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Knicks Links 10/12/09

 

For a little mainstream media insight on the Knicks, you may want to read the LBE discussion with Mike Kurylo (KnickerBlogger.Net/True Hoop Network) and Chis Sheridan of ESPN. There was nothing earth shattering stated in the discussion, but I had to laugh at the opening by Chris Sheridan:

Good afternoon, Knicks fans, and it is a good afternoon because y’all are one day closer to the end of this miserable decade.

Perhaps the most interesting thing Sheridan said was that the Knicks were going after LeBron and Bosh and that they were competing against Miami for the assets.

I see them trying to get LeBron and Bosh, one through a sign-and-trade and the other in a straight up signing. That would be the expanded Plan A. I think Miami has sights on making a play for both those [g]uys too, maybe Boozer instead of Bosh if he stays in Toronto, and   [p]utting both of them alongside Beasley, Wade and Chalmers. a pipe dream, maybe, cuz they’d have to accept less than the max, but the Heat think they have a puncher’s shot at pulling it off.

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According to Marc Berman, “Darko Milicic would not return Mike D’Antoni‘s calls all summer. Milicic and D’Antoni did not speak until the 7-foot-2 center arrived in New York two days before the start of training camp.” 

Despite the belief that Milicic has strengthened the Knicks defensively, what he has done thus far is not very impressive.  He lacks consistency in terms of defensive effort.  D’Antoni thinks that Milici is simply not ready to play at his speed yet. "He’ll get his shot down when he gets comfortable," D’Antoni said. "He’s only been playing this style for two weeks. He knows how to play. That’s a key. We’ve sped the game for him. Everything’s going 100 miles an hour for him."

In Berman’s Milicic story, he also noted that D’Antoni said the Knicks did not miss Quentin Richardson’s leadership.

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The Knicks are selling Duhon and Lee as the Pick and Roll Dynamic Duo. In addition, check out their twitter on the second sidebar:

You’re Invited – Knicks Open Practice! This Saturday, Oct. 17 @ The Rose Hill Gym @ Fordham Univ. Admission is free. Doors open @ 11:15. 2 hours ago

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Jared Jeffries is going to be in the starting line-up instead of Danilo Galinari.  Chris Duhon, Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington and David Lee will also be in the starting unit. D’Antoni thinks Gallo is just in a minor funk.

Barbara Barker, of Newsday which is owned by Cablevision which owns the Knicks, stated that “Last year’s Knicks team was fun to watch, except when they were attempting to play defense.” 

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October 12, 2009 Posted by | Chris Duhon, Danilo Gallinari, Darko Milicic, David Lee, Jared Jeffries | , , , , | 3 Comments

Training Camp Round-Up

Good morning folks. This afternoon is the last training camp session and tomorrow is the beginning of pre-season with the Knicks’ first game against the Wanna Be Brooklyn Nets in Albany. (Talk about your geographic confusion). There have been plenty of eyes, some behind amateur but useful video-camera shots, in Saratoga watching the Knicks try to come together as a T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) to borrow a oft used acronym from Mr. Cooleyhigh.  Perhaps the best way to sum it all up is “the Knicks are a work in process.”

Of course the process is the “How Do We Get To 2010 Without Looking Like Absolute Fools Process”  and that is a difficult assignment which Donnie Walsh has handed off to Mike D’Antoni this preseason.  D’Antoni has taken the task with the same positive energy he usually brings to the job, but we perceive that Mike has changed a little bit – he is no longer verbally rigid about sticking to his “offense is defense” philosophy which he (and Newsday) kept trying to sell us last season.  Now he has embraced bringing a defensive set to the minds of the players; the next step is to bring the players a defensive mind-set, but this is a process.

This year D’Antoni has made defensive pressure a part of the training camp drills, although it is hard to see the impact of those drills in the available film footage (Check out Alan Hahn’s valiant camera phone effort).  The defensive pressure is also not one of the elements noted much by the blogging eyes in Saratoga.

One of the things most Fanatics understand is that you can’t tell much about the upcoming season from training camp, but you are given some tidbits to help your analysis. It is particularly hard to determine how good players or different combinations of players are because they are all training against players who formed one of the worst teams in the NBA last year.  At this time last year we were concerned whether Jamal Crawford would find his shot which seemed to vanish until the end of pre-season and whether Zach Randolph would be able to adapt to the D’Antoni philosophy of ball movement from player to player not from Zach to Black Hole. (At the beginning of the season both Randolph and Crawford were able to adapt as the Knicks got off to a strong start before the leading scorers were caught in a salary dump, to the dump, to the dump.)

The Eyes Have It

Knicks Fans have a number of eyes at Training Camp this year including Tommy Dee of  The Knicks Blog, Alan Hahn of Newsday, Mark Berman of The Post, Seth at Posting and Toasting, and Frank Isola of the Daily News (he really offered very little observation and insight in the on-line version of the Daily News). 

According to most of these gentlemen, Friday night, the 4th night of training camp, was the most impressive as the players came out and played with considerable intensity. “The energy was awesome and regardless of what people think about this being a lost season I’m here to say that these guys are ready to compete and ready to win,” wrote Tommy Dee.  Dee’s enthusiasm is always nice, but not everyone there associated the evenings effort with the Knicks’ state of readiness for the NBA season.

Earlier, we provided you some video from T&P.  The Knicks Blog also has been providing nice multi-media coverage through the SNY-TV network. The following is their Training Camp Day 4 Video.

 

 

Regarding the intense Day 4 scrimmage according to Dee, “The best five, offensively, in terms of flow was Darko, Lee, Will, Hughes and C-Du. I’m very interested to see if that continues. They have obvious synergy, but it could be just tonight.”  Alan Hahn was more impressed with a different combination. He wrote, “The best lineup for the blues included a huge group of Gallinari, Jeffries, Lee and Milicic. That group moved the ball beautifully and seemed to have great chemistry at both ends of the floor. Milicic ran the floor well and, along with Lee, dominated the boards.” Seth at T&P added that Duhon came to life after Robinson’s squad of youngsters, including Toney Douglas, experienced some success in both trash talking and b-balling.

It’s a process.

Playa, Playa, Play On

Jared Jeffries – Jeffries remains one of the most consistent players on the Knicks.  He is a hard worker and a valuable tool. Unfortunately, Jeffries is often the poster child for offensive disabilities and his contract is one of those in the way of cap space security for fans afraid we won’t be financially prepared for the free agent shopping spree this upcoming summer.

According to Hahn, on the third night of training camp most of the players looked like their legs were dead and their shots were flat, but the “most fittest players such as Nate Robinson, David Lee and Jared Jeffries didn’t show it as much, but everyone else was clearly feeling it.”  I know, I know: Jeffries shot didn’t look as bad because it is almost always flat or a knuckleball, but I like Jeffries because he is a hard working T.E.A.M  player. By Friday night Hahn wrote, “Jeffries has looked very good in camp. He is even finding some consistency and confidence in his previously wayward shot. Not to say he’s a legit scorer, but Jeffries is trying hard to show he won’t be a liability on offense.”

Toasting and Posting wrote, “Brace yourself. Jared Jeffries has been one of the best players on the floor throughout camp. I’m serious. It was cute at first, but Jared made it clear tonight that he’s determined to be a factor. His outside shots continued to fall, and he put the ball on the floor for difficult finishes with either hand. On the other end, Jeffries hounded guards in the backcourt, then raced back to legitimately swat a few people under the basket. My friend (a Celtics fan, I’m afraid, but he appreciates the Knicks) said, without a hint of sarcasm, "he looks like Kevin Garnett out there". It was a sight to be seen.”

It’s too bad that almost every year Jeffries starts the pre-season like a gangbuster and gets injured or so it seems.  Let’s see if he makes it into the rotation on October 28th against the Heat.

Darko Milicic –Milicic, 24, is already in his seventh season. My question is not “How did he become a bust?” It’s “how many rookies has coach Larry Brown destroyed or misused in his career?”    By Friday night, Milicic dominated the boards and ran the floor well, according to Hahn, although he seemed to get hurt a couple of times, once when Toney Douglas landed on his head. Milicic understands that he can help the Knicks improve by rebounding and blocking shots.  "There’s a lot of scorers on this team, scoring is not a problem here," he said. "So I will try to help in other ways; try to rebound, try to block shots. All of this stuff is going to make this team better and get a couple of more wins, maybe for a playoff spot.”

Eddie Curry – Maybe he really is hurt.  Sometimes I regress to my conspiracy theorist days in college and I feel like Eddie Curry is not really hurt, but his conditioning is so bad that the coach does not want the rest of the world to see him practice publicly before he puts a big for sale sign on his Knick-neck.  But, he did practice the first day and he was wearing a boot while working out in the pool by the third day.  This brother is just a mess right now.  Put him on your prayer list please.

Danilo Galinari – Since he was drafted, I have been comparing his game to Jamal Crawford’s which is what I saw in the Euro-tapes.  I was not at all surprised that D’Antoni tried Gallo at the 2 spot which is a slightly better place for him, but according to Berman, “[e]ven D’Antoni admits – for all of Danilo Gallinari’s shooting grace – he still can’t create his own shot.”  That takes a chunk out of my Crawford comparison because Jamal can create his own shot with ease although the shots are not always easy to look at.

Seth at T&P was not impressed with Galinari’s speed on defense. “I think I buy the idea of Danilo Gallinari acting as a shooting guard on offense, but I’m not so down with his matching up that way on D. Gallo matched up with Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry (the latter of which isn’t nearly as ridiculous, but still) at times, and had trouble keeping up when he got screened or lost on the break. At one point, a frustrated Gallo objected to some physical positioning by Landry, and simply shoved him out of bounds with two hands. The guy’s got fire, but I wonder if throwing him out there against guards maximizes his talents.”

Toney Douglas – One of the most significant developments is that D’Antoni has already penciled Douglas in as Duhon’s back up. (Berman). This is not a surprise.  What was a surprise is that D’Antoni had practically written the rookie off as unprepared for the NBA after the Summer League.  "He didn’t have a good summer league, and it was a quick judgment and maybe made a mistake on," D’Antoni said. "He’s a lot better than I thought. He might have ran out of steam at the end of the week, and I judged him on that not being ready. Give him credit though. I showed him things he had to work on and he did."

Toasting and Posting noted, “Toney Douglas continues to impress me on defense. As an athlete, he’s unspectacular, but he’s determined to bust his ass to stay with his assignment. It’s especially refreshing to see someone get over a screen now and then.”

As I mentioned earlier, you are likely to see Douglas and Robinson on the floor together often, especially to improve the tempo of the game.  I would also not be surprised to see Douglas, Robinson and Duhon on the floor at the same time with perhaps Gallo, Jeffries or Chandler.  This combination puts Duhon in the best position offensively as he can pop the tre and play for the drive instead of concentrating on being the distributor.  It’s a small group, but until Milicic is ready, the Knicks’ best units will be smallish.

Al Harrington – Harrington is reportedly looking pretty active and aggressive, particularly on offense where he is also passing the ball around and driving to the rim which is when he is most effective.  Seth wrote, “Al Harrington, who continued to abuse every defender in his path (and a ref or two as well). I believe the word that Al’s added muscle over the summer, because he’s willing and able to bully his way to the basket and finish strong. The outside shots are falling, too.”  Solid play from Harrington will make it tough for D’Antoni to settle on a definite 8-10 player rotation.

We will get a better understanding of what all of this means when the pre-season starts tomorrow. I understand that O&B is going to try to pull together an LBE for tomorrow afternoon.  Stay tuned.

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DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY O&B’s INSIGHTFUL AND LONG LAP ON KNICK REVIVALISM

ALSO, DON’T FORGET TO ROCK THE VOTE FOR THE DANCE-SPIRIT TEAM

October 3, 2009 Posted by | Al Harrington, Chris Duhon, Danilo Gallinari, Darko Milicic, David Lee, Donnie Walsh, Eddie Curry, Jamal Crawford, Jared Jeffries, New York Knicks, Toney Douglas, Zach Randolph | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

ESPN ANALYSTS FIND OBVIOUS TRENDS AMONGST KNICKS

image ESPN’s top NBA analysts Ric Buecher and John Hollinger combined their skills, tools and observations to find trends within the Knicks. The analysis is tucked away in the Insider which requires a subscription for this “insider information.”  Unfortunately in this case, it seems that their combined effort is no more than common sense.

First they determine that the player “trending up” is Wilson Chandler.  Hollinger expects Wilson’s player efficiency rating to increase slightly but not drastically.   He writes:

Chandler will start at small forward again and has a good chance to build on last season’s numbers since he’s only 22. It’s unlikely his playing time will increase much this season, especially if Danilo Gallinari is healthy, so any uptick in Chandler’s numbers will have to come from either finding more shots or converting more of the ones he takes. Either is possible, but we’re talking about incremental shifts here with a gradual build. He’ll probably lift his percentages a bit and average around 15 points per game, which is solid. Just don’t expect the moon based on a superficial reading of last season’s numbers.

The player thought to be trending downward is Darko Milicic.  He believes that Milicic is little more than good trade bait around playoff time:

What? You thought Darko would be reborn in Gotham? Let’s curb the enthusiasm. The Grizzlies traded Milicic to New York for Quentin Richardson, and Milicic will serve as the backup center and provide one of the few sources of defense in the basket area for New York. He’s a good option to bring off the bench for 20 minutes a night for that reason, but he may get lost in the Knicks’ run-and-gun approach. Additionally, he doesn’t have the skill level to finish pick-and-roll plays, the bread-and-butter of New York’s half-court game.

According to Bucher, Jordan Hill is the “name to know” which is translated to mean that Knicks hopes may rest on his shoulders as much as Danilo Galinari’s.  However, he expects little from the raw forward.

Most rookies have an easier time if they can play a role alongside an established star. The Knicks don’t have any bona-fide stars, but their post players, Lee and Al Harrington, have strengths, meaning they won’t yield easily to the rookie. Hill is not going to outrebound Lee, and Hill showed no signs in the summer league of having a superior inside-outside game to Harrington’s. So what does he do to make his mark?

Chances are, he won’t. He’ll be just another guy in the rotation, much like Gallinari. And that won’t help Walsh that much.

As I see it, these are all safe observations and predictions that tell us little about how the Knicks will fare this year.  The key to the Knicks is how well D’Antoni will be able to institute his offense (and whether they will play any defense).  I was cracking up earlier this morning because last year I spent a little time on the Fix, where Chris Duhon was treated like a God, criticizing Duhon and Walsh because their actions dismantled D’Antoni’s offensive scheme and turned it into a half-court pick and roll offense.  The only way that changes is if the conditioning and mind-set of the bigs handling the ball on in-bounds or rebounds and the guards bringing up the ball change their mind-set and move the ball (not themselves) quickly up the court.

Consequently, D’Antoni will be looking to Danilo Galinari and his guard corp to direct the offense. As, I  will write later, Galinari is being put in an awfully difficult challenge but what you must like about him is that he has a great competitive mentality which is an important part of what makes a great player.  Still, the Knicks are probably asking too much of him, his conditioning and his understanding of the NBA game.  With so much weight on Galinari it is highly likely he will “peeter out” by the all-star break.

Regarding Chandler, we all expect him to play better and hopefully with more anger and aggression.  However, the problem regarding Chandler is that the D’Antoni staff must begin to maximize this kid’s skills.  He has the ability to have a nice inside game, but turning him into a three point shooter will ultimately hurt his game and confidence.  We can expect the local Beats to pound on his image by interpreting his laid back, deferential and youthful approach to the game as having a “low basketball IQ.”  (That term rankles me coming from the Beats who understand the game far less than most of the players and have a paper trail of prognostications and observations to prove it.)

D’Antoni’s handling of Curry and Milicic will decide how quickly he can get the team to play consistent ball with each other.  No one really expects much from Curry who will probably not be in D’Antoni game shape.  That would require D’Antoni to alter his “game” for another season. I am not very familiar with Milicic’s game although I have reviewed a lot of tape.  I haven’t seen him get the opportunity to demonstrate all those skills he supposedly has, so I reserve judgment for the moment.

As mentioned before, the key to the Knicks will be the guard corp and whether someone can step up and displace Duhon from the position of titular point guard.  All eyes are on Toney Douglas as the player who hopefully will trend up and be able to direct D’Antoni’s offense.  He showed an ability to play the up-tempo game during the summer league where almost all the games were horse races from end-to-end.  Otherwise, we may see another season with major in-season trades that can disrupt the teams’ flow.

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Although, I sorta kinda follow ESPN’s power ranking, they really don’t tell you much more than how certain analysts think a team should be ranked. Very subjective.  However, they are still decent entertainment.

This year the Knicks start off at number 26 in the power ranking, under the Nets and above the Wolves, Grizzlies, Bucks and Kings.  We’ll see.

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DON’T FORGET TO ROCK THE VOTE FOR THE DANCE-SPIRIT TEAM


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September 27, 2009 Posted by | Al Harrington, Chris Duhon, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee, Donnie Walsh, Eddie Curry, Mike D'Antoni, New York Knicks, Toney Douglas | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NATE ROBINSON IS VOTED 3rd BEST 6th MAN OF THE YEAR/FANATICS PICK FOR MIP & MVP

Our Little Big Man, Nate Robinson placed third in the voting for 6th Man Of The Year, well behind the winner Jason Terry, of Dallas, who won with 576 voting points. Despite the landslide loss, the recognition is significant for Robinson (who had two first place votes out of 121) as it is a continuation of his increased marketing stature in the league.  Each year he has been in the league, Robinson’s starlight has shined a little brighter despite efforts by the New York press to caricaturize him and minimize or trivialize his b-ball skills and acumen

Relative to how much the Knicks reeked this year, Robinson had a decent season and performed at a high level consistently.  His most notable difficulties during the year came right after the trade of his home-buddy, Jamal Crawford, and his towel-in-his-face-tossing friend, Zach Randolph.  Robinson actually started the year off with a good performance in the Las Vegas summer league where his jersey was retired and ceremoniously hung on the wall (until they took it down).  During the season Robinson averaged 17.2 points per game. He posted 4.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds per while averaging 30 minutes per game.  Nate Robinson ranked second in scoring among players who have come off the bench in at least half of their team’s games. He also tied Bob McAdoo’s franchise record for most points off the bench with 41 on Feb. 23.  Nate also led the team in scoring 19 times.

Press coverage of Nate’s recognition as a top sixth man was negligable.  Interestingly, it is not featured on the Knicks website.  Some may say that this is another sign that Dolan intends to let Robinson go to another team.  Yet, Robinson was featured with Gallinari as they appeared at the Garden together for a Rangers game which seems to be an annual post-season marketing responsibility for at least one Knick.  (Last year, I believe it was David Lee’s responsibility to shout-out MSG’s other product). Alan Hahn of Newsday devoted a blog post to the accomplishment, but could not help but reference the fight three years ago involving Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith.   Marc Berman did not mention Nate’s performance recognition, but did report in an earlier blog post that the Knicks were clearly looking to lose Robinson in favor of a cheaper playmaking guard, perhaps from Europe.    In the same post, he also noted that Nate was “shot happy,” which is odd since D’Antoni depended on him as the only player on the Knicks who could dictate the tempo and style of a game.  The Daily News did not mention it at all either.  At least the coverage was not as bad as when press members were blaming Nate for Gallinari’s lack of playing time and shooting opportunities instead of accpeting that the kids back was killing him and that all he ever did was stand on the perimeter initially swinging the ball and then later taking shots which he shorted before he found his range.

I’ve got to believe that Walsh will resign both Nate and Lee.  I know he wants to do it and resigning them does not mean they will be Knicks next year.  The combination of their new salaries and some of that salary cap room can set the Knicks up for a nice sign and trade if the right player is available.  (That could be Bosh, but he is not the right player.)  Nate should be easier to sign and keep because he would greatly benefit from remaining in the east coast market where he could make a pretty penny outside the inbounds lines.  Despite the tension between his emotional style and the false moral code of the New York press, Nate remains a crowd favorite and is wonderful with kids.  Nate is a marketing dream and if he gets on a winning New York team before he wears down his wheels, he can really capitalize on his uniqueness.  A Wheaties pic is not implausible.

Additionally, while D’Antoni has shown exasperation with Nate and they are looking for a new playmaking guard, that does not necessarily spell the demise of Nate.  Nate would thrive more than Duhon with a playmaker.  The Knicks know that they really need to replace Duhon and I expect D’Antoni wants to reduce Duhon’s control over his offense as soon as possible.  A Robinson-Rubio backcourt is far more palatable than a Rubio-Duhon backcourt in which the deliberate Duhon would be practically useless.

 

 

 

2008-09 NBA Sixth Man Award presented by Kia Motors Voting
Player, Team 1st 2nd 3rd Pts
Jason Terry, Dallas 111 6 3 576
J.R. Smith, Denver 3 36 32 155
Nate Robinson, New York 2 27 22 113
Lamar Odom, L.A. Lakers 2 17 17 78
Travis Outlaw, Portland 1 17 19 75
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio 1 3 3 17
Ronald Murray, Atlanta 1 2 5 16
Chris Andersen, Denver 3 4 13
Andrei Kirilenko, Utah 2 1 7
Corey Maggette, Golden State 2 1 6
Louis Williams, Philadelphia 1 3 6
Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix 1 3 6
Eddie House, Boston 1 2 5
Kirk Hinrich, Chicago 1 1 4
Jason Kapono, Toronto 1 3
James Posey, New Orleans 2 2
Trevor Ariza, L.A. Lakers 1 1
Michael Beasley, Miami 1 1
Hakeem Warrick, Memphis 1 1
Paul Millsap, Utah 1 1


All-time winners

1982-83 Bobby Jones, Philadelphia 76ers
1983-84 Kevin McHale, Boston Celtics
1984-85 Kevin McHale, Boston Celtics
1985-86 Bill Walton, Boston Celtics
1986-87 Ricky Pierce, Milwaukee Bucks
1987-88 Roy Tarpley, Dallas Mavericks
1988-89 Eddie Johnson, Phoenix Suns
1989-90 Ricky Pierce, Milwaukee Bucks
1990-91 Detlef Schrempf, Indiana Pacers
1991-92 Detlef Schrempf, Indiana Pacers
1992-93 Clifford Robinson, Portland Trail Blazers
1993-94 Dell Curry, Charlotte Hornets
1994-95 Anthony Mason, New York Knicks
1995-96 Toni Kukoc, Chicago Bulls
1996-97 John Starks, New York Knicks
1997-98 Danny Manning, Phoenix Suns
1998-99 Darrell Armstrong, Orlando Magic
1999-00 Rodney Rogers, Phoenix Suns
2000-01 Aaron McKie, Philadelphia 76ers
2001-02 Corliss Williamson, Detroit Pistons
2002-03 Bobby Jackson, Sacramento Kings
2003-04 Antawn Jamison, Dallas Mavericks
2004-05 Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls
2005-06 Mike Miller, Memphis Grizzlies
2006-07 Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix Suns
2007-08 Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
2008-09 Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks

POLL WORK: FANATICS PICK FOR MVP AND MIP PERFORMANCE AWARDS

   

April 25, 2009 Posted by | Donnie Walsh, Mike D'Antoni, Nate Robinson | | 5 Comments