Tagged: Jordan Hill

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”.

With Jordan Hill Emerging, Stakes On Donnie’s Gambit Increase

Jordan Hill’s last two games for the Houston Rockets have been pretty productive. Averaging 25 minutes, Hill has had 11 and 12 points, and 8 rebounds in both games.

We were never in the “Jordan Hill is a bust so Donnie Walsh is a washed up hack” boat. It’s funny to see many of the folks who pushed that line so aggressively now argue that “Jordan Hill is an all-star so Donnie Walsh is a washed up hack.”

I think Hill projects as a borderline starter or productive rotation player. But as he proves that he can be productive, the pressure increases on Walsh to justify trading him. The better Hill gets, the more crucial it will be this summer for Walsh to make sure Hill doesn’t turn into another good-asset-squandered for the Knicks. In the highly unlikely event that Hill does turn into a in-his-prime Jermaine O’Neal, or the next Amare Stoudemire, the trade will be looked at as a colossal mistake if Walsh doesn’t score big time in free agency.

There are so many possibilities this summer, and that’s the main reason Donnie was willing to add Hill and his $3 million to Jeffries $6.5 million. If Hill continues to play well, the pressure on Walsh to replace him with something better is going to intensify.

Note To Peter Vescey: Easy To Second Guess, Harder To Propose A Better Alternative

It’s easy to second guess.

I think most people are on board with the 2010 plan, recognizing that the team Isiah constructed was going nowhere fast anyway. There are differences around the fringes, such as, did the Knicks give up too much to clear Jeffries and Hill when they already had max cap room? Fine. Fair enough. The New York Post‘s Peter Vescey makes the point in his typically carmudgeony way:

Judging by their reaction, Walsh’s latest moves had gone over big with New York’s renowned “sophisticated” fans. Potentially, he had traded three pristine picks to the Rockets for a micro-surgically repaired 30-year-old (Tracy McGrady) in order to build for the future, yet they anointed him with oil.

It’s fine to disagree with the Jeffries move. There is an intelligent and rational way to do it. We have a great reader/commenter (Italian Stallion) who does it all the time. But the way Vescey did it is just wrong. The Knicks traded a single pick: the 2012 one, which is protected. They also traded Jordan Hill, who may or may not be a contributor in this league. They also gave Houston the right to swap 2011 picks. Depending on how things go, this right may or may not be exercised.

But the Post has taken its penchant for revisionist history to new levels with a decidedly faulty outlook at what-might-have-been:

Despite the reality, had Walsh selected his draft picks more prudently and chosen a path of resistance vs. concession, the Knicks’ current starters would be Randolph, David Lee, Brook Lopez, Brandon Jennings and Crawford . . . and they would own their own first-rounders in 2011 and 2012 instead of the distant hope of landing James, Wade or both.

But wait a minute Peter, surely an astute basketball mind like you would realize that a playoff caliber squad like the one D’Antoni inherited [sarcasm] wouldn’t have had a lottery pick two drafts ago, so they wouldn’t have had a chance to draft Lopez, the “dominant” center on a 6 win team.

But playing Vescey’s game, Lopez would only improve the Knicks with his dominating play and therefore they surely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to draft the amazing Brandon Jennings [sarcasm]. If you want to be completely honest rather than trying to have it both ways, I’d grant you that the Knicks could have been Ty Lawson, Crawford, Lee, ZBo, and Roy Hibbert. AWESOME!!! Move over Raptors!

Anyway, the completely mythical lineup that Vescey proposes has Lee as a small forward (surely he’s capable of containing athletic NBA wings out on the perimeter), two ball dominating guards with poor shot selection and another ball hog at power forward. Surely the recipe for success right?

I dont know as much about Lefty McCorish, Patches O’Barnaby, Solomon “One Foot” Bilzheimer, or Moishe “48-minute clock” Rothman as the venerable Vescey does, but to my novice mind, if my options were Vescey’s impossible fantasy line-up or a roll of the dice coupled with future cap flexibility that has value well beyond Plans A-C that Vescey purports to be privy to, I go with the latter.

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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Knicks Roster Rumors: TMac, Nate, Arenas

A flurry of roster rumors hit the press today. Lets analyze:

1. Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears reports that recently the Rockets have spoken to the Knicks about Tracy McGrady:

…the Rockets want to get a young, athletic big man to put alongside center Yao Ming next season. The Knicks would gladly part with seldom-used rookie forward Jordan Hill in a package for McGrady, but the Rockets don’t seem too interested.

Should the Knicks do it? It seems moot anyway, since Houston, according to Spears, is not interested in Hill. But if the Rockets change their minds, the Knicks should consider a deal contingent on who else the Rockets are taking back to make the contracts work. If it’s Larry Hughes and Darko Milicic, I’d say what’s the point. I’d rather keep the young prospect than rent T-Mac for half a season.

The only way the Knicks should make a T-Mac trade, especially if they are giving up on a young big man who can shoot from the outside, is if the Rockets agree to take back Eddy Curry, or more realistically, Jarred Jeffries. Hill, Mobley and Jeffries not only nets the Rockets a young prospect and a defensive specialist, but potentially tens of millions of dollars in savings. It would also save the Knicks almost $9 million in salaries (Hill and Jeffries) for this summer.

2. Spears also reports that the Lakers and the Celtics have interest in Nate Robinson.

The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams who have expressed some interest in New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson, league sources said. Robinson’s base-year status, however, makes it difficult for any trade and the Knicks are said to be reluctant to ship Robinson to an Eastern Conference team, further complicating the Celtics’ efforts to land him.

Seeing as how, according to Alan Hahn, the Knicks were willing to trade Nate to the Grizzlies for bench-warmer Marcus Williams and what Hahn subsequently reported was probably a second-round pick, it seems like a deal could possibly be arranged.

As to the base year status issue, it’s a hindrance but not a roadblock. Especially if the team trading for Nate has cap space, like the Grizzlies do. The only other team with cap space right now though is Portland (OKC used theirs in the Maynor/Harpring swap). Also, don’t forget about trade exceptions, many teams in the league have sizable ones (although any trade involving a trade exception would net the Knicks nothing other than cap space, as trade exceptions cannot be combined with anything else). This is key to keep in mind because as Spears reports the Celtics and Lakers are “among” the teams interested in Nate, meaning there are others.

Should the Knicks do it? Anyone who has read this space knows that I think the Knicks should cut ties with Nate and never look back. To recap, while Nate has tremendous talent on offense, can win a game single handedly with a heroic performance on any given night, and has unparalleled work ethic, he unfortunately plays the game – for lack of a better term – stupidly. His decision making is abysmal, whether he is looking to shoot or pass. His defense is nowhere to be found. He takes a full 52% of his shots in the first 10 seconds of possessions (the most of any Knick), and ties Darko for the worst winning percentage in games he’s played (33.3%), other than Eddy Curry. His assist/turnover ratio is 1.476, which ranks him below Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes, Andre Iguodala, Shane Battier, and at least 45 other point guards in the NBA (yet some fans out there think the key to the Knicks woes is making Nate the full time starter at the 1).

If the Knicks can land a real point guard like Jordan Farmar for Nate Robinson, they should try to make it happen.

3. Chris Sheridan asked Donnie Walsh if the Knicks are interested in Gilbert Arenas, because, hey, why not?

Should the Knicks do it? I mean, come on…

The first and by far most important factor to consider is that Arenas still has 4 years on his contract after this one, and by the end of that contract he’ll be making $22,346,536 (!!!). Most observers have noted that it is unlikely that the Wizards will be able to void that deal, but I don’t think Arenas was worth that kind of money even when healthy/not pulling stunts like the whole gun fiasco or taking craps in his teammates’ shoes (what a hysterical “prank”! That lovable prankster.).

Not to mention that he’s a classic ball pounder in the Starbury/Iverson/Francis mold, which doesn’t exactly work for the current coach. Which is one reason why the Sprewell comparisons are off base. Spree had the heart of a champion and was committed to defense. He fit with what Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks wanted to do. Can’t say the same for Arenas.

A telling quote from Sheridan’s piece:

“I don’t know if [Arenas] available, and I don’t know if he’s going to be able to play. There are a lot of questions, and we’ll have to see as time passes what the story is, but I know this: When I had guys [Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest] in the same situation, I traded all of them,” Walsh said.

Sheridan was using that quote to suggest that Donnie was able to develop a market for his sociopaths. But let’s put it in a different context: Donnie traded his sociopaths because he didn’t want them on his squad.

If the Wizards void Arenas’ contract, maybe the Knicks should consider signing him to a modest deal. Otherwise, pass.

Jordan Hill Can Play

His pretty stats aside, Jordan Hill’s effort during last night’s game ought to quiet the incessant clamor for all the other players the Knicks supposedly missed out on. He showed a panoply of good qualities that the Knicks’ veteran big men are sorely lacking. Among them:

  • For a 6’11 player, he runs like a deer. And he changes ends at full speed on every possession. That kind of hustle and athleticism up front is what usually powers SSOL.
  • He has power and explosiveness. That flush on the break was amazing. Imagine how many easy buckets Hill could get if he played with a PG that pushed the pace and could get him the ball in front of the rim.
  • Hill has a soft jumper. Once he learns when (and how) to put it on the deck and when he should pop that j, he’s going to be murder on opposing 5’s.
  • He crashes the glass. Unlike other Knick bigs, Hill goes after every rebound. And he was rewarded for that effort with 3 offensive boards and a put back last night.

Hill unquestionably has some rough edges. He’s a poor ball handler out on the perimeter (he even struggles with hand-off type stuff) and it’s obvious that he’s a bit overwhelmed by the speed of the game at this point. But he has the DNA of an ideal 5 for this system. I don’t think there’s any question that he can help the team while he learns.

Considering what the Knicks have playing in front of him, it’s past time to take this baby out for a spin.

As The Warriors’ World Turns, Potential Opportunity Arises For Knicks

As things get uglier in Golden State between the Warriors and Stephen Jackson, you have to believe that the team’s desperation to move him grows. Adrian Wojnarowski notes that the last time the Warriors had to trade a malcontent, the best they got for him was an old John Starks.

So, opportunity presents itself. And while Alan Hahn reminded fans yesterday what The Knicks FanBlog first informed you of in August (that kind of stuff gets lost in the offseason), namely, that any Jackson trade is highly unlikely, if I was Donnie Walsh I’d definitely consider something like this:

It is good for both teams and restores balance to the universe by netting the Knicks and Warriors the players they were supposed to come away with after the draft.

It won’t happen though. It seems that Donnie loves what he sees in Hill, the Knicks seem to be valuing stability and continuity this year, the press and coaches for some reason love Jeffries and his newfound chucking and oldfound turnovers and clumsiness, and the chances of Donnie adding any payroll are nil (while this trade is just about cap neutral for the next 2 years, it may hamper the Knicks’ ability to shell out max dough in 2011).

Walsh: Curry Was Target, Not Rubio

Peter Vescey asked Donnie Walsh who the Knicks would have drafted had they been able to secure the 5th pick in the draft, “Curry or Ricky Rubio?”

“Curry,” he answered without a pause. “Not only is he a great shooter but he can get his shot on anyone. Opponents look at his baby face and figure they can manhandle him. Meanwhile he tore up every top-rated guard he went up against at our workout, including Tyreke Evans, who might be the best player in the draft next to Blake Griffin.”

Thus Donnie confirmed what was obvious to most people who followed the draft.

Curry has reportedly been lighting up Monta Ellis in practice and has impressed Nellie deeply. The Knicks, of course, had to settle for Jordan Hill, who is clearly a project.

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.