Knicks Interested in Caron Butler

Ken Berger and Alan Hahn are confirming that the Knicks reached out to Caron Butler’s agent today to express their interest in the free agent small forward. If the Knicks were to sign Butler it would be under the Mid Level Exemption (up to $5M per year over 4 seasons). I think Butler would actually be a great 6th man but I think the purpose for signing Butler would to add a piece to include in a possible trade for either Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. If the Knicks were to go the route of building on the two stars they already have, Butler would be a great piece. He can score with the best of them and he is an excellent defender. Butler is the all around quality player that the Knicks lack coming off the bench. His acquisition would likely mean that either Shawne Williams or Derrick Brown would not be brought back next season. Obviously this is a very tentative idea of acquisition but it is very interesting.

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Celtics Also In the Hunt for Chris Paul

According to multiple sources, the Celtics have offered Rajon Rondo in a trade for Hornets guard Chris Paul.

The Celtics have been discussing trading Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul, according to sources. But the Hornets don’t appear interested in a two-team deal.

Danny Ainge has been searching for a third team that would give the Hornets young pieces that would help Dell Demps in his rebuilding plan.

It is also unclear whether Paul would agree to an extension, something Ainge would need to execute a trade.

Via ImaGM

Paul has the power in this deal because, like Carmelo Anthony last season, he will be a free agent at the end of the season and any team trading for Paul will want him to sign an extension prior to the trade. However, Moke Hamilton had an interesting tweet on the subject:

 

It has been widely accepted in Knick nation that Paul will be playing alongside Melo and STAT but I warn Knick fans to beware of other teams. Paul is a superstar and other teams have more cap space and trade assets. He wants to play in New York yes but it makes more financial sense for him to maybe play elsewhere. It will be interesting to see what happens but right now there is absolutely no guarantee that Paul will be a Knick in 2012.

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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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D’Antoni Must Be Careful With Stoudemire’s Health

The NBA regular season would run through April 26 and require teams to play at least one set of back-to-back-to-back games if a new labor deal is ratified in time to start on Christmas.

The league posted an outline of what the schedule would look like on its Twitter pages Sunday. The plan is a 66-game regular season, ending about 10 days later than usual. The last possible day of the NBA Finals would be June 26, two weeks later than the championship series ended last season.

Teams would play 48 games within their conference and 18 outside their conference. Teams will not visit every NBA city.

Teams will play about two more games per month, but no team would play on three straight nights more than three times.

Back-to-backs might also be played during the second round of the postseason.

via ESPN.com

This condensed schedule combined with a lost offseason will result in more player injuries this year in the NBA than in years past. Unfortunately, Knicks superstar Amar’e Stoudemire does not have the best injury history and wore down late in the season and in the playoffs last year. Part of the reason for his breakdown was bad luck, like trying a trick dunk before game 2 of the playoffs, but also because of Mike D’Antoni’s shortened rotation throughout the season. D’Antoni shortened the rotation due to a lack of team depth which is understandable but now with Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to supplement some of Stoudemire’s scoring, D’Antoni must be smart with Stoudemire’s minutes. Only having completed 3 full seasons of his 9 year career, Stoudemire averaged 36 minutes per game last season. Despite his 78 games played, it was clear that his stamina and health declined late in the season resulting in a poorer on court performance. D’Antoni must relegate Stoudemire to 32-34 minutes per game in order to keep the power forward fresh. Unfortunately, the Knicks currently do not have a serviceable backup power forward on the roster. My suggestion is to use Jeffries there but also to give Shawne Williams minutes at that spot. Williams is 6’9 and has the toughness to play low post defense. He will not be anywhere near the All-NBA Defensive team but I think Williams can adequately guard power forwards. If he can get back to his 2010 early season form, I think Williams would be a nice stretch 4 to use in a smaller lineup.

Obviously I want to see Stoudemire on the court as much as possible as he is one of the most dominant and dynamic scorers in the league but he has clear injury problems that cannot be ignored. Remember that Stoudemire has 4 more high priced seasons in New York and the Knicks do not have the depth to replace him adequately if he goes down with a major injury. Hopefully Stoudemire can stay on the court but if he is unable to the Knicks may want to use the amnesty clause on him down the road. Obviously it is way too early to seriously discuss that but it is just something to think about…

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Knicks Free Agency: Who Goes? Who Stays?

The Knicks go into this free agency period with 5 free agents. Guards Anthony Carter and Roger Mason, Forwards Jared Jeffries and Shawne Williams and Center Shelden Williams. Before any moves can be made in terms of bringing a player in, the Knicks must decide which players they will bring back. It has been rumored that Shawne Williams, Roger Mason and Jared Jeffries will be offered veteran minimums and brought back for the 66 game 2011 NBA season. Are those 3 players the right guys to bring back?

Anthony Carter- I love Anthony Carter as a veteran leader. Unfortunately, we aren’t the Lakers or Celtics with late roster spots to give. We need 15 guys who can bring something to the table. I do not believe Anthony Carter fits on this team anymore. He was a nice fit last season when he had to play but with the drafting of Iman Shumpert I think Carter’s days as a Knick are over.

Roger Mason- I am a big proponent of Money Mase’s return to the Knicks. Mason showed his value late in the season and in the playoffs as an emergency guard and veteran leader. He struggled early and found himself in Coach D’Antoni’s doghouse. He showed down the stretch that he can play both guard spots if needed and he can shoot. I would feel more comfortable with Mason in there as opposed to Bill Walker or Andy Rautins.

Shawne Williams- Although he struggled down the stretch, I believe Williams should be retained for next season. Even though he struggled in the post-Melo trade era, his upside is without doubt. He is a 6’9 small forward who brings a great toughness to the team and who shot 40% from 3 last season. I think Williams proved himself on the court and off the court, staying off the police blotter, and I think he deserves another season with the Knicks.

Jared Jeffries – Say what you want about Jeffries’ offensive game but there is no denying that Jared Jeffries provides a defensive versatility that this team desperately needs. So what he averaged 1.8 points/game? The reality is that it doesn’t matter if Jeffries scores 0 points per game. In Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have 2 of the most prolific scoring forwards of all time. Both players lack on the defensive end of the court. By contrast Jeffries is weak offensively but excels defensively. I think he is one of the guys that can help to provide more defensive help for this team and I think he should be retained.

Shelden Williams – I like Williams’ hustle and rebounding but the Knicks center right now is a numbers game. Turiaf is making 4 million this year so he is not going anywhere and should be the starter. 7’1 Jerome Jordan should make his Knicks debut this season after playing in Serbia for his rookie season. The team also drafted Josh “Jorts” Harrellson in the second round of the draft. These other centers all have more upside than Shelden Williams. The team will not have 4 centers and based on numbers and upside, Williams is the odd man out.

Overall, I think the Knicks will keep these guys because with over $60 million already in payroll they do not have the flexibility to be making a lot of moves right now. Not to mention that CP3 and D12 will be free agents next offseason and the Knicks do not want to tie up money that would restrict next years cap space.

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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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Happy Walters on Stoudemire: “He is Fine”

Earlier I talked about how Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire dropped out of Drew Gooden’s charity game last night due to a back injury. Alan Hahn reports that Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, says that Stoudemire is fine:

“He is fine,” Walters said. “He’s working out.”

Hahn believes Stoudemire just simply did not want to play and used the back injury as an excuse. Along with all Knick fans, I hope Hahn is correct about this. As I said earlier, the Knicks cannot afford to have Stoudemire miss more games due to his back. Lets just hope that Walters is telling the truth and that Stoudemire is ready to go should the second cold war end soon.

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Amar’e Needs to Shut It Down

According to Marc Spears of Yahoo, Amar’e Stoudemire will be scratched from Drew Gooden’s charity game due to a re-injury of his back.

I think Amar’e has to shut everything down until an NBA season starts. He is under contract for 4 more seasons with the Knicks and makes a maximum contract. The Knicks cannot afford to have Stoudemire missing games throughout his tenure in New York. He and Carmelo Anthony are the cornerstones of this franchise and they need to be on the court for as many games as possible. The Knicks do not have the depth to succeed without Stoudemire in the lineup. As Dan L from Knicks Fan Blog tweeted about yesterday, the Knicks may end up having to amnesty clause Stoudemire later in time if his injury problems continue. Obviously way too early to say but something interesting to think about…

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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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