Tag:Kelenna Azubuike
Posted on: September 24, 2010 7:19 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 10:46 am

Preseason Primers: New York Knicks

The Knicks didn't get LeBron James. Or Dwyane Wade. Or Chris Bosh. Was the offseason a failure? Hardly. The Knicks are relevant again, with superstar Amar'e Stoudemire and supporting players Mike D'Antoni actually wants to coach. Playoffs? Let's not get carried away, but they have a shot. Which is more than the Knicks have been able to say for a long time. The buzz is back at Madison Square Garden. Now, all Donnie Walsh has to do is get Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul or Tony Parker. Maybe then he'd get some of the credit he's due. But even if Walsh never signs or trades for another player, he's already restored respectability and competitivenss to what was a lost franchise when he took over.

Training camp site: Greenburgh, N.Y.

Training camp starts: Sept. 25

Key additions: Amar’e Stoudemire (sign-and-trade), Raymond Felton (free agent), Anthony Randolph (trade), Kelenna Azubuike (trade), Ronny Turiaf (trade), Roger Mason Jr. (free agent), Landry Fields (draft).

Key subtractions: The stench of a decade of irrelevance. And David Lee (sign-and-trade)

Likely starting lineup: Felton, PG; Wilson Chandler, SG; Danilo Gallinari, SF; Stoudemire, PF; Ronny Turiaf, C.

Player to watch: Eddy Curry. Once again, all eyes are on the Knicks’ troubled center, who was on the verge of being an All-Star a few short years ago and now is hanging onto his career by a thread. Curry hasn’t made it through the first day of training camp for the past two years, so progress will be measured in baby steps. The best thing that could happen for all concerned is that Curry somehow stays healthy, keeps his weight in check, and shows enough in preseason to coax someone into taking on his $11.3 million expiring contract in a scenario that makes the Knicks better. For now, making it through a practice will do.

Chemistry check: Although the Knicks inexplicably flirted with past demons with the ill-fated attempt to bring Isiah Thomas back as a consultant, this is as clean as the slate has been at Madison Square Garden in years. With athletes like Stoudemire and Randolph, shooters like Gallinari and Mason, and a serviceable point guard in Felton, Mike D’Antoni finally will get to fully implement his offensive philosophy. Just as important, Stoudemire’s star power will bring the buzz back to the Garden.

Injury watch: Azubuike is still recovering from last season’s knee injury, and when he’s ready, he’ll be the starting shooting guard. That will give D’Antoni the flexibility to slide Chandler to the three or four, making him interchangeable with Gallinari and Randolph depending on matchups. Curry should be the starting center on paper, and the Knicks would like for him to be productive to increase his trade value. But if Curry falters – a good bet, given his track record – the Knicks are extremely high on Russian rookie Timofey Mozgov. D’Antoni is a huge fan of the 7-1 center, who figures to pass Curry on the depth chart by the start of the regular season.

Camp battles: Aside from Curry-Mozgov, D’Antoni has a pretty good idea of what the rotation will be. Mason, Bill Walker, Randolph and Turiaf give D’Antoni the most bench flexibility that he’s had since he came to New York. Fields, a sleeper in the draft who impressed with his length, athleticism and intelligent play during Summer League and in offseason workouts, figures to be a regular part of the rotation.

Biggest strength: The Knicks have been so bad, irrelevant and mismanaged for so long that the fact that team president Donnie Walsh has them under the cap with a superstar big man and young talent around him has gone overlooked. Such is the hangover from the pursuit of LeBron James. But remember: If Walsh hadn’t created cap space for two max players, James wasn’t coming to New York anyway. If Walsh hadn’t landed Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony wouldn’t want to come, either.

Glaring weakness: Aside from needing one more star to compete with the elite teams in the East, the Knicks need something D’Antoni isn’t known for: defense. They definitely have the athletes to defend better than their reputation under D’Antoni would suggest. Now they have to add the commitment and prioritize it, which will be one of the most important goals in training camp.
Posted on: July 29, 2010 3:36 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 5:02 pm

Knicks make offer to Lakers' Brown (UPDATE)

The Knicks have extended an offer to Shannon Brown and are waiting to hear whether the Lakers' free-agent guard will take it or wait for L.A. to make room to re-sign him by trading Sasha Vujacic, two people with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Thursday.

Brown, 24, played all 82 games for the champion Lakers last season and is weighing whether to join Ray Felton in the Knicks' revamped backcourt or give the Lakers time to clear the room needed to re-sign him. The Lakers, as usual, are well into the luxury tax. So moving Vujacic's $5.4 million salary for next season would ease the tax hit associated with keeping Brown.

Brown's electrifying transition game would be a huge asset in coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo system, and Brown would have a good chance of winning a starting job after starting only seven games for the Lakers last season.

Meanwhile, the Knicks continue to explore trade possibilities and remain interested in Blazers swingman Rudy Fernandez, who is actively being shopped. In their pursuit of a deal for Fernandez, or perhaps Chris Paul if and when the Hornets begin fielding serious trade inquiries, the Knicks have a few more assets to offer than commonly realized. According to two people familiar with how the David Lee sign-and-trade arrangement was structured, the Knicks do not have to wait the standard 60 days before combining Ronny Turiaf, Anthony Randolph or Kelenna Azubuike with other players in a trade. The Knicks were still under the salary cap when Lee was signed and traded, exempting them from the 60-day waiting period, which applies only to players acquired with a trade exception by teams that are over the cap.

Posted on: July 9, 2010 5:45 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2010 6:56 pm

Free-Agent Buzz: Felton to Knicks (UPDATE)

Shut out in their pursuit of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Knicks are close to landing a more traditional point guard to run Mike D'Antoni's offense. Free-agent Raymond Felton is close to a multi-year agreement to join Amar'e Stoudemire in New York.

With cap space to burn after James turned down the Knicks for a chance to join Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, the Knicks have quickly turned to Plan B. First, they got Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike and Ronny Turiaf from Golden State in a sign-and-trade that sent David Lee to the Warriors. Team president Donnie Walsh's next target was a point guard or point-forward capable of inititiating D'Antoni's up-tempo, pick-and-roll offense. Felton, 26, the fifth pick in the 2005 draft, is the best available option and a good fit for D'Antoni's system. Though Felton averaged career lows in scoring average (12.1) and assists (5.6) last season, he shot a career-high 39 percent from 3-point range.

With Felton and Randolph, the 14th pick in 2008, the Knicks are on the verge of acquiring two recent lottery picks in the less than 24 hours since James turned them down. The team had been holding out hope that it could outbid the Heat and Bulls for sharpshooter Mike Miller, but Knicks president Donnie Walsh said on a conference call with reporters Friday that Miller was signing with the Heat, who offered a five-year, approximately $30 million deal.


Free-agent Kyle Korver has agreed to a three-year, $15 million deal with the Bulls, a person with knowledge of the agreement confirmed to CBSSports.com Friday. ... Agent Henry Thomas reports steady progress on contracts for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, with all signs pointing to Bosh going to Miami in a sign-and-trade that would land him the same six-year, $126 million deal that Wade will get to stay with the Heat. Max deals starting at $16.57 million for all three of the Miami free agents would become available if the Heat are able to pull off a sign-and-trade for LeBron James, who committed to Miami Thursday night. The maneuver, along with the trade of Michael Beasley to Minnesota, also would open up space for Miami to retain free-agent Udonis Haslem. ... Our Facts & Rumors blog has the goods on Tyrus Thomas agreeing to a five-year, $40 million deal to stay in Charlotte with the Bobcats.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com