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Thanksgiving P&T Mailsack, pt. 1: Sense, centers and sacks

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It’s never too soon to overlook today’s success for tomorrow’s anxiety.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the November P&T mailsack. Let’s get it on!

  • For a while, Jonestown was doing OK, too. SamNY writes:

“At what point in the season will the Knicks come to their senses about dropping out of the playoff hunt, flip the vets, and play the kids?”

Impossible to say. There are so many variables at play for each party in your would-be transactions: for the veterans (Courtney Lee, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, Lance Thomas, and Kyle O’Quinn), for the 29 other teams, and for the Knicks themselves. How meaningful does the front office think the 9-7 start is? Is the endgame to make as much progress as possible as quickly as possible, meaning ideally a playoff run? Or is this year all about maxing reps for the future (Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr., Damyean Dotson, and Willy Hernangomez whatever youngsters step up), and Ws be damned?

Even if the Knicks held a fire sale and buyers were a-plenty, what if the players all hated where they were sent? Does trading vets anywhere you can ultimately benefit the organization going forward? Just last summer there was talk of the Knicks being a last-resort for free agents. They have to establish themselves both on- and off-the-court to the rest of the NBA, two distinct balancing acts that sometimes get in the way of each other. As a result, two fears are on a collision course.

The first fear is that the Knicks should be tanking to get a top-five pick in next June’s draft, and all these unforeseen wins are really fool’s gold, paving the road to yet another thirtysomething-win season that prevents them from landing a foundational stud. If that’s your nightmare, your thorazine is trading allllll the vets for draft picks, cap space and young projects.

The second fear is the fear of looking a gift horse in the mouth, meaning if your team gets off to a good start, embrace it. Nothing succeeds like success. If KP & Co. are good enough this year to win 41 games and perform respectably in the playoffs, isn’t that growth? Isn’t growth what we want? Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward. But also sometimes, one step forward is how one starts breaking into a run.

If KP is an MVP-caliber player...if Ntilikina is the point guard of the future...if Kanter is the perfect partner for Porzingis...if THJ is a legit multi-dimensional wing...then who says the next best thing is more losses and more gambling on the (potential) best-player-available? The better a team is, the fewer needs there are, and (potentially) the more specific the (potential) solution(s).

So to answer your question, SamNY: they’ll come to their senses and trade what little they can a month after it’s obvious to the rest of the world that they already should have.

  • Speaking of trades and projects, It Takes A Village To Raise Chris Childs writes:

“[W]ould you trade...Kyle O’Quinn, Willy Hernangomez and Chicago's 2nd-round pick for Nerlens Noel come December 15? Knowing you would have to also do some more salary cap jiujitsu in order to resign him next summer, ‘cause if he’s traded he loses his Bird rights?”

I’ve always generally endorsed the thought of a Noel-type player alongside Porzingis— a rim-protecting, perimeter-defending, rim-running pick-and-roll diver. I’ve previously campaigned for Derrick Favors to come to New York, but then I learned one of Noel’s nicknames is “The Nerlen Wall” and my skittish love found a favored fever. Give. Now. Lest we’ve forgotten who we’re talking about here...

Sometimes it seems like Noel’s an old soul, NBA-wise, because he’s been around so long. How long? This long.

But this is just his fourth season, and he’s still only 23. Just two years ago, the man finished top-10 in both blocks and steals. His minutes have fallen every year of his career, from over 30 per night as a rookie starting 71 games to a low of 13 minutes for Dallas this year, the same Dallas organization that’s seemingly made every wrong move since winning it all in 2011 yet still continually gives off this “Actually we’re smarter than you, so what looks like failure to your simian eyes is just the first stage in our renaissance” stink. Last year they seemed to do well trading Andrew Bogut, a non-Jackson Five Jackson and some 2nd-round picks for Noel. Then the offseason came and the world heard from Noel’s former agent, a name well-known to Knick fans as the world’s second-most famous Happy, after Gilmore.

Noel, not surprisingly, looked for what he considered a fair deal, couldn’t find it, and bet on himself to have a big year as the Mavs’ center and earn bigger dollars when he hits unrestricted free agency next summer. But the Mavericks, perhaps the only team in the NBA with more centers than the Knicks, have been benching Noel in favor of Dirk Nowitzki impersonating an actual mummy and somebody named Dwight Powell, whose mother loves him and who is three years older than Noel and literally does nothing better than him.

All right, all right: Powell is a better three-point shooter. But his shooting, though better, is still below-average (25% for his career). Even what Powell’s better at he’s still no good at. But he signed a contract extension and Noel didn’t, so the Mavs are prioritizing their pride and control over an inferior talent rather than risk Noel coming up big this year and making them look dumb or making them pony up next summer when other teams are offering more than $70M.

Remember what Noel can do when motivated and given playing time.

He rebounds. He defends. He can pass! But can he end up on Broadway? If Kanter opts-out of the $18.6M he’s due next season, if the Knicks stretch-waive Joakim Noah, if other vets are jettisoned, and if the Knicks don’t draft a big next June...maybe. And regarding Bird rights: I’m hearing those would not be lost if Noel were traded to New York this year.

  • Speaking of sacks...courtesy of James Marceda:

“Please power rank the following sacks: Kristaps’ fluid-filled elbow sack, Santa’s gift sack, Goldman Sachs, Sacramento, Sacajawea, Johnny Sack, and this kangaroo nut sack sold as a coin purse.”

1) KP’s fluid-filled elbow sack. Because even an infected part of his corporeal form contains flecks of divinity. Y porque hasta en el roto del fondillo del Diablo hay poesía.

2) Sacramento. The Kansas City Kings moved to California’s capital city in 1985. For their first 16 seasons, they never won a playoff series and failed to reach the playoffs 75% of the time. Yet every home game was seemingly sold out, and the intensity and faithfulness of their supporters was almost hard to believe. No fan base in the NBA deserves its team more than the people of Sacramento.

3) Sacajawea. “She was skilled at finding edible plants.

4) Santa’s gift sack. Santa sure as shit ain’t redistributing any wealth on his annual ode to cupidity, so even if he’s giving everyone an equal share, that propagates a pre-existing unjust state. Fuck that yuletide-y capitalist motherfucker right in his 1%er jolly red Christmas hole.

5) Johnny Sack. Don’t like being this low, John? Just do as you’re told. I’ll deal with the fallout.

6) The kangaroo nut sack. Maybe Australian humor just isn’t my thing. Now, if a group of Canadians had made a joke about kangaroo nut sacks, it’d be cult-flick funny and pro’ly have a pretty boss soundtrack, to boot.

7) Goldman Sachs. Why they so low? If you don’t know, you better ask somebody.

That’s all for part one. Look for part two to drop sooner than later.