Knicks Will Work Out 4 Players Wednesday

     On Wednesday the Knicks will work out 4 college seniors, Mustapha Farrakhan from Virginia, Corey Stokes from Villanova, Vlad Moldoveanu from American and Jared Mintz from Lafayette. Corey Stokes is by far the most notable of these players. He’s a big 6’4 guard who’s a knockdown shooter but struggles on defense and is not a great scorer, passer or rebounder. I think he’s similar to Andy Rautins, our second round pick in last seasons draft. Farrakhan is also 6’4 and plays guard. He was a 2 guard at Virginia averaging 13 points a game and 1.8 assists. He was a 36% 3 point shooter last season. He showed his potential when he had 31 points against Howard while going 8 for 9 from beyond the arc. Vlad Moldoveanu is a 6’9 small forward who transferred from George Mason to become a great scorer at American. He averaged 18 and 20 points per game in his junior and senior years respectively. Last year he was a 83% free throw shooter and a 36% 3 point shooter. He’s got skills but he’s not overly athletic or prominent in defense and rebounding. Jared Mintz is a 6’9 power forward from Lafayette. He averaged 15 points a game and 5 rebounds. He’s a good scorer but he’s small and struggles on defense and on the boards. This workout continues the Knicks trend of working out many second round selections to find potential fits for our team. All 4 of these players are projected to be selected in the second round or not at all.

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Should Knicks Ditch 3 Star Plan?

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     Today, Marc Berman of the NY Post wrote an article about how Dallas has shown that the Knicks should change their 3 star plan. The 3 stars being Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and hypothetically, now New Orleans point guard, Chris Paul. I’m not sure that Miami’s collapse suggests that the Knicks need to scratch the 3 star plan because I think the 2 situations are completely different. Having a big 3 with a Chris Paul versus Chris Bosh is completely different. One of the great positives of Chris Paul is that he makes everybody better on offense and he’s a great defender. Bosh adds a 3rd scorer to LeBron and Wade but he doesn’t pass to make people better and he’s not a great defender (see Dirk at the end of game 2 of the finals). Depending on the new CBA the Knicks may be able to afford Paul or they may not be able to. Depending on the new salary cap figure / whether or not it is a hard cap, the Knicks could be able to get Paul cheaper and maybe add a decent piece or two. Miami did well in that they had the big 3 signed to less then max deals and they were able to sign Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller. Amare and Carmelo are both signed on max deals and the NBA doesn’t allow, or doesn’t allow under this CBA, the ability to take a pay cut while in contract. I am a big proponent of team depth. We have enough firepower with Amare and Carmelo and I would not be opposed to bypassing CP3 and signing a veteran point, a center and some bench pieces. Right now, with all the CBA uncertainty, I think it’s a bit of a waste to discuss this. While it is interesting to discuss, nobody knows what the terms of the next CBA are. Depending on the cap number, CP3 may not even be a possibility and then the 3 star plan will have to be scratched. I think there are pros and cons to both plans but this cannot be seriously discussed until we know the terms of the next CBA.

Image via NY Daily News

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James Dolan Should Re-hire Walsh for NOT Getting LeBron James

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     Tonight, Dallas knocked off the Miami Heat 105-95 to win the series in 6 games. In the series, LeBron James was widely criticized in the series for coming up short in games 4 and 5 and he didn’t disappoint in game 6. Yes he had 21 points on an efficient 9-15 night but he wasn’t his dominant self, his body language was horrible and he wasn’t good on defense. He was a -24 in plus/minus margin and he had 6 turnovers. As Dallas knocked off the “Big Three”, “Heatles” whatever you wanna call them, I could not help but think to myself “I’m happy we don’t have LeBron”. Is he widely considered the best player in the NBA? Yes. I do not know what everyone sees. Yes he is athletically superior and a great defender but his offense is inconsistent and he’s given up on his teams in the past. As documented in Adrian Wojnarowski’s great article today, LeBron gave up on the Olympic national team in 2008 and last year on his Cleveland team in the eastern conference finals. His body language and effort suffers greatly when things do not go well, as documented in game 6. If I had to pick a player to build a team around, I would much rather have Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade or Chris Paul. Or I’d love to have Amare and Carmelo Anthony. While Donnie Walsh didn’t get LeBron last summer, which had more to do with Wade recruiting the big 3 not Walsh’s skills, I think he created a better nucleus then the one that Miami has. Does Miami arguably have 2 of the top 5 players in the league? Yes but the Knicks are not far behind and we have room to improve either by acquiring another star or 2-3 good solid role players. Even though LeBron was the Knicks number 1 goal, I think Walsh should be applauded for coming up with a backup plan that may pay bigger dividends then LeBron ever would. Carmelo and Amare have always been known as being thick skinned players. For example, take this years playoffs. Yea we lost 4-0, but much of that had to do with injuries. Amare played at 50% because he cared about the team, he wanted to win. Carmelo rebounded from a terrible game 1 to post a 42 point 17 rebound game 2. We have guys that want to win and they have no history of ever giving up on a team, much less 2 of them. You have to be mentally tough to play in New York. LeBron’s shown that he’s a mental midget. He gets criticized for poor performance and then plays worse. As my Uncle and I discussed tonight, what if this had been Knicks vs Mavs? The Miami media is nowhere close to the New York media in terms of opinionated criticism. I told my Uncle “if this had been New York, LeBron would have jumped off the Hudson Bridge tonight” and my Uncle responded “Too scared, he’d be hiding under the bridge with (chris) Bosh”

Adrian Wojnarowski Article: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-wojnarowski_lebron_james_dwyane_wade_nba_finals_game6_061111

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Joe Alexander Also Works Out for Knicks

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     Alan Hahn reported via twitter that Joe Alexander, former Bucks lottery pick, impressed along with Javaris Crittenton at the Knicks free agent camp. Alexander was the 8th overall pick by the Bucks in 2008 but has been a major disappointment. He was traded to Chicago after his second season and then later traded to New Orleans. He was a D-League All-Star for the Texas Legends. He is a super athletic small forward who has good scoring range. He looked lost when he was last in the NBA and maybe his D-League success will translate to quality NBA minutes moving forward. He would be a nice piece on our bench if he could give us quality minutes as he can score as well as play defense with his long, athletic frame.

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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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Nate the Great….

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     Ex Knickerbocker Nate Robinson was arrested early Friday morning for urinating in public outside a New York Barnes and Noble in White Plains. He was released on $100 bail and will have to pay a $50 dollar fine. I’ve always liked Nate, he brings energy and he’s always a fan favorite but he’s always been prone to some dumb moves. Nate’s shenanigans are no new thing to Knicks fans. It was just last season when he fell out of favor with D’Antoni for shooting a shot after the buzzer into our own basket and was then fined 25,000 for having his agent publicly request a trade. He was traded to Boston shortly after and now plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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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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Shumpert Stands Out At Today’s Knick Workout

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     According to multiple Knicks sources, Georgia Tech point guard Iman Shumpert was the best player in today’s 5 player workout at the MSG training center. Reportedly Shumpert hit 18/25 3 pointers at the workout today. His biggest questions are his 3 point shooting and his jump shot. If he made the Knicks believe in his shooting then they could very well acquire his rights in the 2nd round. I really like this kid. The fact that he’s 6’6 and is notoriously a good defender makes him very appealing to the Knicks coming off their bench. I’d be in support of getting this kid in the 2nd/ late 1st if we have to.

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Knicks Create Partnership With a D-League Team

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     On Wednesday the Knicks came to an agreement with the Erie Bayhawks of the NBA D-League giving them full control over the team. Allan Houston will be the general manager of the Bayhawks. I like the move in that Houston gets some good experience as I believe he should be our general manager one day. He’s incredibly bright and I think he’d do a great job. I really hope that this isn’t a move to keep him away from the team which it might be. I’m trying to be positive and believe that Dolan’s actually trying to help Houston rather than keep him away. This is significant because it gives the Knicks the closest thing there is to a minor league system in the NBA. It gives us flexibility with players like Jerome Jordan so we can keep them under team control and have them get minutes in another league. Each team is allowed 2 players to send from the NBA to the D league to get minutes without risk of losing them to another club. I believe this is crucial to the team because we need to find some hidden gems to play with the big 2, hopefully big 3.

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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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