Tom Izzo

Newest Knick Amar’e Stoudemire (above).

Stoudemire’s career stats:

Career Season Averages
02-03 PHX 82 71 31.3 0.472 0.200 0.661 3.0 5.7 8.8 1.0 0.8 1.1 2.30 3.28 13.5
03-04 PHX 55 53 36.9 0.475 0.200 0.713 2.9 6.2 9.0 1.4 1.2 1.6 3.22 3.42 20.6
04-05 PHX 80 80 36.1 0.559 0.188 0.733 2.7 6.2 8.9 1.6 1.0 1.6 2.36 3.48 26.0
05-06 PHX 3 3 16.7 0.333 0.000 0.889 2.0 3.3 5.3 0.7 0.3 1.0 0.33 1.33 8.7
06-07 PHX 82 78 32.8 0.575 0.000 0.781 2.7 6.9 9.6 1.0 1.0 1.3 2.83 3.60 20.4
07-08 PHX 79 79 33.9 0.590 0.161 0.805 2.3 6.8 9.1 1.5 0.8 2.1 2.20 3.72 25.2
08-09 PHX 53 53 36.8 0.539 0.429 0.835 2.2 5.9 8.1 2.0 0.9 1.1 2.83 3.08 21.4
09-10 PHX 82 82 34.6 0.557 0.167 0.771 2.8 6.1 8.9 1.0 0.6 1.0 2.60 3.43 23.1
Career 516 499 34.3 0.544 0.190 0.758 2.7 6.3 8.9 1.3 0.9 1.4 2.57 3.43 21.4
All-Star 5 2 17.8 0.578 0.333 0.643 3.2 4.6 7.8 1.0 0.8 0.6 1.40 2.00 16.8

The Knick “braintrust”, faced with the possibility of the music stopping and being left without a chair, after putting three years stock into the Lebron James charade, continued the games by adding forward Amar’e Stoudemire.  Stoudemire, who underwent the dreaded microfracture surgery in 2005, has never been the same player since the injury.  Because of the injury, the Knicks will not be able to insure the nearly $100 M contract.

Sound familiar?  When I close my eyes I can hear Isaiah Thomas talking like Michael Jackson about Eddy Curry.

While the Nets impressed Lebron James Thursday with a contingent that included Avery Johnson, Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and recording legend and James’ buddy Jay-Z, and don’t think it of little consequence that Johnson and Jay-Z are black, Curry happened to be the only contemporary “ambassador” from the Knicks to meet with James, who scorched the Knicks and their hapless coach, Mike D’antoni when granted a personal audience with James.  It was probably the first time Curry has ever been right, too.

According to a source close to Curry, the Knicks‘ veteran center met with James in Ohio to discuss Curry’s future, which may or may not include having LeBron as a teammate. The conversation, the source said, “had nothing to do with Eddy trying to recruit LeBron to New York.”

In fact, Curry may have been recruiting himself to join James either in Cleveland or Chicago. Curry is entering the final year of his contract and has told close friends he’d welcome a buyout from the Knicks in order to become a free agent.

Curry has talked about returning to his hometown of Chicago to restart his career. The Bulls are one of several teams with salary cap room to sign James, who is expected to visit New York, New Jersey and Chicago when he becomes a free agent on July 1st.

The Knicks “braintrust” was betting on a major summer in free agency, but the summer looks like more of a disaster than anything, with the impending loss of David Lee set to completely offset the Stoudemire signing, especially on the glass, where Lee is perennially one of the finest rebounders in the game.  For those of you who assume Stoudemire and D’antoni have this great rapport and comfort level, think again.  The word out of Phoenix was that they frequently came to loggerheads, and that star guard Steve Nash had to act as a buffer and a peace maker between the two.

Asked about D’antoni in an interview at the end of March, here was Stoudemire’s reply:

Do you agree that Mike D’Antoni not emphasizing defense set you back:

“I think so. With us not really focused defensively and not teaching defense a lot of the finger pointing was towards me saying that I wasn’t a good defensive player but I just was never taught defensive strategy so it really was kind of unfair to put the blame on me. I think over time, it shows now that we are a better defensive team, we got guys that can play defense and my defense is not really that bad.”

This is Stoudemire being diplomatic, too.  This deal was born out of necessity on both sides.  The Knicks needed a player, and the player needed a team to offer 5 years at $ 19 + M a year on average.  The Suns, who know Stoudemire best and who got his best years, were unwilling to pledge to hima 5th season, and the Heat tried to get him on a 5 yr deal for almost $ 25 M less than the Knicks offer.

What’s next for the Knicks, who are about to strike out on the top 3 free agents, and who don’t seem to have the muscle to work out trades for Chris Paul or Carmelo Anthony with their flimsy roster?  We are hearing that the Knicks are looking for a partner in crime to put along aside Stoudemire at the 5, and have their sights set on Dallas big Brendan Haywood.

Can you feel the excitement?

Luckily for the Knicks, Dallas is probably going to lavish Haywood with their own millions, saving New York from more folly.

The Knicks made their bed more than 2 years ago when they hired Walsh who hired D’antoni, over Mark Jackson, the widely respected commentator, New York product, and a much savvier pitchman and face of the franchise when it comes to selling free agents on the virtues of New York, being a guy who actually played here, and did so on successful Knicks teams.  Speaking of Jackson, whom the Knicks have not had a reliable point guard since his departure nearly 20 years ago, the Knicks should foresake their pursuit of a center for now, considering they have Curry in a walk year–likely the only year you will ever see the guy motivated, and try to obtain a quality point guard.  The point guard position has been broken for far too long here, and a permanent fix for less than max dollars would leave the Knicks in decent shape next off season to recruit, should they wisely dump D’antoni, who is unlikely to be extended, as he goes into the 3rd year of a 4 year contract.

With Curry and new Knick “star” Stoudemire already vocal opponents of D’antoni, a alck of success this season, which is almost a certainty, could be the final nail in D’antoni’s already sized and outfitted coffin.  Should they not trade all their assets for Tony Parker, and perhaps get lucky in free agency with pass first point guard Raymond Felton, in whom they have interest, a new coach who desirable players do have interest in playing for could possibly convince Carmelo to play for the Knicks.  The Knicks would also help themselves for the future immensely by keeping their 2011 first round pick, one that has an excellent chance of being a lottery selection.

More of the status quo will only earn them more of the status quo, which right now, is second tier, and second team all the way, in their own city, with the first team being the Nets led by NBA icon Jay-Z.  It’s ironic how the Knicks threw away so much money for so long and would happily continue to do so, but now have slim pickings as far as who they can throw their money at.

–Crack (

Tom Izzo (above), who spurned the Cavaliers tonight to stay with the Michigan State Spartans.

It has been the biggest lingering question about the Cavaliers pursuit of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo to take their head job: What would LeBron James think? Because right now all things Cavaliers revolve around what LeBron James wants and thinks. When they order new pens for the Cavaliers offices they ask, “What color pens does LeBron like best?”

On the coaching front, LeBron likes Izzo, according to Brian Windhorst at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. And Windhorst has more sources than the CIA. Or at least more reliable ones.

James would “100 percent endorse” Izzo as the coach, Windhorst’s source reports.

Previous reports had suggested James wanted a successful former NBA coach to be his next coach. Someone with experience at the highest level. Izzo, while very respected, has never coached an NBA game. But apparently LeBron likes him.

With Lebron onboard with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert’s decision to hire 6 time final four coach, and former NCAA championship coach Tom Izzo, who Gilbert has admired as an MSU alum, it came as a surprise, albeit a mild one, that Izzo announced this evening that he will be leaving Cleveland at the altar, and remaining in East Lansing.  So with Izzo all but agreeing to a 5 yr/$3oM deal with Cleveland over the weekend, and then receiving the King’s approval, what could have happened to derail the Izzo to Cleveland train?

We have our theories. 

There’s the Billy Donovan theory.  Donovan, a 2 time national champion at Florida had an opportunity to go to the Orlando Magic, where super star center Dwight Howard was already locked in.  Donovan did not sign on the dotted line while in Orlando despite agreeing to the deal.  The next day Donovan apologized to the world, but announced he was staying in Gainesville.

Could Izzo have gotten homesick for East Lansing before ever officially leaving?  It’s very possible.  But more likely that Lebron James’ recent endorsement of the move seriously clouded matters for Izzo, as opposed to making them more simple.  Izzo’s agent could have perceived that the coach was worth a hell of a lot more than $6M annually, given the likelihood that Izzo to Cleveland would greatly enhance Cleveland’s ability to bring their super star back.  To me, a coach able to attract and keep stars is in Phil Jackson’s salary stratosphere, closer to $9-10M per.

Izzo probably had the MSU boosters in his ear telling him that Lebron was still no lock to be in Cleveland next year, and that even if he did re-sign, it might only be for 3 years.  And still other confidantes convinced that James will be in Chicago or New York next season, no matter how much he likes Tom Izzo.

Where does Cleveland turn to now?  Not sure they will, but Mark Jackson will make an excellent coach in the league, and he relates well to the modern player.  Byron Scott seems to be the popular notion, however.

Be a Knick,

Crack (

Tom Izzo (above), who has taken Michigan State to 6 final fours and 1 national championship (2000), and who revived a glorious basketball tradition at Michigan State, the alma mater of Magic Johnson, has been in negotiations to become the next coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  But he isn’t the only coach that Cleveland is talking to, without having consulted impending free agent star Lebron James, the league MVP, a possible sign that the Cavaliers do not expect to re-sign their star, who also happens to be the pride of Ohio.  Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, a Michigan State alum, is high on Izzo, who once turned down an opportunity to coach the Detroit Pistons, who were a championship calibre team.

If Phil Jackson isn’t coming, Izzo might be the next biggest name available. But at 55 and without any NBA experience, there is plenty of risk involved on both sides. Izzo is a proven champion in college, coaxing an injured team devoid of its best talent to the Final Four in April. He has reached the Final Four in consecutive seasons now and six of the past 12.

That doesn’t make him ready for the NBA, where the only recent college coach to successfully make the leap was Larry Brown. The list of failures is much longer, but that doesn’t seem to be scaring away the Cavs.

“It’s finding the right guy,” new General Manager Chris Grant said. “When we hired Mike Brown five years ago, a lot of you might have said, ‘Who’s Mike Brown? Can he really coach LeBron?’ Right now we’re open to anything: assistant coaches, college coaches . . . When you go into a coaching search, hiring the head coach is always the most important hire because it is the most important job.”

Not that Izzo isn’t an excellent coach, but questions about his ability to transition to the pros abound.  Many fine college coaches have failed at the NBA level, and that doesn’t make them bad coaches.  But would Lebron want to play for the defensive minded Izzo, who seems to do his best work with depleted rosters in defensive struggles.

My feeling is that if Lebron wanted to play for a college coach, he’d have gone to college.  There have been questions about whether Lebron would play for coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, who is a much more high profile coach with a more famous olympic pedigree.  In any case, with a college coach, would Lebron James be willing to ride through a transitioning coach’s growing pains in the NBA? has reported that Cleveland also has interest in former Nets’ and Hornets’ coach Byron Scott, and Chris Broussard of ESPN reported earlier that Cleveland has had discussions with Scott in the last 24 hours.   Scott had a reputation as a Pat Riley tree, hard work guy, but his NBA teams have been panned for lazy play.  Scott has also been criticized as being a poor bench coach and for conducting very short practices.  It’s seems that Scott is more from the D’antoni coaching tree than the Riley tree.

But Scott is a player’s coach, which could attract James, moreso than say, Jeff Van Gundy, who is obviously the best coach available, and who called the Cleveland job a “tremendous opportunity” publicly, but who has told confidantes that he is not looking to get back into coaching next season.  To us, that’s a strong indicator that he believes James will be elsewhere.  Conditions don’t bother Van Gundy–he went to Houston, afterall.  But what would bother the gym rat coach is not having James in place.

Lebron James recently made his first public appearance since the Cavs playoff ouster in Boston, and declined to address his future and refused to talk to the media.

Be a Knick,

Crack (