I - Personnel Changes
Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson and Nene Hillario
Antonio McDyess and Frank Williams
II - Season Recap
Sometimes a single game can epitomize a team's season. If you had the opportunity to watch a certain game in early April it wrapped up the
Knicks nicely. You may have even seen the game, as by some programming snafu, it snuck onto an ESPN national broadcast.
If you'd tuned in to watch the Knicks on that day in April, you would found 14 foot of white guy (Knight and Doleac) on the floor guarding a Denver front-line rotation that included ex-Knicks Marcus Camby, Nene Hillario, and Donnell Harvey. The Nuggets had a nice young team, with lots of athleticism and talent. The
Knicks had undersized veterans with various deficiencies that made them laughably overpaid.
The extent of the Knicks futility was clear. The future had been mortgaged for the present, and presently, things were looking pretty bleak.
A couple interesting things about that game in April though: First, the Knicks won, and Second, Travis Knight stepped up and played his best game of the year. The Knicks won 37 games to go with 45 losses for the year, far better than many expected of them. It wasn't always pretty (like that day in April), but this veteran team put up a decent fight. Like Travis Knight, many Knick role players stepped into larger roles, and frequently performed better than expected.
Despite anything positive things that you can say about last season, last season made it clear this is not a championship team without star player Antonio McDyess, lost before the season began to knee surgery. That is certainly not to say this team is definitely playoff bound with McDyess, but at least they would have a fighting chance. Unfortunately, since McDyess has had yet another knee surgery this off-season, it will be yet another year before we can find out what this team would be like with him.
III - Roster
Modified version from ESPN.com
PLAYER POS. HT. WT. BORN
Shandon Anderson GF 6-6 210 Dec. 31, 1973
Michael Doleac C 6-11 262 Jun. 15, 1977
Howard Eisley PG 6-2 180 Dec. 4, 1972
Othella Harrington PF 6-9 235 Jan. 31, 1974
Allan Houston G 6-6 200 Apr. 20, 1971
Travis Knight C 7-0 235 Sep. 13, 1974
Antonio McDyess PF 6-9 245 Sep. 7, 1974
Lee Nailon SF 6-9 238 Feb. 22, 1975
Mark Pope FC 6-10 235 Sep. 11, 1972
Lavor Postell SG 6-6 215 Feb. 26, 1978
Latrell Sprewell SF 6-5 195 Sep. 8, 1970
Kurt Thomas F 6-9 235 Oct. 4, 1972
Charlie Ward PG 6-2 185 Oct. 12, 1970
Clarence Weatherspoon SF 6-7 270 Sep. 8, 1970
Frank Williams PG 6-3 212 Feb. 25, 1980
Modified version from usatoday.com
PLAYER G MPG PPG RPG APG REB AST STL BLK TO PF
Allan Houston 82 37.9 22.5 2.8 2.7 231 220 54 7 178 191
Latrell Sprewell 74 38.6 16.4 3.9 4.5 285 332 102 22 172 134
Kurt Thomas 81 31.8 14.0 7.9 2.0 637 162 81 97 138 344
Howard Eisley 82 27.4 9.1 2.3 5.4 186 444 71 9 149 222
Shandon Anderson 82 21.1 8.4 3.1 1.1 254 87 73 20 114 177
Othella Harrington 74 25.0 7.7 6.4 0.8 476 62 12 23 90 231
Charlie Ward 66 22.2 7.2 2.7 4.6 177 306 78 11 95 146
Clarence Weatherspoon 79 25.6 6.6 7.6 0.9 599 68 69 36 63 174
Lee Nailon 38 10.7 5.5 1.8 0.7 70 26 6 3 32 46
Michael Doleac 75 13.9 4.4 2.9 0.6 219 42 16 16 49 150
Lavor Postell 12 8.2 3.6 0.3 0.3 4 3 2 0 7 9
Travis Knight 32 9.0 1.9 1.9 0.4 62 14 8 9 10 44
Frank Williams 21 8.0 1.3 0.9 1.6 18 34 7 2 17 20
Salaries and Contracts
Modified version from:
Player 2002-03 Salary Total contract Signed through
Allan Houston $14,343,750 7-yr; 100.41M 2006-07
Antonio McDyess $12,600,000 6-yr; 67.5M 2003-04
Latrell Sprewell $11,937,500 5-yr ;61.9M 2003-04 (p)
Shandon Anderson $6,100,000 6-yr; 42.0M 2006-07
Charlie Ward $5,570,000 6-yr; 28.0M + 2002-03 (p)
Howard Eisley $5,312,500 7-yr; 41.0M 2005-06 (t)
Clarence Weatherspoon $4,991,800 5-yr; 27.23M 2005-06
Kurt Thomas $4,903,750 3-yr; 13.0M 2003-04 (t)
Travis Knight $4,000,000 7-yr; 22.0M 2003-04
Othella Harrington $2,700,000 7-yr; 17.33M 2004-05
Michael Doleac $1,400,000 2-yr; 3.00M 2003-04
Frank Williams $832,560 4-yr; 4.40M 2004-05 (t)
Mark Pope $637,435 1-yr; 637,435 2002-03
Lee Nailon $587,435 1-yr; 587,435 2002-03
Lavor Postell $587,435 2-yr; 1.05M 2002-03
IV - Coaching/Management
Head coach Don Cheney did a great job of keeping his team focused despite an arguably a doomed season this past year. The always-rosy New York press was ready to start counting lottery balls the moment McDyess was reintroduced to the scalpel. But even the fickle NY press has to give Cheney credit for sticking out this season, keeping his team playing respectably. I tend to credit Don for the measurable improvements the Knicks got from Howard Eisley and Shandon Anderson, who had looked shell shocked the year before. We can definitely give the coach credit for the Knicks managing to match up well most nights despite being undersized at four positions on the court. On the downside, Cheney seems to be following in Riley and Van Gundy's tradition of keeping rookies glued to the bench, not that he has many to work with... Cheney has proved he earned this opportunity, I hope his career can survive it.
General manager Scott Layden is not as worthy of praise for the Knicks near respectability this past year. Simply, Layden has failed to position the Knicks to succeed. The Knicks have failed to bring in young talent, overspent in the free agent market, and failed to manage their salary cap situation. Stuck in a mode of trying to win this year, every year, the Knicks never retool their talent base, and frequently end out taking on other teams problem players. Layden has maneuvered this team into a corner, with no salary cap space till 2006, and with no choice but to bank on an oft-injured power forward in McDyess and a point guard who doesn't seem to be ready to leave Europe in Vujanic.
V - Previous drafts
Since Scott Layden took over the Knicks in 1999, he has traded every 1st round pick the Knicks have had (including some acquired in trades). The list of young players drafted with those picks: Donnell Harvey, Jason Collins (Knicks actually traded this pick in the Ewing trade, pre-Laden), Jamal Tinsley, Kareem Rush, and Nene Hillario. Any subset of the players above could have given the Knicks a solid young core. In addition, the year before Layden took over there was the Fredric Weis over Ron Artest debacle.
In fairness to Layden, his pick of Milos Vujanic last year looks like it could have good long-term implications for the Knicks. It is a bit of a head scratcher that the undersized Knicks choose Frank Williams over Dan Gadzuric and Carlos Boozer. That said, neither would have solved the Knicks problems, and it's a little early to say Williams couldn't be the better player.
* An updated version of Dean Carrano's list from 2000
- #25 PG Frank Williams: Not much playing time last year. Flashes, but nothing to get excited about as of yet.
- #36 PG Milos Vujanic: Played for Partizan in Europe last year. Signed for two more years with Barcelona this winter.
- #39 PF Michael Wright: Last cut of training camp. Went to Europe last year for IDEA SLASK WROCLAW in Poland.
- #43 C Eric Chenowith: Cut in summer camp after showing himself to be too soft, played in NBDL last year.
- #22 PF Donnell Harvey: Traded to Dallas for Erick Strickland, who was not a success for the Knicks. Strickland did land Othella Harrington. Harvey is now in Denver, and starting to look like he could bust out soon. #39 SG Lavor Postell: Missed his chance last year when he got hurt at the same time as Sprewell. Buried on the bench again.
- #15 C Frederic Weis: French center most famous for his 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. Played in Europe for SCAVOLINI PESARO last year
- #44 PF Sean Marks: Was a throw-in in the deal that sent Charles Oakley to Toronto for Marcus Camby. Played ok in small minutes in Miami last year.
- #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.
VI - Team Needs with Positional Analysis
Hmmm, allow me to quote from my 2002 report "The fact that the Knicks have only one legitimate player (Marcus Camby) over 6'9" indicates an obvious need for more depth in the front-court."... OR, you could just trade that one big man and a 6'10" draft pick for another injury-prone power forward I suppose, whatever works for you.
Anyway, like last year, the undersized Knicks are still short at 4 positions. They also have an amazing depth of undersized bench players to back up their undersized starters.
Kurt Thomas roughed it out, and put up solid numbers this year. The decline in Kurt's productivity over the course of the year was notable. Much prop's to Kurt for hanging in there, GET THIS MAN SOME HELP ALREADY!!! Kurt is backed up by 14 feet of useless white guys in the persons of
Travis Knight and Michael
Othella Harrington is a solid, if unexciting offensive player with no shot blocking and limited rebounding skills for a power forward.
Clarence Weatherspoon is a prolific rebounder for his size, but looks like he's afraid to go to the basket these days. If
McDyess ever returns, these guys lose minutes when Thomas slides back to PF.
Latrell Sprewell had his worst year since joining the Knicks in 1998. He is still an offensive and defensive force, but can he keep performing at this level as a small forward?
Lee Nailon and Lavor Postell actually showed some promise in limited minutes. That said, neither on will be mistaken for Sprewell on defense.
Allan Houston may be no superstar, but he's a pretty damn good player. Contract aside, Houston did about all that could be asked of him last year.
Shandon Anderson played the role of swingman last year fairly admirably backing up Allan. Again, contract aside.
Howard Eisley put in a solid performance as the Knicks starting PG. His shooting came back from a one year hiatus, and his 5.4 assists where 1.2 over his career high. If only he were big or quick enough to defend NBA players. Charlie Ward put in his usual workmanlike effort. Seems like Frank Williams played less than Milos Vujanic, who didn't even play for us last year.
VII - Your selection
Kaman, C, 7'0", Central Michigan
1. It's difficult to judge a true center from their college experience.
The 2000 draft brought us top college centers Chris Mihm (#7), Jason Collier (#15), and Joel Pryzbilla (#9), who have not performed up to expectation. Arguably, Mamadou N'diaye (#26) and Jake Voskuhl (#33), little know college centers who had never averaged more than 10ppg have outperformed all their higher selected counterparts in the NBA.
2. It's even harder to judge centers based on their workouts and physical talent.
In 2001, DeSagana Diop (#8) and Steven Hunter (#15) came off the board before Jason Collins (#18) and Brendan Haywood (#20). Not to mention workout king Samual Dalembert squeezing into the first round.
Chris Kaman is a true center, and could fall anywhere in the range of the players listed above. Hopefully, he is more Jason Collins than Jason Collier. Kaman has not faced as much top-level college competition as you might like, but his college numbers are excellent.
An interesting intersection of "best player available", "team needs" and "usenet value pick". I actually assume Kaman will come off the board before 9, and I had been trying to decide between Wade and Pietrus as the player the Knicks traded this pick to would end out with. It still is a likely scenario that the Knicks make a trade, but this works out great for out draft!
IX - Other Players considered
Knicks Draft Board
- LeBron James - Would you dare draft anyone else?
- Darko Milicic - Another Euro 7 footer with serious game
- Carmelo Anthony - Not a perfect body, but game looks close
- Chris Bosh - Long and lean in a KG kinda way
- Pavel Podkolzine - Who blinks first and picks The Big Question?
- Chris Kaman - Quick, name the 5 best white American centers...
- T.J. Ford - Fastest man in basketball, among smallest too
- Maciej Lampe - Nowitzki or Gasol... wouldn't you pick either here?
- Dwayne Wade - Doing the -best player under 6'7"- slide...
- MickaŽl Pietrus - Good size and athleticism, shot?
- Kirk Hinrich - Too skilled to slip too far, but lots of PG's this year
- Mike Sweetney - He's no Othella Harrington... I hope.
- Jarvis Hayes - great size for a shooter
- Sofoklis Schortsanitis - So, he 6'10" right? Right??
- Nick Collison - a sure thing 6'9" NBA player should be in lotto.
Note the obvious big man bias on the Knicks draft board, with guards slipping. Knicks are not likely to draft a project PG (if Ford slipped, you would have to take him), or any SG. A forward would work, but if the first 8 go according to this board, and small players are the best on the board, time to trade down.
Other Mock Draft Comparisons
* NBADraft.net ^ SportingNews.com
Mock Drafts ESPN ND.net* cnnsi NBC CBS TSN AVERAGE
James 1 1 1 1 1 1 1.00
Darko 2 2 2 2 2 2 2.00
Carmelo 3 3 3 3 3 3 3.00
Bosh 5 5 4 4 4 4 4.33
Ford 4 6 6 5 5 5 5.17
Podokolzin 6 4 11 6 6 6.60
Kaman 9 8 5 6 8 9 7.50
Wade 7 9 9 7 12 7 8.50
Lempe 13 7 8 9 11 8 9.33
Hinrich 8 11 15 11 10 10 10.83
Sweetney 12 12 12 8 9 14 11.17
Pietrus 10 13 7 13 13 13 11.50
Hayes 19 10 16 10 7 12 12.33
Ridenour 11 15 14 20 14 17 15.17
Barbosa 14 20 10 19 17 11 15.17
Gaines 15 23 18 15 15 15 16.83
Collison 18 16 23 14 23 18.80
Schortsiantis 24 22 13 25 19 18 20.17
X - Other Moves
Given the mantle of Knicks GM, I would try to keep the team competitive short-term, but start trying to build a young base. The Knicks don't have a lot of wiggle room with their salary structure. Packaging players with picks, Vujanic or Williams would seem the only way to get teams to deal with the Knicks. That could be an option, particularly if the Knicks had a chance to pick up another PG with a value pick.
Keep The Young Players
I would hold my picks and players and try to weather the storm with the current team. Next year, when the McDyess injury situation has played out, the path forward will likely be clear. If McDyess is finished, gathering young players and waiting till we get free of the salary cap in 2006 will be a painful path forward, but hopefully that is not the case.
Clear Up PG Position
I would buy out Charlie Ward contract as well, to give Frank Williams the playing time he needs, and make the situation more attractive to get Vujanic here next year.
Consider Trade Options
Trading Sprewell while he can still help a contender would be smart, but may not bring back real value. Jump on any opportunity to move long-term contracts of Weatherspoon, Eisley, or Anderson, but that seems unlikely in the current economic climate.
Use the Salary Cap Exemption
For this year, picking up a veteran big man with the Salary Cap Exemption for Free Agents could help seems like obvious. Of course, if a young player with real talent somehow came available, it makes better long-term sense. Few young players in the Exemption range are actually on the market, although Knicks could offer on team option players like Jumaine Jones, Marcus Fizer, Lamar Odom, the offers would likely be matched.
FA's who could help in the middle
- PJ Brown - 33, still good for lots of double-doubles
- Dale Davis - 34, but putting up 30 minutes still
- Elden Campbell - 34, injuries make him pretty high risk
- Derrick Coleman - 35, and... is this list getting older or is it just me?
- Alonzo Mourning - Serious health problems, but still wants to play
- Chris Mihm - Could join Knight and Doleac to be the butt of triplet jokes
- Jason Collier - Mihm with less skills
With Team Options
- Jamaal Magloire - Unlikely to be let go
- Jeff Foster - See Chris Mihm
- Etan Thomas - Wiz may not even want him
- Mamadou N'Diaye - Valuable despite injuries
- Andrew DeClercq - Tough, but not too skilled
- Joel Przybilla -1.5 PPG, 1.4 BPG, 4.5 RPG, weird