#FreeDot

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Last year, I wrote a piece suggesting it’d be wise to move Damyean Dotson at the deadline. I figured his value would never be higher: a consistently solid two-way performer who fit the big 3-and-D mold most contenders covet and still had an extra year on his contract at only $1.62M…

Perry stood pat. Fine. I like Dot. Everyone likes Dot. He’s a good player. He’s the sort of player every good team has, and we hope to get there sooner rather than later, so sure, why not?

Come summer, I was no longer thinking trade; I was thinking about what the best 2019-20 Knicks’ starting lineup might look like. After careful consideration of many combinations, I decided Dot should be in that first five. If the goal is to win as many games as possible, he fits as an ideal complement to RJ, Randle, Big Mitch, and…whoever.

At the very least, he’d be in the rotation. Right?

Wrong.

If you believe he should play and play a lot, congratulations! You’re a reasonable human being! He averaged 11 points on 37% from three last year and rebounds and defends his position well. These are all good things, all things that impact winning and that we so desperately need. 1

If you believe the Knicks should trade him, this is also supported by sound logic. All those things he would bring to our lineup, he would bring to another. The Rockets and Sixers – two teams with championship aspirations – are shooting below 30% from 3, with other playoff-bound “contenders” not too far ahead. On the other side, the Warriors, Nets, and Bucks are sieves defensively so far; Golden State is giving up 128 points per game! Sure, it’s only been three games, but the point is that good teams have shown major warts early, and a guy like Dot – low-maintenance, hard worker, knows his role – is a perfect plug-and-play wing to shore up some of those weaknesses.

Did I mention he hits threes?

The only thing that makes absolutely no sense, that flies in the face of all reason and rational thought, is taking the guy who was your most consistent two-way player last year, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable 17-win campaign and, with the exception of four minutes in a blowout, burying him at the end of the bench. Yet that’s exactly what at least one decision-maker has decided is best for our New York Knickerbockers.

Nevermind that his shooting and defense might’ve helped slow the Spurs’ game-clinching 18-0 run in the opener, or the Nets’ game-stealing 7-0 spurt; that doesn’t matter.

What does matter is, what the f***? You develop a guy, don’t trade him when his value’s highest, let him play out the year as one of your best players, and then DNP him? This is blatant ineptitude, which is why all decision-makers should be f–

(…deep breaths…)

OK. Hmm. I guess Dotson being out of the rotation makes a little sense. I mean, the Knicks have A LOT of wings that need time. Who’s he displacing?

RJ Barrett? Yeah, right. Next.

Kevin Knox? Lost in the RJ hype, he’s been good and actually needs more minutes.

Marcus Morris? He makes $15 million2 and, apparently, isn’t a PF.

Wayne Ellington? I thought he was just here to mentor. I was wrong. Despite some questionable shot selection, he’s already shown how valuable his shooting can be.

Reggie Bullock and Ignas Brazdeikis aren’t active, but if they were, a healthy Bullock is a better Dot, and Iggy, well, I love him, you love him, we want to see him out there.

Allonzo Trier is a walking bucket who fits Coach Fizdale’s preferred style of play, so despite the recent DNP, I don’t see anyone tempting Fiz away from his love of Zo.

And finally, Frank Ntilikina – he got to play with DSJ inactive, but what happens when Smith, Jr. comes back and gets right? Does Frank get buried again? Wouldn’t it make more sense to find him wing minutes, seeing (once again) how important his defense can be?

You can make an argument for 6-8 guys that, while not necessarily better than Dot, are either guaranteed to play or deserve to play over him.

Which brings me back to where I was in February: trade him. Don’t keep a good player DNP’d, leaving the rest of the roster to wonder why a guy who can help is rotting in his warm-ups. Don’t piss off the fans for whom Dot was one of two silver linings last year. Don’t risk fostering an environment that breeds reports of unhappiness.

Do it. Now.

I have no data regarding early-season transactions and the types of assets that are often flipped, and I have no idea how many teams are already scouring the market, but here’s what I do know:

  • He’s in the final year of his contract.
  • We won’t give him the raise he deserves.
  • We won’t give him the years he’ll want because we’re maintaining flexibility for big fish.
  • We just drafted two wings, and have two other under-22’s from prior drafts that, again, need to be prioritized.
  • Getting any asset back is better than losing him for nothing.
  • Waiting for February 2020, and risking the deterioration of his value and/or the disgruntling of a homegrown product, isn’t the way to go.

A Dot trade that doesn’t return a player – or returns one that can be waived immediately – should net a future asset. It will also alleviate a logjam and it gives him the opportunity he deserves elsewhere, perhaps garnering the respect of others around the league for having done the right thing.

As much as it hurts me, it’s truly time to #FreeDot. Not only from the DNPs, but from New York.

It’s the only path left that makes sense.

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