Oh, The Warriors
As Capital-F Fucking Depressing as I find the Knicks, they do have one thing going for them right now: the phone number of the Golden State Warriors. What the shit is that trade, I ask you? For the Knicks I love it to pieces, and for the Warriors, well… for a fun trivia fact, this trade means that the top 2 PER-producers on an offense-first team last year, Corey Maggette and Anthony Randolph, have since both been exiled from GS. Maggette was signed to a five year deal two years ago and then moved out, and Randolph was only 20 and had played only 2 seasons in the L. Excellent long term planning! Anyway….
For the Knicks: Ronny Turiaf is basically a completely acceptable backup big man bench fodder, a solid guy to have and the kind who could end up flipped to a contender for a draft pick bribe under the right circumstances. New York will love him for his energy if nothing else. Azubuike is almost the equivalent in the backcourt in terms of value, a young (26) roughly average offensive performer with one clear skill in his shooting (career .557 TS%, .409 3PT%) which will make him a fine fit for Dan Tony’s system. The gem here is Randolph. It boggles my mind that the Warriors were willing to give this man up in this trade, both on his own account and for reasons we’ll get into on the Warriors’ side of the ledger.
The book on Randolph is that he is in some ways now what Derrick Favors might be in a couple of years: a 6′ 11 stick insect of a 20 year old with great athleticism, strong defense, limited offensive ideas and more potential than realized ability. And yet… PER exists to be a measure of nothing but offensive performance + blocks + steals, and Randolph finished 12th among power forwards in that measure between David West and LaMarcus Aldridge, so he must be doing something right. He’s shown overall progression since entering the league with his PER, TS%, FT%, Assist ratio, and turnovers all improving from one year to the next; his rebound rate has dropped, but there’s no reason to think it’s an issue so much as a blip given that his underlying athleticism is the same. It’s far from certain what he may end up developing into over time, but given the Knicks’ athletic, up-and-down board-and-go style, he’s a very useful 4 alongside Amare as an undersized 5 since his shotblocking can help make up some on defense and his above-average rebounding can pick up for STAT, cut down on second chance opportunities at the rim and ignite the break. Best of all for a bad non-contender like the Knicks he’s only 20 and has both room to improve and a proven history of being able to do so despite being coached into oblivion by Don Nelson’s Indifference; he’s one of the very few players under contract with the Knicks right now who could be a player on the next Knicks contender- in theory. I like him. There’s a reason why Warriors fans and media are not happy about his leaving.
For the Insufficiently Ultimate Warriors: Dummies, you already HAD one of these- named Andris Biedrins. I recognize that he’s had some injury issues and he’s actually under contract with the Warriors which means he sucks in their eyes now, but come on: He’s 23, Lee is 27; his career PER is 16.9, Lee’s is 19.5; Lee has a reputation as Godawful on defense which isn’t far wide of the mark, while Biedrins is at least solid; Lee’s career rebound rate is 18.2, Biedrins’ is 18.4. Lee is probably the overall better player, but he costs you 13 million a year plus Anthony Randolph plus two solid role players, while Biedrins was already under contract for 4 more years at 9 million per. They can’t play together at all given size, floor spacing and athleticism issues, which combined with the return of Brandan Wright from injury probably means Biedrins is going to be traded if they can find a taker at the low point of his value for probably 50% of what he’s worth. It’s the same old thing for the Warriors: they never like the players they have, they change their minds constantly, they make move after move to get marginal upgrades on players they already had, and then they ruin whatever’s left over by putting the resulting gumbo under the control of the NBA’s Raymond Domenech. It amazes me that they persist with this.
I like Lee as a player, but he’s just not a centerpiece on a title team, in fact isn’t really a center although he’ll be back in the middle out west it seems. It can be defensible to give up so much for a marginal upgrade if you think that’s what’s required to get you over the hump and the upgrade is from “star” to “superstar”, but this is an upgrade from “solid role player big” to “marginal star” for a team which isn’t even in sight of the hump, much less over it. A prediction: Lee was brought in to run the S&R with Stephan Curry, an offensive plan which makes overrated headcase and former franchise centerpiece Monta Ellis expendable; Ellis, along with Biedrins, will both be traded by this time next summer completely wiping out the last Golden State plan for the future, which itself only lasted a season or two after it replaced the Baron Davis plan. I give the Lee/Curry plan 3 years, tops.
Anyway: overall, a real win for the Knicks who move on a piece they had no intentions of keeping, pick up some solid guys to fill out the roster and a very intriguing prospect, and preserved flexibility to do something else, though God knows what.
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