27 11 2008

There comes a point in most undertakings in life where it’s time to walk away.  When two (or more) parties are involved, it becomes a little tougher, but the theory remains the same.  Sometimes it’s best to just get the hell outta Dodge.No hearts here...
Kenny Rogers was right smack on the money with his song The Gambler.

“You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”

There aren’t many better images than this for where the New York Knicks and Stephon Marbury now find themselves. It’s the classic stare-down. New York doesn’t want to just tell Marbury to get out, and there’s too much money on the table for him to walk away.

At the beginning of the season, the New York Knicks embodied by Donnie Walsh and miscreant...Mike D’Antoni made it abundantly clear to Stephon Marbury that he was in no way, shape or form part of their plans for the future. Fast-forward to now: two massive trades involving guards Jamaal Crawford and Mardy Collins (and forward Zach Randolph) occurred. Then an injury to Nate Robinson… and health concerns for new-Knick Cuttino Mobley – this left the Knicks with only two healthy guards: Chris Duhon and Anthony Roberson. Marbury was told prior to at least two games (against the Bucks, and the Pistons) that if he wanted court-time, it was his for the taking.

Marbury’s response?
No thanks.

Whilst his refusal to have anything to do with the Knicks (other than cash paychecks from them) must be infuriating for the Knicks hierarchy, the implications for Marbury himself are even greater.

It’s easy to understand Marbury’s continued refusal to play. The Knicks made their opinion of him clear, but now that they need him, they turn up on his doorstep cap-in-hand and expect it of him. Most people would have the same reaction: thumb their nose at the arrogance displayed by these people.
But they’d be wrong too.
The powers that be...Aside from the fact that it’s a reasonable request made by the people who give him a very sizable amount of money, it could have repercussions on his career post-Knicks.
There was every possibility that a team would pick up Marbury for a deal once he finished with the Knicks (which could be any day now). But his “no thanks” and refusal to be a part of the team are indicative of an attitude that might end up making him as big a pariah in basketball as Barry Bonds is in baseball.

What should the Knicks do?
Cut their losses and run – they’ll be paying him the money any way. Marbury’s very presence is a cancer. He’s clashed with pretty much every authority figure within the New York office – Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas, and now Mike D’Antoni/Donnie Walsh. This is a man that was once called “the most reviled athlete in New York” (New York Daily News).
It’s well past time for New York to bid Stephon Marbury adieu.
Know when to walk away and know when to run.


Down on Danilo

3 07 2008


I don’t get it. New York fans went hard at Danilo Gallinari at the NBA draft, and some commentators (who really should know better) too. Largely because – I guess – they just don’t get it.
The fact that he couldn’t even successfully complete his post-draft interview due to all the booing is simply an indictment on the New Yorkers who were there.

There’s really a lot to consider before panning Gallinari as a failure (before he even plays a single game no less). Yes, he’s a European. Yes, European players have a reputation of being ‘soft’. Often unfairly so. But to declare Gallinari a bust before he’s even taken the court seems ridiculously foolish… without even exploring as to who the kid is.

Danilo Gallinari, he’s only 19 – the same age as both Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley, and yet his basketball experience has been quite different to this point. Both Rose and Beasley – in coming through the NCAA college ranks – were the big fish in the pool, despite being only in their first year of college.
Not so with Gallinari.
Gallinari has been playing pro-basketball since he was 15, in the Italian leagues (starting out in Serie B1). Fifteen, and playing in an elite men’s professional competition. Against men.
Sure, it might not have been the best men in Europe… but against men, at 15.

The years moved on, and so did Danilo. In the 2006/7 season he played for Olimpia Milano, winning the league 3 point shooting competition. In the 2007/08 season (remember, he’s at this stage 18 years old), he played both Italian Lega A and in the Euroleague, and was generally recognised as being the best player on his team.
He finished playing with Olimpia Milano, giving an exclamation point to his time there with a 27 point game against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Kid’s got game. Just have to see if it equates to the NBA level… but he deserves a chance.

The thing to remember is that he’s 19. Whilst more experienced at a pro-level than many other players that came out of the draft, he’s still a kid. When he puts on a little more bulk, he’ll be a very handy forward for the Knicks… if the fans give him a chance.
Hell, that’s pretty ironic – Knicks fans put up with Isiah Thomas for four years. And they’re not giving Danilo Gallinari a minute? The least they could do is let the guy play…

And I don’t think we need to worry about Mike D’Antoni’s thoughts towards Gallinari. I’m sure he’ll look after him – he and Danilo’s father Vittorio Gallinari played together at Olimpia.

Fixin’ the Knicks

27 06 2008

Written for With Malice by Seth from Posting and Toasting

What the New York Knicks need, more than anything, is a change of culture.

The past few years have been filled with misery and paranoia, which both loses games and alienates fans. The team is already taking steps in the right direction.
Isiah Thomas – the face of MSG’s era of bad feelings – dwells now in the shadows, with the wise, grandfatherly Donnie Walsh and the cheerful Mike D’Antoni taking the reins. James Dolan’s firm media policy has been retracted, taking some weight off players and media alike.

Moving forward, the Knicks need to stay young and fresh and work to cut payroll in preparation for a possible big splash (LeBron or otherwise) in 2010.
In Thursday’s draft and subsequent ones, players with a distinct skill set, a healthy attitude, and a commitment to the defensive end of the floor take precedent over the unrefined runners and jumpers that inhabit every draft class.

Things appear to be on the rise, and with a couple proper drafts and some responsible spending, the Knicks may very well be back in the picture in a few years.

NBA Shaberu With Malice

12 05 2008

Well, I guess money does talk.
Mike D’Antoni’s gone to the Knicks? Does that seem like a match-made-in-hell to anyone else?
The Knicks need a hard-nosed coach who is going to instill some discipline into New York’s premier franchise. In other words, NOT D’Antoni.
D’Antoni seems to be a perfect fit for the Baby-Bulls, who after being stifled by the restriction under Scott Skiles, would relish being let off the leash and allowed to run, run and run a lil’ more. They appear to have the personnel for it too. A very athletic roster. However, the word is that Pax wasn’t too enthused about having a team focused on offense, when he prefers the strict disciplinarian type (enjoying the leather/whips much?). More of an emphasis on ‘D’. Thus the dragging-of-feet on an offer to Mike D’Antoni.
But the Knicks? Good luck with Starbury yet again Mike. You didn’t like him in Phoenix, something tells me you’re not going to like him in New Yawk.

Rick Carlisle’s ensconced in Dallas, and Phoenix is without a coach. Having a player of Shaq’s nature demands an experienced coach… but who’s out there? Interesting days ahead in Arizona.
Amazing that a coach of Avery Johnson’s ability is left (at the moment) high & dry. Apparently Phoenix were unimpressed with the way that Johnson left Dallas, and will take no part in his future employment.

Anyway, some interesting developments today game-wise:

  • Utah beat LA in OT, eventually winning 123-115 – and tied up the series 2-2. Again, it was a game LA could’ve won… but fate conspired to send them back to the Staples Center to face what will be a re-vitalized Jazz. Kobe got his – 33 points and 10 assists – and playing through back-pain, but struggled to maintain his accuracy – as did most of the team not named Odom or Gasol. Gotta get the bigs involved – both of them are very accurate from in close… Ronny Turiaf surprised me with a very nasty foul on Ronnie Price – totally unnecessary.

    As a Laker-fan, not overly surprised about not winning in Utah’s house – any team that has a 37-4 record at home is going to be hard to beat.
    Their record on the road is not so impressive… and Carlos Boozer continues to struggle with accuracy. Hopefully, in LA’s house on Wednesday, the Lakers get the job done. Fingers crossed…
  • The Spurs did the same – equalizing the series 2-2 with a 100-80 win. San Antonio did a pretty good job of limiting Chris Paul – better than anyone has thus far these playoffs. Paul finished with 23 points and 5 assists for the game. Not a bad total, but certainly not what we’ve come to expect. Tim Duncan hit his straps – 20 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks.
    Are the Spurs back? Don’t know… but I think they have a greater chance than Utah.

In tomorrow’s game:

  1. Boston at Cleveland – Boston have been all over LeBron like a bad case of crotch-rot. Really, really doing a good job of getting in his face, and limiting good looks. Unfortunately for Boston, the rest of the Cavs really stepped up in game 3. Can they do it again? With the way the C’s have been on the road, I think so. Yet another series tied up at 2 a-piece.

A Step In The Right Direction – Walsh Knicked From Pacers

3 04 2008

Whichever spin is put on it, Donnie Walsh was pretty much stolen from the Indiana Pacers by the New York Knicks.
And there will be spin applied.
Count on it.

A donnie deal?For the Knicks, this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. And if Walsh’s first move is to dump Isiah Thomas as coach, then the Knicks are well on the way to recovery.
And ‘recovery’ it is.
As is said in such programs, the first step to fixing a problem is admitting that it exists. And Isiah ‘exists’ on a level of incompetency that was difficult to imagine before his bungling reign of one of basketball’s premier franchises commenced.
The difficulty has been that for some line of reasoning beyond the ken of mortal man, the team’s owner – James Dolan – is a huge fan of Isiah’s.
With the induction of Walsh as GM, Isiah’s influence on the team is somewhat lessened. Dolan’s man-love of Thomas may go either way at this point, Thomas being sacked as coach might be declared off-limits… but I tend to think that Donnie Walsh allows Dolan an escape clause:

“Hey, I gave Walsh carte blanche with the franchise, and he made this decision.”

Wave bye-bye to Isiah folks. Not before time. If nothing else, Dolan was foolish for not seeing the writing on the wall re. the management skills Thomas possesses post his absolute destruction of the Continental Basketball Association.
Talk about ridiculous.
Isiah bought it for $5 million, the NBA offered him $11 million. He turns it down, and within a very short time frame, it’s dead in the water.
Rumors that did abound of Thomas intentionally running the league into the ground to make way for the NBA-owned NBDL lack credibility, for if that were the case, Thomas would’ve just sold the league to the Association.

Even whilst at the Pacers – where some credit him with doing a fairly good job coaching – a charge of mismanagement is more easily understood: in 2003 even with a talent-laden roster, the 3rd seeded Indiana lost to the 6th seeded Boston Smilin’ Assassin… soon to be ‘assassinated’?Celtics in the first round. Perhaps the best thing Larry Bird did in the front office of Indiana was to sack Isiah Thomas.

And ‘mismanagement’ is the key phrase for his tenure at the Knicks. Or perhaps ‘deluded’.
Even now, after all that he has dragged the New York franchise through, Isiah claims that he believes that he will win a championship with New York, and that he will leave a championship legacy.
Isiah Thomas will indeed leave a legacy at New York. One that will take quite a long time for them to recover from.

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New York Look West?

22 03 2008

Rumours abound that the New York Knicks might be looking Westward for direction… more specifically, Jerry West.

Newsday reports that people close to West have stated that if offered the job, he’d probably take it. One stating,

“It wouldn’t surprise me. He’s such an A-type personality. It’s hard for him to sit on the sidelines and not be involved.”

Jerry WestWest himself hasn’t said anything contrary regarding the possibility, other than he hasn’t officially been asked anything yet by the Knicks, who seem to be focused on Indiana’s Donnie Walsh – should they choose to expel Isiah Thomas.

Newsday’s last line on the article was key:

“I don’t know if I’d do it,” West said. “It would be nice, privately, if somebody had an interest enough to want to talk to you about it. That would be exciting, yes.”

The only sticking point for any of this (and it appears to be the sticking point for Donnie Walsh) is that no matter what happens, James Dolan is still the owner.

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Isiah’s Swansong?

30 11 2007

If it’s not, it should be.

Yes, ok – this team does not have the worst record in the league, but man-oh-man, it is bad. Bad in a way that is almost unfathomable. Even just focusing on the performance on the hardwood, which today reached new lows with a performance against an old foe that beggars belief.
The scoreline is simple enough…
Boston Celtics 104 – New York Knicks 59.
Surely records were broken in this game… it’s not the lowest score ever (as far as I’m aware that’s 49 points by the Bulls), but to have a game where your ‘best performed player’ – Quentin Richardson – has the statline of 3-11, 7 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist… and no player scores in double figures… sad times indeed.

To think, that not so long ago – but a year, the Boston Celtics were in similar straits. A roster that was fast going no-where, and competing to be the worst in the entire league. What a difference a year makes! Now the Celtics look like the early holders of the Eastern Conference, and Danny Ainge is looking absolutely messainic to the entire state of Massachusetts.

Isiah Thomas ponders what the future holds…Reflect that on Isiah Thomas. He has dragged the once-proud franchise through the mud over the off-season. A worse period in the history of the Knicks you’d be hard-pressed to find. Isiah’s decisions have saddle New York with more salary-weight than is believeable, for no return. And the millstone of Stephon Marbury continues to hang around the collective neck of the Knicks.

The parody offered by Onion Sports today “‘Fire Isiah’ Chant Breaks Out During Knicks’ Front-Office Meeting” can surely only be a very small way off the truth. The problem is, Knicks owner James Dolan seems to stay a staunch defender of Thomas.
The reputation of the team is at an all-time low, with the report John Koblin offered from the New York Observer reporting that even beat reporters dread going to Madison Square Gardens now…

“Frank Isola, the 12-year Knicks-beat veteran for the Daily News, said, “It used to be fun here. Now, there are some nights when you’re trying to talk your boss out of sending you here and maybe lie and tell him you’re sick or something.”…”

Whilst the team itself is awful, there were consolations in some of the performances that indicated that maybe… just maybe, the team wasn’t as bad as first thought. But with Boston revealing flaws in the roster of a magnitude that rivals the franchise’s off-court issues, the time has come for the team to take a new direction.

Isiah Thomas must be fired, and if that news is released in the hours post this game, I’ll not be surprised.

As I stated in the comments section of NBA Opinions With Malice – New York State of Mind,

“…they should dump Thomas, and hire a ‘caretaker’ guy… someone not too famous, not too difficult to shuffle off in a year or so. 1-2 year contract. Get stuff in shape then bring in a favoured son… someone like Ewing (he’s currently an assistant at Orlando).”

Get it done guys, it’s simply embarrassing now to see this franchise fumble around in the dark like some pubescent boy on his first date.
Let me add my voice to the mythical minions in the Onion’s NYK Front office: Fire Isiah.

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