November 21, 2008
We can read quite a bit into it, you can let the deal worry or excite you if you're a fan of New York or just a general NBA hopeful, but it really is just something to chew on early in the season. It won't make any more of a difference in the long run than, say, the team's acquisition of Othella Harrington around this time of year back in 2000.
(I honestly came up with that comparison, and moved on to the next paragraph, before realizing they had the same last name. Promise. Still, I'm keeping it in.)
Here's why Knicks fans are hopeful: Al Harrington can score in bunches, sometimes. Not all the time. Sometimes his jumper isn't falling. Sometimes he doesn't know which move to go with on the low left block, and thinks himself out of a good shot.
Then there are times where, and I suspect we'll see a few of those over the next three weeks, the guy shoots the lights out and makes you think that he's something more than he is. That there's a hidden mini-star in there if you give the guy minutes. I used to think the same thing, and you know what? There's no mini-star, there. Check the per-minute stats.
There's just an average player (and that's no slight, really) who can score a bit who Donnie Walsh has now acquired three different times. That has to be a record of sorts. And, in a way, Walsh sort of acquired four times. He hung onto Harrington in 2003, choosing him over Brad Miller when it came time to pay the luxury tax piper, and it may have cost Indiana a ring.
And the worry, for some Knick fans, is that he'll cost David Lee minutes. Guess what? Wilson Chandler is costing David Lee minutes. David Lee's never going to get on Mike D'Antoni's good side, and his celebrated per-minute stats (honed under other coaches who pointlessly refused to play him starter-quality minutes) have even taken a dive. I don't blame the guy. Three straight highly-paid coaches who don't seem to think that 12 and 12 in 32 minutes is a good idea? Forget this.
In the end, Al's essentially a better version of Chris Duhon, in a less-defined role. He'll be around this year and the next (Knicks fans better hope; surely Donnie won't extend this guy and ruin that 2010 cap space ... right?), and take off in the summer of 2010.
What does this mean for the Warriors? It means Nellie still has his guys, and he wasn't wrong about Harrington's horrible rebounding, but let's be honest. If Al could shoot the lights out, it wouldn't matter that he was picking up three rebounds in 40 minutes, and Don Nelson would play him. Al's not a pure scorer, though. He's an OK scorer who deserves minutes as a sixth or seventh man on an OK team, and that's not enough for Nellie.
So rock on, Knicks fans. It's fun to get a little part for just an expiring contract, and Harrington will have some good games for you this year. It's just that, in the long run, it really doesn't matter which Harrington you bring in.
That reference I meant.