It’s been two months since our last mailbag, which means if you were a dog you’d have waited as long for this as your human will likely end up waiting for the return of Kristaps Porzingis. So consider this your literary Latvian fix. Come get some.
1) From Twitter user @warrenleightTV:
We seem to have a glut of guards, and as last night made clear, we could use at least one more big guy who can rebound, and perhaps even defend. Are there any trades in the near future? @ptknicksblog . https://t.co/bqakPxelnu— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) October 9, 2018
Mr. Leight tweeted this after the Knicks’ first preseason loss against Washington. I’m not sure how many proven rebounding/defending bigs are available, nor how motivated the organization is to swing a deal to add any at this point in time. Every day Kristaps Porzingis is out is another grace period for the team to develop and assess personnel without wins meaning all that much. They’re especially unlikely to add anyone who’d be on the books next year, so unless someone makes an offer New York can’t refuse, which has happened precisely never, to lust after impactful bigs on one-year low-dollar deals is to dream the impossible dream.
Which Knick guards would be most likely to be de-glutted? It’s hard to imagine a contending team who’d have use for Courtney Lee trading a big of equal value with fewer years or money on his deal than Lee’s two and $25M. Trey Burke pro’ly isn’t going anywhere; he’s the best of a bad lot of point guards at the moment, and at under $2M this season he’s about as effective a trade bait as spit.
Despite his relatively astonishing lack of playing time, Damyean Dotson still has more value to the Knicks as a potentiality than an asset. Despite his relatively astonishing $4.5M salary, Ron Baker is the poor man’s poor man’s Matthew Dellavedova; ain’t no one got time for that. The Knicks, deep down, would pro’ly be better than fine with trading Tim Hardaway Jr. And hillbillies prefer to be called sons of the South. But it ain’t gonna happen.
The best candidate for what Mr. Leight describes may already be on the roster. Noah Vonleh is a 23-year-old four years removed from being a top-10 draft pick who makes $1.6M on an expiring deal and has averaged at least 11 rebounds per 36 minutes three of his four seasons. Vonleh put up a double-double in just 16 minutes on opening night. Maybe everything we need is right here in front of us.
2) What overpaid role player does [Scott] Perry need to trade for in order to be at a Sean Marks’ level genius?
— Drew Steele
He’d have to trade the Knicks’ first-round picks this year and in 2020 and 2022, plus a pick swap in 2021, for Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker and Pau Gasol. A small price to pay for eventual immunity from criticism from the press. The blueprint for greatness!
3) At what point is MSG underwater?
The better question is which comes first:
— MSG underwater?
— Knicks win a championship?
— James Dolan pays property taxes?
You know what they say. First choice = best choice.
4) From Twitter user @CuriousIAmVery:
You guys should do some original journalism on the tough times Noah is no doubt going thru, and how the Knicks are making him suffer until he agrees to their onerous terms for his buyout/freedom. Poor guy does not deserve this treatment! nobody does.— P Williams (@CuriousIAmVery) October 9, 2018
An examination of P-Dubs other tweets reveals a defense of Jeff Hornacek as Knick head coach, asking Wally Szczerbiak to fix Porzingis’ arc on shots from downtown and Brandon Jennings’ footwork on running threes, and tweeting someone who isn’t really R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe to ask where he got the green-striped shirt in the video for “The Great Beyond.”
As an ex who was obsessed with R.E.M. would repeat to me ad nauseam, Michael Stipe’s favorite color is circus peanut orange. As a child I saw the circus once at Madison Square Garden; after it ended I was most amazed by the size and stink of the elephant poop. To call Joakim Noah’s performance as a Knick “elephant poop” is an insult to piles of shit everywhere. Wasn’t sure I’d find a way to tie this all together. Nice.
5) “Which of the dudes whose contracts expire this summer do you feel is most likely to be worth keeping into the future?”
— Ashwin Ramnath
The nominees are: Kanter, Mario Hezonja, Baker, Emmanuel Mudiay, Burke, Vonleh, and Luke Kornet.
If this were a beauty pageant, Baker and Mudiay never make it to the swimsuit competition. Baker’s ceiling on offense is “he didn’t hurt the team tonight”; Mudiay’s is “he didn’t hurt himself falling down.”
In the semifinals, we bid adieu to Kornet and, in the upset of the night, Burke. Kornet doesn’t appear to have the athleticism or footspeed to be part of the vision David Fizdale has expressed for the team moving forward. Note this is a matter of fit and not ability. I think Kornet might have a future in the league. Under a different style, it might even be in New York. But I don’t see him fitting in with what appears to be coming down the pipeline.
I am not nearly as high on Burke as other fans, and as with Kornet that’s more about reading the tea leaves on 33rd and 8th rather than an indictment of the player. I suspect the organization intends to modernize as much as possible the next few years, and Burke’s pedestrian wingspan and like-but-not-like-like feelings re: three-pointers makes him the most expendable of the remaining players on this list.
Your second-runner up is Hezonja. Scott Perry sees something there he likes going back to his time in Orlando, and Hezonja may occupy an ecological niche at just the right time in the evolution of the league, with the size and skills to play wing or either forward spot. This team is still deplorably low on shooters, and while Mario’s career numbers don’t point to him being one, remember: his only NBA experience up to now was with the Magic. Evaluating his fit for the gig is like interviewing a candidate for the priesthood who just graduated from Yeshiva University.
First runner-up? Vonleh. He rebounds. His wingspan is nearly 7’5”, and though his block percentage every year has been lower than what Kanter put up a year ago, length can be a gift even if you don’t know how to use it. He’s never averaged more than 17 minutes a game, even while starting more than half the 185 games he played for Portland. If he can board, rotate on D and at least achieve spatial competence, even if he doesn’t block shots he could be a useful guest star in a limited capacity alongside Porzingis. And if he ever develops a three-point shot, which is not unheard of under this coach...
I’ve had a feeling about Kanter being here for the long haul since he arrived last year. You can offer any logical/statistical/financial reason to say it ain’t so, and I won’t argue with you. I just have a feeling he’s destined to be here a while. Sometimes narrative overwhelms reason. Sometimes that pays off.
Kanter loves New York City so much. He’s so transparently corny. But he does two things no one else on this team does — score efficiently in the paint and grab rebounds like they’re Tayyip Erdoğan’s testicles — so you bet your ass he’s looking to get paid and looking to bomb away from downtown with his coach’s blessing. Marc Gasol averaged eight three-point attempts a year over his first eight years, then took 268 his first year under Fizdale. Kanter averaged almost twice as many threes his first seven seasons as Gasol.
Kanter at $20M isn’t likely to appeal to the front office or the fan base. Brook Lopez went from making $20M the last three years to a little over $3M this season. If the free agent dominoes fall a certain way and Kanter would sign for 3 years and $33M, there are way weirder things I can envision than him returning.
6) “If Kanter’s extended three point range is a real thing, can he be a good pair with [Kristaps] Porzingis for the future? “
7) If you had to pair each member of the current Knicks with a cocktail, what would they be?
Y’all had fun with this one. The best replies were:
Allan_Houstatlatnavegas: “Frank might be a French 75 [champagne, lemon juice, gin, simple syrup]…Kanter might be be an Old Fashioned.” (bourbon/rye, Angostura bitters, sugar cube, water)
Zombor: “Mudiay is a Four Loko. You get aggressive, stumble and then wonder how you ended up on the floor.”
PJpridezone: “Hopefully [Mitchell Robinson’s] development will be similar to a Long Island Iced Tea? It doesn’t taste strong (1st year) but 20 [minutes] later after you have a second (2nd year) [you] wind up floored that it was that strong and was a steal for the price compared to other drinks.”
PorzingisAlmanack: “[Hardaway] is shots of [t]equila. You might have a great night but most likely you’re all over the damn place.”
WaltClydePhraser: “Luke Kornet is a tall glass of milk.”
Ron Baker is a sippy cup of milk.
Joakim Noah is absinthe. You hear all these stories from people who swear it’s incredible, but after years of hype by the time you finally find any you’re pretty sure it’s not even absinthe, and whatever you ended up buying is bullshit.
Lee is a white Russian. A pretty decent one. Only the bar where you order it is a bit pricey, and after a couple of rounds you realize you don’t have enough cab fare left to get home anymore.
NYC native Lance Thomas? He’s a nutcracker.
Burke is beer. He’s a good time, but you know in your heart he’s never gonna take you as far as you wanna get.
Kevin Knox is pink Moscato: bubbly, exciting, and no matter how it turns out those first few sips bring an excitement that electrifies your tongue, and really you’re just happy to be feeling anything.
Isaiah Hicks is a screwdriver if you used bitter elementary school cafeteria orange juice.
Hezonja is sangria that’s been left out in the sun just long enough to make everyone who drinks it comfortably uneasy.
Vonleh is a bottle of Apothic Red. At $10 a bottle, you’ve nothing to complain about.
Allonzo Trier is George’s Marvelous Medicine: deodorant, shampoo, floor polish, horseradish sauce, gin, animal medications, engine oil, anti-freeze, and brown paint, a.k.a. the original homemade performance-enhancing drug.
That’s all for this month’s mailbag, all you little gender constructs. Keep your eye out for November. It’s the quiet months you gotta watch out for.