Obviously much more to be said about this one if it happens, but on paper it’s a weird one. Boozer’s a good player, but he’s a #2 or #3 player on a title contender- and as a #1, he’s the kind of player who makes you just good enough to never get the draft pick you need to have a real #1 player. Also, stats- pick the player:
Player A: 0.34 2-year, A+/- PER last three years of 24.1, 21.9, 17.2.
Player B: -1.32 2-year A+/-, PER last three years of 20.2, 18.0, 19.0.
A is Boozer and B is Lee; throw in that Lee is younger and cheaper, and I’m not entirely clear how much (if any) of an upgrade this even would be. Maybe it’s best explained as a shell game move- use the Booze to make the Knicks passable this year and keep (some) fans (a little) happy, and then use his expiring deal as part of whatever arcane 2010 machinations are afoot. As for Utah’s end, search me; don’t they already have a Paul Millsap?
A couple of things to be said about this one. First and most obviously: the Corey Bookers and such of the world really need to give it up. Ratner et al. Have put far, far too much time and money and energy into this deal to allow the Brooklyn move to fall apart so long as they have any influence or control on the matter whatsoever. I’ll not pretend to be unbiased on this one as a Brooklyn guy, but still. Secondly- one of the reasons I remain so frustrated and frankly irritated by the way finances are discussed at Arsenal is because I come from a sporting culture here in the US where intimate details of the financial dealings of various teams are reported as a matter of course for their interest to fans, and addressed as such by team personnel. There’s not the tendency to treat routine financial issues as state secrets and no real attempts to lie to fans other than boilerplate encouraging talk from some cost-cutting teams, which is accepted as part of doing business without being taken seriously. Name me an NBA franchise and I can probably give you a reasonable approximation of their financial perspective as it impacts on their competitive efforts, and that includes teams like the Bucks or the Grizzlies about whom I could not give the least part of a care. With Arsenal we can’t even guess the budget, “we” being even the most obsessive of fans. It’s a fucked up state of affairs.
No, I’m not dead. I had a planned holiday posting break which was interrupted by Arsenal being Arsenal, and there was supposed to be a long post on that team and its situation up last week which got shitcanned because I read it back and realized it was probably more depressed and depressing than was warranted. As is probably clear, they’re slowly driving me mad. Still, you know what they say: when sports depress you and life hands you lemons, throw them at the Knicks.
I’m not sure if I’m getting back to watch them at a good time or not. On the one hand, I’m glad I didn’t write much during that ugly six game losing streak; on the other hand, I’m back in time for the season debut of Eddy Curry. More on him below. For this game alone, oddly, I think both teams can be relatively happy with the result and this certainly wasn’t a bad performance by the Knicks. The best elements were that they managed to go to a good team’s home floor and play their game more or less, and lead most of the way until things melted down latish; they also put on a fine defensive performance in using a variety of double teams, semi-zones and strange matchups in order to frustrate Jason Kidd for stretches and Dirk Nowitzki for almost the whole of the game. More on that below as well. The take away for the future is hopefully some greater confidence on that half of the floor; it’s not exactly easy to comprehensively clown a former MVP like that. many of the other indicators were good as well: this one was a jump shooting contest for much of the way, and the Knicks simply got outshot late, had a few bad turnovers from young players like Wilson Chandler, and gave up a few too many free throws. Sometimes that’ll happen; and the team really deserves credit for even making it that sort of game. They essentially battled Dallas to a deadlock on rebounding (+1, +1 on the offensive end) and turnovers (-2), and given that they trail Dallas by 20 places in team rebounding rate and 16 in turnovers per game, that’s an achievement. With a youngish team like the Knicks which is still adjusting to a new coach/system/teammates, it’s those kind of indicators which I like to see- at least in theory, as they adjust and grow more comfortable their season-to-date stats should lag their current ability somewhat. When you find that, it’s reason to feel that team is on an upswing even if it’s not exactly reflected yet in results or an easy progressive relationship.
– The refs are not the reason the Knicks lost this game. Let’s get that said. They were, however, utterly balls on this night. The highlights included a variety of uncalled bodychecks including a notable one in the second half on David Lee; Nate Robinson getting away with some real flopping; a very odd traveling call on Lee where he was tied up, and the only possible legit calls were either a foul or jumpball; and worst of all a bizarre non-call of goaltending on a Wilson Chandler fingeroll thing which probably fell a good foot before it was touched. This was a very, very bad night for a Dick Bavetta crew, and the only visible repercussions for anyone resulting from this was a technical on Mike D’Antoni for a justifiable exercise in vituperation. Stuff like this drives fans nuts. It wasn’t biased, it was just flagrantly bad work.
– The Knicks did a variety of fun things on defense. The constant denial of the ball to Nowitzki with instant doubles and such was pretty standard, but they threw in a clevar wrinkle of putting Jared Jefferies on Jason Kidd at times, baiting him into the pass to Dirk to exploit a mismatch, instantly doubling Jefferies to Dirk, and daring Kidd to shoot. Ason picked it up late, but for most fo the first half he was a brick factory, and the strategy looked pretty clever. It’s basically a gimmick that won’t work in many cases, but it’s one of those things to keep in mind when you hear people say that Mike D’Antoni can’t or won’t coach defense.
– The Knicks also seemed to be playing some of that floating crypto-zone they employ at times, but changing it slightly to sag a lot of guys into the paint. Dallas are not a great shooting team (24th in 3pt%, 17th in TS%), and I’m assuming this was a deliberate tactic to bait Dallas into mediocre shots and equalize the rebounding numbers. It worked.
– Speaking of Nowitzki, ye gods. 38 MPs, 3-13, 10 points, 7 boards, 7 assists, -1 by Yahoo’s boxscore. If anything this gives him too much credit, as he was utterly invisable until the 4th quarter.
– It is, however, a very good sign for Dallas that so many of their lesser lights stepped up in this game- in particular James Singleton (8 boards, good D) and Brandon Bass (12 points, 11 boards/5 offensive, 4 blocks). Bass is having a bit of a down year statistically, but he looked as good as I’ve ever seen him tonight. Yes, it’s against the Knicks, but still.
– So, what about Eddy Cameo? Well, he’s still huge and slow, but he did seem to be giving much much more effort than he did at almost any point of last season which can only be a good thing. Offensively he looked good on his only shot, nimbly stepping out to catch and entry lob and quickly turning for a lay in. Defensively… lord have mercy. He’s obviously still not got all of his lift back (your joke goes here) and he was trying so I don’t want to hammer him too hard, but that was ROUGH. Yahoo has him at -9, the second worst figure on the team for the game in 2:38 of PT, and a decent Knicks lead totally evaporated while he was out there. He’s very slow to rotate, guys blow past him, and he can’t get up to challenge shots at all, none of which is new, but this was bad even by his previous standards. Time will tell what he can do with both motivation and working knees, we hope anyway.
– The first shot of the game was a David Lee jumper from the baseline about 4 seconds gone. It missed. 82 games has him taking 30% of his shots as Js with a 33 eFG%. I love big Dave and all, but this is no buys.
Knick of the Game: David Lee
Man of the Match: Brandon Bass