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Berman v Hahn

The hot button Knicks issue of the moment? David Lee may not be in training camp because he may not have a contract.  The result of the Beats returning from vacation with nothing much to write about? Probably.

Apparently, Newsday’s Alan Hahn, who is sounding more and more like Donnie Walsh’s consigliere, has renewed his word wrestling match with the Post’s Marc Berman, who Hahn all but accused of being Stephon Marbury’s PR manager before Steph produced  his own televised situation-dramedy.  This time the Beats’ infighting, outside the Garden, is  over whether David Lee may consider sitting out training camp as one of his options.

The funny brouhaha  started yesterday with Berman’s story in which he relayed a conversation he had with David Lee’s agent, Mark Bertelstein of Priority Sports.  During the conversation, Mr. Bertelstein implied that there was a possibility David Lee would not be in training camp if a deal was not completed by then.  Although he also stated that Lee was willing to take a reasonable one-year contract and that discussions had not yet gotten to that point, the New York Post’s headline writers focused on the more sensational point by presenting the story as a major pronouncement by David Lee. The headline read: David Lee Could Hold Out Of Knicks CampThe article stated:

The agent for David Lee would not rule out the possibility of his client being an unsigned contract holdout when Knicks training camp opens Sept. 28.

“I certainly hope not, but you have to have an agreement,” agent Mark Bartelstein told The Post yesterday. “I never thought we’d be this far without a deal. It comes down to making a deal. You have to ask [team president] Donnie [Walsh].”

“All we’ve agreed is if we can’t do a sign-and-trade, we will work out a reasonable one-year deal,” Bartelstein said.

Walsh did not return phone calls. Bartelstein said Lee will not accept the $2.5 million qualifying offer and dismissed rumblings Lee has been offered a one-year deal between $5 million and $6 million.

Immediately, not to be outdone, Hahn contacted Bertelstein who was reportedly incensed about  the article.   Newsday’s on-line headline writers took a swipe at Berman and the Post with the following headline: Agent: Lee Holdout Story Bogus Hahn wrote:

Mark Bartelstein was furious.

“I honestly think this is why athletes and agents are at a point where you don’t trust the media,” he said.

Bartelstein, who is David Lee’s agent, was referring to having his quotes misrepresented in a story by the New York Post today (we referenced Starberman’s report in the previous blog).

Bartelstein says he never said anything about a hold-out involving Lee, who remains an unsigned restricted free agent. In fact, he was merely answering a question about David not coming to camp if he wasn’t signed.

“I certainly hope not, but you have to have an agreement,” was Bartelstein’s reply.

Hahn ended his blog post with his version of a pimp slap to the back of Berman’s head.

“Donnie and I have worked on this thing all summer,” Bartelstein told me. “I understand where they are [with the 2010 plan] and what they’re trying to do. I’m not going to criticize Donnie and the Knicks for doing it.”

I know, that quote just doesn’t make a splashy headline, does it.

Not one to take a Hahn backhand without a quick response, Berman called Bertelstein and learned of  yet another Hahn diss.  He shared his conversation with the agent with us in his blog post entitled, Lee’s Limbo:

It is sad that one month from training camp, David Lee is unsigned and his agent Mark Bartelstein doesn’t know for sure if Lee will be signed by Sept. 28th when the Knicks bus to Saratoga..
That was my story today and don’t let anyone misrepresent it. I spoke to Bartelstein this afternoon, not realizing he had told someone else his quote was misrepresented in the piece. Not true. Bartelstein was angry with the headline but he had no problem with the way the story read. He said the story was accurate.
“But people read the headline,” Bartelstein said, which stated “Lee could be a holdout.”

Berman went on to defend his story by stating that Bertelstein never ruled out Lee not appearing in camp due to the lack of a contract with the Knicks.  Berman also did not absolve his headline writer of responsibility for the little tiff.

The bottom line for the Knicks fans is that nothing has changed and the real story was one Beats’ (Berman’s) effort to update an outdated story (Lee has no contract) and the subsequent spit ball fight between local reporters trying to appear more diligent than one another.  Exciting, isn’t it.

* * * * * * * * *

It should be rather obvious that the Knicks’ so-called 2010 plan is an absolute mess.  Newsday, which is owned by Cablevision, which owns the computers in the newsroom and probably the Blackberry’s in their reporters’ pockets and the  Knicks, joins pro-management blogs to spread the myth that Donnie Walsh has everybody, Sessions, Robinson and Lee right where he wants them — on the ropes almost forced to bend to his will and his plan.  That is simply caramelized fiction.

First of all, no championship contending team, and I repeat, no championship contending team has been built the way the Knicks are supposedly trying to re-build the team.  Walsh’s major mistake was his most important transaction after firing Isiah and hiring D’Antoni: overpaying point guard Chris Duhon to run D’Antoni’s offense. The key to D’Antoni’s offense is the point guard and picking the right one from free agency, or even better, from the draft, was critical.  Duhon-D’Antoni, despite Coach K’s references for his championship guard, was a terrible fit from the very beginning.  Duhon, a back-up point guard for a half-court offense in this league, never demonstrated the ability to run a fast-paced, fast-break offense.  Never.  Those who believe that Duhon started off well ignore two critical points: first, D’Antoni converted his offense to a pick-and-roll offense, after Crawford was traded, to fit Duhon’s style and conditioning.  Second, the Knicks’ record after the Crawford-Randolph trades was abysmal.  Who was leading that team?

More significantly, one must wonder, beyond the expiring contracts, what type of value can Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes and Al Harrington be used for to build the team.  They were obviously useless in terms of the Knicks moving up in the standings or the 2009 draft.  The most valuable Knicks remain Nate Robinson, Wilson Chandler and David Lee.  Danilo is only valuable in the hopes and dreams of New York fans who hope that his flashes of quality play were more than flashes.  Despite the inflated assist numbers borne from this offense, the entire league knows that Duhon did a mediocre job of running the scoring offense.  They may also have some doubt about his defense since the Knicks’ game has not featured that aspect of the sport.   The Knicks’ flirtations with Kidd, Sessions, Tinsley, “White Chocolate” and the like reinforced the Knicks’ belief that Duhon is not the guard they really want running the offense.

Some fans believe that any move is an acceptable move as long as it creates cap space.  That notion is a half-step and a long fall short of idiotic.  Every transaction has considerable repercussions beyond creating cap space.  Let us name a few:

  1. Every player traded for has a value either as a player or as a contractual obligation which must be considered. (Who can we get for Al Harrington, a Donnie Walsh joint?)

  2. The players brought to a team help establish a culture and atmosphere which may or may not attract other quality players. (Has that winning culture arrived yet?)

  3. How management treats its quality players who have been loyal sends a signal to the rest of the players in the league and can impact the attitude of the retained players in the upcoming season. (Sure Nate and David are professionals, but what will their contribution be to the Knicks’ culture beyond working hard to win that next contract from another team? One of the major problem with Isiah’s Knicks was that he presumably lost his players respect by how he treated Stephon.  His team did not work hard consistently.)

  4. The elite players will make elite money no matter where they go, but they all want something more — to win.  What do the Knicks’ offer the elite franchise free agents — a winning culture or the opportunity to help James Dolan build from scratch?  Who really wants that — apparently not Jason Kidd, Grant Hill nor Steve Nash.

Soon, you will see apologists back track from the promises of the 2010 plan and tell us to look at 2011.  It is the current MO.  Last year, we were told the Knicks’ goal was the playoffs, but later in the year we learned that the Knicks weren’t actually  as concerned about achieving the goal as they were stating it.   Now we are told that it is not important what player we get in 2010, just that we are ready to get one.  But still, we have no idea what kind of team we are trying to build.   Build it and they will come, says one of my favorite commentators? Query in response: build what , with what?

August 28, 2009 - Posted by | Al Harrington, James Dolan, Nate Robinson | , , , , , ,


  1. THANK YOU! This A-H trying-to-make-a-name-for-himself post is the best damn article about the Knicks all summer.

    When I read H’s blog I was real tempted to post to it but I had important things to do, and H has been doing this sh*t from Day One of his being anointed the Knicks beat writer.

    What I woulda posted was that Marc Berman has the smarts and cojones to take on the NBA, the owners of the Knicks, its management, coach, players, EVERYONE in the NBA.

    Not only that, but Marc Berman ‘gets’ the potential news value of a story.

    H does not get this stuff. He’s white bread chicken sh*t and tries to create controversy by taking pot shots at a colleague with cojones. Duh??? He needs Berman to write about something so AH finally has something to huff & puff about it.

    And A-H can’t hide behind journalistic ethics stuff because with all his (yawn) stuff about the Knicks, he’s postin’ pix and (figuratively? literally?) jackin’ off to Jessica Simpson. I only know this because A-H writes about it – even an early-on apology to his wife. If you don’t follow celebrity stuff, then you woulda learned that Jessica Simpson is now single again because A-H shared the titillating (for him) news.

    This guy is seriously damaged goods.

    Comment by Pat Rogers | August 28, 2009 | Reply

  2. This intro is perhaps the most realistic, perceptive
    and honest view of the “mess” that the Knicks are really in.
    As DVJ used to say “Terrible” just terrible.

    Comment by Peaceman | August 29, 2009 | Reply


    On this rainy and dreary day in New York City this afternoon, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington were at South Street Seaport for a block party put on by their sneaker company Protege. One of the MCs at the event asked Stack Jack in front of the crowd whether he thought the Warriors were going to make the playoffs. Jackson paused then smiled before responding, “Um…I don’t think I’ll be a Warrior next year. I’m looking to leave.”

    Harrington, who was standing beside Jackson, was gleaming with joy at this statement. As you all know, the two were teammates with each other for the Warriors and Harrington left on bad terms with the team – particularly Don Nelson. I asked Harrington if Jackson’s statement shocked him. He laughed then responded, “No I wasn’t surprised. We talk all the time so I knew already. Honestly sometimes you need a change and I hope this change is to come out to New York – that would be nice.”

    After they posed for pictures with fans, I was able to ask Jackson more about his bold statement.

    Dime: You made a big declaration earlier today by saying you wanted out of Golden State. When did you decide this?
    Stephen Jackson: It’s not about a decision I made. It’s just things are in the air right now. I really can’t get too much into it right now, but I’m just looking to go somewhere where I can go and win a championship.

    Dime: Are the Warriors aware of this?
    SJ: Yeah they all know.

    Dime: Is there anywhere specifically you want to go?
    SJ: Either Cleveland, anywhere in Texas or out here with Al in New York.

    Dime: So what have you been up to this offseason?
    SJ: I have a foundation. I opened a school, The Stephen Jackson academy in my hometown so that’s the big thing I’ve been doing this summer. I had my second annual foundation banquet. So it’s been a great summer for me, I got married this summer, so God has been good to me.

    Dime: You look a lot bigger and stronger. Who’s been training you?
    SJ: Well, basically I’ve been playing a lot with Monta Ellis. I just play all year ’round, that’s the biggest thing with me. I really don’t do too much. One-on-one, working out with guys and running up hills, stuff like that I just play basketball. You know and it keeps me in shape. I love the game so I respect it.

    Dime: Speaking of Monta, do you think he can play in the same backcourt with Stephen Curry?
    SJ: I think so, because Curry’s more of an off guard and Monta is more of a point guard. But the way Don Nelson coaches and that style of play – anybody can fit in. Especially a shooter like Stephen Curry. So he’ll be fine.

    Dime: Did you like being in Nellie’s system?
    SJ: I loved it. It gave me a chance to show everything I could do on the court. It was great for me, but at this point, I’m 31 years old. I have four or five years left, I want to be in a situation where I can continually be in the playoffs and get another ring. So that’s where my mind is at now.

    Comment by Pat Cummings | August 29, 2009 | Reply

  4. Thanks Gents.

    Pat, thanks for posting the Stephen Jackson story. Wow. Very interesting. I love his game, but I am afraid he is probably too pricey even with a trade of Jeffries.

    For those interested, here is an article on Mad men, historic preservation and the rise of the Garden: Madison Square Garden, Mad Men, and Preservation


    Try this article on stat fudging: Layups: More Disturbing Stories on the Book-Cooking Front

    For gamers, Kobe on NBA2K10 at Kobe Bryant: NBA 2K10 is ‘like practicing without getting hurt’

    Note that we also added LeBasketbawl and You Got Dunked On to the blogroll. Lots of interesting stuff, but I particularly enjoyed this article: Yo Donnie Let’s Get Moving at LeBasketbawl. You Got Dunked on is also loaded with goodies — dunks galore.

    Comment by livesinnewjersey | August 29, 2009 | Reply

  5. HMMMM….

    “Dime: You made a big declaration earlier today by saying you wanted out of Golden State. When did you decide this?
    Stephen Jackson: It’s not about a decision I made. It’s just things are in the air right now. I really can’t get too much into it right now, but I’m just looking to go somewhere where I can go and win a championship.

    Dime: Are the Warriors aware of this?
    SJ: Yeah they all know.

    Dime: Is there anywhere specifically you want to go?
    SJ: Either Cleveland, anywhere in Texas or out here with Al in New York.”

    NY, huh, maybe Jackson is willing to take a bet on what may be in the wind.Yeah, this coming season in NY is a throwaway for the Knicks, but maybe they, the players, and org., are looking at a possibly much bigger picture, MEGAMILLIONS!We make deals with dictators, so it is not about justice.America has always been about the struggle of justice and greed.Read history and you end up following the MONEY!Pro basketball is just a business, like any other.You guys love a game, the NBA loves a dollar.It’s just a sordidly normal corner of the entertainment business, a business noted for its own special form of human trafficking.”Just us”, not justice is a normal way of life in this country, and the NBA is just (us) a part of it.LeBron will ultimately go where his best economic interests are served.If it were about just money he would have signed in BronBronLand(Akron?) already.Winning trophies is just window dressing for moguls.They really win at the bank because they own, not rent.My son watches cartoons for laughs, I watch the NBA.LGK

    Comment by Tman | August 29, 2009 | Reply

  6. Tman,

    Q. After watching the physicality of the playoffs this season, doesn’t Mike D’Antoni’s emphasis on offense and lack of defensive commitment, to say nothing of no rebounding or shot blocking, doom the Knicks for years to come?

    Just asking, since I know you got the answer.

    Comment by livesinnewjersey | August 29, 2009 | Reply

    • You put the pieces together very well Mr. Precision. T

      Comment by Tman | August 29, 2009 | Reply

  7. Fanatics,

    Al Harrington may want Stephan Jackson,but his contract runs to the 2012-2013 season.I doubt if that will happen.

    Comment by D L T Knicks | August 29, 2009 | Reply

    • And Al Harrington should worry about himself as a Knick, because there is certainly no guarantee he will be around. In fact, unless he is willing to take the vet’s minimum, he should be on his way to another team as an FA.

      Comment by livesinnewjersey | August 29, 2009 | Reply

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