Tony Parker

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 (

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 (

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 (

If Lebron James (above), can’t drive on the Celtics tonight in Boston, will he be doing so in a Knicks uniform next year?

The Knicks need the Celtics help tonight, as disgusting as that notion might be to life long Knicks fans, who wouldn’t otherwise root for the other Gang Green, and who might still be rooting against Boston, even with the ultimate free agent prize possibly at stake.  Knicks fans have got to be realistic.  Even if Cleveland gets bounced tonight, there are no guarantees that James bounces to New York.

But it’s not like the Knicks have done anything remotely enticing to the top free agents, aside from their geographic location, which they have no control over.  So if Lebron is coming, we are going to need help, even from our most bitter rivals.

Tony Parker wouldn’t hurt our cause either, who likes the thought of living in Manhattan.

With Donnie Walsh in the market for a point guard, there are reports that San Antonio would consider trading Tony Parker, who lost his starting job to Hill and has told close friends he and his actress wife, Eva Longoria, would love to relocate to New York.

What about the rumors that John Calipari is set to take over the Cavs, and is bffs with Lebron?

I’m sure the folks in Kentucky took that in stride when they read it, or had it told to them.  But seriously, Coach Cal?  I’m just going to be my usual harsh self here, and point out that Calipari hasn’t won a thing, doesn’t own a ring, and had the best team in the nation twice in recent years, and blew one title down the stretch and the other, he blew entirely. 

But we’d gladly cast our coach aside for you, LB, so you can bring in the coach you want.  You can’t always wear that Yankees hat because you love the Yankees so much, can you?

But with the Knicks’ luck, it probably is the truth.

–Crack (