I have nothing against Jared Jeffries. Having never really spoken to the man, I have no feelings either way on him as a person. As an NBA player, he seems to be a more-than competent defender who can play pretty much anywhere on the floor (although, while he played five positions with the Wizards last year, he seems to be more of a 3-4-5). He's young, he's athletic, and while he hasn't been much of a scorer in his short NBA career, that doesn't mean he CAN'T score. His career average is a single-single—he's something of a poor man's Tyson Chandler, only shorter.
So of course the Knicks gave him their full mid-level exception. (How do they even have a mid-level to give? Didn't they give Jerome James a full mid-level contract last year? And aren't they already at roughly double the alleged salary cap? Shouldn't that matter? Especially when they're able to take a valuable player from a conference rival?) Now they can start a frontcourt of Jeffries, Channing Frye and Eddy Curry, who—if you believe Isiah Thomas, haha—should all be All-Stars before you know it. This moves Jalen Rose to the world's most expensive bench, alongside James, Jamal Crawford, Malik Rose, Maurice Taylor, Quentin Richardson and the ghost of Penny Hardaway. One must presume that the starting backcourt will be Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury, an arrangement that should work great for roughly a week.
Here's the thing that bothers me most about the Jeffries signing. (OK, the most for this instant, and besides the whole mangling of the salary cap and abuse of financial power.) Why sign him and let Jackie Butler go when Butler could have been had for a substantially lower price? At times Butler was the best center on the team last year, and with Curry and James both displaying a decided lack of interest in fitness, it's likely that both of them will be spending at least some time in ugly suits this season. Who's going to man the middle then? Jeffries? Frye? Both of them glued together?
Or maybe this bothers me the most. Who does Jeffries take the most minutes from? Most likely it's David Lee, who's a ridiculous athlete and energy guy. He's also probably the best locker room storyteller/conversationalist on the Knicks, along with Malik Rose, Frye and Jamal. And it's hard to imagine he'll still be a Knick once he gets the chance to go somewhere else. Especially if he finds himself behind Jeffries and Renaldo Balkman on the depth chart. Figure Jalen and Maurice Taylor get traded at the deadline for more veterans with absurd contracts. Maybe someone like Kenyon Martin, who should already be figuring out what number to wear in New York. Or perhaps Seattle's new ownership will decide to cut payroll and make Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis available.
It's pretty obvious that the Knicks don't think twice about adding salary—the last New Yorker to abuse a cap this badly was John Wetteland (and at least he won a World Series, and the MVP to boot). What with the 100 percent tax, Jeffries's deal is actually going to cost the Knicks $60 million over five years, which ain't bad for a guy who averaged 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds last year. And he's been a starter for all but six games over the past two seasons—for a aplayoff team, no less—so it's hard to imagine him accepting any less than starter's minutes in New York. Sorry, David. And Malik. And Jalen. And Q.
Ironically, JJ seems like he would have been a good Larry Brown guy. Too late.