Tagged: david lee

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”.

Joe Johnson To Knicks A “Done Deal”. Bosh On His Way Too?

Frank Isola provides us with some insight into the forthcoming monster summer. He spoke to an Eastern Conference GM who said that the Knicks’ pursuit of Joe Johnson is a “done deal.”

Isola continues that sources have informed him that the Raptors would be open to parting with Bosh in a sign and trade that would include, at least, David Lee. Of course David Lee would have to agree to go to Toronto, but I think he’ll follow the money.

Johnson himself sees New York as a palatable situation as long as the team can sign “another player”. Bosh and Johnson are a formidable duo and an instant contender with Gallinari in the mix (I’d trade Chandler for a PG and hold onto Bill Walker or TMAC if there’s a couple mil left over).

Now, this is an obvious outcome that we’ve all speculated about numerous times, and it isn’t beyond Isola to pass off speculation as breaking news. He once “broke” a trade that was completely made up by a commenter on Tommy Dee’s www.theknicksblog.com. I’m not sure if his source for the Bosh information is a message board rant on UltimateKnicks or a legitimate source, but hopefully it is more accurate than his Google-FAIL assertion (one of a steady stream in his articles and posts) that “the Knicks are the league’s biggest losers dating back to the 2001-02 season”.

In fact, at least the Hawks have a worse winning percentage than the Knicks over the period he defines at  37.9%. The Knicks come in at 38.08%.

Not that hard to fact check these things. Just saying.

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

If You Think The 2010 Plan Is Just About LeBron, You Don’t Know How Deep This Rabbit Hole Goes

Updated 12:04

In a little less than two years, Donnie Walsh did what everyone thought was impossible. He traded away the likes of Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford and Jared Jeffries, all grossly overpaid. Was he able to improve the team in his tenure? Well, the record will most likely not improve from last year’s, but Donnie’s presidency has so far been about accomplishing two goals. One was cleaning away the messes of the previous regime. Another was making his own mark.

The first is a precursor for the second. Just as Isiah systematically removed every Layden player from the Knicks roster and then remade it, Donnie Walsh has wiped out all remnants of the Isiah era except Lee, Chandler and Curry, the latter not for a lack of trying. He told you all along that he would do this and that he would do it in time to sell the idea of playing at the Garden to arguably one of the best players to ever play the game. Even if that one player does not choose to suit up in the orange and blue, the Knicks will be able to make a run at other guys who would be at home amongst legendary forerunners. This is where the imagination of many Knicks fans probably ends. Anything short of nabbing one or more of the big 3 free agents would be a failure to them.

But this terminal point in the imagination of some is also probably where Donnie’s imagination starts. If Donnie doesn’t execute plan A, I have no idea what he will do. But there is one thing I doubt he will do and that I hope he does not do: overspend for lesser “stars”. Donnie Walsh should not give Joe Johnson the max. He shouldn’t give Rudy Gay $10 million. He shouldn’t give Carlos Boozer $11 or $12 million. He shouldn’t spend all his money for the sake of spending it.

I know what you’re thinking: If the Knicks don’t spend every single penny they earned through the trades (about $10 million) then they wasted Jordan Hill and a draft pick (some in the blogosphere and in the media sensationalize and assert imprecisely, that the Knicks will have wasted “three picks”). To an extent, you might have a point. Obviously the Knicks could have let Jeffries simply come off the cap in 2011 and retained Hill and the one future pick they traded. But that would have given them less of a chance at LeBron James and a max buddy. It would have diminished the chances for the plan to succeed.

There are reasons to maintain the cap space instead of spending it unwisely aside from just the welfare of plan A though: The benefits of cap space do not vanish if you don’t use it all at once. Sure, the gamble in the trade was primarily about 2010 but if 2010 doesn’t work out it doesn’t follow that Donnie should sabotage 2011 and beyond. If the alternatives are to preserve cap space or spend it all on Rudy Gay the Knicks would be better off preserving it, regardless of the heavy sacrifice they made to get that extra $10 million a year early.

Detroit lost the gamble last year. They traded Chauncey Billups for cap space. They didn’t come away with any star free agents. But instead of preserving the cap space that they freed, they felt they needed to justify the trade. They compounded their gambling loss by taking on two long term contracts for role players (Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva). It destroyed their cap flexibility and gave them little room to improve. Had they been patient they could have had max money this summer. Instead they’ll be at the cap.

So then where does that leave the Knicks?

Even without LeBron, the cap space gives Donnie infinite options. The Thunder used their cap space this year to absorb Matt Harpring’s contract and for their trouble were able to pry Eric Maynor away from the Jazz. Would the cash-strapped Hornets part with Darren Collison to lose the last year of Morris Peterson’s contract? Conceivably. How badly would the perennially in-the-red Pacers want to shed TJ Ford’s last year? Enough to part with a lottery pick? I’m sure Detroit would like to get out from under Tayshaun Prince. Would the Warriors be desperate enough to unload Vladimir Radmanovic that they would let go of…who am I kidding on that one (a man can dream, but I think they realize they have a superstar in the making at the 1).

A lot of people rag on James Dolan and deservedly so. He’s clearly been a destructive force for most of his reign. One good trait that he possesses from a fan’s standpoint though is that he has never been afraid to spend money if he’s convinced it will help the team win. In the past he’s been convinced that it was a good idea to spend it on Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry and Steve Francis, but it wasn’t Donnie doing the convincing. And that’s why its also a blessing that Dolan swims around in cash like Scrooge McDuck. With cap flexibility the Knicks can be a predatory team like the Thunder that turns cap space into first round picks by absorbing a year of Kurt Thomas, or into Eric Maynor by absorbing a year of Matt Harpring. Donnie has been distinguished from the likes of Sam Presti but the two may have more in common that a facial glance might reveal.

There are so many other options too including Lee sign and trade scenarios, thousands of combinations of outright signings, and other possibilities that I can’t list because only a seasoned hand like Donnie Walsh can fathom them.

Don’t be short-sighted by declaring this summer the end-all-be-all of the Knicks rebuild. There’s the simple plan. But if that fails, there are other plans. When it comes to those other plans, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Donnie is one of the few people who knows his away around the rabbit hole.

***“[W]hat I do not know I do not think that I know either.” –The Apology of Socrates***

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.

Is David Lee a $12 Million Man?

It’s clear that all he’ll ever be is a hustle player. A 6th-8th man on a good team. His agent tried to pull one over on the Knicks this offseason but it is clear that Lee is currently making what he should be making, or slightly more.

He has a limited set of skills, but he still has no J (though that hasn’t stopped him from indiscriminately shooting), and he is incapable of playing D. So far he’s been lit up by Emeka Okafor, Roy Hibbert, and Al Horford. Granted he should be defending power forwards but you would hope that your power forward can defend a center on occasion, like Oakley, Kurt, Udonis Haslem, other “blue collar” power forwards. Anthony Mason was capable of bodying up Olajuwon.

Most importantly, Lee has never contributed to a winner in this league.

At this rate he’ll be hard pressed to exceed his current contract in the open market this summer.

Lee Will Have Major Value at Deadline

Let’s take a look into the future for a moment since the present is such a downer. . .

If the Knicks continue to struggle the way they have, but David Lee continues to post sparkling individual statistics, his trade value come February is going to be really significant.

Personally, I don’t think Lee is in the Knicks’ long-term plans. Re-signing him this off-season was all about fielding a respectable team this year (ha!) and avoiding the publicity that would have accompanied losing a big asset for nothing the summer before “the summer”.  If that is in fact the case, then the Knicks will surely look to shop Lee at the deadline for cap relief or a significant asset.

No matter how badly the Knicks struggle, Lee is going to look extremely attractive to lower-seeded playoff teams that are looking for help inside. It’s easy to imagine teams like the Rockets, Bulls, Bucks, Pistons, and Thunder becoming interested in Lee if they manage to stay in the race.

It’s true that Lee signed a 1-year-deal this past off-season so the Knicks can’t trade him unless he agrees.  But if the Knicks give him the chance to get out of Dodge, I think he’ll be motivated to agree to a deal at the deadline. This is obviously a big year for Lee and so far he’s making the most of it by putting up some pretty numbers. But for free agent suitors the lingering question about Lee has to be whether or not he’s a winning player. And that’s just not a question he can answer in New York. However, if Lee were to make a big contribution for a few months to a team playing meaningful games in May and June, that could cause his value to skyrocket this summer. You can bet that Lee and his agent know this.

Lee may be the one real bullet Walsh has in his gun prior to this summer. Here’s hoping he makes it count.

Knicks 108 Celtics 103

The Knicks looked really good tonight. Particularly impressive to me were Nate, Gallinari, Harrington and Lee.

Nate played great D, coming away with 5 steals. Coach D’Antoni always said he could lead the league in steals.

Lee was at his hard-working best putting up the type of numbers we probably take for granted with 19 and 16.

Harrington had questionable shot selection but at least his shot was on for the most part and he hit the boards.

Gallinari was his old confident self and had his best game as a Knick, though it was a preseason game. If Gallo is consistently on like this the Knicks can make some noise. And nobody question his D. This kid is no slouch and is not intimidated by stars or scared to mix things up physically.

What most impressed me about this game though was the Knicks effort. They didn’t let up, from Chandler and Nate diving for loose balls, Chandler sprinting back on D to stuff Kendrick Perkins in spectacular fashion, to Lee and Harrington fighting for boards, the Knicks did not lay down. I want to see this effort continue, even if chemistry is tested by consecutive losses.

***

Other notes:

-Jeffries had an OK game, but let’s not get too excited. I’m still convinced that when Jeffries has a game that is not atrocious, some in the media have a tendency to react as if he’s a world beater and the difference between making the playoffs or not. The fact is that those who defend him are probably viewing his contributions in the context of his past awful performance, when he failed to so much as catch passes cleanly, when he shot predominantly horrendous bricks, and when he dribbled it off his foot more often than not when he put it on the floor. And make no mistake, this year’s version of Jeffries does plenty of those things, but is slightly improved. The fact that he can now hit a jumper a bit more frequently does not make him a valuable player, though I certainly hope that other teams think so around the deadline.

And this is plain to see to anyone who is really watching. I don’t care who signed Jeffries, e.g., that he is a relic of the troublesome Isiah era that causes Knicks fans to cringe. What I see on the court today is a barely mediocre to bad basketball player who damages the continuity of the team’s offense with his poor hands, handles, and still below average shot.

Answer me this: In each of the last 2 games, Jeffries has taken 10 shots when some of those could have gone to Nate, Harrington, Gallinari, Duhon or Chandler. Are you comfortable with that? Keep in mind that two games ago he hit 2 of them and that tonight he hit 4.

There are about 8 or 9 more valuable Knicks, and in fact, during games (not during practice) an empty chair on the bench is arguably more valuable. Some people don’t see that, but I’ll let them continue to make the case that the career 5 point, 4 rebound forward is the key to the Knicks’ season.

-Duhon made some really bad decisions with the ball in the 3rd quarter, both sloppy passing and bad shots.

-For all of the “sky is falling” coverage the Knicks were getting in some circles when they were 1-2 this preseason, I somehow doubt that we’ll see something more “fair and balanced” from News Corp. now that the team is 4-2.

Situation to Monitor: Rudy Gay

Hoopsworld reports this morning that it is unlikely that the Grizzlies, who are tightwads, will offer Rudy Gay a contract extension within the allotted time frame (before the start of the season). Without an extension, Gay would become a restricted free agent next summer.

According to Hoopsworld, Gay and the Grizzlies are not close. However, we have all seen first hand how difficult it can be to find a deal in restricted free agency, particularly if the original team signifies an intention to match any offer. David Lee and the Knicks were not close either, and Lee had to cave.

Gay apparently does not seek max money, but wants something in line with what Loul Deng got from the Bulls ($10 million, and $14 million in the contract’s last year).

Depending on the cap, the Knicks could sign a max free agent and another player in the $8 – $12 million range. Would you make that offer for Gay? Would you prefer to give it to Lee? What about splitting it up and chasing other potential in-limbo RFAs mentioned in the Hoopsworld piece (Ty Thomas, Randy Foye)?