The Al Harrington Market

According to the NY Post, Al Harrington wants to join the New Jersey Nets next season. (HT: ESPN Rumor Central)

Knicks forward Al Harrington often wears a ballcap with a scripted “NJ.”

The former star at St. Patrick’s High in Elizabeth, who lives in Edgewater, said he’s not trying to send out any subliminal messages — but told The Post he definitely would be interested in signing with his hometown Nets this summer, especially since they will play in Newark, 10 miles from Elizabeth, the next two seasons.

“If they had interest in me, I’d take a strong look at that,” Harrington, a free-agent-to-be, told The Post.

“It’s still the city. It’s still home. I’d rather play at the Garden, but I’d play in Newark, too.”

According to a source, the Wizards, Blazers and Bulls are expected to have interest in Harrington this summer.

And the NY Post also reports that the feeling is mutual:

Team president Rod Thorn admits the Nets will have to look everywhere to find players after this nightmare season concludes and at least six player contracts expire.

And current Knicks forward Al Harrington hopes they look his way.

Of course – as the article indicates — the Nets would prefer LeBron James.  But as the article notes, LeBron is likely to look elsewhere.  Therefore (continuing with the story)…

maybe the Nets, with $23.3 million to spend, will get lucky with the second tier-type free agents that include Harrington, 6-foot-9, a 14.1 career scorer who stated he would be open to signing with the Nets.

The notion is not far-fetched. Multiple team sources agreed Harrington “would be someone to consider” during this summer’s free agency.

Thorn declined comment — teams are not permitted to discuss players under contract to other teams. But he didn’t do anything to squash the idea.

“We’ll look at everyone. At the end of the day, we’ll have six or seven players under contract,” Thorn said. “We’re going to have to fill out our roster. We’re going to have to get players somewhere.”

So if we are following the logic of the NY Post, the Nets will first look at LeBron.  If LeBron passes, then the Nets might get “lucky” and land Al Harrington? Really?

Okay, let’s look at what Al Harrington has done this year.

Table One: The New York Knicks after 68 games in 2009-10

As Table One reports, Harrington’s WP48 mark is currently in the negative range. And his performance last year was also in the negative range.  In fact, Harrington was the “Most Overrated” performer last year. 

The story that Harrington is not a very productive player was originally told in this forum back in 2006 (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE). But Harrington can score so he keeps finding work in the NBA.

One would think, though, that there would be quite a few players on New Jersey’s wish list between LeBron and Harrington.  For example, David Lee – the most productive player on the Knicks — might want to stay in the area.  In fact one wonders, what are the odds that

a. Lee departs the New York area and

b. both the Nets and Knicks fail to land a free agent as productive as Lee?

The odds on (a) are not clear.  But if (a) happens, the odds on (b) don’t look bad.  Especially if the Nets are serious about Harrington.

One last note on the Knicks.  Looking back on Table One we see that the Knicks are just about where we would think given the numbers posted by the team’s veterans last year. Players in the NBA tend to be consistent, but the Knicks players seem to be taking this to an extreme.  And this is surprising given how much turnover there has been on the team’s roster.

Such consistency highlights the basic strategy both the Knicks and Nets should pursue this summer.  If either team wants to improve it needs to bring in more productive players.  Although it’s possible for players to improve, this is not something a team should count on.

- DJ

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Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at wagesofwins.com provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.

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