For those of you who are new to the neighborhood, no, the title of the post isn’t a stab at Chris Bosh’s recent Twitter post — it’s a Clash homage. We introduced the idea to this series a couple of weeks ago: an analysis of the 10 Knicks who we don’t have under contract for next year. Going alphabetically, we already examined Earl Barron and Jonathan Bender. Skipping over definite returnees Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry & Toney Douglas, we now arrive at the man who was our starting point guard for the majority of the last two seasons: Christopher Riley Duhon. Okay, I made up the Riley part, but it sounds right, don’t it?
First off, let’s be clear, this isn’t a discussion of whether Duhon has been good in that role for us, because we all know he’s sucked donkey meat. His salary, $6 million, while extremely reasonable, if not downright excellent for a starting PG, was worlds more than he deserved. So the question isn’t whether we’d want to bring him back at that role and price, but rather is there any price and role where we’d want him to return? I say yes.
Not only is Duhon a great locker-room guy (hmm, sorta sounds like he knows where the towels are), but he accepted his benching at the end of the season with grace. More than grace. He was the first guy cheering everyone on the court. He knew he sucked, so he was fine with his demotion, but he still supported his teammates. It’s easy to support your boys when you’re winning, but it’s hard to find that on a losing squad. You can say, fine, then why not go for Mark Madsen while we’re at it if we’re just looking for towel wavers?
Well, besides enthusiasm, Duhon’s also a smart player so there’s a lot that younger players can learn from him. Madsen can only teach enthusiasm and the Awkward White Man Dance. The hope is that Duhon can also be an actual participant on the floor too, albeit it in a limited role. Du’ can get into his head far too much, resulting in his shot and aggressiveness going to Hell. Then he’s useless. However, towards the end of the season he showed that he can be an effective back-up at times. In a limited role, there’s less pressure, and thus he’s more likely to succeed. And as a back-up, if he’s sucking, then we can just yank ‘im. Also, Duhon’s a surprisingly decent defender, even though it can be hard to notice on the defensively porous Knickerbockers.
Okay, so the acceptable role is back-up point, probably actually third-string, now the question is at what price? Personally, after he just made out by getting $12 mill over the last two years, I think we’re talking the veterans’ minimum. Yeah, he’s a good bench guy, a nice practice player, has great chemistry with David Lee, but it’s hard to argue that he’ll contribute much to our win/loss record. If we can keep him on the cheap, I say go for it. If it’s much more, then I say, so long Chris.
One last thought/fear. Coach Mike D’Antoni showed far, far, far, far, far, far, far too much reluctance to yank Duhon, even though everyone and their third-cousin-once-removed could tell that the guy was struggling. And by struggling, I mean putrid as chunky sidewalk-spewn vomit on a hot summer day. Heck, at the end of the season D’Antoni even went back to starting Du for a bit. I mean Duhon was solid during that period, but at that point we needed to be force-feeding Toney Douglas minutes through an IV. …Um, I don’t know why it had to be through an IV, but it sounded nice in my head.
So the fear is that with there being only one available starting point guard in free agency (Ray Felton), most likely we’re looking at Duhon’s only competition being Toney Douglas and other backups. If that’s the case, then it seems highly possible that when Toney Tone goes through a lull (or makes a bunch of young player mistakes), we’ll be back to Duhon leading the way. If that’s the case, then for forcing us to watch that awfulness again, I’d want him to pay us $6 million.