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Franchise Steve

Well, you can say this. Penny Hardaway is pure dead weight and Steve Francis is definitely a better player than Trevor Ariza. In that sense, I guess, this is a good deal. But unlike with the trade for Jalen Rose, Francis' contract is not only expensive but runs all the way through the 2008-2009 season, so this deal really will impair the Knicks' ability to ever get under the cap and really makes a mockery out of talk of rebuilding in any sense other than that the team sucks right now. A Marbury-Francis backcourt seems designed to prove that sometimes the whole can be less than the sum of its parts.

The interesting thing, really, is that on paper a lineup of Curry, Frye, Rose, Francis, and Marbury actually looks like a pretty solid starting five. In practice, I think you'd have to be pretty dumb to expect that to work out.

February 22, 2006 | Permalink

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Comments

Yuck. I mean yuck. My team now has two of the top three most overrated players in the league, according to their peers. They're exactly the same, and this pretty much ensures the Knicks will suck for another half-decade. You can't build a team around proven losers, and that's what Isiah has just done with Rose, Marbury, and Francis. At what point does he lose his job?

Posted by: Alexander "Benjamins" Hamilton | Feb 22, 2006 10:51:12 PM

They have to be moving Marbury. It just doesn't make sense at all, otherwise.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 22, 2006 11:04:01 PM

it only looks like a "pretty solid lineup" insofar as you don't care about defense and rebounding. as the great bill russell once said, he figured that in a 48-minute game, 3-4 minutes were the actual shots, so he decided to concentrate on the other 44. These 5 guys together, at this point (i'll hold out hope for curry and frye for the future), can't collectively give 44 minutes of good defense and rebounding....

and while i have a tough time remembering all of isiah's moves, surely the trade of kurt thomas for richardson stands out from the perspective of this particular version of the roster.

Somecallmetim: can there possibly be another team in basketball that is interested in either francis or marbury? it is remarkable that isiah, while "rebuilding," keeps acquiring players that "rebuilding" teams are anxious to get rid of.

as i said on the other thread, i suspect that somewhere in his mind, isiah thought that marbury-francis-crawford = thomas-dumars-johnson....

Posted by: howard | Feb 22, 2006 11:15:50 PM

I like this deal a lot. As a Celtics fan.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida | Feb 23, 2006 12:53:46 AM

"so this deal really will impair the Knicks' ability to ever get under the cap"

I understand that this concept is eternally confusing, but the Knicks are not trying to ever get under the cap, nor should they.

As long as they always have an big expiring contract around, they can accomplish absolutely anything a team under the cap can accomplish. And Zeke has correctly staggered his expiring contracts - that was what the Davis-Rose deal was all about.

Like I said, I understand this concept is confusing, but it's pretty essential to understanding what's going on at MSG.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 1:13:17 AM

"Somecallmetim: can there possibly be another team in basketball that is interested in either francis or marbury? it is remarkable that isiah, while "rebuilding," keeps acquiring players that "rebuilding" teams are anxious to get rid of."

It is remarkable, and the key to understanding it is that Zeke has the only owner in the league willing to absorb unlimited amounts of luxury tax. Even Mark Cuban wasn't willing to match the Steve Nash contract due to tax issues - Cuban's willing to pay some luxury tax, but not unlimited amounts. But with Dolan, the sky is the limit.

In other words, there's no downside for Zeke to pick up Stevie Franchise if he thinks it'll put an interesting squad on the court this year and next year while Curry and Frye are developing. If the Marbury/Francis backcourt doesn't play out, there's no downside to just putting one of the two on the bench.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 1:31:52 AM

Or to put it another way, the model for the Knicks is the 90's Yankees: just keep leveraging the fact that you have considerably more dollars to spend than anyone else to keep acquiring talent that others are abandoning for money reasons, and let the money advantage gradually play itself out.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 1:40:05 AM

Yeah, that's not what happened with the 1990s Yankees. First they dumped all their overpaid, over-the-hill free agents from other teams. They were able to do that because Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball and unable to interfere by trading away their farm system all the time. Then they built up that farm system and developed some very, very good homegrown players: Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera. And only then did they go back to outspending everybody in the league, as much to keep their own guys as to get other people's. I'm not a Yankees fan, but it wasn't just a matter of them dumping out the dollars.

I don't see anything similar happening with the Knicks. They're more like the Yankees of the late 1980s, spending tons of money on high-priced, middling-talent, one-dimensional players and LOSING. Clearly they're not trying to get under the salary cap, but they don't have the young horses either. Curry is always hurt and gets pathetically few rebounds for a guy his size, and I've now seen Frye play live--he's a very good role player, but I don't think he's going to be a superstar.

Posted by: Alexander "Benjamins" Hamilton | Feb 23, 2006 2:48:07 AM

on paper a lineup of Curry, Frye, Rose, Francis, and Marbury actually looks like a pretty solid starting five

Howard alluded to it, but if you find losing 125-110 every night 'interesting', then yes. Petey, your theory would make a certain degree of sense if they were building a team that was a 'piece or two' away and they could trade 'expiring contract' for said piece, but they keep trading their expiring contracts for future expiring contracts. Of course, Enron showed us that you can trade anything and make a profit, at least on paper.

My only theory at this point is that Isaiah has some lingering Detroit love and doesn't want Matt Millen to look like the worst executive in sports.

Posted by: Pooh | Feb 23, 2006 3:33:05 AM

"I've now seen Frye play live--he's a very good role player, but I don't think he's going to be a superstar."

I agree that Frye's upside is likely limited, but it's still a bit early to tell for sure. And even if he's not a future superstar, he still has a decent chance at being a very valuable element.

"Curry is always hurt and gets pathetically few rebounds for a guy his size"

If money were not an issue (as it's not for the Knickerbockers), I think there are 30 teams who would love to have Eddy Curry. He's the best young center in the association.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 3:53:51 AM

"your theory would make a certain degree of sense if they were building a team that was a 'piece or two' away and they could trade 'expiring contract' for said piece, but they keep trading their expiring contracts for future expiring contracts."

Think of it this way: if the Wolves ever want to move Garnett, there are very few teams that could make a serious bid. And most of those teams would have to return equivalent value (aka the Celtics).

The Knicks are structured to permanently be able to make such a bid. This summer, I suspect a Jalen Rose + Channing Frye for Garnett deal will be bandied about.

If the Lakers were breaking up the Shaq/Kobe dynasty today instead of two years ago, who do you think would be able to put together a deal to land Shaquille? The Knicks would be first in line.

Because of the CBA, marquee names are more likely to move via sign and trade agreements rather than pure free agency. And the Knicks are structured to be ready to pick up those kinds of players when they (rarely) become available.

If anyone has a better idea of how to spend the Dolan Dollars to rebuild, I'd love to hear it.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 4:01:47 AM

Petey,

The Knicks are collecting more and more overpaid players. Which makes sense. An expiring contract is basically the right not to pay someone. If all you can offer is someone with an expiring contract, then all you're going to get is someone not worth the money he's being paid. That puts a real boundary on the type of player you can pick up. You aren't going to get superstars, because those types are worth the money they're paid. Garnett isn't going to the Knicks absent a seriously dickish move by Garnett. There aren't 15 players in the NBA that the Wolves couldn't get for Garnett.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 23, 2006 9:07:44 AM

"Garnett isn't going to the Knicks absent a seriously dickish move by Garnett. There aren't 15 players in the NBA that the Wolves couldn't get for Garnett."

I don't think you quite get the calculus involved.

If the Wolves were to trade Garnett, (which I think is about a 50/50 shot this offseason), what does Kevin McHale want?

Pierce makes a small amount of sense, but not a whole lot. And after that, there isn't any equivalent value around. So if you're not getting equivalent value, you're rebuilding. Tell me what makes more sense for the Wolves than Jalen Rose's expiring contract, Frye, a draft pick, and one more NBA ready player? The Knicks are one of the only teams in the league who can put together a deal like that without leaving the cupboard bare once Garnett arrives.

And if not Garnett, other marquee players become available from time to time.

At the end of the day, if you're not Joe Dumars, you need a superstar to contend for a title. And how do you pick up a superstar? Either you suck for a long time and hope to one day get very, very lucky in the lottery, or you play the Zeke strategy of always having the pieces to pick up a superstar when one comes onto the market.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 9:55:33 AM

Petey:

I'm starting to worry that we may have a moral obligation to stage an intervention. If I'm Minnesota, I don't want cap space, I want team-favorable long-term contracts. I have a strong preference for young players, but there are obvious exceptions. Below are a few deals I'd like better if I'm Minn. than anything the Knicks could propose. They are first-pass deals: only one other team, not much time spent thinking about them, and I'm sort of eyeballing information from ESPN's trade machine. That is, MN could do better than the below.

Yes
Clips: Kaman, Livingston, Maggette, Mobley, and a draft pick. All good players, none really overpaid. Kaman's a decent big man, and Livingston could turn into something special. Instant playoffs.

Memphis: Gasol, Miller, Jackson(or Battier) and a pick. Instant playoffs.

Houston: Yao, whomever else MN wants, and a pick. Valuable big man in his first max contract.

Maybes

NJ: Kidd and Jefferson for Garnett and Troy Hudson. NJ gets two superstars and MN gets guaranteed a playoff spot, even in the West.

Mil.: Redd, Bogut, and a pick. MN gets a very good scorer, a cheap big man (with the structural advantage in resigning him), and pick. MIL gets Ford + Garnett.

LA: Odom, Bynum, George and pick. MN gets a little cap relief (George), a promising big man, an underpaid facilitator to make their shooters happy, and a pick. LA gets to win the next three titles.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 23, 2006 10:55:37 AM

Of the top three:

Memphis and Houston almost definitely don't do those deals.

KG is 30, with questionable knees, and a godawful contract. Surrounding him with a lousy cast won't produce any better results than the Wolves have gotten.

I'd rather have Yao for sure, and if I'm running a bargain team like Memphis, I'd rather have Gasol.

The Wolves would do better with the Knicks than with the Clips deal. Livingston is nice, but his ceiling is lower than Frye's. And even though you don't get the logic, the Wolves would still rather have cap space than a bunch of role players.

As to whether the deal would make sense for the Clips, it's possible. But unless it's all about selling tickets, I think they'd probably decline.

---

As to the others:

NJ and Milwaukee both wouldn't make that deal for rather obvious reasons.

The Lakers are possible, since you could give away everyone but Kobe and still have a team. If the Wolves didn't like the Knicks offer, LA would be the obvious place to turn. That deal turns on whether you think Frye or Bynum is a better piece.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 11:18:22 AM

SCMT,

See, those "deals" are illustrations why the only possible equivalent value would be Pierce. And if Minny doesn't want Pierce, it becomes all about cap space, prospects, and picks. A rebuilding team subject to money constraints doesn't want a bunch of role players with LT contracts.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 11:24:35 AM

We really do need to stage an intervention. A McGrady/Garnett duo is almost as potent as a Kobe/Garnett duo. Gasol's not in the same league as Garnett, West loves major talent, and everyone else can be replaced with the sorts of finds West is best at. And Frye with a better ceiling than Livingston is a joke, unless you're factoring in Livingston's fragility.

The idea that NJ wouldn't make that deal is crazy - if anyone refuses, it's MN. Same with MIL.

I think you're really, really undervaluing Garnett's talent. Or you're crazy. That's a pick'em.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 23, 2006 11:37:47 AM

Petey,

You said, "I think there are 30 teams who would love to have Eddy Curry. He's the best young center in the association."

How old is Yao Ming again?

Posted by: Steve | Feb 23, 2006 11:43:45 AM

Yao is two years older than Curry. Amare Stoudemire, however, is just about exactly the same age.

Posted by: Alexander "Benjamins" Hamilton | Feb 23, 2006 12:15:43 PM

"I think you're really, really undervaluing Garnett's talent."

I love KG's talent.

However, I don't think you're factoring in his age, his knees, and the size of his contract. Talent is but one factor of many in doing NBA deals.

Do you notice how I keep saying that there's almost no place Minny can get equivalent value? That's because KG's trade value is far below his talent value.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 12:32:02 PM

Steve & Alexander,

Point taken.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 12:33:02 PM

I'm not a big Minnesota fan, so I haven't followed KG super-closely, but I'm not aware of him missing any games with knee problems. He's 30, which puts him in his prime. I think he's still got 3-4 MVP-level seasons left. Yes, there's that contract, but he's one of about 5 guys who's worth that kind of cash.

Posted by: Steve | Feb 23, 2006 12:38:01 PM

"I'm not aware of him missing any games with knee problems."

Missing games is not the issue.

"He's 30, which puts him in his prime."

Which also means the acquiring team can't clear its cupboard bare in doing the deal, otherwise they won't have enough time to reload before he starts his decline.

"Yes, there's that contract, but he's one of about 5 guys who's worth that kind of cash."

Whether he's "worth" the money or not is completely irrelevant. If you're a team like Memphis that's trying to operate on a relatively low budget, you simply can't afford his contract. Unless, of course, you're planning on surrounding him with subpar players - in which case, he's worthless anyway.

Unless you're a team that's willing to run an above cap budget, and probably end up paying some luxury tax, KG's contract simply isn't going to make much sense.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 12:48:44 PM

According to hoopshype.com, Memphis has the seventh largest budget in the NBA.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Feb 23, 2006 12:58:26 PM

"According to hoopshype.com, Memphis has the seventh largest budget in the NBA."

Take those hoopshype figures with a bucketful of salt.

According to those figures, the Sixers budget this year is over $80m. However, the luxury tax threshold is $60m and the Sixers are not paying luxury tax this year.

I'm not enough of an NBA geek to know why the figures are wrong.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 23, 2006 1:15:58 PM

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