A Christmas tree, ornaments, presents and an NBA quintuple-header led by Celtics-Knicks. Not even The Grinch (prior to his enlarged heart) could ruin this Christmas Day, although I guess Carmelo Anthony and/or Amare Stoudemire have the potential to make it slightly less enjoyable.
Posts tagged: New York Knicks
Chris Paul isn’t just reportedly demanding a trade to New York (a report he and two league sources denied, for what it’s worth). He’s also reportedly reaching out to Dwight Howard in hopes that he and Howard can team together.
Would you like anything else, Chris? A rocket ship, perhaps? A date with Jessica Biel and Megan Fox, both at the same time? A parakeet that can fetch your coffee in the morning? (Yahoo! Sports)
Paul has reached out to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard recently, encouraging Howard to find a way for the two to play together, sources told Yahoo! Sports. That would be a difficult scenario for the Knicks to make happen. Paul’s desire to join the Knicks was cemented after he spent so much time in New York over the summer with close friend Carmelo Anthony.
If Paul were to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent after this season, he could sign a maximum four-year, $74 million deal with another team. The Knicks currently would have enough salary-cap room to offer him a four-year, $55.5 million contract with a starting salary of $13 million.
I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. Ainge is planning his second coup of the past five years. He wants to reload on the fly, and he’s shooting to add both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard to the Boston lineup.
If Paul wants to play in New York and only New York, the Celtics are (obviously) screwed. But if he’s also open to teaming with Dwight Howard somewhere, there are two teams I immediately think of with the assets, management, financial flexibility and major market to entice the tandem: Boston and Los Angeles.
It’s still a pipe dream. A ridiculous, why-even-bother-thinking-about-it improbability. But Ainge has done it before.
I was present when Eddy Curry’s career began to fall apart.
In the summer of 2008, the Knicks held training camp at my school, Skidmore College. As a player on Skidmore’s basketball team, I was one of a handful of people allowed to watch the training camp. Mike D’Antoni had just been hired in New York, Allan Houston was attempting an ill-fated comeback, Stephon Marbury’s head bore the mark of his sneaker company, Nate Robinson half-assed a number of drills, David Lee saw the Skidmore volleyball team and remarked that spandex were what he missed most about college, Jerome James asked my buddy to fetch him a sandwich during the middle of practice, Zach Randolph grabbed rebounds like a vacuum and consistently exhibited the excitement of a pre-schooler meeting his favorite television character, Quentin Richardson told me the Knicks would be lucky to make the playoffs, and Eddy Curry never practiced once.
There were rumors that Curry was going to practice every day. He was sick, I heard once. He just needed to lose a few pounds, I heard another time. My buddy saw him working out in the Skidmore weight room. “But he just kind of chilled. And he looked even fatter than before,” my buddy said. Now, those reports would elicit a duh. But then, Curry was coming off a 13-point, five-rebound 2007-’08 season. He had slowed severely since the ’06-’07 year and clearly gained a bra size or two, but he was still a productive player.
He was productive, that is, until D’Antoni’s first training camp arrived and Curry became a ghost, a rumor, a no-show and ultimately, one of the worst insults a player can be labeled, an expiring contract. There would be similar rumors for the remainder of Curry’s remaining three years with the Knicks — he’s almost ready, he’s working out hard, he’ll play soon — but he would play only ten games during the next three seasons, earning $31 million for all his hard work. His fully guaranteed six year, $60 million contract finally ran out at the end of last season. But it could still be one of the reasons the NBA lockout continues.
Guaranteed contracts have reportedly become a sticking point in the NBA’s labor negotiations. Before Game 4 of this year’s NBA Finals, according to the Washington Post’s Mike Wise, a number of owners met with approximately a dozen players and the topic of guaranteed contracts was broached.
As usual, Mark Cuban offered his two cents.
“When we had Tariq Abdul-Wahad, he didn’t seem to want to train, didn’t really want to practice — he really was interested in a lot of things besides basketball,” Cuban said. Cuban then complained about Abdul-Wahad’s guaranteed six year, $40 million contract. “And I’m stuck with that,” Cuban said. Even if Abdul Wahad spent all of his time eating cannolis and drinking mimosas.
A lawyer for the players union then mentioned that J.J. Barea made only $1 million per season. “How about that?” he said. “You’re getting a bargain in a guy like J.J. Barea.”
That was when David Stern spoke.
“All right, you want to go tit for tat, I’ll go tit for tat,” Stern said. “I’ll see you J.J. Barea and raise you Eddy Curry.”
The owners, Wise writes, “are sick of paying premiums for damaged goods.”
And the players union, of course, does not want guaranteed contracts to die. Sure, Eddy Curry didn’t deserve $60 million to buy all the Krispy Kremes he desired. But the Knicks signed him to that contract in the first place, and the players contend they should honor the contract. For players who have a ten-year career span — if they’re both good and lucky — guaranteed money would be a major concession in the negotiations.
Players Association Vice President Maurice Evans briefly mentioned guaranteed contracts in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick.
“The deal we’ve been offered would so drastically alter the game as we know it today,” Evans said. “The offers have been so pathetic that it’s hard to even talk about it when we’re informing the guys. We’re $7.6 billion apart [over the life of the proposed deal].
“Again, when you realize all the components that they’re trying to take away, and trying to take out of the [collective bargaining agreement] that’s already in effect — the guaranteed contracts, grandfathering in [contracts], the [salary-cap] exceptions, Larry Bird [rights]. You and I have already talked about this many times, but [players] are really starting to get it and they’re willing to sit out for as long as necessary to get us a fair deal.”
Evans is not thrilled, to say the least, about the owners’ last proposal.
“It’s not my job to critique [David Stern's] salary,” said Evans. “I want him to make money. That’s the whole point is we want everyone to make money.
“But he’s the one who wants everyone to suffer losses. … The guy tells us it’s the recession and all these different things, yet they want to experience all the growth over the next 10 years while we experience none. When you look at it that way, it’s extremely disappointing.”
The players are ready to negotiate, Evans said. They will make more concessions. But they are willing to miss this whole year or more if the owner’s do not meet them halfway.
Meanwhile, for the first time since before he arrived at Skidmore College, Eddy Curry has become more than a rumor, more than an expiring contract, more than a gigantic waste of soft hands and nimble feet and impressive touch. He’s now ammunition for the owners. Ammunition for Stern. A $60 million warning that guaranteed contracts can go frighteningly wrong.
If the NBA lockout lifts, the Celtics will reportedly visit the New York Knicks on Christmas Day. (Barbara Barker, Twitter)
Knicks to host the Celtics on Xmas day, league source tells me. Provided, of course, there is a season.
Last year, the Celtics played the Miami Heat on opening night and the Magic on Christmas Day (an Eastern Conference Finals rematch). The year before that, the C’s played Lebron’s Cavs on opening night and the Orlando Magic on Christmas (when Orlando was the defending Eastern Conference champion). Am I crazy to think scheduling Boston to play the Knicks on Christmas — in New York, no less — means the league expects the Celtics to fade into mediocrity?
Maybe I am. Perhaps the NBA just wants to capitalize on the two biggest East Coast markets and some of the league’s most intriguing matchups (Amare Stoudemire vs. Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony vs. Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups vs. Rajon Rondo). The game would surely draw a good rating if it’s played, which I guess is the point. And playing it at Madison Square Garden can’t hurt the buzz.
But facts are facts: the Knicks were the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference last season and got swept in the first round of the playoffs (by the Celtics, no less). After a few seasons of playing the league’s marquee games against the league’s most competitive opponents, the Celtics are scheduled to play the mediocre Knicks on Christmas Day . . . and the C’s don’t even get to host the game. Maybe that’s not a slap in the face from the NBA schedule makers. Maybe it just makes the most sense for the TV guys. But it sure feels like a slap in the face.
Am I crazy for thinking that?
P.S. – If the league thinks Boston is no longer a contender, the league might be right.
Damn it, I have to go. I need to grab a box of tissues, eat twelve gallons of ice cream and listen to “Song Cry” on repeat.
Lawrence Frank, who is still a finalist for the Detroit Pistons head coaching gig, has added another potential destination for next season: depending on whether Frank gets the Pistons job, Newsday reports that the Knicks and Frank have mutual interest in making Frank an assistant coach.
Whatever happens in Detroit could trigger Mike D’Antoni’s activity in searching for a defensive assistant coach.
All eyes will be on what happens with the Pistons head coaching position, as the finalists appear to be Mike Woodson and Lawrence Frank.
From what we’ve been hearing, D’Antoni personally likes Frank and there is a strong mutual interest there for many reasons.
First of all, whomever the Knicks hire would have to accept a one-year deal because D’Antoni is going into the final year of his contract and there is some uncertainty about his future. Frank, unlike most, would likely be amenable to accepting a one-year contract because it gives him the freedom to continue to look for head coaching jobs.
Frank might also prefer New York over returning to Boston for proximity reasons, as well, because he could be home full-time in New Jersey, where his wife and two daughters remained last season when he worked for the Celtics.
A move to New York would seem like a lateral move for Frank, at best. But it actually makes a lot of sense from a reputation standpoint. Hear me out.
If Frank stays in Boston, a large portion of his success will undoubtedly be attributed to Tom Thibodeau. Yeah, Frank’s the de facto defensive coordinator now — but he’s still running Thibodeau’s defensive schemes with several of the players Thibodeau molded. Stepping out of Thibodea’s shadow will prove almost impossible as long as Frank stays in Boston.
But in New York, Frank would move into a win-win situation. If the Knicks defense improves, Frank would be viewed as a miracle maker. Anyone who can forge a solid defense out of a starting lineup that includes Chauncey Billups, Carmel0 Anthony and Amare Stoudemire can obviously turn dirt into gold. On the other hand, if the Knicks defense still acts like swiss cheese, nobody would blame Frank — it’s impossible to turn Carmelo Anthony into a decent defender, isn’t it? In the worst-case scenario in New York, Frank’s defense would fail and New York would fall short of preseason expectations. But do you know what could very well be the end result of the “worst-case scenario”? D’Antoni gets fired and Frank probably jumps straight to the top of New York’s head coaching choices.
Of course, trying to coax a championship defense out of New York’s roster is like trying to ride the Tour de France with a tricycle. But if Frank could do it, he’d enhance his reputation in a way he never will in Boston. Even if he doesn’t do it, Frank’s reputation could reap the benefits of moving to the Big Apple.
P.S. – Mike Woodson will interview for the Minnesota Timberwolves lead gig today. If he gets that job, the Pistons would likely hire Frank, their only other finalist.
In a perfect world, the Celtics would enter the playoffs with an 82-0 record, I would churn out 55 columns per day, and I would also hold the team’s General Manager and starting point guard titles. Women would want me, men would want to be me, and Kobe Bryant would never win another basketball game in his life. My dream world sounds pretty perfect, but then again, if I—an unskilled, growing-fatter-by-the-day combo guard—played point guard for the Boston Celtics, it could potentially hurt the team’s chances for an 82-0 record. Alas, my dream world is an unlikely proposition.
Sadly enough, I cannot churn out 55 columns per day in real life. Sometimes, I barely have time for one or two. Today’s one of those days. I wish it weren’t, because I’d love to write an expansive, 3,000-word playoff preview, equipped with video and jokes and wonderful (okay, maybe not so wonderful) analysis, but I simply don’t have the time. Once someone becomes stupid enough to offer me a salary for my writing, I assume I would have more time. Until that day, life will sometimes get in the way of my writing. With that in mind, this post (read: this mostly-useless piece of writing), will have to serve as the preview.
Before I leave, a few quick (and bold) predictions:
- Carmelo Anthony averages 30+ points per game
- During at least one game, a Pierce-Carmelo duel evolves
- Rondo averages a near-triple double (short on rebounds)
- Jermaine O’Neal plays more minutes than you ever would have expected
- Ray Allen drills six three-pointers in one game
- Shaq does not return all series
- The Celtics shoot more than 50% for the entire series
Celtics in six.