Tagged: Chris Duhon

If Only The Knicks Had Darko, Kurt Rambis, Or Both

We liked Marc Berman’s latest blog entry over at the New York Post so much that we asked him to come over to our site and expand on his thoughts (Note, this is a parody, Marc Berman did not write the entry below, but I’m in tune to his special brand of propagandistic muck-raking, so I know that if the Bermanator did write a guest spot for us, it would go a little something like this:)

Darko Milicic has exactly one more ring than Mike D’Antoni, so who would have been more crucial to the Knicks’ success going forward? The guy with the ring obviously. The second overall pick behind LeBron James and ahead of Carmello Anthony earned that ring playing a key role for the Detroit Pistons during their 2004 championship run. He averaged 4.6 minutes, 1.4 points and 1.3 boards. Without those contributions, the Pistons might not have even made the playoffs. But the Pistons, for some reason, gave up on Darko. What a waste. They traded him to the Orlando Magic where he averaged career highs in points (8) and rebounds (6.1). Then the Magic inexplicably gave up on Darko Milicic. Who knows why. Morons. He signed a free agent deal with Memphis, where the Grizzlies gave up on him. For some reason. I bet they wish they still had him, since now they are left with second overall pick Thabeet “patrolling” the paint. If only the Knicks had Thabeet. Alas, that’s a topic for another day.

Anyway…

Then after all those teams gave up on Darko, Mike D’Antoni made the inexcusable, indefensible coaching decision to give up on Darko. D’Antoni apparently thought Darko was lazy and mailed it in. There’s no credibility to that assertion. I know Tommy Dee routinely noticed that Darko was always the first player off the court after practice, but what does he know, he’s just a blogger.

What was D’Antoni thinking???

Sadly, since D’Antoni folded his hand, Donnie Walsh traded Darko to the Timberwolves, a team Darko has powered to a STAGGERING 1-15 record since the trade while averaging 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN OURS!!!! If Mike D’Antoni knew how to properly value his players the Knicks could be more like the 14 win Timberwolves, who astutely drafted Johnny Flynn and Ricky Rubio.

And Darko has found so much success in Minnesota because they know how to treat their players. In fact, Darko, who was pining to get back to Europe when he had to collect his mammoth game checks to do nothing in New York, now wants to stay in the NBA. But only if the team guarantees him the 30-35 minutes he’s earned by carrying them to a .062 winning percentage.

If D’Antoni only had a clue, the Knicks would probably have at least 50 wins by now, all due to Darko’s dominant scoring and boardwork. And if he never planned on using the guy, at least the Knicks could have still had Quentin Richardson, who is averaging a Darko-esque 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in a shade under 30 minutes for the Heat. Another chance at 50 wins squandered! Ugh!

Donnie put together a title contender for Mike D’Antoni. But D’Antoni didn’t play the studs. Darko? Banished! Hughes? Banished! Nate? Banished during Nate-gate (“haters” might say the Knicks had their best month in close to a decade during this time. But that is just a “fact”, which we don’t value over here at News Corp.)! Curry? Banished! Here’s what the Knicks could have been if not for that know-nothing D’Antoni:

PG: Duhon or Marbury

SG: Nate

SF: Hughes

PF: Darko

C: Curry

You mean to tell me that this squad wouldn’t have more than the 26 wins the currently mismanaged group sports? Please. The problem in New York isn’t the lack of talent of the players, it’s the lack of talent of the head coach, who should’ve played Darko at center for his added 5 boards instead of their current all-star center. Case closed. I’m smart.

Who Would Want To Play For THAT Team?

It’s getting a little tiresome trying to defend the Knicks from the same old criticisms. I mean, the Knicks have 21 wins and just lost to the 7 win Nets for the second time this season. But as often as folks keep bringing up the same arguments (and it’s become even more fashionable, somehow, to pile on), I’ll keep responding the same way.

The latest volley comes from Mitch Lawrence who posits:

Once he saw the score from the Garden Saturday night, LeBron James must have said to himself, “That’s it. There’s no way I’m leaving Cleveland for that disaster.”

Once he saw that the Knicks had allowed 113 points to a Nets team that’s dead last in scoring in the NBA, Chris Bosh must have thought, “How am I going to turn that team around at the defensive end?”

(emphasis mine).

What is that hypothetical team Lawrence writes about? Is he referring to Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Toney Douglas? Because those players are the only ones with more than just a coin toss’ chance to be around after the summer.

In response to LeBron’s hypothetical dismissal, I think the team is certainly a disaster, but in part it’s because LeBron or another star caliber talent isn’t on it. To illustrate, last night LeBron James sat out, and the Cavs, who have the best record in the NBA, couldn’t beat the Bucks, who, at 4 games over .500 currently occupy the 6th seed. Even with LeBron though, the Knicks wouldn’t have Shaq to protect the paint, or even Anderson Varejao for that matter.

To answer Bosh’s question, I’d say something like “Fake Bosh, I never realized you had such a low opinion of your defensive abilities.” I think it’s likely that Bosh would answer Fake Bosh’s question by saying, “Well, if someone gets by LeBron on the perimeter, I’ll contest the shot inside.” Obviously that’s if Plan A prevails. But the concept remains the same if its Joe Johnson outside and Marcus Camby and/or others inside.

But Lawrence’s article is more about Mike D’Antoni. The thesis is that free agents are scared that if they join Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks, their defensive abilities are going to wither, brown, and crumble to dust. I think they know that’s not true.

Earlier this week, Frank Isola took a shot at D’Antoni’s coaching by asking hypothetically whether the Bucks have so much more talent than the Knicks. Maybe, but what they definitely do have is Andrew Bogut. A legitimate 7 footer who blocks shots and protects the paint, and abuses guys like David Lee on the offensive end too. And they have Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who actually takes pride in his defense and doesn’t care about his numbers. [1] And yes they have Scott Skiles, who has made a career out of squeezing 5 or 6 extra wins out of low-talent teams by employing a no-nonsense boot-camp strategy that inevitably grates on players who in turn quit on him after about three years.

I’m trying to make the point that when someone smokes Eddie House or Nate Robinson or Sergio Rodriguez or Al Harrington or Chris Duhon, and then David Lee just stands there, what is Mike D’Antoni supposed to do? Yell? Make practice 2 hours longer? Replace Lee with Bender or Eddy Curry?

D’Antoni has a reputation as an offensive innovator whose style doesn’t translate into wins in the playoffs. Two trips to the conference finals say differently. In one of those trips, the Suns lost to the eventual champion Spurs in 7 games in a series where game three was horribly officiated by Tim Donaghy. [2][3] Also the numbers say differently. The Suns, when D’Antoni coached them, were always near or at the league average for points allowed per 100 possessions, a statistic that adjusts for pace.

But that is also besides the point because the only opinions that matter are those of the marquee players in this summer’s free agency bonanza. And they already know what kind of coach Mike D’Antoni is. They’ve all already won a championship playing for him.


______________

[1] The Knicks did have Jeffries, but he was getting paid too much. Plus, they looked a lot better with him on the defensive end didn’t they?

[2]From Bill Simmons: “Congratulations to Greg Willard, Tim Donaghy and Eddie F. Rush for giving us the most atrociously officiated game of the playoffs so far: Game 3 of the Suns-Spurs series. Bennett Salvatore, Tom Washington and Violet Palmer must have been outraged that they weren’t involved in this mess. Good golly. Most of the calls favored the Spurs, but I don’t even think the refs were biased — they were so incompetent that there was no rhyme or reason to anything that was happening. Other than the latest call in NBA history (a shooting foul for Ginobili whistled three seconds after the play, when everyone was already running in the other direction), my favorite moment happened near the end, when the game was already over and they called a cheap bump on Bruce Bowen against Nash, so the cameras caught Mike D’Antoni (the most entertaining coach in the league if he’s not getting calls) screaming sarcastically, “Why start now? Why bother?” What a travesty. Not since the cocaine era from 1978-1986 has the league faced a bigger ongoing issue than crappy officiating.”

[3] Judge for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvkKdXLwt0U

Nate To Regain Starting Job

Chris Duhon has continued to play completely lifeless basketball, so Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni will replace him in the starting lineup with Nate Robinson, who, for the most part, has played effectively over the last several weeks, including last night.

This is surely a move many of Robinson’s fans will welcome, and at this point, with the Knicks ten games under .500 and fading, I have no reason to oppose it. I’m sure Chris Duhon is a good guy, but almost any option is better than him the way he’s played.

Nate started 11 games last year and is about to regain that role. Though he averaged 21 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5 assists in those games, the Knicks went 3-8. Here’s hoping things turn out better this time. It’s not like they’ve been better with Duhon lately.

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!

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New York 93, Portland 84

The Garden felt different tonight as I settled into my seat. The arena was nearly full, and with the swelling mass came a familiar but long forgotten warmth, nay, heat, of a buzzing Garden crowd. It was the stifling air that I so have so rarely experienced in this lost decade. And when I realized that the buzz comes not from the crowd, but from the energy exerted on the hardwood, the remembrance of how this place could truly impact my spirit shattered through the melancholy cynicism that had glazed over me during those hard years.

The Knicks’ effort was there, and the atmosphere was electric. The players fed it, and it fed the players, and it reminded me of why I love basketball, and the Knicks, and why I never stopped coming to games, and why I’ve never given up hope, and why I won’t.

***

Yes, the shots were falling tonight, but to me it was the defense that won the game against the Trailblazers. Hell, David Lee blocked a shot in the fourth quarter to help stifle a Portland run. But the shining example of sacrifice on the D manifested itself by way Jared Jeffries, who drew several charges, blocked two shots, had two steals. Of late, Jeffries has been playing all league defense.

He also hit a key outside jumper to keep the Knicks’ impressive third quarter run alive, and had 4 rebounds, all offensive. That kind of hustle is something that hearkens back to the hard-knock 90s when the team was more about effort than talent and every possession counted.

I understand if this effusive praise of Jared sounds a bit odd coming from me, as I have been as hard on him as anyone. But unlike so many bloggers, beat guys, and many commenters (not our regulars), I, like Tommy Dee, want to hold myself accountable when I’m wrong.

Is it possible that Jeffries is next to worthless on a bad team that can’t capitalize on his abilities, while on a good team, his strengths are magnified? I think we’re seeing that scenario play itself out in what will hopefully continue to be a tale of two seasons.

***

I continue to like what I see out of Harrington, Hughes, Lee, Gallinari, and yes, even Duhon in this recent stretch. Harrington and Hughes were both off from the field, but it didn’t effect their focus on the floor. Harrington had seven rebounds and played strong D, with several deflections and a nice block. Hughes was a steady hand and was aggressive when it counted at the end of the game. Lee continues his excellent efficiency on offense with 17 points on nine shots, while also contributing 10 boards and the aforementioned surprising block.

Speaking of blocks, the Knicks have a guy who regularly blocks shots, and it’s Gallinari. He’s averaging 1.3 blocks in 5 games this month. I don’t expect him to ever be an intimidator but don’t say he isn’t capable of playing, or doesn’t want to play on-ball D. Obviously we know his other skills. He had a sweet assist to David Lee during the big third quarter run off an aggressive drive. He also hit a ice-cold three from straight-away after Portland turned a 23 point lead into an 9 point one, and on the next play hit a cutting Larry Hughes for a layup. He was +14. When can we stop pointing out that he was worth his draft selection?

Duhon, while still not an all world point guard, is definitely not the player he was through the first few weeks of the season. He’s much better. He’s not pressing as much, he’s actually hitting some of his lay-ups, he’s taking less out of rhythm deep threes, and he’s a steadying influence on the offense. He still misses open guys, he’s still shooting poorly, but he’s playing better, and it’s amazing how much of a difference that can make.

***

The game got a little too tight for my liking in the fourth quarter. The Knicks aren’t going to be spotted that cushion every game, but basketball is a game of runs and I guess I would have been surprised if one of the better teams in the Western Conference didn’t have a run in them.

***

It has been roughly 3 weeks since the demoralizing loss to the Golden State Warriors and since then the Knicks have had six losses, but only one real stinker (to the Kings). There was one loss by two to the Celtics. There was one by three to Denver. The Knicks played great ball in both. There was a loss to the Lakers which was a game in which the Knicks did not look all that impressive for most of the game but kept it interesting. And there were two losses to the Magic, the other Conference Champion, who the Knicks scrappily tried to fight but who just outmatch the Knicks.

There were also six wins, including against teams they are supposed to beat, like the Nets and Pacers, but also against some of the league’s elite, like the Blazers, Hawks, and Suns. The Knicks have won four out of their last five, and find themselves with a 7-15 record, which while not great, looks a lot better than 1-9 or 3-14. If anyone is paying attention to this kind of thing just yet, the Knicks are 2 games out of the 8th seed.

Let’s hope the team can continue to play with the sort of effort we’ve seen since Golden State, because if they do, things can start to get interesting.

Monta Might Make Some Sense (or Take Monta Home Tonight)

I think Dan framed the Monta Ellis situation very well earlier with respect to the impact an Ellis acquisition would have on the 2010 cap and the Knicks’ cache of tradable assets. And I agree with Dan that, despite the $1-2 million extra it would cost to bring Ellis into the fold, it might be worth it simply to add another player to the roster that other teams might value in the future.

In addition to all that, I’d just like to propose the following:

Let’s assume for a moment that the Knicks are only able to add one max free agent this summer for whatever reason (two or all of the big 3  sign with other teams; remaining players out there don’t warrant the max or don’t want to sign with the Knicks etc.).

1. If Monta Ellis were a free agent in the 2010 market, would you be happy if the Knicks got him for 4 years, $44 million?

2. If Monta Ellis were a free agent after this season, would you prefer to see the Knicks  give him 4 years, $44 million, or would you prefer to see the Knicks give Rudy Gay, say, 5 years, $60 million?

3. If Monta Ellis were a free agent after this season, would you prefer to see the Knicks pay his deal or give David Lee a 5 year deal for $45-50 million?

I think these are the types of questions the Knicks should be asking  in weighing the virtue of an Ellis trade. I remain guardedly optimistic that the Knicks will get a crack at Lebron, but I have my doubts that they’ll be able to create enough cap space to sign two max free agents this summer. It’s more likely that the team will add one max guy and a second player of lesser caliber.

As things stand at the moment, the Knicks can afford to add a max player and then another player with a first year salary of $7-8 million.  This means that, to acquire a second player making even Ellis’ salary, the Knicks will have to find a taker for Jeffries or Curry and in that deal clear at least $6 million more in salary.

Now take a look at this list:  Of the players on this list that the Knicks could realistically acquire and won’t command the max, do you see any that would be better to add than Ellis? Possibly Rudy Gay, but since he’s restricted the Grizzlies could potentially match. Plus  Gay will cost more money over a longer deal and Ellis might be the better player anyway. That’s really it.

I want to stress that I’m not necessarily advocating for the Knicks to trade for Monta. If Donnie truly believes he can trade Jeffries or Curry for cap space before free agency starts this summer, I think he should definitely go that route and try to get a Lebron-Bosh combination.  But if he knows he can’t trade those guys for expirings, I think the Knicks could do much worse than swapping Jeffries, Duhon and Chandler for Ellis and Speedy Claxton. It would still leave the team with enough space to add a max player this summer (plus a $5-6 million guy) and another max player in 2011 when Curry’s deal comes off the books.

Getting two max guys this summer has to be Plan A, but if Plan A proves unrealistic, that’s a pretty damn good Plan B.

The Knicks Don’t Fancy Themselves As Scrubs

How is it that a team like the Houston Rockets that boasts a rotation of role players and nobodies, is 4-2, and has competed in every game this season? These are the players in Rick Adelman’s rotation:

  • Trevor Ariza
  • Carl Landry
  • Shane Battier
  • Aaron Brooks
  • Luis Scola
  • Chuck Hayes
  • Chase Budinger
  • Kyle Lowery

Is that a rotation that so clearly outshines what the Knicks put out on the floor, so much so that they can take teams to overtime (LA Lakers) that would surely build a 20-30 point lead on the Knicks in the first quarter?

What is the difference between these two squads? Why can’t the Knicks play like the 1999-2000 Orlando Magic, which had no bonafide stars, and players who knew they wouldn’t stick around after that season, yet still managed to win 41 games?

My theory is that the Houston Rockets realize that they suck. They realize that they are outmatched on the talent flank in most games and they know that they have to make up for it with heart and effort. The current Knicks, by contrast, are a collection of players with an overinflated sense of their value.

Larry Hughes makes $14 million this year. It is possible that he thinks he’s already proven himself a successful player in this league, otherwise, he couldn’t have earned that contract. He earned that money taking any old shot he liked.

Al Harrington makes $10 million and he did it playing his game. Why should he buy-in to the system whole-heartedly when he’s already proven his value and worth around the league, doing what he has always done (being a complete ball stopper)?

Wilson Chandler is the future, right? The next Matrix. Why shouldn’t he run up and down the court firing indiscriminately.

Jarred Jeffries? Man did he put in work over the summer. Now he’s a marksman. He doesn’t have the same limitations he previously had, and he’s going to pull the trigger more than he used to. Nevermind that everyone but him seems to notice that these shots aren’t falling.

David Lee? Same story. He put in work on that jumper, and yes it has improved, but I am pretty confident that any team will feel comfortable letting David Lee try to trade baskets with a legitimate scorer on the other side. It is pretty infuriating watching the team concede that the best look they are going to get on a possession is a David Lee 18 footer.

Nate Robinson? Nobody can stop him. His shot is deadly. Any shot he takes is a good shot, even if there are 22 seconds left on the shot clock and the D is back, and there’s nobody to corral the board, because it’s going to go in.

None of these guys realize their limitations. They play with an inflated sense of their skills. They don’t make the effort on the defense because they are convinced that they outscore the other team. Nevermind that none of them move without the ball. Nevermind that in reality, they have the 4th worst FG% in the league and have already lost to the teams that are last (Bobcats) and third to last (Bucks) in FG%.

The Rockets’ players on the other hand are a hodge-podge group of blue collar workers, none of whom (yet) have settled into the complacency afforded many of the Knicks by virtue of a monstrous contract. They know that they are basically scrubs, and if they want to win they have to work, get dirty, mix it up, move without the ball, fight. They aren’t so heartless that they give up offensive rebounds off of missed free-throws multiple times a game.

If the Knicks are going to lose, why do it on the backs of heartless veterans that don’t realize their limitations. Instead, Coach D’Antoni should start to play guys who want to do what it takes to win, even if they can’t make it happen because they aren’t good enough, yet. At least they’ll try. So I think Coach D’Antoni should play Toney Douglas and bench Chris Duhon. I think he should play Jordan Hill and bench Jarred Jeffries and take minutes away from Al Harrington. Hell, play Marcus Landry and tell Wilson Chandler to take a seat. If he’s anything like his brother, he’ll earn more minutes if given the chance.

If it isn’t clear to the Knicks, it is clear to everyone else. They are scrubs, and they better start playing like it.

Starting, for YOUR…NEW…YORK…KNICKS!

Courtesy of Tommy Dee, the starting 5 for the first preseason game, tomorrow (!) is:

PG- Chris Duhon
SG- Larry Hughes
SF- Al Harrington
PF- David Lee
C- Jared Jeffries

My initial reaction is (A) this might not be the lineup that starts the regular season (Hahn tweets that D’Antoni said not to read into it), and (B) that youth is not being served.

However, 4 out of these 5 have been on winners in their careers, and they know what effort is required (plus nobody questions Lee’s effort) to win. It is going to be up to this group to set the tone for the youthful second unit, which, by the way, is going to be dynamic between  Douglas, Nate, Chandler, Gallinari, Darko (is there room for Curry here?). These starters will have to lead by example and avoid falling into big holes to start out games.

Other than that, I think the majority of the scoring load is going to fall on Harrington and then Hughes. They will both have to prove that they can keep the ball moving, something neither has done much of in his career.

In addition, it appears that Jeffries has earned a starting spot with some great play in camp. Like I’ve previously said, I’ll believe he’s transformed into, at a minimum, a consistently useful player when I see it. Nothing would make me happier. Otherwise, even if he starts, I don’t see him getting more than 20-25 minutes.

Bucks Waive Bowen, Stoudamire

Bucks GM John Hammond announced this afternoon that the team has requested waivers for Bruce Bowen and Salim Stoudamire, NBA.com reports via RealGM. Bowen’s contract was only partially guaranteed. By waiving him the Bucks saved approximately $2 million.

Earlier today the Bucks signed Hakim Warrick to a 1 year deal for $3 million and the Knicks acquired the exclusive negotiating rights to Jason Williams.

What all this means for the Knicks’ pursuit of Ramon Sessions is unclear. I refuse to accept that Donnie Walsh considers Williams, who didn’t play during the 2008-09 season, a reasonable alternative to Sessions. This could be a hedge in case the Bucks are looking to free up cap space to match, or perhaps a precursor to a Sessions sign and trade involving Chris Duhon.

Knicks To Go After Sessions

With Donnie Walsh back in town from Vegas, it seems the action might finally be heating up in Knicks land, with Milwaukee’s restricted free agent point guard, Ramon Sessions being the main target. Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times in Milwaukee tweets that the Knicks “love Sessions” and are prepared to engage the Bucks in sign-and-trade talks. If the talks don’t go anywhere, the Knicks will use their Mid-Level Exception to attempt to sign Sessions.

What would it take to get Sessions off the Bucks? Not sure. Duhon and Skiles had an up and down relationship in Chicago. Would he be included? What about Mobley for Kurt Thomas and Sessions if the Bucks just want a salary dump? Would they ask for Chandler. Should the Knicks trade Chandler for Sessions? Lee/Nate in a sign and trade of some sort?

Speaking of Lee, it appears Donnie Walsh expects his situation to be resolved within a week. “It probably will be next week, the way [Lee’s agent] Mark [Bartelstein] talks”. Walsh told the New York Post.

Is it just me or does anyone else find Walsh’s way of talking about things very oblique?