The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

You Say Bender, I Say Bendtner, Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off

I suppose I should say something about the Knicks signing Jonathan Bender, given that I am a sometime Knicks blogger and all. So, uh… something.

Actually, seriously, to me this signing is only meaningful as it highlights the categorization of GM moves in basketball, in which any given action can fall into one of the following four broad zones:

Good Moves

Things which are just unassailably, obviously correct maneuvers. Drafting Tim Duncan or LeBron James #1 overall falls here.

Bad Moves

The Isiah Thomas zone, AKA the Kevin McHale zone, AKA the Bruce Ratner zone, etc. etc.

Arguable Moves

80% or so of all transactions lie here, the place where it could work if, it would have worked but for, it’ll pay off in 3 years probably, and it-was-too-good-to-pass-up happen. In Knicks terms trying to negotiate a long term deal for David Lee or Nate would be this sort of move, something which could be a useful part of a long term plan but is not the keystone upon which that plan rests. These are discretionary judgment calls, and unless you’re dealing with a man of incredible luck or towering incompetence these are the moves by which a GM is evaluated.

Doesn’t Really Matter Moves

This is where a signing like Bender falls. Yeah, maybe he could come back and be a semi-competent backup forward at a low cost; more likely, after three years in retirement due to injury he’ll never be an NBA caliber player again. But much like having Allen Houston hanging around training camp there’s neither a big payoff nor a real risk to making a move like this, so it falls under the category of letting your GM tinker because hey, why not? Bender always seemed like a really nice guy and he’s obviously motivated to try this, so it can’t hurt much to let him have a go- worst case scenario he’ll be another warm body in practice. To me, moves like this are really only notable for two reasons: sometimes they’re a favor to an agent which can pay off later; and sometimes you’ll find certain people who OBSESS about these kinds of moves, as though they somehow represented the only chance to improve a team, and if Walsh is doing this is clearly means he’s lost the plot and has no idea how to improve the team in other ways. Light the torches, it’s time to drive Count Walshenstein from Castle Squaregarden. Moves like this are thus useful to a fanbase, as they quickly let you know who to stop paying attention to.

So yeah, best wishes to Jonathan Bender on this one. Can’t say I expect it to work out, but I’d love to be wrong. There’s always the chance that if some of his athleticism remains he could yet carve out a niche as a long stopper on D. And if not, he can rest assured he gave it his best go and the Knicks can be the organization which gave him the chance instead of the organization of Truck Party.

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December 14, 2009 - Posted by | The NY Knicks

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