Tag:Knicks
Posted on: February 11, 2010 2:02 am
Edited on: February 11, 2010 1:17 pm
 

Rose MRI OK, will make trip to Dallas

DALLAS -- Chris Paul and Brandon Roy already have been knocked out of the All-Star Game with injuries. Kobe Bryant is suffering with finger, ankle, and hip ailments, and Allen Iverson is tending to his sick daughter. But it appears that Derrick Rose has dodged the All-Star injury bug.

An MRI on Rose's hip and back revealed "no significant injury," the Bulls said Thursday, and Rose will make the trip to Dallas for All-Star weekend. He will be re-evaluated here Saturday by team physician Dr. Brian Cole.

Rose left Wednesday night's 107-87 loss to Orlando with a bruised right hip, putting his status for Sunday's All-Star Game in doubt. The team was "hopeful" that the injury was limited to soft tissue damage and wouldn't keep Rose out of Sunday's game. Bulls fans might wonder why Rose would risk his health for the stretch run just to participate in an exhibition game. But given the positive MRI results and Rose's level of enthusiasm for making his first All-Star appearance, it appears to be a non-issue.

If Rose were to suffer a setback, the Hawks' Josh Smith and the Knicks' David Lee would be the most likely candidates to be named as the injury replacement. My pick would be Smith; he was a more deserving All-Star than Al Horford in the first place.
Posted on: February 10, 2010 6:32 pm
 

McGrady's escape window opens

Nobody wants to go to New York right now, considering the weather. But if talks progress on a three-team trade proposal involving the Knicks, Rockets, and Wizards, Tracy McGrady might be on his way to the Big Apple by the time the snow is cleaned up.

Though sources cautioned that no deal has been finalized, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the teams have discussed a swap that would send McGrady to New York, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Houston, and Al Harrington to the Wizards. Other pieces would have to be involved, but those are the main ones.

The holdup, according to one of the sources, is indecision on the part of the Rockets and Knicks to sign off on the proposal. The second person familiar with the scenario characterized it as one of many discussions the Wizards are actively engaged in as they try to clean house in the wake of Gilbert Arenas' season-wrecking firearms suspension.

Among those discussions, other sources say, involve Butler going to Dallas in an exchange that almost certainly would include Josh Howard. If the Mavs are able to follow through on their desire to trade Howard, they essentially must do so before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. Howard has a team option at $11.8 million for the 2010-11 season, and as such couldn't be traded after the season unless the Mavs picked up the option -- which would guarantee Howard's contract for next season.

As far as McGrady, what would the Knicks' motivation be to import an aging star coming off microfracture surgery -- one who has played all of six games this season? Thus, the hangup. Teams have balked at the Knicks' efforts to divest themselves of Jared Jeffries and Eddy Curry, both of whom are hampering New York's plan to clear further cap space for its free-agent shopping spree this coming summer. Moving Harrington's expiring contract (and another piece to make the trade work under CBA guidelines) and taking on McGrady's $23 million expiring deal wouldn't dramatically improve the Knicks' cap position for 2010-11. The motivation, therefore, would be hoping that McGrady has enough left to help push the Knicks back into the playoff picture. As of Wednesday, New York was 6 1-2 games out of the eighth spot.

Newsday reported Wednesday that Knicks president Donnie Walsh has visited Chicago seeking an answer to that question. Since the Rockets banished him in December, McGrady has been splitting time between Houston and Chicago, where he's worked out with personal trainer Tim Grover at the Attack Athletics gym. Walsh, according to Newsday, could be planning another trip. What he sees could be the tipping point in what would be one of the most significant deals to occur before the deadline.
Posted on: February 3, 2010 2:09 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2010 8:05 pm
 

Knicks' Walsh reflects on 'everyday guy' McGuire

The Knicks held a moment of silence Wednesday night to honor Hall of Famer Dick McGuire, who died earlier in the day at age 84. And silence is what there will be more of at Madison Square Garden without him.

"You could sit with him and talk about the team, what he thought about the team and what he thought we needed," Knicks president Donnie Walsh said. "I'm going to miss that."

The Knicks and the NBA lost a legend when McGuire died Wednesday morning at Huntington Hospital in Long Island, N.Y. Incredibly, he was with the Knicks as a player, head coach, assistant coach, scout, and most recently in his role as consultant. He was a five-time All-Star, led the Knicks to three straight NBA Finals (1951-53), and remains third in franchise history with 2,950 assists.

His No. 15 jersey, retired in 1992, was to have the spotlight shone on it during Wednesday night's game against the Wizards. McGuire was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, but personal accolades and ego were strangers to him. Even as age advanced on him, McGuire used to ride the Long Island Railroad to the Garden, walk into the building carrying a simple duffle bag with handwritten scouting notes, and talk basketball with anyone who would listen. Those who knew what was good for them did.

"He knew what it took to play in this league, and he knew what it took to win in this league," Walsh said. "... He was an everyday guy who loved living on Long Island, loved his family, and didn't take it too seriously."

His brother, legendary coach Al McGuire, died in 2001. They are the only two brothers enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Dick McGuire is survived by his wife Teri, four children, and seven grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Posted on: January 23, 2010 12:37 am
 

Kobe hits the Lakers where it hurts

NEW YORK – The mental minefield Kobe Bryant began planting in Cleveland stretched all the way to New York, where the Lakers embarked on the second game of an eight-game road trip with his words still ringing in their ears.

Not tough enough.

Not part of their D.N.A.

Need to be hungrier.

“He’s a killer,” Lamar Odom was saying in the visiting locker room at Madison Square Garden Friday night. “He’s always gonna see things the way he sees them. He’s our leader, so if he sees that then we have to address it – and the way we address it is on the court. … Our problem right now is our cockiness, so he might be right.”

After the Lakers failed to close out a game in Cleveland Thursday night, thus surrendering the season series to the Cavs, Bryant wanted to leave no doubt about where the defending champs’ heads must be on this trip. The Lakers ran out to an 18-3 start, playing only four of their first 21 games on the road. Now they’re 0-2 against the Cavs and had lost five of their last six road games entering the Garden Friday night.

“Guys need to get going,” Bryant said after the Lakers beat the Knicks 115-105, “because I need them on this trip.”

Complacency has always been the enemy of these Lakers, and Bryant knows by now which buttons to push. He had stewed for months after the Lakers proved too soft to beat the Celtics in the ’08 Finals, and so he went for the jugular after the Cleveland loss by trotting out those hurtful buzzwords at the first sign of weakness.

Nobody in the NBA senses weakness like Bryant, and that goes for his teammates – not just his opponents.

Phil Jackson didn’t necessarily agree with Bryant’s assault on the Lakers’ lack of toughness, but it didn’t matter. The message was delivered. And it wasn’t just delivered to the notebook-toting masses. It was delivered in the locker room, too.

“We have to be prepared for teams to come after us,” Odom said. “I never knew how hard it was gonna be to try to repeat as champions. He does. So that might be his way of pushing us a little bit.”

Needing a push has been part of the problem, according to renowned locker-room philosopher Ron Artest. It was Artest who was brought to L.A. to stop LeBron James, and he willingly admitted Friday night that he’s 0-for-2. On Christmas Day, LeBron scored 26 in a 102-87 Cleveland victory and Artest fell down some stairs at home afterward and got a concussion. On Thursday night, LeBron had his way again with 37 points in a 93-87 victory without injured guard Mo Williams.

“I guess that’s why they got me, to take him out of the game,” Artest said. “[Thursday] it didn’t work. They got us this year, so all we can do is move on from that and see what happens in the playoffs.”

Artest is new to the Lakers’ midseason blahs, but he’s a quick study. The Lakers are so good, so talented, so dominant, he said, that the games are too easy for them to be engaged all the time.

“We haven’t played good basketball this whole year and I don’t even know how we’re in first place,” Artest said. “We don’t even know. We’re out there sometimes trying to figure out how we’re still in first place. … You can play against a couple of teams that have some star players or whatever, coast through the whole game, and win by 20 – real easy. And that’s how it’s been for us this whole season. A lot of wins just came from it really just being too easy for us. Sometimes it’s not fair. We’re up 20 in the first quarter. What else are you gonna do but win by 100 points? I guess that’s what we have to start doing.”

That’s where Bryant comes in, pressing his teammates’ feet back on the pedal. The ring finger on his shooting hand is broken in two places, his back is sore, and he just passed the halfway point of his 14th season. With those ailments and mileage, on the second night of a back-to-back, there wasn’t enough in the tank for his usual Garden explosion; Bryant was 8-for-24 for a pedestrian 27 points. But even if he had it in him, he said his teammates didn’t deserve it.

“I don’t think the way that we’re playing right now that we’re ready for that,” he said.

The rest of the trip will take them to Toronto, Washington, Indiana, Philadelphia, Boston, and Memphis a week from Monday. At some point, Bryant wants the D.N.A. to mutate.

The Lakers are 33-10, a half-game up on Cleveland for the best record in the league. If they face the Cavs in the Finals, they’re going to need it to attain homecourt advantage.

“We didn’t have [the best record] last year,” Jackson said. “And all of a sudden, Cleveland lost and Orlando stepped out into the vacuum. You can’t diminish it, but at some time you have to win on the road.”

Having achieved his desired result, at least for one night, Bryant went about his usual postgame meet-and-greets in the crowded hallways of the Garden, his favorite arena. He signed a pair of shoes for an actor from India, greeted someone who used to play in the driveway with Bryant’s father, Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant, and shook every outstretched hand. Then it was down the freight elevator to a car that would take him to West 125th Street in Harlem, to a hush-hush event at the House of Hoops.

Mind games will resume on an as-needed basis.
Posted on: January 21, 2010 5:44 pm
 

Will Mo injury prompt Cavs trade?

The Cavaliers' announcement Thursday that guard Mo Williams is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained left shoulder presents an interesting dilemma if you're Danny Ferry.

Well, interesting if you're you or me. Distressful if you're Danny Ferry.

The news could've been worse. As Plain Dealer Cavs writer extraordinaire Brian Windhorst pointed out, Williams could've needed surgery, which would've sidelined him for months. Such a verdict would've put the Cavs and Mike Brown in the same boat the Magic and Stan Van Gundy found themselves in last spring with Jameer Nelson -- and we all know how that worked out.

Assuming the worst-case scenario -- that Williams misses six weeks -- his return would be slated for the first week of March. That's still plenty of time to restore normalcy to the Cavs' offense and get Williams in shape for the playoffs. But remember: There's a very real chance that the Cavs will lose Delonte West for an extended period of time once his weapons charges are dealt with in Maryland -- and in NBA Commissioner David Stern's office. With guns galore in the NBA this season, clearly Stern will be in no mood for a slap on the wrist. According to reports, West is due in court Friday for a pre-trial hearing. Barring a plea, trial is set for February.

So ... with two key backcourt members facing lengthy absences, what does Ferry do? His posture to this point in the trade market has been to try to parlay Zydrunas Ilgauskas and his $11.5 million expiring contract into a stretch power forward -- someone like Washington's Antawn Jamison. But now, there are backcourt issues to be addressed. And in all likelihood, neither outcome will be known for sure before the Feb. 18 trade deadline.

Play-making guards who currently qualify as very available are the Nets' Devin Harris, the Sixers' Andre Iguodala, and the Knicks' Nate Robinson. Harris and Iggy carry a hefty price for the Cavs, who already have precious little cap space to operate with next summer, when their prized free-agent-to-be, LeBron James, will be weighing his options. It borders on the farcical that the Cavs would take on Harris' $27 million over the next three seasons for a short-term fix -- one that would only further pave the way for the Nets to lure LeBron and another top-tier free agent on July 1.

Iguodala's $57 million over the next four years? Not even worth discussion, in my opinion.

Robinson is the cheapest and least cap-killing option, given that he's on a one-year deal for $4 million. (He also has the right to void any trade, but why would he do that in this case?). The risk with Robinson comes on the court, where he's undisciplined, and in the locker room, where his playful antics rub veterans the wrong way. Maybe Shaq and LeBron could put him in his place. Maybe not.

The Cavs can certainly get by with LeBron handling more of the initiating duties on offense and Daniel Gibson playing increased minutes (although the latter is a lot scarier than the former). Remember, too, that Leon Powe looms as a wild-card addition to the front court once he returns from a season-long absence following offseason knee surgery.

So a logical course of action for Ferry would be to ride it out, make do with what he's got, and hope for the best once Williams returns.

But with so much pressure on this franchise to deliver a championship for LeBron in his walk year, it's certainly worth wondering how much this turn of events will increase the temptation to make a proactive -- and potentially risky -- move between now and Feb. 18.













Posted on: December 27, 2009 10:02 pm
 

Spotlight on the Spurs

NEW YORK – Gregg Popovich was a lot more cheery after the game Sunday than he was before, when he openly lamented having arrived at the team hotel in Manhattan at nearly 4 a.m. – 14 hours before the Spurs were scheduled to play the Knicks.

“I think any team that can get in the night before a back-to-back and go to bed at 4 or 4:30 in the morning and play at 6 the next day, I think that’s a good thing,” Popovich said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “I think it puts a good product out on the floor. … It must be something that I don’t understand, because trips like this don’t make sense.”

After the Spurs’ overnight misadventures between Milwaukee and New York – ice, delays, the whole deal – Popovich actually was in a position to feel optimistic about his team for once. After beating the Bucks 112-97 Saturday night, the Spurs finished off the Knicks with an 11-4 run in a 95-88 victory. Popovich called this San Antonio’s most complete effort of the season in consecutive games.

The closing run against the Knicks was fueled by the Big Three: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. But this season has been about, and will continue to be about, the supporting cast that has changed around them. That’s why Popovich isn’t ready to declare the crisis over.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” he said.

The Spurs, architects of four championships on a shoestring budget, finally took the plunge over the luxury tax last offseason. Realizing that their window was closing while the big-spending Lakers were digging in for another dynasty, San Antonio traded for Richard Jefferson and made this season about paying the price to win.

“The landscape has changed,” Popovich said. “We did it as long as we could, and we were great at it – trying to stay under the cap and still compete for championships. A lot of people deserve a lot of credit on the financial and management side. It got to the point where teams got so good and had so many good players. To stay in the hunt, there was a simple question: Do you want to compete for a championship? If you want to, you’ve got to spend the money. And so we did it this year.”

The result has been an inconsistent team trying to find its way, which is news to the Spurs, who have been a model of stability for much of the past decade. With three new starters and with longtime defensive stopper Bruce Bowen retired, the Spurs aren’t necessarily a better team than they were in the pre-luxury tax era. Just different.

How different? Duncan offered this painfully honest assessment.

“We’ve got to figure out the scheme that works for this team,” he said. “It might not be what’s worked for this team in the past.”

A third of the way into the season, the Spurs are 11th in points allowed per game (96.9), 13th in opponent field-goal percentage (.453), and 13th in points allowed per 100 possessions (102.8). Those are ghastly numbers for a San Antonio team that has built a winning culture around defense.

The offense will come. Duncan, who had only 13 points and seven rebounds Sunday night, is on regular-season cruise control with his minutes being monitored as closely as ever. Ginobili, who had six of the Spurs’ final 11 points, played more freely in the past two games than Popovich had seen him all season. Parker, trying to figure out how to integrate Jefferson into the offense while keeping the focus on Duncan, will do whatever it takes to make it work.

The Spurs have won eight of 10, so it’s hard to nitpick. But they’ve been so good for so long, the standards for those watching them are as high as their own. The most encouraging statistic during this 10-game stretch is that San Antonio has allowed 100 points only twice. The most sobering stat: They lost to the only two teams with winning records that they played (Phoenix and Portland.)

“Look at all the other top teams in the league,” Jefferson said. “You look at Boston, they’re trying to integrate Rasheed Wallace. Look at Denver, they pretty much have their core, everybody back. The Lakers are trying to bring in Ron Artest, but they have everyone there. This is one of the few teams, us and Cleveland, that are good teams, but have a lot of new faces that they’re trying to get into the group.”

Popovich was asked before and after the game how long it should take for the Spurs to become the Spurs again – or become whatever it is they’re going to be. Of course, he said, “I have no idea. I don’t even try to figure that out. When it happens, it happens.”

And if it doesn’t, it could be a long time before the Spurs play the luxury tax game again.
Posted on: December 25, 2009 8:56 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2009 10:21 am
 

NBA swings and misses on Christmas Day

Merry Christmas from the NBA. Have you enjoyed your lumps of coal?

It was the league's signature day for national TV exposure, when millions of Americans are sitting around all day with nothing to do but become sick of opening presents and bored with relatives they won't see again until next Christmas. A perfect opportunity to gain a foothold among casual fans who don't appreciate the athleticism, drama, conflict, and strategy of the sport the way you and I do.

You can return the presents you don't like. But you'll never get back the eight hours of your life that was just spent watching this.

First, the Knicks and Heat engaged in a predictably sleepy noon ET tipoff on Friday that was barely watchable. I know, because I sat 50 feet from the baseline and tried to watch it.

Then, the Celtics and Magic played in Orlando, which despite Paul Pierce's absence had a chance to upstage LeBron vs. Kobe as the most thrilling matchup of the day. Instead, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said before the game that Christmas Day games should be banned , and then his team went out and scored 27 points in the first half. Oh, the pain.

Finally, at 5:30 p.m., just as I returned home from the crimes against basketball committed at Madison Square Garden, it was time for the main event. Cavs vs. Lakers. Kobe vs. LeBron.

What did you get, you mainstream fan, you curious Christmas reveler? A hopeless blowout, complete with constant whining about the officiating -- primarily from the Lakers -- and utter classlessness from the Laker fans, who decided this would be a good time to throw foam fingers and water bottles onto the court.

UPDATE: For those who were still tuning in, the Clippers and Suns gave us stinker No. 4. Brandon Roy and the Blazers saved Christmas with a stellar 107-96 victory over the Nuggets. Unfortunately, more than half the country was already sleeping when that happened.

If you enjoy the NBA the way I do, you know these things happen. You can't script thrilling finishes, competitive games, or superstar conflicts to coincide with a day when you have the national spotlight all to yourself. You know that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James will go down as two of the immortals of the sport, faces that someday will join Jordan, Russell, Chamberlain, and Robertson on the sport's Mount Rushmore.

You know that on most random nights, when you're glued to NBA League Pass, the league delivers some of the best unseen drama and buzz-worthy competition in sports -- even if most of it goes unnoticed by the mainstream. 

You know the NBA is cooler and younger and more fan friendly than that dinosaur of a sport, baseball, which continues to dominate the sports coverage and fan discussion where I live -- even though the season ended two months ago.

But this was an unfortunate way for the NBA to publicly announce the unofficial beginning of its time in the national spotlight. You and I can marvel at the Cavs' stellar defensive performance against the Lakers, and how they attacked and exploited the Lakers' defense, which was No. 1 in the NBA in opponent field-goal percentage. You and I can enjoy Dwyane Wade's subtle yet effective performance against the Knicks. You and I can appreciate how the Celtics limped into Orlando and smacked the Magic around without their top scorer.

Did the NBA engage, intrigue, or attract a single casual fan out there in the captive national audience with these three lumps of coal? Not even close. In fact, worse than that, some annoying -- and erroneous -- stereotypes actually were reinforced: 1) The NBA regular season is pointless and unwatchable (witness Heat-Knicks and Celtics-Magic); 2) The officiating is biased, inconsistent, and causes players to spend most of their time whining about calls (witness Cavs-Lakers); and 3) Laker fans are cry babies.

With the possible exception of No. 3, you and I know that's a bunch of nonsense. But after three forgettable Christmas Day games on national TV, the average fan doesn't.

I don't know about you, but it's time for me to change the channel. Who knew the NBA would be relying on the Suns and Clippers to save Christmas?
   

  


Category: NBA
Posted on: December 25, 2009 4:27 pm
 

Have patience: Wade on his way back

NEW YORK – If you were expecting to see a memorable performance from Dwyane Wade on Christmas Day, you came to the wrong place. What you got instead was something that Wade, coach Erik Spoelstra, and lord knows Pat Riley prefer.

It was a pick-your-spots effort from Wade on the offensive end and another stellar defensive game for Miami. Was it a tedious, boring way for the NBA to kick off its slate of five nationally televised games on Friday? Yawn. But if Wade and the Heat look back after the season and wonder when they found their rhythm, their identity, the 10-day stretch culminating with Friday’s 93-87 victory over the Knicks will stand out.

It wasn’t exactly Riley’s Heat vs. Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks in this, the Knicks’ first Christmas Day since appearance since 2001 after 38 straight from 1950-87. But it was the type of grind-fest that the Heat are going to have to become adept at winning if they’re going anywhere in what could be Wade’s last season in Miami.

“The alternative just was not working for us,” Spoelstra said.

After enjoying eight of their first 10 games at home with a 7-3 record, the Heat fell into some bad habits with a road trip that began Nov. 18 against last season’s playoff opponent, the Hawks. They went 4-8 over the next 12 games, allowing the opponent to score at least 100 points in nine of them. They’ve allowed 100 points only once in the last five games, and it happened to come in their only loss – 102-95 against Portland.

“Going into training camp, that’s what Coach wanted us to be,” Wade said. “Have the ability to score the ball, but don’t rely on it, because scoring the ball is inconsistent.”

This, Wade knows. He entered Friday’s game shooting a career-low 43 percent, prompting Riley to publicly question his conditioning. This season, he’s averaging 1.26 points per field goal attempt, a significant decline from the 1.37 points per field goal attempt he averaged last season while winning the scoring title.

An NBA front office executive who has watched Wade closely this season said he seems to be trying to raise his production lately by deferring to his teammates for long stretches instead of shouldering the majority of the scoring load from start to finish. That approach was on full display Friday, with only eight of Wade’s 21 field goal attempts coming in the first half.

“I was picking my spots early in the game,” Wade said. “At the end, I just had that ‘take us home’ mentality.”

After the Knicks cut the deficit to single digits midway through the fourth, Wade pushed it back to 10 points three times – with two 21-foot jumpers and then a ferocious dunk that made it 81-71 with 3:29 left.

“What changed?” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s name’s Dwyane Wade.”

Wade was 11-for-21 from the field for 30 points, a far cry from some of his inefficient performances that coincided with Miami’s attempt to win 100-point slugfests. In the past five games, Wade is 54-for-116 from the field (.466).

The burst that he showed on that dunk with 3:29 remaining was something that had been missing. After his legs felt unusually heavy early in the season, Wade said personal trainer Tim Grover joined him in Miami for a crash course in core strength to get him jump-started again. At the same time, he’s tried to slow down his offense and speed up his patience.

“I pride myself on playing an overall game,” Wade said, “not just scoring.”

That formula is working for him now, and for his team, too.
 
 
 
 
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