The New York
Knicks have the 32nd pick in the 2001 Usenet
draft. See Trade details
for the reason the Knicks don't have a pick.
In the real NBA draft, the Knicks have the 43rd
pick. With this pick, Dean Carrano (Usenet
Satterfield, PG, 6'2", Cincinnati
The story hanging over the Knicks' 2000-01 season was the Patrick Ewing story. Ewing is arguably the best player in Knicks' history. Certainly, he is the best Knick who anyone under the age of 30 is likely to have conscious memories of. Ewing was named one of the NBA's top 50 all-time players a few years back, and has been an All-Star nine times. But he has no rings... and after 15 years with the franchise, many fans were convinced that this was not a coincidence. Ewing was always slow and methodical on offense, and of course after 15 years of wear and tear, he was even more so. He has no talent or desire for passing the ball, which stands in sharp contrast to the other great centers of his era (Robinson, Olajuwon, O'Neal). The Knicks had gradually become a younger and quicker team over the last couple of years, and Ewing's aging body was thought to be blocking a game plan that better fit the team's talent. Ewing has always been wary of reporters, although by most accounts, he is extremely likeable and eloquent when around those he trusts. His prickly relationship with the often-vicious New York media did not help his public image. For his part, Ewing, hearing all of these criticisms, felt unappreciated by the fans and the organization.
So, for all these reasons, the Knicks ended the Ewing era during the offseason, swapping him and his backup Chris Dudley in a four-way deal. Ewing went to Seattle; Dudley went to Phoenix; and the Knicks received Glen Rice and Travis Knight from the Lakers, and Luc Longley from Phoenix. The New York Post's back page headline was "GOOD RIDDANCE". At the time, it was assumed another deal was in the cards. After all, the Knicks had been a horrendous rebounding team even with Ewing... how could they expect to improve in that department by trading him for Rice? And the team's two best players, Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell, played the same positions as Rice. The deal did not fit the team's needs at all... in fact, it did the exact opposite.
Well, no second deal ever came about. The Knicks ended up playing the entire season with a roster whose parts seemed to fit together worse than Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano backstage. Given this, the season was a success in many ways. Despite the seemingly tiny lineup, the squad actually managed to outrebound its opponents (okay, by seven boards on the year, but still). This was largely due to the fierce board work of the new center, Marcus Camby. Camby, despite only weighing 225 pounds, was not all that undersized compared to other Eastern Conference centers, so moving him to the pivot was not as risky a move as it may have seemed. He used his superior athleticism to make up for any strength disadvantage. Camby pulled down 11.5 boards a game, and was the defensive eraser as well with 2.2 blocks per. As usual, Camby missed 19 games due to injury. Allan Houston was his usual self (18.7 ppg), and both he and Latrell Sprewell (17.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.5 apg) made the All-Star team. Kurt Thomas had a helluva year as the first forward off the bench, shooting an outstanding 51.1% and averaging 10.4 ppg and 6.7 rpg. Charlie Ward looked like he was finally coming into his own during the 2000 playoffs, but unfortunately that didn't materialize. He got hurt and didn't do much when he was on the court (7.1 ppg, 4.5 apg). But the Knicks acquired Mark Jackson from Toronto late in the season, dealing off salary cap albatross Chris Childs and a first-round pick. Ward then started playing much better ball as the backup, while Jackson was the Knicks' best point guard since... ummm... Mark Jackson. The Knicks also got Muggsy Bogues in the Jackson/Childs deal, but his knees are shot and he didn't get into a game. Hopefully, he will retire. It would presumably help the Knicks' salary situation a bit, and anyway, it's depressing to see a guy like Muggsy sitting on the bench unable to play.
Another late-season deal brought in Othella Harrington in exchange for Erick Strickland. This was clearly a good deal for New York, since Strickland was shooting a hideous 30.5% and was buried behind five other guards anyway. Harrington did his usual solid job as a big man off the bench. He probably deserves to be somewhere where he can have a larger role. He only got 18 minutes a game for the Knicks.
Rice ended up being a disappointment. He averaged only 12.0 ppg for the Knicks... and yeah, he was the third option, but in the previous season, he had averaged 15.9 ppg as the third option to two guys named Shaq and Kobe. But to be fair, Rice was hampered by injury throughout the season. And to his credit, he didn't complain about his role. Rice even was asked to play power forward in some alignments, and had some excellent rebounding efforts. Larry Johnson, the incumbent power forward (and briefly Rice's teammate at Charlotte), also should be admired for his willingness to go from featured star to role player. Unfortunately, LJ was on the IR for part of the year, and it's gotten to the point where even when he's not on the IR, he's still not healthy. He only shot 41% last year, averaging 9.9 ppg.
New York won 48 games, and was the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. They drew the Toronto Raptors in the first round. The same matchup had occurred in the first round of the 1999-00 playoffs. The Knicks swept the Raptors in three games, completely shutting down Vince Carter. This year was different. Carter played under control and found open men. Childs gleefully stuck daggers in his former teammates' hearts. The Knicks' rebounding weaknesses were finally exploited by one of the few Eastern Conference teams with size. The Knicks lost in five games, and thus did not win a playoff series. This is not considered to be an acceptable season result in New York. Changes will be made.
Oh, and by the way... when he returned to the Garden, Patrick Ewing got an extended standing ovation.
The Knicks did make a great draft pick when they snatched up Mark Jackson at #18... in 1987. Jackson played for five other teams (including two separate stints with the Pacers) before returning to New York 14 years later. Only two other players on the 2000-01 roster were drafted by the Knicks. One is MJax's fellow point guard Charlie Ward, a nice pickup at #26 in 1994. The other is garbage time guard Lavor Postell, #39 in 2000.
Because of their success, the Knicks have consistently gotten bad draft picks. They have proceeded to consistently trade those picks away, either before drafting a player or soon afterward. The squad has gotten significantly younger in the last couple of years, but that has been done through acquiring young players already in the league, not through the draft. The Knicks' recent draft history has been beyond unproductive:
- #22 PF Donnell Harvey: Traded to Dallas for Erick Strickland, who was not a success for the Knicks. Strickland did land Othella Harrington, so we'll see how that goes.
- #39 SG Lavor Postell: Has some potential, but hasn't proven anything yet. May or may not be on the team next year.
- #15 C Frederic Weis: French center most famous for 1) being posterized by Vince Carter during the Olympics and 2) not being Ron Artest, the local boy who went #16. Weis has a history of serious back problems. He refused to let doctors examine him, but the Knicks drafted him anyway. By all appearances, he will never play in the NBA and is a huge flop of a pick.
- #48 PF J.R. Koch: Never made it.
- #38 PF DeMarco Johnson: Never made it.
- #44 PF Sean Marks: Never made it. Was a throw-in in the deal that sent Charles Oakley to Toronto for Marcus Camby.
- #25 PF John Thomas: Never made it. Traded to Boston along with three other players for the mighty Chris Mills.
- #18 SF/PF John Wallace: A useful scoring forward off the bench, but the Knicks didn't like his defense and traded him to Toronto in a three-way deal, receiving Chris Dudley from Portland.
- #19 SF/PF Walter McCarty: Now a bit player for the Celtics. Dealt in Mills trade.
- #21 SF Dontae' Jones: Never made it. Dealt in Mills trade.
- 88.7 points per game
- 2,755/6,198 field goals (44.4%)
- 1,374/1,727 free throws (79.6%)
- 391/1,115 three-pointers (35.1%)
- 4.1 opposition blocks per game
- 40.2 rebounds per game
- 9.4 offensive rebounds per game
- 18.5 assists per game
- 14.5 turnovers per game
- 7.3 opposition steals per game
- 86.1 opposition points per game
- 2,568/6,159 opposition field goals (41.7%)
- 1,478/2,015 opposition free throws (73.3%)
- 445/1,266 three-pointers (35.2%)
- 40.1 opposition rebounds per game
- 10.6 opposition offensive rebounds per game
- 19.2 opposition assists per game
- 14.8 opposition turnovers per game
- 6.7 steals per game
- 4.2 blocks per game
The Knicks' biggest statistical strength is their ability to hold opponents to such a low shooting percentage... or in other words, their ability to play good, old-fashioned team defense. This is especially impressive when you consider how much worse this team's defense looks on paper than the personnel of the Ewing-Mason-Oakley era. Coach Jeff Van Gundy deserves a lot of credit for maintaining that stingy standard. As far as individual defense goes, Camby is one of the league's best shot-blockers, although he tends to get overzealous and get into foul trouble. It would probably help him a great deal if there was someone else on the team who could block a shot, but there isn't. Sprewell is an outstanding defender. Thomas is an enforcer who plays very rough and is in constant foul trouble. Ward gets many steals and always gives effort. Rice and LJ both play a lot tougher D than their reputation, although both are slow. Houston and Jackson are plain terrible on defense.
The Knicks' biggest weakness is that they lack a low-post threat on offense. Their best low-post option was actually Larry Johnson. Camby has yet to develop an offensive move, Thomas is a jump shooter, and Harrington didn't play much. This explains their problems getting to the foul line. The Knicks are an excellent foul shooting team, but they don't get much of a chance to use it because they don't utilize the inside game much.
They also could use a rebounding boost. Yeah, they're even with their opponents in boards, but most successful teams have a decided advantage in that area. So they need an inside force on offense, and they could really use a shotblocker and rebounder... you begin to see why the name "Chris Webber" comes up a lot around NYC.
The point guard stats -- assists, turnovers, and steals -- are basically even between the Knicks and their opponents, indicating that the team is about average at that spot. It would be really nice if Ward's defense and Jackson's ability to run a team could be merged into one player, but I haven't heard of any breakthroughs in that area.
Well, with Rice, Houston, and Spree still here, swingmen are definitely not a need. So it's either a point guard, or a big guy.
Satterfield, PG, 6'2", Cincinnati
The New York Knicks select Cincinnati point guard Kenny Satterfield.
Satterfield is a New York resident who averaged 14.4 ppg, 5.1 apg, and 4.7 rpg last year, and is a very good defender. His weakness is shooting, although he seems to step it up with the game on the line. He played horrendously in camps, but that doesn't
necessarily mean anything long term. The similarities
to Nick Van Exel are striking: Cincinnati, point guard, bad shooting percentage, clutch shooter, second-round pick. Realistically, Satterfield is probably not going to shoot well enough to be a Van Exel. But he can help the club. A third point guard would be useful. Rick Brunson and Lavor Postell, who filled that role last year, are both free agents (Postell shouldn't be playing the point anyway). And Muggsy Bogues will hopefully retire. So Satterfield could be that third point guard... or Ward, who should have some trade value, could be dealt, and Satterfield could then back up Jackson.
Other Players Considered
Haston, PF, Indiana - This would have been the by-the-book selection. He has apparently played well in camps, and he could eventually develop the offensive skills that the Knicks need from a big man. But... if Travis Knight was stapled to the bench all season for the Knicks, is there really any reason to think they would put another marginal center to use? It seems much more plausible to me, in the real world, that they would get some benefit from Satterfield. They are going to have to solve the big man problem some other way besides the #32 pick.
Raul Lopez, PG, Real Madrid - Since the Knicks never keep their draft picks anyway, maybe you might as well pick a guy like this who isn't even
going to be in the U.S. for two more years. ESPN's Andy Katz compared him to Steve Nash. Needless to say, I haven't seen the guy play, and I felt Satterfield could contribute something positive right away.
Dalembert, C, Seton Hall - I don't think you can carry a guy who is this far away from being a passable offensive player.
Ken Johnson, C, Ohio State - Him I would have taken a chance on, but he's gone.
Brian Scalabrine, PF, USC - No real weaknesses, but I just couldn't see him making much of an impact either.
Who the Knicks Will Probably Take
Everyone is saying they will take a big guy, so I guess I would have to predict that. It would certainly be consistent with the last few years of draft picks, a litany of failed big men.
Other Moves the Knicks Should Make
The Knicks have three free agents this offseason, all of whom -- Postell, Brunson, and Felton Spencer -- are irrelevant.
Like the rest of the civilized world, New Yorkers are hoping that Chris Webber decides to sign to play basketball in their town. Latrell Sprewell is one of Webber's close friends, and has been pressuring his pal to join the squad; he was even chastised by the league office for doing so. And obviously, if Webber wants fame, media attention, and sponsorships, New York is the place to be to accomplish those goals. There are two major stumbling blocks. One is that Webber may not consider the Knicks to be a championship caliber team, considering that they just went out in the first round, and that they would likely have to give up key players to get Webber. The other is the salary cap. A sign and trade might get tricky, although the Knicks certainly have plenty of high salaried players to use as baggage. Overall, it's no more or less plausible that Webber should end up in New York than that he should end up in most other places. Another marquee player often mentioned as a Knicks target is Rasheed Wallace, who may have worn out his welcome in Portland.
A star power forward definitely would be a huge asset for this team. A star center would be even nicer (moving Camby to PF), but there's only one in the league right now, so it's not very realistic. The long-running point guard problem was considered to be solved by the acquisition of Jackson. But after Jackson faltered down the stretch, attention was again drawn to this Knicks' Bermuda Triangle. I personally think that a combination of Jackson and a younger, more defensively-oriented point guard would suffice, if the rest of the team was good enough. Jackson still runs a team like few others, and makes his teammates better on offense. Give him a platoon partner who can guard the quick guys, and he should be fine. I'm not saying I'd pass up Gary Payton, of course. But I think they need what a big man can offer more.
Whatever you're looking to acquire, the logical Knick trade bait is Allan Houston. The logjam at SG/SF needs to be broken up if the Knicks are to get the maximum out of their roster. Sprewell is clearly the team's best all-around player, as well as its emotional leader. Houston can't replace what Spree brings. But Rice can replace most of what Houston brings. Houston is younger, better, and makes a little less than Rice. So you should be able to get more for Houston in a trade than for Rice.
One of Harrington or Thomas can, and probably will, be dealt. The team does not need both of them. I'm guessing it will be Harrington, since Thomas seems to be an established clubhouse leader, whereas Harrington has not been with the team very long.
Camby's name keeps coming up in trade rumors. I don't know whether this is just force of habit, or what. Clearly, Camby should be very close to untouchable. If he is dealt for another big man, it's running in circles; if he's dealt for a point guard, then the team defense and rebounding will plummet.
Hopefully, you would be able to get an impact player with a package of Houston, Harrington, and perhaps Ward. I personally think that's an awfully nice package to offer someone. I assume that Knight ($22 million/7 years), Longley ($32.4M/6 yr), and LJ ($84M/12 yr) are dead weight given how ludicruously overpaid they are. The Knicks will not have an easy time maneuvering this offseason, but I think they can improve themselves a lot if they go about it right.