Thursday, February 23, 2006

Oh Yeah

I forgot something about the Pistons and the Darko Milicic Experiment when I wrote about it yesterday: If Carmelo Anthony (who, last I checked, led his college team to a CHAMPIONSHIP as a FRESHMAN) would have messed up the chemistry and derailed the Pistons by taking away minutes from Tayshaun Prince, wouldn't you think that Tayshaun (and no disrespect intended here) would have been an All-Star by now?

Look, he's a nice piece, and he fits in well with what the Pistons are trying to do. His long arms and quickness obviously bothered Kobe Bryant when they beat the Lakers in the Finals. But on a squad THAT team-oriented, wouldn't he have been just fine with platooning with Anthony, giving him minutes when they needed an offensive burst, and coming back on when they needed more D? And wouldn't have Anthony, the year after winning his own title, fully understood what it took to win, and accepted less minutes for the greater good? (In fact, wouldn't Anthony have been able to get minutes at the 2, 3 AND 4, depending on the looks they wanted to throw out there?) It's hard to imagine ANY way how the Pistons would have been worse with Anthony instead of Darko.

The Ship Be Sunk

Another night, another 20-point loss for New York's aptly nicknamed Team Titanic and the Unsinkable Larry Brown. On a day that saw Isiah Thomas and James Dolan add another ill-advised max contract holder to their collection (Stevie Franchise), the Heat came to town and laid the smack down, beating the hapless Knicks 103-83.

Francis was acquired for nothing much—the moldering corpse of Penny Hardaway and the delusional Trevor Ariza—but it's hard to imagine how his arrival is going to do any good. Unless there are more trades in the works (and seeing that Isiah remains in charge, they probably are), Francis's arrival probably makes things worse. Assuming that's possible.

For starters, minutes. Penny hadn't played a one for the Knicks this year, and Ariza had fallen out of favor long before yesterday. Francis, on the other hand, has been a constant starter, and will probably expect 35 minutes a night, minimum. It's hard to imagine Stephon Marbury's minutes being reduced, so Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson should expect a change of scenery or drastic reductions in playing time.

Then there's the fact that Francis is essentially a carbon copy of Marbury—and he's had a hard enough time figuring out Brown's way (which, incidentally apparently involves lots of different starting lineups and games that are decided by the midway point of the third quarter). While a starting backcourt of Steph and Franchise may be good enough in the world of fantasy basketball, it's hard to imagine it working very well in the real world. Both want to dominate the ball, and neitehr are going to be terribly thrilled about guarding opposing twos.

And of course there's the little matter of getting under the salary cap, which at this rate should happen around the year 3000. I'm actually amazed at the fact that Isiah didn't mention Stevie's contract expiring in 2009 or whenever as one of the main reasons for acquiring him (when he can then be traded for some other guy with four years or so left on his own ridiculous max extension, like Boris Diaw or Darko Milicic).

Meanwhile the Knicks continue to stagger towards the lottery, where they can drop Rudy Gay or J.J. Redick or that big kid from Texas right into the waiting arms of the forever grateful Chicago Bulls. Tonight, Eddy Curry, the centerpiece of that trade, managed a whole four points and four rebounds before fouling out and getting booed all the way to the bench. Yet he still looks like a combination of Wilt Chamberlain and Mechagodzilla next to Jerome James, who's pretty much done nothing to distinguish himself since partying too hard on New Year's Eve.

Best I can tell, Isiah is assembling this team by poring past All-Star rosters and seeing who he can get, with no regard how they fit together. Which, as seemingly anyone could figure out, is a bad idea. Look at it like food: say you like steak, and chocolate, and bacon, and sushi, and pizza. That doesn't mean they'd taste good mixed together. Not sure why it's taking Zeke so long to realize.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Second Half Buzzer

Yeah, I know. I failed to blog during the All-Star game. Actually, I DID keep notes on here, but they were embarassingly bad. Nothing worth wasting anyone's time with. So I figure, to make up for it, I'd just mention a few things from the trade deadline, the first half just past, and the second half which is just getting started. (I'm watching Mavs/Clippers right now.)

THE DARKO TRADE: You know what? I think that Joe Dumars is an outstanding GM. I think that the Pistons are probably the best TEAM in the NBA (and they apparently don't need Larry Brown to succeed). But I'm tired of him getting a free pass on the Darko Milicic pick, because taking someone like Wade or Carmelo would have cut into Rip Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince's minutes, and thus ruined the team's delicate chemistry, and resulted in their not winning an NBA title, which indeed they did during Darko's rookie season. Nice theory, I suppose, but isn't that a case of trying too hard?

Why wouldn't you want the best player available, no matter how your team is set up? Wouldn't you want to try to work Carmelo or Dwyane Wade into that rotation? Seems like some analysts go so far to say that the pick was actually the RIGHT move for the Pistons. In that case, would it have been an equally good pick had they just passed? Or picked, say, me? I would have been even better than Darko, because I wouldn't have cared about playing time. Not only that, but if you're going to play fortune teller and assume that the Pistons would have won neither title with Wade or 'Melo (which I still think is ridiculous), couldn't you also assume that, had they traded Darko for solid bench help at the end of his first season, that they could have won two straight and been looking for their third? Sure, they got back a lottery pick from Orlando, but this year's draft id full of question marks. Kind of like Darko.

As for Darko himself (some SLAM readers will remember I picked him over LeBron to be Rookie of the Year, thanks to extreme Chad Ford-driven hype—never again), it'll be interesting to see how he fares in Orlando. If nothing else, he should get a lot of playing time, and maybe have a chance to get into a rhythm, which he never was able to do in Detroit. Even when he did get extended minutes, which was a rarity, it was usually in garbage time, which doesn't much resemble real NBA action. He's still only 20, and I do believe that the reasons Detroit liked him so much HAD to be based on some fact and real skill. It's far too early to declare him a bust. Will he have a Jermaine O'Neal-type breakout season? It's possible.

And what if he does? Does Detroit look bad for dealing him? Probably not, actually. As long as they remain contenders, and put out a young, talented lineup who all seem to get along swimmingly, there's no regrets. They continue to pursue titles, and Darko finally gets to play and perhaps blossom. But Carmelo Anthony would still look mighty good in royal blue.

THE KNICKS: Yeah, I know, I talk about them every time I post. I can't help it. They're absolutely amazing. And now there's talk of them trading for Steve Francis without giving up Stephon Marbury in the process. Do they not have to pay the remainder of Larry Brown's salary if he commits suicide? I like Steph and Franchise personally, but is that a backcourt you want to have out there (one that's owed roughly $100 million over the next three years, at that). It's hard to say that Jamal Crawford is a bargain, but he's a blue-light special compared to Francis. And if Maurice Taylor is included, this trades an expiring contract for another long maxed-out one. Pardon me for being cynical, but at this rate Ground Zero is going to be rebuilt before the Knicks are.

It'll also be interesting to see what happens with the rookies. I fully expect at least one to be gone by Thursday, for no other reason than they'll have to include one in any trade just to interest any other teams. My money would be on Nate Robinson, who doesn't really fit in to begin with—and would fit in even worse behind Francis and Marbury, neither of whom are very tall.

Back to Francis for a minute, haven't most of his recent issues been with coaches? Brian Hill and Jeff Van Gundy? Why would things be any different with Larry Brown, especially in a situation as hopeless as this one? I'd rather see the Knicks try and land a bonafide superstar—like Kevin Garnett or Allen Iverson—to at least give them some identity.

THE MVP: Right now I'm looking at Steve Nash. Chauncey Billups is up there, but the fact that three of his teammates were All-Stars seems to indicate that they all share the credit. All Nash has done is lead a Phoenix team who have been without three of last year's starters to a 35-17 record. Credit Shawn Marion with a lot, but it's Nash who has helped turn afterthought Boris Diaw into a stellar player, and kept the team going without Amare Stoudemire.

THE TRADE DEADLINE: Judging from the staggering number of players who have been brought up in potential trades—and the names of them—it appears readily apparent that there are just a lot of teams out there who have basically no idea what they're doing. That, and the fact that it's harder and harder to justify your players huge salaries when your team is losing.

There's probably a whole four teams who can afford to do nothing—Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio and Detroit. Every other team should have an active war room. Of course, this probably means that next to nothing will happen. Or, you could see names like Garnett, Pierce, Iverson, Martin, Marbury, Francis, etc., changing teams. I'll definitely write more on this stuff as it happens.

CHRIS KAMAN'S HAIR: What's up with that, dude?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

NBA Saturday Night

Hm. The stuff before the actual events on TNT are kind of lame. "The Best Dunk Ever"? I feel like the Jason Richardson off the glass and through the legs is the best dunk ever, and it didn't even make it out of the first round! Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Skills comp is first, and it probably has the best cast of characters. Nash, LeBron, Dwyane? This should be fun.

Shaq can dress! Three-piece and a biscuit. And actually the other crap is first, with the legends and stuff. Dan Majerle! Magic Johnson! Can't wait!

Steve Nash still has Marilyn Quayle's hair. Oh yeah, shooting stars is first. Still gotta get them WNBA players up in here. WE DON'T CARE. And it's crazy that Magic is still doing this shit. Feels like he'd come back again if they'd let 'em. Wonder if Nike told Kobe to do it? And T-Mac? Star-studded, at least. Not paying attention to the first thang, though. Worst. Competition. Ever. One round? That was seriously terrible. And I still hate the WNBA. Skills next.

I'm pulling for Lebron in the skills challenge just because he's not a point guard. Reason enough for me. CP3 would be fine, too. And he's up first. Kenny's right—CP ain't fast enough. And his chest pass sucks. Dribbling is toooo sloooow. He ain't moving on. Trust me.

D. Wade is up next. Dunk e'rything! Reggie's right on the wack jumper, but he still wastes CP3. LeBron now. He ain't gettin' there. Too big to dribble fast. Beat CP3, but Nash'll be faster. Although he can't shoot. And thinks he can. Out. So it's Wade against Bron in the final. Which is also wack. This comp ain't the greatest. But Bron has a killer run in the final, and Wade's got a tough road.

But he hits EVERYTHING on his first try. And he probably deserved to win, but how is it only two rounds? Waaaaack. Still, big ups to D Wizzy. Good roll. And now we get to the real events.

I can't even pick a winner in the three-point shootout. Arenas? Q ain't gonna defend, and Ray-Ray takes too much time. F it, I'm going with Chauncey.

Gilbert missed his entire first rack, and ain't so good through a couple. 14 is all right, but he ain't goin' nowhere. And Jason Terry is slow, with only 13. You out, too.

Diiiiiirk. Long hair fo sho. Shoots all right, but gets 12. Charles Barkley is on fire with the commentary. None of these guys are winning, I don't think. But they count Dirk's moneyball even though it was obviously late! Ain't cool. Ray up now, and he's on. Kills it. 19 points, which ain't bad at all.

Now Chauncey. And he's out. Brickin' galore. Misses a lot of the money balls, and now it's Q. He's out, too. Misses last six. So it's Gilbert, Dirk and Ray A in the Final. Goin' with Dirk.

Gilbert's got 16 first, although this should be 20 for the win. And there aren't enough rounds like there used to be. Too many comps now. Dirk loads 18, and that's awesome, but it leaves the door WIDE open for Ray Allen. Who runs out of time. And Dirk wins. And this sucks. Come on, y'all, gotta have at least three rounds! Better work on this. But I got it right, right? Um, despite the fact that he shouldn't have even been in the final.

I'ma take Igloodala in the dunk contest.

But yeah, Andrea Bocelli first. Blind-ass cracka.

Four competitors in the dunk contest? Four? That's pathetic. PATHETIC. Kill the shooting comp! And Charles Barkley is the best. Period. Hakim Warrick is aiight with his first, but it's a long way from great. Iggy's much better. Windmill off the bounce, that's real. Nate's even realer, though, 3-6 off the bounce. With both hands. Mean, Now it's J Smoove, and he's got on the free-throw line with both hands. And that's the lowest score of the night? HATERS.

Hakim's got a nice beard, but that's it. Miss the first attempt? And that second wasn't nothin' anyway. Should be a wrap for HW. But we got too much weird shit with passes. Chill, AI Jr! Ai't you got enough of your own shit? Looked aiight, but too many attempts. Too complicated. Shit was cool, but it barely even made sense. On second thought, that's a winner. A serious 50.

Nate's was OK, but J Smoove is goin' to the Finals. Least he better be. 'Cept he can't, because Nate got enough points to make it impossible for Josh to get past him. Shit's fucked up. Nate and Igloo in the finals.

Nate up first, And he tries to go off the glass through the legs? If he hits that, it's OVER. And now it's too many tries. Gettin' bad. Cause it seems like he's tryin' something new. You lost, Nate. Good tries, though. And he does get through the legs, but it takes what, eight times? East Bay funk, what? CB remains realistic.

And AI off the bounce and behind the back? Silly. That ain't right. One last dunk—Nate better get real. The Spud jersey? Already done last year with J Smoove. Bangin' for sure, but to win? Tough call. AI's only gotta get 45 to win. But he better get the shit DOWN. Lots of misses, too. Sucks for real. Missing is bad news. And that ain't enough for me. But it's a tie! Which is better, actually. Let's see where it go.

And OK, there are WAY too many attempts allowed. What the fuck? Nate's turning into Birdman without the meth. How many times can you try? At this point, he's trying it often enough so Dre falls asleep, I think. I think the fans are falling asleep, too. As am I. Please get something? OK, he gets it, but a dozen-plus tries? And a 47? Come on. If that wins...that's bad. 14 tries? What the fuck?

AI up, and...let's see. Baseline through the legs, on the second try, and it's not enough to win? BULLSHIT. That's fucking terrible—they gave Nate that many tries? So, so, so, so bad. All-Star Saturday can fuck off.

And I'm out.

Friday, February 17, 2006

2006 Rookie Challenge

No offense to Dwight Howard and Chris Paul (and several other guys), buy this might be the lamest Rookie Challenge ever. No LeBron and Carmelo and Dwyane, no Iverson or Kobe or T-Mac, just a bunch of guys who in some cases don't even start for their own teams. Heck, Channing Frye only got 15 minutes for the Knicks in their last game, and that team is 20-plus games below .500. Sure, Andre Iguodala may throw down a rugged dunk or 10, but Howard and Paul seem to be the only two guys who have any chance at playing on Sunday in the coming years. And Paul's hurt (although he will play). Meanwhile, last year's rookie of the year, Emeka Okafor, is out. At least we get to listen to John Thompson, who seems like he's on something. OK, and TJ Ford could be exciting, along with the 13 Bulls who are on the sophomore squad. And maybe Nate Robinson will give us a little dunk contest preview. Still, though, this isn't really much of a premier event. It'll be interesting to see how many people are in the stands (I'm guessing a lot of people will skip it in favor of the party circuit, which oughtta be in full swing already.

Hey, it's the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge! Maybe I should be watching this on my Sidekick? Good to see some Rockets legends getting love on the coaching staffs. And Luther Head is the first introduced—sheesh. This IS bad. Danny Granger, Sarunas Jasekevicius, Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul, Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, Charlie Villanueva and Deron Williams. They're gonna get KILLED. Meanwhile, the PA announcer needs a Halls or something. Or a record contract from a blues label.

The sophomores: Emeka Okafor (in a suit), Delonte West, Luol Deng (why is he from the Sudan and not Duke?), Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni, Devin Harris, TJ Ford, Nenad Krstic, Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala. Yep, they should murk 'em. But no Al Jefferson? That sucks. And no Josh Smith?

I guess this could actually wind up being more of a game, Then again, Channing Frye AND Nate Robinson are starters. Ha. Think Larry Brown is watching this?

Reggie Miller thinks Ben Gordon is gonna be MVP. Ha. I'm going with Dwight Howard.

Nate Robinson jumps center, which shows how serious this game is. Give me a break. And Channing Frye scores on the first shot. Feeling the half-orange, half-white ball. ABA, whoadie.

Turrrrnovers. We're barely a minute into this game and I'm already losing focus. Ben Gordon wets a trey. I kind of wish that the Rooks and Sophs would wear matching unis instead of their team uniforms. Dick Stockton just referred to Nate Robinson as a "little guy," and Reggie Miller picked him to win the dunk contest. I don't see it. Then again, maybe I just want to disagree with Reggie whenever possible.

Rookies lead early, 8-7. It's like a high-school All-Star game, with guys doing stuff that they'd get pulled from a real game for doing. Chris Paul is looking like the MVP early, lacing everyone with passes. Luther Head checks in for Nate Robinson. The sophs are 3-10 from the floor. Can't really see much as far as shoes yet, and Rip Hamilton is the first All-Star they show in the crowd. Wonder how many are even there? Rookies are running away with this, 13-7, and the sophs call time out.

Reggie says that Chris Paul reminds him of Isiah Thomas in All-Star games, trying to get everybody involved. Well, except he didn't kiss a 6-9 guy on the other team, and he's not freezing anyone out best I can tell.

Hey, the Diesel's here! Lookin' good in the vest and the big-knot tie. He says he hasn't been paying attention to the game, just talking to his lawyer. Gangsta. CV with the bucket off the bench. Better pro than college player? No doubt.

Tons of media seats behind the baskets. They ain't seein' much. Lots of sloppy basketball, lots of missed jumpers, lots of long rebounds. Luther Head oop to Villanueva, Krstic fouled on other end. Rooks still up four. Three. Miss-Deng gets it back. One. And another head to Villanueva resets it to three. Nocioni cuts the rookie lead back to one, and Ford dunks to put the sophs up one.

West is in the game—and only here because Jameer Nelson is hurt. Lucky him.

More missed long jumpers. This game sucks.

Delonte West oop to Krstic. Deron Williams, Delonte West trey. Sophs up four. Delonte West layup, sophs up six. Timeout, rookies.

Shooters are SO off tonight it's not even funny. Krstic dunks to be safe, Sophs up 8. Make that 10 after another dunk, this one from Iguodala. Frizye gets fizouled by Krstic. Brick, wet. Then he goaltends Delonte West, who's gonna end up MVP if he keeps this up.

David Aldridge talks about Channing Frye being untouchable. Look, no one is untouchable. You're telling me if the Knicks could get a 25-year-old stud, they wouldn't give up Frye? Because that's just plain nuts. I like Channing, but they'd be a LOT better off with, say, just about anyone who's playing on Sunday (and quite a few who aren't). Is Channing the kind of guy you build a team around? Probably not.

Apparently LeBron and Kobe are in the building—and there they are! Kob's in a Nike jacket, LeBron looks like Kanye West. And hey, the rookies are only down four. Make that six.

Wow, Charles Barkley is a finalist for the Hall of Fame. Like there's any question? If he doesn't get in on the first ballot, someone should burn the damn building down.

Dwight Howard gets the and-1 but not the 1, then he blocks Granger. A turnover keeps the sophs from getting it back to 10.

Nate bricks the hell out of a three. Maybe it's the sight lines. Bogut passes out to the bench. Messy.

Ben Gordon hits a three over Nate Robinson. Eleven, until Bogut dunks in Nocioni's face. International relations, bitch. And then he gets a deep rebound off a Paul miss and whips a behind-the-back pass from the three-point line up top to Nate Robinson underneath. Sick. Off to Frye for the dunk. That's the play of the game so far.

Luther Head three. Eight. The rooks are 1-10 from three, now, and Luther Head is EVERYWHERE. Until Luol Deng gets a dunk. Then Bogut gets one. CP3 has five assists and no points. A Nocioni three and it's back to nine. Chris Paul gets his first bucket, and his yellow socks are gangsta as hell. 52-45 sophs at the half.

The new Jordan XXI ad with the kids replicating some of MJ's most well-known moves is pretty ill. Too bad the shoes themselves look like they were made for Randy Moss.

OK, Charles and Kenny had better kill this game. Or at least Charles better. Oh God, and there's Magic, Mr. Incomprehensibility. Oh yeah, Charles and Kenny both played for the Rockets. Funny. Annnd, they don't. But we do have the Kenny Smith/Reggie Miller three-point shoot out to look forward to. If Reggie loses, he might have to quit TNT.

And even the halftime show was lame, focusing mostly on Barkley's Hall-of-Fame nomination. Terrific.

Sophs up six early in the second half. And it's already 10:15?? This game seems loooong for two 10-minute halves. Guess they gotta stretch it out—which is why it should just be part of All-Star Saturday instead of a free-standing Friday event. Channing blocked by Dwight, then he gets the eventual rebound. His wallet should say "Bad Mother Fucker" on it. But yeah, Channing Frye is untouchable.

You know, that Heineken commercial with the girl who gets random guys to buy her beers, which she then in turn gives to her brother and his friend, is cute and all, but isn't the basic message "never buy a girl a beer again"? Oh well, Heineken is disgusting anyway.

Shit, I half-forgot that Darko is a Magic now. Gonna have to discuss that at some point. The Serbian Gangsta in Orlando.

Sophs up 13 with 16 interminable minutes to go. Turnover, turnover, turnover, Howard dunk. Howard the dunk? Granger trey. 12-point game, 15 and a half. Iguodala makes it 14 with a mean dunk. Iggy hops? Raw power. I'm getting delirious.

I love that TNT is relentlessly promoting the broadcast of "Armageddon." Are you kidding me? Hasn't everyone seen that by now? This is a big deal? Obviously someone over at TNT is even more delusional than I am.

Iguodala again. Blaow. He's got hops.

Luol Deng over Villanueva, his old high school teammate. Dwight gets another block, then on the turnover fouls hell out of Nate Robinson. Jeah.

John Thompson is incomprehensible, and Chris Paul is really good. Sophs by 14 on another Iguodala dunk. Not sure if he's made any other kind of shot. Eleven after a Jasekavicius trey. Wait a minute, isn't Sebastian Telfair a soph? Wouldn't he have made this game a little more entertaining? And given the Blazers a representative?

And yeay, a through-the-legs dunk from Iguodala, and the announcers get excited about it. Um, a straightforward through-the-legs dunk hasn't been exciting in 10 years, fellas. You gotta add some sauce.

Iguodala trey. Sophs up 19 with 8:48. AI might have the MVP on lock. Channing Frye is long. And untouchable, of course. T.J. Ford throws the worst pass of the game. Meanwhile, Chris Paul has like 27 steals. And Iguodala has 25 points. Sophs up 20. Jebus. Nate Robinson is trying fancy shit that'll probably end with his minutes being reduced by LB. Or him getting traded before Sunday. AI for three more. 28. Luther Head with a layup. Delonte West with a layup. He's got a bunch of points. Iguodala misses a through-the-legs dunk on the break (with his left?). Jumped too close to the rim, I think. Sophs up 19.

Pretty sure no one cares about the game at this point, including the people in it. Five minutes.

Chris Paul tosses an oop to Villanueva, and of course we're on the overhead camera from behind, which means the TV audience gets the same view as someone in the 400 level. Um, if there's anyone still there. And then Villanueva gets a three, and Paul gets a dunk on the break. 11-point sophomore lead with three minutes left.

Pretty sure Reggie just called AI "Andre Igloodala." Who gets a dunk and makes it 11 with 2:10 left. Then a dunk which makes it 12 (and he has 30 and a virtual lock on the MVP). He DID call him "Igloodala." Awesome.

It's a minute left and the sophs are up 11. CP turnover, and we're not even getting the final minute dunk contest that we deserve. Bastards. Head gets the ball stuck between the rim and the backboard, which is par for the course. Allen Iverson's on the sideline in full Yankee gear with a watch the size of a hubcap on his wrist blingin' like mad.

106-96 final, and Igloodala was so cold he's gotta get MVP. No dizzle. 30 points on nine dunks and two threes. No one else had 20, although Chris Paul did tie the assist record (11). And hey, AI2 thanks God. Yay.

They'll be back. And maybe I'll be. Not sure.

All-Star 2006

Well, this is the second year in a row that I'm not at the All-Star game, after attending every one since 1997's in Cleveland. New York, Washington, Philly, Los Angeles, Atlanta—all good times. I might go back next year when it's in Vegas. But this year I'll spend it on my couch, blogging the hell out of tonight, tomorrow and Sunday for my huge audience. Probably better off here anyway—from what I understand it's rainy and cold in H-town, and All-Star is usually a big clusterfuck anyway. Sour grapes? Perhaps. But I'm here instead of there, and I'm gonna make the best of it. Back in a half hour for the rookie game.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New Theory

Is it too late to bring back Scott Layden and Don Chaney? Does anyone have Clarence Weatherspoon's number? Think Herb Williams could still put in some minutes at center? Through 50 games this year, the Knicks were off to their worst start in history. THEIR WORST START IN 60 YEARS. This with a $100-million plus payroll, the alleged greatest NBA coach, and an alleged genius eye for talent as GM/President. There's obviously something very wrong with this picture. And I have a new theory on what it could be.

Larry Brown is doing this on purpose. He knows EXACTLY what he's doing.

Look, you don't use 30-plus different starting lineups before the All-Star break by accident. You don't shuffle guys in and out of the rotation like a Vegas dealer with ADD just for the hell of it. There must be a method to the madness. And, best I can tell, the only thing that makes sense is that LB is trying to see exactly how much he can get away with. Look at the situation—a Hall of Fame coach making $10 million a season after his last stop yielded him his first NBA championship. He's back home where it all started, he's got a crazily overpaid roster of chronic underachievers, and who could blame him for absolutely not giving a fuck?

Maybe it didn't start out that way. Maybe he did try to win at first, and the lineup shuffling was because he didn't know who could give him what. That's all well and good in November, maybe even in December. But this is FEBRUARY, people. This is the All-Star break, and he STILL hasn't settled on nine guys who can give solid minutes? He hasn't decided whether to let the rookies sink or swim, or to do or die with the veterans? Sorry, I just don't buy it. LB has been around far too long to be this indecisive.

I think after 30 years of coaching, he's just decided to see how much he can get away with. What kinds of weird crap can he pull and still have his management back him and his players not give him a group Sprewell. How far can he bend things before they break? Before you dismiss this as ridiculous, ask yourself one question: Would ANY other coach still have his job after a half-season like this?

The ONLY theory that makes sense is that LB's doing all this crazy stuff on purpose, as a mindfuck to Isiah Thomas, James Dolan, even the players. After all, LB is a genius, right? Read and hear that all the time. Therefore, whatever he's doing must have a purpose, must have a payoff. Meanwhile, the season continues to swirl down the toilet, and Dolan continues to sign a lot of big checks. Payoff? Yeah, folks. LB gets his every two weeks.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Ship Be Sinkin'

Welcome to your nightmare, Jalen Rose. You thought giving up 81 points to Kobe Bryant was bad? Try spending the rest of the season with the Knicks, who lurch towards 20 games under .500 while finding new and creative ways to lose every night. And with a roadtrip beckoning—at Jersey, New Orleans, Houston and Dallas—things are just going to get worse for the worst team in the NBA.

Last night it was the Clippers turn. The Knicks made stringy-haired center Chris Kaman (as astutely pointed out by Nike guy Brian Faccinni, he looks a lot like Hulk Hogan without the mustache) look like an All-Star, and let Sam Cassell bury two treys in the final two minutes to bury them. Throw in (um, or don't, actually) a five-seconds inbound violation with 2.2 left down 1 since they were out of timeouts, and that's all she wrote.

Forgive me for being overly critical, but isn't that why Larry Brown was brought in to begin with? To avoid those incredibly simple lapses that result in losses? Meanwhile Eddy Curry mahaged to snare a whole two rebounds (NONE on the defensive end), David Lee played less than a minute (after getting a DNP the previous night) and Stephon Marbury once again watched from the sidelines (as did Isiah Thomas after a game's absence). Oh, and Malik Rose, who also got a DNP in the previous game, played big minutes. Showcase? On a more positive note, the Knicks didn't fall another game behind the Pistons, who lost to the Hawks.

Here's the thing that's most bothersome about the Antonio Davis trade, besides the fact that they added another year of max contract to the books: They traded the team's conscience for yet another player who doesn't seem to have one. Sure, AD has been kind of crazy this year—not wanting to report, going into the stands, being married to a lunatic. But even at 36 and on the downside, at least he had some PRIDE. He wanted wins, went after rebounds, broke scoreless streaks with emphatic dunks. He showed some emotion, some life. His flagrant foul on Kobe Bryant in the Laker game was uncalled for, but it at least was evidence that someone on the Knicks wasn't going to just stand by and watch the Kobe Show.

Now what? The Knicks are a vastly overpaid collective of untested talents, most whom have had exactly zero experience in the playoffs. Most of them don't know how to win, and evidently don't much care whether they do or not. As long as those five-figure paychecks keep clearing every two weeks, everything's great. To be sure, you don't need an entire team of obsessed winners, just one or two to keep everyone else in line. The Knicks, they had one. They don't anymore.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Seriously, how can it get much worse? I was at the Knicks/Lakers debacle last night, and Chris Sheridan—a friend and former AP writer who now writes for—stated that this Knicks era and team wasn't the worst, that it was worse in the Felton Spencer era. Now, it actually took me a minute to remember that Spencer (a soft-in-the-middle bust center who had braces during his stint with the Knicks) was even in New York in the first place, but I don't know. Did anyone think it could get this bad?

It's like Larry Brown is trying to play chess (that's giving him a HUGE benefit of the doubt that I'm pretty sure he doesn't deserve) with Monopoly pieces on a backgammon board. There's no sense to it. And the last two games were just astounding. A Larry Brown coached team giving up 250 points on back-to-back nights? Losing by a combined 52 points? And to the Hawks and the Lakers, neither of who should be competing for a championship. They also allowed the Lakers—not just Kobe, the entire team—to shoot 71 percent (and score 70 points) in the second half last night. In contrast, tonight against the Pacers, with 3:50 to go in the GAME, the Lakers have 73 total points.

Don't give me the whole "rebuilding" thing, either. This is rebuilt! Isn't that what Isiah told us? The payroll's still over $100 million, most positions are filled by vets. Also, THERE IS NO NUMBER ONE PICK to bail out a lottery-bound team. That belongs to Chicago. And even when Penny Hardaway and Antonio Davis disappear off the books this summer, it's not like they'll have cap space to pursue any free agents.

And why would anyone want to come to New York right now anyway? I thought about it while walking home yesterday—the Knicks play in the biggest market in the country, in the best gym to play ball in, have a gleaming new practice facility and the alleged best coach in the game. You'd think a superstar would totally want to play here. But right now, the way things are? I can't imagine a single big name—Wade, LeBron, Kobe, KG—wanting to come here. Well, Kobe maybe, he's the only one crazy enough to think he could turn it all around himself.

Also, what exactly is the esteemed teacher Mr. Brown teaching? Has anyone learned ANYTHING, except to be sure to check the lineup/inactive list very carefully each day? Jamal Crawford is still erratic and turnover prone, Eddy Curry still can't rebound, Jerome James—well, it's best not to even talk about him.

Meanwhile, the rookies are hitting the wall, the best player is the guy who was picked up on waivers (Qyntel Woods), and James Dolan should be happy most of his season tickets are in the hands of corporate drones instead of real fans.

At this point, it's hard to believe that Trevor Ariza's the only member of the organization who's delusional.