January 10, 2011
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January 7, 2011
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Rising Knicks’ star Wilson Chandler (above).
We are not ashamed to say that we had the Knicks projected at 10-24 at this point, and that we had major problems with the construction of the roster. The David Lee trade? Awful. To get back perpetual dog house resident Anthony Randolph as the centerpiece of a deal in which you trade a 20/10 guy, and to also recieve Kelenna Azabuike–yet to play and who may not recover from a serious knee injury in time to ever play for the team–is akin to letting Lee walk for nothing. Well, at least we got back scary looking Ronny Turiaf, who has had a positive effect in his minutes, and who becomes a downright essential cog for the thin Knicks in the absence of Gallinari.
What about our good friends Roger Mason and Timofey Mozgov, 2 players the Knicks alotted cap space to, who, well, suck it hard? Between Randolph, Azabuike, Mozgov, and Mason, the Knicks have tied up 1/3 of their roster with totally unusable players. Not to mention Eddy Curry.
Shawne Williams? We like him fine and think the former first rounder and journeyman deftly rescued himself from the scrap heap by shooting the lights out in limited action, and continued to shock us in a rousing win versus the Spurs by making plays with his back to the basket. Very nice. But let’s be real. He wasn’t brought here to or expected to contribute.
Are we upset that first Shannon Brown and then the absolutely awful Roger Mason were pretty much guaranteed starters’ minutes by D’antoni at the virtual expense of Wilson Chandler, who just kept his head down and played hard? Yes. In looking at this woeful roster, we clearly identified Chandler as 1 of the 4 guys with actual basketball talent on this team (along with Stoudemire, Felton, and Douglass). Since then, we’ve upgraded our assessment. This team has 5 players with basketball talent (all credit goes to the surprisingly gifted hard work guy from Stanford, Landry Fields, currently leading all guards in rebounding). Chandler, the 2nd or 3rd best, has thoroughly impressed us and we’re not surprised at all. Tuesday night, W.C. had 31 pts. on 13/19 from the field, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, and was too much for Richard Jefferson to handle. The fact is, on most nights and even against some very good teams, a few players can carry the multitude of bad ones. The Knicks also channeled that Garden energy left up in the rafters from the previous night’s incredible St. John’s victory.
The NBA is a star driven league, and Amar’e is playing like an MVP calibre, 1st team All NBA guy. Raymond Felton is playing the best ball of his career (17 pts, 7 assts per), and out-played Spurs star Tony Parker most recently (28/7 vs. 26/6) in the Knicks’ banner win at MSG. Chandler, who proved early on he could not be driven from the lineup, has been so good that Donnie Wheelchair has now vowed to re-sign him, even with the player in line for perhaps a $ 60M contract.
The Knicks big 3 of Stoudemire, Chandler, and Felton is proving so good that they can carry the team, even against some top squads. Even in the absence of Gallinari, who we think sucks anyway. Face it. How many teams have a triumvirate that it out producing the Knicks’ big 3? As we see it, it’s something only elite teams can say.
We also see a silver lining with Gallinari’s injury. While we are totally unimpressed with Italy’s finest, and while we especially pan his supposed strength–his perimeter game–he does seem to be developing a better repertoire as a guy who can put it on the floor and get to the rim. For all his faults, he’s a young guy, at 6’10, playing major minutes on a winning team. Denver, who seems intent on getting back 1-2 players and picks for Carmelo, might be willing to take Landry Fields, as well as the young talent and picks that a Gallinari and an Anthony Randolph could bring back, since we’re hearing the Nuggets aren’t big on either. For now, we’ll kindly hold off on the bust tag for these guys.
As for the immediate future, Amar’e returns to Phoenix Friday night. We look for our captain to be extra motivated against his old squad.
GO NY GO NY GO!
December 21, 2010
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Legitimate prime time player, Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks (above).
In the summer, we called Amar’e Stoudemire the “consolation prize” of the NBA dream team free agent class. And when the new Knick centerpiece tweeted in August that he was in Israel of all places because he just learned of his Hebrew ancestry, well, if that’s the prerogative of a $100M man, so be it, but our reaction to that was that not only was he a consolation prize, but that he also might be a clown. Our initial reaction was that the Knicks got themselves a “me” player with creaky knees who got rich, figuratively and literally off the exquisite, ball on a string, play making mastery of Steve Nash. Our reaction upon seeing the Israel tweet was more along the lines of “Oh Jesus.”
When the Knicks got out 3-8, not only was it expected by us, but we were giddy at all the D’antoni job security articles, and readying the bubbly for our own little D’antoni firing party. We had even marked the team through the first 34 games of their schedule, figuring they’d give D’antoni and his stupid offense at least 30 games with the new roster before Dolan gave the order to Donnie Wheelchair to pull the plug on the Italian with the affinity for matador defense. But then something very out of the ordinary began to happen. The Knicks started winning. In fact, they reeled off 13 out of 14 wins, elevating the team’s record to a wholly respectable 16-9. And we said, “Who kidnapped our awful Knicks?”
Stoudemire did–the consolation prize. He’s taken the other Knicks which include a 6’11 Italian 3 point specialist, a talented but unconventional g/f stuck out of position, a rookie 2nd round pick expected to guard an elite scorer every night, and a talented but inconsistent point guard, had them hop on his back while the man carried them all, posting clutch fourth quarter after clutch fourth quarter like Bernard King did once upon a time, before he injured his knee. Stoudemire has actually flourished in the marquis role and has Raymond Felton looking a lot more like Nash than um, Raymond Felton, along side Gerald Wallace in Charlotte. And so delighted have Knicks fans been with Felton that there is way more talk about extending Felton than there is of packing him off for Chris Paul.
Likely, Donnie Wheelchair makes some moves to solidify the…pause…most improved team in the league and gets some more reinforcements in here for Stoudemire, before the guy drops from over-use, as he gives 44+ minutes a night to the team. Then there’s Stoudemire’s sidelight as the Knicks’ assistant coach/heavy, which can not be understated. Stoudemire has been the most vocal guy in the organization–the only guy–to preach defense this year, and he has chided the team about the importance of striving for constant improvement, staying level, and always trying to get the “next one.”
And when I heard that Stoudemire had dogged his own teammate in the wake of Saturday’s horrific OT loss in Cleveland to the D-league’s new franchise called the Cavaliers–in a menacing way no less–I removed my own consolation prize tag and put in my vote, all but meaningless, for Stoudemire as league MVP.
“Yo Ray!” Stoudemire called to Felton in the locker room after the Cleveland debacle on Saturday. “How does a one play 23 minutes and get no dimes (assists)? No dimes, Ray?!” Stoudemire asked loudly about backup lead guard Toney Douglass, who dressed a few feet away. Hold on a sec…you mean to tell me that Stoudemire reads the stat sheet right after games and doesn’t just look for his own name? And that he is actually upset after a loss?
This guy was a bargain at $100M. After about 800 meaningless Knicks’ games, to watch a few that matter again has been priceless. Don’t be fooled. Pretty much, it’s Amar’e and only Amar’e we have to thank for it. We’re happy to be wrong about this guy. Couldn’t be happier. And from here forward, we give the Knicks’ captain permission to travel anywhere he wants in the off season. Clearly, he knows what he’s doing. He’ll even make an unselfish player yet out of Toney D., something D’antoni wasn’t able to do with one of our favorites, Nate Robinson, now a Celtic due to that failure.
October 27, 2010
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Pacers guard Brandon Rush (above), who attributes a torn ACL to an improper workout conducted by the New York Knicks, prior to his draft selection by Indiana.
Mike D’antoni doesn’t play bad rookies. Remember that one? Jordan Hill, whom the Knicks drafted 8th overall in the 2009 draft, and later packaged, begrudgingly, with their 2010 first round pick for Tracy McGrady and cap room which all the top tier free agents turned down, was apparently a bad rookie. One might glean such from D’antoni’s reaction to Hill’s statement after he had played his first game as a Rocket, after Hill was a monster on the boards and had just contributed to a Houston victory over New York. The reporters wanted to know why he thought he didn’t receive much of an opportunity on a terrible Knicks team. Hill said he didn’t think D’antoni liked playing rookies. D’antoni replied that he played rookies, “just not bad ones.”
Excuse us, but we were under the impression that Mike D’antoni had a say in that draft selection, much as he had a say the year before when the Knicks drafted D’antoni’s Italian boy toy, the object of his raampant lust, Danillo Galinari. Even if D’antoni was absent from the conversation with regard to the drafting of Hill, highly unlikely, the coach was still throwing his boss, Donnie Walsh, under the bus. Not a very nice thing to do considering that Walsh brought in D’antoni for a very generous $26.5M, topping his next best offer, from the very talented Chicago Bulls, by almost $10M.
Walsh candidly discussed his reluctance to part with Hill and the team’s most recent first round pick in summer interviews, where he went so far as to say that he had probably made a mistake. And Walsh discussed his hip replacement surgery (a bus ran him over, remember), and described how he had spent much of the preceeding months wheelchair bound. That must have gone over superbly with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, when Walsh wheeled into the conference room to make the Knicks’ pitch of pitches.
So the 8th pick isn’t good enough, but apparently, the 38th pick is–as well as a nobody on nobody’s radar–rookie free agent big man Timofey Mozgov. D’antoni announced today that 2nd round pick Landry Fields (38th overall) had supplanted 6’9 Wilson Chandler, who is generally good for 15 ppg. At the same time, D’antoni also let us know that Mozgov would be the starting center. Who can recall for me a good team in the modern era who started s 2nd round draft pick, let alone, a 2nd round pick and undrafted rookie free agent?
Sure the Knicks suck. I mean, that is completely obvious. Even if they fielded the best possible team they could, which would probably see neither Fields nor Mozgov in their normal rotation, let alone, alotting them starters’ minutes. And by the way, we have been saying Chandler’s job was in trouble for some time, though we don’t understand why. When Walsh was whispering to backup free agent two guards like Shannon Brown and Roger Mason, whom the Knicks signed, permed hair and all, that Chandler’s job could be had, we understood quite clearly that the Depaul product’s days in New York were numbered. Though we have also heard this week that the Knicks have opened contract extension talks with Chandler. Devalue and then extend? That’s a rather contradictory management approach, but I guess they feel they have a better chance of signing Chandler than they did of getting Lebron James to come to the phone on a warm July night last summer.
Still, Hill and Chandler might come back and hurt the Knicks very badly, as the team’s latest scandal unfolds.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports broke news earlier today of former New York Knicks Director of East Coast scouting Rodney Heard conducting illegal pre-draft workouts in gymnasiums in Atlanta.These workout sessions allegedly took place before the 2007, 2009, and 2010 NBA drafts.
NBA rules allow teams only two workouts with players spaced three days apart. Teams are also not allowed to work out any players before the annual NBA pre-draft camp.
Prior to the 2007 draft, Heard supposedly used his relationship with Wilson Chandler‘s agent, Chris Luchey, to work work out with Chandler for weeks.
This certainly gave the Knicks an unfair advantage over other teams, as they had more exposure and direct access to Chandler to further evaluate his talent and potential at the NBA level. Chandler was generally regarded as a second-round pick coming into the draft and has since been one of the great picks of the 2007 class.
Wilson declined an invite to the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando and canceled workouts with multiple teams prior to the draft. He scheduled seven workouts in the nine days leading up to the draft, and there were questions at the time as to whether or not he already had an understanding with a team as a guaranteed selection in the first round.
Now that this story has come to light, it’s all but certain that he had an agreement with the Knicks to forgo workouts with other teams with the assurance that he would be their pick at No. 23.
The man leading the front office—the man most likely responsible for those assurances—was none other than Isiah Thomas. Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be.
This also helps to debunk the absurd notion that Thomas is an amazing evaluator of talent, as it appears that he has had an unfair advantage.
The man currently in charge, Donnie Walsh, has denied any knowledge or involvement in the illegal draft workout sessions supervised by Heard. Until a formal investigation uncovers the truth, we can only take him at his word.
The more intriguing story is that of Indiana Pacers guard Brandon Rush.
Rush—an All-American from Kansas who was projected as a high lottery pick in the 2007 draft—suffered a devastating ACL tear in his right knee during one of the workouts led by Heard. This injury and the six months of rehabilitation that followed forced him to pull out of the 2007 draft.
Confronted with these allegations, team president Donnie Walsh said this evening that he had no idea that any of this took place. Of course he didn’t. He’s too busy working his wheelchair.
I’m taking the Raptors tomorrow night, and saying a prayer that the Knicks will only be penalized cash and not draft picks for their latest transgression.
August 20, 2010
The Knicks’ latest addition, shooting guard Roger Mason Jr. (above).
Career Season Averages
While the Knicks’ pursuit of Lakers guard Shannon Brown, whom New York envisioned a big role for, and who some in Knicks’ circles were excited about the possibility that Brown would win significant playing time from incumbent Wilson Chandler, ended with Brown taking a multi-year deal to stay in Los Angeles–a no brainer for the player–the Knicks perhaps found a better fit for their roster when they signed veteran journeyman and former Spur, Roger Mason Jr.
Mason Jr. signed a one year deal for $ 1.4 M, which was a little more than half of what the Knicks offered Brown. At the time of Brown’s decision to resign with LA, we thought it a blessing because that $ 2.7 M to be alotted to Brown occupies the rest of the Knicks remaining cap room, and we thought that the Knicks might be better served by spending that $ 2.7 M on two players, considering the Knicks still thin roster.
Though we aren’t sure if the Knicks will use the rest of their cap space on a veteran center, or at all, we have learned of some interesting trade rumors involving troubled Knicks’ center Eddy Curry. Curry was rumored to Denver in a phantastical trade proposal in which Curry would be the centerpiece in a trade to Denver for Carmelo Anthony, currently the talk of the town.
The Daily News reported earlier this month that the Knicks had also discussed sending Curry to the Rockets for former Knick, Jared Jeffries.
Yahoo!Sports is reporting that the Knicks are talking to the Rockets about a possible deal for Jared Jeffries that would include Eddy Curry heading to Houston. Jeffries enjoyed two solid seasons under Mike D’Antoni and according to sources would even entertain a buy-out in order to return to New York.
We’re not really sure how such a deal would work. Because Curry is $ a 12 M salary slot going into next year’s free agent derby for Carmelo Anthony, he is a hot commodity, if not for his on the court presence or considerable baggage. Jeffries would come back to the Knicks, and could probably replace David Lee in some of the grunt work areas where Lee was so good, but would come back, be bought out of his contract, and then would sign for the league veteran minimum. What other assets could Houston offer for us to move a prime salary chip?
If a move of this nature came off, the Knicks would need to get back expiring contracts, as welll as perhaps a draft pick and maybe a young player. we’d hope that guy would be former Knick first round pick Jordan Hill, who we were loathe to part with in the Tracy McGrady trade last year.
As for Anthony, the Knicks’ best chance to acquire the Nuggets’ star is through free agency, as it would be very foolish for the Nuggets to trade him before the season starts, and if they do trade him, they likely will not trade him to New York because common sense dictates that several teams will put together better trade packages than NY. Isiah Thomas has once again made headlines this week, by telling sources that Anthony told him he intends to be a Knick next year.
Anthony’s best chance to end up in New York will be to announce he is signing with the Knicks when free agency begins next summer for a max 5 yr deal. At that point, Denver will have no choice, if they wish to see some kind of return on Anthony, they will have to send him here in a sign and trade, giving Anthony the 6th year at $ 30 M, following the blueprint established this offseason by Chris Bosh and Lebron James.
As for Mason Jr. fitting in with the Knicks this year, he seems like an ideal role player who should play very hard since he is on a 1 year contract, and will be auditioning for employment and job security. The move seems like the quality edition of a role player for the Knicks. Unfortunately, the Knicks seem unable to make a move for Rudy Fernandez, who we see as an ideal point guard behind Raymond Felton. Fernandez seems poised, for now, to sit out, rather than return to Portland.
July 12, 2010
The New York Knicks, in need of a center, turned their attention to little known Russian Timofey Mozgov (above), who they have signed to a three year contract worth almost $ 10 M. Mozgov, is 24 years old and is 7’1. His agent describes him as a “late bloomer” and as “the best free agent outside the NBA.” If that were really the case, Mozgov would demand more than the $ 32 M Josh Childress is signing for with the Phoenix Suns, who played last season in Greece.
Here are some recent stats on Mozgov:
Season: 2009-2010 (Russia)
|BC Khimky Moscow Region||32||579||241||81-145||0-1||79-110||60||94||154||8||86||32||15||0|
|BC Khimky Moscow Region||32||18.1||7.5||55.9%||0.0%||71.8%||1.9||2.9||4.8||0.3||2.7||1.0||0.5||0.0|
Season: 2009-2010 (VTB United League)
|BC Khimky Moscow Region||8||163||87||33-52||0-0||21-35||19||25||44||2||13||4||7||8|
|BC Khimky Moscow Region||8||20.4||10.9||63.5%||0.0%||60.0%||2.4||3.1||5.5||0.3||1.6||0.5||0.9||1.0|
Season: 2009-2010 (Euroleague)
|BC Khimky Moscow Region||16||209||96||39-77||0-0||18-29||25||40||65||2||50||15||5||0|
|BC Khimky Moscow Region||16||13.1||6.0||50.6%||0.0%||62.1%||1.6||2.5||4.1||0.1||3.1||0.9||0.3||0.0|
The Knicks are nearing an agreement with him in a deal stealthily navigated to the dismay of several N.B.A. teams. Few were aware that Mozgov would be willing or able to step out of his contract with Russia’s B.C. Khimki.
“No, I didn’t talk to him,” Mozgov’s agent, Bouna Ndiaye, said when asked if Prokhorov had tried to land Mozgov for the Nets. “I really focused on the Knicks. And I did not focus on the Nets because the Nets would take longer to rebuild. I liked Mike D’Antoni’s system better than the Nets.”
Mozgov played limited minutes with Khimki last season, but gained attention during last summer’s European championship when he averaged 11 points and 4.6 rebounds.
It’s a bit disturbing that Mozgov didn’t have what it took to start on his European team, and it strikes us a very generous contract for an unknown quantity, but it happens all the time with centers. While some have described Mozgov as a banger with bad hands who can finish around the basket, it is a red flag to us that nobody else was trying to sign him in a league that scours the ends of the Earth for talent.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Mozgov remains planted to the bench as a Knick and is used as trade bait when he is eligible to be traded in 3 months.
In other Knicks’ news, reports surfaced over the weekend that the Knicks are trying to trade to G/F Wilson Chandler who averaged over 17 points a game, for a more traditional shooting guard. On Friday, the Knicks reached a 2 year, $15.8 M deal with starting point guard Raymond Felton.