Posts Tagged ‘New York Daily News’

Honeymoon over for Phil in New York?


VIDEO: Carmelo Anthony breaks down the Knicks’ latest loss

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You knew the finger-pointing was coming in New York. We all did.

But it was supposed to be aimed at the usual suspects … Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, the coach (in this case Derek Fisher), J.R. Smith and, of course, owner James Dolan.

Phil Jackson was supposed to be immune from this stuff, his championship rings protecting him from the blowback of what most level-headed observers expected to be a struggle of a season for the Knicks.

But things are playing out in unexpected ways these days in the big city. The Zen master is being singled out for not impacting things the way many expected when he took over the daily basketball operations in New York.

Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News takes aim with some pointed criticisms of the way the Jackson regime is conducting business, thus far:

Phil Jackson was going to come in and shed light into every dark corner of the organization, use his wit and his wiles to turn the Garden into a brighter, smarter place. The world’s most paranoid arena was going to become something less afraid of the truth.

But a quarter of the way through the season, the Knicks have dropped eight straight games and stand at 4-18, and Jackson has been about as big a presence as a one-off halftime show. He sits in his seat above midcourt, watching the Knicks blow one after another. They lost another one down the stretch on Sunday, falling 103-99, to the faster, younger Trail Blazers. How Jackson feels about this mess remains a mystery. Jackson might as well be Glen Grunwald or Steve Mills, for all we hear from him.

He was charming enough in his introductory press conference back in March, though some reporters weren’t permitted to ask him questions. He’s spoken only once to the assembled media since the season started, when he said that decisions would be made on players sometime around Thanksgiving or Christmas. We’re well past that first holiday, steaming downhill toward the second, and the only glimpse we get of Jackson is if he’s shown on camera near a security guard. When reporters had the nerve to ask him questions after opening night, and when Jackson had the audacity to answer, Garden officials changed the postgame route taken by those writers to make certain the media would not intersect with him again.

So Jackson hasn’t altered the Garden culture, and from the look of things he hasn’t changed the team in a good way, either. When he sent Tyson Chandler packing, he dumped the sharpest, toughest player of the bunch. Now Derek Fisher is left trying to teach a system to players who don’t own the skill sets to play it. As Hubie Brown once said of his 23-59 Knicks, “They’re trying. They’re just not good enough.”

The Knicks this season aren’t nearly good enough, which for some reason is surprising a lot of people. Is it surprising Jackson? Who knows? Let’s face it. Fans don’t care a bit what a team president says or believes, as long as the team is winning. But the loyalists pouring money into the Garden coffers certainly deserve some hint now at a blueprint.

Having visited the Knicks and PJax during training camp on the Hang Time Podcast Road Trip, it was clear to me that this would be an extensive “work in progress.” So I wasn’t expecting any miracles.

But I also didn’t expect things to come apart as quickly as they have for the new regime. The Knicks have better talent than their record indicates but lack the chemistry and understanding of the system to put things together in an Eastern Conference that has played musical chairs with the top spot through the first six weeks of the season.

The playoffs?

It’s already a mirage for the Knicks. They’re just trying to salvage what they can from this season and it’s not even Christmas. So maybe the honeymoon really is over for Phil in New York …

Morning Shootaround — Dec. 17


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Dec. 16

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Woodson takes blame for Knicks’ loss | Oden’s status remains a mystery | Brown impressed with Trail Blazers | Johnson is Nets’ unsung ironman

No. 1: Woodson botches final seconds, shoulders burden for loss — A public vote of confidence from Carmelo Anthony won’t make things any easier on Knicks coach Mike Woodson today. As if things could get any crazier for Woodson and his beaten down team, Monday night’s Manhattan Meltdown against the Wizards left Woodson on the hook for a late-game mistake. ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley delivers the goods on Melo defending his coach after the curious late-game tailspin that might ultimately cost Woodson his job:

Some will be calling for Mike Woodson’s job in the wake of the New York Knicks’ disastrous one-point loss to the Washington Wizards on Monday.

But Knicks star Carmelo Anthony believes his coach is safe.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s secure right now. I haven’t heard anything,” Anthony said Monday night after initially declining to answer a question about Woodson’s status. “There’s nothing to discuss. He’s our coach, and we’re rolling with him.”

Woodson’s job security has come into question in recent weeks with the Knicks (7-17) playing well below expectations. Woodson and the Knicks’ late-game errors Monday will only put more heat on the coach.

New York had a one-point lead against the Wizards with 24 seconds to play and a foul to give.

Instead of using the foul, the Knicks allowed Bradley Beal to drive for an uncontested layup with 6.9 seconds to play.

Then, Woodson and his players did not call timeout to set up a final play. Instead, Anthony dribbled the ball across half court and took a 25-foot off-balance shot that fell short as time expired. The Knicks had three timeouts to use.

“I probably should have taken a timeout there at the end, but you know, Beno [Udrih] grabbed it [to inbound] and the ball is in Melo’s hands before I could even react, and I should have reacted a lot sooner once the ball went through the bucket. So, that’s on me,” Woodson said. ” …. I didn’t call the timeout so I’ve got to take the heat for that.”

There is plenty of blame to go around in New York, more than enough for Anthony, Woodson, Spike Lee and anyone else to get in on the action. But Woodson’s seat is the hottest.


VIDEO: The Game Time crew breaks down the Knicks’ Manhattan Meltdown

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No. 2: Oden’s status remains a mystery for Heat-Pacers and beyond — Greg Oden had to watch the first chapter of the Heat-Pacers drama in street clothes last week. His status for Round 2 Wednesday remains one of  South Florida’s biggest mysteries. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra isn’t tipping his hand. And Pacers big man Roy Hibbert probably doesn’t care, even after his woeful performance in the Pacers’ first home loss of the season to Josh Smith and the Detroit Pistons Monday night. Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald does his best to uncover the secretes surrounding Oden’s status:

The Heat plays the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night in the biggest home game of the first two months of the season, and the topic of Oden and his playing status (or lack thereof) will once again be a point of discussion.

Last week, Oden watched from the bench in Indianapolis as Pacers center Roy Hibbert dominated the paint both offensively and defensively. After the game, Hibbert said he was looking forward to Oden joining the rivalry.

But exactly when Oden will begin playing games for the Heat remains a mystery. He made an appearance in the preseason but hasn’t suited up for a regular-season game. Oden, who was in street clothes against the Jazz, has been inactive for the first 24 games of the season.

As a follow up to a question about his rotations, Spoelstra was asked about how to efficiently incorporate Oden into the Heat’s system once he is ready to play.

“We’ll get to that when we get to that,” Spoelstra said. “It will be no different than when we had to incorporate Michael [ Beasley], when we’ve had to incorporate Shane [ Battier]. We incorporated Norris [Cole]. When we get to that point, we’ll deal with it the way we always do.”

Spoelstra was then asked whether he thought adding Oden midstream would be the biggest challenge of the season.

“You can’t ever pinpoint what the biggest challenge will be in an NBA season, really,” Spoelstra said. “They come daily, they come weekly because of the schedule, but they will arrive on your doorstep.”

Oden hasn’t played in regular-season game in more than four years.


VIDEO:
Did the Pacers get caught looking ahead to Wednesday’s showdown with the Heat?

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No. 3: Brown sees much to like (maybe even love) about the Trail Blazers — Don’t judge Cleveland coach Mike Brown for being envious of Terry Stotts and the machine he’s presiding over in Portland these days. All coaches wish they could get off to the early season start the Blazers have. So while Brown has the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week (Kyrie Irving) at his disposal, he’d love to have the NBA’s team of the first two months (arguably, the Pacers want in on that as well) to work with, as Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer explains (oh, and that point guard matchup tonight between Irving and Damian Lillard should be as good as any we’ve seen thus far):

Ask Cavaliers coach Mike Brown what makes the Portland Trail Blazers so good and his long, long list of compliments starts with coach Terry Stotts and goes through LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews all the way to Mo Williams.

It’s no wonder, either, since the Trail Blazers come into The Q on Tuesday with a shiny 21-4 record, best in the Western Conference. After an overtime victory at Detroit on Sunday, they’re even better on the road — 11-2 — than at home.

“Terry is a good coach first of all, but if you look at their roster, they have veteran guys on that team or guys in their prime,” Brown said after the Cavs practice on Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “They have very few young guys they’re asking to run or lead the ship. They’ve got a lot of veteran players on their team who know how to play the game the right way on the floor. A lot of those guys have had success. Maybe not last year, but LaMarcus has won before, Batum has won before, Matthews has won before there and even in Utah.

“I thought the Lopez kid was the right fit. They needed a big body that doesn’t need to score or anything like that who will do the dirty work because they have enough scorers when you look at the guys they rotate in and out of the game. Then on top of that you’ve got a veteran like Mo Williams who can shoot the 3, who can come off pindowns,  who can play pick and roll. He’s fast with the ball, can play in transition, can make plays for himself and his teammates.

“That’s a nice mix of players they have who know how to score the basketball. Because they have size and because in my opinion they added a guy like Lopez, that makes them bigger. Lopez has great feet, so that makes them even better defensively than what they might have been in the past. Then you have Batum and Wes Matthews, too, on the perimeter. Those are two big guards who know how to defend.”

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No. 4: Low-key Johnson serves as Nets’ unsung ironman — His record-tying shooting night thrust Joe Johnson into the national headlines. But he’s been the Nets’ unsung ironman all season, writes Filip Bondy of The New York Daily News. Through all of the trials and tribulations this team has faced this season, Johnson has been the one constant. And whether Nets fans and others realize it or not, that could very well be the one factor that saves their season:

Of all the remarkable season stats for Joe Johnson, the most impressive one right now rests directly below the “G.”

There, you will find the number 24, which means that Johnson is one of only four Nets, and the only one who really matters, not to have missed a single game this year due to injury. It is a wonder how he has remained in one piece, while all around him his teammates have been felled like Christmas trees in early December. “I love to come out and play,” Johnson said after he had done something remarkable on Monday night. “I just try to be here for the guys.”

Johnson wasn’t merely there for the guys at Barclays Center, he was ablaze. Johnson went on a record-tying 3-point streak that suddenly made a lopsided game worth watching, at least for a period. In that third quarter, he scored 29 points and buried eight of 10 threes, including an impossible bomb from the left corner with defender James Anderson draped all over him — while drawing a foul.

“I got a good look, got separation,” Johnson insisted. “I just let it go. I was in the right spot a lot of times, at the right times, catching the ball with the seams every time in the right place.”

It was all more than enough to bury the Sixers, 130-94, and to demonstrate again how Johnson has become the rock on a team largely comprised of delicate sand pebbles. “Got to keep giving him the ball, keep giving it to him,” Andray Blatche said.

Johnson finished with 37 points and 10 3-pointers, and all around him his teammates were shouting, “Just keep shooting.” But Johnson had been battling a bug these last couple of days, skipping practice, and so he took a seat on the bench while watching the fourth quarter of this laugher. He had earned the rest, averaging 34 minutes per game while shooting .433 from 3-point range. “He’s been the one horse, been consistent for us,” Jason Kidd said. “A guy who never complains.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Heat’s Dwyane Wade insists the average fan just doesn’t understand the anatomy and physiology of an NBA star … Joe Johnson wasn’t the only former Hawks star to have a good night. Josh Smith is working on back-to-back monster nights for the Pistons … Contrasting styles were on display in the Clippers-Spurs game last night, Gregg Popovich’s way vs. the unique approach that Doc Rivers employs … Derrick Rose is worried about the Bulls’ future? (while most everyone else is worried about his!)

ICYMI(s) Of The Night: Forget about the Bulls’ struggles for a minute and just enjoy Taj Gibson‘s finishing touch on this pick and roll  …


VIDEO: Nik Vucevic is a HT fave, but he’s on the wrong end of this dunk by Taj Gibson

D-Will In The Danger Zone?



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A mere three or four seasons ago, the best point guard in the NBA debate was divided two or three ways. You were either in the Chris Paul camp, the Deron Williams camp or the someone else camp.

But those first two guys, both products of the 2005 NBA Draft, were staples. You either loved the leadership, craftiness and feisty attitude that Paul brings to the party or the size, skill-set and shot-making component Williams possessed.

All that was before Derrick Rose slugged his way into the conversation, and won a MVP trophy that neither Paul nor Williams has. (Older mainstays like Steve Nash and Tony Parker belong in the conversation but are rarely included in conversations about the future of the position for obvious reasons.) It was also before guys like Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook began to emerge and grow. And since then, All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday have led the youth movement at the position.

Blasphemous as this seems to say out loud, Williams is in real danger of falling behind the pack. His possible demotion is due to a combination of injuries, uncharacteristic play and the fact that his contemporaries seem to be leading rising teams while he’s the bandleader of a mismatched Brooklyn bunch that can’t figure out exactly what they are.

No one is disputing that Williams is one of the best the league has seen during his time in the NBA. But in the what-have-you-done-lately world of the NBA, two seasons of substandard play, as judged by the lofty bar Williams set himself, makes the slippage hard to ignore.

Williams is sitting out the Nets’ final game before the All-Star break, the first he’ll watch from home since 2009, due to synovitis (an inflammation of ankle joint linings) in both of his ankles.  He received PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment on both ankles and it scheduled to return next week.

But take a look at his work in the 50 games he’s played this season —  averaging 16.7 points, 7.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting just 41 percent from the floor. His scoring average is his lowest since his second season in the league, when he was with Utah, and his assists his lowest since his rookie season. In fact, he’s seen his assist numbers decrease in each of the past two seasons, a decline that followed four straight seasons where he averaged double-digit dimes.

Nets general manager Billy King still believes in his prized point guard, the man who immediately assumed face of the franchise status when King snatched him from the Jazz in a surprising trade deadline deal in 2011. He told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News as much, insisting that Williams can regain his status among the top two or three point guards in the league as soon he gets healthy:

“I’ve seen it,” the GM said. “He’s done it.”

King ratcheted up his defense of Williams when pressed further. .He admitted Williams has “not had the best year,” but attributed that mostly to injuries, exhaustion and a lack of explosiveness.

He compared the circumstances to Carmelo Anthony’s last season, when the Knicks forward struggled with an elbow injury and Mike D’Antoni’s system.

Amid speculation that Williams has also been slowed by weight-gain, King said the three-time All-Star is just one pound heavier than when he was dealt from Utah.

“You’re digging. You’re digging. And you’re asking valid questions, but (the inflammation to Williams’ ankles) is not a concern,” King said. “Kobe’s had the blood-platelet spinning on his knees, and guys have had it. It happens. So let’s not make this a bigger issue than it is. Let’s let him get through this, have a week off and get back to playing basketball. Let’s not put the dirt on him and say his career’s over at 28.

“I think the same questions were asked last year about Carmelo Anthony when they were struggling and people were writing him off, saying is he’s not the same player. I think he bounced back this year.”

…  “Am I confident he’s going to get back to being Deron Williams? Yes.”

Williams needs all the believers he can get. Because the Nets, a team that continues to come up in trade talks with the Feb. 21 trade deadline looming, have to get things right as the postseason nears.

They’ve spent boatloads of cash and made a splashy entrance in their new arena in Brooklyn. The expectations rose with each and every headline they made in putting this team together. If they’re going to come anywhere close to realizing those expectations, they’ll need Williams to get back being the point guard we all saw during his Jazz days.

Sorting Out The Lakers’ Mess




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This story gets better by the hour.

Barely a day after the Los Angeles Lakers’ stunning move to hire Mike D’Antoni instead of Phil Jackson, both men have expressed their own complete and utter shock at the choice the Lakers made.

D’Antoni, as bright a coach as the league has seen in his generation, was genuinely stunned to beat out Jackson, telling the New York Daily News all about it. His first reaction … “Are you serious?”

Jackson was blindsided as well and his version of how things went down, courtesy of our main man Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times, might serve as the most compelling narrative to date, complete with this statement:

“Saturday morning, [Lakers executive] Jim Buss called to ask if he could come and visit. I didn’t solicit or ask for the opportunity but I welcomed both him and [team executive] Mitch Kupchak into my home to discuss the possibility of my return to the Lakers as head coach,” Jackson said.

“We talked for over an hour and a half. No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a handshake and an understanding that I would have until Monday [today] to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to them that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened at midnight Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a three-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team. The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker fans who encouraged my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.”

It’s a fitting next step in a saga that promises to provide headlines and plot twists between now and whenever the Lakers’ season ends. That might be in the first or second round of the playoffs for the third straight season or perhaps it ends later, provided the masses of fans and pundits are wrong and the D’Antoni-in-Los Angeles experiment actually works.

Buss and the Lakers better be right on this one. Because it’s clear they played Jackson for a fool, undercutting him before he could react to an offer that technically was never made. It’s a public and disgraceful play by the Lakers and absolutely no way to treat a coach of Jackson’s stature. It’s also a move that could backfire on the Lakers even worse than the Brown hire.

While we wait for this thing to play out, we’re left to continue our deconstruction of the carnage that was the Lakers’ firing and hiring process, both of which seemed to have been done in extreme haste.

We’ve heard Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol‘s feelings about D’Antoni and what they hope becomes of this team in the near future. And we’ve read Kobe Bryant’s 53 words of wisdom on Facebook (complete with the “Mamba Out” sign off). We love the part where he tells us all that despite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, the Lakers will be fine defensively and he cannot wait to get started with D’Antoni.

You’ll have to forgive me (and I’m not speaking for everyone here at the hideout on this) for being fed up with the complete and utter arrogance of not only Bryant, but also the Lakers’ front office. Bryant issued similar love for Brown and his staff, eventually, after he got over the sting of not being consulted on Jackson’s replacement. And we all know how that played out.

The Lakers can tell whatever white lies they want to make themselves feel better about the way this went down. But don’t expect me to swallow any more of it. Ill will between Jackson and the Lakers’ front office should never affect what is best for the team, the franchise and its devoted fans. If the Lakers really believe D’Antoni is the best choice, he wouldn’t be nearly as surprised as he is.

Something To Talk About …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’ve known all along that some sort of compromise was the only way to solve the NBA’s labor issue in time for the regular season to begin on time.

But all we’ve heard for weeks is that the sides were so far apart that an on-time start was little more than a pipe dream. Well, dream on folks. If the rumblings from Tuesday’s meetings in New York have any table scrap of truth to them, significant progress could be on the horizon.

We’ll temper our optimism with the full knowledge that nearly every sign of progress throughout this saga has been followed up with an equally devastating setback of some sort. But as the clock continues to tick away on the season, the fact that both sides have something to talk about is good enough for us … (especially with talks scheduled to resume today):

Sources: Owners Ease Up On Hard Cap Demand

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com: Owners have indicated a willingness to drop their insistence on a hard team salary cap in exchange for adjustments to the luxury tax system and key spending exceptions, two people with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com Tuesday night.

The offer by league negotiators came Tuesday in a brief, two-hour bargaining session that set the stage for what one source described as “an important day” on Wednesday.

“It’s put up or shut up time,” said the person, who is connected to the talks but spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The flexibility in the owners’ longstanding insistence on a hard team-by-team cap, first reported by Yahoo Sports, comes with significant strings attached. Among the many concepts league negotiators proposed Tuesday were a more punitive luxury tax and adjustments to two key spending exceptions that teams had under previous agreements: the Larry Bird exception and the mid-level exception. Both would have been eliminated under the owners’ original proposal from two years ago, with many of those dramatic systemic changes living on in subsequent proposals until Tuesday.

There is a feeling among two people who have been briefed on the talks that the owners will come forward Wednesday with an enhanced version of the concepts proposed Tuesday. According to the sources, among the additions could be a proposed 50-50 revenue split, which to this point the league has not reached in terms of the players’ average share over the life of a new CBA in its previous proposals.

As for the system changes the owners proposed Tuesday in exchange for relaxing their stance on the hard team salary cap, one of the people briefed on the talks said union officials regarded them as “alarming.”

Still A Hard Cap … ?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Players Association executive director Billy Hunter has called the hard cap a “blood issue” for the union, and insisted the players would never agree to it.

The owners’ proposal on Tuesday “would still have the affects of a hard cap,” one source with knowledge of the talks said.

(more…)

Dissecting The Knicks’ Problems

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In the midst of the Knicks’ current malaise, any and everyone with an opinion and an outlet has weighed in on what is wrong with this team.

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni had a simple explanation for their surprising offensive woes, telling Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times:

“The ball is not moving, it’s sticking. We’ve played a lot of games. I don’t want to give excuses, but at the same time it’s the fourth game in five nights. They get into you … We’ve got to make quicker decisions. The ball’s got to go. And especially in the fourth quarter we bogged down.”

They better not get bogged down again with the Orlando Magic in town tonight (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) for yet another major test of the Knicks’ mettle.

(more…)

Amar’e In A Foreign Land

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When Amar’e Stoudemire packed his bags and headed to New York from Phoenix, he didn’t plan on being in the conversation with the likes of the Los Angeles Clippers three weeks into the season.

Yet here he is, drowning in the Knicks’ spin cycle of losing that is already in full swing. They’ve lost five straight games, joining the Clippers and Sacramento Kings on the league’s current list of  the lowest of the low.

But no one expected the Clippers and Kings to be fighting for elbow room in the playoff chase this season. The Knicks, on the other hand, appeared to be poised for a move up the charts. Instead, they’re stuck trying to figure out which way is up while Stoudemire is struggling to come to grips with losing.

He described his current predicament to the New York media as a “foreign land,” and is already talking about how the Knicks have to stick together so they can turn their season around. More from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

“I don’t understand why we’re not playing with the urgency,” Stoudemire said. “I’m not used to it. We’re not playing like we’re on a four-game losing streak, now five. It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter. It’s not something that I’m used to.

“I can’t keep saying the exact same things. I keep saying it but we’re not having (a) reaction.”

Stoudemire suggested that maybe he’s talking “too much,” since his message is apparently falling on deaf ears.

“Maybe it’s the fact that the winning mentality has never been here,” he said of a franchise that has suffered nine straight losing seasons. “I’m used to winning. Used to talking about winning. We just can’t have guys complacent and comfortable with losing. I keep saying that.”

While Stouedmire adjusts to his new surroundings his old mates in Phoenix seem to be adjusting just fine … though we suspect he knew that already.

While they might not be the powerhouse they were when he was there — a return trip to the Western Conference finals this season seems like a stretch — they don’t seem to have any problem with their attitude.

And they certainly look like they know how to win.