David Stern


In the wake of the new CBA in the NBA, fear not, big market fans. The war between have and ‘have not’ owners has passed, and there can be no better indicator that the big markets made out smashingly well than the Knicks’ acquisition of C Tyson Chandler, the prize of this free agent class. The amnesty provision that the Knicks employed to gain the maneuverability to sign Chandler to a 58M contract when they were totally tapped out by walking away from the 14M contract of Chauncey Billups, provided they were willing to write him a check for that amount, is surely a clause that deep pocketed teams will be way more willing to use to their benefit than the smaller market teams who took such a hard line during the lockout that they forced.

Begs the question: why such histrionics in the first place? Well, as astute observers of labor disputes in sport, we did kind of agree with Billy Hunter’s assertion that the league was trying to break the players, behind a core of small market owners like Michael Jordan, lead hypocrite, who wanted the lockout to stretch on to the point where the players were feeling the impact of missed paychecks. So why abandon course in favor of a compromise that more favored the Knicks than the Kings, Celtics than Cavs?

Because Stern’s public stance that 15 or so clubs were losing money was so obviously no more than just a posture. If the Charlotte Bobcats aren’t willing to pay Ray Felton 7.5M per for 2 years, the 27/28 truly healthy teams around the league can not pay the price for it. If Lebron and Bosh won’t re-up or up with Cleveland, then Stern in his infinite wisdom can not negotiate a CBA that alters Cleveland’s geography and ethnic demography.

Look at the Memphis Grizzlies. They heaped money on Rudy Gay and Mike Conley, absorbed the huge deal of Zach Randolph, and are poised to now lavish 70M or more on Marc Gasol. They aren’t exactly hurting.

The new CBA did as much for small markets as it could have. By making top tier free agent movement essentially prohibitive financially to the player by limiting salary and term, the deal ensures that most sensible players will be traded for prime assets rather than seeing them flee in FA, getting way more in return than they would in an after thought sign and trade. That’s as far as they can go. The league does not have the ability to restrict player movement beyond that.

They put franchises in places like Minnesota in the first place, and were happy to carve up the franchise initiation fees, but they can’t make players want to be there. As for the Knicks, you have to respect the Chandler move, which brings to the club the elements they lack: size, toughness, shot blocking, rebounding and post defense. You’d have to respect the move for both the creativity and the cost, when compared to say, Nene, at 70M for 4 years. And for their ability to recognize that Paul wasn’t getting done and for seamlessly and successfully changing gears and getting this done.

The Knicks do have a passable player in Toney Douglass at the point, and with Billups out a good bit, TD has plenty of experience in the lead. He should see a lot of open looks, and with he and Chandler starting, they look like a better defensive club. Iman Shumpert, drafted on the strength of his defense, may now see some time at point guard as well, which we’d prefer to Bibby getting significant minutes.

Weak at two guard, the Knicks are in talks to bring back Jamal Crawford, who would be a great addition. Should that trade go down, expect Landry Fields to go the other way. Knicks GM Glen Grunwald just told Mike Francesa that the team will soon announce the signing of Jerome Jordan, and that they are still hoping to bring back Shawne Williams, who resuscitated his career with the Knicks. Grunwald also boasted that NY will have a 5M and a 2M exception available next season, and a 2.5M exception available right now.

As for the Nets, if they did speak to Dwight Howard on Thursday without permission, the Magic should file tampering charges. Can’t the Nets simply text D12’s entourage, like every other team?

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Sasha Vujacic (L., above).

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/sharapova-comeback-derailed-in-madrid-bikini-shots/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/it-must-be-love-masha-n-sasha-pics/

Sasha Vujacic has had his last meaningful fist bump with the great Kobe Bryant unless the two re-unite in free agency.  Unfortunately for Masha’s man, the versatile guard was shipped to the Nets in a complicated three team trade this evening in which the Nets were able to dump the chronically late Terrence Williams on Houston in exchange for Joe Smith, with 2 first rounders coming back to New Jersey.

Under the deal, the Nets  acquire a 2011 pick from the Lakers and a 2012 pick from the Rockets and Williams goes to Houston. The Nets also send veteran Joe Smith to the Lakers, who give up Vujacic and his expiring contract. There could be other parts to the deal, including an exchange of cash.

Although the deal has been agreed upon by all parties, it cannot be announced until Wednesday, when Smith becomes trade-eligible. Free agents acquired over the summer cannot be traded until Wednesday. Williams confirmed his departure in a tweet Tuesday night: “To all my Jersey fans and people, it’s been real. I love y’all and thanks. To Houston, what up. Go Rockets.”

While also getting valuable rebuilding pieces, the Nets are ridding themselves of a player who clashed with coach Avery Johnson and appeared stifled under the team’s system.

The 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft, who was touted as a premier talent by then-Nets GM Rod Thorn, Williams was deactivated before Tuesday night’s game against the 76ers. He was not at the arena. The last time that happened, Williams had been repeatedly late to team gatherings, including games and practices.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/2010/12/14/2010-12-14_terrence_williams_traded_to_houston_rockets_nets_get_sasha_vujacic_and_two_first.html

Williams, who shows tremendous promise from a standpoint of talent, was recently demoted to the d-league for his inability to conform to team rules.  Former Knick and current Celtic fireplug Nate Robinson, a close friend of Williams, had blasted the Nets in the press for their failure to make sure that Williams had the support he needed to make meetings and practices, and implied that Nets’ new coach Avery Johnson, is not much of a people person.  The little big man wouldn’t be the first to put that knock on Johnson, who has always been inflexible, to a fault.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/2010/11/25/2010-11-25_while_nets_guard_terrence_williams_awaits_fate_former_knick_nate_robinson_says_t.html

Though the move seems to bode well for the Nets’ chances at acquiring Melo, chiefly because the oh so cheap Nuggets are intent on scoring a bushel of 1st rounders for their disgruntled star, it in no way means that Anthony would be happy in Newark for the next 2 seasons playing Johnson’s version of down tempo basketball, while hearing his annoying scratchy bark all the time.  It also doesn’t mean that Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to ante up the big dollars for Melo.  Last week, Dallas owner Mark Cuban suggeted that Prokhorov was cheap and lacked the balls to make big acquisitions, even calling the Nets’ billionaire owner a “pussy.”

Vujacic’s nearly $5M salary slot will opne up for the Nets at season’s end, meaning the Nets will have additional money to lavish on questionable talent like the Troy Murphy’s of the world.  But even though the Nets seemed poised to deal for Melo and seem best matched to meet Denver’s demands, Anthony must be unimpressed with NJ’s set up and lack of talent, and the fact that they are 2 years away from Brooklyn bodes poorly.  In fact, we can not see Anthony signing any extension this year, despite the uncertainty over the next labor agreement. 

It’s possible that Anthony, under a new agreement, may max out well below the 3 yrs/$65M that is on the table.  Still, with all the pomp and ceremony surrounding the top free agents last summer, and with Anthony being, far and away, the top free agent prize this sumer, one would think that he would cherish the opportunity to be wooed and coveted the way Bosh, Wade, and James were.  Though commissioner Stern drives a hard bargain, let’s face it: the league is not exactly in the poor house.  Anthony would rate the absolute max under whatever agreement the league and players come to, and something about playing with Dwight Howard in Orlando, or Amar’e Stoudemire for that matter, in his home town where his wife has lobbied for him to land, has got to appeal to Anthony, especially considering the Knicks’ resurgence and their surprising success this season.

And if the Nets can land 2 #1’s for old man Joe Smith and late man Williams, Donnie Walsh should be in good shape when he does the inevitable and officially places Anthony Randolph on the block.  Right now, word out of Denver is that the Nuggets feel the Knicks don’t have the picks to offer in a deal that they’d be looking for, but it’s only December, and this thing isn’t going to play ou for a couple of months yet.  We’re also hearing the Nuggets are smitten with Knicks’ rookie Landry Fields, who has shocked us with his cool play and machine like rebounding at the two guard position.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Three years after a jury ruled Knicks’ coach Isiah Thomas sexually harrassed Anucha Browne Sanders, and awarded her $ 11 + M, Isiah Thomas is still making back page headlines because of his relationship with the Knicks.

The Knicks finally gave angry fans what they wanted–Isiah’s head on a platter–when new president Donnie Walsh relieved Thomas of his coaching duties in April of 2008.  But to our dismay, Thomas was re-hired by the team last week to be a consultant, even though he is already employed by Florida International University as coach.  Not only is Thomas not dead, but he is poised to become the team’s next general manager and team president, despite the damage he has done to the Knicks on and off the court.  Thomas has remained good buddies with Knicks owner James Dolan, as favoritism/nepotism is one of the only suitable explanations for such shenanigans.

At least the league did what it could earlier, when NBA commissioner David Stern announced that Thomas’ new position with the Knicks violated league bylaws.

Isiah Thomas’ official role as a part-time consultant for the Knicks lasted less than a week.

Saving Jim Dolan from himself, the NBA on Wednesday ruled Thomas can’t serve both as head coach at Florida International and work for the Knicks because of a handful of conflict of interests, according to an NBA source.

“After speaking with Commissioner Stern and Knicks executives, it has become apparent that my new agreement violates certain NBA bylaws. Because of this, I have decided to rescind my contract with the team,” Thomas said in a statement. “I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jim Dolan, Donnie Walsh, Mike D’Antoni and the entire Knicks organization, and I want to thank them for affording me this opportunity.”

http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/knicks/isiah_won_be_working_for_knicks_wE6ChdKRd6QwL5gAwOotxI

While the NBA has stepped in to help the Knicks, on the surface, with their Isiah problem, rampant speculation persists that Thomas will be taking over the reigns of the organization soon anyway.  While it had been commonly assumed that Donnie Walsh would be picking and/or possibly grooming his successor, we were all painfully reminded who the owner was last week, and that Dolan is going to have the final say with the team he owns.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/nba-to-nix-isiah-consultantship/

“Although I’m disappointed that Isiah will not be working with the Knicks as a consultant, I continue to believe in his basketball knowledge, including his ability to judge talent,” Dolan said in a statement. “He’s a good friend of mine and of the organization and I will continue to solicit his views. He will always have strong ties to me and the team. We wish him continued success at FIU.

“I also believe Donnie Walsh has done a terrific job since joining the Knicks and my tremendous respect for him has only grown since he’s joined the organization. I’m confident that the work that Donnie, Coach Mike D’Antoni and their staffs have done this summer has the team poised for long-term success.”

You have got to love this Dolan fellow.  In his statement, he basically starts by flouting the NBA’s ruling and saying, “I’m going to do what I like and get away with it”, then he commends Thomas on his “success” at FIU where he went 7-25 last year, and then passes out the backhanded compliments to his own people in the 2nd paragraph. 

While Thomas may eventually find himself back in his old digs with the Knicks, look for Walsh to stick it out for a while.  He’s not the type to re-sign away any “Knicks money.”

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Isiah Thomas, with his biggest ticket Knicks’ acquisition, Stephon Marbury (above).

http://nba.fanhouse.com/2010/07/23/stephon-marbury-reportedly-turns-down-the-miami-heat/

Thomas and the former apple of his eye, Anucha Browne Sanders, whom he sexually harrassed.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/knicks-isiah-hiring-endangers-franchise/

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/knicks/2007/09/12/2007-09-12_brownesanders_slams_isiah_thomas_in_sexh.html

On Friday, October 24th, 2008, Isiah Thomas overdosed on sleeping pills, and then promptly tried to blame the incident on his daughter, despite ample facts to the contrary.

Police were reportedly sent to the home of former New York Knicks head coach and president Isiah Thomas early Friday morning in response to a call that Thomas had overdosed on sleeping pills.WCBSTV in New York reported Friday afternoon on the overdose. The television station said that Thomas was rushed to a White Plains Hospital for treatment, but his condition is not yet known.

http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=sportsnetwork&page=nba/news/news.aspx?id=4187055

The Chief of Police in Harrison N.Y. blasted former NBA star and New York Knicks head coach Isiah Thomas for using his daughter to “cover up” his accidental overdose according to the New York Daily News.

Harrison Police Chief David Hall said the former NBA great was throwing his 17-year-old daughter “under the bus” by claiming she was the one rushed to the hospital Friday, not him.

“My cops … know the difference between a 47-year-old black male and a young black female,” Hall told The Associated Press. “It wasn’t his daughter – and why they’re throwing her under the bus is beyond my ability to understand.”

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/rumors/post/Police-say-Isiah-Thomas-used-daughter-for-coveru?urn=nba-117409

Why would Isiah throw his daughter “under the bus” like that?  Why would Isiah practice a consistent policy of sexual harrassment in the offices of MSG?  And why would Garden owner James Dolan, made to pay Anucha Browne Sanders, the woman whom Thomas harrassed, $ 11.5 M, bring a guy like Thomas back, after the guy has hurt his wallet, embarrassed the franchise and nearly ruined it, and who threw his own daughter under the bus?

Why?

Because Dolan doesn’t care, though the NBA does.

The NBA, which started an investigation of the arrangement Monday, prohibits people who coach or work for a team at the collegiate level, or work for an international team, and who have regular contact with underclassmen or other draft-ineligible players, from also working for one of the league’s 30 teams.

“This arrangement runs right in the direction of that illegality,” said one Eastern Conference team president, requesting anonymity. “We have very distinct rules on this because, obviously, it could mean a team would have an unfair advantage over everyone else when it comes to having contact with a player who is not ready for the NBA.”

Sometimes, if there is a looser connection, the league will grudgingly allow for the arrangement. But Thomas’ high-profile job as a Division I head coach is seen by several GMs as a cut-and-dried case of breaking the rules.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/knicks/2010/08/10/2010-08-10_isiah_draws_nba_fire.html

Wouldn’t it be ironic though if the NBA invalidates Thomas’ consultantship, only for Dolan to go over Donnie Walsh’s head and hire Thomas as Walsh’s heir apparent? 

Dolan, the Garden chairman, wants Thomas to come back and again be in charge of the team – he tried to make Walsh hire him as GM two weeks ago – so if the league rejects Thomas as a consultant, it could speed his return.

He then could leave FIU for the Knicks, and that likely would result in Walsh stepping down, which he considered doing when he rejected Dolan’s suggestion to hire Thomas as general manager.

Even if the NBA rejects the arrangement and he stays at FIU, Thomas would still enjoy the direct pipeline he’s had to Dolan ever since leaving the organization in disgrace.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/knicks/2010/08/10/2010-08-10_isiah_draws_nba_fire.html

Here’s our take.  Dolan was less embarrassed by the sexual harrassment and by Thomas running the Knicks into the ground, than by the perception that the league and the media forced Dolan’s hand in firing Thomas, who Dolan has always been smitten with.  Dolan played nice when David Stern publicly endorsed Walsh and a short list of other candidates as possible Thomas’ replacements.

Dolan hired the preferred choice of David Stern, who has been pushing Dolan hard for months now. Stern pushed him into dropping an appeal and settling Anucha Browne Sanders’ sexual harassment suit for $11.5 million. Stern pushed Walsh on Dolan, too. This hire delivers a dose of credibility to the Knicks’ bottomed-out operation, goodwill to a city of basketball writers who’ve always been partial to Walsh’s goodwill and Bronx charm.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-walshknicks040208

Well, how far and for how long could David Stern push a billionaire brat like Dolan?  Dolan probably sat quietly for Stern’s choice Walsh, and for all the guys that Walsh brought in.  Dolan probably bought into the hype surrounding this year’s free agent class, and probably thought that if the Knicks landed Lebron, then being shamed by Stern into hiring Walsh would be worth it, even if the league and the media did correctly paint Dolan as the dumbest man in sports.

But when Lebron had announced that he was announcing his decision on ESPN, and the Knicks well paid basketball hierarchy didn’t have enough juice to even get James on the phone–a clear sign that James had not chosen New York–all bets were off.  That night, Dolan dispatched Thomas to Akron, and Isiah does have enough juice to get in a room with Lebron’s lesser lackeys, who heard one last desperate pitch from Dolan through Isiah.  That may be the best thing that Thomas has going for him in Dolan’s eyes–a connection to urban athletes that the Knicks’ white brass lacks.  No matter to Dolan that Thomas had a 7-25 record in his first year as the steward of young urban athletes at FIU.

Dolan may as well have made Thomas the General Manager at that moment.  The Knicks may have whiffed on free agency’s big 3, and they may not be a playoff team, but at least a lot of their image problems had been cured, and their position for the future looked better still. 

As of right now though, the Knicks’ future looks a lot like the past they have been carefully distancing themselves from, and with good reason.  This Isiah consultantship is right up there with Dolan’s greatest accomplishments–keeping the Yankees off cable TV for over a year, and scuttling the Jets’ bid for a West Side stadium.

I’d look for Donnie Walsh to quit, but I don’t think he wants to resign from a job when he has a $ 4 + M/year paycheck coming.  As team president, if he stays on, Walsh would have final say on personnel and coaching moves, and could insulate the Knicks from Isiah’s bad judgment, if Dolan forces Thomas down Walsh’s throat and names him General Manager.  But Walsh has only one year left on his contract, guaranteed, and if Dolan really wants him out, he’ll happily pull the plug and write Walsh a check for the remainder of his pact, if he doesn’t step down.

Mr. Stern?  It was a nice try, but we are probably well beyond the spectre of your assistance here at MSG.

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)