August 30, 2016, 8:56 am
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.
April 18, 2019, 1:13 amRicky Rubio - G - Utah Jazz
Ricky Rubio put up 17 points with four rebounds, nine assists and four steals in a loss to the Rockets in Game 2 on Wednesday.
He shot 7-of-17 from the field and had the unfortunate matchup against James Harden for much of this game. Harden hit him with a crossover that sent Rubio to the floor, but he missed the shot. The Jazz have been getting good performances from Rubio and Derrick Favors, but the inconsistent play from the remainder of their roster has left them with a two-game series deficit. The Jazz are heading back to Utah for Game 3 as they will try to steal their first game of the series.
April 18, 2019, 1:06 amDonovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell had another poor shooting night as he went 5-of-18 from the field on his way to 11 points in a Game 2 blowout loss to the Rockets on Wednesday.
Mitchell shot just 1-of-8 from 3-point territory and 0-of-2 from the stripe. He also had five fouls and four turnovers while playing a team-high 37 minutes. He did add six assists and two steals, but this was a disappointing performance from the second-year rising star. Eric Gordon has been outshining him, but Mitchell has a chance to rectify things as the Jazz head home for Game 3.
April 18, 2019, 1:00 amDerrick Favors - F/C - Utah Jazz
Derrick Favors played well in his 22 minutes of action in a Game 2 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday, with 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
Although Favors is putting up good numbers in such limited minutes, you should not expect to see him go above 25 minutes at all in this series. He shot 7-of-11 from the field and missed both of his attempts from deep. Also, the Rockets play a lot of small ball as PJ Tucker is their power forward, so Favors is often at a defensive disadvantage when on the court.
April 18, 2019, 12:56 amRudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert did not have a great showing in Wednesday's Game 2 loss to the Rockets as he managed just 11 points and 12 rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting.
He made five of his seven attempts from the stripe and added one assist and two steals to the stat sheet. He did not record a block in this one which is rare to see from Gobert as he averaged 2.3 blocks per game on the season. Clint Capela has been defending Gobert well, which is making things a lot tougher on the Jazz to score and rebound the ball. Gobert will look to bounce back as the Jazz head home for Game 3.
April 18, 2019, 12:47 amRoyce O'Neale - F - Utah Jazz
Royce O'Neale played well on Wednesday in a Game 2 blowout loss to the Rockets as he had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with three triples and four assists.
O'Neale stepped up as Joe Ingles managed just seven points on 3-of-8 shooting with five steals. He saw 27 minutes of action in this one after seeing just 15 minutes in Game 1. He has guarded James Harden on numerous possessions thus far and it seems as though Harden goes at him every chance he gets. This may be the best game we see from O'Neale all series, but he has given the Jazz some solid run off the bench thus far.
April 18, 2019, 12:37 amJames Harden - G - Houston Rockets
James Harden dominated the Jazz in Game 2 on Wednesday as he triple-doubled with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
Aside from his eight turnovers, there was not much to complain about Harden’s performance. Rather, there were elements of Harden’s showing that deserve high praise such as his six triples, one block and toughness throughout the entire game. He would not back down from Ricky Rubio and actually crossed him up in the first half. The Beard is continuing his MVP-like season into the playoffs, which is no surprise given how truly great his 2018-19 campaign was.
April 18, 2019, 12:31 amChris Paul - G - Houston Rockets
Chris Paul put up 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting with two steals and two blocks in a blowout win over the Jazz on Wednesday.
He made just one of his six 3-point attempts and turned the ball over six times. However, he did add four rebounds and three assists to the box score as well. James Harden is clearly the dominating force for the Rockets, but Paul's stability will be crucial for the team to continue their playoff success.
April 18, 2019, 12:25 amEric Gordon - G - Houston Rockets
Eric Gordon outplayed Donovan Mitchell once again in Game 2 as the Rockets beat the Jazz 118-98 on Wednesday.
Gordon scored 16 points on an efficient 6-of-11 shooting and 3-of-6 shooting from long-range. He also contributed one rebound, two steals and one block to the stat sheet. Gordon is tasked with guarding Mitchell, which is the toughest defensive assignment on the Rockets and he is thriving in that role. He has held him to 30 points on 37 shots in the series thus far. This series could potentially end in four games if Gordon continues to play at this high of a level.
April 18, 2019, 12:17 amPJ Tucker - F - Houston Rockets
PJ Tucker drilled four triples on his way to 16 points in a blowout win over the Jazz in Game 2 on Wednesday.
He added two steals and four boards while converting five of his eight shots from the field. The Rockets have confidence in Tucker to fire from deep and he proved them right as he drilled four of his seven attempts from 3-point territory. Surrounding James Harden with 3-and-D wing players has been their formula for success and Tucker fits that mold perfectly. When Tucker is hitting his shots, the Rockets are likely to dominate the way they did tonight.
April 18, 2019, 12:09 amClint Capela - C - Houston Rockets
Clint Capela did not have to do much in the Rockets’ Game 2 blowout win over the Jazz on Wednesday as he had just seven points and 10 rebounds with three blocks.
He shot 3-of-4 from the field and added one assist and one steal to the box score. Although the numbers were down in this one, he did what he had to do in his 29 minutes of action as he kept Rudy Gobert in check as well. Capela is an important cog in the Rockets’ formula for success, so even when he is not scoring as much he is still impacting the game in other ways.