Additional evidence of the kakistocracy at MSG
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (which was supposed to be, ironically enough, a breakdown of all the ways the Knicks have utterly failed in the development of Kevin Knox) to bring you Angry Jon on this otherwise lovely Tuesday morning.
And why not. No basketball and too much quarantine has made it a while since I went on a good old fashioned rant. We need one today:
On the surface, you might look at this and not be terribly upset. After all, it shows a few things worth smiling about:
Some within the Knicks realize that the Julius Randle experiment wasn’t working. This counts as progress.
They also recognize that ball-handlers who are capable of hitting an outside shot make it easier to run an NBA offense. Also good!
Most of all though, it’s evidence that the Knicks aren’t victims of the sunk cost fallacy, a concept I’ve written about in the past about how people continue doing the same stupid thing they’ve been doing just because they’ve invested time and resources in the stupid thing already (although this last part gets tricky…I’ll get to why in a bit…)
All well and good. If I could ignore the incompetence of the people running this team at the deadline (and more importantly, who still play a role in running this team, because if you think of Steve Mills as some bogeyman who was responsible for every poor decision and bad idea this organization had over the last several years, I got news for ya: he ain’t), I’d feel a lot better about the situation.
But I don’t.
ICYMI, here’s what I wrote about Terry Rozier in my “Top Ten Salary Dump Candidates” column on Friday:
Terry Rozier, Hornets - 2 years, $36.8 million: I forget if it was reported or I just heard it through the grapevine, but if the Knicks shipped Randle to Charlotte at the deadline, Scary Terry was coming back in the deal.
Ideal Knicks Interest Level: Low. If the answer is “5000 minutes of Terry Rozier at point guard over the next two seasons,” you’re asking the wrong question. There’s a reason the Hornets were willing/desperate to move him half a year into a brand new deal.
Rozier ranked No. 3 on my list of NBA players who I thought could be salary dump victims by their teams this offseason.
Andrea Bargnani, who appeared atop the previous Friday Top Ten list of worst Knicks of my lifetime, would have likely appeared near the top of a similar column had I made one during the summer that the Knicks gave up a first round pick (and two seconds!) to acquire his cadaver seven years ago.
Nothing has changed. Not a damn thing.
This Rozier snippet, as well as the Randle signing that preceded it, is proof that the Knicks have been run by people no more qualified for their job than a kid who looks at the back of a basketball card and knows what things like “PPG,” RPG,” and “APG” mean.
Yes, Terry Rozier is a nominal point guard hitting 40 percent from downtown who is averaging 18 points a game this season. But there is a reason his signing was universally derided as the worst (non-Knick) contract handed out last summer, and that’s because he is the embodiment of NBA Fool’s Gold.
Unless Rozier is placed in a very precise ecosystem that manages his flaws and accentuates his strengths (which are volatile regardless), he can be a massively negative player. Boston, unsurprisingly, knew what the hell it was doing when it extended Marcus Smart a year earlier, yet never thought twice about retaining Rozier despite better numbers on the surface.
Some players thrive in an expanded role, while others are responsible for diminishing returns (sound familiar?). The Celtics suspected that Rozier was a member of the latter group, and they were right.
The on/off numbers for Scary Terry were indeed frightening this season: the Hornets played like a downright respectable team when he sat (just a minus 1.2 net rating), but were more abysmal than the NBA-worst Warriors when he played (minus 9.0).
Want more? When Devonte Graham (the guy the Knicks should have been trying to pry away) played without Rozier this season, Charlotte has a minus 2.6 net rating. When Graham sat and Rozier played, however, the Hornets were outscored by 16.5 points per 100 possessions, which was in the second percentile league-wide according to Cleaning the Glass.
I wrote yesterday about the concept of bucket-getters and how, for as much as they frustrate us at times, you need them to win games. Rozier can get you buckets, just like Julius Randle can get get you buckets.
But just like Julius, when you empower these sorts of players with a role that is above their pay grade (or what their pay grade should be, at least), it can have catastrophic consequences.
Yes, the Knicks need a point guard who can hit a three, but they also need someone who can think the game at a high level. Thanks to the league’s rule changes at the beginning of the century, never before in NBA history has as high a premium been placed on a lead ball-handler who is as adept with his decision making as he is with his shot-making. It’s why 11 of the last 15 MVP awards have gone to a team’s lead ball-handler, whereas it went to just six of the previous 49.
Anyone who watched a Hornets game this year would know that Rozier is among the worst decision-makers of the league’s 30 starting point guards. He does not see the game in the way a good team needs their lead ball-handler to view it. As far as I can tell, he is the only starting point guard in the league with an assist to turnover ratio under two that doesn’t have the usage rate to justify such a putrid number.
And we still haven’t gotten to the worst part: Terry Rozier would have been a Knick last summer if New York was willing to give him a third guaranteed year on his contract!
It just confirms what many have suspected for a while now, which is that the team’s front office operates like a couple of stoned teenagers playing a game of 2K:
“Yooooo….I can get Julius Randle for two guaranteed season? That means I still have a shot at Giannis in 2021! Dude averages 20 & 8…sign me up bro!”
(six months later)
“Yoooo…Randle’s trash bro…I gotta get rid of this guy. Wait…isn’t that Rozier dude hitting like 40 percent from deep this year? We have extra picks from that KP trade, right? Fuckin’ send one of those shits to Charlotte and get him…he can’t be worse than what we got now. Actually, hold off for a sec…I’m jonesing for a Doritos Locos…”
I wish I was kidding. I really do.
It doesn’t matter that the Knicks ultimately said no to a deal. I trust Ian Begley’s reporting, and according to Ian, this proposed deal “had internal support.”
This is why my “sunk cost fallacy” line above comes with a caveat: if you consistently bounce around from one shitty idea to the next, never once looking in the mirror and saying “maybe I’m the sucker at the table,” then no, you don’t get credit for identifying your own mistakes and being willing to move on from them.
It bears repeating: if telling yourself that this was all Steve Mills gets you to sleep at night, have at it. I’m telling you it’s not. Many of the same asinine decision makers who bandied about this trade proposal - as the folks in Charlotte were trying to contain their laughter on the other line, like Masai Ujiri once did seven years earlier - are still working for the Knicks.
It’s why, as I’ve said many times already, unless Leon Rose has the green light to fire anyone and everyone he sees fit, this organization will continue to suffer.
I have faith that he’ll recognize incompetence when he sees it. I also think he knows how to identify talent. But what happens when his GM candidate of choice tells him that as a prerequisite to taking the job, he (or she) needs full autonomy when it comes to crafting the basketball ops department?
I hope for all of our sakes that such authority is granted, because with no end in sight to this self-isolation and my wife disallowing me to leave the house to stock up on more booze, my liquor cabinet can’t handle many more reports like this one.
Stop being a bunch of ass clowns and run yourselves like a real organization. Really. It’s the least you can do.