An Important Announcement

Before we get to the normal newsletter, I have some news.

Hey everyone! I’ll get to the normal newsletter in a bit, but first, some news…

What’s the news?

This newsletter is becoming partially paid subscription-based, which means it’s not going to be completely free anymore.

Why do you hate us?

I don’t hate you. I love you, I promise. Keep reading.

When is this happening?

In one week, so you’ll have all this week to become a paid subscriber.

What do you mean not “completely” free

I’m still going to be sending out a complementary newsletter every Monday to start, and eventually every other Monday, to anyone who doesn’t want to pay. If you take no affirmative action, you’ll still get those in your inbox.

You’re really stalling on the only question I care about, which is how much.

Yes, I am.

Why?

Because I want you to understand why I’m making the change. And really, there’s a simple and easy narrative for me to spin here:

As some of you may know from listening to the pod, my wife is pregnant with our second child, due in March. It’s a girl, which I couldn’t be more thrilled about, mostly because we saved all the clothes from the first go ‘round, but also because I adore my daughter and I adore the thought of having another version of her even more.

Anyway, kids not only cost money, but require time. Twice the kids equals twice as much of each, and while these newsletters are my version of a pastime (and if I’m being honest, something I don’t think I could live without), the notion of putting 20+ hours a week into this while my wife struggles to maintain her sanity is, well…something I can’t justify. Making this subscription-based will allow me to continue doing the thing that I love (and hopefully allow you to continue to read the thing that you love as well).

So yeah, there’s the easy narrative. It’s also not the full story.

For a while now, I’ve thought that maybe I was good enough to do this for a living. As a result, I’ve applied to sports writing jobs all over the country. Nothing ever came to pass, which I now consider a blessing in disguise, because I finally stopped and asked myself the obvious question: What the f*** am I doing?

As in: Why would I want to uproot my family to cover high school boys basketball for the Rock Springs Daily Rocket-Miner in Wyoming when I could just keep doing what I’m doing now? It wasn’t because of the money or job security. It also wasn’t because it would make me happier, because I really don’t want to cover anything else but the Knicks and the NBA, and I don’t want to do it in any other format. This newsletter allows me to talk to people I feel a connection to with no filter whatsoever, and I can’t express enough how honored I am that people want to read it. I’ve accomplished some things in my life, but nothing makes me prouder than when I get a DM from someone saying they look forward to opening my email with their first cup of coffee. I can’t explain why that is. But it is.

Anyway, I finally realized that I applied to those jobs because it’s that important for me to able to say “I’m a writer” and mean it. No, this will probably never be my primary income, but I also know that as long as it remains a hobby, something within me will remain unsettled. Call it insecurity, call it a cheaper mid-life crisis than a Lamborghini, call it me putting my own writing to the test…call it whatever you want. But I’m proud of these things, and knowing that others place real value on it too is important to me.

OK, enough stalling…

So what the hell is it going to cost???

$3 a month or $30 a year, but only if you sign up now by clicking here:

Get 40% off forever

The normal price is going to be $5 per month and $50 for the year, but I want to give my most loyal readers the opportunity to get in at a one-time-only price that I will never again make available after this week, so if you click on the above button, this deal is yours for as long as you stay subscribed.

(I’ve also heard there are sick, sick people out there who want to pay MORE money for something just because they, like…want to show their appreciation…or something. I would never do this. Ever. But if you are one of these disturbed sorts, and want to pay the full $5 a month or $50 per year, have at it by clicking this button instead:)

If you’re still undecided or want to wait for actual basketball games to be played, I totally understand, and I’m sure I’ll have promotions in the future. But I can promise you this will be the only time I’ll ever offer the newsletter at this price.

Like the great James Dolan, I am nothing if not a sucker for loyalty.

What am I paying for?

A lot, I’d like to think:

  • This newsletter, every weekday, all year long. Self-explanatory.

  • The best Knicks coverage available.

    No, I don’t have Begley’s sources, I don’t spin prose like Vork, and I can’t break down a piece of film (or add cool-ass graphics) like JB once did, but I’d like to think I’m a pretty good combination of all three.

    More than that, no one in the world thinks about this team and all of its complexities and possibilities more than I do. I have no hobbies. I don’t ponder the meaning of life. I think about the Knicks. All. The Damn. Time.

    True Story: When we first got married, my wife used to wonder why I’d often fail to remember things that she told me, and which I, apparently, would acknowledge hearing. Finally she realized: my mind is always thinking about basketball. You can imagine her relief when she found out.

  • Film breakdowns: Keeping the “film” in Knicks Film School is important to me.

  • Breaking news and rumors: No, it won’t always be right, but I hear stuff, and if I think it’s credible, you’ll hear it too.

But wait…I was getting all of this stuff already. What else am I paying for?

What, all this isn’t enough?!?!?

Ok, fine…all paid subscribers will now be able to join a variety of live Zooms with me and regular special guests! What kind of Zooms?

  • Special Events: I’ll be running a live Zoom during the upcoming NBA Draft and the start of free agency, and for any other big Knicks happenings in the future.

  • Halftime: at the halftime of most games, I’ll have a live halftime show (but unlike Wally, I did not once play in the NBA)

  • Games: I’ll do the occasional live game watch, where you can experience a game with me from beginning to end, probably 10 or so throughout the season

  • Q&A: At least once a month, I’ll do special KFS Townhall where you can ask me anything. I’ll probably wind up lining these up any time breaking news happens.

I’d offer nude photos too, but I want to gain subscribers, not make them go blind.

Is that it?

I think so. If anyone has any questions, concerns, thoughts, or just wants to yell at me, you know where to find me. I really hope you’ll continue on this journey with me. There truly is nothing that I love doing more than writing this newsletter, and that’s only the case because I get to share it with a community of people as obsessed with this team as I am.

Regardless of whether you choose to become a paid subscriber or not, thanks for always being a loyal reader, and of course, let’s go Knicks.

And now, a Halloween picture of Princess Elsa (my kid) before we move on to the newsletter:

News & Notes

  • The dance between the NBA and the players union continues.

    As expected, the two sides agreed to extend the deadline by which they could each opt out of the existing CBA until Friday. The primary issues remain when next season restarts and who gets what money once it does. On the timing issue, the league is subtly sending the message that the players would be selfishly hurting their own interests by refusing to restart the season sooner rather than later because they aren’t the ones suffering the most:

    The pandemic triggered the force majeure clause in the CBA, and both the league and union have the ability to terminate the agreement and negotiate a new one. Nevertheless, it makes far more sense for the owners to consider such a dramatic option because the CBA's structure wasn't meant to sustain these kinds of financial losses.

    Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN

    Woj isn’t necessarily wrong - several owners have indeed taken a massive hit - but it’s also worth noting that this messaging is coming from the source that is allegedly pushing for the quicker start. Steve Popper of Newsday noted Saturday that “[a]ccording to one source with knowledge of the talks, the push for the quick start came from the league’s national television partners, ESPN and TNT.”

    This should be no surprise, as the NBA is the biggest draw that ESPN and TNT have. They know that regardless of what happens during the next few seasons, when it comes time to renegotiate the next TV deal in two or three years, the league isn’t going to lower its asking price because of the havoc that this pandemic wrought.

    The TV stations have a lot to lose if the season doesn’t start until January 18, because that would create a domino effect that would likely push back next season as well. The NBA is not going head to head with the Olympics, which means a delay of at least several weeks, another fall finish, and a probable delay of the 21-22 campaign (the other option - a 50-ish game season - has already been shot down by the players).

    This means that one year of bad ratings could turn into two or three. The owners would similarly be hurt from reduced revenues, as would the players, but there’s a key difference. Starting the season on December 22 is a financial win for all parties involves, but requires no sacrifice from the owners (or, obviously, the networks). For the players though, this is another instance of them making a concession for the betterment of all when they’re the only ones feeling the brunt. They don’t want to make it for free.

    All together, this strikes me as a situation ripe for the players to ultimately concede on the quicker start but demand something extra - perhaps a slightly greater share of revenue this season, or a change in the league’s marijuana policy (as was the case in the bubble) - for their trouble. But the owners aren’t stupid; they know they hold all the power. NBA franchises are expensive playthings for most of them, whereas it is these athletes’ livelihood (hence the irony of LeBron James - the player who needs his NBA paycheck perhaps less than anyone - likely pushing the hardest for a delay).

    In the end, I’d bet on some sort of resolution, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some hardball tactics over the course of the next five days leading up to it.

  • In less stressful but no less encouraging news, the Knicks City Edition jerseys may have leaked:

    The response was unified and swift: Bleh. I, for one, am a fan (proving yet again that I’ve left whatever fashion sense I once possessed behind long ago).

    Call me crazy, but I think it shows creativity, which is more than any of their previous Statement/City jerseys can say. Also, they’re largely black, which is what we’ve all been pining for. Finally, while the circle in the middle - something my four-year-old could have conceived of - doesn’t exactly exude “hip,” it does make sense with the theme.

    “The City that Never Sleeps” evokes day seamlessly blending into night and back again - an endless loop that never really has a beginning or an end. The color-fading scheme and centerpiece of the jersey bring that idea home. The black also not only looks cool, but serves as a reminder that New York City is most alive when most of its residents are asleep. Plus, the NYC at the top left is dope.

    (If anyone from MSG Corporate is reading this, please make checks payable to “Cash,” or just Paypal me.)

“Sources Say…”

Let me preface this by saying I’m not reporting a Chris Paul deal is any closer to happening than it was two weeks or two months ago, nor am I saying that Leon Rose is any more inclined to pay OKC’s asking price than he ever was before, but…

I’ve been told by a league source that Chris Paul prefers his next basketball home to be either in LA or NY (Los Angeles is where he resides full time) and that has created some modicum of leverage in the ongoing negotiations between the sides. I’m also told that there is a deal on the table that is comfortable from Sam Presti’s perspective, and the ball is in Leon Rose’s court.

It should go without saying that this situation is fluid, and things can (and probably will) change drastically, but if you think the possibility of Paul to the Knicks is dead, think again.

Oh, and one more thing: Regarding New York’s rumored interest in Kira Lewis, I’m told it is very, very real. Whether that means he’s in consideration at 8 or is still someone they hope to get in a trade down, I can’t say. More to come as I get it.

Listen Up!

New Podcast where Jeremy and I break down the implications of the NBA’s financial issues on the Knicks. We dove very deep for this one. Listen here.

Quote of the Day

Your best? Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and f*** the prom queen.

Rest in Peace, Sean.


Worth the Wait

After an arduous 8-month journey where no actual basketball news and all content creation made Jon a dull boy, say it with me now friends: The NBA Draft is later this month.

16 days from now, to be exact. I’ve pined over more college game film over this time than in all my previous years writing about the NBA combined, so I feel that I’m more than ready, as I’m sure you do as well. Part of the excitement for this draft is that aside from the 8th pick, New York is one of only four teams with three selections in the top 40.

That number is notable. Aa Walt Perrin said way back in April before he ever took the Knicks job, from the 15th to 30th pick, "you could probably have 40 guys that you're looking at, maybe more ... and it's who you like in that particular range that is going to dictate whether or not you take them.” Jonathan Wasserman repeated the same sentiments to me on the pod last week, noting that after speaking to execs around the league, 15 to 40 in this draft would be fluid.

It’s clear that everyone seems to know the same simple truth: 5 or 10 years from now, a lot of general managers are probably going to wind up looking very, very silly. That’s the case when we look back at 2013, the draft that this one has probably been compared to the most. That’s true not only because 2013 gave us a two-time MVP at 15, but also a first overall pick who flamed out of the NBA after scoring just 658 points.

Check out the top 20 players by win shares from that year and where they were drafted (second column from the left):

This order isn’t perfect - I think most people would say Victor Oladipo has had a more productive career than Mason Plumlee or Gorgui Dieng - but it’s still a fair snapshot of the 20 players who have had the greatest impact.

11 players were taken outside the lottery, nine of which were picked 20th or later. Meanwhile, outside of Oladipo, McCollum and maybe Otto Porter, every top-ten selection has been a disappointment to varying degrees.

(This is also a good draft to teach the lesson that you shouldn’t judge a class after its rookie season. The 2013-14 Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter Williams, didn’t even make the above list).

You’ll notice Rudy Gobert’s name near the top of the above chart. That’s encouraging because he was taken with the 27th pick, which is one of the Knicks’ latter two selections. Overall, that choice has yielded some fruit over recent years:

(Not pictured: The greatest 27th pick of all time, Hall of Famer Dennis “Carmen Electra is the Real MVP” Rodman.)

You’ll notice that most of these guys tend to be on the larger side (Sergio Rodriguez and Jordan Crawford are the only players shorter than 6’5”) and several are older and from other countries. Hold that thought.

Moving on, we can see that 38 hasn’t been too shabby either lately:

Dinwiddie and Parsons have been borderline All Stars at their best, Bell and McCaw have contributed to winning teams, and Gafford looks promising.

Speaking of Dinwiddie, his 2014 draft class is probably the best evidence that great talent can be found at the 38th pick or later if you know where to look. Here are the top 10 players from that year ranked by Win Shares:

There are just as many guys picked 38th or later as there were taken in the top 13. Also, just like the year prior with Giannis and Gobert, the top two players - by this metric at least - came from overseas.

I was curious to see just how anomalous 2013 and 2014 were, so I ranked every draft class from 2005 (when the draft expanded to 60 picks) until 2016 (the last year of guys who finished their rookie contracts, which seems like a fair time to judge them) by the win shares those players have achieved, and took the top 12 from each group. Out of 144 possible players:

  • 68 were selected outside the lottery

  • 35 were selected 27th or later

  • 16 were selected 38th or later

That means from 2005 to 2016, nearly a quarter of the top players by win shares were picked 27th or later and over 10 percent were taken 38th or later. Not too bad.

Finally, because I’m an insane person, I went back over those dozen draft years and looked at all the players taken 27th or later who graded out as legitimately helpful NBA performers to try and find some commonalities.

(My benchmarks: the player had to appear in over 150 games, play at least 20 minutes per night, score at least seven points per game, and have a win share per 48 figure of 0.05 or higher. I did some trial and error here, so trust me that this gave an accurate representation of the solid players from this draft range.)

Before we get to the list, some notables just missed out because they were taken a few spots too high, including several current and former Knicks: Bobby Portis (22nd), Jarrett Jack (22nd), Courtney Lee (22nd), Wilson Chandler (23rd), Kyle Lowry (24th), Reggie Jackson (24th), Serge Ibaka (24th), Tim Hardaway Jr (24th), Clint Capela (25th), Nic Batum (25th), George Hill (26th) and Taj Gibson (26th).

Here are the 57 names who made the cut, ordered by pick number, along with their ages, positions and countries or origin:

(I’ll add four who just slipped through the cracks but deserve mention: Dāvis Bertāns, Patty Mills, and the Powells, Norm and Dwight. All four fell below the 20 MPG threshold, which is why they didn’t make the above list.)

Some thoughts on the findings:

  • The slippery slope starts around the 42nd pick and turns into a cliff around 50. Keep that in mind for possible trade-downs and pick acquisitions.

  • The late 20’s and early 30’s is a hotbed for really good foreign guys.

  • When in doubt, go big. Of the 12 men above who made at least one All-Star game, only two - Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic - were point guards. The rest - Pascal Siakam, Khris Middleton, Draymond Green, Nikola Jokic, Paul Milsap, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, David Lee, Jimmy Butler and Rudy Gobert - were all 6’7” or taller. Oh, and there’s this Mitchell Robinson kid who I hear has a decent chance of making it someday.

  • There’s between one and two handful of high pedigree guys who didn’t have their college experience go great, which is why they slipped.

  • Two schools came up three times: Missouri and LSU. A few other schools came up twice: Florida, Marquette, Purdue, Texas, Texas A&M, UNC and Washington.

  • It’s probably best not to draft super young guys in this range. Of the 57 draftees, only 10 were younger than 20 on draft night. Of those, DeAndre Jordan, Nikola Jokic, Lou Williams and Monte Ellis are the only players worth writing home about.

  • The median age was about 21 and a half, with 19 of the 57 players 22 years old on draft night.

With all this in mind, here are my top five names to keep in mind on November 18 based on these findings:

  1. Leandro Bolmaro - arguably the best foreign player not being considered for the lottery and he’s got good size for the position (whatever his position is at the next level).

  1. Jaden McDaniels - He entered last season as the No. 8 recruit in the nation and then underwhelmed at Washington in just about every way, but he’s big (6’11”) and comes from a school that has pumped out a lot of NBA talent over the last few years.

  1. Yam Madar - he’s young and small, but something about him makes me think he’s the second round guy from overseas who we look back a few years from now and ask ourselves how so many people passed on.

  1. Vernon Carey Jr. - Another top ten recruit (No. 6) and it’s not like he stunk up the joint, putting up 25.7 points, 12.7 boards and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes. If the 2020 playoffs were a reminder that the death of the big man has been greatly exaggerated, this might not be the worst guy to take a chance on (even if the tape isn’t terribly pretty at times).

  1. Xavier Tillman - He’s about to turn 22, was awesome at Michigan State, and is probably going to fall to the second round because there’s nothing particularly sexy about him or his game. Kind of reminds me of another guy who came out after his junior season at Louisiana Tech that Walt Perrin swiped with the 47th pick in 2006, and Paul Millsap turned out to be pretty darn good.

16 days and counting…

That’s it for today! Don’t forget to become a paid subscriber by clicking right here…

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…and thanks as always for reading! #BlackLivesMatter #VOTE