Pat Riley

If new Knicks’ power forward and $ 100 M man Amar’e Stoudemire (directly above) thought he’d be playing for Team USA at the World Championships next month and chilling on the Dream Team’s bench at the elbows and in the ears of the best America has to offer, then he couldn’t have been happy when the Knicks told the centerpiece of their rebuilding project this week that they were denying him permission to play. 

The Knicks informed their new power forward Monday night, just days after Stoudemire tweeted: “There isn’t anything that would stop me from playing for the U.S.”

Stoudemire was disappointed but accepted the decision, according to team president Donnie Walsh, who wasn’t willing to risk his free-agent prize on a 15-day tournament in Turkey. The U.S. team opened training camp Tuesday in Las Vegas.

“He really wanted to play but understood our position,” said Walsh, who added that Stoudemire needed more rest after playing through the end of May in the Western Conference finals. “He was a man about it.”

Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, did not return a phone call.

Insured players typically don’t need permission to compete for national teams, but Stoudemire’s contract wasn’t covered because of his medical rap sheet. Microscopic surgery on his left knee in 2005 and a detached retina in 2009, among other health issues, have limited the 27-year-old to only three 82-game seasons in his eight-year career. Durability was a major reason the Suns declined to offer Stoudemire a max contract, even after he was named to four consecutive All-Star teams and played every game last season.

Stoudemire, the only top tier free agent the Knicks have managed to acquire this off-season, albeit one near the bottom of the top tier, was one of only 5 players this month to earn a contract at $100 M or more.  But Stoudemire’s 2005 microfracture surgery makes his contract uninsurable.  The Knicks are still reminded of the last mistake they made on an uninsurable player because that player is on the roster and a constant eyesore–Eddy Curry.  Isiah Thomas signed Curry to a $56 M/7 yr deal in 2004 that was uninsurable due to a Curry heart condition.  The Knicks had hoped that Curry would attend their summer league in Las Vegas because he has played so little basketball the last two years.  Curry did not show up for the voluntary workouts and Curry already thinks Knicks’ coach Mike D’antoni is holding it against him.

Last week, when the Knicks made the mysterious decision to sign Russian 7 footer, Timofey Mozgov, it is believed they informed Mozgov that he would back up newly acquired Center Ronny Turiaf who came to the Knicks as part of the David Lee sign and trade.  At least, that’s what Curry’s agent believes took place, as was reported by the New York media.

It seems strange that they would guarantee playing time to a guy unable to start on his European League team and who has never played a minute in the NBA.  When D’antoni was asked about it, he responded by saying that he couldn’t promise any time to a player he hasn’t really seen, and that the Knicks would find a place on the floor for a well conditioned Curry.

In terms of the decision to hold Stoudemire out of the Worlds in Turkey next month, it’s simply a smart play on their part from the standpoint of protecting their big new investment.  Remember, this is the Knicks we are talking about, who found a way to trade Marcus Camby for Antonio McDyess and then watched McDyess go down for the year in the final minute of the first half of an exhibition game.  While they have lost out on their target of 2-3 years in Lebron James, they have probably had the 2nd best off-season of any team, were in the mix for James despite doing everything wrong up until that very week, and despite the very questionable Mozgov signing.  I like the decision to hold Stoudemire out of international competition.

If Stoudemire thought he’d be pitching potential free agents like Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony on joining him in New York next month in Las Vegas and Turkey, he will either be doing so as a spectator, or via twitter and text message.  Hopefully the decision to hold him out of these games does not impinge on the Knicks’ ability to recruit or acquire top tier players in the future.

As for Amar’e, who took the money the Knicks threw at him, he doesn’t play for country anymore.  Now he’s just a New York Knickerbocker.

–Crack (

Newest Knick, point guard Raymond Felton (above).

The Knicks may have lost out on the Lebron James sweepstakes, but one day after announcing the David Lee sign and trade that netted them Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, and Ronny Turiaf, the Knicks have solved a problem at a long standing trouble spot, agreeing to terms on a three year contract with former Bobcat and North Carolina Tar Heel, Raymond Felton–who was perhaps the best remaining free agent available.

The Knicks reached an agreement in principle Friday with Felton, the free agent who played five seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats, including the last two under former Knicks coach Larry Brown.

The deal could be finalized as early as Saturday. Three days ago, Duhon signed a free agent contract with Orlando.

Felton’s contract is believed to be a three-year deal worth approximately $25 million, which doesn’t preclude the Knicks from pursuing Chris Paul or Tony Parker next summer. The Knicks were also considering Luke Ridnour, but felt that Felton was the better player to go along with Amar’e Stoudemire and Danilo Gallinari.

Raymond Felton’s career stats:

05-06 CHA 80 54 30.1 0.391 0.358 0.725 1.0 2.4 3.3 5.6 1.3 0.1 2.27 2.26 11.8
06-07 CHA 78 75 36.3 0.384 0.330 0.797 0.7 2.8 3.4 7.0 1.5 0.1 2.95 2.31 14.0
07-08 CHA 79 79 37.6 0.413 0.280 0.800 0.5 2.5 3.0 7.4 1.2 0.2 2.70 2.33 14.4
08-09 CHA 82 81 37.6 0.408 0.285 0.805 0.7 3.1 3.8 6.7 1.5 0.4 2.78 2.33 14.2
09-10 CHA 80 80 33.0 0.459 0.385 0.763 0.7 2.9 3.6 5.6 1.5 0.3 2.10 2.15 12.1
Career 399 369 34.9 0.410 0.327 0.782 0.7 2.7 3.4 6.4 1.4 0.2 2.56 2.28 13.3

Felton is 26 years old, is a career starter, and has only missed 11 games in his NBA career.  He represents perhaps the best point guard solution the Knicks have come up with since a young Mark Jackson.

–Crack (

Looks like Lebron, Wade, and Bosh (above) will make for a pretty picture in Miami.

The New York Daily News is reporting that the Knicks have today conceded that Lebron James will be joining the Heat, with coach Mike D’antoni going so far as to say he is “stunned” by James’ choice.

It’s not just that the Knicks have seemed to have lost LeBron James but it appears that they have lost him to their old nemesis, Pat Riley.

Knicks officials conceded Thursday that they are likely out of the James sweepstakes with Mike D’Antoni going as far as to say he is “stunned” by James’ apparent decision to leave Cleveland and join the Miami Heat along with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and of course Riley, the former Knicks coach who led the Lakers and Heat to titles.

In the last hour, the New York Post reported that James has reserved 25 rooms at the W Hotel in South Beach for tonight, and is planning a party.

We’ll be holding out hope that the Post’s story is untrue, especially with all of the secrecy surrounding James’ announcement.  Is it odd that story wasn’t broken by a Florida paper?

–Crack (

The New York Post has just reported that Lebron James has booked a large number of rooms at a South Beach hotel, and that he is planning a party in Miami.

LeBron James is ready to party it up in what may be his new basketball home.

James has booked 25 rooms at the W Hotel in South Beach starting tonight, a source told the Post. That fuels speculation that James will announce that he will sign with the Heat tonight at 9 p.m. during an ESPN special.

Though the Knicks are still clinging to a sliver of hope, they have heard through back channels that James is not likely headed to the Big Apple.

A source connected to James said, “ You should be writing about the Heat,’’ and there are multiple reports saying James is likely to join Pat Riley’s Miami club. The Knicks also believe Cleveland is still in the running and ahead of them in the chase for James.

We certainly hope this report proves to be false.

The Knicks can’t be happy right now.

–Crack (

Allan Houston (above), rumored to be heavily recruiting Lebron James (below), may be hosting the free agent prize at his Greenwich, Connecticut home this evening.

Could this be too good for Knicks’ fans to be true?  Several sources have reported, though unconfirmed, that former Pistons’ and Knicks’ great, and current Knick front office employee, Allan Houston, is entertaining Lebron James, who arrived in New York this evening, and that James may even be a guest at Houston’s sprawling Greenwich mansion this evening.

Should this be true, James to the Knicks is a slam dunk–another piece of speculation being rampantly reported by various internet sources this evening.

Jared just phoned into TMZ Live … and revealed that his top secret NBA sources have information directly from the Knicks … that LeBron has informed team officials that he will be joining the team.

Check out the audio and listen to the whole thing. LeBron is expected to make his “official” announcement tomorrow evening.

If Allan Houston has indeed been instrumental in bringing Lebron James to the Knicks, Houston, said to be the heir apparent to aging team president Donnie Walsh, deserves an immediate promotion.  Sources have said that Houston sold James on the Knicks as one of the classiest franchises in sport, despite recent woes.

It is believed that Houston discussed with James how supportive Knicks’ brass was with him when he suffered from debilitating knee and back injuries toward the end of his career, and how the Knicks allowed Houston to try out for the team after he had collected an enormous injury settlement at the time of his retirement–a very uncharacteristic move by an NBA ownership group.

Houston is said to be very close friends with Knicks primary owner Jim Dolan.  Should Houston really be instrumental in orchestrating James to New York–the coup of all coups–it would no doubt be an even bigger contribution the franchise than putting the Heat out of the playoffs with a last second shot in the 1999 playoffs, when the 8th seeded Knicks defeated the top seeded Heat, and made their last run to the NBA Finals.  Take a look at that shot at the video link below:

For more on this year’s banner NBA free agent class, and on the Knicks, check out the links below:

James will make his announcement Thursday at 9 PM EST, live on ESPN.

–Crack (

Since word was released earlier that Lebron James plans to make his free agent choice on ESPN live Thursday At 9 PM EST from a Boys and Girls Club facility in Greenwich, Connecticut, which is only minutes from the New York Knicks’ practice facility at SUNY Purchase in Rye, New York, speculation has been rampant that the prized free agent is set to join the New York Knicks.  The Knicks, who were the only team to receive a second audience with James of the 6 suitors, were said to have sought James’ blessing on the free agent acquisition of Amar’e Stoudemire, which James granted.  Also, at that 2nd meeting, James’ agent is believed to have discussed with the Knicks in detail their plans to continue to improve the team, which included a conversation about the salary cap space that New York will have after the 2010-2011 season, and the Knicks’ ability to sign another max contract free agent, which they assured James’ representatives they would be able to do.

Other signs that seem to favor the Knicks today are a noticeable rise in the value of Madison Square Garden stock, and tweets by Stoudemire’s former Phoenix teammate and close friend, Jared Dudley, stating that James will announce tomorrow that he is signing with New York.

Aside from Greenwich being a short drive from the Knicks training facility in Greenburgh, NY, former Suns teammate of Amar’e Stoudemire, Jared Dudley, posted on his Twitter account earlier Monday, “Breaking News!!! My sources tell me LeBron will announce that he will be goin to the NY KNICKS tomorrow on ESPN.. This is serious.. WOW!!!!”

And if you’re trying to read the tea leaves, shares of Madison Square Garden Inc. (MSG) rose 6.4 percent today.

Though the article linked above was co-written by NY Daily News Knicks’ beat writer Frank Isola, Isola appeared via telephone with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on Mad Dog Radio on Sirius XM Satellite Radio in the past hour, and downplayed James to New York, while predicting that James will remain in Cleveland.  Frankly, and this comes from a devout Knick fan, Isola is a very poor Knicks’ reporter, who has only been updating his Knicksnation blog about once a day, despite myriad developments over the last week involving the Knicks.

Isola offered zero information in his 20 minute spot with Russo, downplayed Dudley’s twitter remarks, and surmised out loud that James is going to pick Cleveland from Connecticut as a means of creating a smoke screen, because James likes the drama and suspense he has created, and any announcement coming from Ohio would be read into that James will obviously return to Cleveland.  This situation is entirely unique in sport where a professional athlete calls his own press conference to announce a free agent destination, but when high school recruits do so, generally the school of choice does already know of the athlete’s decision.

Could Isola know more than he lets on and be sworn to secrecy, like everyone is at ESPN, where some surely must know what team James chose, but who will not say a thing and risk compromising their prime time ratings tomorrow night?  Isn’t the team James chooses going to be eager to in the very least put a uniform and hat on James and get some photos with their new or returning star?  The proximity of Greenwich to the Knicks’ training facility in Rye would allow the Knicks the easiest access to James in Connecticut, while offering Cleveland the worst access.  Greenwich is widely considered to be Knicks’ country.  James obviously has known what team he will choose for at least a day, since making the announcement that he will make the announcement live in the 9 to 10 PM slot Thursday evening on ESPN.  James probably made his decision as soon as he knew that Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade were signing with Miami.

Whereas many, including Isola, have suggested that James is “too good a guy” to go on national television and completely destroy a city, and that announcing he is leaving Cleveland in this manner would be akin to stabbing Cleveland in the back, others feel that James will make his announcement devoid of sentiment, and will choose based on what is best for his career going forward.  A major factor in that line of reasoning would have to be Chris Bosh’s rejection of a sign and trade to Cleveland yesterday, which would clearly delineate to deluded Clevelanders that real NBA stars not from Ohio do not want any part of living in Ohio, even if it meant a chance to play with James.  James one time good friend and teammate, Carlos Boozer, also jilted James once, leaving Cleveland as a free agent, though he pledged not to, to play for the Utah Jazz.  Boozer, another highly sought free agent this year, agreed to a 5 yr, $ 80 M deal with Chicago this afternoon.

James’ mother Gloria was said to have a sexual relationship with James’ Cleveland teammate Delonte West, who Cleveland is desperately trying to trade, probably in a last ditch effort to appease James any way they can.  West was rumored to be part of the Bosh proposed sign and trade, and was rumored this morning to be in separate deals, some alongside Jamario Moon, so that Cleveland could make additional cap space.

If James chooses the Knicks, I for one feel the Knicks owe a great debt to Bosh, whose decision to nix Cleveland yesterday was monumental.  If the Knicks lose out on the guy who has been the apple of their eye for years, they will probably try to improve their roster by exploring sign and trade options in which they dealt David Lee.

Though one prominent New York name in sports doesn’t think it will come to that.  Yankees GM Brian Cashman said this week he fully expects James to make the best decision for himself, and predicted the star would sign with the Knicks.


Crack (

This morning came word out of Toronto that the Raptors were willing to do a sign and trade with Cleveland that would send Chris Bosh (above) to Cleveland to play for new coach Byron Scott and perhaps along side Lebron James.  Toronto, who had balked at signing and trading Bosh to teams he appeared to be colluding with James and Wade about, must not view it as a bad thing to see the Cavs keep James.  Bosh would go to Cleveland in exchange for a package including Anderson Verajao, Anthony Parker, and Delonte West, rumored to have had a sexual relationships with the mother of Lebron James.

The Toronto Raptors have told the Cleveland Cavaliers they will do a sign-and-trade with them for Bosh, according to several league sources.

The exact details of the potential trade have not been solidified, but Toronto likely would get Anderson Varejao and/or J.J. Hickson, Delonte West and perhaps Anthony Parker. A draft pick could be involved as well.

The only problem is that Bosh has negged the deal, as people close to him have said that he wants no part in playing for or living in Cleveland.  This could illustrate two very important points about Bosh–that he isn’t married to a 6 yr deal, and that he has been telling the truth about his preference to play in a warm weather city.  Both factors could be looked at as positives for the Heat, who would love to snag Bosh, which would probably be the linchpin of their plan to keep Dwayne Wade, who is said to be seriously considering Chicago.

Since Amar’e Stoudemire agreed to a 5 yr, $ 99.7 M contract with the Knicks Monday, much has been made of the fact that the Knicks sought Lebron James’ blessing for such a move, giving rise to the scenario pitched in Sunday’s New York Post by Peter Vecsey, that James or Wade would rather play with Stoudemire in New York as opposed to Cleveland and Miami, respectively, with no other star to ride shotgun, an idea disgusted in the link directly above.

Despite the fact that the Bulls are blessed with the better roster, many have recently voiced their opinion that James would sign with the Knicks, inlcuding New York Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman, ESPN Radio’s Brandon Tierney, and’s Chris Sheridan.

The Knicks will wait on Lebron James’ decision before exploring sign and trade options for David Lee.  Both Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson have been mentioned as possibilities.  Also, the Knicks are said to be very interested in free agent point guard Raymond Felton.

Chris Bosh may be helping the Knicks enormously with his refusal, so far, to go to Cleveland.  Time will tell soon enough.

–Crack (

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