fingernails
(usually blue), and/or huge muttonchop sideburns. But unlike Dennis Rodman,
who is doing that stuff to say, "Look at me, I'm a badboy," Pollard does
stuff like that for the hell of it. He is very mobile, plays solid position
defense and can run the court very well. He's also a decent passer (only 1.5
TOs per game) who can recognize a double team and pass out of it. Not that
he'll see many double teams, but when he gets the ball down low, he would be
perfectly content to not shoot unless he's clearly open or in good low
position. And with players like Ewing and Houston, knowing that their shot
comes before yours is an asset. His biggest weakness used to be foul trouble.
But that was with college refs, not NBA refs. He has limited range on his
jump shot during a game (I imagine he can hit it consistently when he's
unguarded) and needs to become more consisten offensively. I've seen him have
excellent position offensively, yet miss the hook shot. Those need to go in.
-Chris Antsey (Australia 7'0" 249) Largely unknown. I'm relying on ratings
that put him right around where I am picking. For his size I would assume he
would be a bit more dominant than he was, numerically speaking. But he could
have played on a team dominated by guards.
-Jason Lawson (Villanova 6'11" 240) Size and numbers are about the same as
Antsey and Pollard, but "work ethic" has been in the same sentence as "bad"
so I might pass. His numbers were low because of Tim Thomas and Kerry Kittles.
I can't give a full scouting report, having only seen him a few times (and I
wasn't scouting then). But here's one from the USENET Draft page: "Coming out
of high school, Jason Lawson was an all-american, but has never really lived
up to his full potential. He's had his moments, however he has generally been
an inconsistent player during his college career. Despite this NBA scouts
still see a lot of potential in the 6-11 Lawson, who has been an excellent
shot blocker (3.0 bpg). If he becomes a better rebounder (7.3 rpg) and a
more consistent scorer than he does have a shot to become the center he's
been said to be. He should be an early-mid second round choice." Having
seen his ranking slip to 40 this week, I will probably pass.
-Pedrag Drobnjak (Yugoslavia 6'11" 270) I have never seen him play, but he is
consistently ranked with Pollard and Lawson. Andam Romanski says, "Drobnjak is
big body with nice offensive moves around the basket. Don't expect him to
shoot from the outside too often. I have seen Predrag live only once and it
was more than year ago. He was real fat and seemed smaller than 6-11 (6-9
maybe) and older than he actually is. Since then he played in Euroleague as
the part of Yougoslav champion Partizan Belgrade club, which gained
the group of young talented Yougoslav players lead by Olympic silver medalist
Miroslav Beric and other draft prospect Aleksander Cubrilo. He gained
confidence and polished his skills playing against the toughest European
[The following report on Marc Jackson was added when he moved from 40 to
30 in ESPN's rankings]
[-Marc Jackson (6'9" 270) He's a big guy. I've seen him play in person. In fact
I've seen him have the game of his life in a win over Kansas at the Meadowlands
last year. I was really expecting him to burst onto the scene, but he remained
out of the media spotlight (national and New York). He will be an NBA player
and has the classic power forward build. He is incredibly strong. As is
noted on ESPN's Draft Tracker, "He's strong and has good low-post moves, but
all of his moves come from strenght. He's not a good an athlete as some guys
he'll go up against in the NBA. I think he'll struggle early on, but he's
got pretty good potential." Another said, "His game is very grounded. I don't
know if he'll be able to get his shot off in the NBA." However Ernie Gurnfeld,
(some guy on the internet who likes to think of himself as the GM for the
Knicks), says "He has a heart, a big strong body, a nice touch around the
basket and a tremendous upside." The thing that worries me most is his
reliance on strenght. The Atlantic Division is a lot tougher than the
Atlantic 10. Can he compete against Jayson Williams and PJ Brown (let alone
Chris Webber)? He won't win a battle of muscles, so how will his game adapt
to a league where strenght will only get you so far before skill is a
In most of the ratings I've seen, the four that I have a chance at
getting are ordered as follows:
2. Pollard [Jackson recently moved about even with Pollard]
3/4. Lawson/Drobnjak (sometimes they flipflop).
[[Having just seen the SI draft predictions, they have the players ranked
1. Pollard/Jackson - they predict Pollard to the Nets at #21 and Jackson
to the Knicks. I put them tied for #1 since they have Jackson as the
alternate for Orlando at #17
3. Antsey - to the Bulls at #28
No mention of Lawson or Drobnjak ]]
Players who will be gone by the time the Knicks pick (again, written
a week before the draft on the hope that about ten people have gone nuts):
-Kelvin Cato (Iowa State 6'11" 255) This is the player I would love to have.
He can do everything that is required of the Knicks 1997 pick. His
offense needs work, but his excellent defense easily compensates.
-Adonal Foyle (Colgate 6'10 255) Big and still a bit raw. He won't last this
-Jacque Vaughn (Kansas 6'0" 200) Will not slip by Dallas, Detroit, LAC,
the Nets at 21, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, or any team needing a
good PG or backup, so the Knicks combo of Ward and Childs will
have to do. If he's available (hey, Wallace slipped from his
projected spot), Ward is on the trading block.
[note: I was right, they are all gone]
SFs and SG's who might be picked instead (written a week before the draft).
-Kebu Stewart (Cal St Bakersfield 6'8" 247) - good scorer and rebounder. Might
be too short for team needs - namely he would have to defend big men. Strong
enough for what I'm looking for. Height is a question.
-Jerald Honeycutt (Tulane 6'8" 245) - about the same as Stewart. Same plusses
-Derek Anderson (Kentuck 6'4" 200) - Excellent player who probably will be
gone by the 25th pick but if he is there, I'll consider him.
-Andre Woolridge (Iowa 6'0" 195) - If the Knicks are looking for a PG, the
question that must be answered in the affirmative is, "Will he do more for the
team than Charlie Ward?" Woolridge might be a yes.
-Maurice Taylor (Michigan 6'8" 235) - Very talented. Might be gone by #25.
I have little faith in the tutelage of Steve Fisher, but he has talent.
These guys are probably ordered with Anderson, Taylor, Stewart, Honeycut
[And at the time of my pick, all but Taylor are gone. So, it looks like Taylor
just got added to the mix along with Jackson of players being seriously
III. Big Men Not Considered
- Serge Zwikker is not being considered because he is slow and can't
play defense. He can shoot jump shots, but that's it. Anyone who is called
"a poor man's Greg Ostertag" but can't defend like him will not play on my
Knicks. Ostertag is successfull because he has one thing going for him that
many other players don't and he accentuates it. That thing is the ability to
hold his arms up in the air and alter/block shots. Zwikker (like Montross)
don't have arms that are nearly that long, nor do they play defense that well.
All three players are about equal on offense (ie from pathetic to tolerable).
The upside of Ostertag (his ability to use his reach) isn't present in Zwikker
so he is not considered.
[NOTE: Zwikker is somehow rated at #26 this week, moving up from #34. I don't
buy it. Someone on the college group will undoubtedly say, "UNC Hype". I've
seen him play enough to know that he is a stiff with a good shot who could
be a decent player in five years. The Knicks need someone who can play. And
since Marc Jackson suddenly moved up from #40 to #30, he has warranted my
consideration and has now earned the full report that you have already read]
[[ SI has Zwikker to the Heat at #26. Riley isn't that dumb.]]
There are a few other guys who are good size, but for some reason are rated
lower than 40 by several people (Owen O'Malley and Don Leventhal). Since I'm
using the 25th pick, the following people won't be considered: Mark Blount,
Gordon Malone, Paul Grant, Lorenzo Coleman, Garth Joseph, and Nate Huffman.
I'll trust the scouts and not do my homework on them. But as a practical
joke, I'll bring Greg Newton in for a workout and tell him the pierced tongue
gives him a certain toughness that we are looking for and that he is under
[Note: While God Shamgod is available, as is James Cotton, I didn't consider
them. Cotton is a SG and that position is doing fine. Shamgod just doesn't
give a yes to the question, "Will this guy bring more to the position than
IV. Who I am seriously thinking of taking
I will admit that this is a choice very biased towards my alma mater, the
University of Kansas, but I am leaning very heavily towards Scot Pollard.
I know he's often ranked in the mid 30s and I have the 25th pick, but there
really isn't much of a difference. The Knicks need big men and Pollard fits
the bill. I know very little about Antsey or Drobnjak and Pollard is more
polished than Lawson (and all of the ratings back this). I guess I'm hoping
Antsey will be taken earlier so I don't second guess myself, but I'm still
leaning towards Pollard. New York is a tough town and the Knicks are a tough
team. Pollard has what it takes to play here.
So, I will give Pollard a workout and if all goes well, will tell him that
if he is available at 25, he'll need a darker shade of blue for his
Utah did the exact same thing with Ostertag (only without the workout) and it
worked out with them.
[NOTE the sudden rise of Marc Jackson puts him nearly even with Pollard. I had
written him off due to the lack of polish that I'd noticed when I'd seen him
play. His new rankings apparently bely that assumption. ]
[[ And with SI's draft projections, the two are dead even.]]
In order of importance (of course Cato and Foyle are -1 and 0):
3. Anderson (who should be gone) [gone]
4. M. Taylor (probably gone) [available]
5. Stewart (will be available - but doesn't offer what Pollard does) [gone]
6. Honeycutt (should be gone) [gone]
7. Lawson [available]
8. Drobnjak (the team needs someone who can fit in right away - if his
English isn't up to par, that can't happen) [available]
9. Woolridge [gone]
[Draft day summary: Since I am not able to make trades I will go for the
big man to back up/replace Ewing/Oakley. Knowing who's left, the list is
short, Pollard, Jackson, Taylor then Antsey. Again, I can't draft someone I've
never seen, especially a foreign player. Nothing against non-NCAA basketball,
but what did happen to Martin Muuresep? Exactly, scouts loved him and he's a
IV. The Pick (written on draft day)
It was a tough choice. I really like Jackson's size. But he is a power forward.
He is not a center by nature. Pollard is a center who should be able to play
PF. He is a legit 6'10" 250+ which is good enough to play against and defend
centers. Pollard is the better shot blocker which says something about his
defense. If LJ wasn't the startin SF, I might look harder at Taylor, but his
Michigan background makes me think that I'd have to make him unlearn all of his
bad habits and teach him team ball.
So, it comes down to Pollard and Jackson. What to do? I am going to look back
at the roster and see who fits in better. Backing up Oakley is Buck Williams.
Backing up Ewing is Herb Williams. Backing up Buck Williams is LJ and Walter
McCarty. Backing up Herb Williams is... you get the picture. The Knicks need
a backup center far more than a backup PF.
Pollard is the pick. Some will say it is a bad pick since he is ranked in the
mid to low thirties. Well, Reggie Freeman is ranked lower and was taken higher,
so I think this is fine. And considering the lack of big men, it is a perfectly
My honest prediction of Pollard? On the upside, he's another Charles Oakley,
eventually averaging about 10/10 for the next 10 years. Given that the Knicks
will eventually be built around Houston, the 10 ppg is perfectly fine. The
acceptable downside could be Frank Brickowski or Scot Williams. Of course
there is always Scot Haskins. He fits in well position wise and has the right
attitude to play for the Knicks. He is very coachable and can work in a system.
I don't think he'll let the press bother him too much. Of course he never had
to deal with any criticism at Kansas since the KC and Lawrence media are
friendly to everyone except Steve Bono and Lin Elliot. So, his good personality
traits are there. He is also more than capable of tearing someone's head off
if need be. He'll get a flagrant or two and walk it off, knowing he knocked
someone's block off. Some players get them out of frustration, others because
they're vicious (I still remember the footage of Marc Jackson pounding Greg
Newton's head through the floor) or cheap/dirty (ala Rodman pushing Pippen
into the apparatus). The right mix is those who know when a
little more is needed who are willing to do it and live up to the consequences.
His most pressing problem might be finding a place to park his early 70's
And just to make sure he would do fine, I looked at some box scores for
this year. He held his own against Alexander Khoul of George Washington,
played very well againt Brian Skinner of Baylor (an NBA prospect for next
year), and in the two matchups against Kelvin Cato Pollard accumulated
23 pts, 17 boards, 3 blocks, and 6 fouls vs Cato's 9 pts, 7 rebs, 2 blocks,
and 7 fouls (fouling out once). Cato is likely a lottery pick. He was injured
with a broken foot against Texas Tech, missing a chance to battle Tony Battie.
To balance things out, he played poorly against Jelani McCoy of UCLA and
fouled out against Arizona in the last game of the season.
I think he's what the Knicks need, regardless of where I went as an undergrad.
[[ And SI seems to back up my decision. Although they say that the Knicks
want to trade the pick since the "last thing they need is to take another
young player who needs time and work". I personally think Pollard can slip
in with the Knicks and fill the role that is needed. He played in a good
system in college and should be able to take his skills to the pros. "But
McCarty played in a good system and look at how unproductive he's been."
Well, Kentucky's system is rather unorthodox with it's constant press and
fast break first, shoot the three second offense. Kansas did run a motion
offense (which the Hornets proved would not work in the pros several
years ago), but the big men would be inside, constantly either getting
position and then if that didn't work, setting picks and if need be,
coming to the top of the key to reset. It is more fundamentally oriented
and gave him a chance to develop role playing skills (like screens and
passing). McCarty learned to be a good perimeter defender and how to trap,
but that isn't too common in the pros. And Jackson played at Temple where
zone defense is religion. Kansas occasionally went to a 1-3-1 halfcourt
zone, but was generally man to man. So I think Pollard does come fairly
well prepared to play right away.]]
V. Trades, FAs, other moves. (written before the draft)
I must confess. I haven't looked at the salary/contract situation with
the Knicks, but I assume they're either over the cap or very close to
it. So dumping Herb Williams should be a good move if it frees up
cap room to sign a decent FA PF/C.
Looking over the list of free agents, the only ones who really fit what the
Knicks need are Cliff Robinson (probably out of their range with Ewing's
likely contract), Brian Williams (ditto). Dean Garrett is a strong possibility.
He'll command a good salary, but possibly not out of the Knicks range. But
if I were him I'd look to stay in Minnesota since he has the starting job
on a promising young team. Even if he never makes a serious playoff run,
it'd be an optimistic ride (rather than playing for a team like the Pacers with
a lot of aging vets with little upside). Travis Knight is a very strong
candidate. He's big, has potential, can't possibly stay with the Lakers due to
the cap, and has everything the Knicks are looking for. I don't think he'll
be too expensive since no one wants to sign the next Jim McIlvane. Othella
Harrington and Malik Rose are possible cheap pickups. The player who is
starting to intrigue me a bit is Brian Williams. He's played well in the
finals. He's a thug, but he's got skills. I think with the money he's
likely to demand plus his past problems with mental illness, ego, etc.,
he might be more trouble than he's worth.
The Knicks need someone to offer reinforcement in a smooth transition.
Someone who will come in knowing his role with the promies of more PT
when Ewing and Oakley call it a career.
As far as trades go, the Knicks don't have anyone who is really worth much.
Oakley isn't going anywhere, neither are Starks, Houston, LJ or Childs.
None of the three rookies from last year really did much to warrant being
more than a possible package with the pick to move up far enough to get Cato
or Foyle. However, if a team really wants a player like Shea Seals, the Knicks
might trade down since player like Pollard should still be around. A big man
might be acquired that way - ie swap picks and one of last year's rookies
for a decent big man.
Summary of Free Agents:
out of our league - Cliff Robinson, Brian Williams.
Long shot: Dean Garrett.
Hopeful: Travis Knight.
Maybe: Malik Rose, Othella Harrington.
VII. What they will do
They'll probably go for Antsey. I haven't seen him play, so I don't know
about his toughness. As much as I'd like them to take Pollard, they'll
probably use my list of players putting Pollard at five and having everyone
else move up. Since they have the ability to make trades and sign free agents
they'll take the best forward available (the backcourt is too solid to really
mess with and with a glaring weakness up front and a possible weakness at SF,
no guards need apply), which will probably be one of Kebu Stewart, Jerald
Honeycutt, or Maurice Taylor. Then they'll try to get a guy like Knight or
Garrett or trade for someone comparable. [And drafting Jackson is always
a possibility after reading Grunfeld's comments]
What I hope they continue to do is rebuild as they reload. In other words,
don't replace Herb Williams with Mark West. Trading away Jones or Wallace
for an older big man is not smart. But for a younger guy it is.
I think they'll make a push for Travis Knight and/or get one of the three
forwards I've listed.
Ideally Chicago will trade Pippen, piss off MJ and Jackson opening up the East
for the Knicks to make it back to the finals. But the Knicks will be in
contention for a few more years, assuming they can get some young PF/C who
will be around to pick up the slack as Ewing, Oakley and Buck Williams fade.