Grading Donnie Walsh, Part II

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 21: (L-R) New York Knicks basketball players Jerome Williams, Jerome James, Antonio Davis, and actor Dennis Quaid pose for a photo as they help serve an early Thanksgiving dinner at the FoodChange Community Kitchen November 21, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

Somehow Donnie Walsh was able to get rid of Jerome James (center). It's appropriate that the first photo that came up features him surrounded by food. Also in the pic are former Knicks Jerome "Mad Dog" Williams, Antonio Davis and actor Dennis Quaid. (source: Yardbarker.com)

For those who missed it, we had Part I of our evaluation of Donnie Walsh yesterday, in which we examined how he’s done in terms of drafting.  The rules again:

1. I don’t believe in negative Monday morning quarterbacking, so I don’t punish people for making decisions that were widely held to be smart at the time, but ended up working out poorly.  Meaning if LeBron James breaks his leg in seventeen places in a car accident tomorrow and can never really play better than an average player again, I can’t fault Pat Riley for signing him down the road.

2. I do, however, believe in giving credit for decisions that seemed poor/insignificant at the time but turned out great.  When the Suns reacquired Steve Nash from the Dallas Mavericks, many pundits felt they overpaid due to Nash’s back issues and age.  Two MVPs and many amazing seasons later, it’s clear that was a good move.

3. Draft-wise, in addition to no negative Monday morning quarterbacking, I also don’t believe that if someone makes a pick that turns out surprisingly great, you can’t fault all the other teams for passing on the guy.  Like Isiah Thomas gets kudos for finding David Lee at #30, but since no one thought he’d be as good as he ended up being, I can’t penalize all other 29 teams for passing on him.

4. For each positive thing, I’ll add some points (the # of points will depend on how big a thing it was).  Similarly, for each negative decision, I’ll subtract some points.  We’ll keep a rolling tally.

At the end of adding and subtracting points in the Drafting section, it all ended up back at zero.  today This piece has gotten longer and longer, so we’re gonna break up the second category, Trades/Free Agency Signings, into two parts, getting rid of that slash.  Today we’ll do Trades, tomorrow Free Agency, and then probably Friday the last category of Other/General.

Trades

11/21/08 – Traded Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley.

Losing Collins was no big deal.  Zach’s rep had become so sullied at the time that it was impressive we were able to get rid of him.  Yes, ZBo had a nice season this past year (after sucking during his half season with the Clippers), but between his huge contract, inability to block a shot/play defense and his questionable attitude it was a fine move.  Despite being payed like a max player, he’s never had the ability to be a cornerstone of a championship team.  Maybe he could be a #3 on a contender, but that’s far too much money to be paying to yer #3.  Considering how immovable everyone felt his contract was, it was an impressive swap.  Grade: +2

Subtotal = +2

11/21/08 – Traded Jamal Crawford for Al Harrington.

Although this too freed up cap space for this summer, I wasn’t as fond of this move.  Unlike Zach, Crawford was on a relatively reasonable deal and had a much better reputation (or rather, he didn’t have the awful rep that Zach had).  As such, we didn’t need to be in quite the rush to trade him.  We could’ve waited one more year and thus the fans would have had slightly less worse bball to watch.  On the other hand, if you’re blowing up the team, it makes sense to also try to have the team stink it up to improve your draft picks (which, to some extent, made the Zbo trade even better ‘cuz Cat Mobley had to retire so we lost salary and increased our lottery odds).  Plus, Al Harrington seemed like he could be a great fit for Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. Grade: 0

Subtotal = +2

2/19/09 – Jerome James, Tim Thomas and Anthony Roberson for Larry Hughes.

Another coup with what was assumed to be an untradeable contract (Jerome James).  All the more impressive when you consider Chicago already had Tim Thomas and refused to let him play by the end of his last stint, yet still we got them to do this trade. Grade: +1

Subtotal = +3

2/19/09 – Malik Rose for Chris Wilcox.

Who cares?

Grade: 0

Subtotal = +3

2/18/10 – Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry for Bill Walker, Eddie House and JR Giddens

At the time I panned this trade as I felt it added neither more cap space nor more talented players.  It was simply done because D’Antoni was frustrated by Nate.  I felt Walsh should’ve tried to help smooth things over between the two rather than tossing a possible asset for nothing.  However, Bill Walker turned out to be pretty solid for us over the end of last season.  If he can continue to be a contributor, then the trade will be even, if not us coming out ahead if he really plays well.  Grade: 0

Subtotal = +3

2/18/10 – Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill, 2012 first-round pick and right to swap 2011 first-round pick for Tracy McGrady and Sergio Rodriguez

I liked the concept behind this deal, but we gave away too much.  Tmac’s expiring contract was valuable to many teams, but I feel in return you can only expect to get one potential young prospect.  For us to give them three between Hill and the two picks, that’s way too much.  One could argue that since they also agreed to take on Jared Jeffries contract which had an extra year remaining, we also should’ve had to give them an additional prospect.  However, realize that while Jeffries contract was longer than McGrady’s, it still was cheaper.  Thus not only did they save money that way, but also it reduced their luxury tax payment for last season, making each dollar they shaved off TMac’s salary literally resulting in two dollars of savings.  Now it’s possible that, say, Yao Ming goes down and we end up with a better record this year so they don’t swap picks with us, but that still doesn’t excuse the deal.  We should’ve haggled a bit more. Grade: -1

Subtotal = +2

7/9/10 – David Lee for Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike and Ronny Turiaf

As much as I hate losing David Lee, it was probably a good decision.  He and Stoudemire wouldn’t have been a great combo, and Lee’s big new salary would’ve limited our future moves.  Randolph has the potential to be amazing, plus he’s a very valuable trade asset at this point.  Azubuike could end up winning the starting shooting guard spot, so gaining two starters for one is always nice.  Plus Turiaf is a great teammate/bench player (although he may start too, but that’s more by default than that he’s a genuine starting center in this league).  Rarely in a trade are all parts proven, high-quality, usable players.  Also, Turiaf and Azubuike only have two years remaining, once again providing us with options down the road. Grade: +1 (if Randolph does indeed turn into a stud, this goes up)

Subtotal = +3

—————-

Thus while Walsh was unimpressive in Drafting, getting just a zero, he’s done decently in Trades.  Which brings his current overall subtotal from those two groups up to +3.  After missing out on LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, how will Donnie fare in the Free Agency category?  Check tomorrow to find out.

Topics: Al Harrington, Anthony Randolph, Bill Walker, Cuttino Mobley, David Lee, Donnie Walsh, Jamal Crawford, Jared Jeffries, Jerome James, Jordan Hill, Kelenna Azubuike, Malik Rose, Mike D'Antoni, Nate Robinson, Ronny Turiaf, Tim Thomas, Tracy McGrady, Zach Randolph

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