The 2008-09 season was supposed to be a fresh start for the Knicks. They had finally fired Isiah Thomas and parted ways with Stephon Marbury. Donnie Walsh had been brought in to right the ship and he lured Mike D’Antoni away from Phoenix to coach the team. Walsh had a top six pick in the 2009 draft and selected intriguing sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari.
That Knicks team started off hot (yes, hovering around .500 for the first few weeks of the season equates to “hot” for a franchise that hadn’t won a single playoff game since Bill Clinton was in office). Alas, it wasn’t meant to be as Walsh traded away the team’s most expensive/productive players (Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph) in order to clear space to make a run at LeBron James in 2010. Those Knicks missed the playoffs again and finished with a 32-50 record that season.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Shockingly, despite a recent three-game winning streak, the Knicks are on pace for the worst season in franchise history.
The Knicks haven’t tallied a high number of wins (in fact, dating back 2001, the Knicks have lost 638 games, which is the most in the NBA over the last 13-plus seasons); however, New York has been prolific in another department: An NBA-high 87 players have suited up for the Knicks since the start of the 2008-09 season.
Back in the peak of the lunacy which was “The Summer of LeBron,” Will Leitch of New York Magazine painstakingly listed every player who that the pleasure of playing for the Knicks since the day LeBron James entered the NBA.
It made Knicks fans sigh, shrug and smile.
Well, Knicks fans have no choice but to smile at their plight this season. Unfortunately, they’ve become accustomed and conditioned to it.
So, as the Knicks are about to “start fresh” and once again hit the reset button, I thought it was high time to renew a proud tradition. Below I have dutifully listed every player to put on Knicks uniform since their previous “fresh start,” back in the fall of 2008.
* Quincy Acy:
Doesn’t play a ton, but plays hard when he’s on the floor, so he stands out. In fact, he was serenaded with loud MVP chants while he was at the free throw line during a blow out loss to the Hornets earlier this month (a game in which the Knicks trailed by as many as 45 points in the middle of the third quarter).
* Cole Aldrich:
Currently ranks third highest in PER among Knicks this season. Think about that for a second.
* Lou Amundson:
One of only two active players to have played for at least 10 different NBA teams.
* Carmelo Anthony:
The Knicks traded half their team to acquire him in February of 2011 and signed the 30-year Anthony to a $124 million contract this past summer (despite the fact no other team could offer more than $97 million). He has played absolutely brilliantly at times during his tenure in New York, but the fact remains: The Knicks have won one playoffs series and a grand total of seven playoffs games in his five seasons with the club.
* Renaldo Balkman:
Knicks GM Isiah Thomas drafted Balkman with the 20th overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft (Rajon Rondo was taken with the next pick – No. 21 overall). Last we heard from Balkman, he was banned for life from the Philippines Basketball Association after choking a teammate.
* Andrea Bargnani:
In what will go down as one of the worst trades in Knicks’ franchise history, New York traded a first-round pick and two second-round selections (along with Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and Quentin Richardson) to Toronto for Bargnani prior to the start of 2013-14 season. The results have been beyond disastrous. How angry/frustrated are Knicks fans? Last Monday at MSG, the Knicks put up baby pictures of various Knicks on the jumbotron. Well, as soon as Bargnani’s baby picture was posted on the big screen, boos rang out inside MSG. Yes, they booed a baby Bargs!
* Earl Barron:
The only player on this list that averaged a double-double in his Knicks career! Yes, Barron played in the final seven games of the 2009-10 season and averaged 11.7 points and 11.0 rebounds in those seven contests.
A knee injury effectively ended the former Pacers career in 2006, but after a three year hiatus, he returned to appear 25 games for the 2009-10 Knicks. Walsh drafted him in Indiana and gave him an opportunity to come back to the league with N.Y., but Bender couldn’t overcome his debilitating injuries. “I’ve never drafted a player with more potential. I can tell you that without even thinking about it,” Walsh was quoted as saying about Bender.
* Mike Bibby:
The estranged son of former Knick Henry Bibby, a past-his-prime Mike played the final season of his career in New York.
* Chauncey Billups:
Came over with Carmelo in the blockbuster deadline deal in February of 2011, and played well for New York before hurting himself in Game 1 of the Knicks first-round series vs. the Celtics. Billups may be best remembered by Knicks fans as being the player New York had to burn their amnesty clause on in order to create the cap space to sign Tyson Chandler. Many fans bemoaned the fact that this move prevented New York from amnestying Amar’e Stoudemire.
* Ronnie Brewer:
Knicks fans were initially excited that N.Y. was able to snag Brewer for just the veteran’s minimum in 2012. He won the starting shooting guard spot but ended up shooting just 36 percent from the floor and 41 percent from the free-throw stripe in the 46 games he played for the Knicks.
* Derrick Brown:
Raymond Felton (before things soured) recommend the Knicks take a flier on his former Bobcat teammate, Derrick Brown. The Knicks claimed him off waivers and Brown saw spot duty over the final eight games of the 2010-11 campaign.
* Jose Calderon:
Over his first 11 years in the NBA, Calderon’s career cumulative FG percentage stood at 48 percent, and he had never shot below 42 percent from the floor in any one season. Calderon is currently shooting 39 percent from the floor. The Knicks owe him $15.2 million over the next two seasons. And Tyson Chandler, the player they gave away to get Calderon, is averaging a double-double and shooting better than 67 percent from the floor for Dallas.
* Marcus Camby:
A cult hero during his first stint with the Knicks, he helped carry an undermanned squad all the way to the NBA Finals in 1999. In July of 2012, New York traded away two second-round picks to acquire re-acquire Camby in a sign-and-trade. He played in three games for the Knicks in the 2012-13 season, before they traded him away in the Bargnani deal.
* Anthony Carter:
Knicks were so depleted at PG during his stint in NYC that he played significant minutes in 2011 playoffs for New York, despite the fact he was nearly 36 years old.
* Tyson Chandler:
First Knick to ever win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Chandler was the heart and soul of the team and the Knicks most valuable player when he was completely healthy. Unfortunately, it seemed like he was always sidelined by one ailment or another during the Knicks’ postseason runs. He was dumped onto Dallas this past summer and is unsurprisingly bouncing back with a terrific all-around season for the Mavericks.
* Wilson Chandler:
One of the gaggle of goods the Knicks had to part with in order to pry Anthony from Denver. Ill Will has always possessed an enticing ceiling, but hasn’t been able to maximize that potential, even now in his eighth season.
* Earl Clark:
The former lottery pick and New Jersey native appeared in nine games for the Knicks last year and is playing in China this season.
* Chris Copeland:
Copeland was toiling in obscurity (playing in Belgium from 2010 through 2012) before earning a spot on the Knicks’ roster after a strong showing in the 2012 Summer League. After strong rookie campaign in New York, the Indiana Pacers signed him to a two-year $6.1 million offer sheet that the Knicks declined to match.
* Mardy Collins:
First round pick of the Knicks that never quite lived up to the Walt Clyde Frazier comparisons some attached to him coming out of Temple.
* Joe Crawford:
Jordan Crawford’s brother played 23 minutes in two games in 2009.
* Jamal Crawford:
The Knicks had very few good players and even fewer exciting players during the depths of darkness that were the mid-2000’s. Crawford was the exception, with his dynamic handle and superlative shooting touch. He was allergic to defense, but he at least gave fans something to cheer about on the offensive end.
* Eddy Curry:
Not only did Isiah Thomas overpay Eddy Curry by signing him to a six-year, $56 million contract, Thomas also overpaid to get him. As part of a sign-and-trade with Chicago, he traded away two UNPROTECTED future lottery picks: a 2006 first round pick, which was used to select LaMarcus Aldridge, and a 2007 first-round pick that was eventually used to select Joakim Noah. It’s torturous for Knicks fans to think about, but how different might the Knicks now look if Thomas hadn’t pulled the trigger on this trade?
* Samuel Dalembert:
Slammin’ Sammy was brought to replace the huge hole in the middle left by the departed Tyson Chandler. Phil Jackson tried to trade Dalembert early and often over the first few months of the season. Eventually Jackson swallowed millions and just waived him. Nobody claimed Dalembert off waivers.
* Baron Davis:
Davis’ most memorable moment as a Knick? Perhaps: “Baron Davis Says He Wasn’t Making A Smoking Gesture When He Made That Smoking Gesture”
* Toney Douglas:
When asked how he might adjust to NBA play, Douglas replied that, among other things, he’d simply “Do what Toney Douglas do“.
* Chris Duhon:
Pop quiz, hotshot: Who holds the franchise record for most assists ever in one game by a Knickerbocker? Yup, you guessed it.
* Cleanthony Early:
There will be very, very little for Knicks fans to be get excited about in the second half of this disastrous 2014-15 season. Watching Early play 30+ minutes a night and finding out if he has a future as an NBA rotation player may literally be the only thing to look forward to.
* Raymond Felton:
Felton played well for the Knicks for the first half of 2010 season under head coach Mike D’Antoni. Then Felton was traded to Denver in the Anthony deal. Then Felton got fat during the lockout and showed up in Portland out of shape. Then the Knicks traded a 2016 2nd round pick and the rights to current Houston Rockets rookie Kostas Papanikolaou to Portland in a sign-and-trade to bring Felton back to New York, signing him to a four-year, $14.9 million deal in the process. Then Brooklyn rapper Fabolous rapped about Felton cheating on his wife. Then Felton’s estranged wife purportedly brought Felton’s Belgian-made semiautomatic handgun to the 20th Precinct station house. Then the Knicks traded Felton again.
* Landry Fields:
It appeared the Knicks had struck gold with Fields. An unheralded second-round pick, Fields earned Rookie of the Month honors twice in his rookie season and was named to the NBA All-Rookie team. Once he became a free agent, it actually wasn’t the Knicks that overpaid him (to his credit, Landry was always a good sport). Instead, in a perplexing turn of events, the Toronto Raptors signed Fields to a ridiculous $19 million contract simply to prevent the Knicks signing Steve Nash, who actually ended up on the Los Angeles Lakers. Fields, who is being paid over $6 million annually, has knocked down a grand total of three three-pointers in his three seasons with the Raps.
* Dan Gadzuric:
Another player who played his final NBA game in a Knicks uniform. Gadzuric appeared in two games in 2012.
* Danilo Gallinari:
Try NOT to smile while watching Gallinari sing “Halo” by Beyonce.
* Langston Galloway:
Poured in 21 points and grabbed five rebounds in his first career start last week. Per the Elias Sports Bureau: Galloway is the fifth Knicks player since 1970-71 to score 20+ points and grab at least five rebounds in his first career NBA start. The other Knicks to do this are Dean Meminger (1971), Henry Bibby (1974), Bill Cartwright (1979) and Channing Frye (2005)
* J.R. Giddens:
Played his final NBA game in 2010, for the Knicks.
* Tim Hardaway Jr.:
Many were hoping Hardaway would take the “next step” this year; instead, his FG%, three-point % and FT% all dropped in his second NBA season. And his defense hasn’t gotten any better, either.
* Josh Harrellson:
Went by the nickname “Jorts” because he wore jean shorts. He also once stunk up Bill Walker’s car.
* Al Harrington:
Amazingly, Harrington cost the Knicks two wins in one week by getting called for technical fouls because he hung on the rim. Twice!!
* Jordan Hill:
Donnie Walsh selected Hill No. 8 overall in the 2009 NBA draft. That was one spot after the Warriors selected Stephen Curry, and one spot before the Raptors selected DeMar DeRozan. Hill was dumped in a cap-clearing trade halfway through his rookie season in order to create the cap space needed to make a run at LeBron in 2010.
* Eddie House:
Here’s an Eddie House Tribute video.
* Larry Hughes:
Just one of many, many players on this list to have earned more than $12 million in one year to play basketball (not very well) for the Knicks.
* Jerome James:
No “Worst Contracts in Sports History” article will ever be complete with the inclusion of Jerome James. In 2004-05, James, a middling journeyman center, averaged 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds for the Seattle Supersonics, but had a strong showing in the playoffs. It was enough to get Thomas to sign him to a five-year, $30 million dollar contract. James appeared in a total of four games over the final three years of that deal (while pocketing a cool $18 million)
* Jared Jeffries:
Per Wikipedia: In 2014, Jeffries began hosting ‘Modern Fishing with Jared Jeffries,’ a fishing television series on the Outdoor Channel.
* Jerome Jordan:
A backup big for the Knicks in 2011-12, Jordan is now a back up big for the Brooklyn Nets.
* Solomon Jones:
I don’t remember this, but the internets say he started a single game for the Knicks in the 2012-13 season. He never actually scored a point as a member of the Knicks.
* Jason Kidd:
Whenever he became a free agent at any point in his career, Kidd would flirt with the Knicks every summer in order to drive up his asking price, before eventually signing elsewhere. Until, that is, the final year of his career. On July 5, 2012, Kidd signed with the Knicks. The next week, he was arrested for DWI after he crashed his car into a Cablevision pole in the Hamptons. He actually played very well early in his lone season in New York, but ran out of gas down the stretch. Kidd failed to score a single point his final 10 games as Knick (all playoff games), which turned out to be the final 10 games of his illustrious, Hall-of-Fame career. He was 0-for-17 from the floor in those 10 contests.
* Marcus Landry:
Carl Landry’s brother was the 15th man on the Knicks roster in 2009-10.
* Shane Larkin:
Knicks fans were jazzed the Knicks snagged the young Larkin in the deal with the Mavs, as he offered some youth and upside. Then the Knicks announced they weren’t going to pick up his option for the 2015-16 season.
* David Lee:
On the right team he would have been the consummate blue-collar, role player. On the Knicks, he was a focal point of the offense and put up big numbers on bad teams. To his credit, he used his time in New York to improve his game (foul shooting climbed from 58 percent to 82% percent and he developed a reliable jump shot) and in 2010 he became the first Knick named to the All-Star team in nearly a decade (Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell in 2001).
* Jeremy Lin:
True Story: I once had the privilege of interviewing Legendary Knicks PG and broadcaster Walt Clyde Frazier and I asked him what was the loudest he’d ever heard the Garden. His immediate response: “Linsanity.” I pressed him and playfully reminded of Willis Reed walking out of the tunnel before Game 7, and Larry Johnson’s four-point play etc. Clyde repeated his answer assertively and without hesitation: “Linsanity. Unequivocally.”
* Kenyon Martin:
Martin tormented and bullied the Knicks for years as a member of the Nets. He spent parts of two seasons playing in New York, and was actually relatively effective when healthy.
* Roger Mason Jr:
* Tracy McGrady:
A once great NBA player. The Knicks traded for him solely for his expiring contract in February of 2010. He wasn’t great for the Knicks. Last we heard, he was playing minor league baseball.
* Darko Milicic:
The player selected ahead of Melo, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the 2003 NBA Draft is now a kickboxer.
* Timofey Mozgov:
After the Anthony blockbuster was consummated, rumors circulated that Walsh was unwilling to include Mozgov in the package, which led to Jim Dolan stepping in and overriding Walsh. Dolan wanted Anthony desperately and wasn’t going to allow Mozgov to be the deal breaker. Dolan and Walsh’s relationship may have never recovered. The Nuggets just recently dealt to Mozgov to the Cavs in exchange for two first-round draft picks.
* Toure’ Murry:
At one point, the Knicks had two players with apostrophes in their first name on the same team!
* Demetris Nichols:
The former Syracuse Orangeman played briefly for the Knicks in 2009. Last we heard, he was playing in Russia.
* Steve Novak:
Exploded on the scene in 2011 after the Knicks signed him off the scrap heap prior to the start of the season. Novak led the NBA in three-point shooting that season and signed a $15 million contract the following offseason. For a minute there, he had all of New York doing the “Discount Double Check” after hitting three-pointers in their rec league games.
* Pablo Prigioni:
Knocked down three three-pointers and tallied a total of 14 points in the Knicks’ Game 6 series-clinching victory over the Boston Celtics in 2013. This is the first and only time the Knicks won a playoff series in the last 15 years.
* Zach Randolph:
Starbury was really, really, really excited when the Thomas traded for Z-Bo. However, this clip succinctly sums up Randolph’s stint with the Knicks.
* Anthony Randolph:
Randolph was acquired as part of the deal that sent David Lee to Golden State. He was 20 years old at the time of the trade and his “potential” and “athleticism” was referenced anytime you heard his name. After languishing on D’Antoni’s bench for half a season, he was shipped to Minnesota as part of the three-team trade featuring [Carmelo] Anthony.
* Andy Rautins:
Became BFF’s with Ladry Fields and co-starred in the “Landry and Andy Show.”
* Quentin Richardson:
Knicks fans liked Q-Rich because Q-Rich hated Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
* Malik Rose:
Reportedly once fought Nate Robinson in the shower over a football bet. Rose hated losing, thus did not fit in well the 2008-09 Knicks.
* Anthony Roberson:
Played well in summer league. For some reason, Knicks offered him a two-year deal. He did not play well after summer league ended.
* Nate Robinson:
We all have our favorite “Nate moment.” It seems unfair to pick just one. But, I suppose this is as good as any: “Nate Robinson shoots on wrong basket, D’Antoni snaps”.
* Sergio Rodriguez:
Nicknamed “Spanish Chocolate”.
* Cheikh Samb:
Once a Knick, Always a Knick.
* Mouhamed Sene:
Per Wikipedia: “Mouhamed Sene is cited in the TV show One Tree Hill as the player who was drafted instead of Nathan Scott after his accident.”
* Iman Shumpert:
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that Knicks fans fell head over heels for Shumpert right off the bat. He cried uncontrollably when he realized his dream of getting drafted. He then greatly exceeded expectations his rookie year, averaging 9.5 points per game and playing ferocious defense. He had cool hair, wrote a theme song for the team (#KnicksTape), played with an edge and a swagger and defended with a toughness that reminded fans of the Knicks squads from the 90’s (which is the quickest way to Knicks fans’ hearts). Alas, for a number of different reasons, he never reached his potential in NYC and was shipped out with J.R. Smith in a cap clearing move earlier this month (after the Knicks decided NOT to trade him the prior season – when they likely could have received a first round pick in return)
* Courtney Sims:
Once a Knick, Always a Knick
* J.R. Smith:
Man, Swish’s era in NYC deserves its own 30-for-30 documentary. It’s impossible to encapsulate the Smith experience in just a line or two. Netw3rk penned a poignant goodbye letter that sums up why NYC loved (and hated) J.R.
* Chris Smith:
Even by Knicks standards, this was truly bizarre. New York was reportedly investigated for potentially circumventing the salary cap (a kick back to brother J.R. and CAA management?) by giving a valuable roster spot to J.R.’s little bro.
* Jason Smith:
Blocked a Josh Smith dunk attempt earlier this season.
* Amar’e Stoudemire:
Walsh wanted LeBron, but had to settle for STAT, who proclaimed “The Knicks are back!” upon his NYC arrival. Stoudemire was a beast during the first few months of his Knicks career, at one point scoring at least 30 points in a club record nine straight games. Stoudemire garnered NBA Player of the Month honors in December of 2010, when he averaged a whopping 29.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, while shooting better than 53 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free-throw line. MVP chants rang out inside MSG on a nightly basis. As we know, his body eventually betrayed him and the Knicks were stuck with an albatross contract.
* Kurt Thomas:
A throwback to the beloved 90’s Knicks. Long live the “Kurt Thomas Game”
* Tim Thomas:
He once wore two headbands at the same time. Sadly, he didn’t do that while playing in New York.
* Lance Thomas:
The Brooklyn-born power forward is currently on his second 10-day contract with the team.
* Ronny Turiaf:
Every teams needs a guy that is wildly animated on the bench.
* Jeremy Tyler:
Played 41 games for the Kniks in 2013-14, currently playing for Shanxi Zhongyu of China.
* Beno Udrih:
Mike Woodson crazily blamed Udrih for a wild J.R. Smith three-point attempt, which birthed the hashtag “#BlameBeno”
* Bill Walker:
Why you should feel sorry for Knicks fans, reason No. 3,876: There was a good six months there when NY fans had to try and convince themselves that Bill Walker was pretty good and could be a solid role player if the Knicks built up the rest of their roster.
* Rasheed Wallace:
Will be forever fondly remembered for inventing the now ubiquitous “Three To The Dome.” He also gave the Garden faithful an epic “Ball Don’t Lie!” As an added bonus, he scared Woody.
* James “Flight” White:
Knicks fans thought they had the 2013 Dunk Contest locked up when the team signed him for the 2012-13 season, but White didn’t even make it out of the first round of the contest.
* Chris Wilcox:
Played a nondescript 30 games in the lost 2008-09 campaign.
* Shawne Williams:
Out of the league in 2009, ‘Extra E’ returned to the NBA and revitalized his career shooting corner 3’s for Coach D’Antoni in 2010, averaging a career-high 7.1 ppg.
* Sheldon Williams:
“The Landlord” was traded to NY in the Melo blockbuster.
* Travis Wear:
As an undrafted free agent who was seventh on his college team (UCLA) in scoring during his senior season and only played in two summer league games, Wear most certainly took the road less travelled to the NBA.
* Metta World Peace:
Knicks fans were furious and heartbroken when the Knicks took Frederic Weis over Artest with the 15th pick in the 1999 NBA Draft (including Artest, who was wearing Knicks shorts underneath his suit that day). So, everybody was excited when the New York native formerly known as Ron Artest (and now known as Panda’s Friend) signed on to play in his hometown. He took the F train from Queens to MSG for the Knicks home- opener in 2013. The relationship eventually soured and the Knicks bought-out World Peace, who is now playing in China with stuffed panda dolls sewed onto his shoes.
When trying to figure out just why the Knicks are so bad this year, refer to this list for all the explanation you need.
Simple Problems With Difficult Solutions
Matt John takes a look at three teams that need to address weaknesses in their rosters and the challenges each team faces in doing so.
Remember when Carmelo Anthony was out of the NBA? That seems so long ago now even though his stint in Portland started less than a month ago.
Let’s go back to that time. In ‘Melo’s almost one-year exodus from the NBA, fans, media, and even players alike were begging for his return. To be fair, this was based more on his reputation as one of the best scorers of his time rather than his recent play with his previous two teams.
Looking back, it was a little odd that for almost an entire year, absolutely no one wanted to roll the dice on Carmelo. Not even on a non-guaranteed contract. But, what was even odder was that although he had plenty of advocates on his side, said advocates couldn’t collectively decide which team really needed him.
At this stage in his career, it was a little tricky to figure out what role he could play because it wasn’t clear how much he had left in the tank or how he’d adapt to his decline after his underwhelming performances with both Oklahoma City and Houston. There was a lot of demand for Carmelo to come back to the NBA. Where he should make his comeback was the question.
Of course, now, we’ve seen that Carmelo can still bring it – so far – if given the right opportunity. The simple problem, in this case, was that Carmelo needed another chance in the NBA. The difficult solution was that, at the time, there was no clear-cut team that would have been perfect for him to go.
That brings us to this season. We are approaching the 1/4th mark in the NBA regular season and now we’re starting to see the true colors of some of these teams. The following teams have simple problems that need to be fixed. At the same time, how they’re going to solve them will be tough to figure out.
San Antonio Spurs
With every minute that passes, the playoff odds are looking less and less in the Spurs’ favor. When was the last time anyone said that about San Antonio? 1996? The naysayers have been dreaming of this day for longer than Vince Carter’s entire career, but this might just be the moment they’ve been waiting for – the end of an era.
San Antonio is currently 8-14, they have a point differential of minus-4.0, and worst of all, they’ve played one of the easiest schedules in the NBA. Maybe it would be different if Davis Bertans or Marcus Morris were around, but that doesn’t change that it’s only going to get harder from here.
Twenty-two games into the season and it’s clear the Spurs’ established stars – DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge – do not mesh well with one other, sporting a net rating of minus-7.2 together. Any three-man lineup with DeRozan/Aldridge plus one of Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, and Derrick White has a frighteningly negative net rating – all are minus-7.3 or lower.
It gets worse. Both DeRozan and Aldridge have very negative net ratings – Spurs are minus-10.5 with Aldridge on the court, minus-13.3 with DeRozan. All three of Murray, White, and Forbes have negative net ratings as well, but why it looks worse for the former All-Stars is because those two are supposed to be the main ingredients of a projected playoff team and they’re most certainly not that right now.
Trading them would be the advisable next step but to who is the million-dollar question. Both of them are really good players. They’re just not great players. They’re both lethal scorers. Both of them can put up 20-30 points on any given night. The real issue is that even if they put up their usual numbers, that doesn’t always equate to a win. If you don’t believe that, look at the Spurs’ record again.
Aldridge would be easier to trade on paper because his contract is more favorable since it’s guaranteed for next season, but potentially trading for DeRozan is a little more delicate of a situation. DeMar has a player option after this season, which can be a catch-22 for players like him. If he plays well, he’ll opt out of the contract and go for his next payday. If he doesn’t, he’ll opt-in and drag the cap down another season.
That makes it harder for teams to invest assets for a guy like him. He would usually be worth more if his contract was longer, but the risk of him leaving after less than one season is too big to give up something good for him. There are teams that could definitely use the offensive boost that DeMar provides, but they may not have the matching contracts nor be willing to offer the young value that the Spurs would want in a deal.
Some retooling definitely looks in order for San Antonio, but this situation is a lot more complicated than it was last year.
At 15-5, the Celtics are both exceeding expectations and are fun to watch. In other words, they look like a Brad Stevens team again.
Boston’s offense has looked much-improved thanks to both better production from Brown, Hayward and Jayson Tatum as well as letting their most egregious ball stoppers walk. By having less pure scorers on the team, there are a lot more touches to go around, which has made the offense look more fluid than it did last year.
What’s more surprising than their more team-oriented offense is their stingy defense. The Celtics have the sixth-best defensive rating, allowing 104 points per 100 possessions, despite losing Al Horford and Aron Baynes.
Marcus Smart’s ability to cover just about anyone on the basketball court provides so much cushion for them on the defensive end. Brown, Hayward, and Jayson Tatum have all been stingy switchable wings that make life harder for opponents. Even guys like Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams have proven to be passable options as undersized centers.
Even their pure bigs haven’t been that bad. Daniel Theis has been excellent as the team’s most reliable rim protector, allowing opponents to shoot just 52 percent at the rim, and Enes Kanter has the third-best net rating among rotation players, as Boston is plus-5.6 with him on the floor.
Despite that, no matter how good this Celtics crew may look, the knock on them will be the same until they change it: They need an upgrade in the frontcourt.
Theis has been about as good as the Celtics could have hoped for from him, but as of now he can only reasonably be counted on for 20-25 minutes at most. The Celtics have done a great job covering Kanter’s holes, but is that going to hold up in the postseason? Robert Williams III has made substantial progress, but the young mistakes he makes demonstrate that he’s still a year or two away.
Boston has been better than what many thought they would be, but they’d rest easy knowing they had another dependable option in their frontcourt.
Where do they get one though? They don’t have any expendable contracts to give up in a deal. They’ve made it clear that neither Hayward nor Smart are going anywhere, and for good reason. The only other big contract they have on the books is Kemba Walker, and they’re definitely not trading him.
Since Theis and Kanter get paid $5 million each, it’s hard to combine them for an upgrade because the hypothetical upgrade they would need would cost more than that. Since those two are Boston’s most proven bigs, it’d be hard to see them getting rid of both. Their only option might be the buyout market in February, which is a risky game to play.
As good as Boston has been, they haven’t squelched the fears surrounding their frontcourt issues. It only makes you wonder what this team would look like if they still had Al Horford.
They may not be a good team right now, and probably won’t be a good team for a couple of years, but how can you not like this young Memphis Grizzlies team?
They’ve hit two consecutive bulls-eyes with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant. They’ve got some good complementary veterans in Jonas Valanciunas and Jae Crowder as well as good complementary young guys like Brandon Clarke and Dillion Brooks.
It might be weird to say this, but even though they are one of the worst teams in the league, they’re ahead of schedule. The pieces are in place. They are forming a good culture. They probably will get another high lottery pick depending on what record they finish with. It’s a far cry from the Grit-n-Grind era, but the promise the young Grizzlies possess is undeniable.
There’s only one elephant in the room – Andre Iguodala. He’s been an issue that they’ve been avoiding ever since they acquired a first-round pick by adding his “services.” The word “issue” should be taken with a huge grain of salt because it’s not really causing any disruption. Iguodala wants to play for a winner, and Memphis wants to get something good for him.
It makes all the sense in the world. Neither side owes the other anything. Iguodala shouldn’t be spending what’s left of his career on a team that just pressed the reset button. Memphis shouldn’t let a guy with his skillset go if he can be had for something. Even at almost 36, Iggy is still a valuable player.
Besides the fact that no one is going to offer a first-round pick for a role player in his mid-30’s on an expiring deal, the biggest issue for the Grizzlies is that hardly any team vying for his services has an expendable matching contract to trade for Andre and his $17+ million contract.
Most teams who have expendable deals in the NBA are ones that don’t have any use for Andre because they’re not going anywhere. Atlanta, Cleveland, Charlotte, Detroit are all teams that have guys on overpaid deals that are worth giving up, but the likelihood that they go for a guy like him with the place they are at now isn’t likely.
Teams like the Clippers, Blazers or HEAT could certainly put themselves in the bidding, but that would require sacrificing guys who are thriving in their rotation, like Meyers Leonard, Moe Harkless, or Kent Bazemore.
The one option that makes sense is Dallas. They have a player currently out of their rotation that is being paid enough to be used to get Andre – Courtney Lee. They definitely need some help along the wing, and Iguodala would bring championship experience to a team that has exceeded all reasonable expectations.
What Dallas might do is try to see if they can get a better overall player since the team has both Lee’s and Tim Hardaway Jr’s contracts that can be used to acquire a star. They don’t have a lot of assets, but that may be worth looking into first before looking at Iguodala.
Releasing Iguodala would be Memphis’ last resort, which they don’t want to do, but finding an acceptable trade partner is going to be difficult especially if they want to get something back for him. The longer they wait, the lesser the value.
Summer League Standouts Faring Well
Jordan Hicks takes a look back at some of the most notable All-Summer League Team players and discusses the contributions they’ve made up to this point in the NBA season.
The NBA season is in full swing and players are seeing their impact being felt throughout the league. Veterans continue to lead their respective franchises, and role players continue doing what they can to push the scales in their team’s favor.
While the more tenured professionals capture the bulk of the headlines, the first and second-year players often go unnoticed. There’s the occasional breakout star here and there, but for the most part, the young guys do what they can to find time on the court and help their club in any meaningful way.
Every summer, the NBA hosts the now-famous tournament in Nevada, the Las Vegas Summer League, where the stage is open for up-and-coming players to make their first mark in the NBA. Year after year, some newcomers supply the NBA loyalists with enough highlights to keep them happy until mid-October.
At the close of the tournament, a handful of players will make the All-Summer League Team – similar to an All-NBA Team for the regular season. Let’s take a look at how a handful of the All-Summer League Team members have fared this season and what their potential outlook looks like moving forward.
Brandon Clarke — First Team
The former college All-American out of Gonzaga University had quite the impact in his Summer League debut. Not only did he earn first-team All-Summer League honors, but he also took home the Summer League MVP and Tournament MVP, too. He was a statistical monster and a clear reason why the Memphis Grizzlies took home the coveted — to some at least — Summer League Championship trophy.
Clarke currently finds himself in a sixth man-style role. He’s sixth in the team in minutes per game and is doing plenty in that span. He’s averaging 11.8 points on 63 percent from the field and a more impressive 45.5 percent from three. He’s also bringing in 5.9 boards and just under a block [er game. His effective field goal percentage of 66.4 percent is currently good for fifth-best in the entire NBA.
In per 36 minutes, that would be 20.1 points, 10 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on average. He’s not getting starter minutes just yet, but it’s more than safe to say that the Memphis Grizzlies are receiving incredible value out of their 21st overall pick.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker — First Team
Selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Alexander-Walker contributed in a big way during the Summer League in Las Vegas. His athleticism is clearly a strong suit but his tenacity on the court is what helps him get minutes.
He’s playing a tad over 14 minutes per game for the New Orleans Pelicans thus far, netting 6.5 points and 2.1 assists on average. New Orleans’ roster is flooded with talented guards, so it’s no surprise Alexander-Walker isn’t getting more minutes, but he seems to be doing an admirable job with the minutes Alvin Gentry gives him.
In a loss to Miami a few weeks back, Alexander-Walker went 6-of-9 from three and finished with 27 points. He followed that performance with 19 points and 4 assists in a win against the Golden State Warriors. His minutes have been sporadic so far, but he’s contributed when given a chance. As the season goes on, look for Alexander-Walker to find more time in Gentry’s lineups.
Kendrick Nunn — First Team
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all the young players this season, Nunn has proven to be quite a threat on the offensive side of the court. He’s averaging 15.3 points per game, good for third on the talented Miami HEAT roster. He led the team with 22.4 points per game in October and was averaging 16.9 points through the first 10 games, but he’s cooled a bit.
For a team that was already planning on starting the season strong, the fact Nunn has managed to carve out 29.4 minutes per night is a testament to his nightly contributions. He has taken the confidence he earned from his Summer League accolades and is supplying the HEAT with stellar play on a nightly basis. There’s a chance his scoring will continue to die down a bit, but he’s already proven worthy of his roster spot in such a short amount of time.
Rui Hachimura — Second Team
The Washington Wizards are currently playing the fastest pace in the NBA and oddly enough have the fourth-best offense to date, too. Hachimura is a key reason for this.
He’s averaging 13.4 points on an effective field goal percentage of 50.4 percent. He’s also pulling down 5.6 boards and dishing out 1.7 assists per game. His season-high is 30 points on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers, and he’s scored in double-figures on 12 out of 19 games this season.
Hachimura’s long frame, coupled with his elite athleticism, allows him to get to the rim and create opportunities for himself as well as for his teammates. He’s still figuring the game out — his flaws on defense are easy to spot — but he has the ability to develop into a great basketball player.
Other recipients of Summer League honors include second-year players Mitchell Robinson, Lonnie Walker IV, Anfernee Simons and third-year player Jarrett Allen. Each of these guys has been producing for their respective teams in big ways.
The Las Vegas Summer League can sometimes be an interesting topic. Each year, second-year guys may or may not return to their Summer League squads and new faces abound. But if there’s anything that recent history has shown us, it’s that cream will always rise to the top. The guys that notch the All-Summer League honors will usually contribute to their teams almost immediately.
Each of these guys mentioned — and even the ones not discussed — will continue to cement their presence in the NBA and may very well become the regular season All-Stars of the future. It’s hard to decipher a player’s value based solely on box score statistics, but when one first enters the league, it’s never a bad thing to see the box score go up. For the young guys, it’s all about finding comfort and learning in which ways they can contribute best. Some may end up being the scorer, while others will develop into a defensive savant or playmaking maestro.
Whatever the future holds, remember the names above. They all have a solid chance of being the face of a franchise someday.
NBA Daily: Three Veterans Reviving Their Careers
As the league continues to evolve, three players have revived their careers by changing the way they play. Chad Smith examines the mental aspect of these changes and how they are helping their new teams.
Life is all about second chances and what you do with them. Basketball isn’t much different in that regard, as most players and coaches will tell you much of their success is about opportunity. Sometimes a fresh start in a new environment is all you need, as three players, in particular, have proved so far this season.
Health is always a big part of these things, but there is so much more that goes into it. Basketball players are creatures of habit, and old habits can be very difficult to break. Changing your perspective on the type of player you are and changing your style of play simply cannot be done overnight. It takes a strong culture, the right people around you and acceptance to make it all work.
With nearly a quarter of the season in the books, there have been plenty of surprises and disappointments. When looking at the former, three guys stand out that many people thought were finished as NBA players, but are now reviving their careers after taking on a new role.
Carmelo Anthony, Portland Trail Blazers
The Carmelo experiment in Portland has gone very well for both sides. Two weeks in, the 10-time All-Star has relished his new role as another offensive weapon behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The league announced on Monday that the 35-year-old had been named as the Western Conference Player of the Week — averaging 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game — as Portland posted a perfect 3-0 record.
The last time Carmelo won the weekly award was March 10, 2014. Now seven games into his 2019-20 season, he is averaging 18 points, 6 rebounds and over 2 assists per game. His shooting percentages are above average, and he is being utilized much better than he was in Houston or Oklahoma City. He is not trying to carry the offense, but he is more than just a spot-up shooter.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has done a remarkable job of injecting Carmelo into the offense, and not altering it completely. By using his strengths on that end of the floor, it actually alleviates some pressure for Lillard and McCollum, while at the same time freeing up space inside for Hassan Whiteside to get better position. Everyone on the roster seems to be benefiting from Melo’s presence, and the team has reaped the rewards.
No one had doubts that Carmelo still had plenty of game left in the tank. The concerns were believed to be the inability to find a situation that was conducive to his mentality. Carmelo had been fighting the notion that he is not the same quality of player that he was in his prime, being above taking on a reserve role with a team. Now that he has bought in, everything has changed.
The 16-year veteran could be just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Trail Blazers. After a number of injuries and a slow start for McCollum had them searching for answers, Portland had the longest winning streak of any team in the Western Conference entering Tuesday night’s tilt with the LA Clippers. When Carmelo is willing to make the extra pass and doesn’t hesitate after getting the ball, Portland has found success.
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
When Howard decided to return to the Lakers for a second stint this past summer, there were plenty of people skeptical of the move. The top overall pick of the 2004 draft has answered his critics in a resounding way. After several unsuccessful stops in Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, he has finally been able to get his back healthy and return to the floor.
After a dominating start to his career in Orlando, where he was the face of the organization for eight seasons, Howard went to team up with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. The two did not see eye-to-eye, and he made his way to Houston the following year. The injuries began to pile up and his production suffered. Never known as a serious guy that had a laser focus on getting better, Howard made himself a target as the losses piled up — and his frustrations were made public.
Now in his 15th season, Howard has finally bought into the system. His role with this Lakers team is clearly defined, and he has accepted it. He has embraced it. He has played to his strengths, which is exactly what the Lakers need from him. He is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Five times he has finished with the most rebounds in the league. He has had the most blocks in two seasons and has been named to an All-Defensive team five times during his career. As he nears his 34th birthday, he has been fantastic on and off the court.
While averaging 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game may not sound incredible, keep in mind that Howard is only playing around 20 minutes per game. The loaded frontcourt with Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma has played a significant role in that.
Just by watching Howard play, it is easy to see how much quicker and freely he is able to move on the floor. No longer plagued by back issues, he has been sprinting back on defense, running in transition, and finishing above the rim. The Lakers thought they would have the services of DeMarcus Cousins before the season began, but this may actually work out better for them in the long run.
Isaiah Thomas, Washington Wizards
The journey for Thomas has been much different. After struggling to find minutes, then thriving as the face of the Boston Celtics franchise for three years, IT found himself looking for a home after the hip injury that ended his tenure in Beantown after a deep playoff run.
The first stop came in Cleveland, where he was part of the trade package for Kyrie Irving. He was then sent to the LA Lakers where the fit simply didn’t work. He played just 32 total games during the 2017-2018 season and appeared in only 12 games for the Denver Nuggets after signing a free-agent deal. With his career hanging in the balance entering his age 30 season, Thomas found a new home in Washington.
Much like the two names mentioned above, Thomas has done exactly what the team has needed them to do. The Wizards knew they would be without their star point guard John Wall for the entire season. While they understood the backup role that Ish Smith would play, they needed another playmaker to draw the attention away from Bradley Beal. Fortunately for everyone involved, IT has been able to deliver so far this year.
The assist numbers for IT this year are on par with his average during his three seasons in Boston, which is a career high. The scoring obviously isn’t similar, but that is not what the Wizards need from him. Washington’s offense is a well-oiled machine that is humming along quite nicely. They have multiple guys that can score, and they do it from all areas of the court. The second-ranked scoring offense in the NBA is a clear indication that this team is more than just Beal.
Thomas may not be the same All-Star player that fueled the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals three years ago, but he has been playing his best basketball since that run.
Not bad for an undersized guy taken with the very last pick in the 2011 draft.