• The New York Knicks made some big moves this off-season to reshape their roster, but the likelihood of those changes being dramatic improvements is low, so low that it would be difficult to justify the risk of making them.

    Now that isn’t to say that I don’t understand the motivation behind high-risk/high-reward moves in their position.  As a franchise virtually starved of talent beyond Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony, and stripped of their first round pick by a trade made years ago, sometimes it’s best to swing for the fences because it’s your best way to get better.  The issue in the Knicks’ case is the irresponsibility of the moves made.

    Derrick Rose was the first in a series of less-than-stellar moves for the Knicks.  Rose has dealt with major knee injuries for years now, although to be fair, he played 66 games last season and 51 the year before.  So as far as injuries are concerned, there have been quite a few, but the trend is starting to go in the right direction at least.

    The problem lies in his production.  According to Basketball Reference, a box plus-minus of -2 is considered “replacement level” and 0 is essentially average.  Derrick Rose posted a box plus minus of -3.3 last season, and because it doesn’t factor in playing time, it not only isn’t skewed by his injuries, it fails to acknowledge the negative impact of his inability to make it through an 82 game season.

    Derrick Rose hasn’t been able to post a positive box plus minus since the 2011-2012 season, so the idea of him returning to anything similar to his MVP days is well beyond optimistic.  This has been fairly easy to see on the court, and shouldn’t be shocking considering how much of his success was predicated on his explosiveness, which has been severely lacking since his knee injuries.   He shot 51% within three feet last season, which was dramatically lower than his career average of .568, and also dunked considerably less last season, which is a direct consequence of his prior injuries and lowers his overall effectiveness.

    Rose’s lack of outside shooting doesn’t help matters, and there isn’t really any reason to believe that he’s headed toward improvement.  Ignoring all of that for a moment, it’s still hard to understand the motivation behind a deal like this.

    Rose will be a free agent at the end of the season, and even if he is able to show a small amount of the talent that he once had, would the Knicks really want to sign him to a long-term deal? His history will be hard to get past, and it’s likely that his injury issues will be a question mark hovering over him for the rest of his time in the NBA.  With Anthony and Noah, two players that have recently struggled with injury and are past their primes, already signed to lengthy deals, signing Rose to something similar would be essentially begging for an injury to affect every season for the franchise going forward.   A team can only assume so much long-term risk before it becomes irresponsible, and it wouldn’t be hard to argue that the Knicks have reached that threshold even without Rose.

    The Joakim Noah signing made even less sense.   Carmelo Anthony is at a point in his career where the team should be actively working to transition him to playing power forward, meaning that Kristaps Porzingis should be groomed for the starting center position, which isn’t at all out of position when you consider the fact that he’s well over seven feet.

    When these are the only two assets that your franchise has, you don’t go out and sign a player that can only play center to a large four year contract, and that’s before recognizing his declining play and injury history.

    Joakim Noah played last season like he wanted to define the infamous Mendoza Line for the NBA.  He posted a horrid field goal percentage of .383% and took the offense ineptitude to an even higher level with a free throw percentage of .489%.  Without any context, these are horrible numbers, but then when you consider that he took over 73% of his shots from within three feet and barely managed 10.5 shots a game last season they become nearly unacceptable.

    Throughout his career he has built his success on passing and defense, but even last season he had a turnover percentage of 25.4%, which was far and away a career high and his defense has been declining for the last few seasons.

    Beyond the injuries, he’s about as inept as a player can be on offense and is trending in the wrong direction defensively.  Considering the fact that he’s going to be playing next season as a 31-year-old, the odds of him making any sort of improvement are very low, and the odds of him declining past the point of him being a starting caliber player are decently high, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the team cut him before his contract ends.

    This all ignores his obvious injury concerns as well.  He started two games last season and only appeared in 29 overall, and that’s a year after he only made it into 67 games.  The idea that Noah, Rose and Anthony will all be healthy next season and beyond is almost laughable.

    With Carmelo Anthony gracefully entering his prime, and Kristaps Porzingis showing that he is both the present and the future for the Knicks, the team would have been much better off signing one of the young, high upside free agents that were available during the off-season.   Even if these options didn’t work out, cap flexibility should have been a much high priority than acquiring players like Rose and Noah who, at best, make marginal improvements to the current roster.

    The Knicks need young talent, and without their first round pick in this year’s draft, they weren’t in a good position to add any.  Kristaps Porzingis is a great building block, and Carmelo Anthony still has quite a bit of talent left to help a team, but the Knicks didn’t add enough talent to make a true run in the Eastern Conference, which makes it difficult to justify the cost.

     

     

Fantasy News

  • Javonte Green
    F, Boston Celtics

    Javonte Green will join the Celtics on a partially guaranteed contract.

    After a strong Summer League performance where he averaged 10.8ppg on 50% shooting, Green will get an opportunity to fight for a roster spot for the Celtics. He most recently played overseas in Germany.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Amida Brimah
    C, Indiana Pacers

    The Pacers have signed Amida Brimah to a one-year contract.

    The seven foot big man, Bridah, has had a couple short stints with the Spurs but has yet to play in a game. Expect him to compete for a roster spot come training camp but there are no guarantees that he will make the final roster.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Daniel Theis
    PF, Boston Celtics

    The Celtics have officially re-signed Daniel Theis and Brad Wanamaker.

    The team rescinded their qualifying offer to Theis in a procedural move to maximize cap space, but he's back in Boston on a two-year, $10 million deal. He'll be battling for backup center minutes and his shooting ability (38.8 percent from deep last season on low volume) could set him apart from the rest of Boston's frontcourt options. As a player who can knock down threes and pick up some steals and blocks, there's deep-league potential for Theis should he end up pushing for something like 20 mpg. Wanamaker decided to pass on larger offers from European teams to return to the Celtics, where he may have a better shot at minutes with Terry Rozier out of the picture. Even so, he's not a fantasy target.

    Source: Boston Celtics

  • Thanasis Antetokounmpo
    SF, Milwaukee Bucks

    The Bucks have made their signing of Thanasis Antetokounmpo official.

    Antetokounmpo is believed to be on a two-year deal that is fully guaranteed for the veteran's minimum. Antetokounmpo has just two NBA appearances to his name, both coming back in 2016 with the Knicks. It's unlikely that he'll play much, if at all, though at least he'll get to hang with his MVP little brother.

    Source: Milwaukee Bucks

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    The Raptors have announced the signing of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

    Hollis-Jefferson had a tough season in Brooklyn, suffering an offseason adductor strain and then falling out of the rotation when he was ready to play. The Raptors will take a one-year flier on a player that can capably defend multiple positions while bringing great energy, and he'll fit in with the team's defensive identity. RHJ is only a year removed from being a top-100 fantasy player but it's unlikely that he holds standard-league value in a reserve role for Toronto. Deep-league managers can consider Hollis-Jefferson a late-round flier.

    Source: Toronto Raptors

  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    The Suns have officially re-signed Kelly Oubre.

    Oubre is headed back to Phoenix on a two-year, $30 million deal and lost out on a bigger payday as teams alternately gobbled up cap space or played a long waiting game in free agency, leaving one of the top RFAs on the board to settle for a deal that clocks in below expectations. Oubre missed the end of the season because of thumb surgery but blossomed in Phoenix, averaging 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.7 3s on .453 shooting. That was good for top-50 value, and while that might be too lofty to expect a repeat without some breaks (the efficiency is a definite question mark), it's clear that Oubre is finally on a team that will commit to his future and there will be enough playing time to make him a late-middle round option in fantasy drafts.

    Source: Phoenix Suns

  • David Nwaba
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    The Nets have announced the signing of David Nwaba.

    Nwaba will head to Brooklyn on a two-year deal after bouncing around over his first three NBA seasons. It's a nice pickup for the Nets, who will get a hard-nosed forward that's capable of defending and rebounding with tenacity. Nwaba's poor shooting might not do him favors in Brooklyn's system, but he's the type of hustle player that coaches tend to like. Expect him to play a part in Kenny Atkinson's deep rotation, though fantasy value is probably out of the question when everyone is healthy.

    Source: Brooklyn Nets

  • JR Smith
    SG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    J.R. Smith will meet with the Bucks on Thursday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    This is the first team other than the Lakers, who have already been deemed an unlikely landing spot, to be connected to Smith. Milwaukee is looking for another wing shooter and Smith would fit the bill in a perfect world, though it's unlikely that he would play a major role for any team after sitting out since November.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Kyle Lowry
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry has undergone a procedure to repair the tendon in his left thumb, per Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Lowry battled with either a left thumb sprain or dislocation (depending on who you believe) in the playoffs and often spoke of how he struggled to handle the ball. It didn't seem to matter too much as Lowry shot 42 percent from deep over the Eastern Conference Finals and Finals, but this procedure is far from surprising. The point guard is still hoping to be ready for Team USA training camp and the FIBA World Cup, so we are not looking at a lengthy recovery here.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Naz Reid
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Naz Reid has signed a multi-year deal with the Wolves.

    Reid was originally expected to sign a two-way deal, and this might be the fastest conversion to a standard contract ever. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic is reporting that it is a four-year deal worth a max of $6.1 million, with a full guarantee on the first season. Reid averaged 12.5 points, 4.7 boards and 2.0 assists in just 18.3 mpg at Summer League and looked like one of the better big men at the Vegas circuit. The Wolves are obviously set at center in the long term, but Reid could definitely emerge as the backup with a little more seasoning.

    Source: Minnesota Timberwolves