Posted August 29, 2013

Offseason Grades: New York Knicks

2013 Offseason Grades, Andrea Bargnani, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
J.R. Smith

The Knicks re-signed J.R. Smith to a three-year, $18 million deal. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Point Forward will grade every team’s offseason over the next few weeks. Click here for the complete archive.

Additions: Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, Jeremy Tyler, Tim Hardaway Jr. (No. 24 pick in the 2013 draft), C.J. Leslie

Losses: Jason Kidd, Steve Novak, Chris Copeland, Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace, James White, Earl Barron, Quentin Richardson

Other Moves: Re-signed J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin

What Went Right: Necessary retention and some bargain signings. New York’s prior spending undercut its flexibility this summer, leaving little alternative but to re-sign several free-agent role players. A player such as Smith, for example, could simply not be replaced. With no cap room and minimal cap exceptions with which to work, New York would not be allowed to sign any player even vaguely in Smith’s range of pay or production. That gave Smith and his agent all the negotiating muscle needed to strong-arm the Knicks into a three-year, $18 million contract via early-Bird rights just days before the 27-year-old shooting guard — who struggled in the playoffs after winning the Sixth Man Award — underwent two knee surgeries.

Though the Knicks spent more on Smith than they would have liked, that’s still preferred to the thought of losing him outright. His departure would have spelled trouble for a team that is overly reliant on Carmelo Anthony’s shot creation as it is; New York struggled in the postseason when Smith failed to generate offense, which only serves to highlight the cost of potentially losing him. Flaws and all, Smith was too valuable an offensive asset for the Knicks to simply let walk, and thus it’s something of a victory that New York bit the bullet to bring him back.

The Knicks also benefit from the return of 36-year-old point guard Pablo Prigioni (who will be paid $1.6 million this season after being re-signed with a portion of the mini mid-level exception) and 35-year-old power forward Kenyon Martin (who re-signed for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million), both of whom represent a good value at their respective price points. They might well be the best budget signings New York could have made under the circumstances, as other low-cost possibilities wouldn’t have had such form-fitting games or any baseline experience with this Knicks team.

GIVE AND GO: What could stop the Knicks from a deep playoff run?

Valuable, too, are World Peace and Udrih, two newcomers signed to affordable deals using what remained of the Knicks’ resources. World Peace, 33, isn’t the lockdown defender he once was, but he ranks as New York’s second-best defensive option (behind Iman Shumpert) on the perimeter. He also can swing to guard a very different set of players than Shumpert, as World Peace’s height and strength make him more effective in defending larger opponents both inside and out.

Udrih, 31, should help the Knicks as a solid ball handler and shooter, albeit one who only further fuels New York’s defensive troubles. He’s capable enough to create offense in a pinch, though his slow-footed game lends itself mostly to pull-up jumpers and conservative passes that don’t really challenge the defense. Still, his contributions should register on a team in need of another stable creator, particularly because New York’s best stretches last season came when two point guards could help space the floor and move the ball to best work off Anthony. Udrih can play such a role, even if he isn’t dynamic enough off the dribble to give New York’s offense any kind of new direction.

What Went Wrong: The costly, nonsensical acquisition of Andrea Bargnani, who addresses not a single one of New York’s needs. Even the one thing that Bargnani, 27, supposedly does well is a bit of a mirage; the former Raptor made only 32.3 percent of his three-pointers in his last three seasons (the league average was about 35.5 percent in that time), submarining some of his value as a stretch 4. Otherwise, he’s a horrid rebounder and reluctant defender, which in total makes him a lesser version of big man Amar’e Stoudemire, whose flaws already compromise the Knicks strategically.

Teams can specifically address individual liabilities, but New York is set to struggle as its most burdensome defenders — Anthony, Stoudemire, Bargnani and, at times, Smith — are arranged as a compounding problem. The addition of another big man in Bargnani suggests that Anthony will spend more time back on the wing and less at power forward, increasing the potential for the Knicks’ worst defensive players to share the floor together. That’s especially bad news because center Tyson Chandler is coming off a down year as far as rectifying his teammates’ mistakes, juxtaposing an overmatched interior defender with a potential nightmare in coverage.

Things could get tricky on the offensive end as well. New York will now draw on four players — Anthony, Smith, Bargnani and Stoudemire — who tend to stop the ball when it swings their way, which doesn’t bode well for the flow of the offense. Anthony is more or less entitled, given his astounding combination of volume and efficiency, but a system built to feature him won’t have as many opportunities for Stoudemire and Bargnani — neither of whom plays intuitively off the ball or has the skill set to serve in a facilitating role. There’s enough talent between them to avoid an abject disaster, but New York’s offense seems likely to take a step back because 1) Anthony’s incredible efficiency through career-high possession usage could be challenging to sustain, and 2) he no longer has the kind of floor-spreading, ball-moving supporting cast that made the Knicks so successful. That’s not all Bargnani’s fault, but his arrival should only complicate matters for coach Mike Woodson.

On top of it all: To acquire Bargnani from Toronto, New York sacrificed a 2016 first-round pick and two second-round picks while taking back an extra $3.7-plus million in salary for each of the next two seasons. The real cost of that salary influx, though, comes in the amplified luxury-tax hit that follows. Given how far above the tax line the Knicks already are, obtaining Bargnani – as opposed to keeping Novak and Camby — will increase New York’s 2013-14 tax bill by almost $10 million, bringing the bottom-line cost of this transaction to some $13.6 million in the first season alone. The cost will be even more severe in 2014-15, as New York’s payroll balloons to $89.8 million just in time to suffer the brutal multiplier of the repeater tax.

Grade: C-. New York’s free-agent signings will help prevent things from drifting totally out of control, but the Bargnani deal is one of those rare transactions by which a team sacrifices assets, loses money and arguably worsens its on-court potential.

Salary data courtesy of Sham Sports.

32 comments
Keef
Keef

To get AB NY traded Novak (I can't get my shot off if guarded and am useless at anything else) , Camby ( 39 years old with a seat on the bench for 98.5 % of the year), a #1 pick in a few years that Denver has the right to swap places with, and a couple of 2nd rounders. Basically they gave up nothing that will be of any value aside from the # 1 pick which is 3 years from now and likely in the mid to late 20's. Bargnani may well suck as bad as you say but in addition

to giving up nothing of value, his contract ends a year earlier than Novak's. There is a chance he will improve and play better with a more talented team, and if not New York gave up nothing of real value AND will get cap relief a year sooner. Absolutely worth the risk, keep on hating haters.....

spiderminion
spiderminion

A column about the Knicks and suddenly the usually sensible comments section of SI becomes like Yahoo's and ESPN's. Haha.

Bargnani sucks. Even if he actually turns into an above-average 3 point shooter who can occasionally put the ball on the floor, his bad defense and lack of rebounding puts the Knicks only MARGINALLY better than they were last year. That BAD contract doesn't help things

ffrigger
ffrigger

Andre Bargani isn't that bad a defender, his man to man defence is solid

knicksdefense
knicksdefense

No, the league average over the past three years CAN'T be 35% from three.  That simply can't be true, only great shooters are at 35% or more in the NBA.

I understand that you're hating on Bargs, but he was pulling a Vince Carter dump to get out of dodge.  People just don't want to play there.  There are several cities like this in the league, hate to say it.

Chemistry is a special thing, you never know until you go out there and play the game, but I think it is safe to say your vision of  ballstopers "Anthony, Smith, Bargnani and Stoudemire " will never play simultaneously.  Even the casual NBA fan is aware of the lack of chemistry between Stoudemire and Anthony, so at any given time, expect to see permutations of two at a time, with Artest and Tyson in there to help with the defensive inabilities of Melo, Stoudemire and Bargs, whichever two are playing.

Funny how the pundits talk payroll in a city where payroll matters not.  the russian is commended for his spending, even if it is on geezers on their last leg of their NBA careers, but this has always been about building around Melo, and under the circumstances you mentioned, they have done what they can with the cap.

Did you watch the playoffs last year?  Did you see Indiana beat up on New York?  The only reason I ask is because you didn't mention Bargnani could help space the floor better because whatever big is on him has to play honest defense and step out from the paint.  I think that is the rational behind the acquisition.  

I can't believe you think the Knicks are better off going to battle with sh*tty one-dimensional Novak and a washed up Camby.  Very strange point of view.

At least Bargs is a legit 7-foot jump-shooting forward who can pump fake and finish at the rim, Novak is a d-league caliber catch and shoot player at best.

MrBadnewsBrown
MrBadnewsBrown

Just write an article for the sense of writing an article.

Keef
Keef

76ers B+, Celtics A , Knicks C- : You have just entered the Twilight Zone

RobbCorbett
RobbCorbett

WHAT???  Bargnani worsens NY's on court potential???  They got rid of two non-contributors and picked up a potential all star...worse case a 15 point a game, serious offensive threat and defensive big man mismatch...  NY Off season at least a B+ period!  Grunwald is a creative guru!


LetsGoYanks
LetsGoYanks

i hate how the knicks and nets both try to "represent" NY....they're both stupidly run teams...they're not the Yankees (and they're not even the Yankees anymore).....at least we have the up and coming hockey team who will be playing in the Barclay's in a couple of years....

Keef
Keef

Unless you're another Heat bandwagoner (probable) , your fav team is going nowhere either no matter how your water is.....

chipdavis
chipdavis

You Knick homers actually believe marshmelo is gonna take you anywhere?  There must be something in the water back there. 

Keef
Keef

Knicks won 54 games last year and will be be better this year, mark it down. AB will bounce back playing on a good team at last. The money they used to re-sign Smith could not have been spent on anyone else, so to say they overpaid or it was a bad move is ignorant. Check facts first before writing article. Haters keep on hating, we'll see when the games start. Enjoy missing the playoffs again next year Raptor fan.

PaulSharpe
PaulSharpe

Knicks continue to stink it up...  Flake team, flake owner, flake deals...  4th or 5th seed, early exit, yada, yada, f'ing yada...  

wstaton29
wstaton29

Here's the issue that I have with your grading of the Knicks. First of all for a team that had limited options financially I believe they did a great job bringing in the players they brought in. To be able to keep JR, Kenyon, Pablo, basically part of there core was great. Second everyone's hating on Andrea Bargnani, the bottom line is he's better than Nova, Copeline and an elderly Camby combine. Plus the deals works for the Knicks financially. Go to YouTube to watch more footage of Bargnani's game. Trust Me this 27 year old can Ball. Than for the Knicks to sign World Peace, Beno and to get Tim Hard way Jr. Plus with the other pieces they have this team is very deep one of the deepest in the league. Writers and so called professionals said the same thing last year and the Knicks still managed to win 54 games, almost swept the heat in the season with probably more injuries than any other team in the NBA. The team is better and healthier. My grade A solid B.

darkmanozair
darkmanozair

Good: Retain key players. Add MWP + Udrih.

Bad: trade Camby (got no mins) and Novak (liability on defensive end) for Bargnani,

therefore... worst offseason ever.

Cmon. He called Stoudemire and Bargnani ball stoppers. What? They only function well with good pgs who can set them up. Stoudemire is no longer what he used to be, the offense doesn't flow around him anymore. Then the money issue, well if u are going to be exact, then be exact. First the Knicks were going to be over the tax anyway so mute point. Secondly, yes now the difference between Novak+Camby vs AB is about 3.8M extra for NY this yr and about $4.3M next (not incl draft picks valued at what $1M roughly?) but clears them from Novaks 3rd yr of $3.75M. That hypothetically cancels out the first yr the Knicks pay extra except the 3rd yr gives them more flexibility in an important free agency, and also we fail to mention how AB contract will be an important trade asset come trade deadline of it's expiring yr. It's not as south, as the author makes it seem.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

The Knicks are buried for at least another three years now - before the rebuilding can begin. Couldn't happen to a more deserving owner.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

Who actually trades live people for Andrea Bargnani?  The guy is a liability with a huge salary.

I_Love_My_Knickz
I_Love_My_Knickz

@spiderminion That "bad" contract doesnt make a bit of difference considering it ends sooner for us and we cant do anything financially until 0'15 anyway. Bargnani can get better on the Knicks with Woodson as his coach, and he will be playing with 2 great perimeter defender in Shumpert & Metta, and another 7 foot DPOY in Tyson. Defense will not be a problem for the Knicks, i'd be willing to bet on that with a booky. Bargnani doesnt rebound because he's not your average big man, he hangs around the perimeter, not the paint. 

ShawnKemp2012
ShawnKemp2012

@knicksdefense I have watched Bargnani play for the last 7 years.  You have no idea how much you are going to hate him.  

M20
M20

@knicksdefense Are you actually disputing the numbers just because you don't like them? Go look up the NBA average 3P%. 35% most certainly is not great. It's adequate. 40%+ is great. Below 34%, you shouldn't be shooting.

Bargnani has been "pulling a Vince Carter" for the past 3 years? As a Knick fan, that alone makes me not want him. He's not going to be doing any floor spacing since he hasn't been a good deep shooter for years. If I'm an opposing coach, that's the shot I *want* the Knicks to be taking. Certainly moreso than a Novak 3.

M20
M20

@RobbCorbett LOL. Bargnani was arguably the worst starter in the league last year. He makes his team worse, not better.

myhandlerules
myhandlerules

@Keef Bounce back from what? Bargnani has always been a poor rebounder, shot blocker and overall defender for his entire career. Maybe he'll start shooting better, but best-case scenario, NY has a big man who doesn't do what you want from a big man, can't create his own shot and cost the team a lot in terms of cash and picks.

eddie767
eddie767

@wstaton29 You do realize an A grade means conference champions,B means conference champ.game? So,the C grade was just about right. Melo is good,but not great. 

M20
M20

@WilyCoyoteSuperGenius This is the unfortunate truth. Some of my fellow Knick fans are criticizing the Knicks' grade here in comparison to the Celtics' grade. Two years from now when the Celtics are back on the upswing while the Knicks are still trying to figure out how to rebuild without draft picks, all will become clear.

Braktooth
Braktooth

@SukeMadiq Raps fans thought it was Christmas when they found out he'd been traded.

RobertJacke
RobertJacke

@SukeMadiq That's the Knick way overpay for players been doing this for years........

knicksdefense
knicksdefense

this is new york, we always ditch our picks and cash was never a thing but dirty paper.

don't assume you can see how this will end when the team hasn't even touched the floor together yet.  Artest could be the glue or the fire, in november it will be determined.

MrBadnewsBrown
MrBadnewsBrown

@eddie767 @wstaton29 If you feel a C grade is appropriate, that's on you. But don't tell me a team of Melo, Felton, JR, TC, Shump, MWP, Bargs, Stat, KMart, Pablo, with young talents like TH2, Tyler, Leslie isn't A or B grade worthy. Outside of the Nets, I don't see a team in the EC with the depth and veteran leadership as the Knicks.

MrBadnewsBrown
MrBadnewsBrown

@Braktooth @SukeMadiq Actually Bargnani thought it was Christmas when he was traded from the bum a@& Raptors. Let's see if those draft picks work out FINALLY for the Raptors.