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”Off” Season

It’s that time of the year again. The time when the Knicks usually make more noise than in the regular season and in the playoffs. I’m of course talking about the off season.

4 days in and here is what we know so far.

Players and their agents are still using the Knicks for leverage to get the most out of the deal with the team they really want to play for. Jason Kidd has made a habit out of using the Knicks to boost his pay in free agency and 2012 was no different. Steve Nash, meanwhile, lives in NYC in the summer but supposedly he chose L.A. in the end over the Knicks because he wanted to be close to his children (rrrrrrriiiiiiiiight). At least we were not the ones to get hit the worst by Nash flirting ways, as Toronto went all in with a 36 million dollar offer and the “Jersey Shore grenade” signing of Landry Fields to go with it.

What else do we know? We know now that the lockout was a complete smoke screen. Wasn’t the whole point that player salaries had gotten out of control and needed to be lowered to reasonable levels otherwise the teams would go under financially? Phoenix owner Robert Sarver was one of the stingiest and toughest negotiators during the lockout, so how does he explain throwing max money on Eric Gordon just a half-year later, not to mention signing Beasley and Dragic to massive deals as well? And on that note…

… how about the old term “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone”? Phoenix traded away Dragic for Aaron Brooks and a pick and a season later they are signing Dragic to 30+ MUSD. And what about the Rockets who gave away Jeremy Lin for nothing and now wants to sign him for 40 MUSD just 25 starts later? These guys are really smart I can see why they have the best jobs in the world. And while we’re on the Rockets…

Daryl Morey. Has there ever been a more falsely glorified GM? The dude captained a ship that missed the playoffs for three straight years and still he is constantly praised by the media for no other apparent reason than being smart with numbers. But this isn’t The World Championships of Microsoft Excel, this is the NBA. And in the NBA you don’t win by throwing 8 million per year on a back-up center. That team is officially going nowhere ever since taking the to-be-champs Lakers to 7 games a few years ago. But hey, keep singing Morey’s praises for reaching another 9th seed in the years 2013-2020, and in the meantime we can all wait for the basketball version of Moneyball starring Seth Rogen as Daryl Morey to premier in 2021.

But how bout them Knicks you ask? 4 days in to free agency and I’m already reading that New York is considered one of the free agency losers so far. If by loser people are referring to NOT giving away millions on marginal players as mentioned above, than I’m more than fine with that. Isiah Thomas is no longer in charge and I think we can all agree that panic button signings is not the way to go. Still, Grunwald needs to add pieces if we want to at least reach the second round or better, and by the looks of things, since the free agents on the market are being over priced this task seems harder and harder.

Most importantly, Grunwald needs to make a decision on Jeremy Lin and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t re-signed (unless he was packaged in a sign-and-trade). I am all for keeping Lin, even with a so called poison pill contract for years 3 and 4. No matter how you slice it, Jeremy Lin brought the most excitement to the Knicks since reaching the finals in 99. You don’t throw that away just because of a small sample size or the fact that he was injured at the end of the season.

Also, we need to re-sign JR Smith in my opinion, but can we really keep him for around 3 million per year? With all these scrubs making 5-10 million a year, do I really think Smith would be fine to take half or a third of what players that are not better than him make? I’m not convinced, but I’d be impressed if Grunwald pulls it off.

Steve Novak. The best pure three-point shooter I’ve ever seen in a Knicks uni (in transition and un-guarded). But the man couldn’t hit the ocean with a stone in the playoffs when people were actually guarding him. For the right price, I’m good with Novak returning, but if it becomes any sort of bidding war, forget it, bring in some more defense instead.

Landry Fields. Have a great time in Toronto. You should send a thank you card to Grunwald and Nash and be thankful for all the annual April-November vacations you will enjoy counting your 20 million.

That concludes the free agent decisions on the current Knicks, so where do we go from here? From where I sit, I think signing Raymond Felton and Marcus Camby would be a good play, given the market and the limited funds we have to spend. Felton has proven he can work in New York and that he can ball together with Amar’e. How about Felton and Stoudemire off the bench as a scoring 2nd unit? And with Marcus Camby to spell the sans-Chandler minutes (plus as insurance for all the Tyson foul trouble games).

Is there a think-big move out there? Well, the obvious one would be Dwight Howard. I don’t like the guy, he seems childish with flip-flopping agendas, appears fragile and petty while at the same trying to be Superman with a goofy-cartoonish side competing in a likability contest. So in terms of the personality I’d like to root for, I’d much rather have Tyson Chandler or Stoudemire (or basically anyone else on the Knicks or even in the league for that matter). But if there ever is an opportunity to trade for Dwight Howard, in terms of talent, I can’t see how you don’t make that trade almost regardless of the asking price. Tyson Chandler plus a Jeremy Lin sign-and-trade may be an option? Or Chandler and Stoudemire, while taking back Hedo. I don’t know and I don’t really care, if we have an opportunity to get the top 3-5 player in the league (depending who you ask) you have to take it. Especially when the Knicks play in the only city that Howard has previously declared he wants to play in. The fact that the only team he wanted to play for was the Nets, that would only be icing on the cake if we manage to get him. Let’s face it, Dwight Howard only wants to feel loved, let’s give him that. After a full season at MSG, do you really think he’d ever turn us down when we’d have his bird rights and could give him the most $$$ out of any team in the league? I didn’t think so.

I still got nothing but love for this team

I’m sitting here trying to process the fact that the season is over. As I’m doing so I’m watching the post game interviews with Amar’e, Melo and Chandler on MSG not knowing what to expect in the midst of the disappointment of yet another first round loss and yet I find myself realizing that I truly love MY team. For the first time in a very very long time I’ve got a team that I like, players that I like and respect, the team is made up of personalities that I’m drawn to and I can sense a team spirit that I feel is genuine. This year had its ups and downs to say the least, but it was never boring and as the season went on I built a genuine liking to this team from top to bottom. I’m sure there’s going to be a roller-coaster of an off-season with rumors, trades and free agent signings, as well as crucial decisions to be made on expiring contracts on the team. But until then I’m just grateful that for the first time since the 90s I’ve got a Knicks team that I truly enjoy supporting. So to Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Josh Harrelson, Mike Bibby, Jared Jeffries, Baron Davis and the rest of the orange and blue including the coaching staff, Glen Grunwald and even the Big Boss Mr. Dolan, I want to say thank you and here’s hoping the future brings as much success on the court that it has brought to me as a supporter this year. I truly hope this is the start of something great.

Oh and I almost forgot, thanks to the one and only Walt Clyde Frazier who together with Mike Breen make every League Pass night a pure joy to watch regardless of the box score. It’s a bummer it’s already summer so for next season let’s get rid of the Matador D and let’s start boundin’ and astoundin’, swishin’ and dishin’, postin’ and toastin’, wheelin and dealin’, swoopin’ and hoopin’ and huffin’ and stuffin’ as soon as possible.

Love, Andreas

Larry Johnson 2.0

It’s easy to forget Amar’e Stoudemire’s first months in the Knicks blue and orange, when he was consistently dominating, scoring 30+ points night in and night out, and legitimately proving himself as a Top 5 player in the league. I can still remember how Stat completely owned Kevin Garnett in Game 1 of the playoffs last year before he injured his back. An injury that slowed him down and kept his performance level down throughout this season, until very recently when we started to see flashes of the “old” Stoudemire, only to see him get injured once again.

If you’re like me you’re absolutely terrified of what will happen with Amar’e and his future injury status. The reason why Stoudemire’s injury woes are much more of a concern than any normal player is not just because we’d potentially lose one of our best players; his contract would also kill the franchise’s realistic chances of repairing the problem. It’s questionable if Stoudemire is worth 20 million a year even at his best, because of his tendency to only care about offense and after all basketball is just as much about defense as it is offense. Worse yet, an injured or seriously hampered Amar’e is 1/3 of the cap space just sitting there, staring at us for the coming three seasons. That’s why it’s imperative that we find a way to make the most of the situation, regardless of if Amar’e returns to full explosiveness and health or not. And I think I may have the solution in the form of a former Knick great.

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The young Larry Johnson was one of the most dominant players in the history of the NCAA. And when he came into the NBA, drafted by the Charlotte Hornets as the #1 pick, he instantly became one of the most dominant players at the professional level too. The moniker “grandmama” was born out of a Converse ad he did and LJ became a phenomenon. He was athletic, powerful and just sheer dominant. He crushed the boards and impressed in the slamdunk contest. His game was built on strength and even though he was short, he held his own as a power forward in the paint. In short (no pun) he was quite similar to Amar’e Stoudemire. But unfortunately for LJ, back injuries slowed down his game, and his athleticism was taken away as a result. Gone were the flashy dunks and the imposing power game.

LJ had to reinvent his game. And that’s exactly what he did in New York when he was traded to the Knicks for Anthony Mason. Even though he wasn’t as dominant in the paint, he became very smart and deceptive, getting to the basket with head-fakes and easy lay-ups rather than dunks. He developed an outside shot ranging all the way to three point land. He became a willing passer. But most of all he became the consummate team mate and unquestionable leader of the Knicks. In the Knicks run to the finals in 1999, Houston may have been the team’s most reliable scorer, Sprewell was the closest the team came to a major star and Marcus Camby was the team’s X-factor. But all through this, Larry Johnson was the heart and soul of the team and Jeff van Gundy who was the coach at the time has many times since stated that Larry Johnson was the best team mate he ever coached. Even though his stats declined and his star power decreased, he was the leader of the team and still managed to give us the single biggest play of the last 20 years.

If Amar’e won’t come back 100%, then this is how I envision Stoudemire for his coming years as a Knick, he should follow the blueprint written by LJ. First of all, Amar’e has got the leadership qualities and the personality to follow LJ’s path. When Stoudemire came to NY in 2010 and declared that “the Knicks are back” that forever made him the leader of the current team regardless of points per game and highlight dunks. And we know Stat’s already got the mid-range jumper in his arsenal. We’ve even seen him connect from three in key moments, which is a component he definitely should be able to develop in which case he would be un-guardable at 6’11. If he can master getting rebounds by boxing out and getting in the right position rather than outjumping the opponents, and if he can learn to get buckets in the paint by outsmarting and outmaneuvering the opponents rather than outmuscling them, he should be more than fine. The key is that he needs to find a way to just stay on the court consistently, even if it means altering the way he plays the game. That’s why I want him to take his time and not risk anything long term with his back injury, the next three seasons are more important than just one post-season, particularly given Stoudemire’s contract.

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Naturally, I’d like to see Amar’e fully recover and get his full explosiveness back to where it was last year before the injuries. The 25 and 10 Amar’e that was a legitimate MVP candidate the first half of last season is of course everyone’s dream, and I hope with everything I’ve got that he will recover quickly and heal completely, and get back to that level. But even if he doesn’t, I want to remain optimistic that there is a Larry Johnson 2.0 in there just waiting to take the Knicks to the promised land.

Farewell D’Antoni! Greetings (at least for now) Woodson!

The reason why I haven’t blogged in a while, despite massive events going down in Knickland is that this roller-coaster of a season has left me completely exhausted. It’s not that I didn’t have an immediate reaction to Mike D’Antoni’s firing resignation that was worth blogging about. It’s just that with this season, you never want to declare anything good or bad, because in the end that always comes back to bite me in the ass. Both me and Theo made pretty clear in the end that D’Antoni leaving was the only solution. And we were probably two of his biggest supporters, in terms of wanting him to have a fair shot at playing his style of basketball with a set group of talented players over a consistent period of time. During the short Linsanity era (with Melo sidelined) D’Antoni showed what a team that buys into his system can do.

And it seemed like everybody (minus Melo) enjoyed playing for Coach D. Maybe a little too much? If your best players hate to lose more than anything in the world – like a Kobe or a D-Rose – or if the sheer impact of their game dominance – like a Lebron or Wade – is second to none, then that usually translates into the whole team lifting their play. The best players in the world are individually superior and still make their teammates better. When you have that, like D’Antoni had in Phoenix with Nash, then a laissez-faire player’s coach can work great. But when the star players don’t have this quality, and to be honest neither Carmelo nor Stoudemire possess this natural ability to lead by example and demand 100% of their teammates, then things will eventually become too relaxed and without purpose. Hell, Carmelo even admitted himself he’s been relaxing before Woodson took over, so how the hell are his teammates supposed to be held accountable if they play defense when they feel like it and not all the time?

My point is this. Clearly this group of guys needs a lot more whip than carrot. The players that management assembled for D’Antoni to coach were never right for him. That doesn’t make D’Antoni a bad coach, although it does make him one-dimensional. He never demanded defense, that’s pretty clear. And he didn’t adapt to the personnel as much as he probably should have, sticking to his system no matter what the roster looked like. I like D’Antoni a lot, he seems like a great guy, and under the right circumstances I think he could have done great things in New York. I hope he will do that somewhere else soon, and I’m sure he will. But the time to leave had arrived, and credit D’Antoni for taking the Dolan hush-hush money (D’Antoni hasn’t uttered one word about the organization since leaving and don’t count on him ever saying a word either) before things got ugly.

And with the end of the D’Antoni era, so begins the Mike Woodson era. So far, I think that Woodson has done a graceful job in taking over, showing D’Antoni the respect he deserves as a fellow coach while carefully avoiding any journalistic traps to indirectly bash his predecessor.

I’m also seeing some refreshing things on the court in Woodson’s coaching style, which I feel is a real upgrade from D’Antoni. Obviously, the defense has become much better in the 7-1 run since Woodson took over, the stats speaks for themselves on this one. Although one could definitely argue that this could come from a rejuvenation and wake-up call in general which comes with a coaching change. But what I’m seeing (to be fair via League pass, so it’s not like I’m close enough to actually know this of course) is that Woodson gets on his players when they make sloppy plays in a way that D’Antoni never seemed to.

What’s more, I really like the time-outs that Woodson are taking during crucial points of the game. I always felt that D’Antoni mostly took time-outs when the damage was already done, the defeatist kind of time-outs that just reeked of “here we go again, this is over, may as well call a time-out and say a prayer”. Typically if the Knicks were in the lead and started to show signs of lackadaisical play, D’Antoni would just let the game progress and try to let the Knick players find their rhythm again, way too often resulting in the opposition eating up the Knicks lead completely before D’Antoni took a time-out. With Woodson, I’m seeing him actually take a time-out as soon as things seem to be going in the wrong direction and actually trying to correct it before it gets out of hand. This happened in the 4th quarter against the Bucks yesterday, with the Knicks up 84-74 with 4 minutes to go. Baron Davis had a sloppy turnover which led to a Brandon Jennings fast break lay-up. Next, Davis shot an off-balance jumper on the next possession and on the following play the Bucks reduced the lead to 6. On the next possession, JR Smith threw up a missed three. Thankfully, the Bucks missed on its next possession and the Knicks had a 6 point lead and the ball with 2:55 seconds left. Normally in a situation like this, D’Antoni would just let it play out, but here Woodson called a time-out. And this is what I personally like, try to correct what’s wrong before it’s too late, rather than just rely on the free-flowing offense to eventually result in a basket. Out of the time-out Woodson drew up a play to get the ball to Carmelo (unfortunately without result) but after the time-out the Knicks were able to slow the game down and grind out a win. This is of course just one example, but I like that Woodson is trying to actually control the tempo and organize the decision making on the court a little bit more. And you have to love that defensively, the players are actually competing hard for once. As an example of this, it was nice to see Brandon Jennings finally be marginalized against the Knicks (6-22 shooting, 15 points). And I thought his comments after the game was very interesting too (a veiled shot at D’Antoni, who was coach when the Knicks passed on him): “They did play a lot more aggressively than since I been in the NBA. They just played harder.”

I think we can all agree that it’s better to win a majority of the time by holding the opponents to a low score while sacrificing a beautiful viewing experience, than to win a minority of the time trying to outscore the opponent at an uncontrolled and hectic pace? So what does that mean for Woodson, if he can keep this up? Should he stay? Since I don’t think Phil Jackson wants to come back to coach a .500 team and since Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich are both taken, as of right now if Woodson keeps this up, I’d back him to coach the Knicks next season too. If the defense that we’re seeing so far is here to stay and not just a temporary injection, then I’m all for it.

No offense D’Antoni, but there is no defense for you anymore

“Here we go again. Same ol’ shit dog, just a different day.” – DMX, Here we go again

This blogger is feeling more and more like Bill Murray in Groundhog day. We reach .500, we are below .500. We are in the playoffs, we are out of the playoffs. And so the blogging goes. Pessimism is exchanged for optimism only to be hit in the head with head scratching pessimism yet again.

Forget about everything you know about life as a Knicks fan the last 10 years and imagine that any random team – let’s say for argument’s sake, the Philadelphia 76ers – had the following roster.

Starting 5

PG – Jeremy Lin

SG – Landry Fields

SF – Carmelo Anthony

PF – Amar’e Stoudemire

C – Tyson Chandler

Rotation:

G – Baron Davis

G/F – Iman Shumpert

G/F – J.R. Smith

F – Steve Novak

F – Josh Harrelson

F/C – Jared Jeffries

Wouldn’t you be absolutely shocked if that team was out of the playoffs with an 18-24 record?

You’ve got two players that have subscribed to being All-Stars and All-NBA players for the last decade. You’ve got one of the best defending centers of his generation coming straight off a Finals win against the Heat. Right there, I would expect a 4th seed. And in the Eastern conference, that is probably selling your expectations short.

What is starting to bother me immensely is all this talk about “the system” that I’ve had to endure for the last 3,5 seasons. Granted, if the system is predicated on speed-ball offense and movement, I can understand that the Zach Randolph’s of the world is a clear situation where his skills are not being put to best use on the fast break. And for several years, D’Antoni had to live with salary cap killers not fit for his system. Not anymore.

  • Amar’e Stoudemire made a career in this “system”.
  • Tyson Chandler should be the system’s dream in just lobbing it in there for alley-oops or bounce passing through a pick and roll for an easy finish at the rim.
  • Jeremy Lin himself has praised D’Antoni for his offensive strategies and quite frankly probably could only create Linsanity under the offensive freedom D’Antoni has provided him with.
  • Novak is a lights out shooter and clearly thrives in this “system”.
  • Fields is the type of player that takes whatever offense is handed to him, not very different from what Shawn Marion did in Phoenix in this very system.
  • J.R. Smith is all about shooting, shooting, shooting, which is something that D’Antoni gives the green light to any player that is open.
  • Harrelson is a big man who can stretch out the defense and drain the three.
  • Baron Davis is used to be extremely capable offensively and has said he’s always dreamed of playing in D’Antoni’s system.
  • Shumpert is a super athletic player that gets the green light to take risks on defense to get the fast break started.
  • Heck, even the offensively challenged Jared Jeffries is a D’Antoni favorite.

That covers more or less every player on the team getting minutes. Except for the fact that one player is conspicuously missing: Carmelo Anthony. To me though, one of the absolute best scorers of the 2000s should work in ANY system. Carmelo is a shooter, he can drive, kill you one-on-one or pull-up for a J, he can post-up and he can run the break (although hardly like Lebron or Durant). Kobe Bryant played in Phil Jackson’s triangle his whole career and how did he respond this season when Jackson was replaced by the defensive-minded, and from his Cleveland days offensively criticized, coach Mike Brown? By leading the league in scoring at age 33 with 28.8 PPG. Oh and by the way, for the D’Antoni haters out there, you may have noticed that Steve Nash is leading the league in assists at age 38 with 11 APG. (I just had to put that in there.)

Today, Marc Berman of the New York Post is reporting that there is friction between Anthony and D’Antoni. I’d be surprised, and even somewhat disappointed, if there wasn’t friction after a 6-game losing streak in an overall terrible year for both the franchise player and the coach. It’s obvious that if things continue the way the Knicks are playing lately, D’Antoni is gone next season (or sooner) and rightfully so. Then finally, hopefully, all this talk about “the system” can stop and the players can be held accountable for their play without any cop-out excuse as to why they’re gravely underperforming.

If on paper this team did not have so much god damn potential, I’d trade them all including the coach and the management. Only problem is, the way the team is playing the value of the players are at an all-time low. And there goes the last defense of the D’Antoni backers (myself most notably included): You remember when D’Antoni actually increased his players value by juicing their stats?

Without coaching and leadership this team ain’t going nowhere

“Coach D’Antoni is an absolute offensive genius” – Jeremy Lin.

I don’t want to make my comeback to the blog about D’Antoni, I hate blaming the coach as I always felt that sports of any kind is about the players, but at this point it’s hard not to question the abilities of this coach.

And I’m not talking about D’Antoni’s first three years as Knicks coach, scrambling with tons of players, I’m talking about the Knicks post-Linsanity. If you’ve read this blog already you know that for me one of the most exciting things about Linsanity is to finally see what this coach is made of. So far, I’m not convinced. And it’s not even all about the losses that have started to pile up. It’s about the clueless offense that I’m seeing.

First of all, who’s team is it? I know that in an ideal world, people can share the ball and everybody can be stars. We all know communism doesn’t work in practice and by the same token all NBA champions have a clear #1 guy, whether if it was Kobe in the 2010 Lakers, Shaq in the 2000 Lakers, Duncan of the Spurs, Wade of Miami, Nowitzki of Dallas, Olajuwon of the Rockets, Jordan of the Bulls, Isiah of the Pistons, Magic of the 80s Lakers, Bird of the 80s Boston and the list goes on. The 2008 Celtics and the 2004 Pistons are the only exceptions to the rule, because those teams had evenly spread out talent, but at the end of the day those teams belonged to Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups.

Since joining the Knicks in the 2010 offseason, the team immediately belonged to Stoudemire. But when Carmelo joined the team, by sheer star status, the team belonged to both of those guys. And with Melo’s game being more of the natural focal point of a team like a Kobe or a Jordan, the team more and more started to become Carmelo’s team. To me though, Stoudemire always seemed like more of the personality to be the team leader, sort of like Larry Johnson in the late 90s Knicks. When Tyson Chandler joined the Knicks, he seemed to take on more and more of the 2010 Stoudemire leadership role on the Knicks, becoming the player that the rest of the team looks up to, if nothing else because he was an NBA champion. With so many potential leaders on the team, it became more and more apparent that losing creates an identitiy crisis, or maybe it’s the other way around. In any case, clearly the team didn’t have a set identity in terms of who was leading the team and what roles everybody needed to play. That is, until Linsanity happened. Suddenly, the team had a leader, one that everybody wanted to follow, one that everybody gladly put ego and prestige aside for, for the greater benefit of the team. All of this of course happened when Carmelo was out with an injury (and to be honest, for the most part they were also without Stoudemire) and everybody feared what would happen with the team chemistry and leadership once Melo returned. So far, the doubts have come true. Since Stat and Melo have returned, the Knicks have looked almost as lost as they did pre-Linsanity. Sure, the schedule has been tougher and you’d think that integrating major parts would take some time. But to me that doesn’t explain why the Knicks have looked completely lost and doesn’t seem to have an offensive game plan or any set plays outside of the pick and roll and the general musical chairs scheme we’ve grown accustomed to seeing under D’Antoni. Mike D, here’s a newsflash for you, you’re in the final stretch of your Knicks career, it’s time to start making the uncomfortable decisions and not worry about whose feelings are gonna get hurt (read: Melo).

In terms of the make-up of the team, the Knicks are not much unlike the 2008 Celtics, in that both teams have a premier scorer (Melo/Pierce), an elite power forward (Stat/KG), a young and exciting point guard (Lin/Rondo) and a defensive minded center (Chandler/Perkins). The Celtics of course had Ray Allen as well, but Fields is more athletic than Allen and Ray’s three point shooting is balanced out by Novak. Please give me one valid reason why this Knicks squad shouldn’t be close to that team’s level? Outside of the starting five, one could easily argue that the Knicks team is deeper than the 08 Celtics, with JR Smith, Baron Davis, Novak, Harrelson and Shumpert all contributing. Also, Stoudemire, Carmelo and Tyson Chandler are all in their primes, whereas Boston’s Big 3 were turning 33, 32 and 31 the year they won it all. Doc Rivers, were able to figure it out with 3 future hall of famers and a young all-star point guard. So why can’t D’Antoni? If the players don’t adjust by sacrificing themselves through the team it’s up to the coach to make sure they do, and through his point guard facilitate the type of offense that actually win ball games.

Of course, not all blame should go to D’Antoni by any stretch. It’s up to the players most of all. They’re grown men making millions of dollars on guaranteed contracts and should throw all ego aside and do what’s best for the team.

With that in mind it’s very easy to point the finger at Carmelo for the Knicks struggles post-Linsanity. And quite frankly, it’s warranted. When he’s not trying too hard to be unselfish, he’s stopping the flow of the offense with his ball-hogging ways. Which would be completely fine – hell, Kobe made a Top 10 ever NBA career out of it – if he would just make a damn shot once in a while. He’s shooting less than 40% on the season and he is disrupting the ball movement that is the key element to the D’Antoni offense. That is a recipe for Ls upon Ls. It is rapidly becoming more and more apparent that either Melo or D’Antoni will have to be replaced. One has 3 years and 60 million left after this season and the other has a contract that runs out this summer. One is an international superstar that sells tickets, and the other is, well, just a coach. Not very difficult to figure out who will be gone after this season. Barring a Knicks upset in the first round of the playoffs and if not a series win then at least very competitive series against the Heat or the Bulls, it’s obvious that D’Antoni is a goner after the season. Dolan never seemed to like D’Antoni anyway, and Mike was always Donnie Walsh’s guy. And Mike never seemed like the type of kiss-ass kind of guy that Isiah was, so you can be sure he doesn’t have the right friends in management to save his job. Mike made 24 million coaching the Knicks, there’s absolutely no reason to feel sorry for him.

And so, in comes Phil Jackson? Hmm, I for one am very skeptical. Mainly because I don’t think he wants to risk his legacy. Not at this stage of his life. If he was 10-15 years younger, or if he had 3-5 less championships, sure. But when he’s already the most successful coach of all time, is New York really worth the risk? Phil Jackson coached in L.A. and Chicago, the number 2 and 3 markets in the US. In Chicago, Phil coached the best player ever in MJ, and in L.A. he coached two me-first superstars in Shaq and Kobe. In other words, Jackson knows a lot about coaching under pressure. But to be honest, that is still nothing compared to New York. We never had a Jordan or a Shaq or Kobe and the New Yorkers will still kill you at the Garden and in the media if you don’t succeed. Pat Riley escaped to the sun in Miami and Jeff van Gundy lost all his hair and felt no job-security even in a season where he took the Knicks to the finals. Do you remember a guy called Don Nelson? The man with the most NBA game wins ever. And do you remember how he fucked up big time in New York and was fired just 59 games into his first season as head coach after replacing Pat Riley? And do you also remember his record with the Knicks? 34-25.

No, Phil Jackson is not taking the New York Knicks job. And to be honest, I don’t even want to speculate who will. I know two coaches who I’d like to see take the job – Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich – but that’s not gonna happen. I also know tons of coaches who I’d dread see take the job, including all former players who are unproven coaches (the Mark Jackson’s of the world), the journeymen coaches who you just know are going nowhere in the end (the Scott Skiles’ of the world) and the glorified college basketball coaches (the John Calipari’s of the world). And most of all, I don’t want any James Dolan kiss-ass. But, if the zen master doesn’t come out of retirement (and I don’t think he will) I don’t see anyone other than some Dolan kiss-ass mediocre coach that is “all about defense” replacing D’Antoni. Translation, all about defense: “I’m just saying what I know the fans and media want to hear, but really it’s just a substitute to saying I have no offensive strategy at all. Please like me.”. And for that reason alone, I’m not willing to give up just yet on D’Antoni.

Kenyon Martin keeping it real

Via Alan Hahn

  • Kenyon Martin on George Karl’s recent comments on Melo (via SI.com): “Man, listen, George needs to keep his mouth shut, first and foremost. Melo don’t play there no more. So Karl shouldn’t be commenting on Melo. If George was such a great coach, then Melo would want to stay…If the organization was ran right, he wouldn’t want to leave, so it ain’t Melo.”