These are the guys whose underperformance hurts ticket buyers, TV watchers, front offices, owners, and in many cases teammates. They are the argument against guaranteed contracts. They are the players Billy Hunter doesn't want you to think about too much.
ESPN's John Hollinger (Insider) picked the 25 worst contracts. My favorite part is that they are organized into four tidy categories of roughly equal size:
Already Waived (Michael Finley, Brian Grant etc.)
Knicks (half the roster)
Waived Knicks (Jalen Rose and company)
Stuck (Kenyon Martin's contract is looking pretty big, as is Raef LaFrentz's)
Looking at that list, you can really see how the Knicks have really taken over the league, in some terrible sense.
My favorite player to pick on from Hollinger's list is Steve Francis. (For instance.) Hollinger shares an anecdote:
Watching the Orlando-New York game on Monday night, I saw Orlando's J.J. Redick drift out to the 3-point line, catch the ball and calmly drain a triple with no pressure. Stunned, I hit rewind. My eyes didn't deceive me -- there was no screen for Redick, nor any kind of deceptive move or cut off the ball whatsoever. The man allegedly guarding him -- Francis -- just stood there and watched Redick walk out to the perimeter and shoot it.
On the next trip Francis stood like a statue on the weak side while Darko Milicic went down the middle for a screen-and-roll dunk. As I thought to myself, "If I was coaching right now, I'd call timeout just to yank the guy," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas did just that, inserting unheralded rookie Mardy Collins.
Quoth Thomas after the game, in his glass-half-full way, "I just felt [Mardy Collins would] give us more defensively." Um, yes, that's one way to look at it. Zeke just as easily could have said, "I felt a traffic cone would give us more defensively." Methinks there's another buyout in the Knicks' future.