Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Fate of Nate

I must say I find it very interesting the amount of people that are so surprised by how long it took Nate Robinson to find a new home in free agency. Living in the New York area when he broke into the league, as a Knicks fan, I got to see Robinson's act everyday. Granted he was much younger at the time but I was glad as a Knicks fan when he was finally traded. While I didn't always agree with Mike D'Antoni's approach to handling players he has issues with, I couldn't fault him either for not wanting anything more to do with Robinson.

During his years in NY, he was constantly making a name for himself with things that had little to do with being a mature winning basketball player. He won three Dunk Contests while in NY & many younger fans' hearts in the process. NY fans loved seeing a guy his height show toughness & grit. Then there's the other side of Robinson that drives coaches & organizations crazy like him tweeting about getting pulled over by the police, while he was in the middle of getting pulled over by the police. After a couple of coaching changes in NY he ended up with Mike D'Antoni & they went through a difficult stretch together which was exemplified by his being benched for 14 straight games. His best moment as a Knick may have come on January 1, 2010 when he redeemed himself by coming off the bench following that 14 game benching & scoring 41 points in a Knicks victory. 

Therein lies the crux of my point though. In all the years since that game, his next best moment was perhaps last year's playoffs. He had flashes here or there in between then but, let's take a look at some things. Since he left the Knicks, he's played for Doc Rivers, Scott Brooks, Mark Jackson & Tom Thibodeau. All coaches whom their players seem to love playing for yet none of those coaches brought him back after more than 1 season of coaching him. His play last year in Derrick Rose's absence was phenomenal yet Thibodeau & the Bulls didn't even make him an offer of any sort. All of that to me, speaks volumes about how he wears on a coach & how he's perceived by franchises.

Whatever that perception is, right or wrong, he only has himself to blame. He still is a highly emotional player which can inspire fans & teammates at times but can also get him in trouble as he lead his team with 11 technical fouls last year. Now you can argue that his size on defense is a liability & that may have been a factor in all of this but what team doesn't need a guy who can come off the bench & be instant offense? For a team like the Knicks, with reigning Sixth Man of the Year JR Smith out for a stretch from knee surgery, they didn't even make him an offer when they had a chance to financially. It seems they'd rather take a look at guys like Toure Murry & Bobby Brown both of the D-League & Euro League respectively, than deal with Nate. With the job Mike Woodson with Smith, you'd think the Knicks would be confident that Woodson could have a similar affect on Robinson, but we'll never know.

I'll be curious to see how new Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw deals with Robinson. I can't help but think that every team that had Robinson before, including the Knicks, must've felt like their head coach could handle him. Bare in mind, when the Knicks drafted him, Larry Brown was their head coach who once famously dealt with Allen Iverson. As I said though, all of those coaches & teams either traded him or allowed him to walk in free agency without ever making him an offer to come back. For Shaw, with a point guard rotation of Ty Lawson, Andre Miller & Robinson, there's a definite lack of size defensively beyond Miller who they seem to be moving on from. Both Robinson & Lawson are capable of playing the SG position but will Shaw dare to match them together & go with an under 6' back court?

My point to all this is, when you take a long hard look at Robinson beyond his skills & what he brings to a team on the court, you can't escape the fact that evidently teams are not convinced that giving him a long-term deal won't prevent him from turning back into the immature younger version of himself. Truth be told the only real aspect of his behavior that appears to have grown is his ability to lead a team as a shoot-first PG. The problem is though, in today's NBA, that type of PG is usually the starter, but if you're bringing Robinson in to be your starter then you have deeper issues than just having to cope with all of his antics.

It used to drive me crazy talking to people whose opinions I had come to respect trying to convince me that the Knicks somehow needed a guy like Robinson both then & now. I don't argue that Nate is a tough gritty player when focused, but I guess I saw the same things so many coaches & organizations did as well. When you take all of that into consideration, I don't believe it should've come as a surprise to anyone at how long it took him to find a new home.


  1. Mark Jackson raved about Nate Robinson after he left and the Bulls go nowhere with out him.

    Nates heart got him into the league and that's something you can't teach. Nate Robinson is the smallest player in the league but has the biggest heart, bar none. He will always be able to find a job for that reason, alone.

    Keep hating, NY got love for Nate.

    1. I don't have any hate for him at all. I give him credit for his toughness especially at his size but facts are facts. Regardless to how much heart he plays with, when you look at his skill set there's an obvious reason as to why it took so long for him to find a home & it's not just his size & defensive liability. I also gave him credit for his play with the Bulls last year.

      Nate has all the skills in the world but until he shows more maturity, teams will shy away from investing millions of dollars & multiple years on him. That's not hate, that's stating an opinion based on facts.

  2. Nate was no trouble here in Chicago on or off the court. Sure, he made some mistakes and had a lot of turnovers but the Bulls leading turnover guy is Michael Jordan and always will be. That's one stat people seem to glaze over about MJ. He's the Bulls all-time leader in Turnovers.

    The rumor I heard from people around here is that Thibs wanted Nate back and wanted Nate to be #2 Pg and run with Rose on the court at times for a 1 - 2 offensive punch. While Nate does drive Thibs crazy at times, Thibs knows what he is capable of and Thibs was the one who was responsible for getting him into Chicago last year.

    I'm going to do some quick math here and you'll see where I am going.

    Nate + Thibs = Success, Nate = Thibs' guy. Nate = instant offense. Nate = guy who can create his own shot.
    Bulls have been looking and looking for guys who can do this the last few years, they found Nate and then let Nate walk away? Doesn't that seem odd? How do they find the guy they are looking for and then let him walk? There's more to it...

    Teague, Rip and Hinrich were brought in by Gar.

    Rip = BUST for Bulls.
    Hinrich = BUST for Bulls in stint #2.
    Teague = young and needs development, he's good for the 3rd spot, not the 2nd.

    This boils down to the whole blowout with Thibs and Gar and why Ron Adams was not brought back. Gar let Nate walk because he was Thibs guy and not his. Ron Adams called out Gar and Gar in return didn't offer him a new contract.

    Gar Forman is the new Jerry Krause. Players on the Bulls and around the league do not like Gar.

    Here's another bombshell for you, Rose told the Bulls he was more than likely NOT going to play at all last season. However Gar insisted that they keep the door open and was trying to pressure Rose into coming back. Reggie and Derrick both tried to get this point across last season without flat on calling Gar out.

    I grew up in Chicago, I played ball here my whole life up through HS, I coached HS ball here as well... I know a couple people on the fringe of the organization and around Rose and this is what I hear...

    1. Thanks for the comments guys, that's the type of passion I love! I don't disagree with you NotRandyB about the GM at all. It's seems Forman is hellbent on making it his team as evidenced by his firing of Thibs top assistant. However, even if Thibs wanted him back, it doesn't explain away every other team in the NBA not named the Bulls avoiding him. Finally Denver does, who oddly enough already has 2 PGs in Lawson & Miller.

      A lot of my point has do with the fact that, with his skill set & at his age, it took this long for a reason. Plus he was only able to land a 2-year deal w/a player option in the 2nd year which will basically mean he'll be a free agent again next year. Those types of deals are essentially done by a team to try to get the most out of a guy in the 1st year w/the hope that he plays at a high level in hopes of landing a better deal the next year. It's a win-win for both sides & was the same approach the Knicks took with JR Smith before last year.

      Guys like it or not, regardless to how talented a guy is, we can't downplay the importance nowadays in getting guys that have both talent & are easy to deal with. I don't think Nate's a bad guy by any stretch. I just feel he needs to mature & direct his emotions in a better way. He's gotten better since he came into the league but still has a ways to go & his free agency timeline this year will hopefully be a wakeup call. He's only 29, been in the league for 8 years now & is joining his 6th team. That stat is usually reserved for a journeyman who's just not good enough to stick in any one place that long. I think we'd all agree though, Nate has more than enough talent that he should be a fixture on someone's roster for years but there obviously is a reason he has not been able to. I mean we're talking about a guy who in 2008-09 averaged 17.2 points & finished third in the Sixth Man of the Year voting so talent obviously is NOT his issue.

  3. Brian,

    I think the reluctance to sign Nate by any teams is maybe simpler than you think. There are plenty of guys out there who are more immature and bigger head cases then Nate.

    Ron Artest, I mean Metta World Peace.
    JR Smith (like you've mentioned)
    Michael F'ing Beasely... ??? C'mon...

    And the list goes on and on...

    So why are teams so reluctant to sign Nate? - 68"... He's only 5'8" and there are plenty of guys who can do what he can do who are taller. I think most teams out there would hold out for someone taller. He's primarily a liability in 2 areas, on screens where he has to switch off and should the guy he's defending try to post him up. I don't think Nate could defend a 6'4" guard very well in the post.

    So, yes, height, I think that's the reason teams have been so reluctant to sign him.

    Nate has a big upside, he has something a lot of players in the NBA today don't have and that's the "Clutch Gene". He's not afraid to take the big shots and he makes more than he misses.

    If you look at the Bulls point guards over their history and you pull out their best seasons and compare them to each other. Derrick Rose is the Bulls best point guard all time, "Stormin" Norm Van Lier, is #2 , BJ probably #3 and Nate Robinson is #4. May want to swap BJ and Van Lier.

    To put this in a different perspective, Nate Robinson has a lifetime 3pt% of .363, Derrick Rose = .310 and MJ = .327

    Nate shot .40 last year at age 28, Jordan had a .27 the season he was 28 and Derrick Rose isn't 28 yet but his best season is .332

    I'm not going to compare Nate to Korver, Kerr, Paxson or Hodges because Nate isn't a spot up shooter. Nate is an aggressive guard who can play 1 or 2, MJ and Rose being the same thing.

    Nate did things last year for the Bulls that I've only seen MJ do for them, take over a game, put them on his back and come through with big shots down the stretch to pull it out and win it for them. I'm 40 years old, I'm not some kid who has no historical context. There were times when Nate was making us say "Derrick who?". Not really but you get the point I'm trying to make here.

    Someone needs to go back over all of the Bulls game films and look at something, they need to look at how many times Nate hit the go-ahead shots. I somewhat paid attention to this throughout the season, more so towards the end of the year but I think it was Nate always hitting the go-ahead shots.

    Now, if we consider the Heat the Bulls Nemesis and we know that Lebron is going to guard Rose at the end of a game, who guards Nate?

    If Rose and Nate are on the court at the same time, would any team try to double either one of them? That's a scary backcourt combination if you ask me. Nate @1 and Rose @2, Jimmy @3, Deng@4, Noah@5, this lineup would kill any small-ball team.

    So, WHY didn't the Bulls re-sign him? It's not about the money, he's only getting $2Mil / year, the Bulls could have done that. They are already in the LuxTax and will be no matter what. $4million for another weapon that can get them that much closer to winning a title? Surely that $4mil would pay for itself if they actually wont the whole thing.

    I think most teams shy away from Nate though because of his height, they are holding out for a bigger guard. However in the Bulls case, I think it comes down to Gar's ego.