Amare Stoudemire

Should the Knicks Draft Jimmer Fredette?

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     With the 17th pick in this months NBA draft, it’s been widely rumored that the Knicks are in love with BYU scoring phenomenon and Glens Falls native Jimmer Fredette. There’s no question that he’s a lights out shooter but is he the right fit for the Knicks? I do not believe so. With 1 draft selection (17 in the first round) in this years draft and 0 selections in next years draft, I believe the Knicks need to hit a grand slam with this pick. With Miami in their way in the eastern conference, the Knicks do not have time to wait around for a project guard who may be better suited as a 2 guard. If we had no holes and were picking based on best available talent then I could accept a Fredette selection at number 17 but that is not the situation we are in. The Knicks lack serious bench depth, a backup point guard and a defensive minded center. While Fredette could help add to our bench, I believe he’s better suited as a 2 guard as he’s not a great passer. While typically Mike D’Antoni’s “seven seconds or less offense” would fit nicely with Fredette’s style of play, the Knicks offense right now is in transition to a slower pace with isolation monsters Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire and veteran point guard Chauncey Billups. Our point guard needs to be able to play off the ball and create shots when open from all spots on the court. While Fredette has the ability to make shots, we all know he has a great jumper, I am not sure how he will adjust to a change where he’s at best the 4th option. He’s not going to have any games like at BYU where he took 30 shots. He will be a 5-12 shot a game guy and he needs to be able to efficiently score. He was a volume scorer at BYU and obviously he’s not going to have the same freedoms in New York. My main problem with Jimmer is that if his offense doesn’t pan out, he has no defensive game to fall back on. He was an atrocious defender at BYU and that was with a lot of zone defense being played. He has reportedly been working hard to improve his defense in the offseason but you never know how much one can improve with one offseason. With the current roster that we have, I do not believe we need another high volume scorer who’s deficient on defense.¬†While Jimmer has a lot of potential and could pay miraculous dividends, he also comes with a lot of bust potential. It’s not that I do not believe Jimmer can be a good player but with the roster and cap situation that we currently have, we just don’t have the time to wait on him to see if he’ll pan out. We need a player that can start impacting games from game 1. There’s no doubting while there is optimism in New York there is also a great amount of desperation. We have not won a playoff game since 2000 and the fans want results. We cannot afford to swing and miss with this draft pick and if we miss with Fredette, his lack of defensive effectiveness could be catastrophic to the team.

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Bonzi Wells and Javaris Crittenton Work Out for the Knicks Thursday

     On Thursday, Bonzi Wells and Javaris Crittenton worked out for the Knicks. I actually think both these guys are intriguing for next years Knicks team. Wells hasn’t played in the NBA since 2008 and Crittenton played in the D-League after being released by Charlotte. Wells was notorious for all his off court problems and his “bad boy” reputation. He’s 35 years old, that’s old but it’s not too old to play in the league. If Wells somehow made the club, I feel like he’d be in there for like 6 minutes a game, picking up some hard fouls and playing defense. He wasn’t known as a great defensive player but I do like the “bad boy” reputation he has. Javaris Crittenton, a former first round pick, is interesting in that he’s immensely talented but hasn’t been able to put it together. He’s most notorious for pulling a gun on former teammate Gilbert Arenas in the Wizards locker room. Interestingly enough, his best game came when he was with Memphis and scored 23 points in a win over the Knicks in ’08. He’s 6’5 and is a good defensive player. Depending on how the draft plays out, I could definitely see Crittenton having a spot on the Knicks bench.

     Also, it’s interesting to point out that Amare did wonders to help Shawne Williams. Williams was plagued with off court issues and this year he was a model citizen. A lot of that has to do with Amare and his leadership capabilities. I believe the Knicks feel more comfortable with taking risks with these kind of players because of Amare’s leadership. He keeps everybody focused on basketball and he keeps everyone honest and on check. His impact to the Knicks is irreplaceable because he’s the leader that was sorely missed during the dreaded Isiah Thomas days. If one or both of these players catch on with New York, it’s safe to say that Amare will be on their asses getting them working hard and doing the right things to become respectable citizens.

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David Stern: Owners and Player “very far apart” on a New Labor Deal.

     Today NBA commissioner David Stern made it very clear that the owners and players are nowhere close to reaching a new labor deal. The key issues being discussed are the length of player contracts, the amount of guaranteed money they are being paid and a hard salary cap. Unlike the NFL lockout where the owners are relentless in their pursuit of money, I believe the NBA owners are correct in this argument. While the current system of luxury taxes is not totally bad, I believe the hard salary cap is the way to go. If this luxury tax system remains there will be like 5 super teams in the league and everyone else will be mediocre. In this era of agents and players deciding to join together and form super teams, the league needs to be evened out. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hate parity but a big 5 super league with 25 other non super teams would be a terrible game. Clearly teams do not care about paying the luxury tax as long as they can sign the players they want. At the start of last season, 12 teams were above the 69 million dollar cap with 7 of them being at least 10 million into the luxury tax. The cap is the greatest conflict between the clubs and players because it affects everything else. If the salary cap is lowered / a hard cap is implemented, the contracts of the players will be shorter and they will be paid less money. Of course in the money first NBA, the players do not want this to happen. I believe it has to happen. Some of these contracts today are insane and it’s worse that teams must be held at gunpoint by agents and players to overpay for their services. Reluctantly, I use Amare Stoudemire as an example. Last year, he would have stayed in Phoenix if they’d offered him a 5 year max deal rather then the 4 year max deal. Then after he turned Phoenix down, his agent Happy Walters comes out and says they’ll only take a 5 year 100 million dollar deal. Lets face it, if Phoenix offers him that 5 year deal worth 119 million then he’s not in New York. I’m glad as hell that he is but I’m just saying, the decision making of these guys is all money driven and it’s not the way it should be. I mean there has to be a line drawn at some point. There should be no way that players leverage their way and hold these teams to gunpoint because they want more money. I understand with a hard cap some of these things would still occur in smaller magnitude, but the hard cap would 1. reduce the length and size of the deals and 2. stop players from leveraging teams for egregious contracts. While the owners are mostly slimy and greedy themselves, they own and run these teams. The owners should have the power and leverage in making deals, not the players.

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State of the Knicks 5/30/11

Overview: The 42-40 New York Knicks had high hopes for the playoffs after qualifying for the first time since 2003. The Knicks battled key injuries as Amare Stoudemire was injured badly for games 2,3 and 4, while Chauncey Billups was injured late in game 1 and missed the entire rest of the series. The Knicks were swept by Boston 4-0. They go into this offseason of CBA uncertainty with optimism not seen by this franchise in many years. While Billups’ 14.2 million dollar option has been picked up, there is still plenty of work to be done in terms of working the roster. Of course resigning Donnie Walsh should be priority number 1, although that is said to be done sometime this week. Overall the team is headed in the right direction but needs some work with its bench as well as adding a big man or two. The Knicks select number 17 in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft

Guards: The point guard situation is filled with uncertainty. Billups’ knee is not all the issues we have. While it’s critical that his knee reaches 100% before the season (if we have a season) starts, the backup point guard position is just as critical. While Toney Douglas played that role well last season, his size suits him better as a backup shooting guard. The backup point guard position is a position that many expect to be filled with the 17th pick in the draft. Anthony Carter’s contract is up and it’ll be interesting to see if he is re-signed. The coaching staff loves his professionalism and leadership and I was impressed with his play down the stretch, especially in game 4 of the playoffs as he sparked a Knicks comeback that ultimately fell short. As far as the shooting guard situation, the bench spots will be determined by what happens in the draft. Landry Fields should be the starter next season, and it is imperative to the teams success that he finds his pre-carmelo trade form. If he cannot, then suddenly the Knicks have a gaping hole at the shooting guard position. While Bill Walker and Andy Rautins will both be under contract next season, I’m not high on either player. Everyone seems to think Walker is okay but I think he’s an oaf, in the playoffs he had like 6 offensive fouls. I’m not a fan. Rautins is a wildcard because we haven’t seen what he can do yet. He was a great shooter in college but we know that doesn’t always translate to the NBA. Roger Mason played well in the 2nd half of the year when he got minutes due to injuries to Walker. Mason also played decently in the playoffs when his name was called but he’s undersized and in D’Antoni’s doghouse. Roger Mason is the only shooting guard who’s contact is expired and he is expected to be let go next season.

Forwards: Armelo, Camare, Batman and Robin. Whatever you wanna call them, they are the keys to the 2011 Knicks season. How they mesh is absolutely key to the offense and how they evolve into 2 way players is key to our defense. Offensively, it has to be about ball movement. While Amare and Carmelo are both great isolation players, the key to their cohesion is going to be ball movement. Granted they are dominant scorers but they aren’t the only scorers on this team. Landry Fields, Chauncey Billups, Shawne Williams and Toney Douglas are all lethal 3 point shooters. In order for this team to make the jump to 50-60 wins next season, the offense needs to feature more than 2 players. Don’t get me wrong, they both need their touches on offense but the throw it to Melo, stand around and watch offense needs to be abolished next season. Same goes for Amare, although he was good at feeding Carmelo on cuts and screens when the plays presented themselves. It shouldn’t be a competition for points, rather a mesh of efficient offense that results in high percentage shots being buried by two of the top 10 scorers in our league today. Defensively, the Knicks are a work in progress. The Heat have shown us that defense wins in the playoffs. As much as I hate Miami, I give their guys credit, namely James, Wade and Bosh, for transforming themselves to a dominant defensive team as well as a quality offensive team run by the big 3 (or 2 depending on how you look at it). This transformation needs to be executed by Melo and STAT as well. If the Knicks can at least get stops when needed, the sky will be the limit for this team that is just loaded with scoring. In terms of the backups, Derrick Brown, Shawne Williams and Jared Jeffries are all free agents this summer. Renaldo Balkman, acquired in the Denver deal, is the only backup forward that remains under contract. I believe that all 3 are decent players but depending on who we get on the market, all 3 are extremely expendable. I love Jeffries but his lack of offense is just sickening to watch. If he’d come back, it would have to be on a veteran’s minimum and he’d have a very minimal role (I would hope). Derrick Brown is very interesting to me. As shown in the Toronto game at MSG, he’s incredibly athletic. He’s a guy we should try to keep for cheap and develop. His athleticism gives me reason to believe he can be a serviceable backup wing player much like Shannon Brown from the Lakers. The player I believe we are most likely to resign is Shawne Williams. While he, like Fields, crapped out a bit at the end of the year, he proved to be a versatile player (having guarded Dwight Howard at one point) and a potent 3 point shooter. I think he has the toughness that we need on this team. We need some Mason’s and Oakley’s that will enforce and I think Williams can be that sort of player.

Centers: Ronny Turiaf was the playoff starter and he’s likely coming back on his 4 million dollar player option. I like Turiaf but not at 4 mil a season. He’s a high energy game but any more than 18 minutes a game and he wears down. I’d like him on a vet minimum and coming off the bench, he’d be a nice piece. Jeffries and Shelden Williams were the other two players who saw minutes at center. While Shelden Williams played well in the season, he saw no minutes in the playoffs leading me to believe he will not be back. The big story for the Knicks at center is Jerome Jordan, the 7 footer we purchased from Milwaukee last summer. He played this past year in Serbia and played well averaging 9 points and 4 boards a game. He should be a strong piece coming off the bench, or maybe starting a la Timofey Mozgov last season. This, along with Point guard is a position that may be addressed with the 17th pick in the draft.

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