I’t time for the Knicks forget about the summer of 2010 and start actually focusing on the summer of 2009. And that, Donnie Walsh, starts with the realization that LeBron James is not going to be wearing No. 23 for the New York Knicks anytime soon.
The first step in fixing the 2009 Knicks is turning David Lee (r) and Nate Robinson (r) into 2010 first round draft picks, cash, and a mid-level prospect or two. As the mighty Chad Ford has already noted, the 2010 NBA Draft should be loaded with potential stars. And wouldn’t you know the Knicks first-round draft pick belongs to the Utah Jazz by way of their 2005 trade for Stephon Marbury. Yes, they are still paying for that Marbury trade.
The Knicks obviously have little intention on making David Lee and Nate Robinson a major part of their future. That was made clear when they drafted Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas in the first round of the ’09 draft. A team in transition (we’re not allowed to call it “rebuilding” in New York) needs to, um… rebuild… by way of the draft. Of course that doesn’t help help the 2009 Knicks, does it?
The best move the Knicks can still make this offseason is to forget about signing the 33-year-old Andre Miller and send the mid-level exception to the 23-year-old Ramon Sessions. I don’t think anyone knows just yet what kind of player Ramon Sessions will become, but the Knicks have an ace-in-the-hole: Mike D’Antoni.
Both Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are out of the picture, having signed extensions this summer with their respective teams. The Knicks current point guard, Chris Duhon, is on the final year of his contract and as well as he played in ’08-’09, Duhon really is nothing more than a back-up point guard.
Last season under Scott Skiles (meaning: with a leash around his neck), Sessions had a promising campaign: 44.5 FG%, 12.4 PTS, 5.7 AST, 1.1 STL, 3.4 REB, 1.92 TO, 17.65 PER. Sessions managed to start in 38 games at the point where he averaged 33.8 MPG and posted 15.7 PTS and 7.5 AST. It’s a little obvious that Scott Skiles has some different idea of what it means to be a playmaking point guard.
Andre Miller posted a similar season in Philadelphia: 47.3 FG%, 16.3 PTS, 6.5 AST, 4.5 REB, 1.3 STL, 2.43 TO, 18.71 PER. The difference is not in the overall numbers, but in the per/40 statistics. Miller and Sessions both averaged 18.0 points/40, while Sessions averaged a notch higher in rebounds/40 (5.0 vs. 4.9) and 1.1 assists more than Miller over a 40 minute span. Miller has proven to be a better 3PT% shooter (mostly because Sessions’ game beyond the arc is non-existent), but when you take the total average of treys per game both players averaged just 0.2 from downtown.
While one of the main issues in the debate over Miller v. Sessions is of course the age difference; the other factor is the price tag. Miller will likely require an extra $3-4 million per season. While I don’t think it will hurt the Knicks in 2010 – I’m having a hard time seeing them slip far enough of the salary cap next summer regardless of who they sign – the summer of 2011 is another story. The Knicks will have Jared Jeffries and Eddy Curry both come off the the books. By then they should be able to make a run at either Carmelo Anthony and/or Dwight Howard.
The key to success for the Knicks is patience. They need to not reach and pretend that they are something they’re not – a playoff team. It would make much more sense for the Knicks to sign a guy like Sessions and build him through D’Antoni’s system for a year or two until they are really ready to make a splash in the free agent market. Signing Miller, unlike Sessions, would be another sign that the Knicks are content with just making the playoffs. More “fannies” in the seats, as they say. If that’s where your priorities are… take Miller. If you’re serious about putting together a team to compete for the Eastern Conference title in a few years… start with Sessions.