New York Knicks
|3 years ago||'04 #10561|
$40,638 | 2138
NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony came to New York nearly three years ago with a clear mandate. It's pretty obvious, after the Knicks lost their sixth straight home game and dropped to 3-8 on Wednesday night, that this isn't quite what he had in mind.
This is what the Knicks signed up for, though. And it's only beginning.
This isn't a snap judgment after 11 games of what so far has been a lost basketball season in New York, regardless of borough. This isn't about whether the Knicks will "dig ourselves out of this hole," as Anthony put it Wednesday night after a crushing, 103-96 overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers -- the team with the best record in the East (10-1) and the team that bounced the Knicks out of the playoffs last season.
This is about a process that began unfolding the night the Knicks finally pulled off the massive trade that brought Anthony to New York in February 2011 -- a process that will only kick into overdrive if the Knicks don't find their way out of this.
If they don't, anyone can see what's coming: Mike Woodson gets fired, company man Herb Williams becomes the interim coach and the drumbeat begins in the background for John Calipari to make his long-awaited return to the NBA.
You don't have to be an NBA executive to see that coming, but I asked some, and they see it, too. The payroll is maxed out through next season, the tools for tax teams to acquire players in sign-and-trades next summer are gone and it's not like the Knicks can sell anyone on a fallback plan of reloading with a lottery pick in the coveted 2014 draft. The Knicks' pick goes to Denver (from the Anthony trade) or to Orlando (if it's worse than the Nuggets' pick).
"Where's the excitement?" one rival executive said this week. "They have no pick, and the excitement isn't coming from winning."
You can only sell success or hope in the NBA, and if the Knicks don't find a path to winning soon, they'll have neither when it comes time to convince Anthony to re-sign as a free agent next summer. But hope -- or the illusion of it -- can be manufactured. This is especially true when the next move on the chessboard could have been predicted when the Knicks sacrificed all their pieces for Anthony.
Since the Knicks doubled down on Anthony and his representatives with Creative Artists Agency, the organization has been reshaped in CAA's image. Woodson, a.ssistant GM Allan Houston and player personnel director Mark Warkentien all are represented by the agency. In re-signing another CAA client this past summer, J.R. Smith, the Knicks threw his brother, Chris, a bone in the form of a guaranteed contract. Chris is now toiling in the D-League while taking up a roster spot at MSG.
This kind of quid pro quo happens all the time in the NBA; the agent business, you may have heard, is not the cleanest. Across the Brooklyn Bridge, agent Jeff Schwartz managed to get his client, Deron Williams, re-signed with the Nets while getting another client, Jason Kidd, hired as the head coach. Another Schwartz client, Paul Pierce, came aboard once Kidd convinced Kevin Garnett to waive his no-trade clause so the blockbuster trade with the Celtics could be consummated.
But the Knicks are all-in with CAA in ways that few of their rivals could even imagine. Days before training camp began, GM Glen Grunwald was pushed aside in favor of Steve Mills, who was brought back for a second tour of duty due to his institutional knowledge of the Garden and connections to the game's power brokers -- especially, William "World Wide Wes" Wesley, whose path to Garden influence was paved with the Anthony trade.
CAA, via Wesley, also represents a certain decorated college coach in Lexington, Ky. Given the path they've chosen, the Knicks can't get any of the NBA-ready players on Kentucky's roster, but they can get the coach -- and are perhaps the only team positioned to pay Calipari what it would take. One league executive surmised that the bidding would start at $8 million a year.
"That's what Wes will be pushing," one of the executives said. "That's what CAA will be pushing."
Executives differ on whether Calipari would want full personnel control in addition to the coaching title. "He wants full control, bottom line," one executive said. I agree with another exec who pointed out that, when it comes to the Knicks, it is understood that CAA has the power and that it would merely be channeled through Calipari. Either way, Calipari would instantly become the most powerful authority figure the Knicks have had since Isiah Thomas finally was run out of town. Somehow, that sounds just about right.
Never mind that Calipari's last NBA coaching job, in New Jersey, was a debacle that swept him away in a toxic wave of paranoia. This only makes him the ideal candidate to work for the Knicks.
The name of the game is to keep Melo happy, and in theory, it shouldn't take much. Anthony has the stage he wanted, the market he wanted, the complete run of what they still call the World's Most Famous Arena for reasons that have little to do with basketball. What more could he want?
To answer that, Anthony must look inward: Does he have what it takes to lift the Knicks out of their four-decade championship drought before his next contract becomes just another in a long line of burdens on the Garden's books? Is this where Anthony can finally elevate his own reputation as a great talent who could not fundamentally transform a franchise?
In the Knicks' tenuous state, a magnificent effort from Anthony wasn't enough to push them past a sleepwalking Pacers team on Wednesday night. What else could he have done? Anthony had 30 points, made all 10 of his free throws (and should have shot more) and pulled down 18 rebounds -- nine offensive. He was the best player on the floor until Paul George woke up in overtime.
"We've got to get out of it," Anthony said. "We've got to dig deep within ourselves and figure out how to dig ourselves out of this hole. We dug ourselves in the hole, now we've got to dig ourselves out."
Whether he realized it or not, Anthony's words were the ideal metaphor for an organization, a player and the unholy alliances that have followed him here.
With more to come.
|3 years ago||'04 #10563|
$40,638 | 2138
NEW YORK -- J.R. Smith said the New York Knicks are mentally "frustrated" and that he is panicking after they lost their fourth straight game.
The Knicks' 103-96 overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday was the team's sixth in a row at Madison Square Garden.
"We're frustrated," Smith said of where the team is mentally, despite most saying it's too early to panic. "Like you say, it's too early to panic, but me, personally, I'm panicking. I don't like this.
"I don't want to play 3-8 basketball," Smith continued, in regard to the Knicks' record. "I don't want to play 50-50 basketball. If we're going to be a championship-caliber team and call ourselves that, then we've gotta play like that. It can't be no other way."
The Knicks played hard Wednesday and put forth the kind of effort that coach Mike Woodson wants to see on a regular basis. In several of their previous losses at home, the Knicks put forth lackluster effort and weren't competitive at times.
"I'm proud of how we competed," Woodson said. "That's something I hadn't seen a lot this early season, and that was New York Knick basketball. Unfortunately we're a little snake-bitten right now in terms of getting over the hump."
The Knicks are 2-5 since losing Tyson Chandler to a fractured right fibula. Carmelo Anthony had 30 points and 18 rebounds, and the Knicks led by three with 9.2 seconds left. But Iman Shumpert was called for a foul on a Paul George 3-point attempt, and George (35 points) made all three free throws to force overtime.
The Knicks put forth effort Wednesday night, but it hasn't always been there this season. And that has been frustrating for Smith.
"Lack of intensity," Smith said. "I hate to say it, but our defense's backbone is on Tyson, and Tyson's not here right now. And we know that, and he's not going to be available for a few weeks now, so we've gotta step it up individually. It's a team game, but individually we've got to take pride in guarding the ball, guarding our man. We have to enjoy stopping the other team."
Smith, who scored 21 points but missed an open 3 with 57.1 seconds left and a tip at the end of regulation, said the Knicks can't just talk about putting forth effort. They have to do it if they want to be a contender.
"We play too up-and-down," Smith said. "When we are on the highs, we are great. When we are on the lows, we are terrible. We got to have that steady pace throughout the whole year.
"We lost to teams we have no business losing to," Smith later added.
|3 years ago||'04 #10565|
$40,638 | 2138
There are many issues beguiling the 3-8 Knicks, but the referees’ harsh treatment of Carmelo Anthony and coach Mike Woodson’s harsh treatment of Iman Shumpert are two of the biggies.
On his ESPN Radio show Thursday, Woodson defended how he handles Shumpert, meeting with him Thursday, while lobbying to officials Anthony isn’t getting superstar calls.
Woodson said he believes Anthony’s final shot in regulation Wednesday night — a 12-foot turnaround over Paul George — could have been called a foul as contact ensued. The Knicks lost in overtime, 103-96, for their fourth straight loss with a four-game road trip ahead, starting in Washington on Saturday before hitting the West Coast.
Asked if Anthony is not receiving calls normally a.ssociated with a superstar, Woodson said, “Absolutely. I’m not going to shy away from that either. Melo gets hit more than ever. If you go to that overtime game, we were down six. Melo got whacked coming across the middle and there was no call.
“I’ve been at this thing 30 years,’’ Woodson added. “Sometimes I’m starting to wonder what’s a foul and what’s not a foul. He’s a gifted offensive player who has a knack to draw contact and get fouled. Sometimes he comes up empty a lot of times.’’
Anthony does not do himself favors with the officials. Since last season, when he was the league leader in technical fouls, he has developed a penchant for railing at the referees on the court.
“You got to continue to play through it and not let the officials affect what goes on,’’ Woodson said. “The officials can’t see everything. I understand that. I thought he got bumped on [the final play]. He didn’t get the call. You have to move on.’’
The extra physicality against Anthony could be occurring because he’s returning from a torn left shoulder and never had surgery. Anthony is shooting just 40.6 percent and has been in morose moods after several of the losses and often has an ice pack on his shoulder.
“Melo has never once talked about his shoulder,’’ Woodson said. “I don’t think it’s been an issue.’’
The Knicks would have won the game had Shumpert not been nailed for a foul on George’s 3-point attempt with 5.2 seconds left in regulation. Slow-motion replays showed Shumpert grazed George’s elbow with his fingertips, and George made all three free throws to force overtime.
The Woodson-Shumpert rift reached a new dimension when the coach praised referee Joey Crawford and called out the young guard, saying he told Shumpert to attempt to intentionally foul George before the Pacers star got a shot up.
“That was the theme coming out of the huddle,’’ Woodson said. “Iman didn’t take the foul. He thought if he got too close, he would’ve pulled the trigger and fouled him in the act of shooting and ended up doing it anyway. He thought the shot was so far back he challenged the shot and wound up nicking his elbow.’’
Woodson felt he needed to have a chat with Shumpert, who is on the trading block.
“I’m not sitting here browbeating him,’’ Woodson said. “You say I’m hard on him. I don’t call it hardness. I call it coaching. You guys think it’s hard. It’s coaching. You got to learn your players and learn what buttons to push. Who can be challenged? Who can’t be challenged?”
Woodson reiterated Shumpert made a “mistake,” though the Knicks coach acknowledged Crawford could have swallowed his whistle after the minimal contact.
“Some officials may let that go, but Joe elected to call it,” Woodson said.
“He’s a young player,’’ Woodson added of Shumpert. “I like to think he’ll learn from this one. If he’s in the situation again, he’ll do the right thing.’’
|3 years ago||'04 #10567|
$40,638 | 2138
You see him plenty. He is an active owner, he attends games, he lives and dies with his teams the way you do and because he’s the man who signs the checks, his opinions occasionally become mandates, and sometimes controversies. You know James Dolan is in the arena, in both the literal and the literary sense.
You rarely hear him. On occasion, he offers brief remarks at press conferences. You can hear him sing, if you catch his band at a club. But it had been seven years since he sat down for an on-the-record interview about the Knicks and Rangers. He agreed to meet with The Post this week, inside a Madison Level suite at the Garden.
The Knicks and Rangers boss understands he is a lightning rod for the people that support his teams, that when things go wrong — and plenty has in the 15 years of his stewardship — you blame him. He gets it. And make no mistake, he is the boss, and wants to be the boss, and says unequivocally: “On my watch, it is my responsibility. All of it.”
But before we begin, it may help to hear something he had to say about music, his first love, a subject that not only fills his recreational hours but also infuses much of how he feels about his day job, too. And may inform what his expectations for his sporting teams are, and how he wishes they’d be achieved, as well as anything:
“I don’t play any solo stuff in my band,” he said. “I CAN solo. I can play the stuff and if you heard it you might think it’s OK, pretty good. But the other guitar players in my band — one of whom is my son [Aidan] — are much, much better guitar players than I am. To put the best sound out there, they play the solos.”
Mike Vaccaro: We’re inside Madison Square Garden, a place everyone knows you’re personally invested in, not only emotionally but also for $1 billion. With the political movement to relocate it, will we still be sitting here in 10 years?
James Dolan: Yes, I think we’ll be here. I think this building now — I’m obviously prejudiced — but I’ve heard from other people who would know that this is the best [arena] in the world. I’ve been traveling with the Eagles, I’ve seen 25 buildings the last four months, and nothing comes close to this. Some of them are very nice but this is in a whole other category. Putting history aside, just structurally, every seat in the building now, what the experience means. Even the seats way up there (points to upper rows) have a nice, clear view to the stage, have their own screen, it’s a pleasant experience, walk out of your seats into the upper concourse. You remember what it used to be like up there?
MV: Yes …
JD: Now it’s inviting. I do think it’s the best building in the world in the greatest city in the world. And why would you take that apart? We have to work it out.
MV: So you think the political climate will be such in 10 years that it will be worked out?
JD: It’s a long time and we’ll be paying, of course, close attention to it. Moving this place would be like moving the Empire State Building.
MV: I’m sure you heard the chants that have already started to fire Mike Woodson, which comes with the territory, naturally …
JD: Yeah …
MV: How patient will you be with him? He understood when he took the job the expectations that go with it. Will you give him a long rope?
JD: I have a lot of confidence in Woodson, and one thing I can say about Mike is he has the respect of all the players. They all respect him. And he treats them fairly and relatively equally, and that’s part of where the respect emanates from. And those are hard things to get from a coach. When a coach loses a team … that’s when a coach is kind of done.
MV: You’ve shown tolerance as an owner; [GM] Glen Sather had a lot of empty years with the Rangers before he showed success. Do you feel you’re more patient than an average owner?
JD: I really don’t compare myself with other owners. I’ll bet you I’m more patient than Mikhail [Prokhorov] is of his team. Mostly, I think it does not pay to be impatient, because you destabilize your team. It’s not like the players don’t want to win, it’s not like the owner doesn’t want to win; everybody wants to win, so it’s a question of: Can you get there? With Mike, I think he can get us there. Mostly, I think Carmelo [Anthony] can get us there, and the other players can get us there, they’re going to have to jell and I think Mike can do a lot to get that to happen. Because he has their respect.
MV: The Knicks started 18-5 last year and it didn’t end the way you wanted it to; at this point I a.ssume you’d flip that script?
JD: You know what? I wouldn’t take last year’s team for this year’s team, because this year’s team is more designed to be a playoff team, whereas last year’s team was 18-5 but look who was playing: we had Rasheed Wallace who was doing everything for us, right? And we just started losing player after player … by the time we got to the playoffs that 18-5 team wasn’t the team that was playing in the playoffs. If they were I think we would’ve beaten Indiana.
MV: So this bad start …
JD: It’s going right according to plan (laughs) …
MV: A few days before training camp you changed general managers; why do that so close to the start of camp? Did something change from the start of summer to the end?
JD: I didn’t time it, per se, like that. I’m surprised other folks were surprised about this. The general manager’s work doesn’t really occur at that time of year. If you’re going to change general managers that’s probably the right time to do it. The next available trade date is Dec. 15. You’ve just finished free agency and all that. It’s a lull period. The timing didn’t really have much to do with that. It was more about an initiative I have going on with both teams that I hired McKinsey & Company [a Manhattan-based global management consulting firm] for, because as I’ve gotten to look at both our organizations, it’s become apparent that we really need to reprocess both teams. We were using a lot of — not old, but “classic” methods and now with technology, and what’s available to a team to help improve, I didn’t think we were taking advantage of those things.
MV: So in evaluating these business solutions you came to the conclusion Glen Grunwald was lacking and Steve Mills a better fit?
JD: I hired McKinsey in the summer, and Glen is more of a “classic” GM, and he just wasn’t the guy to lead this initiative for the team, and it had to be someone in that position who could do it because I wasn’t going to do it. It needed someone behind it, someone who understood it, and that just wasn’t Glen’s forte. I think he was a good general manager, he’s got a great eye for talent, he knows basketball well, but the job description changed.
MV: I a.ssume you don’t read everything written about you, hear everything said about you, don’t spend time on message boards …
JD: To be honest with you, Mike, I barely read the paper. There’s just too much written … unless Barry [Watkins, MSG’s executive VP for communications and administration] says, ‘Here, read this …’ (laughs) If it’s on the back page, I obviously see it. And the thing is, whether it’s positive or whether it’s negative, it’s rarely insightful to me. My job is to know more than the writers.
MV: And you have sit-downs like this so infrequently …
JD: When it comes to criticism I always think, OK, let’s look back at which New York sports owner was loved by the fans when they owned the team? Do you know any?
MV: Well, people speak reverentially about George Steinbrenner …
JD: But not when he was there … (laughs)
MV: Not until the end …
JD: There you go.
MV: That said, fans have a visceral relationship with their teams, and a lot of the vitriol is aimed at the owner.
JD: Look, it’s all about wins and losses to the fans. They want to believe in their team. They want to believe their team has a shot at the championship. I think you, for example, understand the fan’s perspective, why a fan is a fan. They’re very emotionally involved. And when things aren’t going well they want to understand what went wrong and, inevitably, who’s to blame?
MV: The guy who writes the checks.
JD: Right. And in the end it’s all my responsibility. And when they see a player not playing well they wonder, “Why did we draft him?” or “Why did we trade for him?” and “What was the thinking?” and “Well that was pretty dumb.” And eventually it gets to the point of, well, this isn’t going to change unless somebody changes it and that’s when they look to the owner. Sometimes that isn’t emotionally satisfying for the fans and you get what you get.
MV: Do you think you’re a good owner?
JD: Yeah. I do.
JD: I think I watch out for my fans. I try to give them a good product. I care for the teams. I’m emotionally involved and intellectually involved. I think an owner needs to be present. When an owner is not present that’s when things tend to go awry. The players, the coaches, the fans know there’s somebody in charge. They may not like what I’m doing but it’s much better than having nobody there. Nobody there just leaves you in despair.
MV: Are you a good boss?
JD: The teams aren’t much different than a lot of the other things I manage. If you’re the kind of person who likes your job, wants to continue to be better at it, wants resources, wants to continue to put out a better and better product, push the envelope, you’re going to like working for me. If you’re someone who says, well, I’ve accomplished what I’m going to accomplish, I want to sit here and do that, you’re probably not going to be as happy with me.
|3 years ago||'04 #10568|
$40,638 | 2138
MV: For Knicks fans there’s one word that riles their passion more than any other: Isiah.
JD: Amazing, isn’t it?
MV: And you surely know the panic that ensues when a Glen Grunwald gets fired and people wonder, “Is Isiah coming back?”
JD: I can’t control what’s in other people’s minds. I can tell you that he’s a friend of mine. We speak, but not as often as we used to because he’s really involved in other things now. We’ll message back and forth once in a while. We used to talk a lot more often. He seems to be moving into another phase of his life, he’s not as basketball-centric, he’s doing a lot of charity work, he got his masters [in education, from Cal-Berkeley], he actually uses me to bounce business ideas off of …
MV: Do you still consult him, too, about basketball ideas?
JD: Not really. For Isiah, I don’t know that he’ll ever be able to work in New York. I just don’t know that he’ll ever get a fair shake, going forward in New York?
MV: Do you think that’s unfair? He did lose a lot of games here.
JD: He lost a lot of games! OK. Do I think he deserves another shot? Yeah. It just can’t be here. And I think he’s talented. I think he’s particularly talented at finding basketball talent. But I think he’s probably dismayed at this point. But I don’t see him coming back to New York. I couldn’t do that to him, and I couldn’t do that to the organization. He would probably do it as my friend but I couldn’t do it to him or his family. And you know what the press would do here. We’re interested in getting better and that situation would be such a distraction that it would actually hinder our ability to get better.
MV: If you could take a mulligan on the $100 million Amar’e contract …
MV: Because the first year was that important?
JD: We would not be where we are today without Amar’e. That summer, the summer of “The Decision,” there were a whole bunch of free agents, and the guys put their thing together in Miami, and Amar’e agreed to come to the Knicks, gave us a launch pad by which we could convince the other guys like Tyson [Chandler] to come, and ultimately Carmelo to come play with us. Do I think Carmelo would have come if we didn’t have Amar’e? No, I don’t think he would’ve. These free agents, when you get to this level of player — the Carmelos, the LeBrons, the Durants — the first thing they want before the money or anything else is to be on a winning team. They’ve got to believe they have a shot.
MV: So does it sadden you to watch him in a diminished state?
JD: I still have hope. You cannot ask for a guy to be more dedicated, more disciplined, than Amar’e. He does his rehab, he does his workouts, he does everything, he’s on it every day, and that’s worth a lot, too. If there’s justice in this world, his knee will heal up to the point where he can play more minutes and make the contribution he wants to make.
MV: A perfect irony — the Knicks’ last truly great moment came at the L.A. Forum when Bradley jumped into Reed’s arms and they beat the Lakers for the ’73 title. And now you own that building.
JD: I’m having a good time with it. It’s a significant move for the company; other than splitting off Cablevision and the transformation of the Garden, the most significant move we’ve made in 10 years, the company’s expanding to the west coast, focusing on growth, especially in the music and entertainment area.
MV: How important is music to you? Obviously you have the band [J.D. and the Straight Shot], you’ve been trailing the Eagles, you’ve opened for them. How much of that defines you?
JD: You are not what you own. Music is a big piece of who I am. I don’t own music. I create music, and I play it, but I do not own it. So if you want to get to know me, you’ll see music as a big piece of who I am.
MV: The Eagles come to you and say, “Come on up and play one song with us.” Which song do you pick?
JD: Whoa … I love so many Eagles songs …
MV: That’s the curveball question.
JD: They start off their show with a song called “Whatever Happened to Saturday Night” … maybe because I haven’t heard it as much as others but I love that song. And it’s just Glenn [Frey] and Don [Henley] sitting on amplifiers, playing guitars and to me that’s how I grew up playing music.
MV: You own the Garden now. But you were like a lot of kids who grew up around here and took the train to the Garden …
JD: The Old Garden, too.
MV: What does the building mean to you?
JD: I’m really proud of it right now. The money we put into it, this is a building that deserves this kind of investment and it’s a town that can appreciate it and actually expects it. People here have a high bar. And this place raises that bar.
MV: It does seem the Garden, as long as it has existed, has a.ssumed a certain amount of responsibility for reaction.
JD: You have to do things here which sometimes, financially, don’t make sense, in order to honor what the place is. Things like 12/12/12, even to the point you’re bringing in an act that you have to stretch in order to get them here. You need to do all that to keep this place as iconic as it is now. So there’ll be more pictures on the wall. Hopefully we’ll have some of basketball and hockey teams, too. We’re doing our best to do that.
MV: Concerts are easier to guarantee than basketball games.
JD: Which brings me to a point (laughs) …
At this point, Dolan plays a snippet from his iPod of the recent concert at The Cutting Room in NYC. About to play a song called “White Bird” by It’s A Beautiful Day. Dolan, on the tape, says, “Welcome everybody from the Rangers game and thank you for bringing me a win. (applause) It’s too bad you didn’t come to the basketball game. (groans) Actually next game — we will win the next game, it’s guaranteed.”
That’s it. How that turned into what showed up in the papers the next day …
MV: Let’s talk about the Rangers a little bit. Is there a line of succession in place when Sather retires? Will he choose his replacement?
JD: Ultimately it’s got to be my call but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Glen and still feel very lucky to have him. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience and I don’t know if there’s anyone else in the NHL that’s better than him, but he’s got to be close to the top. His understanding of the game, his understanding of what makes a great player, and also he’s pulled off some trades I looked at him and said, “How did you do that?” As long as he’d like to stay I’d like to have him.
MV: A few years ago you took the mic at a postgame press conference and proclaimed the Rangers were on the right track for the Cup. Do you still feel that way?
JD: Yeah, I do. This is going to be an interesting year because we have a new coach and a new system. I’m heartened by what I’ve seen, it looks like the team is picking up on the coach’s strategy looks like they’re starting to jell, [Rick] Nash is coming back [Tuesday], we’ll see how that impacts the team. I like what I see. So much of hockey is playoffs, just like basketball, we’ve made the playoffs a bunch of times now but we haven’t … the closest we came was conference finals.
MV: While you’ve owned the Knicks and Rangers, the Yankees, Giants and Devils have all won championships, the Mets have been to the World Series. What do you feel when you see other teams’ successes?
JD: I don’t pay a lot of attention to the other sports. I’ve been here 15 years. So much of it is, it’s rare in a season when you see a team go through a season and dominate and go all the way through to the end. You want to be in those final four teams and then be hot, lucky, healthy … so the goal is to get there and then get the rest of the way.
MV: It seemed as if John Tortorella was on the brink of perfect New York stardom — no matter what, you had an opinion on him, good or bad. Are you sorry that didn’t work out?
JD: I miss John Tortorella. I’d visit Torts before a game and we would trade barbs for 10 minutes, he’d tell me about his [lousy] cable TV service and I’d be sitting there saying, “You can’t clear the puck out of your zone, what the hell’s wrong with you?” and he’d strike back and then play the game and I miss that. I’m developing a relationship with Alain [Vigneault] and he’s also a good guy, but Torts and I had a special relationship. It was fun for me. He banned me from the locker room for a while, all in fun. I miss that.
MV: What are your impressions of Mikhail Prokhorov?
JD: I don’t get to see him much but he clearly wants to win, which is a good thing. He’s the only guy paying more taxes than we are which is a club I wouldn’t necessarily want to be part of with him (laughs). I think he wants to win, I know he wants to win, he wouldn’t be putting the resources in that he is otherwise. But, I mean, he’s still my competitor. As a person I kind of know him, I’ve had lunch with him but other than that I don’t really know him well.
MV: One thing you share is that you’ve both expressed belief your teams can win a title this year. Do you really believe the Knicks can or was that just a usual declaration of high expectations?
JD: I think this team can win a championship.
MV: As presently constituted?
JD: I think there are a lot of teams that could win the championship this year. I think the Clippers can win. Are they going to? I hope not. I hope we win the championship. I think we have the pieces in place to do it. The skill level is there but there’s so much more to the game than that, and it’s really in the hands of the players. They have to believe in themselves, they have to put in the work, the effort, the discipline, they have to listen to the coach, they have to execute a strategy and put an effort in every game. And they have to get themselves to be the best team they can be at the end of March. It’s OK right now not to be the best team you can be. Last year by the end of the year we were struggling. I’d rather see it go the other way. I’m not happy, believe me, about the record where it is now. But the warts that are showing up now are things you can work on, things you can fix. Now you test the character of your team to see if it’s willing or able to do that, if the coach is able to do that, to make those fixes. Can they win the championship? Yes. They definitely can win the championship. There have been other championship teams that weren’t nearly as talented as this one. But they had something that this team needs to develop.
MV: There seems to be some question about the future of the Knicks City Dancers …
JD: Now you know why my band doesn’t play Madison Square Garden (laughs).
MV: How do you describe their status?
JD: When finishing the transformation we talked about all the other things we could do to make this season great for New York. We looked at our in-game experience for basketball and said “It’s tired.” So we went to a whole revamp and part was the Knicks City Dancers. We’ve actually invested more money into them, they’re working on new routines, they’ll be doing a lot more things that relate to Broadway and, hopefully, relate to New York, but it won’t be the old cheerleader squad. Honestly, we watched it the last couple of seasons, the women would go out there and they would perform and they wouldn’t even get applause. It just wasn’t engaging of the fan base. They will now be engaging. And they’re all talented enough to do this so it’s not a stretch for them. They’re not appearing as much right now but as they continue to work on their routines and their choreography you’ll see more and more of them. We try to get them in every home game but they’re going to miss some. But the in-game experience is what we’re looking at.
|3 years ago||'04 #10569|
$40,638 | 2138
Happy Anniversary, Knicks. Not!
Thursday was the five-year anniversary of the Knicks officially embarking on their plan of blowing up the team, ducking under the salary cap and preparing for the 2010 free-agent class. Sources now say their No. 1 goal at the time was pairing LeBron James with Chris Bosh.
On Nov. 21, 2008, then Knicks president Donnie Walsh, with the team off to a 6-5 start, dumped the long-term contracts of his two best players, Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford, in two separate blockbuster trades.
It started a dizzying series of deals designed to go as far under the salary cap as possible in order to sign two superstars.
Instead of James and Bosh, the Knicks signed Amar’e Stoudemire the following summer to an uninsured five-year, $100 million contract and seven months later traded the farm for Carmelo Anthony.
Five years later, after 82 players have graced the 15-man roster since that 2008-09 season, the Knicks are 3-8 and in danger of spending this season battling for the seventh or eighth playoff seed. They don’t even hold a potential lottery pick for the superior draft awaiting this summer if they crash.
Five years later, the Knicks are on their third GM and probably will have a third head coach by next season.
Five years later, they have in Stoudemire a knee-impaired player not permitted to play in back-to-back games or more than 15 minutes a night on a James Dolan-inspired restriction.
Five years later they have a glum superstar in Anthony who could decide to take $30 million less to leave New York this summer to get out of a losing situation.
Five years later, their best playoff showing was a second-round ouster, accomplished last season and which may stand as the highlight of the five-year plan. The previous two seasons, the Knicks were knocked out in the first round.
Five years later, new president Steve Mills already is gathering a new analytics plan and strategy to deconstruct the roster with eyes on the 2015 free-agent class headed by Kevin Love.
Dolan’s intentions were good, he has no regrets, but many mistakes were made along the way. Happy Anniversary, Knicks.
In the semi-annual will-John Calipari-coach-the-Knicks-next-season rumor, the Kentucky coach was compelled to respond via Twitter.
“As I’ve said before, I have the greatest job in basketball any level,” he tweeted. “Why would I be interested in another job?’’
Dolan could be interested down the road because he loves dealing with the CAA agency, which represents Calipari. Calipari also is linked to William Wesley, a friend of Mills.
Lost in the commotion of the Indiana heartbreaker caused by the Iman Shumpert foul was the incident in the huddle between Metta World Peace and Tim Hardaway Jr., caught by MSG Network cameras. World Peace and Hardaway jawed at each other and the former Ron Artest gave the rookie a shove when an a.ssistant got between them. Was it a sign this team isn’t getting along on or off the court? One person familiar with the scene called it “a heat-of-the-battle moment.’’… Woodson said he believes the overtime loss to Indiana was a positive step. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel,’’ Woodson said. “We competed. It was a beautiful sign to see.’’
|3 years ago||'04 #10574|
$40,638 | 2138
Chris Broussard (aka he's making sh*t up again)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are actively shopping second-year shooting guard Dion Waiters, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Three teams the Cavaliers are known to have spoken with are the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, the sources said. The Cavs' targets are Iman Shumpert in New York, Evan Turner in Philadelphia and Luol Deng in Chicago, sources said.
It is believed Cleveland has reached out to other clubs as well.
Waiters, whom the Cavaliers drafted with the No. 4 pick in 2012, has a contentious relationship with several teammates, including star point guard Kyrie Irving, and sources say he is open to being traded. In fact, though Waiters has not demanded a trade, he brought up the subject in a three-hour meeting last week with coach Mike Brown and general manager Chris Grant, according to sources.
The Cavaliers are looking to shake things up after a 4-10 start. Part of their problem has been the dysfunction in their locker room. Waiters, a 6-foot-4 guard, got into an altercation with forward Tristan Thompson during a players-only meeting after a 29-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 13, sources said.
Sources described the following account:
Irving called the meeting after the game and every player spoke. When Waiters was given the floor, he criticized Thompson and Irving, accusing them of playing "buddy ball'' and often refusing to pass to him. Thompson took umbrage with Waiters' words and went back at him verbally. The two confronted each other but teammates intervened before it could escalate into a f!ght.
However, Waiters and Irving are not close. Waiters believes the Cavaliers have a double standard when it comes to Irving, sources said. Waiters feels that while Irving is allowed to get away with loafing defensively, making turnovers and taking bad shots, he is taken out of games for such things. Waiters has shared his views with Brown and Grant.
Waiters is slumping after a promising rookie season -- both his scoring and shooting percentage are down.
|3 years ago||'04 #10576|
$40,638 | 2138
LOS ANGELES – It’s Sob City vs. Lob City when the reeling Knicks face the 10-5 Clippers Wednesday night at Staples Center.
But Amar’e Stoudemire made it clear at the Knicks morning shootaround his locker-room complaints in Portland about the lack of ball movement wasn’t finger-pointing. And Stoudemire said he’s certainly was not blaming Carmelo Anthony, who scored 34 points Monday.
After each of the last three losses, Stoudemire has identified the lack of ball movement as the prime culprit. It figured he was referring to Anthony and J.R. Smith, perhaps more the latter since he has been struggling badly during the six-game losing streak that has dropped the Knicks at 3-10.
Stoudemire said he’s not singling out anyone. Anthony didn’t react well to Stoudemire’s ball-movement theory Tuesday, saying the defense is a much bigger problem.
“You guys do that a lot,’’ Stoudemire said. “When we say things like ball movement, [we’re] talking about it as a team as a whole. We all are a unit. It’s not to single out anyone at all. You guys seem to do that. That’s not the case. We’re a team together and united. When we discuss things like defense, we’re discussing team defense. When we’re discussing ball movement, we’re talking about team ball movement.’’
Stoudemire said he hasn’t talked to Anthony to clear up the issue.
“We all know that we’re together,’’ Stoudemire said. “No sense sitting down 1-on-1 with him. We all understand what we need to do. We love each other on and off the court, so we just got to get through this little rut. Once we start winning, everything will be smoothed out.’’
The Knicks will get back starting point guard Raymond Felton to face Chris Paul. Felton, who sat out four straight games with a hip/hamstring strain, took the blame for the club’s poor ball movement when he played.
But Mike Woodson and Anthony are still much more focused on the defensive end, where the Knicks played awfully during a first quarter in which the Blazers were left open from the 3-point line and got to the rim at will for a parade of layups.
“It’s both,’’ Stoudemire said. “Defense is an area we can still win games when offensively we’re not playing well. That’s what Woodson’s saying. We can still win ballgames, win championships, if you play great defensively. That’s what we’re keying in on now.’’
The Knicks went through an extremely long shootaround at Staples that lasted 90 minutes. The shootarounds usually take an hour at most.
“I wanted to work on some things for us and had to go through their stuff,’’ Woodson said. “It’s a little longer than what we normally do but, hell, it’s not going to hurt us.”
Woodson is trying to push the right buttons of his two shooting guards, Smith and Iman Shumpert, who were dreadful in Portland. Smith was 2-of-8 shooting and in foul trouble. Shumpert had arguably his worst game as a pro, going scoreless without an a.ssist, rebound or steal but with two turnovers.
Woodson has spent the last two days quelling the notion he doesn’t like Shumpert, who appeared to quit on Woodson with Monday’s no-show.
“They can’t have any nights off, they can’t,’’ Woodson said. “Last year, they didn’t have many nights off. I got to get both of those guys playing at a high level. ‘’
Woodson said Felton’s not 100 percent and he is worried about the point guard’s conditioning, so backups Pablo Prigioni and Beno Udrih, who started for Felton, need to stay ready.
“Paul’s not a good match for anybody,’’ Woodson said. “He’s pretty damn good but, hey, Raymond says he’s ready.’’
|3 years ago||'04 #10578|
$40,638 | 2138
The expiration date on owner James Dolan’s recent vote of confidence for coach Mike Woodson is approaching, according to sources.
While Woodson will coach the Knicks when they play the Nets on Thursday, it is unclear how much longer Dolan will allow this losing streak to go on. It has reached nine straight defeats and the team’s mental instability has become an issue. Dolan is obsessed with the Brooklyn franchise and a blowout loss could trigger changes — whether via trade or a coaching move.
Dolan sat down with The Post’s Mike Vaccaro on Nov. 19 before the Knicks played in Detroit and voiced his support for Woodson, but the Knicks have lost seven straight games since.
“I have a lot of confidence in Woodson, and one thing I can say about Mike is he has the respect of all the players,’’ Dolan told The Post in that interview. “They all respect him. And he treats them fairly and relatively equally, and that’s part of where the respect emanates from. And those are hard things to get from a coach. When a coach loses a team, that’s when a coach is kind of done.’’
The Post has also learned that if Dolan eventually makes a move, old enemy and ex-Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy would not be ruled out as a future candidate — though such a hire seems more sensible in the offseason if Dolan goes with an interim coach.
The Knicks are in shambles, with Woodson even acknowledging after Sunday’s loss to the Pelicans his team is playing scared late in tight games. Carmelo Anthony said the team is f!ghting confidence and “mentality’’ issues, and fixing that often falls on the coach. Anthony has hinted at a fracturing locker room, and there have been an inordinate number of blowups on the bench.
Dolan must be at least mulling whether his public statement still applies. Do the players still respect Woodson? Has he treated the players “relatively equally’’ with the Woodson-Iman Shumpert relationship an issue.
Van Gundy and Dolan were not on speaking terms for the longest time after Van Gundy abruptly quit early in the 2001-02 season. The two exchanged pleasantries at the Garden last season before Van Gundy broadcasted a game for ABC. Van Gundy will be back at the Garden Dec. 11, working the Knicks-Bulls game.
New president Steve Mills worked with Van Gundy for two-plus seasons in his first stint with the Knicks when his title was executive vice president of franchise operations. They got along well.
According to a league source, one issue could be Van Gundy wanting input in personnel decisions in his next job.
A Van Gundy return would also set up the possibility of Bobcats a.ssistant Patrick Ewing coming back as his a.ssociate coach. Dolan and Ewing repaired their broken relationship last season when Ewing worked for MSG Network periodically.
Van Gundy likely would be interested in the Knicks position. In late June, Van Gundy gave a massive mea culpa for quitting on Dolan — remarks that appeared to sit well with Dolan and may have served as an olive branch.
On ESPN Radio, Van Gundy called it “a stupid decision’’ to quit.
“It’s something I regret to this day,’’ Van Gundy said. “I live with it every day and I regret it. And I let my emotions come into it. And I was just emotionally spent. I made a bad decision and I quit….I had a great job with the Knicks.’’
One coach who once worked with Van Gundy said the former Knicks/Rockets coach has never desired taking over for a club in midseason, feeling it’s a tough go.
Van Gundy, whose Knicks record was 248-172, has thoroughly enjoyed his broadcasting gig and it wasn’t until very recently — with his daughter graduating high school — he seriously contemplated a comeback. He last coached the Rockets in 2006-07. He attracted mild interest from the Clippers and Nets last June.
“He’s the No. 1 basketball announcer in the country,’’ said an industry source. “He’s still an important voice. He’s the reason there were rule changes for flopping. But I think he’s got to give coaching one more shot. He has to. It’s in his blood.’’
There are other big names available including George Karl, Mike Dunleavy and Lionel Hollins, who said recently he wants another shot in the NBA after his solid run in Memphis. The problem is he was dismissed by the Grizzlies because of a supposed distaste for the new advanced stats movement. Mills was brought in to take the Knicks analytics a step further.
“I believe I’ve established myself as a head coach and I’d like another opportunity to show that [my success] wasn’t a fluke,” Hollins told ESPN.com. “I feel like I’ve proven I can take a young team and develop it, then sustain what I’ve done by what I did in the last five years in Memphis.”
Meanwhile, Woodson has to instill the confidence in his club before it’s too late. The only positive is the Knicks are just three games out of the Atlantic Division lead, despite being tied for the worst record in the East.
“We have to get together and do something and figure it out as a team,’’ Anthony said. “I don’t know what we have to do to come together a group, sit in here for hours and talk, but we got to do something.’’
|3 years ago||'04 #10579|
$40,638 | 2138
George Karl can just about forget ever coaching the Knicks as long as Jim Dolan is running Madison Square Garden.
“I watch the Knicks play,” Karl told Denver radio host Dave Krieger, “and I wouldn’t want to be in that hell for a million dollars.”
Of all the insulting, despicable things you can say about Dolan, Karl crossed the imaginary line by calling the Garden boss cheap. One million bucks? Dolan happens to pay his coaches top dollar to put up with his nonsense.
Karl should know since one of his coaching BFF’s is Larry Brown, who pocketed approximately $18 million for one season of that “hell” at the Garden.
“It’s just New York City and the Garden and the immensity of the pressure,” Karl added. “I think Mike Woodson is standing up to it with tremendous integrity.”
Well, Karl is right about that. He and Woodson are also tight and you can bet the two have spoken about everything from Carmelo Anthony to J.R. Smith to Dolan, the eccentric and unpredictable chairman of Madison Square Garden who will decide where and when Woodson “resigns as head coach to become an adviser.” If you haven’t noticed, the Knicks lead the league in advisers as well as workout coaches and, before too long, defeats.
The pressure is most definitely immense right now on Woodson with the Knicks mired in last place in the Eastern Conference, 0-for-November at MSG and riding a nine-game losing streak into Brooklyn on Thursday. A loss to Jason Kidd and the Nets could finally push Dolan over the edge.
The coaches are bracing themselves for the consequences of a 10th straight defeat. Dolan could run them all out of town, or it could be business as usual until the next loss.
That’s how Dolan rolls. He’s like a one-man Mafia. You never know it is coming until it is too late. Well, except for Jeff Van Gundy, who saw the handwriting on the wall and fired himself before Dolan fired him.
It could have been the perfect marriage — the take-no-prisoners workaholic coach and the nutty owner who spares no expense when it comes to his basketball team but needs someone with the guts to say “back off.”
“Say what you want about Jim Dolan but he’s one of about eight owners who is willing to spend money to compete for a championship,” said one current NBA head coach. “There are too many owners who are only in it to make money.”
That is the type of owner Van Gundy, who regrets quitting on the Knicks 12 years ago, could work for. In many ways, he may be the best coach for the job since he understands the shark-infested corporate waters at MSG and is a master at dealing with players and the media.
Two years ago, an intermediary acting on behalf of Isiah Thomas reached out to Van Gundy to gauge his interest in possibly returning to New York. But with Mike D’Antoni still at the helm, Van Gundy refused to entertain the question out of respect for a fellow coach.
That’s why the most recent regurgitated story of Van Gundy returning has more holes in it than the Knicks’ defense. Phil Jackson once discussed coaching the Knicks while Van Gundy was still employed at the Garden and there is no chance of Van Gundy working the back channels with Woodson still on the bench.
“Jeff thinks that is distasteful,” said one of Van Gundy’s close friends. “He also can’t believe how a guy who won 54 games is in trouble when Tyson Chandler has been out and a lot of the other key players are struggling. Carmelo is the one guy playing well but he isn’t getting much help.”
Dolan and Van Gundy have been on speaking terms for a few years now, the peace brokered when Van Gundy returned to the Garden in his broadcasting role. Something tells me Van Gundy’s partner, Mike Breen, helped initiate contact since Breen is also close friends with Dolan’s most trusted adviser, Barry Watkins. That makes sense.
Remember, when Donnie Walsh began his coaching search he said he would consider Van Gundy and did so with Dolan’s blessing. That news is older than Amar’e Stoudemire’s knees.
Would Van Gundy coach the Knicks again? Sure, but only if he got what Woodson wants: better players. Until then, Van Gundy’s current job is better than Woodson’s.
Plus, before I see Van Gundy riding in on a white horse there’s a trusted adviser to Dolan who I’m hearing could be next in line.
No, not that guy.
But Allan Houston, supposedly the GM in training, looms as a potential successor. The word around Knicks camp is that Dolan wouldn’t hesitate to promote him to head coach if the Knicks don’t turn things around sooner than later. Houston’s $100 million contract placed the Knicks in salary cap purgatory for years. Maybe having to coach this Knicks team would be his payback.
Well, if we told you on Sept. 1 that Steve Mills would be back before training camp to run the front office you wouldn’t have believed that either.
At MSG, always expect the unexpected. Based on that history, you’d be a fool to rule out Woodson, Van Gundy and, yes, even Allan Houston.
Karl, however, will never reach the level of “special adviser.”
|3 years ago||'04 #10580|
$40,638 | 2138
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- That whole Kenyon Martin-Metta World Peace thing?
Chalk it up to a difference in culinary tastes.
Metta World Peace, as only he can, explained on Tuesday that his recent argument with Martin was the result of a disagreement over pasta.
We'll let him take you through it.
"We were eating pasta -- he had elbow pasta, I had shell pasta, and I told him how my shell pasta is better than his elbow pasta. And he was pretty upset about that," World Peace said. "He loves elbows pasta, but I disagree, I think shell pasta is better. I don't care. I will stand by that. Shell pasta."
ESPN New York reported on Monday that Martin and World Peace got into a "heated" disagreement during a closed practice on Sunday before the Knicks' loss to the Pelicans.
World Peace's playful explanation, of course, is pretty hilarious stuff. But a source with knowledge of the incident said the Martin-World Peace dustup was anything but a joke.
"There was no pushing or shoving, certainly no punches, but it was heated," a source said. "They were jawing at each other, and you're talking about two guys who are pretty explosive, guys you wouldn't want to mess with. It settled down, but nobody was too eager to jump in between them, let's put it that way."
Player inf!ghting, of course, is typical of the frustration that surfaces when teams are losing. The Knicks have lost nine straight games and are tied with Milwaukee for the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
For what it's worth, Martin denied that he and World Peace had an argument. He referred to the report as "bull----."
Woody: I didn't bench Shumpert because he yelled at Melo: Television cameras showed Iman Shumpert yelling at Carmelo Anthony in the third quarter of the Knicks' loss to the Pelicans on Sunday.
The incident took place during a break in the action. Shumpert, curiously, did not return to the game following the dustup. He sat for the entire fourth quarter.
Most a.ssumed Shumpert was being benched for what he said to Anthony -- and how he said it.
But Mike Woodson on Tuesday insisted that wasn't the case.
"That had nothing to do with anything," the coach said. "During the heat of the battle -- especially when you're losing games -- everybody points the finger and tries to reach for certain things. I'm not gonna allow that to happen with our group. We have a close-knit group."
Shumpert appeared to be upset with Anthony after Ryan Anderson, Anthony's man, hit an open 3-pointer with 5:51 to go in the third to give New Orleans a 62-58 lead.
Shumpert presumably was angry with Anthony because he felt the Knicks star should have bypassed the screen and stayed with Anderson.
Cameras showed Shumpert standing over Anthony and addressing him in a demonstrative tone as Anthony sat on the bench.
"There was a mistake that happened defensively. When that happened, there were some words exchanged," Woodson said. "But at the end of the day, hey, that's behind us and we gotta move on. That's basketball. That happens in sports. Sometimes it's healthy, I think."