Tag Archives: Amar’e Stoudemire

Knicks Hawks postgame

If some of you thought that watching the Knicks/Hawks on Saturday was rough, consider this cruel and unusual punishment: knowing what happened, I still went to the DVR and dug out the game and watched it.  Of course I did that to give you all the crucial 10 random thoughts about the game so let’s get to it.

Melo driving on the Hawks via yahoosports.com

Melo driving on the Hawks
via yahoosports.com

1.  The Knicks fifth straight loss at home, came in probably the most embarrassing fashion yet.  In a game against a team they had beaten just three days prior the Knicks looked unable to stop the Atlanta offense from doing whatever they wanted.  Which brings us to Carmelo Anthony’s postgame assertion that the Knicks are not showing the effort necessary to cut it.  I think every Knick fan sees it in the lackadaisical way they go about it on defense and how teams are so easily able to get into the paint where many times you will find one to zero defenders commandeering that valuable piece of real estate.

Melo’s “lack of effort” rant came on the heels of one of his better performances.  Smart.  You can’t watch Saturday’s game and say that Melo was the cause.  He fought for rebounds.  He went inside and he truly battled out there.  He was not the guy lacking in his effort.  I’m not saying that Melo’s accusation is off base, I just find it curious that he be vocal about his team’s effort in probably his best “effort” game.  Carmelo was the only player on the Knicks starting five to NOT record a +/- in double digits.  Rebounding last year was a huge problem and an even greater cause for concern with Tyson Chandler out but Saturday’s concerted effort on the glass was the lone encouraging sign for the Knicks.  Its clear that the Knicks are going to have to start collectively doing things that they left for Tyson to handle like rebounding and protecting the rim.  For a team with a collective group of bad one on one defenders, the Knicks can not afford to lose a guy like Tyson for an extended period of time.

2a. In the latest bit of Daily News vs. New York Knicks drama unfolding on an almost daily basis comes this little nugget: Apparently the Daily News knows what Iman Shumpert did this summer.  In the second such move the Knicks elected not to disclose for public consumption, Iman Shumpert had a second arthroscopic procedure on the same knee that he injured.   This will obviously effect any trade value he may possess which is important because it seems as though the Knicks are determined to trade him for two reasons:

A. He’s their only asset that teams will be interested in.

B. The Knicks are tired of waiting for his offense to develop and some within the organization feel as though his defense may have regressed.

While it may be true that he is one of the few assets the Knicks have that teams would think twice about, his value isnt anywhere close at this point to being able to bring back something meaningful.  According to the latest, the Knicks are trying hard to get Rajon Rondo from the rebuilding Celtics.  Its a nice thought but I doubt Danny Ainge, the Celts GM, will budge on the package that is rumored to be on the table of Shump, Ray Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire.  While Shumpert’s early stats don’t show vast improvement the eye test says his form has vastly improved and virtually every wide open look has seemingly been a make.  Eventually his 40.1% rate will improve but that has more to do with the changes the Knicks must make to the offense, and not anything Shump is or isn’t doing.

Secondly, the problem with the development argument is that this iteration of the Knicks have been unwilling to wait for young players to grow and more or less have treated draft picks like goodies to wave in front of teams looking to get younger and rebuild.  James Dolan feels this team can win a championship now and that means they need to get better players in here and the only way to do that is via trade.  Even if Shump were to show the improvement necessary to make that leap the Knicks brain trust would like, it seems like the Knicks have talked themselves into trading Shump away.

2b.  While most Knick fans are fiercely loyal to Shump- and there’s a lot to like- Shumpert is one of those players that are overrated and underrated at the very same time.  He’s overrated by a fan base that looks at Shump- the only young player that can play defense which happen to be the two things the Knicks don’t have much of- as a homegrown talent they envision being a superstar.  Last year the Knicks had the oldest collective roster in the NBA which made Shumpert’s absence sad and return a much needed gift.  New York basketball fans are split into two warring camps: the group of snarly veterans who wonder where the 1970’s Red Holzman style of basketball went and the group of fans who bring the playground mentality to the professional game.  Shump pleases both segments of the population but I wonder if they both overrate his ability as a defender.

His wingspan allows him to invade passing lanes just by having his hands up or spread wide.  His size allows him to defend multiple positions.  He rarely leaves his feet and does a good job of staying in front of quick guards.  Those are the positives.  The negatives are that he hasn’t played like that guy yet.  The obvious go-to excuse is that he’s another Knick  recovering from injury and that’s a major part of the equation.  The other part is that Shump seems to take more responsibility for the defense on his shoulders because of Tyson Chandler’s absence.  He wants to be the anchor but its not easy for a perimeter defender to be the defensive anchor.  Shump lost a bit of athleticism that we can’t be sure he will ever recover after his ACL tear.  And for a guy who uses his freakish athletic ability to defend other players, its going to take some time for Shump to get back to where we thought he would be.  Call this a case of a guy who has put a ton of added pressure to be the man on himself and by a team that probably views him as expendable.

3.  I hate to say it but Amar’e Stoudemire has a point.  Prior to Saturday’s game he voiced his displeasure at the minutes distribution he was receiving by Coach Woodson which to be fair is what he should say.  Remember, he’s a $20 million player with a ton of pride and it can’t be easy to be playing five to nine minutes a game when he was once a cornerstone player.  No matter what you think, one day we may look at the Amar’e tenure as one of promises not kept but not the way in which you think.  Amar’e was the sole prize of the two year tank job that Dolan was somehow convinced to go through in hopes that Lebron James would come to New York to rescue basketball here.  But when the smoke cleared it was Amar’e standing in front of the Mecca screaming to the basketball world that the Knicks were back.  And the first half of his first season as a Knick he played his heart out and was a MVP candidate.  Then came the trade for Carmelo Anthony and since that time its been one lowlight after another and its been a steady decline for Amar’e.  Yes, injuries have decimated and destroyed the remaining bits of athleticism he once had but the Knicks haven’t done him any favors.  Their personnel decisions have done him no favors by tying up their salary cap with guys  who either need the ball all the time (Melo) or need someone to create for them (Tyson Chandler) leaving Amar’e as yesterday’s news.  Think about it, even Andrea Bargnani is a higher priority in the Knick offense than he is and he just walked in the door five minutes ago.  A far cliff to fall off for a guy who just three years ago was the Knicks.

This falls on Woodson.  His coaching decisions have bordered on horrible this year and he now needs to rectify this.  I don’t think Amar’e is done but I do think he needs to rest Amar’e till he’s fully healthy and regains some explosion  (he had a few instances where old Amar’e came back which holds promise) rather than throwing out the ghost of Amar’e past for five to nine minutes a game.  Its not fair to Amar’e who’s right, you can’t expect a player to gain any type of continuity by being put on the floor for such limited reps.  It does him no good and does Kenyon Martin no good, the other guy sentenced to playing time time-out.

4. Speaking of coaching that needs to happen, Woodson needs to begin to entertain the possibility of going to a zone defense.  The current scheme of having players rotate and switch on the pick and roll isn’t working because a lot of the Knicks aren’t good individual defensive players which makes it tough for them to excel with such a physically demanding defensive scheme.  Simplifying the defense to a zone for the time being while Tyson is out may have to happen for the sake of the Knicks defense and the players who have to play it.  I’ve spoken to Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal via Twitter timelines about Woodson’s stubbornness and lack of willingness to adapt to his team’s situation which is frankly troubling and sad.  Last year’s success had a lot to do with Woodson’s second half adjustments and that just hasn’t happened this year.  Its still early but another few more games of the same matador D as Clyde likes to call it, and Woody may need to think up something.

5. J.R. Smith is in the midst of a historically bad shooting slump.  Last year he was magic off the bench and many times carried the Knicks through large swaths of Carmelo-less time.  This year, inserted into the starting lineup, his effectiveness has been limited.  Add to it his ineffectiveness during playoff time, his increasingly annoying twitter feed, and his start this year, its easy to see why even Coach Woodson easily his biggest supporter (clearly not in the organization- thanks Chris Smith) has said that nobody will want to deal with him.  The problem is, with shooters you ride the highs and lows. While he doesn’t have the rep of a great high volume shooter he is judged by those standards and so I expect him to get out of this rut.  One way to do it may be to get him back in a familiar role so he can rediscover his big play potential.

6. I want every Knick fan to stop dreaming of a Rondo deal.  Its not going to happen.  You hear me?  Not.  Gonna.  Happen.  The Celts would never deal a former franchise star to the Knicks.  The Knicks dont have anything past Shump and Hardaway Jr to offer.  And frankly, I don’t know how Melo and Rondo would play nice with each other.  Also, why would you want to trade an asset like Amar’e Stoudemire who will turn into a $20 million expiring which could be used to make a massive trade deadline deal (hey Kevin Love) next year.

7. Who would’ve thought that Andrea Bargnani’s one on one defense would actually be impressive?  True story.  He did a pretty solid job on another elite big man in Al Horford.  He once again bodied up a big man who thought Bargs would just relent, but that hasn’t happened yet.  Obviously his reputation as a lackluster defensive player and his European background (black players look at Euro players as soft- right KG?) make players feel as though they can abuse Bargs but he’s been giving it as good as he takes.  Horford had 12 points and 2 rebounds while Bargs dropped 16 and grabbed 9 rebounds, (4 offensive!!).  Steady improvement.

8.  Again, I’m not overly concerned with the recent losing streak as most are.  I see good signs.  The offense is still stagnant and it has too many one on ones but that can all be worked out.  The Knicks will have a run this season in which they look competent.  The stuff in the background that’s happening is good.  Melo and Bargs seem to play well off each other.  Woodson just needs to put Amar’e in there for more minutes and use Kenyon Martin in the middle to impede the foot traffic through the painted area and the Knicks will start seeing a lot less paint jobs and force teams to play for perimeter shots.  Tim Hardaway Jr is getting valuable playing time and he’s not disappointing- as cocky as his father was.  Thinks he can make every shot.  J.R. will make his shots as the season goes on.  If you get the Melo that was setting up shop under the basket like he did on Saturday the Knicks will be good.  Expecting that on a daily basis is a bit much but Melo is such a talented offensive player that some nights he won’t need to work so hard for shots underneath the basket, the greater return on his hard play will be the impact it has on his teammates to exert similar effort.  Just please, ABORT the hideous orange unis.  PLEASE!

9. The Nets lost, which means the Knicks are one game out of first place in the Atlantic Division.

1o.  AND STILL I SAY #KNICKSTAPE!

 

 

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Headlines 1/14/13

After I posted an article about how bland the Divisional Round of the Playoffs usually are and writing a lengthy article about maybe one or two games you should be watching, the Divisional Round of the playoffs went and shut me up good.  We’ll get to Saturday’s games at some point today, but for now, its the Atlanta Falcons hosting the San Francisco 49ers after they squeaked by the Seattle Seahawks yesterday 30-28.  Nick Eaton of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes that the future is bright for Seattle despite the loss thanks to the play and (the hopeful) continued progression of rookie QB Russell Wilson.  Meanwhile, Nick Schultz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes that the Falcons decided to take every single fan on a rollercoaster ride of emotions on Sunday without any pause to give fans rest, but they finally did it.

In Beantown, Tom Brady and the Patriots once again dominated the Houston Texans and won 41-28 thanks to some unlikely heroes for the Pats, namely Shane Vereen.  Opportunity knocked and Shane Vereen, aka next man up, answered the call for the Pats writes Michael Whitmer of Boston.com.  Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle writes that the Texans will have a ton of what ifs as they dissect this season.  In other news, JJ Watt said its customary, home or away, for him to spit on the field and wipe the spit with his feet.  It just so happened that his spit landed on the Pats logo which caused a pregame stir. Jackie Mac of ESPNBoston wrote that perhaps that Monday Night win wasn’t a fluke, and the Pats are just that much better than the Texans.  There was bad news for Pats fans, they will be without superstar TE Rob Gronkowski for the remainder of the playoffs thanks to him reinjuring his forearm and this time breaking it.  Now comes the fairy tale that is the Ray Lewis thank you tour coming into town.

I’m not going to really delve that deep into the Pats/Texans game because I, and from the looks of it, most NFL fans knew what the result was going to be.  When the Texans Daneal Manning ran the opening kickoff deep into Patriots territory, I thought for a brief moment that maybe this day would be different, but that was quickly erased from my mind when the Patriots held the Texans to 3 points.  You can’t settle for three points playing against Tom Brady when you get that deep.  You have to convert and you have to score and the Texans just couldn’t do it and that told you all you needed to know.  When the Pats went up 7-3 and then 10-3, it felt like 35-3 and you just never got the sense that Matt Schaub was going to lead the Texans back.  The Texans just don’t have that many offensive weapons.  Yes, their defense was missing a few key pieces but this league is about match ups and the Patriots are just a terrible match up for the Texans.  Their defense got enough initial pressure but it was based on blitzing and against Tom Brady you can’t send an extra defender on the blitz because he’s the best QB at reading coverage and finding the one on one or one on none match ups and exploiting them.  The stats tell you the story.  He gets better when the blitz and pressure are put on him.  You have to get pressure from the front four and the Pats offensive line has been doing a brilliant job of getting that pressure on.  

The Ravens will be more of a challenge thanks to the talents of Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis being there at LB.  But according to ESPN Stats and info, Tom Brady has the quickest release in all of the NFL at 3 seconds.  The key for the Ravens will be to get pressure from the front four and hope that coverage holds up long enough to keep them honest.  The Pats being without Rob Gronkowski will help the Ravens but as the Texans found out, the Pats have more secret weapons stashed away for them to use and they know how to use it.

I’m torn in the other game about what to say.  On the one hand, yes Seattle has nothing to be ashamed of.  They played their butts off, and they almost won the game.  But how can you ignore all the mistakes they made in the first half?  That first half put them in such a terrible spot going into the second half that if they had just played a bit better, they would’ve won.  Had they taken the three points in the first quarter, they would’ve won.  Had Wilson just thrown the ball away and left a few seconds on the clock and kicked another FG, they would’ve won the game.  Thats six points they gave up due to stupid playcalling (by rule you always take the points on the road no matter what) and by terrible clock management (had no timeouts to get the FG team out and Wilson took the sack).  That second half was enough to convince me that Seattle is the better team of the two, but the first half shows how much work they have to do.  Down 14-0 against the Redskins and 20-0 and then 27-7 against the Falcons put the Seahawks in a bind but they showed mental toughness and resiliency, two huge attributes to have during this time of year, that show that next year they won’t come as a surprise to anyone and there are lessons to grasp at here.

If I’m the Niners, I watched that second half and started licking my chops.  The intermediate areas were open all day for Wilson and he wisely took what the defense gave him.  There’s no doubt that they are wiping the sweat off their brow because going against the Seahawks may have been a tougher task but they will gladly take the away game against the Falcons over a home game against their division rivals.  The Seahawks know the Niners and would’ve easily been a tougher match up but the way Colin Kaepernick played Saturday, it may not have mattered who played against the Niners on Sunday.  

Yes Matt Ryan exercised demons on Sunday, but not before making Falcons fans sweat.  There was a sequence in that game where you saw all the confidence flushed from his face and him saying over and over again in his head “this is not happening.  Not again.”  I felt bad, but then he came with :31 seconds left and threw two beautiful passes to set up Matt Bryant’s game winning field goal.  I hope all the head coaches who think icing the kicker is a solid strategy watched Sunday as Matt Bryant shanked the first attempt.  I’ve never been a fan of the icing the kicker strategy as it is used in the NFL because making a kicker think about it is fine, but you call the timeout well before he gets to attempt a practice field goal.  You’re giving the guy a mulligan.  If you want him to think about the field goal then as soon as it seems like the team is lining up for a FG attempt you call the timeout.  Let him sit and stew about it and give him one shot at trying to make it.  That’s the best strategy and I hope that we end this silly strategy of icing the kicker as he’s taking his first shot at it.  But making the guy kick a pseudo practice FG is stupid and basically negates anything you were trying to accomplish in the first place.  Either you give the guy confidence that he will hit it, or you give the guy a better understanding of what not to do when attempting it for real.  

The Knicks ended their three game slide by defeating the New Orleans Hornets 100-87 Sunday thanks to 27 points from Carmelo Anthony.  Next up is a trip to London to take on a good young Pistons team.  That may be what the doctor ordered according to Jared Swerling of ESPNNY.com.  Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News writes that the Knicks feasted on a young Anthony Davis who didn’t do anything spectacular on Sunday.  Postgame was fun thanks to Amare’s revelation that he’s been on a vegan diet for the last three months and Carmelo Anthony was fasting for fifteen days. Nate Taylor of the New York Times writes that the Knicks were calling this a must win game for the and for several stretches, they played like it.

So Carmelo has been fasting for fifteen days huh?  Is it coincidental that he and the Knicks would get off to such slow starts or are there other reasons?  Who knows, but atleast we have another theory now to go with because I was lost.  Yes, the Knicks were playing some of the better defensive teams in the NBA in Chicago and Indiana and Boston this week, bu still, their offense seemed to play every bit the age Knicks fans were afraid they would wind up playing.  I said a few days ago that the Knicks are somewhere between the 18-5 team that shot out of the gate to begin the season and the team that struggled these last three games.  They weren’t as bad as they showed in Indiana, but they may not be as good as they showed in their early season win streak.  Look, the Knicks have a ton of talent and with Iman Shumpert’s return (he’s set to make his season debut against the Pistons on Thursday), I’m sure the Knicks will look better.  But then again, the Knicks are also hoping to get Rasheed Wallace back and Marcus Camby back and Raymond Felton back, so the never ending line of excuses for why the Knicks are playing so poorly won’t end with a Melo fast.  They aren’t at full strength.  I’m not going to judge the Knicks until they are whole, but at what point will they be whole again?  With this team, and its age, they are a fragile bunch.  Camby seems to get injured a ton and there’s no real timetable for Wallace’s return unless a day to day gives fans an exact timing on the healing process.  They are an old team with tons of veteran guidance but if they don’t have them playing what’s the use?

I’m looking forward to this road trip especially playing against the Pistons who are figuring things out as of late.  Their record doesn’t reflect the young talent they have that’s starting to flourish.  Greg Monroe is a very good center.  Andre Drummond is a rebounding machine and has tons of untapped potential as a finisher in this league.  Brandon Knight can turn into a very good point guard though I think his ceiling is limited.  The Pistons won’t be a lay up win for the Knicks and so they will have to take this next game seriously and win.  Getting Shumpert back will be helpful but the Knicks constantly having to work guys back into the rotation is tough to gain any kind of consistent play.  The Knicks will play better once they have everyone healthy and whole and will be able to wear teams out without wearing their own team out.  Jason Kidd has played 30 minutes or more in 10 of their last 14 games.  That kind of heavy workload consistently does not bode well for the elder statesman.  Here’s hoping that Felton gets back sooner and Shump can hold down the fort as he’s recovering as well.  

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Headlines 1/4/2013

act_carmelo_anthonyThe Knicks had been struggling for some time on defense and needed a team to come in to reinvigorate them on that end and wouldn’t you know it, the schedule read: San Antonio Spurs!  Yep, the Knicks not only beat the Spurs, sweeping the season series for the first time in nearly a decade, the Knicks dominated the Spurs on their home court.  Al Iannazzone of Newsday wrote that this was one of the more impressive showings by the Knicks this season beating what Mike Woodson calls “the best team in the NBA.”  Nate Taylor of the New York Times writes that after watching footage from games just six weeks ago when they had the best defense and offense, they were able to put on a vintage 2012 performance for the second game of 2013.  Mike Vaccaro of the Post thinks that there are stretches within the game that make you think about what can be for the Knicks.  Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News writes that maybe Spurs coach Greg Popovich should have sent his stars home, maybe the reserves would have put up a better effort against these Knicks in their fourth game in five night stretch.

A few things about this Knick game were encouraging, first and foremost being the defense.  Certain coaches bring an identity and can typecast their team.  Mike D’Antoni certainly has a reputation of being an offensive genius while ignoring defensive principles, while Mike Woodson is known for emphasizing defense.  I don’t doubt that both preach the other side of the ball that they are supposed to be not so well versed in, but sometimes you just get that reputation and its hard to shake it unless there’s a dramatic shift in their team’s play in that other side of the ball.  But the Knicks forged a defensive intensity that you just hadn’t seen from them.  My theories, in order, were 1. Jason Kidd, 2. Tyson Chandler, 3. Mike Woodson.  These three guys have won and know that the only way to win games in May and June is on the defensive side of the ball.  Kidd in particular has impressed me because he faces quicker guards on a regular basis, but his intelligence and quick hands are great equalizers and allow him to keep up with even the quickest of guards.  

Chandler has always played defense and last year was like the lone wolf howling at the moon and the Garden faithful enjoyed watching him play.  This season he has more help and certainly stands to gain more once Iman Shumpert returns.  This season, the Knicks just seem to know how to rotate better and know how to play with each other better because they have so many leaders on this team.  Whether its Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace (one Defensive player of the Year and the other, a member of the no-name Pistons squad in 04 that won the title), or Kurt Thomas on the bench, there’s so much veteran guidance and leadership and call me crazy, but maybe this was Grunwald’s plan all along: to have as many veteran voices on the bench to plead with Carmelo to play more defense and play more efficiently on offense.  

This win also speaks to the play of Pablo Prigioni.  Last year’s clear weakness was point guard play.  No doubt it contributed to the hype that Linsanity got and maybe inflated his value, but this year, the trio of Kidd, Felton and Prigioni have been such a better unit that its hard to remember the last time the Knicks got this kind of production from the position.  Prigioni, since preseason, has been doing that sneaky steal atleast twice a game and he again got a key steal and fed Carmelo for an easy two.  Every member of that team is confident with Prigioni in there and now with Felton out for four to six weeks, you don’t feel as uncertain.  Yes, I understand the concern people have with playing 35 and 40 year old point guards major minutes in games in January, but the hand has been dealt.  Its interesting that the Knicks have been experimenting with Shumpert at the point.  Perhaps getting youthful legs in there will be helpful, but having him as a primary ball handler is all good and well, but he has to be an instinctive point guard, otherwise he’s just another Toney Douglass: the full five second too late point guard who just never had the feel of a point guard.  Are the Knicks going to pay for playing these guys major minutes like this?  I’m sure.  But the fact is this is what they have to do and the Knicks just have to make do.

BTW, does anyone object to the whole JR Smith as our third most important player?  After Carmelo and Tyson, JR’s contributions off the bench- and its becoming nightly, are a reminder of how much of a luxury it is to have a guy that can create his own offense and can also spot up and score.  You can sit Carmelo for stretches when JR is going the way he is.  Does he have a ton of irrational confidence?  Sometimes.  But to play this game and to be good you have to.

Carmelo scored 23 but the most encouraging sign of his maturity came in two ways.  He was actively looking to pass out of double teams and rarely made a bad decision when he did and even if the relationship between he and Amare may be a forced partnership, its easy to see how comfortable and assured he is that he is the franchise cornerstone and he makes the Knicks go.  He tried desperately to get Amare involved in the offense in one series in the fourth, while the Knicks were building up their lead, passing it inside to Amare, who continued to do the fifteen pump fakes before putting up the shot that usually gets blocked (which is an indicator that he’s getting old and has lost most of the athleticism that made him a star), getting the rebound and then throwing it right back to Amare.  That comes from a confidence within that this is in fact his team and there’s no real threat there and I’m glad.  The only way for this to work is for Amare to understand his role on this team and that he’s going to be a third or fourth option depending on the set.  I do like that second team of offense that comes in behind the starting five when the Knicks bring in Novak, Prigioni, JR and Amar’e into the game.  Then you add in the stretch five of Rasheed and you certainly have the makings of a deep ten man rotation that could be formidable, depending on health, come May and June.

Rex Ryan tattoo of Mark Sanchez january 4And then there’s Rex Ryan.  The Daily News this morning published a picture of tanning Rex on a beach in the Bahamas sporting a tattoo of a woman (presumably his wife) sporting a Mark Sanchez jersey and….nothing else on his right arm.  This article in the Daily News is sure to make the rounds in the talk show universe today and adds another level of weirdness to this whole Jet soap opera.   Gary Meyers of the Daily News talks out all the problems that can arise from having a specific player’s name tatooed on the arm.  Mark Cannizzaro of the Post lists several enticing candidates for the Jets GM job and lists Tom Gamble the Director of Player Personnel of the San Francisco 49ers as the guy the Jets and Korn/Ferry should target to lead the Jets.  Finally the Pro Football Writers of America are ok with the fact that the Jets will only meet with the media on January 8th as opposed to the usual schedule of 7 days after the season ends.

This morning’s commute was extra  hilarious because of this story and usually when silly things like this happen, it makes radio and sports personalities very happy because it gives them a chance to be silly and boy do Boomer and Carton love doing silly.  Look, there’s nothing left to say about this except that the Jets look to be targeted by the media and they give them every reason to be targets.  In what universe could Rex think getting a tattoo of his wife ONLY wearing a Mark Sanchez jersey was a good idea?  There’s not a good enough explanation that you can have and one that I hope that we will hear come that very anticipated January 8th press conference.  For those wondering, I think if you were to rank what the Jets brain trust should be questioned about, it goes:

1. Why Mike Tannenbaum was fired and not Rex?

2. What were they thinking about with Tim Tebow and why, in their minds, were they not successful with him?

3.  How confident are you that Mark Sanchez can be fixed?

4.  Rex are you brain dead?  Why would you get a tattoo of your wife in a Sanchez jersey?

Those should be the first four questions out of the media’s mouth come January 8th.  How its anything else is beyond me.  Anyway, I hope Korn/Ferry is a PR firm as well because the Jets could use some good advice. 

Meanwhile, not so far off Crazy Island, the Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was apparently walking around like a crazy man as he described in this interview with Mike Francesa.  Antrelle Rolle apologized for the Giant letdown of a stretch run this season.

Its always fun to see Tom Coughlin red in the face, screaming from the sideline but I totally understand his pain and frustration when having to answer questions about a team he has seen time and time again come through in big games, not be able to even offer a whimper when it truly mattered.  Like any Giant fan, I expected a win against the Ravens and I expected it to be competitive against the Falcons who I don’t think scare anyone in the NFC.  The Giants should have never been in this position and who knows if this collapse by the Giants means that Washington was just meant to win this year or if this is a seismic power shift in the NFC East and that the Redskins are coming of age so quickly under the guidance of the young padawan, RGIII.  Regardless, these are the kind of final weeks that make a team look deep into its soul.  Certainly there is the talent to win atleast 10 games a year but the up and down show of effort leaves you wondering sometimes about whether the players are either understanding the situation they are in or even motivated to play a football game late in December.  Its crazy to think that this team, this unit wouldn’t know how to handle themselves in those situations but it happened.  Which makes Tom Coughlin crazy.  Which makes Jerry Reese crazy.  Which should make every Giant hoping to return back to a championship core very very scared.  

Finally, what to watch for tonight:  Bulls at Heat on ESPN at 8, Nets at Wizards on YES at 8 (just kidding).

Later today, I’m posting my AFC/NFC Wild Card weekend Previews

For your viewing pleasure…

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Headlines 1/3/2012

Yesterday’s biggest news story was the return of Amar’e Stoudemire.  But the story turned familiar.  The Knicks came out ice cold and couldn’t buy a lay up, while the other team was hitting every open shot they were given.  At one point the Knicks went down 19 and once again climbed to within one shot of tying, but could never find the defensive stop they needed.

“You can’t keep spotting teams 20-plus leads and think you’re going to win,” Mike Woodson said. “The last few games have been a disaster in terms of how we’re starting games.”

Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News writes that Amar’e Stoudemire is in direct competition with Carmelo Anthony to get touches and therein lies the rub and the greater storyline as it relates to the rest of the 2012-2013 season.  In a more optimistic story, the New York Post’s Kevin Kiernan writes that if Carmelo and Amar’e learn how to work together, and the fans are patient, a bigger reward awaits the Knicks. Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times writes that Amar’e Stoudemire’s standing ovation was ripe with optimism but filled with caution.

Yesterday’s game was a pretty familiar storyline.  Fall down early, make a great comeback but ultimately fall short.  The added storyline of Amar’es return and Carmelo’s return from a two game sit out due to a hyper extended knee made this a must watch game.  Nothing about this game was pretty, despite 45 from Carmelo Anthony.  The Knicks continue to live and die by the three and yesterday they were slaughtered.  The Knicks were 10-37 from beyond the arc while the Blazers shot 11-33.  It seemed that every shot that Nicholas Batum took either went in or airballed and he didn’t airball much.  He was the high man, and also the one given the responsibility of trying to guard Carmelo.  When one on one defense didn’t work, the Blazers began double teaming Melo.  Credit Melo with finding his open teammates, but nobody ever found a rhythm that would make the Blazers go away from the strategy of doubling Melo.  

JR Smith continues to be a real Six Man of the Year candidate playing an all around game that everyone thought he could play but never lived up to, either due to immaturity or indifference.  Either way, the idea I would think, is to have Amar’e and JR come in to give the team an offensive lift when they can’t seem to score points.  At some point Steve Novak will start hitting the close to 50% that he can, and the Knicks will have a formidable 9 man rotation.  Of course, the odd man out in this rotation will be Ronnie Brewer who is known for his defense and is a starter by name only, but plays very few minutes thanks to his inability to hit the wide open corner three, once Iman Shumpert returns.  That return is still being speculated about, but expect in the next two weeks to hear an announcement from the usually tightlipped MSG office.  I found the rotations a bit weird, as this was kind of a throwaway game for the Knicks.  They were working with several line ups, but having a very quick hook with any line up that had Carmelo and Amar’e in it which was odd to me.  Its a chemistry issue they want to avoid for now until Amar’e gets fully healthy, or its something they have decided upon for the betterment of the team.  Stoudemire’s minutes were limited to 20 yesterday but while he only played 17, he seemed tentative and hesitant.  Too amped up on his first few attempts before settling down on his old familiar: the pick and roll drive to the hoop dunk.  Once he got that lead pass from Pablo Prigioni, and he dunked, there was that familiar spark in his eyes.  

On the other side, I was extremely impressed with Damian Lilliard.  I had heard he was a legit rookie of the year candidate (the lead dog IMO), but to see him in person was impressive.  He’s got that quickness and body control that makes him a poor man’s Derrick Rose.  That step back three was the kind of shot that you only see from more poised veteran guards and it tells you how much more mature beyond his years this kid really is.  A four year starter from Weber State, Lilliard is proving to be the team’s best draft selection since LaMarcus Aldridge.  Also, how in the hell does JJ Hickson dominate us EVERY FREAKING TIME?  He’s in the ALL-“ROLE PLAYERS WHO HAVE CAREER GAMES AGAINST THE KNICKS ALL THE TIME” Team.  

The Jets offseason unofficially started the day they couldn’t beat the Tennessee Titans, but their official offseason started Monday when they fired the GM, Mike Tannenbaum.  Many wrote about how Rex should have been given a pink slip with the GM.  Rich Cimini of ESPNNY writes why this plan of action, hiring a GM while keeping the incumbent coach, could be a death penalty for Rex. Ben Shpigel of the New York Times writes “No doubt the Jets’ position is appealing; only 32 of these jobs exist, after all. But whoever takes over for Tannenbaum will inherit a mess at quarterback, several bloated contracts and a roster in dire need of an overhaul, not to mention a coach he did not choose in Ryan, whose return in 2013 Johnson guaranteed.”  Mark Cannizaro of the Post writes that a curious decision was to let Tony Sparano hang on to his job as offensive coordinator, though he admits that the Jets lead the league in curious decision making.  Steve Serby of the Post writes that Rex needs to come out and talk about it.  His press conference was canceled by the team on the day that Mike Tannenbaum was let go.  The owner Woody Johnson had a five paragraph statement read.  In fact, the only member of the Jet hierarchy that did any talking, was the guy they let go: GM Mike Tannenbaum.  Finally, Manish Mehta of the Daily News, and Rex Ryan’s favorite scribe writes, “Rex Ryan, the king of transparency and accountability, isn’t talking.”

You can understand the frustration from the beat writing community as it relates to the Jets.  The team had a frustrating and disappointing season.  They aren’t in the mood to answer some difficult questions.  But the bigger dilemma becomes that the Jets organization wanted to dump everything on the lap of the GM while saving the coach who’s been at the head of much of this mess.  What I don’t know and what will apparently never be clear, is who was responsible for the Tim Tebow signing?  That was a decision made by an influential voice within the organization.  Was it Rex Ryan?  It didn’t look like it from the amount of playing time he got and the constant refusal to name him the starting QB especially in the meaningless week 17 contest against Buffalo.  Was it Mike Tannenbaum?  Maybe.  He did make the, now idiotic, decision to resign Mark Sanchez and guarantee him $20 million basically bolting him down to the Jets roster for the 2013 season.  But then why would he turn around the next day and go after Tim Tebow?  His decision to give Sanchez that contract extension was definitely influenced by the fact that he openly went after Peyton Manning and Mark found out and was upset by it, and yeah, this whole thing sounds soap opera-ish.  My guess is that it was owner Woody Johnson who has never really made a good decision since he’s taken over the team’s ownership.  

Woody has always been about the bottom line and winning the back page war with the Giants who never have had any desire to partake in that kind of thing.  This move was meant to distract everyone from the poor season they had.  Add to that, the whole building up a wall and the almost CIA Top Secret Tebow playbook and you had the makings of a ridiculous campaign that became bizarre.  Needless to say the Tebow situation was NOT the only reason the GM got fired, but the quarterbacking position was a major influence.  Add the contract, and the overall lack of depth to the roster and very few draft picks with which to fix the roster, Mike Tannenbaum leaves his successor very few avenues to go through in order to cure what ails this team.  

I know Jet fans won’t want to hear this and obviously they won’t consider this move, but the best way to get all of your draft picks back is to trade one of your best players.  Yes, if the Jets pay most of Mark Sanchez’s salary they may get a sixth round pick, but why do that deal in the first place?  My guess would be to bring in a strong QB’s coach to work with Mark.  The Jets should invest in a running game.  Steven Jackson will be a free agent soon, and he would like another chance at winning.  His price range may be too high for the Jets but they should consider knocking on that door.  They still have stars.  Maybe if they trade a guy like Muhammad Wilkerson OR Darelle Revis, they will get a bunch of draft picks back- maybe even a number one.  Remember, the Rams still have picks from their RGIII trade with Washington, and they are trying to find building blocks and Wilkerson would definitely be looked at as something they would want.  Would that be worth it? 

As it relates to media relations, this won’t get better unless the team gets better.  But even then, there are some feelings that need to be mended.  Its clear that several in the media are feeling ignored and not being given a story and don’t expect for them to continue to speculate, thereby giving the reader and the fanbase something to worry about.   Lately, the boastful and talkative Jets have gone into bunker mode.  What is the deal there?  The Jets will certainly have many questions to answer.  Once they find a new GM perhaps some of those answers will be given by an actual member of the Jets hierarchy.

While the Jets are majoring in confusion and outright non-commital, the Giants are in a different state of mind.  They were left with no answers as to why they no-showed their week 15 and week 16 contests against two playoff teams while demolishing the pathetic Eagles (there was no homer-ism in that description of the Eagles, just outright contempt.  Please note the difference).  Changes are coming for the Giants and one change that seemed imminent is now as close to official as can be: Osi Umeniyora announced on the Michael Kay show that he probably won’t be returning to the Giants and he will test the open market.  Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News writes that panic isn’t setting in on the Giants, a team who came within one game of making the playoffs.  Paul Schwartz of the Post writes that it won’t be easy identifying what exactly happened in those week 15 and week 16 games, but it won’t be tough to know what needs to be done.  Zach Shonbrun of the New York Times writes that remorse is the word around Giants camp.  Remorse that a quality team didn’t get to defend its Super Bowl title.  Finally Ohm Yungmisuk of ESPNNY writes the same thing only with hilarious quotes from Martellus Bennett.

I’m not going to try and figure out weeks 15 and 16.  The usual flat performance that we’ve come to expect was the immediate answer following each loss, but it never seemed to accurately describe what happened.  Losing 34-0 to a Falcons team that shouldn’t have soundly beat the Giants?  Losing 33-14 to a team and a QB who had issues galore?  It just didn’t seem right.  If it was lack of focus and intensity then doesn’t some of that fall on the coaching staff?  Just trusting that a team that has done it before will pick it up automatically won’t be an easy sell to a fanbase that went into the season and especially after blowout wins against the 49ers and the Packers.  Clearly the talent is there to compete and a returning core will be a good start, but with almost two dozen players becoming either restricted or unrestricted free agents (here is a list) there will certainly be a good amount of change at the Timex center come next season.  

IF I had to guess who is definitely coming back from that list, I would say that Stevie Brown, Victor Cruz, Andre Brown (all restricted free agents), Lawrence Tynes, Kevin Boothe, Will Beatty, Sean Locklear,  Bear Pascoe, Adrian Tracy aka YOsi (young Osi), and Domenik Hixon.  Guys I would like to be re-signed but are iffy because of either price or shaky health are, Kenny Phillips, Martellus Bennett, Rocky Bernard, Ramses Barden, Chase Blackburn, and Keith Rivers.  Every other guy on that list is a goner in my eyes.  The Giants had another good to great year on the offensive line but saw too much of their health depleted.  

If I were in charge of the draft, I would try to find an offensive lineman (you draft tackles because they are usually the best athletes), before they find a pass rusher.  I think the Giants just had a off season in terms of pass rushing and Perry Fewell made the mistake of trusting that his line would apply pressure without any stunts or blitzes.  That last game against the Eagles, the Giants used a lot of stunts and linebacker blitzes and created a ton of turnovers.  That may be a blueprint for how Fewell designs pressure in the upcoming season.  The Giants line were not winning their one on ones which they were used to winning, so perhaps mixing in some pressure from the LB’s and corners along with winning some one on one match ups will help but the team needs to begin to play with more fire.  Maybe next year they won’t enter week 16 and 17 having to win games just to make it into the playoffs.  This is still a team capable of winning a Super Bowl and the window is right now open. As Martellus Bennett hilariously put it, 

“It is a big a– window, we are not talking about apartment windows on the side. We are talking like mansions.  Like [Evander] Holyfield’s house in Atlanta where he had people working the grounds for you,” the tight end continued. “I don’t think the window is closing. I think there are other guys coming in to open up another window.”

That remains to be seen.

 

What do you guys think?

 

 

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Knicks and CP3? Probably not. Blame Melo

The NBA is back.  Which for Knick fans is actually a good thing.  Of course, that’s about all the optimism I’m going to give them here.

After about two years of telling us there was going to be a long labor strife, and then going through with it for a few days, decertifying, a couple of captivating 3 AM press conferences, threats, the long-awaited usage of the term “nuclear winter”, the NBA finally came BACK to the bargaining table after Thanksgiving and realized how utterly ridiculous all this was.

Want an analogy?  Here’s one:  It was like two kids getting ready to fight, going around in a circle while a group of friends were on the periphery talking shit about both and finally being pushed into each other by the crowd who got tired of watching them just go in circles and before either got to throw a real punch an adult entered the circle and stopped the fight.

Yeah, that about sums it up.  The adult in this analogy is reason.  See, the NBA needed perspective and reason to understand that what they were about to do was colossally stupid.  They were about to go through the kind of shit that makes people have to move away from home out of embarassment and never want to come back kind of shit.

Luckily the day after Thanksgiving after a turkey-induced epiphany made both parties realize their mistakes, they got back into the board room and in the span of about 15 hours came away with the outline of a deal that both sides didn’t like however ultimately both sides could live with.  Or as everyone likes to call it: what should’ve happened 5 months ago aka compromise.

But this isn’t about semantics.  In the end, Knick fans woke up Saturday and realized that the Amar’e and Melo experiment was back on and it was time to finally finish the dream team scenario by getting CP3.  Knick fans knew they would have to wait till after this season when free agency started so there would be no “will he get traded” drama in season to keep Knick fans tuned into the pale white musings of Chris Broussard and his “NBA Sources tell me” talk.

Right?

This time we would happily wait knowing that at the end of this season, we were guaranteed to get better.  But sins of the past will come back to bite you and Knick fans, more than most know this.

As details leaked about the new deal fans became interested in how exactly this new deal would affect that bottom line.  Well, its emerged and you’re not going to like it.  Unless Chris Paul wants to come to New York so badly and unless Nike has inserted that mysterious Lebron James clause that no one wants to talk about (or maybe it just never existed) being paid more to play in New York, Chris Paul will have to take a massive pay cut to come to New York.

And you know who you should blame?  Lebron James.  No, I’m kidding.  No, New York, you should blame Carmelo Anthony and I’m going to break down why.

The Knicks with JUST Carmelo and Amar’e will have almost 40 million tied up.  That’s before accounting for Imam Shumpert’s yet to be determined salary.  The Knicks DO have a team option on Toney Douglas and his play will determine whether team officials think of him as a long term fit or not.  If not, his $2 million salary will be off the books to leaving the Knicks at about $42 million in commitments for 2012.  That’s three players, and that’s before the possibility that Isiah Thomas calls James Dolan the night of December 8th before free agency begins and convinces him to make signing Nene priority number one and offers him a max deal for no reason.   Don’t even make me start naming similar circumstances where that occurred.

Now, working on the assumption that the salary cap remains steady at $58 million as most economists expect once the NBA’s 50/50 BRI split comes into effect (for this upcoming season the Players Association will get one last year of financial supremacy over their plantation owners), the Knicks will have about $16 million in cap space.  Granted the figure is actually $70 million before we enter the dreaded luxury tax area, the Knicks if they so wished COULD end up paying him $14-16 million a season.  Now that would ultimately not be as much as some other team may be willing to offer, like say a team that traded for him mid season.

Here’s where the new labor deal will come back to haunt us.  The new deal’s major calling card is that it will lead to more player movement.  So fans of the Carmelo trade and the ESPN trade machine will see more of their hair brained trades come to fruition than not because this new NBA will be more trade freindly and thus create far more talk and hype and buzz which ultimately will help the brand.  Which is why in the end this lockout was as much about the negatives of the Decision as it was the positives.  As negative financially as it was, the owners knew how absolutely mind blowing it was as it pertains to ratings and realizes that even in much smaller ways other players can have this kind of sway in individual markets and create the kind of energy and buzz that will give them what they want: ratings, which will lead to a fat new television contract.  Which in the end is why the owners fought for a bigger share of BRI in the first place.  They are counting on that new TV contract to be VERY high.  And if it is, you can believe that players will go right back to the bargaining table in 2017 and ask for a bigger share leading to quite possibly another 5 months of posturing and stupidity.   But more on that in 2017.

But this new CBA wants stars to remain where they are.  They don’t mind the Toney Douglas’ of the world being traded, but their A-listers they want them to stay, they are offering the same green carrot they had in the last deal: the team with which you are currently gainfully employed with is the team that can offer you the most money.  So, what will a team like New Orleans do when faced with the prospect of allowing Chris Paul to leave for nothing?  They will canvas the league for offers and then take the best one and if you believe the rumors beginning today, the best one would be a Rondo for CP3 swap that Boston is playing the same old silly PR Game of “deny deny deny”.

Of course if New Orleans is smart, and the Clippers too, which is a rarity those two will connect on a deal for the point guard but again reading up on things, it seems that the Clippers have their sights set a little higher and a little more South and perhaps a little more Super on Dwight Howard.

But this new CBA almost forces the Hornets hand to make this trade which eventually begs the optimistic Knick fan to ask “hey why can’t we trade for him?”  Because you narrow minded schmuck all our trade assets are now either playing in Denver, carrying out hits for the Russian Mob in Moscow or putting together IPOD parts in his spare time while his communist Chinese basketball team refuses to let him out of his contract.  See, the Knicks last year when they lustfully went after Carmelo and when Carmelo made it almost impossible for the Nuggets front office to sleep without thinking up alternate solutions to get him out without having to take the Knicks poo poo platter of B- prospects, forgot that THEY had the leverage.

Well, in all fairness I think Donnie Walsh always knew that and was vehemently opposed to such a stupid trade for a player he correctly assumed he could get in the free agent market following the season, but was out voiced by he who shall not be named.  If Melo wanted to come, the thinking goes that he should’ve waited for the season to play out and then we’d carry him to New York.

Of course the lockout happened so that would’ve derailed any July 8th signing day ceremonies for Carmelo and the Knicks and he eventually would have had to take a less friendly deal to come here, which is the same situation with CP3 but the Knicks would be arriving at virtually the same position that they are in now.  But this time, with Wilson Chandler (though I doubt he would’ve done anything different), with Raymond Felton and with Timofey Mozgov.  Sure, extra money on the books but trade assets that would’ve certainly been more appetizing to the NBA controlled Hornets than say Imam Shumpert, and Chauncey Billups’ expiring contract.

By Carmelo pressuring the Nuggets and the Knicks to make a deal to get him to New York and allow him to sign the now crippling contract it leaves the Knicks with little to stop the Hornets from trading CP3 to another team, perhaps the Celtics or the Clippers who seem more win-now and win-future respectively than the Knicks do given all they have.  The Knicks have nothing to offer and will be helpless bystanders when a trade happens.

Of course there is the remote chance that James Dolan will appease Knick fans and agree that for all the egregious sins he’s committed like not allowing MSG HD to appear on any other cable outlet or not allowing his own Cablevision subscribers to get NFL Network or any Isiah Thomas era- related signing, he will be doling out the luxury tax fee every year just to ensure that the Knicks have a great team with CP3 and will be the envy of every single small market owner out there.  Of course that’s asking Dolan to do alot.

In the end, Knick fans wanting a winner sooner rather than later will cost us.  Ultimately CP3 must decide what he wants.  Does he want to carry the burden of expectation that comes with being a high prominent athlete in New York?  Does he truly care about winning and feel the Knicks are headed in that direction?  If so, then he should do the wise thing.  The selfless thing.  Come to New York and accept the smaller paycheck and do your best to win and so many doors will open up.  Its risky.  Its tough.  But hey, if you can make it here CP3, you’ll make it anywhere.

Ok so I lied about not being optimistic, I’m a Knick fan.  Sue me.

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Monday Morning something or the other…

Happy Monday morning.  Ok forget it, I tried you lazy bums.  Here’s the racket this morning:  Huge win for the Knicks last night over the Heatles.  I will talk about the trade deadline.  No links this week but I will come back strong next week.  The Melo trade was indeed a victory but Prokho scored a major coup but I will tell you why it won’t all be vodka and salad dressing for the Russian.

Also some on Kevin Costner, Keannu Reeves, Adam Sandler and Spring Training.  Let’s warm up shall we?

FUSSING OVER TRADE DEADLINE

I weighed in on Carmelo already so no need to rehash that.

But anyone who thinks this Carmelo deal was exclusive to itself is beyond nuts.  This deal had 60% to do with Carmelo and 40% to do with the free agent class of 2012.

By now you know that Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams* all have the option to be free agents during the summer of 2012.  They will all go to where they feel give them the best chance to win.
*= D-Will has a player option for next year which could make him a 2011 free agent.

Melo’s deal wasn’t just supposed to make the Knicks a better team in the short term but also as a call to those guys that the Knicks need an extra playmaker who can come in and make them a whole helluva lot better.

The talked about lament of small market teams was firmly waved aside by Bill Simmons and other like minded people who agree that a hierarchy of teams in the league make for “must see television” which the NBA can properly plug in to prime time slots as they see fit.  It will also elevate the product come playoff time when the best teams are supposed to be playing against each other.

The NBA for far too long has tried to tell everyone that the league needs balance.  That led to the crappy decade we are only coming out of.  Look at the last decade of winners and tell me one team other than the ’04 Pistons who won without two or three guys that were top 5 at their particular position.  The NBA has and always will be a star led league.  Stars dictate where this league is going and like it or not, guys like Lebron, and Carmelo will always have the power.

At its core the NBA comes down to one on one matchups.  Those stats that seem too hard to calculate like clutch ability in other sports is a much simpler debate to have in the NBA.  Every team has one or two guys we label as finishers.  How can the league or its fans deny the power the players have?

This may be big market thinking but here’s one other point some people so easily forget.  Lebron played in Cleveland for 7 years and won 0 NBA titles.  Carmelo played in Denver for 7 and a half seasons and won 0 NBA titles.  KG played in Minnesota for 12 years and won 0 NBA titles.  Ray Allen played the same time and won 0 NBA titles.  Its not like these guys played out their rookie contracts and left the first chance they got.  They signed one and even two extensions before forcing their way to better situations.  Meanwhile Tim Duncan has been in San Antonio for 13 seasons and won 4 NBA titles.  Your team either does everything they can to surround you with complementary pieces or they don’t.  Name me one player that Lebron played with that you thought when they acquired him the Cavs would win a title.  I bet you had that convo when he, Wade and Bosh came together in Miami.  Those same conversations were had in New York this week.

This is a league of few stars and many complementary pieces.  When I was researching this whole NBA labor issue and saw the reason for a soft cap it made my mind up.  Soft caps allow teams to go over the set salary limit in order to add pieces and surround good talent.  Its meant to keep stars that were drafted by teams in their original uniforms.

The owners arguments have been faulty at best.  To ask players to give back almost $800 million in salaries because the NBA tried to be balanced is ridiculous.  Made more ridiculous by the fact that these owners signed off on these crippling deals.  Hey dumbass owner: if you didn’t wanna pay, say for arguments sake, a lazy, fat, unenthused center with a heart condition a huge contract then guess what?  DON’T.  To blame Eddy Curry for cashing those checks is ridiculous because we all would have done the same.*
*= I realize with that logic that all of us would be Eddy Curry’s but its the truth.  In some bizarro universe, we are Eddy Curry.

I think the league is about to go into a great upswing where its popularity is about to explode.  The stars aligning and allying with another isn’t a bad thing for the sport but the best thing for this sport.  Figuring out a way to share revenues seems to be the only problem that needs mediation.  The players are setting the trend.  To restrict movement and keep players in situations that are not conducive to their own happiness isn’t just unproductive, but also very stupid.

At the end of the day if teams surrounded their talent with equal talent then perhaps Lebron would still be in Cleveland getting set to win another championship.  Melo would be in Denver realistically challenging Kobe in LA.  Mark Cuban has held on to Dirk Nowitzki.  Tim Duncan has won titles in San Antonio and remains there and won’t leave.

Want a sad tale?  Steve Nash, the great white hope, won’t be traded by Robert Sarver because he refuses to let go of the one guy that keeps paying customers coming back.  Nash’s best years are gone, undoubtedly, and as long as he remains in Phoenix, he will never sniff an NBA title.  They have continuously shed draft picks and superstars like they were going out of style and they did so to reduce their salary demands.

You think if Steve Nash were younger he wouldn’t want to leave?  That he wouldnt grow tired of the same old crap?

The NBA is becoming a hierarchical society and the owners had better figure out how to deal with it.  That’s their best bet.  That’s their only play here.  Anything else would be evidence of the truth that owners of unsuccessful franchises have long tried to hide from its fans: they don’t care.

REAL LIFE RIVALRY

Nationally, the story of the real budding rivalry has gotten minuscule attention and rightfully so.  Its a non-story at this point.  The Knicks are the main event and the Nets are the hopeful under card.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that the upstart doesn’t have to give in to that logic.

Right as the Knicks were paving the streets with roses and carnations in anticipation of Carmelo Anthony’s debut at MSG, the Nets went out and hijacked Deron Williams from the Nets for a smaller version of the Carmelo offer.  Two first round draft picks, Devin Harris, and Derrick Favors.   The consensus around the league was that of shock and awe that the Russian Mad Scientist could pull off such a deal without the wherewithal of the NBA scribes who were sniffing around every corner.

The story was that this deal was consummated in 24 hours, shortly after Denver signed off on the Knicks package.  Prokho wanted a replacement superstar pronto and that he got.  Many instantly assessed Deron as the better player with the better upside.  Though there are several flaws in that logic.

Not to say that Deron Williams isn’t as good a player as Melo, or even better, I think that opinion came from the mouths of those that were still reeling from the shock of the Jazz, a very smart and steady organization, going through major renovations of its product after 20 something years with the same old script.  First Jerry Sloan and now Deron Williams?  With nary a hint that something like this was in the works?

But such is the trend and the two sided nature of the debate that small market execs are going to have to have in the coming months.  Keep our budding superstar or try to get as many building block assets before he jumps ship to more lucrative waters.  Melo’s reasoning was sound.  He’s a Brooklyn boy and wanted to come to play on the team that his childhood idol played on: Bernard King.  Deron Williams, as far as we know, did no such clamoring to get out.  Some would say that he got what he wanted when Sloan threw in his towel after twenty plus years on the bench with the scowl.

The Deron Williams trade and Melo trade have one very unique attribute in common.  Its not just done to make the team immediately better, but more so to attract potential superstars to Jersey/Brooklyn.  Williams’ value is much higher for Prokho than Melo’s is to James Dolan who is still trying to craft the next memo, in unison with Isiah Thomas, that he is in no way shape or form still associated with the Hall of Fame Point Guard.  Williams’ name represents star value and a billboard that Prokho can put up across the street from 34th and 8th in full view of Mr. Dolan who must look at the Nets as that fly that he just can’t seem to swat.

That fly of course is growing bigger and by 2012 will be gigantic when they move to Brooklyn and open up the Barclay Center.  The question now becomes will Deron Williams be there?  Unreported are two clauses in both contracts that Deron Williams and Carmelo signed.  Melo has an out clause after 2013 which means that he will give this homecoming a joyride before deciding if he really wants to commit which means there’s still another big pay day coming.  Deron Williams has a player option for next season.  Not a team option a player option.  Which means he decides that over the next 23 games that Brook Lopez is the real deal and if the Nets aren’t just a perennial contender for the 8th seed.  Like I said previously (scroll up slackers), this generation of players are much more in tune with what they want.  They are not willing to go along with organizational philosophy unless its in tune with that of their own.  They have dreams and aspirations that go far beyond the basketball court and the best and brightest of the bunch have a brand to protect.

The good thing about them is that they understand that a championship exponentially increases the value of that brand.  With no title gets no pub.  No pub means no love.  And no love on the streets means credibility is shot and if the credibility is shot amongst the basketball watching community, then its shot among execs who see them as cash cows.  Williams never committed to the Nets during his press conference only issuing the usual credo of “let’s wait and see.”

Which means that Prokho hasn’t done anything but upstage the Knicks in the back pages which is precisely what his intent is.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Prokho will be content in winning that war because that’s what counts in this city.  Perception is often a much more willing participant than reality.  It knows only the truth which you enter.

George Steinbrenner knows this and so does Mikhail Prokhorov.  The Big Russian must be looking and laughing at James Dolan as he pulled off this heist thinking that all the basketball community could talk about, on the day of Melo’s much ballyhooed debut, was the deal that brought Deron Williams to Jersey.  Prokho’s people have not made any overtures to sign him to an extension although I’m sure they will try as heck.  They will offer him a boat load of money and his chance at being the man in Brook-Land.  The major play was the back page victory.  Whatever comes next for Jersey will be gravy or gory.  If Prokho doesn’t get Deron to commit to his vision of the Nets it may be the biggest chance he ever took but he knew that it was his only play.  For that I will give the big Russian credit.  He played his hand and played it very well.  He won in every aspect of what he wanted to do.

He brought an equally talented superstar to his digs without surrendering his entire starting 5 which really wouldn’t have said a lot.  The newest trick for Prokho will be to ink Deron and ink Dwight Howard who will also become a free agent in 2012.  If he does that then he won’t have to pull any stunts to get everyone’s attention the basketball team will do all the talking for him.

 

THE BIG COUP

Finally, those of you clamoring for the reunion of the real big 3 of Melo, Stat and CP3 allow me to add some perspective.  The Knicks don’t require a point guard of the highest degree like many would like them to get.  What they require is precisely what they were missing against Cleveland.  A big man.  A gigantic big man.  The kind of big man who would make people think twice and thrice of coming into the paint.  The kind of big man that comes along as often as Haley’s Comet.  Dwight Howard should be the Knicks big signing in 2012 not CP3 or D-Will.  Sorry guys.

If the Knicks are serious about winning defensively the Knicks must up the ante and must do what they can.  I would say that in two years they can try and re-sign Felton and carry on but that bridge may have been burned.  The Knicks major deficiency is on the defensive end (last night’s final 3 minutes of the game not withstanding) and God-Willing the Knicks can convince Superman to join the Avengers and bring a title to Broadway.  Rumor has it that its between them and the Lakers meaning Dwight sees himself as a superstar (Which he should) and wants more than what Orlando can offer him and will take his time thinking things through.  The next two seasons can be exceptional auditioning tape.  What Dwight can see is a team and a system that provides numbers offensively and also a team that has two superstars in place at the prime of their careers and ready to take the next step.  On the left coast, Kobe’s aging and the team is dedicated to the development of Andrew Bynum.

Of course things can change next season.  If Kupchak gets word that the Magic want to deal away their superstar center before him wanting to leave becomes a big deal then yes, I’d say that the Lakers would ship Bynum and whomever to Orlando and export the big kahuna to help Kobe win ring number 6 (if he hasn’t already claimed it by the end of the season) or seven.  Kobe cares about his legacy and about winning more than anything and knows he’s entering that territory where it will atleast become a debate as to who is the greatest player ever: he or Jordan.

For people of my generation it will always be Jordan.  End of discussion but like I said perception is always a far greater tool than reality.  Kobe’s comeuppance has been greatly chronicled beyond words.  He won 3 titles with Shaq then exiled him to travel the great plains searching for titles and revenge.  He’s won two with a new big man who’s content to rebound, take charges and score the minimum amount of points to count as a superstar.  He’s got the complementary pieces to win with and he’s taking all the credit along with Phil who once again is along for the ride.

But even Kobe understands how many years Howard’s arrival would add, not only to his legs but also to his championship counter.  Dwight’s recent offensive output means that he’s finally harnessing his massive potential and teams are now beginning to finally see a finished product.  At age 25 he’s playing ball like even most of his biggest fans couldn’t have seen coming and that’s with Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson who love to call their own numbers as often as they can.  To be sure his offensive game is improving but his defense is still his major calling card.  Size, rebounding and defensive girth is what he provides and since its in limited supply in this league (see uproar of Kendrick Perkins to OKC) his move would create a seismic shift more so than the ones that CP3 or D-Will will create.

Whatever his decision is, I’m sure whomever Knick management will be at the time will be wise to remind Dwight that he can enjoy the summer of his playing days as a card carrying member of a superstar trio of 20 year olds to battle that knucklehead crew in Miami.  That team of Stat, Melo and Dwight would instantly be the best team in the NBA.  Hands down.  That would be the most dominant front court and with Landry Fields playing the 2, it really doesn’t matter who they get to play the one.

Although getting Dwight Hardy from St Johns couldn’t hurt.  Right?

Spring Training update

Far be it from me to ignore the masses clamoring for a spring training update from both teams.  First we’ll start off with the Yankees who debuted their new cast of characters and there are actual jobs to be won in Tampa this year.  The biggest question mark for the Yankees this spring is their pitching which will be a “we’ll play it by ear” kind of strategy.  Unless the idea of Bartolo Colon as a starter impresses you.  Of course this isn’t 2005 or 2003, so I’m sure any sane, rational Yankee fan (I’ve met a few though I can’t say there are that many in the wild) knows that whatever Colon gives them will be gravy.  But the one major player not really mentioned is Ivan Nova who’s up and down campaign last season had more positives than negatives.  Internally the Yankees are praying that they can put Colon back into the storage compartment and ship him to the Dairy Farm factory for restocking as soon as possible.  Nova’s performance yesterday did much to calm the nerves of Brian Cashman and company who would love to see Nova wrestle the job away from Colon so they can tell Colon “no mas.”

Meanwhile, remember those kids I mentioned who would be instrumental this year in how the Yankees play the C.C. Sabathia card this year?  Well Dellin Betances came in and struck out the side against the Phillies which included Dominic Brown, Wilson Alvarez and Ben Francisco which isn’t murderer’s row I know, but still good for a first crack at impressing the bosses.  Cashman’s stubbornness has kept him from offering these two gems in any trade, as he should.  The scouting scribes are all hot and bothered with the “Killer B’s” Betances and Manny Banuelos.  If they continue to impress during Spring Training those threats of new contracts may go on deaf ears so that Cashman can fall back on his “we don’t discuss extensions until the contract runs out” philosophy.

Curtis Granderson hit a 2 run home run which propelled the Yankees to a victory over the Phillies everyone’s favorite.  Granderson must have a big year for the Bombers and if the final month of the season is any indication, he may be on the rise.  Remember how everyone in the fantasy camps assured you that Grandy would be handily hitting 30+ homeruns with that inviting right field porch?  Well consider that prognostication fit for 2011 as he’s showing signs that he has worked through his hiccups and found a steady stroke that will propel him to that season we had hoped for last year.  You know, as fantasy campers.

As for the Mets, listen, if you’re going to make smart ass comments about the $25 million loan, then sorry you won’t get a chuckle out of me.  Not because it isn’t funny, but its sad.  The Wilpons’ house of cards are slowly crumbling and even they are too dumb to issue the requisite statement of “we have a problem.”  The Mets are worth around a Billion dollars roughly with the stadium and SNY.  No way someone comes in from the wood works and pumps $150 million into the revenue stream so they can help pay the Madoff money they’re accused of making off with.  Unless they build in an exclusive window to buy out the team should it ever go on sale.  Other than those assurances I can’t see any businessman with any gravitas ponying up the pesos to do that exchange.

In actual baseball news Luis Castillo played and well, he played.  1 for 2 with a single and a defensive play.  He was still hitting like he’s helping the other team do fielding drills but its a step up for the guy who’s been blasted and called every name under the sun by Met fans.  He’s lost weight and has impressed his owners.  Maybe long enough to get some trade value built up.  Meanwhile in other not so surprising news Ollie Perez couldn’t quite get a handle on the strike zone and issued 3 walks and let 4 runs cross the plate.  Of course the guy couldn’t hit the strike zone with consistency from 6 feet so forget 60 feet and 6 inches.  There is no sad news to report there.  All in all positive news.  Both players will likely get dumped.  One in the garbage and the other on another team.  Only time will tell which will be.

Meanwhile Chris Capuano and Chris Young pitched impressively enough to earn wins in their Met debuts.  Young pitched two perfect innings while Capuano struck out 4 in two innings of work and allowing one run.  Young’s job is assured but Capuano’s isn’t which means his starts will be much more noticed if he flops.  Young and Cap aren’t going to make your ears pop hearing their fastball but both are effective in the upper 80’s which many Met fans can attest are good enough sometimes.

Loving R.A. Dickey’s emergence in the clubhouse as both sage and leader.  His innings will be dictate how well the Mets do this season.  The more he pitches the better chance the Mets have at winning.

THE NEW OWNER OF THE METS IS….

 

Source: Bobby V interested in buying piece of #Metshttp://es.pn/ibggsm #espnst
-@AdamRubinESPN Adam Rubin
Here I was ready to write an entertaining piece about my second hopeful owner of the Mets and Adam Rubin is reporting that Bobby Valentine is perhaps interested in owning a piece of the Mets.  Listen, I dont get cheesy over many things but this brought a great big piece of provolone to my grill this morning.
Valentine’s place in Met lore is well talked about.  He’s an icon to scores of Met fans and the name they were hollering from roof tops when the job of manager was initially up for grabs.  The problem with that was his salary demands may have been something that they couldn’t afford though now that all this information is coming out, not too much could be afforded.  This is just the initial phase but yes, there is plenty to be smiling about.  But like I said earlier, if the Mets dont write assurances that the group who purchases the minority stake won’t have exclusive bidding rights to buy out the rest of the team then there won’t be too many.
I love Bobby V’s flair to come in on a white horse and save the day for the Mets.  Even if he doesn’t, the fact that he is actively trying to get back into Flushing tells you what he means to this fan base and how much he adores us back.  Thanks Bobby V.
Okay the fan-dling of Bobby V can stop.  On to more sarcastic news.

Closing Thoughts:

Thought I’d close with these last few gems.

– Chauncy Billups, is no throw in to any deal.  What a performance by Big Shot with that three pointer late in the game that made me go from “no, why would you take that shot you…GREAT DECISION!” valleys to peaks so quick.  I’m afraid my heart won’t be able to take too many of these Knick performances.

– Melo’s defense is in his body.  Lebron’s build is one of a kind and for many an impossibility to guard but Melo brings his own unique build to defend Lebron and he did a fine job.  I love the fact that he demanded to guard Lebron late in the game.  Sounds like the guy can handle the big time.

– Big win for the Knicks  but they need size. I wonder what Troy Murphy was thinking.  Murphy is reportedly deciding on whether to join the Knicks or Heat and this game may have swayed him to Broadway.

– Alex Rodriguez dropped ten pounds entering camp.  He must have been one of those guys building mansions that Hank Steinbrenner was referring to.  So worry not Jeter.

– Speaking of which, maybe it was his popcorn diet courtesy of Cameron Diaz?  Who knows what diets these celebs are on these days?

– Big win for the Storm of St Johns.  Dwight Hardy continues to play beyond his years.  That kid’s draft stock has to be going up, no?

– Had a conversation this weekend about Adam Sandler’s career and more importantly how underrated he is.  Yes, underrated.  I’ve never been a huge fan of his work but needless to say his post SNL career has been ten times better than most and that’s saying something.  Or maybe its not saying much at all but Sandler’s work deserves much applause.  He does serious work as well.  His acting in Spanglish was pretty damn good for a guy who many peg as a slapstick artist.

– Kevin Costner meanwhile is last generation’s Keaunu Reeves.  I realize that won’t make much sense but work with me here.  Has any two men been given more lucrative roles than those two aforementioned?  Luck of the draw?  More like horsehoe up the butthole.  Or maybe their agents are just smarter than the average bear.  Whatever the source of their good fortune is, re-watch their movies and tell me one role where you could see no one other than those two in those roles and I promise you i’ll get you a roll.  With butter on it too.  I promise.

– Speaking of crazy.  No.  Actually he isn’t even crazy.  He’s beyond that and there’s a reason I’m putting him before the Ron Artest tweet of the week.  Charlie Sheen’s rant on the “Alex Jones show” was one for the ages.  This guy is beyond crazy, he’s in another planet.  Bill Simmons labeled that the Tyson zone.  But even that’s unfair to describe the mind numbing all over the place-ness of this doozy of a rant which will go down as one of the most puzzling, frightening, terrifyingly funny rants ever.  If you’re Jewish, or Catholic you may not appreciate the following but its all in good fun.  Right?  Ok fine.  Its not but take a gander at this:

http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/25/charlie-sheen-rant-listen-here/

– Finally the Ron Artest tweet to make all of you happy:

 

LA vs LA tonight… I think LA gonna win
@RONARTESTCOM RON ARTEST
I will have more on Melo and Amare during the week.  More on Spring Training.  More stuff coming.  Enjoy the week folks

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Melo-drama

Whenever this soap opera centered around superstar forward Carmelo Anthony does end, it will met with a sense of a collective “finally” from everyone involved- fans included.  When that is, is a completely separate matter.

Here’s what we know:
A. Melo will NOT be a Nugget a year from now.
B. He prefers to go to a team in NY*
C. Money IS a very big sticking point.
D.  His wife has a small, tiny role to play in this even if Melo won’t admit to it.

Let’s work our ways backward.  Carmelo’s wife Lala Vazquez, as any hip hop loving teen who watched MTV knows, is a C-List celebrity.  I recently listened to the Rich Eisen podcast in which during an interview with Adam Corolla it was brought up that nowadays the luster of being a celeb is gone.  Corolla commented that everybody’s on TV.  Interesting point made by another portion of the C-List celeb club.

She made their prolonged engagement into a boring reality TV show which is Hollywood’s nicest way of sending you out of their good graces.  Reality shows don’t revive careers or make them: they destroy them or make you famous enough for some teen to put ten exclamation marks in their facebook photo album montage of similar unimportant celebs they have met.  After all, if you’re a real celeb would you be caught dead in normal people clubs?
I get why Melo said his wife doesn’t have anything to do with his decision but let’s make one thing clear: if Lala has no say in his career then she’d be the first wife in history to NOT want a say in her husband’s work.  Marriage is not a democracy no matter what they say and its also not open for discussion.
Lala clearly thinks she can prolong her status in the celeb world by pushing Melo to the tri-state area, but is that a good thing for humanity is what I’m asking.

Second, money is a HUGE sticking point.  Don’t believe the hype that it isn’t.  But I don’t think its Melo who would be suffering.  Its his agent.  Bill Simmons broke it down well but let me summarize: when Lebron, Wade, and Bosh signed extensions that would make them free agents the summer before the collective bargaining agreement expired they were able to negotiate player friendly deals that allowed them to test free agency before a much less player friendly cap was put into play.  Melo, also in the loop of the superfriends, had an agent that added an extra year to the contract which did two things:
1. Gave his agent a bigger check.
2. Removed the leverage that Lebron and company had negotiated for themselves.
By having the deal expire around the same time that the CBA did, Melo lost the leverage of being able to wait the season out and go to free agency and still collect the big bucks.  With a hard cap looming and a smaller cap also, if he were to wait till the summer and sign with whoever he wants to sign with, he would potentially be losing $15-$20 million.
For a guy who’s earned over a $100 million over the course of his career, he may stand to lose more over the long term, during his prime, when he should be making the buku bucks.  Simply put, this is a bad thing for his portfolio and just looks bad personally for a premier player in the NBA.

The third reason ties every other reason together so we will move on to the fact that he no longer will be a Nugget a year from now.  That much we know.  At the current point of this writing- we have 41 days left before the Febuary 15th tradind deadline date and most people in the know believe that a deal will get done by the Denver front office led by uber aggressive GM Masa Ujiri and President Stan Kroenke.  The best offer is from NJ who are willing to give the Nuggets what they have been seeking all along: young promising players (Derrick Favors- 2010 #3 overall pick) and draft picks (2 number ones).  But the Nuggets want cap flexibility and Melo has supposedly leaked it to those involved in making this trade happen that he would like to play alongside some strong veterans that he believes can right the ship in the short term.  Of course naturally Melo has “asked for” Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups so they can play that wonderful game of “what if”- what if Joe Dumars had drafted Carmelo Anthony in the first place when he had the chance?  Its always great when you correct a mistake 8 years later- I’m sure in their thirties Hamilton and Billups can help Melo win a title.*
*= read heavy sarcasm

The fact that Billups is a teammate that Melo respects and Rip Hamilton is a decent shooter are reasons the sides will give you as to why it makes sense on several levels to pair these guys up in Jersey alongside Brook Lopez.  But look deeper and you will realize other motivations behind adding them.

Trading Billups gives Nuggets cap flexibility and during the past weekend when for the 900th time it seemed like the trade was close to being completed, it was leaked that Billups would ask for a buyout which would be a terrible roadblock considering this is what “Melo wants”.  Also Rip Hamilton, having completely destroyed any trade value by his poor play and vocal call for a trade from Detroit, has the same agent as Melo- Leon Rose and it seems like the perfect kill two birds with one stone scenario to me.

Even in the East who is scared of a team with a core of Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Brook Lopez and Carmelo Anthony?  How can Billups and Hamilton be the reason this trade goes through?

New Jersey has been aggressive in its attempts at procuring the services of a superstar to market the team around for the forseeable future.  After striking out on Lebron and co., the Nets see this as their first step in creating excitement over their move to Brooklyn- bring a hometown superstar player to christen the new digs and give legitemacy to the Nets.  Remember that the Nets have a Russian billionaire who will have no problem in spending to bring that legitemacy- but with that being said the Nets MUST be aggressive in their game plan if they want anyone to buy season tickets for a team that has won a combined 22 games between this season and last which doesn’t match what the Knicks have accomplished this season already.

And more than anything- the Knicks are a major reason they are willing to trade anyone and everyone to make this Melo to NJ happen.  Coming to the backyard of such an established and storied franchise like the Knicks won’t be easy but since the Russian Mark Cuban came to office- they’ve been aggressive in their marketing against the Knicks.  Of course they are catching them at their weakest moment having been a laughing stock till recently.  Their rennaisance this season has been difficult to stomach if you are a Net fan or front office exec.  Not only are the Knicks in a better position leverage wise to stand pat and let Melo come to them but they look like a team that has a better future than the Nets who many saw coming into the season as the one with more upside.

Insert Melo into the Knick line up, without subtracting anyone, and the Knicks are a top 4 team in the East easily and who knows maybe more.  The fact that its widely know that Melo wants to play in New York, an idea that was beginning to seem less and less relevant to star players in the NBA, makes New Jersey doubly concerned that by the time they move to Brooklyn- no one will care because the Knicks will be completely relevant again.  The Garden and the Knick history will be too large a shadow for the Nets to compete with and even for a Russian billionaire that’s a big bill to take a loss on.

And this Brooklyn operation won’t work if the results are the same which makes getting a bonafide stud like Melo that much more important to play besides promising center Brook Lopez.  Lopez has regressed this past year which adds to the necessity of having that star who can carry a team and the Nets know those guys don’t grow on trees and aren’t available every year via the draft.
But let’s pause all that and bring it to this one crucial point: in the end Melo still holds the trump card.  He can blow everything up by not agreeing to the contract extension and that is where it stands.  All the parameters of the deal have basically been agreed upon.  The one thing really holding this up is Melo.  As his agent continues to convince him of the Nets as a compromise to being a Knick Melo has not agreed to anything.  MELO is holding this deal back, not the 20 players involved in the trade.  The Nets are desperate to get Melo and Melo is desperate to get the Knicks to make an offer appealing enough for the Nuggets to bite on which hasn’t happened because Denver feels as though New York has been pushing this since day one and so out of bitterness has refused to seriously consider anything from New York no matter how good Landry Fields and Wilson Chandler have been playing.

Melo’s reluctance to sign in Jersey and the chance that Denver loses Melo to free agency for nothing will be enough for the Knicks to re-enter the picture without havin to lift a finger which is why you’ve barely heard a peep from the Knicks.  They don’t have the assets of players and draft picks Jersey does but they are his preferred destination and not the alternative like Jersey is.  The Knicks have played this perfectly.

What’s my personal preference? That he come to the Knicks during free agency when we don’t lose a player like Landry Fields who I believe is the kind of reserve player that comes along very rarely- a guy who can shoot the 3, defends decently and has basketball IQ through the roof.  If he’s your sixth man or seventh you’ve got an excellent team.  The fact is, the Knicks are going to lose Wilson Chandler during free agency.  If the Laker game ingrained anything inside the Knicks head is that in order to beat the elite teams you need a quality big man and a Marc Gasol will give them that at a price that won’t be breaking the bank, but enough that a team will be able to outbid the Knicks for Chandler’s services.  Donnie Walsh knows this too- why else do an about face and say outright that he plans to resign Chandler when he’s been adamant to visit that situation in the offseason this whole time?  Because it only makes his value jump.  How much better would Amare and Felton and Danilo be with a player like Melo alongside them?  Even though losing a player like Chandler would be hard, he basically is Carmelo-lite and I doubt Knick fans would be so crushed that the mere thought of Melo would make them nauseous.

In the end, these soap operas come down to one undisputable truth: Melo can end it all.  He can end it all by coming out and declaring to the world what his intentions are but he won’t.  Which is why there’s so much misinformation floating about what exactly Carmelo wants.  Wouldn’t it be prudent for journalists to ask Carmelo about who he’d rather play for?  Of course, but Melo is wise to not do so even IF its ruining his team’s season.  He saw what the “decision” did to Lebron and his image and while financially it won’t affect his bottom line, know one thing:  every reporter and every analyst now have a different perception of Lebron.  All the whispers of his baby-ish spoiled brat behavior is as much a part of his lasting legacy as his undeniable skills and unique talent are.  Melo would rather avoid the PR nightmare rout and do things in a manner that has minimal fallout.  Unfortunately the longer this drags out and the longer he insists on New York being his preferred spot, the less patience the public will have because dealing with New York is low on Denver’s priority list.  At this point, everyone just wants it done, over with, finito.  If he’s staying the season say so, if he’s being traded then trade him but until there’s resolution (and there may NOT be until the trade deadline- which is 40 days away) the talk and chatter won’t go away and eventually people will grow tired of it- if they haven’t already.

In the end, its all on Melo because like any good soap opera the star controls the action.  Until the star decides to take command we’re all stuck waiting as an audience.

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