Tagged: Darko Milicic

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”.

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.

Darko Phone Home?

Some Knicks fans have been wondering what needs to happen for Darko Milicic to see some light? With the Knicks consistently getting out-rebounded and worked inside, shouldn’t he get some minutes?

The last time Darko got any kind of meaningful minutes, which was against the Hornets in the Knicks’ first win, he blew two defensive assignments, got dunked on, and then yanked. He has barely played since, and I’ve speculated that Darko doesn’t even want to play. That he just wants to collect his checks and go back to Europe. That his heart isn’t in the game, and that thus the effort isn’t there.

Well, in an interview with Fanhouse, he certainly makes it seem like he just wants to play out the string:

The NBA for me is not the way that I want to be[.] Looking forward, the stuff that I’m looking for is for me to play and for to me enjoy playing. I think right now the only spot for me is Europe…Because growing up and playing basketball, I needed the ball in my hands. I used to create for myself and I used to create for others. I used to play a lot. That’s the kind of stuff I’m looking for. And for me to get that in the NBA right now, I don’t think so. And I’ve got to be real.

Keep it real Darko. Do your thing in Europe. And since its Europe, you’ll be able to free those frosty tips that’ve patiently been awaiting their return.

It’s Just Preseason, But…

For most of the game against the Sixers last night, the Knicks just looked awful. But there was a stretch in the second quarter where the ball movement was crisp and the shots were falling. During that stretch the Knicks surged from behind to take a lead that they held for a while until Mike D’Antoni reinserted Jared Jeffries. We saw some of that ball movement last year, and its the key to Knicks’ gameplan if they want to win.

Other than that stretch, things were pretty ugly. There are a couple of aspects that stood out as contributing to the loss.

  • The Knicks shot 30%. Hard to win when you shoot that poorly. However, are they going to shoot 30% from the floor this year? Not a chance. Well…
  • Maybe Larry Hughes and Jared Jeffries will. I seriously would like to have a talk with coach D’Antoni and ask him if he really sat around during the offseason thinking, “I think the key to our improvement this year will be getting Jared out on the floor longer and give him more shots. That should get us into the playoffs.” For all the rave reviews Jeffries has gotten this off-season (which he seems to get every off-season), the result is the same old Jared Jeffries, with the added ability to hit one out of 5 threes. Yay.
  • Finally, the Knicks lost so many games last year because they didn’t have a shot-blocker patrolling the paint. In the fourth quarter last night, Lou Williams strolled down the lane for lazy runners. Where was newly acquired shot-blocker Darko Milicic? On the bench. Darko impressed me on both ends last night when he played, and I think he should be out there when the game is on the line to foreclose the option of penetration for high percentage shots. We’ll see how this develops over the course of the year.

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.

Knicks Want Boozer

Berman reports that Donnie Walsh has expressed an interest in Carlos Boozer, but isn’t sure he can get a deal done stating, “I’m not sure we have anybody they want”. Well one thing they want is cap space so they could re-sign Millsap. To that end Mobley would work, since most of his contract will be covered by insurance. The Jazz would probably want some talent as well.

The Knicks are also going to be crowded up front, as Tommy Dee reminds us. Where are all of the minutes going to come from at the 4/5 for Lee, Hill, Milicic, Curry, Chandler, Gallo, Harrington, and Jeffries? That’s even without Boozer.

So which of these guys would go in a hypothetical Boozer trade? If it’s anyone making more or similar money to Boozer, you can forget about the Jazz taking them on, so Curry and Harrington and possibly Lee are off the table. Would the Jazz take a Jeffries/Mobley deal? I think they could do way better. Would the Knicks give up Jordan Hill? Should they?

If they wouldn’t, and the Knicks wind up with Boozer, there will most likely be a third team involved.

Knicks Sure to Get Darko This Week?

Marc Stein is reporting that there is basically a deal in place for the Knicks to land Darko Milicic in exchange for Q (this apparently has been in the works for some time).

The Grizzlies aren’t just entertaining the idea of parting with the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday’s draft. They’ve also engaged in advanced discussions with the Knicks that should put former No. 2 overall pick Darko Milicic in New York by week’s end … unless Memphis winds up needing Milicic’s expiring contract in another draft-related trade.

Sources say that the proposed swap would send Milicic to the Knicks for swingman Quentin Richardson and cash. Milicic is scheduled to earn $7.5 million next season in the final year of a three-year deal he received from the Griz in 2007; Richardson has a player option for next season at $8.7 million.

If the teams go through with the trade, Milicic would join his fourth team since Detroit infamously gambled on him in 2003 with the pick immediately after LeBron James … and right before Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. But it’s believed that Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni hasn’t been able to kick his long-standing interest in seeing what he can get out of the perpetually, uh, casual 24-year-old. Despite his unquestioned standing as one of the biggest draft busts in league history, Milicic would have to be considered an intriguing one-year rental for the go-go-go Knicks given his length, mobility, passing skills and age.

Wouldn’t he?

Good deal if it happens. Let’s face it, Q is pretty much useless at this point and Darko is just 24. On a one year rental it is worth it to see if D’Antoni can help Darko shed the bust label like he did for Boris Diaw.

So what’s the scenario?

Here we go yo.

There are so many scenarios that could play out this offseason. We’re getting to the point of the summer where there is so much information, and misinformation, that my head is spinning. I’m going to run through a few of these and give proposed lineups for next season. Of course, the end result will probably be that none of these are right.

1. Knicks keep their pick and wind up with Jrue Holiday, Stephen Curry, or Johnny Flynn. They trade David Lee, Wilson Chandler and a 2011 draft pick for Chris Bosh. They trade Nate Robinson for Marcus Camby. They trade Cuttino Mobley for Darko Milicic. They buy a late first rounder. They sign Channing Frye. Starting 5:

pg: Holiday/Curry/Flynn

sg: Hughes

sf: Harrington

pf: Chris Bosh

c: Marcus Camby

bench: Gallinari, Chase Budinger, Darko Milicic, Duhon, Frye

2. Knicks trade Chandler, the eight overall pick, and Mobley for Darko Milicic, Darrell Arthur, and the second overall pick and take Ricky Rubio. They trade David Lee, a future first rounder, and Duhon to the Pistons for Tayshaun Prince and Amir Johnson. They trade Nate Robinson for Sergio and Frye. They buy a mid to late first rounder. They sign Gortat.

pg: Rubio

sg: Hughes

sf: Prince

pf: Harrington

c: Gortat

bench: Gallinari, Sergio, Budinger/Sam Young, Darko, Frye, Johnson, etc

3. Knicks trade Chandler, the eight overall pick, and Mobley for Darko Milicic, Darrell Arthur, and the second overall pick and use it on Thabeet. They trade David Lee, a future first rounder, and Duhon to the Pistons for Tayshaun Prince and Amir Johnson. They later trade Harrington and Nate for Etan Thomas, Mike James, and the fifth pick (Stephen Curry). They buy a mid-first rounder.

pg: Curry

sg: Hughes

sf: Prince

pf: Gallinari

c: Thabeet

bench: James, Johnson, Arthur, Henderson, etc.

4. The Knicks keep the 8th pick and select Curry. They trade Lee, Chandler and Duhon to the Blazers for Sergio Martell Webster, and Travis Outlaw. They trade Nate and Harrington to the Wizards for the 5th pick, Thomas and James. They trade Mobley for Darko and the 24th pick. They sign Frye and Gortat.

pg: Sergio/Curry

sg: Tyreke Evans/Curry/Webster/Hughes

sf: Outlaw/Webster

pf: Gallinari/Darko

c: Gortat/Darko

bench: Darko/Evans/Webster/Hughes/Sergio/Frye

I’m done now. This could go on all day. These all look like solid teams though, and the point is, a lot can happen to drastically reshape the roster. Let’s hear some of your scenarios…

Donnie Darko? (Or Darko Miliknick?)

We previously told you to be on the look-out for the possibility that the Knicks could be chasing Darko. Darko has an expiring deal and would thus provide low-risk shotblocking (John Hollinger points out that he has the ninth best shotblocking rate amongst centers, though is below average in almost every other way), some rebounding, and size.

Darko’s time in the league is just about up unless he can somehow revive his career. Darko could be a good fit in this system since his Euro game makes him a decent passer and a solid shooter as well.

Mike D’Antoni’s offense seems like the ideal fit. Remember, Boris Diaw looked like a stiff until D’Antoni showed everyone how to use him. Now he’s a solid contributor. He fills a need up front too. It just makes some sense.

Now word is that Donnie offered Q for Darko. We’re not surprised…in fact, we called it. Even though the deal was rejected, I do expect Darko to be a Knick next year.

(Note, Donnie also offered the Grizzlies $3 million for the 27th pick…I wonder who Donnie has eyes for down there).

Interesting Milicic quote:

“I will find the referees, murder them and then [expletive] their daughters”.