Tagged: Alan Hahn

When The Story Becomes The Story

I wish this post was about the Knicks gearing up for a playoff run. It’s not. It’s the twilight of yet another miserable Knicks season and instead of the team, the story has become the story. It has been a bitter year on many fronts: A lot of consternation has flowed in a dizzying array of directions: Players to coach; coach to players; players to media; coaches to media; media to management; media to coaches; blogs to all of it. Losing will bring out the worst in everyone pulled into the franchise’s orbit.

From a fan’s perspective, the most despicable aspect of the last decade or so has indisputably been the play on the court. The next is the mismanagement. Then comes the press corps. At its best, the Knicks’ beat is intelligent, analytical, honest. At its worst it is defensive, dishonest, demeaning to its readers, hypocritical. Some of the writers fall consistently into the first category. Others into the second. Sometimes, rarely, they change hats.

This is a theme that has recurred in this space. It has been touched upon elsewhere but judging by some comments and tweets, I’ve probably developed a reputation as the guy who takes the writers to task when I think they deserve it. I call them out when they publish propaganda, when they fail to fact check, when they fail to recognize obvious truths to suit the predetermined direction of their coverage, and when they lie to get start a controversy in an effort to get a sound byte that will help them sell papers. For example, when:

It should come as no surprise that certain publications are featured prominently in this list while others are conspicuously absent. That makes it all the more puzzling that of all the writers who cover the Knicks, it was Alan Hahn of Newsday who was the prickliest about Tracy McGrady’s assertion that “you guys”, e.g., the press, will keep players away from New York. Hahn took exception, writing:

Apparently NBA players prefer hero worship over raw honesty and unfettered opinion. They prefer the big fish/small pond ratio in smaller markets, where the coverage has the intensity of a street light.

NBA players who relish a challenge should most definitely be willing to subject themselves to the spotlight. But what about the interrogation lamp? That’s why I’m not sure it’s really Hahn that McGrady had in mind. Hahn continued:

How should this team be covered at this point? Should we just shrug when Eddy Curry continually gets injured and yet still makes every single road trip, pocketing per diem and enjoying the free travel?

I can’t disagree with Hahn that if players are upset about the coverage that exposes:

  1. Eddy Curry for failing to properly condition himself for the rigors of the NBA despite collecting an $11 million salary; or
  2. Larry Hughes for pouting the night of a monster 43 point win over the Pacers; or
  3. Darko Milicic for wanting the Knicks to cut him, and let him return to Europe while still guaranteeing him his full paycheck; or
  4. Nate Robinson likely instructing his agent to complain in the midst of the Knicks’ best month in a decade; or
  5. their general and individual poor play in a losing season;

then that is a problem with the players and not the writers. But I think McGrady may have been referring more to the unfair treatment some writers bestow on some players (and the coaches, and management), the most glaring examples of which I’ve referenced above.

You better believe it’s a circus.

And McGrady isn’t the only one holding that opinion. Hahn points out that Ron Artest said that players are “scared of the fans and the media”. And Chris Bosh stated his distaste for the Knicks’ beat too.

It’s hard to tell if Hahn was sticking up for his colleagues or just himself. Without naming names, probably as a professional courtesy, he wrote:

I can’t speak for everybody in this business, but I can say there is not supposed to be agenda in any of this. It’s merely unbiased observations from those closest to the team without being part of the team. Most of us ask questions not because we don’t know the answers, we ask them because we DO know the answers.

Look, some of that is true. For Hahn, it certainly is. But even if Hahn asks honest questions seeking honest answers, let’s not pretend that there aren’t others who carefully engineer loaded, indefensible questions to solicit a frustrated response – to make news. You can’t honestly suggest that no writers have an agenda. Not when we’re still getting updates about what Stephon Marbury thinks about the Knicks. Not when they are openly calling for the Coach’s head (are journalists supposed to report the story or be a part of it?). There are plenty of fans who recognize that Mike D’Antoni has not been perfect, not even close, but are tired of reading diatribes, insulting to their intelligence, positing that all of the blame falls at the Coach’s feet. Will Berman, who had D’Antoni up in slings when he benched Nate Robinson refer to Nate’s latest benching with the Celtics as “Nate-Gate”? Will he recognize, as every single one of Nate’s pro coaches has that Nate’s best spot may be the end of the bench?

The Knicks are out of the playoffs because D’Antoni didn’t play Darko? Really? Is it truly a meaningful issue that Mike D’Antoni didn’t coddle Larry Hughes and Eddy Curry enough?

Marc, we know you’re worried that people aren’t going to pay attention to you if the Knicks aren’t good, but don’t you have some sort of professional responsibility as a journalist?

And as for Isola: look, we get it, the Knicks have PR people who follow you around with blackberries and take notes. Get the hell over it already. You’re a journalist, don’t let it taint your coverage. Fans want intelligent, honest coverage, not someone with a vendetta pledging to make things right for the time the Knicks “screwed me over.”

For all of the professionalism supposedly absent from the Knicks organization, from the coaching staff to the players (and yes, some of the players don’t know what that word means), the last ones to judge should be those who call their assignment “a gulag”, or “depressing”, and who pine for the old Checketts days when the Knicks treated the beat writers to a catered trips on yachts. Guess what Frank? I don’t get catered trips on yachts at my job either but I don’t elevate that grievance over my duties.

Granted, the good one’s like Hahn, Steve Adamek and Howard Beck are honest. They’re professional. They can have their negative opinions of the organization, as immortalized in the New York Observer article, without letting it cloud their work product. Marc Berman and Frank Isola are driven by personal issues and it’s a waste of time to argue otherwise.

These are circling vultures waiting to twist words and parse statements and misrepresent them, and take them out of context. They do this in order to generate enough controversy to satisfy a decade old grudge, or satiate some narcissistic thirst for attention/sell papers for News Corp. Despite their presence, you can understand why a player like LeBron James would put up with it anyway. He has an empire he wants to build and New York may be the best place to do it.

For an average or even above average player though, all other things are more or less equal. So what is there to gain by subjecting yourself to the daily dishonesty and mind bending disingenuousness? I have some news for the writers on the beat that hate their jobs and take it out on the organization. LeBron might not come, and if McGrady, Artest and Bosh represent the feelings of the rest of the players in the league, you’ve got a number of “depressing” years left in this “gulag”.

Players See Logic In Donnie’s Plan, Even If Some Fans Don’t

It’s a year and a half into Donnie Walsh’s two year rebuild and the Knicks’ record isn’t substantially better than it was last year. But it was never supposed to be. The primary goal all along, according to Donnie, was to clear out cap space. The secondary goal was always to try to be competitive. By definition, when the priorities clash, the first takes precedence. That’s what’s happened in Donnie’s reign so far. Otherwise the Knicks would still have Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford, and maybe Ramon Sessions.

And as we’ve noted for some time, another year of sub .500 basketball is and has been a difficult pill to swallow for some people. For the folks who want the Knicks to spend money and take on contracts so they can try to win now, the main flaw in the Knicks’ plan is that star free agents aren’t going to want to join a perpetual lottery team.

We’ve always argued that when a star joins a team, that team stops being a lottery team. For example, is Miami without Dywane Wade any better than, say, the Nets? Are the Nets with Dywane Wade better than the Knicks? How would the Cavs do minus LeBron? This isn’t an untestable hypothesis. Two short years ago, a hobbled Dywane Wade played in just 51 games for the Heat. They won 15 games that entire year. In 1996-97, David Robinson played in 6 games for the Spurs. They won 20 games. This type of logic has always been lost on certain fans, and oddly, media outlets like ESPN.

But it isn’t lost on the players.

Last week, Chris Bosh said of the Knicks 2010 roster:

…in order to get certain guys you have to make room…So there’s no telling what kind of team will be here next year.

But even if the same core takes the floor next year, if a player like LeBron comes – as we’ve said over and over in this space – he’ll be joining a squad superior to the current Cavs. The Cavs squeaked by the Lakers on Thursday. Without LeBron they would have been blown out. The Lakers edged out the Knicks in the 4th quarter the next day, and even though the Lakers were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, if LeBron was on the Knicks, the Knicks would have dismantled the Lakers.

But don’t take my word for it. In another example of how players understand that stars make all the difference, and that supporting casts are just different degrees of mediocre most of the time, Ron Artest said [via Hahn]:

“Actually, I thought about that yesterday…If you take LeBron off [the Cavs], no.  They’re not [a playoff team]. No.”

Of course, even without LeBron, the Knicks still might be.

Knicks Fan’s EPIC Poll

We’ve gotten a lot of demand to bring back our defunct confidence rating. We’ve wanted to, but we also wanted to do something different. Well here is what we’ve decided to do.

We are going to have many polls designed to gauge the fans pulse about various and specific Knicks topics. Rather than just a confidence rating (which we’ll still have), we are going to assess and track your thoughts on the following categories:

  • Overall direction of the team
  • Backcourt
  • Frontcourt
  • Starters
  • Depth
  • PG
  • SG
  • SF
  • PF
  • C
  • Specific players
  • Coaching
  • Management
  • Media coverage

We’ll update the polls once per week and track them graphically. You have until Friday of each week to vote on the previous week.

If you ever need to find the poll page, you can click the “POLLS” in the page links above or the new “Knicks Fan’s EPIC Poll” link on the sidebar.

Let us know in the comments if there is anything else you’d like to see measured.

We’re kicking off this ambitious project right…now!

[poll id=”1″]

[poll id=”2″]

[poll id=”3″]

[poll id=”4″]

[poll id=”5″]

[poll id=”6″]

[poll id=”7″]

[poll id=”8″]

[poll id=”9″]

[poll id=”10″]

[poll id=”11″]

[poll id=”12″]

[poll id=”13″]

[poll id=”14″]

[poll id=”15″]

Kobe: New York Ripe For A “Flashy, Marquee Guy”

Last night, during an interview with some NY beat writers, (including Alan Hahn), Kobe Bryant observed that 2010 free agency “will be interesting” because the Knicks “[ha]ve never had one of the flashy, marquee guys, going back even to the teams that won championships. They were always teams that kind of never had one star. So this would be the first time they had one of those guys.”

Now, this is a sensitive topic because we all love Patrick, and fans of my dad’s generation cherish the Holzman, championship teams and everything they stood for, but I think it’s a fair point and, incidentally, it’s something that Dan and I have discussed in the past when assessing the likelihood that Kobe himself would come to New York.

If you all remember it was only a couple years ago that Kobe demanded a trade because he was furious with the Lakers and totally dissatisfied with the direction of the team. And despite the ridiculous circus surrounding the Knicks, Kobe expressed interest in coming to New York and the Knicks were even perceived in some corners as a serious contender for his services.

At the time, I thought (and still think) that Kobe’s interest in joining the Knicks was legitimate. And it made perfect sense to me for precisely the reason that he cited to the Knicks beat writers yesterday: though the Knicks have a rich history and have experienced great success as a franchise, the franchise has never had that singular, transcendent player as its centerpiece.

I don’t mean that as a slight to the many great players that have donned orange and blue, and I don’t think Kobe meant it that way when he spoke yesterday either. The Knicks of the 60s and 70s played some of the best team basketball in NBA history, but their identity was that of a consummate team. And Ewing was a franchise player and a warrior, but no one would suggest that he was in the same class as Jordan, Magic, Bird, and Kobe. Those players are basketball messiahs. They bring a unique salvation, and the trajectory of franchises and their fan bases are forever altered by their coming. Ewing was billed to be that when he was chosen first overall in 1985, but he was not that.

Lebron could be that. The question is where.

In 2007, when Kobe thought he might leave the Lakers, I think he took a look around the league and percieved that there had been no Kobe-esque basketball messiah in the history of the NBA’s flagship franchise, which also happens to reside in the biggest media market in the entire world. He surmised that he could be to New York what MJ was to Chicago. Unsurprisingly, for someone like Kobe Bryant, the prospect of filling that void for the most zealous (and thirstiest) congregation of basketball worshippers in the world was incredibly alluring.

So when Kobe assesses the landscape for 2010 knowing that the void still exists, I believe he views NYC as the only place for Lebron. And you can bet that if Kobe were standing in Lebron’s shoes this summer, he’d be Broadway bound.

Now we just have to hope Lebron sees it that way too.

Nate’s Wide Open

By the end of last season it was pretty clear that the coaching staff had seriously soured on Nate Robinson  (given his sometimes ridiculous behavior and selfish play,  it wasn’t surprising) and that he was standing on his last legs as a New York Knick. When this offseason rolled around, because Nate was unable to find a long-term deal and the team was unable to find a replacement, he re-upped on 1 year contract. (Tangentially, we’re going to go ahead and not believe him when he says he wasn’t interested in signing a big money, long-term deal with another team.)

Clearly, this marriage between team and player was borne out of necessity.

But all’s not lost for Nate. Because despite his maddening tendencies to dominate the ball, slack off on D, celebrate excessively and lose all control of his emotions, he’s AMAZINGLY talented. Nate is 5’8 and has the ability to average an efficient 20, 5 and 5 in the NBA. That’s really astonishing. And yesterday, while Mike D’Antoni wasn’t exactly throwing bouquets, he did throw Nate a bone:

“That’s why [Nate and the Knicks are] on a one-year contract. That’s why we’ve won 32 games,” D’Antoni said after practice. “If Nate gets it and we get it, we can get in the playoffs and the guys can find homes. I think that’s everyone’s goal.”

“The guy could average a lot of points. If he concentrates and keeps his mind in the game, his numbers should go way up and he should make us a winner.”

Nate is going to have a great opportunity this season. The Knicks need him badly and, even though it’s clear that D’Antoni doesn’t trust him, he still views him as one of the most important members of the team. Important enough, in fact, that he believes that some improvement from Nate could lead to a playoff berth.

Despite all the heartache last season, D’Antoni still believes in Nate’s talent. And he wants to be in his corner. Here’s hoping Nate gives him a reason.

Hahn: Knicks Not In Sessions

Yesterday, Alan Hahn discovered through one of his sources that the Knicks did not make an offer to RFA PG Ramon Sessions, nor will they without first offloading an albatross contract (you know which ones). This was contrary to what he’d been told by a different source the day before. Hahn is now hearing that the Knicks would still love to add Sessions, but not at the expense of any precious 2010 cap space.

It’s sometimes hard to tell which source to believe when there’s conflicting information being tossed around like this but, in this case, Hahn clearly seems to feel that his clarification yesterday is more accurate. Just applying logic to the situation, the second story just feels a lot like the truth.

You know we like Ramon Sessions a lot in this space and we were early advocates that DW ought to make a big push to bring him in. He’s a young player with a good upside and he’d fit well with the young pieces the team has already assembled. However, when you consider Lebron’s refusal to sign an extension, his comments to ESPN that aired this past Sunday, and the fact that his shoe deal also expires after this season  (I wonder if Nike will have any thoughts on where he should sign, hmm…) Donnie simply can’t afford to ignore these signals and  jeopardize his shot at the best player on the planet.

That’s not to say Donnie’s without blame here. His decision to forgo the opportunity to offload Jeffries at the deadline last season is indefensible and now it’s come home to roost. He badly misjudged the Knicks’ chances at making the playoffs and, truth be told, making the playoffs last season should never have been his priority in the first place. The reality is, if DW had consummated the trade, the Knicks would have their PG of the future right now. Be it Sessions, Curry, Rubio or Flynn. Because not only would the trade have freed up some cap space, it may also have cost the Knicks a couple of extra wins last season and netted them a higher lottery pick.

At this point, though, that’s all just crying over spilt milk. What’s done is done. And with Lebron looming on the horizon, unless Donnie can clear some room, the Knicks just have to let Sessions go.

Lee Chicago Bound? (UPDATE)

UPDATE: Loyal Knicks-FanBlogger Slumdogballer posted a rumor that he had heard from a contact at the Garden in the comments a little while ago:

I think there might be something more to this then just Chicago being interested in David Lee.

I think a deal like this is being cooked up:

D Lee to Chicago
Hinrich to Portland
Bayless/pick to NY

Well,  apparently Alan Hahn is now hearing the things as Slumdog. Big time hat tip for having the scoop and posting it here.

Hahn’s latest post covers the Bulls rumors and the latest on Ramon Sessions.  It’s must read stuff.

* * *

Marc Stein and Alan Hahn are both reporting that the Knicks have begun the process of reviewing proposals for sign-and-trades involving David Lee. Stein had this to say:

Details remain scarce, but David Lee’s name is finally starting to come up again more often now that pretty much all the top unrestricted free agents apart from Odom and Andre Miller have been signed. With summer league ball behind us, the free-agent focus starts to shift to restricted free agents like Lee.

The problem? Unless Portland uses its cap space to make him an offer, Lee will be relying on the Knicks to cooperate in a sign-and-trade arrangement. And it’s believed that New York is determined to retain Lee and Nate Robinson on one-year deals that preserve full Bird rights for both players without obligating the Knicks to slice into their projected salary-cap space for 2010 free agency.

But one well-placed insider volunteered this tip when it comes to Lee’s situation: “Keep your eye on Chicago.”

Hahn chimed in on his twitter page:

David Lee situation still looms for Knix. Teams lining up in S&Ts. @STEIN_LINE_HQ sez da Bulls are in the mix. Will have more on this later.

I think it’s safe to say that any deal with Chicago would almost certainly involve Ty Thomas coming back to the Knicks. If DW was somehow able to also pawn off Jeffries or Curry on the Bulls in exchange for an expiring, the trade would be a huge win. And the cap savings for 2010 could conceivably open the door for the Knicks to make a multi-year offer to Sessions or some other free agent PG.

(By the way, what is it with the Knicks and the Bulls? There’s a whole mess of teams in the NBA, but it seems like these two only ever want to trade with each other. When Isiah was here you could write it off as part of his Chicago thing, but now he’s gone and yet the attraction persists. Strange…)

That said, Stein also reported in his column, as David Aldridge did yesterday, that his sources are telling him that the Knicks are no longer interested in Sessions:

It’s starting to look as though Milwaukee restricted free agent Ramon Sessions might have to settle for an offer that does not start at the full midlevel exception price of $5.9 million, with sources insisting that the Knicks are no longer chasing Sessions and that Oklahoma City is reluctant to use any of its salary-cap space to pursue the point guard.

The Clippers remain highly interested in Sessions. There are persistent rumblings that they prefer him to Allen Iverson in every category apart from box-office appeal. The Bucks, meanwhile, remain prepared to match offers on Sessions … to a point.

I’m hoping Stein has bad information here because I think Sessions would be a really nice addition to the young core the team seems to be building.

Wizards Trade Buzz Gaining Steam (UPDATED)

Alan Hahn reported this morning that the Knicks have engaged in some trade discussions with the Wizards concerning Larry Hughes and Jared Jeffries. Evidently Chad Ford is hearing very similar things because he posted the following this evening on ESPN:

Second, the Knicks have had talks with the Wizards about acquiring the No. 5 pick. If the Knicks draft a point guard there, they’d likely go in another direction with their second first-round pick. Their offer was Larry Hughes for Etan Thomas and Mike James and the fifth pick. The Wizards were once high on Hughes and are in the market for a veteran player who can propel the team to a championship right now. They’d save some money in the deal, get a player who could help them … but is that enough for the No. 5 pick?

Frankly, I’d be absolutely floored if Larry Hughes can really net you the 5th pick in the NBA draft, no matter how weak it’s believed to be. If this rumor came to fruition, though, of course I’d be ecstatic. The other day we all discussed permutations of what the Knicks could do with two lottery picks here and here.

This nugget about a Wizards deal was actually a tangent to the main point of Ford’s entry which was to discuss what direction the Knicks might take if they stayed put at 8. This afternoon in his latest mock Ford projected that the Knicks would select Brandon Jennings with the 8th pick (heaven forbid) but is reporting tonight that Jrue Holiday’s second workout, which was held earlier today, went much better than his first. Chad believes that, should primary targets Rubio, Curry, Evans, and Jordan Hill already be gone, Holiday may have overtaken Jennings on the Knicks board and is now very much in the mix to be the pick at 8.

UPDATE: Hahn is still on top of the situation and confirms through multiple sources that the Knicks offer would indeed include Chandler in addition to Hughes. With the 5th pick the Knicks would take Stephen Curry or Tyreke Evans and take Gerald Henderson or DeMar DeRozan with the 8th pick to replace Chandler, unless Jordan Hill is available.

From Around the Knicks-O-Sphere

This morning’s draft rumblings from the beat:

  • Star-Vermin tells us that the Knicks would have interest in Rubio if he slid all the way down to 8th. Earth-shattering stuff. POST EXCLUSIVE?

Curry Turning Skeptics to Converts

First Hahn. Then Reina. And now Tommy Dee.

We’ve been spreading the Curry-love pretty liberally around here going all the way back to January but now some serious group-think is starting to set in. If Berman ever backs him I think we may have to seriously consider switching our support to a different prospect.