Miscellaneous

Knicks Expected to Head West After Christmas

Knicks beat writer Frank Isola reports the Knicks are gonna be headed West after their Christmas day showdown with Boston:

This will be a tough test for the Knicks. Potentially, the team could start the season 0-3. Boston and LA are obviously very tough opponents but I believe Golden State could pose a big problem. Golden State’s run and gun style of play may be able to take advantage of a Knick team that has yet to show consistent team defense. Should be interesting…

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New MSG Promo: The Knicks Are Back

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDaNj6PqLtA]

I’m loving the Marvin Gaye. Another great job by MSG

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Knicks Are 20/1 Odds to Win the Finals

Vegas has the Knicks at 20/1 odds to win this years NBA championship. This line puts them 7th in line to win it all. Here are the top 10 lines:

Miami 9/4

LA Lakers 5/1

Chicago 7/1

OKC 15/2

Dallas 17/2

Boston 12/1

Knicks 20/1

Orlando 22/1

San Antonio/ Memphis 25/1

Portland 30/1

I think this is about right. Obviously these are premature in that free agency has not occurred yet. I never put too much into these lines but for all the gamblers out there I think this is a pretty fair line. The Knicks definitely are flawed but with 2 superstars you never ever know. Especially in the league that saw LeBron James upset year after year in the playoffs and the league that saw the last lockout Knicks overcome the 8th seed and win the eastern conference.

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Ex-Knick Mozgov’s Entertaining Blog Post

I know he is no longer a Knick but Timofey Mozgov blogged about the end of the lockout and it is pretty awesome.

The End!

The NBA lockout is over, which means the stars who had left for Europe will soon come back. In expectation of the imminent parting, Timofey Mozgov begins to bid farewell to the supporters of BC Khimki and tells about what these months in Russia gave him – all in his blog at Sports.ru.

Hi everyone! So tell me, are you celebrating already?))) It’s still hard to believe, right? Just like that – abruptly and spontaneously, yes? 148 days and there you go! The end!!!

Actually, guys (and your female comrades-in-arms), please take my most sincere congratulations. All of us together – colleagues, people who love and value basketball, fans – without a doubt, have eagerly waited for these strokes of the pens which are exactly golden for all of us. It happened at last.

Now I’m going to reduce my emotions a little and tell you about this fact from a perspective of a player. My personal take.

148 days is a long time. It’s very long. Of course I won’t say this time I was on pins and needles. But I definitely wanted certainty. I really missed it. The prospect of having to pack your bags any time or having to look at them unpacked, to tell you the truth, wasn’t making me happy. Well, I think it’s clear. It’s good that the new agreement is in place for no less than five years, now it’s known. It means that this nightmare won’t repeat soon.

Aside from that, everything was not just OK – everything was just SUPER! My agent (yes, I mean Max – now you have seen his photo at last))) and me have made a decision that was the only one that’s right in my opinion: as soon as lockout showed itself, we have started to play in Europe.

When many of the guys across the ocean tormented themselves with painful doubts about all the delights of their remote and not so remote future, the other part of American basketball planet was keeping shape and making it better in field conditions. I don’t know which of these is good for Mozgov and which is bad for Kobe Bryant. For me the answer is obvious. Huge thanks to Khimki and, of course, to Viktor Bychkov personally, for taking me back with arms wide open. Thanks go to Rimas Kurtinaitis, who believed in me and let me do on the court what some of the NBAers really came to the Old World for – make progress.

Only during the start of the season in Russia I, at last, managed to completely forget about the consequences of that injury which I sustained overseas. When I learned about the diagnosis at the time, I was happy that, so to say, everything was fine and I was lucky that it wasn’t worse. It really could have been worse and it was really a good reason for rejoicing. But that everything was fine… Because of emotions then I rushed into a conclusion a little bit.

All in all, I really was able to step on the court soon after the injury, but even during the Eurobasket I still couldn’t use my leg at least 80% – I was lacking quickness and explosive speed.

The original projection by the doctors proved to be true: as they promised, half a year passed before I settled into shape in September or October. Then I could once again start doing what a center should. Also, I really got into rhythm, got my confidence back and learned some new things. So I can repeat myself – everything was done right.

Of course I knew that Khimki is my second home and I am always welcome here. It wasn’t a hard choice for me. But still, it was so nice to feel it again, to feel yourself at home: my native city, my native arena, the locker room, fans and friends! Everything is so dear, what I’m used to… Here, in this club, all the needed conditions are in place for this. Here’s a huge thank you to all people who were involved.

Here I’m writing this and I caught myself thinking that I got carried away with saying thanks and the memories. It resembles a goodbye a little bit. But I’m flying away not tomorrow. And, it seems, not the day after tomorrow either. So it means that it’s too early for goodbyes. Emotions…

First of all, Max is waiting for the official letter from Denver. Then all my future plans will get some tangible qualities. Second, anyway, I wanted to say goodbye to my fans and friends as it should be done. Because their support all this time was just great! And for that, once again, I’m very grateful.

Don’t ask me if I already got to talk to anybody of my American friends and teammates, to discuss what happened. Believe me, right now few people (other than Twitter fans))) care about text messages and calls – everybody is about to get snowed under with work. OK, we’ll move to all of that a bit later.

What can I add about the collective bargaining agreement. Of course, it’s already good that it’s signed)) And it’s twice as good that it’s definitely for more than five years. It means that this nightmare won’t repeat itself soon.

Actually, right now I know just as much as you do. I know that we are starting to prepare for the season on December 9 and our first game will happen after the 25th. Basically, there’s enough time for restoring the mutual understanding between teammates. It’s another deal what roster changes will happen and still, in what shape will the players join the team. Then we’ll have at least a remote idea of what lies ahead before us in the upcoming season.

But it’s clear even now that 66 games lie ahead. Yes, it’s not 82 games. But still, it’s not few. Especially over such period of time.

So, we’ll be following the news coming from the Nuggets. And right now I’m leaving to Greece with Khimki to play a Eurocup game vs. PAOK which is very important for us. So all of my thoughts are already there.

We’ll keep in touch)))

via sports.ru

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Check Out Anthony Donahue’s Show on Knicks Blog Radio Tonight

I am a big Anthony Donahue fan and tonight at 9 Eastern (15 minutes) is the premiere of his show.

Everybody check it out!

here is the link to his show

and follow Anthony at @AnthonyMSG on twitter

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Could Toney Douglas Be on the Move?

Purely speculative here but remember when Toney Douglas was being shopped before the draft in an attempt to acquire then T’Wolves point guard Jonny Flynn?  Now with the drafting of Iman Shumpert, a more prototypical point guard at 6’5, could Douglas be on the move? Douglas is coming off of shoulder surgery and his often erratic play has often irked head coach Mike D’Antoni. I do not know if the league is as high on Douglas as I am but I think he is a very good player for our system. He will play defense and shoot. With Shumpert’s arrival Douglas should be relied on as a point guard less and should be relied upon more as an off-ball shooter.

So where would Douglas be moved? There haven’t been many rumors lately but I think if a team would come calling offering a low post presence in exchange for Douglas then the Knicks would think about making a deal. Also if the Knicks are going to try to make a trade for Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, I think Douglas is one of the only assets we have and they would not hesitate to put him in a deal.

I am not saying that Douglas is being rumored for any deals and this is purely speculative but it is just something to think about in the future…

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The Knicks Are Back

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rK1DCGN0-MU&feature=channel_video_title]

Indeed, the Knicks have returned as the lockout is expected to end. Badboypav8 has produced another great Knicks pump up video and if you can’t get excited after watching this you should not be a Knick fan. Great job Pav and go Knicks!

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Does Cuttino Mobley Have a Case?

Via the NY Post:

Former NBA guard Cuttino Mobley sued the Knicks Wednesday in federal court, claiming the team “saved millions” by sending him to a doctor “they knew would disqualify him from playing” due to a heart condition soon after trading for him in 2008.

Mobley claims the Knicks pulled that stunt to save money in payments toward the NBA’s “luxury tax” for teams with high payrolls, and also to clear “room under the salary cap in their request to retain the services of other [marquee] players.”

“Mobley’s career was effectively ended,” says the disability discrimination suit in Manhattan federal court filed by the retired journeyman guard, who before being signed by the Knicks in 2008 had played for the Los Angeles Clippers, leading them to within a game of the Western Conference Finals in 2006.He also played for the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings.

The Knicks strongly denied the claims.

Mobley’s lawsuit claims that he was first diagnosed in 1999 with a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a thickening of the heart wall — and that he was thereafter “medically cleared every year, by every NBA team he played for, subject only to his signing a waiver of liability, until his arrival at the Knicks.” The suit said “the Knicks were aware of his HCM condition when they agreed to take over his contract.”

But, the suit said as a means to save about $19 million in league luxury tax payments and in insurance coverage for his inability to play, the Knicks selected two cardiologists to evaluate him, who were “both well-known opponents of allowing players with HCM to play.”

Those doctors then “opined that Mobley should not play,” the suit said.

“Mobley was forced and pressured by the Knicks to announce his retirement” in December 2008 — without every playing a second for the squad — the suit said.

The Knicks, in a statement, strongly denied the allegations that they purposely engineered Mobley’s disqualification from playing as a means to save $19 million in related luxury tax and and salary costs. And the contention in the suit that Mobley’s retirement helped them get under the salary cap to sign players is flawed. Mobley’s contract expired after the 2008-2009 season and the Knicks were attempting to get under the cap to sign players by the summer of 2010. Mobley’s retirement was irrelevant to that strategy.

I do not know all of the facts, or even most of the facts, so I do not have a definitive factual opinion but I do not see Mobley winning this case. I think Mobley could potentially make a valid argument if the facts are there but it seems hard for me to believe the Knicks traded for Mobley with the intention of ending his career. There is no doubt that Mobley was acquired (for Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins) for his expiring contract but it seems hard to believe that a guy like Donnie Walsh would want to end Mobley’s career. The idea of the suit is that Mobley was traded and then forced to retire in order to save cap room for the 2010 off-season. However, Mobley’s contract ran out after the 2008-2009 season therefore making his 2009 retirement irrelevant to the off-season of 2010. Looking back on quotes by both Mobley and Walsh at the time of Mobley’s retirement, I do not think Mobley has a case. At the time of his retirement, Mobley seemed content and relieved to have learned about his heart ailment:

“It’s definitely a scary thing,” Mobley, 33, said. “But you can live a normal life, so that’s a good thing. And I have a long one to live.”Getting the M.R.I. basically saved my life,” via the NY Post

As mentioned in the same article, then Knicks president Donnie Walsh alluded that Mobley had retired on his own: ”…I would never put a player out there that’s at the risk that he would be at. And I was happy that he arrived at that himself.”

Obviously we will get more facts as this story develops but I do not see Mobley winning this one. Those quotations alone seem to suggest that not only was retirement the correct decision but that Mobley retired on his own. Then again, James Dolan is probably involved in some fashion so you never know…

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Billy Hunter is the Devil

Today the players decided to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA in a hope to gain some leverage. This is a move that, if it was going to be made, should have been made months ago. So why wasn’t it made? The selfish NBPA leader did not want to lose his job. Billy Hunter now has convinced the players that they can get a better deal than what the owners are proposing. He has convinced them that if they just try and wait it out and bring their fight to the courts that somehow, someway the owners will cave and give the players a more “fair” deal. It is not going to happen. As Michael McCann of SI discusses, the players are not likely to win this anti-trust lawsuit. The players can’t look back a few months and see how the NFL won its anti-trust lawsuit with the players? I will not get into the legal aspect but I do wanna talk about the ineptitude and selfishness of Billy Hunter.

Billy Hunter may be a good lawyer, he may even be a great lawyer. That is irrelevant right now. Billy Hunter first and for most is selfish. He is trusted (allegedly) by the players of the NBA and right now he is failing them. He has whipped up a giant batch of kool aid that is now being chugged by the union representatives of the NBPA. Hunter knows that the players will not get a better deal than what they just turned down. He knows it, I know it, the owners know it. So why is Hunter leading the players down this detrimental path? It is simple. He does not want to lose his job. Hunter realizes that agents play a prevalent part in today’s NBA. There were numerous reports and rumors that agents would push for Hunter’s dismissal if he did not deliver on a 53% share of the BRI. Clearly that is never going to happen and the players have been forced down to 50% BRI. Hunter was always negotiating with a bad hand. He had no leverage against the owners and he was killed in the PR battle against David Stern. To his credit he continued to try and scrap and fight for the best deal he could get. Now the time has come; the best deal is on the table. If Billy Hunter was negotiating in good faith for his players, he would have taken the deal on the table! He knows it is the best they will get and I believe a good amount of the NBA population realizes this. Why do you think Hunter did not take a poll of the 450 NBA players on whether to take the deal? Because he knows the deal would have passed. Hunter instead went to the player reps. He knew he could brainwash these reps, only 30 in number, to reject a deal. He said they could get a better deal. He was wrong. He knows it and he does not care. Billy Hunter wants to save his job. The more litigation and the more fight put up by the players, the better Hunter looks in the eyes of agents. Instead of getting games up and going, Hunter is now playing to the agents fiddle. Fighting endlessly to get the players their “fair deal”, to get them their system changes, their BRI and their soft cap. Why do you think Derek Fisher was reported as going behind Hunter’s back? Fisher is a rational man. He knows the players needed this deal and the 50-50 split because they will never get that again in these negotiations. Hunter also realizes this but his selfishness and greed has overcome him.

Hunter is becoming the Darth Vader of these negotiations. At the beginning, he was the guy who got the players a great deal last time but as time as gone on, Hunter has turned to the dark side. His job is to look out for the 450 NBA players affected by this deal. He is not doing that. There is nothing wrong with fighting to keep your job but when you start to hurt the players and hurt the fans with your actions then you have gone too far. Today, if the NBPA goes through with this, Billy Hunter crossed the line and needs to be relieved of his duties immediately. The rate this negotiation is going, the players will end up with 43% BRI, a missed season and an NHL hard cap. Pick up a history book players. Look back at the NHL lockout, look at the anti-trust case involving the NFL this past summer. The players will not win and Billy Hunter knows this. Hunter needs to be relieved of his duties immediately or else the players will suffer worse losses and the 2011-2012 NBA season will be lost.

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Players Feeling Heat From Wednesday Ultimatum

Howard Beck of the New York Times has acquired the details of the deal the NBA will offer the NBPA if a deal is not reached by the end of business Wednesday. The major issues in this new proposal are a 53-47 BRI split in favor of the owners, current salary rollbacks and a flex (hard) cap. These are the details of the current Union proposal:

¶ Salary-cap and luxury-tax levels in Years 1 and 2 of the new agreement will be no less than they were in 2010-11. By Year 3, they will be adjusted downward to conform to the new system.

¶ Sign-and-trade deals and the biannual exception will be available only to nontaxpaying teams.

¶ Extend-and-trade deals, such as the one signed by Carmelo Anthony last season, will be prohibited.

¶ The midlevel exception will be set at $5 million for nontaxpaying teams, with a maximum length between three and four years (alternating annually). The value of the exception will grow by 3 percent annually, starting in Year 3.

¶ The midlevel exception will be set at $2.5 million for taxpaying teams, with a maximum length of two years, and cannot be used in consecutive years. Its value will also grow at 3 percent annually.

¶ A 10 percent escrow tax will be withheld from player salaries, to ensure that player earnings do not exceed 50 percent of league revenues. An additional withholding will be applied in Year 1 “to account for business uncertainty” stemming from the lockout.

¶ Maximum contract lengths will be five years for “Bird” free agents and four years for others.

¶ Annual contract increases will be 5.5 percent for “Bird” players and 3.5 percent for others.

¶ Players will be paid a prorated share of their 2011-12 salaries, based on the number of games played once the season starts.

¶ Team and player contract options will be prohibited in new contracts, other than rookie deals. But a player can opt out of the final year of a contract if he agrees to zero salary protection (i.e., if it is nonguaranteed).

The new “reset” proposal, that will be on the table if a deal is not met by Wednesday, contains these monumental changes.

The “reset” proposal features a flex-cap system that contains an absolute salary ceiling — to be set $5 million above the average team salary. In addition, the N.B.A. would roll back existing contracts “in proportion to system changes in order to ensure sufficient market for free agents.”

The other major differences in the “reset” proposal are:

¶ The midlevel exception would be set at $3 million in Year 1, with a maximum length of three years, and would grow at 3 percent annually.

¶ Maximum salaries would be reduced.

¶ Sign-and-trade rules would remain consistent with the 2005 labor deal.

¶ Contracts would be limited to four years for “Bird” free agents and three years for others, but each team could give a five-year deal to one designated player.

¶ Raises would be limited to 4.5 percent for “Bird” players and 3.5 percent for others.

¶ Changes requested by the union on restricted free agency rules and salary-cap holds would not be included.

Both proposals include an “amnesty” provision that will allow every team to waive one player and have 100 percent of his salary removed from the cap.

If the players association has half a collective brain, they will work to get a deal done Wednesday. While there is question to whether potential decertification rumors are union generated smoking mirrors, there is no doubting that the owners are serious about this proposal. The owners know that the players do not want to lose a season and decertify. The owners realize that the NBA is a league of 450 not a league of 25 greedy stars. This newer proposal is not one, not two, not three, not four, not five steps down from the current proposal. This newer proposal is like comparing Madison Square Garden with Arco Arena. Not only do the players receive a worse labor deal but this new proposal would bring rollbacks to current player salaries. Rollbacks have not been in the discussions for months but it is more and more apparent that the owners will squeeze the players more and more the longer this goes on.

I have always said the players deal only worsens the longer this ordeal continues but even I am shocked to see how different this new proposal is as opposed to the current proposal. If the players were to go ahead and pass up the current proposal, I believe there is NO way they get close to 50/50. As I have said, the owners hold all the leverage in these talks. While decertification is an option for the players, I do not see it happening due to the fact that Billy Hunter clearly wants to keep his job and that the players do not want to and cannot afford to lose a season. In this economy very few can afford to be losing paychecks and even in the inflated economic world of the NBA this reigns true.

The players have scheduled a conference call with all 30 team representatives and I cross my fingers that some logic prevails in these talks. I believe the owners have gone as high as they will go. They will not go any higher than the 49-51 band which really is 50-50. Conversely, while they will not go higher, the owners will not hesitate to drop the BRI split for the players. The window for the players to get the best deal they can is now. The window will close on Wednesday and for the sake of this season I hope the players jump through that window. It is no longer about a fair deal because the players will not get fair. They need to take this deal and get what they can rather than hold out for nothing and lose more than they already have. Its not about fairness, it is about reality. As Stephen A Smith says, “A fair is where they judge pigs”. Take the deal players. You will not regret it.

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