One Week Away
The Trade Deadline is almost here. Who knows what it could bring.
In this (once again late - sorry folks) newsletter:
A light Friday news day, which is probably for the best after the last 24 hours. When the biggest topic of conversation is which substances work best for Knick fans to numb themselves from what this season has done to them, it’s nice to get a breather.
But no day ever passes without something worth talking about, and last night SNY’s Ian Begley shed some light on the team’s approach to the deadline where Marcus Morris is concerned:
“…at least one team in touch with the Knicks recently was left with the impression that Morris and New York have strong mutual interest in reaching an agreement in free agency this summer.”
Connecting the dots, Begley added that “teams interested in Morris will probably be less likely to make a significant offer to New York since the chances of that team re-signing him are diminished.” He also added that the Clippers have shown interest in Morris recently.
None of this is really breaking news per se, but it is interesting that the report dropped when it did. As with any sourced NBA report, you have to ask yourself: who benefits from getting this out in the open?
The obvious answer here would seem to be the Knicks, if only because a trade partner might pony up a better asset if they feel like New York doesn’t really want to deal Morris. But this could also benefit a team trying to get Morris by frightening off other suitors.
Regardless of who’s telling the truth, if it’s 2:30 next Thursday and the team with the best offer on the table calls the Knicks’ bluff and stands pat, what then? We know what it means if you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table. Let’s hope the same doesn’t apply for the last half hour before the deadline.
I’m going to double down on what I heard over a month ago, which is that Morris wouldn’t at all mind being moved to a playoff squad, and that while the Knicks’ interest in him being a long term piece is real, they’re also a team that likes to accomodate their players.
For right now, I’m going to assume they move him. This may be upsetting to some people, and I get it. Marcus Morris has been the Knicks best player this season by almost any metric. According to Cleaning the Glass, New York is 7.2 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than without him, which is the highest on the team (although he, Payton, Randle and Mitch are all around the same vicinity)
It’s ok to want to keep and re-sign good players. It’s also ok to want to retain players who want to play for you. Lastly, it’s ok to think that being able to play and thrive in New York is enough of a value add to consider in your decision-making process.
But if that last part is the biggest reason New York’s brass thinks it needs to retain Morris (and I’d bet that it is), then it’s time for them to have a Come to Jesus moment.
A big part of why playing for this franchise has been such a daunting task isn’t just because of the media scrutiny, but because of the losing that begets that scrutiny. That losing, at least in part, has been a product of the decisions this front office has made.
Retaining someone who is able to thrive despite their own poor choices is not evidence of sound reasoning; it’s a Get Out of Jail Free card paid for by the tears of Knick fans.
If this thing starts to turn around, having someone around who can phase out distractions won’t matter nearly as much, because talented players will be lining up to sign on. Of course there’s a big of chicken or the egg here, but the point remains: there are other, more efficient ways of improving than retaining a 30-year-old ball-stopper and then praying he allows you to overpay him in the summer.
As an aside, there’s also a legitimate question of just how much better Marcus Morris makes those around him, if at all…
Of 92 players in the NBA that average at least 30 minutes a night, only six have fewer assist points created than Marcus Morris, and four of those players are centers.
Morris has played 484 minutes with Mitchell Robinson, and that pairing has been quite good together, with a minus 1.4 net rating in that time. But he hasn’t exactly helped Robinson individually, passing him the ball only 55 times and setting him up for only 22 field goal attempts, with 15 makes (Julius Randle, FWIW, hasn’t been much better in his 500 minutes with Mitch: 59 passes, 22 attempts, 12 makes)
The Morris / RJ pairing has been a bit rougher, with a negative 5.6 rating in 832 minutes, but that figure is also better that Barrett’s overall figure of negative 9.4. Similarly to Robinson though, it’s unclear how much Mook is helping out the rookie. Morris has assisted on just nine of RJ’s field goals this year, or barely more than one per 100 minutes.
For those folks out there who would be amenable to the Knicks trading Randle and keeping Morris, we don’t have enough data to say whether that team would be much better. According to Cleaning the Glass, Morris has only been on the floor with 249 possessions with Robinson but not Randle (they have a slightly positive net rating) and even fewer (160 possessions) with RJ and no Randle.
In any case, if and when they move him, I don’t think we’ve seen enough for anyone, even the most ardent supporters of keeping Morris, to be too upset.
Today I’m using today’s PredictionStrike Player Spotlight to pay homage to the Knicks’ next opponent and one of my favorite players in the league on a day that’s been a long time coming.
Domantas Sabonis was named a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team yesterday, an honor he’s more than deserving of. I fell in love with Domas when I wrote about the Pacers for another blog back during the 2017-18 season, and he’s just an absolute delight to watch.
Dude isn’t perfect, but you never feel like he’s hurting you when he’s out there. He has a .544 eFG% to go with 18 points, 12.6 boards and 4.6 assists. Him and Giannis are the only ones with that stat line.
Here’s the best part: Sabonis can be had at a bargain basement price of just $0.88. The reason for that is he started out the season so hot that his projections kept going up and up, and he’s regularly projected to get over 40 fantasy points when he takes the floor. As a result, his $2.09 stock price to start the season is down to a new low.
I think that this is the lowest it’ll get, that his projections will come down to earth because he’s been failing to meet them, and the price will start to go up.
If you want to get in on the action and haven’t yet signed up for PredictionStrike, click here and use code KFS when signing up to get $10 towards your first deposit of $20 or more. Happy Investing!
News & Notes
compiled by Michael Schatz (@mschatz99)
Stefan Bondy wrote about the Knicks, James Dolan and accountability. I wish I could say I disagreed with a word he said.
Elfrid Payton got suspended. Here’s what it means.
Vivek Dadhania wrote about a big Knicks win from the year I was born.
That’s it! See everyone on Monday!