Tag Archives: James Dolan

Talking up Phil and seeing if he’s down

So it has come to this.  In an attempt to bring some relevance to this team and legitimize its operation the Knicks have attached its most famous wandering son to a front office position.  Not that any deal is finalized, but something is in the works according to a Daily News report.  If Phil Jackson were to accept the offer made by the Knicks to come back to the team that introduced him to winning NBA championships, it would send several ripples throughout an organization that has been mismanaged from top to bottom for far too long.

To be clear, I don’t know if Phil Jackson would make a great executive.  We know he can coach.  We know he enjoys being in the spotlight.  We also know that he loves LA.  But my personal hunch is, from my detached far away from success standpoint, that people like Phil don’t just suddenly give up the opportunity to win.  Its why management often throws piles of money at guys who have seemingly past their prime as if there is a cut off age for everyone to stop what they are doing.  They know that while money is motivation, its the love of winning and perhaps just as important, the stench of losing that drives these men.

Larry Brown, Knick fans remember him, is 73 and he’s currently leading the SMU Mustangs to its first NCAA tournament appearance in more than 20 years.  Guys like Brown don’t just love the fame and the money, they love basketball for reasons that go beyond the superficiPhil_Jackson_3_croppedal.  I’m not waxing poetic on a guy like Larry Brown who’s been known to leave one place for greener pastures elsewhere, but one thing can’t be understated: don’t think its all about the money.

I sat thinking about three things in regards to this Phil Jackson rumor:

1. What would it take for Phil Jackson to come to the Knicks?

2. What would be the reason Phil Jackson took this position?

3. Why are the Knicks constantly coming to the well of the old master Phil everytime there’s uncertainty going on about the organization?

Let me preface this by saying I have no insider information and this is just one man’s humble opinion but Phil would need to be given certain guarantees in his contract to consider working for the Knicks.  Let’s first start with control.  If Phil were to come, it would be under the condition that he would have complete unilateral control of the Knicks which would be a huge give by James Dolan, the owner of the Knicks.  Its also a well known fact that CAA, the agency who has almost every big superstar in basketball signed to their company, has the ear of the owner of the Knicks as well.  More on them later.

No one knows who else has Dolan’s ear but its clear to almost every Knick fan that whoever does has zero interest in building a solid product here in the “basketball mecca”.  I always joke around that if the Knicks had an iota of intelligence in that front office, superstars would be lining up to play at the Garden.  Say what you will about how overblown the concept is to today’s NBA player, but the Garden is a recognized commodity within the basketball intelligentsia who saw more than its fair share of great high school and college games played here.  It was also the home to many sporting events outside of basketball that are forever a part of America’s storied sports past.  Basically the name rings out in the streets.  It is however, painfully clear that there are far too many voices in James Dolan’s head talking at once and he has to cede his control to someone he absolutely trusts.  Phil Jackson, for all we know, may be friends with Dolan and there may be a level of understanding between the two that go beyond just basketball.  But if there isn’t, Phil would need assurances that he would not be effed with when making a basketball decision.  And why shouldn’t Dolan cede control?  Its clear that even in the last decade of futility the Garden was making money hand over fist so there shouldn’t be a fear of losing money even if, at first, the Knicks may have to reset.

Phil’s health is also a major concern.  We don’t know how many surgeries Phil has had and whether he would consider relocating from Los Angeles where he lives with Jeannie Buss.  Would Phil give up 70 degrees year round for a foot of snow every so often in the Northeast?  More on that later.

The idea of Phil taking the position makes a ton of sense.  Like I stated earlier, guys like Phil Jackson don’t take jobs like this at this stage of their lives for the money.  Jackson’s legacy is set.  He’s won 11 championships as a head coach and won two as a player in New York.  If anything he could say that he achieved the task of winning in New York.  But for guys like Phil maybe the idea that his legacy isn’t complete eats up at him.  Maybe going back to New York would energize him and give him purpose.  I mean how long can you fly fish in Montana or ride your Harley in LA in perfect weather for?  Even if that sounds like a slice of heaven?  Ok, I’m not helping I know.

Finally, we all know why the Knicks are approaching Phil.  There’s plenty of reasons.  Look at the current Knick three game winning streak?  Maybe the players are under the illusion that Phil is coming and are viewing this time as an audition?  The Knicks aren’t a good team and yet are showing glimpses of the 54 win team they were last year.  There’s that Carmelo Anthony guy we’ve been hearing attached to Miami and Chicago recently.  His decision this summer will ultimately guide what the Knicks do next year.  If he leaves, they will definitely trade Tyson Chandler to a contender and try to carve out more cap space for 2015 even though merely letting Amar’e walk and not having a $23M cap hit on Carmelo would probably do the trick.  But if Phil comes Carmelo will feel like the Knicks are moving in the right direction because that’s what Phil represents.  He represents championships and winning and Carmelo can get down with that.  And you know who else can get down with that?  Other superstars who still view Phil in high regard.

While there are a ton of reasons why this would be good for the Knicks one thing is clear, the Knicks are star gazers.  Wishing on any shooting star that passes, hoping that their wish will come true.  This shooting star has a ton of questions surrounding his health and ultimately the power he will be given to make decisions.  Maybe he won’t be good at being a GM.  Look at Michael Jordan?  The power with being that good at one thing is that you start believing you’re good at everything and Mike fell into that trap.  He’s the guy who drafted Kwame Brown number one ahead of guys like Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Joe Johnson etc.  He’s the guy who has never produced a .500 or better team in his tenure as GM or owner.  Nothing is promised to guys who go on to try things other than what they are known for.  I truly believe God put us all on this earth for one thing, and one thing only.  Some, like Mike and Phil found their niche.  They worked hard and achieved the impossible.

In the end, I don’t think God put Phil on this earth to run the Knicks.  The devil put James Dolan here to mock all of us Knick fans for believing the rumors.

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Knicks Pistons Postgame

The Knicks lost to the Detroit Pistons 92-86 for their third consecutive loss.  Here are some thoughts about the game.

1. The Knicks started their fifth different lineup of this young season.  Beno Udrih and Kenyon Martin were the 9th and 10th different player to be in the starting line up.  As Coach Woodson said after the Atlanta game “we don’t have an identity.”  It gets boring having to repeat or find new ways to say the same thing:  the Knicks are a lost team and they need to figure it out quick.

While the season is still young, the lineup shuffling is a massive indictment on the structure of this current team.  If this stretch continues, you have to wonder if last year’s run was a mirage and an everything-went-right-for-us scenario that played out.  The team looked as though they had never practiced with one another- a byproduct of having to work another guy into the rotation.  Beno Udrih had totaled a whopping 20 minutes over the last 9 days.  And that’s only because he played all 20 minutes in a Spurs blowout loss.  That’s right, Mike Woodson started a guy who had not played a single minute in the last three games despite having Pablo Prigioni on the team.  That’s borderline irresponsible on Woodson’s part to try and pull something like that off and attempt to get away with it.

Again its early but there’s tons to touch upon in regards to improvements so let’s see where I can start:

2. Some people asked me what benefit a zone defense would bring to these Knicks and I said its a system that fits this current roster.  Especially if you want to give Amar’e a bigger load of minutes.  Especially if you don’t have a Tyson Chandler to mask Carmelo Anthony’s bad one-on-one defense against fours.  The zone is a bend but don’t break defense which means when played right it can limit the number of wide open shots which is what has plagued the Knicks these last few games.

The fundamental problem with the Knicks is communication.  Guys fight through screens, yet find themselves doubling on a guy that they don’t need to.  I counted four times in the first half that the Knicks unnecessarily doubled a Detroit big man 20 feet away from the basket.  For what?  To go even further, if you give Josh Smith space he will gladly chuck the ball with absolute glee.  The law of percentages say that he won’t hit more than 40% of those shots.  Why even try and pressure a guy who will shoot his team out of a game and force him to do the unselfish thing?  The Pistons are full of guys who struggle with the concept that there is only ONE basketball in play at one time.  Why force guys to pass when they will gladly shoot their team out of a game when they are given daylight?

This game was a tailor made streak buster and the Knicks screwed that up by playing undiscplined and allowing the Pistons wide open shots by not playing their opponent rather than playing the scheme.  The good teams understand their opponents and have a sense of their weaknesses.  Brandon Jennings was clearly not himself because he wasn’t trying to beat the Knicks by himself.  Will Bynum was out.  There were any number of reasons to believe the Knicks could win this game, but once again their team defense and specifically their help defense wasn’t just a step slow, it was non-existent at times.  Guys were no where near the rim as Detroit players were streaking to the hoop at will.  It was embarassing.

The zone defense allows bad one on one defenders to play a specific area of the floor and make teams hesitant to drive into the lane because there will always be someone there.  With the three second rule, you are asking whomever is playing center to be quick enough to enter the picture to deter an offensive player from getting an uncontested look at the basket but at this point its worth trying if only for the sake of “let’s try something different than the current scheme that is clearly NOT working.”

In that scenario, you would have to hide Amar’e and Bargnani because they are just bad help defenders and keep Kenyon Martin on the floor.  At this point the Knicks would probably have to look into Cole Aldrich for a steady diet of minutes IF ONLY for the reinforcement he would provide.  And besides, like teams used to say about playing Shaquille O’Neal, “we need guys who can play six (fouls).”

3. The Knicks are regularly getting beat by a second, third, and fourth option.  Like on the regular these days.  Rather than play the team, the Knicks prepare for the starting five and almost throw up their hands in disbelief when they realize teams have a bench player who also can score.  Its almost beyond belief how terribly overmatched the Knicks seem to be.  They exert so much extra energy into the defensive end on overhelp and over-switching that when the team does swing it to the open man they basically get down on their knees to pray that an NBA player misses a wide open shot.

I know we like to clown a lot of players but most of those guys will hit those shots.  And last night, it was Rodney Stuckey who burned the Knicks.  On four straight possessions he forgot that he was a middling player on a destined to be 30-35 win team.  He must have felt like he was back in high school, doing what he wanted against an overmatched JV squad.  Stuckey bruised the Knicks for 21 points and with each made shot he gained more and more confidence that by the time they decided to stick Stuckey, he was in heat-em-up NBA Jam mode.  Turrible as Sir Charles would say.

4. Losses like last night can make players get frustrated and you saw it in Carmelo’s play.  This was a four play sequence for the Knicks on four consecutive possessions:

Carmelo Miss
Carmelo Technical
Carmelo Offensive foul
Carmelo turnover.

The very next play, Greg Monroe fouled him and replays showed Melo should’ve received the continuation but the referees refused to give him the call because guess what?  Melo had pretty much spent the last twenty minutes of real time complaining to the refs that they weren’t doing a very good job.  Instead of going for a three point play the Knicks left with an extra possession.  The result of those four turnovers?  7 points for the Pistons who went from up one to up eight and a comfortable enough cushion to withstand a minispurt by the Knicks.

Amar’e later picked up a technical himself because Amar’e feels he should never be called for a foul on defense even if half of Detroit can hear him slap somebody’s wrist playing defense.  Add in the fact that you saw players visibly pointing at parts of the paint where Detroit players were routinely blowing by their defenders and having zero resistance at the basket and you have the obvious recipe for disaster.  A team in disarray.  Pick any starry headline you want.  The optimist’s optimist would tell you that its a good sign that the players are visibly upset over their performance because it shows they care. Of course who cares if they show they care if we don’t see tangible results?  We will see if the caring will play out on the court and manifest itself in better overall play.

5.  I’m not ready to place all the blame on coaching and Woodson because he seems as mystified as we all do but it isn’t to say that he shouldn’t have the finger pointed at him.  Woodson’s second full season (if he’s even afforded that) has been symbolized by mismanagement and a severe lack of direction.  Woodson isn’t sure who he trusts and he’s equally clueless about how to fix the issues the team has on defense which tells you that he had no back up plan in the event that Tyson Chandler went down.  The Knicks are an imperfect roster that can only win if their three point shots are going down and the players show a willingness to play coherent defense.  The Knicks have decent defensive players but on the most part they don’t have the personnel to run a system that asks players to know where they should be in the event that one of their teammates will leave their man to help on another player.

Woodson has shown an almost borderline unwillingness to adapt.  Who knows if he’s stubborn or truly believes he can make it work with this roster but the evidence is being played night after night: these guys can’t keep playing this way night after night.  Last year’s experiment of Melo at the four was brought on by injury, not by Woodson having an epiphany to try something different.

It could be that Woodson wants to beat the system into the players and have them work it out on the court rather than switch everything up on defense and then switch back once Chandler comes back.   Again, its early but let’s see what Woodson does to solve the issues that plague the Knicks.

6.  You have to wonder how long a leash Woodson is going to give J.R. Smith who’s had one idiotic dope-head move after another.  I won’t blame the knee surgery after the contract because that falls squarely on the Knicks shoulders.  But the twitter feed, the beef with Brandon Jennings continues the leaguewide rep that he has of a troublemaker and not worth the headache for good teams to have.  It could be that Woodson is trying to be supportive of JR much like he was last year by continuing to run him out there even though he’s playing poorly.  But the fact remains that Smith can not possibly continue to shoot at 28% and expect to keep logging 30-35 minutes a game.  Woodson can’t afford to play him those kind of minutes.

It bears watching though if Woodson is trying to coach him through this rough stretch by continuing to believe in his ability to snap out of it.  Like any streaky shooter you ride the waves of good with the bad and hope that the highs stay longer than the lows.  One thing you have to wonder about though is how the arthroscopic knee surgery is actually affecting his ability to drive to the basket.  JR has been more than content at pulling up for jumpers and playing the perimeter jump shooting game.  He was successful at that last year but only after establishing his ability to drive to the basket and he was always best when he was being aggressive.  He has his bouts with the one on one, over dribbling but it bears watching that as his health returns he will begin to be more aggressive towards the hoop.

7. An interesting point raised by Mike Breen was the void of leadership on this current Knicks team.  Last year’s team had wise sages like Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace and Jason Kidd.  Kidd left to coach the Brooklyn Nets to the ground (good looks Jason!).  Sheed is player/coach-ing the Pistons and Kurt Thomas is a mall cop somewhere.  I’ve always been a guy who believes in that team camraderie/things-you-can’t-quantify stuff that stat geeks like to say they don’t believe in yet are forever to prove using numbers.  This year’s team leader flowchart would have Carmelo Anthony at the top by virtue of calling players only meetings (always a fave of mine, five games into a season), and frankly he’s not ready to lead.  He leads by hoisting up fifteen shots.  You saw it towards the end of the game where Melo was hellbent on taking on the entire Pistons team to bring the Knicks back- heroic yes, but its the biggest complaint Melo detractors have about him.  He doesn’t make his team better, he only betters his stats.

Last year’s team had older players but they had players who could keep guys like J.R. in line and be professional.  If you are looking for Melo to do that, its putting him in a role he’s not fit to play.  I’m not saying that Melo can’t become a better leader, heck anything’s possible, I just think like Michael Jordan trying to run a professional basketball team, he can’t teach his skill to people around him.  He will stand around and expect them to get it and that’s not how to be a leader.  The Knicks could use a few old guys to keep players in check and manage tempers because its showing.  Just another thing the Knicks are lacking this year.

8. And just in time for this big stink-fest are the Indiana Pacers who roll into town with a 9-1 record and the memory of knocking the Knicks out of the playoffs last year.  If the Knicks had any pride, they would compete their hearts out based solely on the memory of being beaten by the Pacers.  But anyone expecting them to protect their home court with their glowing 1-5 mark is almost foolish at this point.  There will be plenty to write about dissecting the Pacers roster construction when compared to the Knicks in my next post but let’s just say that if this whole Melo thing doesn’t work out this year- looking at the Pacers model wouldn’t be so bad.  But who knows, when you expect the Knicks to lose, they pull off a mini-miracle and remain competitive against a good team.

9. Finally, among all the things the Knicks have gone through their front office and owner have reverted back to their old meddling ways and begun to ruin the Knicks from the inside as they love to do.  I can’t tell you strongly enough how much I want James Dolan to sell which probably means he equally wants to keep the team.  I imagine him sitting in his office reading fan mail and crying…..because he’s laughing so hard at all the heartfelt emails asking him to step down or stop fooling around with the personnel guys long enough to allow them to do their jobs.  From hiring someone to tail Woodson to guaranteeing wins in November to sending a cease and desist to his own Knicks cheerleaders (probably because they make people feel good at the Garden and Lord knows we don’t need that) to making a GM change on the eve of the NBA season, its been one thing after another that has kept the constant black eye on the franchise.  At this point what’s the expectation of any kind of normalcy at this point?

10. And sadly I STILL SAY #KNICKSTAPE

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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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Filed under Monday Morning or the other

Monday Morning something or the other- February 14th

I’ve always been a fan of Peter King’s weekly Monday Morning QB article that I decided to use his idea and try to expand it a bit.  I’ve been looking at ways to change the format of the blog to expand my readership and I hope at some point over the next few years, that this idea will atleast spark some of you that read me (I can’t begin to express gratitude to you) to tell your friends so they can tell their friends.  I hope that this new changed up, and perhaps a little more organized, spread will help me attain the one goal that I’ve always sought: world domination.

But on a serious note, if you have any suggestions on ways to make the site better I’m always looking to improve and nothing is fixed on the site.   So feel free to communicate with me at lazyeyeofsports@gmail.com.

I’m sitting here trying to write the article while watching Cee Lo and Gwyneth Paltrow confuse 20,000 in the Staples Center and millions on television as to whether they are watching something real or stuck in a scene from “Inception.”

With that auspicious start, I give you the news that matter to me and I hope everyone else:

MELO WATCH

“Carmelo Anthony said after shootaround that he would ‘take a hard look’ at signing 3-year extension if he’s not dealt by trade deadline.”

@dempseypost Chris Dempsey

With Carmelo watch heading into day ??? Carmelo Anthony scored 50, 29 and 42 but the Nuggets went 1-2 and lost the two games by 5 and 2 points respectively.  Their lone win came against Dallas and they won by a single point.  Amar’e Stoudemire ‘s Knicks went 1-2 and lost by a combined 25 points to the two Los Angeles teams.  So the idea is that the two team up and find a way to beat those teams, right?

That might work, but not if the Knicks decide to trade away the building blocks that will eventually form the heart of the roster.  As much as I would love Melo to join the team right now, this instant, I have enjoyed this season from a basketball perspective because this team has competed.

Which is all New York fans have ever asked for.  This is the city that has the New York Yankees- the most decorated team ever and yet the inner cities of New York make this a basketball town.  This used to be point guard city and most of the talent used to stay within the tri-state area to make it big but its very rare nowadays to see that happen.

With Stoudemire’s presence, that dynamic is changing and we’ve seen that with the St John’s basketball program having a renaissance as well.  Coincedence or not, its good to note that the Knicks are not an embarrassing headline every night for the masses.

But as presently constructed, the Knicks won’t make any noise in the playoffs and as time goes on, Knick fans will grow tired of the bad defense and close call defeats that leave fans heartbroken against much more skilled line ups.  Eventually expectations will far exceed what we see on the court and then we’ll be awoken from this great dream we’ve been treated to.

I think Donnie Walsh realizes this and may be rolling his sleeves to try and trigger a trade, but will Melo be enough and is he the answer?  Only time will tell that.

But in my opinion, I say wait out Carmelo Anthony.  If this past offseason taught me anything its this: New York isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and maybe that’s not enough anymore for athletes to come here and take on the responsibility of bringing this city a championship.  But just because you can’t get the hottest girl at the dance, doesn’t mean you won’t walk away with the right girl.

Think about how much more mature Amar’e is than Lebron and just consider that perhaps one was more mentally capable of handling the pressure than the other.  Maybe decisions will work itself out.  Maybe its time for us to be the Prom King again and let them come to us.  So Melo, either you come in the offseason or you go elsewhere.

Your move.  New York doesn’t need you, you need us.

DOLAN OUT TO TRY AND GET MELO?

“NY will work trade on its terms but knows it can get Melo in free agency. Anyway, Jim Buss has made it clear within org: Bynum is staying.”

@WojYahooNBA Adrian Wojnarowski

Speaking of which, did you hear the joke about the owner who wanted to be his team’s GM?  Well that one’s kind of not that funny because every Knick fan is having a mini panic attack as rumors began flying around about  the Lakers possibly entering the trading fray for Melo by dealing away Andrew Bynum straight up for Melo.

First of all- no.  As much as this trade had sense because of the fact that the Lakers were struggling and word began spreading that perhaps Mitch Kupchak was looking to shake up the roster and make a deal so naturally the Melo magnet attracted trade talks with the Nuggets which are absolutely smoke screens.  According to ace scribe Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, CAA (Melo’s agents) were behind this latest piece of fabric-ated trade talk in order to make the Knicks jump into the pool with both eyes close and make a trade so that they could get him that $65 million extension he may not receive if the new CBA comes out and lowers the salary cap.

I was happy to note that there was no leverage until I read further about reports that Knicks owner James Dolan was going over Donnie Walsh’s head to make a move which I can’t begin to describe how disheartening that is, and maddening at the same time.

Dolan can be blamed for many things like keeping Isiah around for as long as he did/does, but if he were to somehow make this trade happen, I can’t see any competent GM being able to run this team.  And why would they?  After working miracles to put the Knicks in the running for Lebron James, Donnie Walsh has still not been given an extension.

Why would Dolan NOT want to give Donnie Walsh an extension?  The man who pulled a rabbit out of his butt and somehow still made this team somewhat relevant.  These are the kind of non moves that, as a Knick fan, scare the bejeezus out of me and convince me that James Dolan is not from this planet and cares very little to not care at all about what the fans want.  Which is simply: STAY THE EFF OUT OF THE WAY!

VISITING THE GARDEN:

The Knicks had some high profile visitors this past week.  Probably the most anticipated, outside of Kobe, was the arrival of Blake Griffin.  I’ve said this often, but a newbie’s debut at the Garden is a very important rite of passage for every superstar to take that next step.  While he didn’t quite have that game- but I will give him this, he got quite the nod of approval from one of the most respected NBA writers in the game; the Post’s Peter Vecsey wrote a pretty cool profile piece on the budding NBA superstar.

HALL OF LAME

Filled up some vacants in Canton, Ohio. I’m stilled pissed about the HOF selection process. Don’t take it personal. It’s just tough love.

@WhitlockJason Jason Whitlock

Every year, the NFL announces its Hall of Fame class and every year people have problems with who got snubbed and so this year was no different because, let’s face it, there’s never a moment where everyone wholeheartedly agrees with everything- unless it has to do with Tom Brady winning the NFL MVP.  But that’s a discussion for a different day.

For today’s big bowl of beef, I give to you Jason Whitlock’s piece on how he would fix the  Hall’s selection process.

I’m a fan of Whitlock’s work usually but I think he’s a bit unfair in this matter.  I’ve never had the pleasure of sitting in on the meeting and can’t speak on some of his allegations that it’s a network of fat white men who love the power they wield over athletes they may/may not have liked during their playing career.  Maybe Whitlock knows something that I don’t and so he speaks from experience but when thinking about what they have to go through I can’t imagine you could’ve walked out of that room without knowing that you would offend some.

Also Whitlock’s idea is beyond ridiculous.  How is he removing the element of favoritism for popular athletes in his version?   I do agree that the whole idea of limiting each year’s entry to 7 people doesn’t make sense.

My big thing about the hall of fame is this (and this applies to every sport):  if the player can’t pass the five second test then they shouldn’t get in.  Pure and simple.  If you say someone’s name and have to think about his candidacy for longer than 5 seconds then he isn’t a hall of famer.  Hall of Fame has changed into the Hall of Very good and its pretty sad.

One day I’ll expand my thoughts on it but for now, you’ll have to make do with that.

Finally, I save you the bad news for last:

NFL SEASON GOING TO BE DE-LABOR(ED)

Text from plugged-in NFL person: “This CBA has no chance. The owners don’t a deal. Take a break – a month off. You won’t miss anything.”
@AdamSchefter Adam Schefter

You know by now that the NFL is headed towards a strike.  Its one of the most unbelievable situations ever in sports when you consider that there’s only ONE issue that’s keeping a resolution: money.

From what I’ve read and heard, its clear that the gulf separating players and owners is $1 billion.  That’s the amount of money that the owners want before the $9 billion annual pot gets split.  They already receive $1 billion in the current CBA, now they want an extra $1 billion to pay for new facilities and etc.

I have a few problems with that.  One, what is etc?  The players have asked to look at the league’s books to see if they have a valid case to ask for that extra money and the owners have thus far not budged which tells me all I need to know.

Secondly, a majority of these facilities are funded through friendly state programs that give them tax breaks and all sorts of financial mumbo jumbo I won’t get into*.  The players can’t be put on the hook for that.  The owners want newer stadiums to generate more revenue.  For themselves.

*= because I don’t know what I’m talking about.

The other major talking points, in no order of importance:

– Rookie Wage scale-  there’s no reason why untested rookies should make more money than proven veterans.

– 18 game schedule-  with the commissioner leading a revolution against concussions I find it hard for him to then turn around and say, in the interest of fans, that an 18 game schedule makes sense.  Really?  NFL fans think of it this way, most teams already rest players during the last one or two weeks with playoff seeds locked up, now imagine a whole month of Curtis Painter at QB for the Colts or a whole month of Matt Flynn in Green Bay?  I wonder how season ticket holders will feel about being treated to that?  Or how about two more games in which a key player can get injured just in time for the playoffs.  The defending Super Bowl champs, Packers, won with 15 players on IR.  That doesn’t happen all the time.

Players in exchange for 18 games want better health benefits.  Sounds reasonable.  Right now the NFL gives 5 years of insurance for players who leave football.  The NFLPA wants ten.

For now, these two items are the most discussed.  One final note about the 18 game schedule, I’m not in favor of it.  I see no point.  The reason the NFL is the most popular sport is because its appointment television.  The lack of games gives each one a significance.  Why would the NFL want more games and threaten a watered down product come the playoffs?  Staying healthy is so difficult in a sport as physical as football.  Could you imagine this years Super Bowl QB matchup if it were “Charlie Batch vs. Matt Flynn”?  It wouldve been a nightmare game.

I listed how I feel about each.  What about you?  What changes would you want?

The real shame in this match up of billionaires and millionaires is that the regular everyday fan stands to lose.

I was always under the assumption that the NBA was headed to a lockout as opposed to the NFL because the NBA was losing money.  But I lacked the foresight to realize that the NBA HAS to make a deal because it would behoove them.  The talent level has never been better and attendance is rising in the major markets (thanks Blake Griffin and Amar’e Stoudemire).

But the NFL is making too much money and that means that neither side is willing to budge from their spot because they both feel they are the bigger reason for the success.

Buckle up fans, we’re in for a long and bumpy road.

——Other News and Notes————-

With this section thought I’d rattle off some other cool links and worthwhile newstories that I found interesting and it hopefully isn’t with dated material that will grow old and stale with fans.

– A very cool article written by Jason Fray who writes for Fear and faith in Flushing which is a blog about the Mets.  I didn’t just pick his article for that reason although I’m not going to lie- he did win major points for it.  I would agree with what he had to say though in this new age, demand beats out anything.  The writer with the exclusive is the champion and in today’s day and age that guy doesn’t need to be the one with the press pass.  Facing normal citizens in the arena of journalism is as tough these days as it is facing your peers in a who’s got the line up card first.

But I still do manage to follow like twenty beat writers for the Mets.  Overlapping doesn’t bother me one bit.

–       Finally, SI’s Joe Lemire wrote a great article about the origins and cult following of the enduring game that spawned fantasy sports itself: Strat-O-Matic.  The game has a huge following and it still prints and still sells now even having a computerized version.

Follow up note to this piece:  I messaged him on Twitter to tell him good job and also that its not a game I could see myself purchasing because most of my friends/cousins don’t like baseball as much as I do and so I would be left with no one to play the game with (stop laughing) and he replied by saying that he had plenty of games by himself which I’m not ashamed to admit was enough to sell me on the game.

I am an only child.

ON TAP

This week I’m tentatively looking at making two posts.  One will appear either Tuesday or Wednesday which will focus on the five most pressing questions for both the Mets and the Yankees heading into Spring Training.  Also later in the week, if I can figure it out in time perhaps I will be able to do my very first podcast.  Let’s hope it will happen.

Again, this space won’t look like this next week.  I’m in the midst at looking for sponsors and who knows what will happen.  This space is always looking for a bit of change and I may change the whole layout of the piece to make it more aesthetically pleasing and easier to understand all this info that I will be disseminating.

Okay kids, hope you have a Happy Monday and happy Valentine’s Day!

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Why Jimmy?

At this point, I dont want to know the reason.  I don’t care to hear the misguided reasoning of some unnamed worker in MSG who has “knowledge of the situation”  trying to calm the nerves of Knick fans who have waited far too long for this offseason to come, only to have their hearts broken again.

Jordan in the 90’s.  Dolan in the 2000’s.

As if this team has no other corner of the earth to find a consultant, the New York Knicks went back to a very dark past in digging up Isiah Thomas.  Yes, that guy.  This is not a joke, nor is this some kind of rumor.  It’s happened folks and let’s be real about one thing: he’s staying.

When James Dolan finally let his sports celebrity crush leave the Knicks, it was because he had to let him go.  There was no other choice.  But since that day, you just knew that like some star crossed lover, he was always holding on to the chance that someday they would be reunited.

What’s even better about this, is how Knick fans found out: not through some press release stating that, no, through the rumor mill and when they were cornered about it in the press, they fessed up like a kid caught in a candy jar.  They tried to sneak him in through the back door but the security found them.

I genuinely feel wrong bad mouthing Isiah the way I do sometimes, but in the pantheon of bad decision makers, he has his own wing.  He can do no right, because there’s just too many wrongs in that book for him to have room for the good to be on display.

Its all so sneaky and conniving that there are rumors insisting that its a scary proposition that will only get worse.  Imagine, if he can talk his way back into the good graces of the folks in Madison Square Garden, how much higher can he ascend?  Everyone in MSG is saying the right thing, because they don’t want to admit to what they really think:  Isiah has a legit amount of influence over the decision making and his re-entry into that fold comes at a peculiar time when the Knicks face rampant rumors about Donnie Walsh’s health and his potential successor.

Call it paranoia, but there’s legitimate fear that if Isiah Thomas does come back as a consultant, its proof that James Dolan is absolutely clueless about how to run the team he owns.  Rich people are supposed to be smart, I mean they got rich somehow right?  But James Dolan being the son of a rich guy makes perfect sense.  Spoiled.  Entitled.  Hard headed.  Stubborn.  He thinks that just because his father was a success, he is one too.

Sorry Jimmy, it doesn’t work that way.

When I heard about this on the Mike Francesa show, I was shocked to say the least.  Shocked more so that James Dolan was falling for the same trick.  Its like watching one of those episodes of Jerry Springer where a guy comes on, admits to his girl that he’s cheated.  She meets the girl.  They fight.  After the commercial the girl cries, asking why the guy did this to her.  Then there’s another fight.  Then the girl inexplicably comes back to the guy and they leave happily ever after.

Have Isiah and Dolan passed the make up stage?  Are they leaving the show back together?  It must be that way, because how else to explain it?  Dolan’s firing of Isiah and hiring of Donnie Walsh was met with universal praise but Dolan had planted the seed of Isiah’s return a long time ago.

His recruiting skills and his influence over the younger players were so great that word leaked that the Knicks sent Isiah Thomas to speak to Lebron on their behalf.  In fact, reports surfaced recently that he was close to signing a deal with the Knicks before ultimately changing his mind to play with his friends in Miami and Isiah’s presence being a big reason why he would choose the Knicks.  I mean that should’ve been sign number one that Lebron just didn’t get it.  But that’s a topic for another day.

Thomas’ basketball exploits are well laid out.  The guy was one of the best, if not best point guards ever.  Top 50 player of all time and fiercest competitors ever.  But as an executive, one can make the argument that great players should never be trusted to handle the duties of a talent evaluator.  His biggest drafting tool is in finding complementary role players to fill a roster.  He usually strikes out on making deals for starters, but he sure can draft the heck out of a bench.

The Knicks in general don’t need him right now.  They are moving in the right direction.  They fell so far under the cap thanks to Donnie’s wheeling and dealing that they set themselves up for not just this summer, but the next two as well.  They are under the cap enough to pick up a star player in 2011 (Melo anyone?) and in 2012 (CP3 or Deron Williams).  They absolutely stole Anthony Randolph from the Golden State Warriors while shipping David Lee (who is not worth the contract he got from them).  They have filled out their bench nicely and even have a respectable team.  One that you can safely bet can be an 8th seed in a suddenly top heavy Eastern Conference.

They have moved on from the negativity that surrounded the Isiah Thomas era.  Stephon Marbury is in China playing ball.  Eddy Curry’s fat carcass has only a year left to torment us.  Say hi to Gordon Heyward (the Hoosiers guy from Butler), the guy the Jazz picked in the slot the Knicks were supposed to pick at.  Anuch Brown Sanders is sitting on some beach chair toasting to herself.

All that’s gone, and despite striking out on Lebron, there’s a sense that the Knicks are on the right track.

So why now?  Why do this to a loyal fan base who stayed true believing we’d be given a King and ended with a one legged power forward who’s about one poke in the eye away from being blind?  Why do this to a proud city that has done nothing but support them through all of this on the belief that it was a necessary evil to endure?

While the questions remain asked, there is no response.  Because nothing about this makes sense.  James Dolan can’t possibly give you enough of a reason to do something like this.  Something that can potential disillusion even the most die hard of fans.  Its a move that needs, no forget that, REQUIRES an explanation.  At some point, the Knicks can’t possibly believe that we’re stupid enough to go with whatever they say.

But here we are, awake in August as if we went back in time to 2003.  Isiah Thomas in Madison Square.  Ready to trade away future draft picks for the chance to get a mediocre talent.  Let’s be real.  The Knicks are going backwards with this move.  Nothing about this screams progress unless Isiah has completely changed and righted the ship.

But that would be too tough to think that could happen.  Knicks fans don’t deserve this.  At this point, what more can be said about an owner who’s completely lost touch with reality and what the reality brings with re-hiring Isiah Thomas for any position.  I don’t blame Isiah for this mess, I blame the guy that Knicks fans should’ve been booing from the get go, James Dolan.  He’s not only ruined the Knicks, he takes on cable networks, blacks them out on his service provider and then creates a frustrated customer base in its wake.  Yes, I’m blaming that on him as well.

This nightmare won’t end well Knicks fans.  Even if you believe I’m blowing this out of proportion, think about it this way: if you know a stove is hot and you touch it once and it burns you severely, how dumb do you look if you keep burning yourself?  At some point, the pity that people had over the punishment for your curiosity will wear off and it will turn into frustration and anger.  I can sense Knicks fans slowly turning.

At some point Dolan will find it hard to walk the streets of NYC without needing to hide for cover.  One nightmare only deserves another, don’t you think?

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