The Knicks Bringing on Metta World Peace would be Hilariously Brilliant

Metta World Peace in a Knicks hat hugging watermelons

Metta World Peace in a Knicks hat hugging watermelons

This summer was set to be a crucial factor in determining the New York Knicks’ fate for 2014. Despite re-signing two of their own impact free agents in J.R. Smith and Pablo Prigioni, Mike Woodson’s roster is still riddled with holes throughout, and devoid of a key two-way player—that is, one that thrives on both offense and defense.

New York also desperately needs a third point guard—enabling Woodson to run out starting lineups consisting of two point men, which were extremely successful last season—and a starting small forward that complements Carmelo Anthony’s skillset at the 4.

The latter, prototypically a “3&D wing,” seemed to be a high priority for Glen Grunwald at the onset of free agency. But as the days passed, and negotiations ceased, the exception-strapped Knicks—they only have $1.75 million of their midlevel exception and veteran’s minimum contracts at their disposal—watched helplessly as their wing targets signed elsewhere.

Francisco Garcia re-upped with the Houston Rockets. Dorrell Wright inked a new deal with the Portland Trailblazers. Matt Barnes was offered $11.5 million from the Los Angeles Clippers, which the Knicks didn’t have a prayer of matching. Carlos Delfino joined the Milwaukee Bucks on a three-year deal, and just like that, the Knicks were out of options. (All links here.)

That was until Sunday evening at 5 p.m. ET, when it was announced that the NBA’s newest free agent would be hitting the market immediately—somebody who’s no stranger to the Big Apple.

Forty-eight hours after being amnestied by the Los Angeles Lakers, forward Metta World Peace cleared waivers and is now an unrestricted free agent. The Knicks are reportedly “strong frontrunners” to sign the former Ron Artest, according to Yahoo! Sports.

World Peace will still receive the $7,727,280 he’s due from the Lakers this season, which means that New York’s lack of financial resources hardly comes into play. The Knicks could offer a minimum salary (roughly $1.4 million for World Peace), or the $1.75 million left of the MLE.

At 34, World Peace will hardly be in his prime by the middle of next season. The former Defensive Player of the Year and two-time All-Defensive first teamer will not be expected to play like it’s 2004, but will still heal a sore spot for the Knicks from last season.

The 2012-13 Knicks lacked a long, talented defender that could check wings from the three-point line and in—World Peace, even at his advanced age, brings that to the table.

In the table below, via 82games.com, you’ll see that New York struggled to keep opposing small forwards at bay all year long. Aside from rival point guards, which the Knicks were consistently torched by in 2013, small forwards were the next largest issue.

Opponent Production by Position

Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
PG 18.5 .513 4.4 25% 5.1 7.5 3.7 0.2 3.1 22.6 17.5
SG 16.5 .491 4.1 19% 5.4 3.8 2.6 0.3 3.2 19.5 13.1
SF 14.8   .549   4.0   24%  7.2   2.9   2.4   0.6   3.6   19.3   15.8  
PF 14.9 .484 4.8 38% 10.4 2.8 2.6 1.1 4.1 17.9 14.9
C 12.9 .505 4.9 53% 13.5 2.2 3.3 1.8 5.2 16.4 15.5

With this in mind, take a look at the performance of World Peace’s opponents at the small forward position last year in LA—again via 82games. A vast improvement over the Knicks’ 3s from a season ago.

Opponent Counterpart 48-Minute Production

Position FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
SF 14.8 .478   2.5 27% 6.8   3.1 2.0 .7 3.6 16.0   11.8 

The Mike D’Antoni-led Lakers’ struggles on the defensive end were well-documented last season, but LA allowed approximately two points per 100 possessions less when World Peace was on the court.

The 2013 Knicks were an incomprehensible disappointment on the defensive end, and another failed season in that regard will more than likely lead to an accelerated rebuild. Last year’s team finished 17th in defensive efficiency according to HoopData—the bottom half of the league.

As depicted below, New York’s lofty championship expectations for 2013 really couldn’t have been more delusional. The defense wasn’t ever close to championship-caliber—in 2013, or any year in recent history.

wwwswswss

The Knicks need as much help as financially possibly on defense, and adding the St. John’s alum would be a couple of steps in the right direction.

On the offensive end, Metta doesn’t have a whole lot to offer these days, but nevertheless could slide seamlessly into the Knicks’ offense. At its best and its worst, the New York attack is funneled primarily through Carmelo Anthony, via isolations and post-ups.

As the team found out in playoff matchups against the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers, Anthony is unable to create much offense at all without space to work with. That space is created by shooters that open the floor, dragging defenders from the paint to the perimeter.

Without it, Carmelo Anthony—i.e. the Knicks’ offense—looks like this:

World Peace has shot a mediocre .328 from three-point range over the last two seasons with Los Angeles, which is bad. But what’s good is that Ron Ron (does that still work?) shot over 37 percent on corner threes last year, which is about the clip at which New York stroked it from there in 2013.

This is especially important since Woodson tends to stick his wing players in either corner, where they await open three chances. Just ask Iman Shumpert, who heaved more than one more three-pointer per 36 minutes last year compared to his rookie campaign. His 43 percent success rate from the corners played a gigantic role in the team’s late-regular-season resurgence, and displayed what the prototypical offensive accessory accomplishes in Woodson’s offense.

The Queensbridge native would further benefit from Woodson’s veteran-favoring coaching schemes, solely based off his 13 years in the league. The Knicks practically define “win-now,” and tossing World Peace into the fold for 2014—at the very least—wouldn’t do anything to hurt their chances in the short term.

Make no mistake: The roster is still messy. Amar’e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani may be in the starting lineup on a consistent basis. The way to avoid that terrifying scenario is to run both defensively challenged forwards out in the same second unit, which would be even more hilarious for opposing teams. Catch 22—or 77, maybe.

The team still needs one last point guard, even though Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Shumpert are already set to battle for minutes in the backcourt.

Fixing the Knicks for 2014 won’t be easy, and adding World Peace wouldn’t boost the Knicks into contention with the Miami Heat in and of itself. It does, however, patch a very important hole on the roster, while adding another battle-tested body that’s tasted the champagne before.

The signing could like set up a starting five of Felton, Shumpert, World Peace, Anthony, and Chandler. Smith would remain the team’s sixth man, and we can only hope that Woodson trusts Prigioni with at least a ~18 MPG role. With Smith, Shumpert, Metta, and occasionally Anthony all likely splitting time at the 3 spot, and the team’s backcourt already crowded, this could leave Hardaway Jr. primarily on the bench to open his career—not necessarily the worst thing in the world, in my opinion.

The Knicks still need a backup center to defend and rebound down low, but in the meantime, Stoudemire and Bargnani are both going to have to play. The way that shakes out will likely be a nightmare, but interesting nonetheless.

I should probably mention that MWP’s current jersey number, 15, is up in the MSG rafters twice. With Bargnani already rocking a strange No. 77, a World Peace signing could put the Knicks atop the weirdo jersey number preseason rankings.

And, c’mon. @TheRealJRSmith and @MettaWorldPeace in the same damn locker room? This, times, like 3245873df23f34333000. Do it for QB, Ron. Run with us.

In short, if we can squeeze one more of these pressers out of Metta, then we’re all winners.

Follow John Dorn on Twitter at @JSDorn6.

Stats from HoopData, Hoopsworld, 82games, NBA.com/Stats and Basketball-Reference.

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Making Sense of the Senseless Jeremy Lin Situation

Well, if you turn to any national media source, you would be led to believe that Jeremy Lin has already bought a nice Houston home, and is looking forward to beginning training camp with the Rockets alongside, well, nobody. Although the Knicks have made a move to acquire point guard Ray Felton, Lin’s one-way ticket out of New York has not been punched yet, and if you try to use any ounce of common sense you have left after this NBA offseason, you’d realize that letting Lin walk wouldn’t make any sense at all.

Come to think of it, no part of this whole situation has made much sense from the very start. Ever since Coach Mike Woodson’s first days at the helm of the team, he’s been lukewarm-at-best on Lin. Peep this quote from May 10th:

“Will he start? Only time will tell. He’s had some success in our league where he’s played at a high level, and he’s done a lot of nice things for our ballclub.”

Not overly embracing words from Woodson. Fast forward to the acquisition of Jason Kidd, however, and Woodson seemed to have pulled a 180.

“Jeremy was our starter before he got hurt. Unfortunately he went down with the injury and he’s not going to be punished for that. He has a lot to do this summer. But when he comes back to veterans, he’ll have the first nod. He’ll be our starter, and Jason will back him up in terms of helping him develop and developing this young man into a great point guard.”

An interesting change of heart. But was it? Or was this simply a charade put on by the Knicks organization?

Jeremy Lin was gifted to the Knicks for practically nothing. Re-gifting, especially in this situation, is very bad.

After giving up significant pieces to acquire Felton, the latter seems more and more like reality. But why give these false endorsements? Why act as if the Knicks’ long-term option at point guard will be Jeremy Lin, when he’s already packing his bags?

On the other side of things, if Woodson’s words were sincere, why in the world would Raymond Felton agree to return to the Knicks as a 3rd point guard? Felton is coming off a rather miserable season, but he would presumably garner some interest as a first guard off the bench from some team. Was his desire to return to the Garden stronger than his desire to play meaningful NBA minutes?

Would the Knicks lie to Felton’s camp, and give the impression that Lin is a goner, only to match Houston’s offer? That seems a little shady to be NBA business. What also seems a little on the suspicious side, is hiding from Rockets officials who were sent to physically deliver Lin’s offer sheet, to buy themselves time to decide on whether to match or not. (League rules require the offer sheet to be physically delivered. The receiving team has three days upon receipt to reach a decision.)

Aside from the murkiness of the act, why would the Knicks need to buy themselves time if they’ve already decided not to match. They know the numbers. Do they really need the 3+ days to go over language? Presumably no.

As has been widely publicized, Houston’s offer to Lin is a “poison pill” deal. Under the Gilbert Arenas Rule, teams may only offer the league average salary ($5M) in contract year one, to players with less than two years of service time. They are due for a small raise in year two. Year three, though, bears no restrictions on salary. This is why the structure of Lin’s deal is:

Year 1: $5 million

Year 2: $5.25 million

Year 3: $14.8 million

The key for the Knicks here, and the reason Houston structured the offer this way, is that in the third year of the deal, the Knicks would have Amar’e Stoudemire ($23,410,988), Carmelo Anthony ($23,530,000), Tyson Chandler ($14,596,888), and Lin ($14,800,000) on their books for a combined $76 million. Teams start paying the luxury tax once they exceed $70 million. After considering all luxury tax penalties that will be in effect by 2014, Jeremy Lin’s $25 million contract would end up costing $43 million out of James Dolan’s pockets.

This is supposed to be the factor that steers the Knicks away.

The Knicks, who shelled out $60 million each to Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford, $30 million to Jared Jeffries and Jerome James, and paid a 30-year-old Steve Francis over $20 million for a season and a half, are supposed to be scared out of a deal because of paying a luxury tax.

But there’s always the basketball argument. That is, that the Knicks truly think that Felton at $4.5million/year is of better value than Lin’s new deal. This argument would only lead you to believe that Isiah Thomas is still calling the shots behind the disguise of Glen Grunwald.

Raymond Felton has been a mediocre-at-best player since his arrival in the NBA in 2005, aside from a 54 game stretch under Mike D’Antoni two seasons ago. What’s not funny, but infuriating about the whole thing, is that the argument from a group of decided NBA fans is that it would be silly to hand Lin reigns to the team after 35 games, when the Knicks would essentially be paying Felton off his 54 games as a good point guard in New York.

Felton showed he could be a good point guard during his prime years during his stint in New York. He showed scoring and defending ability, however was incredibly inept at executing a simple pick-and roll.

Lin showed that he could be a good point guard at 23 years of age, in essentially his rookie year. His pick-and-rolls were up to par with the best in the game, considering he had the offensive wizards, Jared Jeffries and Tyson Chandler, as his partners. His shooting caught everyone by surprise; he was among the league leaders in pull-up jump shot percentage. His defense was active, but not stellar. Take into account that he was carrying all of New York City on his shoulders, and Felton’s Knick tenure is more or less irrelevant.

Take away Lin’s half-season in New York and you have nothing. Take away Felton’s half-season in New York and you have six-and-a-half years of mediocrity. Neither would be offered more than a minimum salary if it wasn’t for their New York body of work. So to those of you who detest paying Lin off his body of work, you must consider the same for Felton.

The addition of Felton does not necessarily mean the demise of Linsanity, as several news sources are guilty of assuming. The Knicks have a need at shooting guard while Iman Shumpert recovers from a torn ACL. Instead of taking a chance on the so-so guards left on the free agent market, Woodson could run out lineups with Lin and Felton sharing time at point guard, with Jason Kidd at the other guard– a position he found himself in often last season in Dallas. Lin’s scoring ability leaves him as an option to play at the wing as well, and let Felton, Kidd, or even Pablo Prigioni run the point. The addition of Felton actually compliments the Knicks guard needs pretty well, as long as Lin is still in blue and orange laundry.

There are so many questions that are up in the air right now, but if when it’s all said and done, James Dolan passes on a 23-year-old point guard who carried a team of scrubs on a season-changing winning streak (in Stoudemire and Anthony’s absence), in favor of pinching his wallet shut for the first time in his excruciating incumbency as owner, then it may finally be time to put this monster to rest.

NBA Free Agency 2012: New York Knicks

We’re about 25 hours deep into the frenzy that is NBA Free Agency, and it’s already spewed out more reports and rumors than any fan can handle, so let’s get right into it.

The Knicks’ first priority is clearly Steve Nash. A farfetched pipe dream, it seemed merely a day or so ago, has turned into a very real and interesting option for New York. For months, the national and local media had everyone believing that all the Knicks could offer Nash would be their $3 million Mid-Level Exception, and their July 1st conversation would go something like this:

GM Glen Grunwald: “So Steve, we’d really love for you to join our squad and be the missing piece so we can compete for a championship.”

Nash: “Me too.”

GG: “Our offer to you is $3 million per year for three years.”

Nash: “OK, bye.”

But early Sunday, reports emerged from all walks of the internet that Phoenix has interest in Knicks guard Landry Fields, which opened the door for a sign-and-trade.

In such a deal, the Knicks could swap Fields (who’d sign for his $2.7 million Qualifying Offer the Knicks extended to him on Wednesday), Toney Douglas, cash considerations, and the non-guaranteed contracts that belong to Jerome Jordan and Dan Gadzuric. The $3 million in cash sent by New York would basically cover the cost of Douglas’ contract, so consider Phoenix getting him for free. The Suns could then waive Jordan and Gadzuric at no cost to them, opening two roster spots. I haven’t heard any speculation of this, nor have any confirmation that this is allowed under the new CBA, but including the draft rights to recent draft pick Kostas Papanikolaou could help entice Phoenix as well.

The combined salary of the package Grunwald would send out to the desert would be $6.82 million. As per new CBA rules, teams are allowed to receive back the same value they send out, plus 150% + $100,000. So $6.82 x 1.5 + 100,000 = 10.3, meaning the Knicks would be able to receive back a $10.3 million player.

This ~$10.3/year contract that the Knicks can potentially offer to the Suns would compete with the reported 3 year/ $36 million offer that the Toronto Raptors sent Nash’s way on day one of Free Agency. Consider the basketball situations of both teams, the fact that Nash has made his summer home in NYC for the past decade or so, and (if you wanna get ticky-tack) the greater income tax in Toronto than in New York, even the most Canadian bone in Nash’s body would be halfway through the Garden entrance.

It’s simply a matter of whether or not Suns GM Lance Blanks would pull the trigger.

This is essentially the only method of losing Nash that hauls a return for Phoenix, rather than just losing him outright. A package structured around Landry Fields may not be the sexiest group of names to show off to your fans, but one would suspect that getting some sort of return would be better in Blanks’ eyes than letting Nash walk for free. Also, it would be in good faith for the Suns to do their best to place Nash in the most realistic option possible to get him his hardware.

Fields isn’t exactly coming off a historic season, but keep in mind the better of his two seasons was played under an up-tempo system, similar to the one the Suns run. Fields made All-Rookie first team that season.

For the Knicks, adding Nash would be pretty horrible news for the rest of the Atlantic division. Pairing Nash with Amar’e Stoudemire to rekindle some of that old fire they started out West could be just what Amar’e needs at this point in his career. Don’t forget about the newly motivated All-Star small forward who just witnessed his career-long rival win his first championship, either. Nash coming to New York would also provide him with a second job: a mentor to developing star Jeremy Lin– not a bad guy for Lin to mold his game after.. Also, Nash starting at point guard would push Lin to the second team– a team possibly consisting of Lin, JR Smith, Steve Novak, and Jared Jeffries. Mobb Deep II.

Update: There have been reports in the last hour that have pointed out that the Knicks may not necessarily match a back-loaded offer made to Lin by teams such as Toronto, Dallas, or the Nets. I fully expect Lin back on the Garden floor to begin next year and these reports are nothing more than speculation at this point. Especially after the “Bird Rights” hearing that clogged our Twitter feeds for the past month, the Knicks are confident they will be able to resign Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash or no Steve Nash.

The Steve Nash situation will be the first domino to fall this offseason. We can expect a decision in the coming days.

It’s also important to note that if the Knicks obtain Nash via sign-and-trade, they’d still have their $3 million MLE in their pocket to spend on important role players.

The Knicks also checked up on an old friend, Ray Felton, on Sunday. If Nash spurs New York for Toronto, Phoenix, Dallas, or Brooklyn, Felton would be another option to back up Jeremy Lin at the 1. Felton failed to impress in a non-D’Antoni offense last season in Portland, but his return could spark the pick-and-roll combo that helped throne Amar’e Stoudemire king of New York.

Jason Kidd is also expected to receive a call from Grunwald and his team some time this week.

Outside of the point guard position, the Knicks need a legitimate shooting guard. JR Smith is no lock to return, and even with a new contract in New York, Smith is best designed for a limited-minutes role (see Round 1, 2012 NBA Playoffs). Ray Allen is currently coveted by a few teams, receiving formal offers from Memphis (full $5 million MLE) and Miami (full $3 million MLE). Boston’s interest in re-signing Allen is unclear this early in the game.

The Nuggets declined to extend Rudy Fernandez his Qualifying Offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. Fernandez would be a great asset off the bench, or possibly even starting until Iman Shumpert returns from injury. Fernandez would help the Knicks on the offensive end, where they especially struggled last season.

An area in which they excelled in 2011-12, however, was defense. The Knicks are on a list of teams Marcus Camby is considering, which would only help bolster their strong front line.

Phew. Am I missing anything? Probably. New reports have probably emerged in the time I took to write this up. Oh well, any major developments will be provided either in an update below or in a new post entirely.

Happy Free Agency! And may the Collective Bargaining Agreement be ever in your favor.