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Tag:Knicks
Posted on: March 9, 2012 12:10 am
 

Magic want Melo-like haul for Howard

Magic executives have continued to tell teams this week they do not intend to trade Dwight Howard, but several teams came away from the conversations with a clear picture of what the club wants if it changes course: a replica of the deal Denver pulled off last February for Carmelo Anthony, multiple league sources told CBSSports.com Thursday.

If the Magic decide to trade Howard, they have “not closed any doors” on potential suitors, said a person familiar with the organization’s strategy. Teams that are on and off Howard’s list of preferred destinations – the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers – will be considered, and may the highest bidder win, sources said.

What Orlando is seeking if it makes a deal for the All-Star center is a package similar to what the Nuggets received for Anthony at the 2011 trade deadline: multiple good, young players and draft picks. Orlando executives view the Denver model as a middle ground between blowing up a contender and starting over with draft picks and reaching for veteran All-Stars whose contracts ultimately could hinder the recovery from a Howard trade.

Representatives of three teams in the mix for Howard – either on his list or among teams willing to gamble on trading for him in the hopes that he can be persuaded to stay beyond this season – told CBSSports.com Thursday that the Magic have not decided which path to pursue. Howard, 26, can opt out of his $19.5 million contract after the season and become an unrestricted free agent. His formal trade request through agent Dan Fegan of Lagadere Unlimited remains on the table and he has not given the Magic any commitment to opt in and/or re-sign after the season.

In a complicated, three-team trade for Anthony that was consummated after a five-month marathon over his desire to join the Knicks, the Nuggets came away with a treasure trove of young talent and draft picks: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and 7-footer Timofey Mozgov plus a future first-round pick and two future second-round picks. Felton has since been dealt to Portland for Andre Miller. The Nuggets recently signed Gallinari to a four-year, $42 million extension (about half what Anthony makes over the same period), and are hoping to get Chandler, a potential 20-point scorer, back after a stint in China before the season is over.

The Nuggets also received another 7-footer, Kosta Koufos, from Minnesota, which made the trade work under league cap rules by taking Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph from the Knicks along with a second-round pick from Denver.

For a variety of reasons, a similar haul isn’t realistic for Howard, despite the fact that he’s a far more valuable star than Anthony. The Knicks also got former All-Star Chauncey Billups in the deal, and the Nuggets were able to parlay interest from the Knicks, Nets and other teams Anthony had no intention of extending his contract with into a bidding war that drove the price for him through the roof.

If a player is heading out of Orlando with Howard, it is likely to be Hedo Turkoglu. Unlike Billups – a productive veteran leader with one year left on his contract – Turkuglo will be a liability in the deal due to his declining skills and the $23.4 million he is owed over the next two seasons.

Nonetheless, the revelation that Orlando wants similar assets as those Denver received for Anthony moved the needle on the Howard saga with only a week to go before the March 15 trade deadline. If the Magic decide not to trade Howard by next Thursday, they face the prospect of losing him as a free agent and receiving no assets in return.

The Mavericks and Lakers, teams loaded with high-priced veterans, do not have the kind of assets the Magic want for Howard. The Nets, with 24-year-old 7-footer Brook Lopez and promising rookie guard MarShon Brooks, come closer – though two people familiar with the Orlando strategy told CBSSports.com Thursday that none of the three teams has assets that would entice the Magic to part with Howard. Perhaps this is why Orlando officials have been more forthcoming in recent days about what they’d want in a package for Howard, and why at least one rival GM interpreted this shift in posture as an indication that Orlando understands it needs to create competition and prime the pump on the bidding war.

With the Magic determined to trade Howard to the team with the best offer if they decide to move him, a deal sending Howard to a so-called “rental” team (i.e., one he will refuse to give a long-term commitment to as part of the trade) could play right into the Nets’ hands. If, for example, Orlando traded Howard to Golden State and Howard opted out after the season, the Nets would be in a position to sign him as an unrestricted free agent without giving up any players or draft picks.

The other team aggressively trying to maneuver for a shot at acquiring Howard and persuading him to sign this summer is the Rockets, who need a replacement for retired center Yao Ming and who are still recovering from the voided Chris Paul trade that would’ve landed Pau Gasol from the Lakers. But a more serious contender could emerge in the coming days: the Hawks, who are dealing with disgruntled should-be All-Star Josh Smith’s own reported trade request. Smith and Al Horford would represent a coup for the Magic considering the alternative of losing Howard for nothing, and Atlanta is Howard’s hometown, where he attended Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. Even with the potential of getting – and keeping – a player of Howard’s popularity and impact, questions remain about whether the Atlanta ownership group would be able to afford two max players going forward. Joe Johnson is owed $90 million over the next four years.

If nothing else, Howard’s familiarity with Atlanta would diminish the biggest impediment for another potential rental team giving up major assets to get him: Aside from it being an untenable gamble in a normal season, it’s even more so in this one. If, for example, Howard were traded against his will to Golden State, he’d play only 26 games with his new team – and only 12 home games in his new surroundings.

“That’s not a lot of games to get attached to Golden State,” one rival executive said.

Could the Warriors possibly give up Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Ekpe Udoh, etc., under those circumstances? The Magic hope so, which is why the Howard saga quietly escalated to the next phase Thursday: Orlando’s attempt to follow the Denver model by creating a bidding war and scoring a Melo-like haul of assets.

So from now until 3 p.m. on March 15, the Dwight Howard story is open for business, 24 hours a day.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:56 pm
 

Stern anoints Silver as successor

ORLANDO, Fla. – David Stern proclaimed Saturday night what has long been assumed but never confirmed: He will recommend deputy commissioner Adam Silver to succeed him as commissioner when he retires.

“One of the things that a good CEO does -- and I try to be a good CEO -- is provide his board with a spectacular choice for his successor,” Stern said during his annual All-Star news conference. “And I have done that. And that's Adam.”

Stern, 69, reiterated what he said after the collective bargaining agreement saving a 66-game season after a 149-day lockout was finalized: He will not be commissioner when both sides have the opportunity to opt out of the deal in 2017. Beyond that, he placed no timetable on his departure, but said he would have the discussion with owners “very soon.”

Silver has been deputy commissioner and chief operating office since 2006 after serving for more than eight years as president and COO of NBA Entertainment. He has played a key role in negotiating the league’s last two broadcast rights agreements and the last four collective bargaining agreements with the National Basketball Players Association – and also created NBA China as a stand-alone entity. Silver, who also played a key role in delivering the league’s public message to the media during the lockout, was asked during Stern’s news conference how prepared he is for the job. He smiled and slid the microphone in front of Stern.

“He’s a first-rate, top-of-the-class executive,” Stern said.

Stern's recommendation of Silver would have to be approved by the league's Board of Governors.

Among the other news Stern made Saturday night:

• Negotiations in Orlando involving the league, city of Sacramento and the Maloof family on achieving a funding plan for a new arena before a March 1 deadline has “several remaining points that may or not be bridged,” Stern said. The talks will continue Sunday, and Stern said the issue is coming up with additional funding necessary to pay for the project. “Life is a negotiation,” he said. “… It’s getting there, but it’s just not there yet. And we’re looking for other ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap.”

• He confirmed that there is a leading candidate to purchase the New Orleans Hornets and that the league is “optimistic that we will make a deal” in the next “week or 10 days.” There is a second group that is “in sort of second place,” Stern said, “waiting to see how we do with group one.” Both groups would keep the team in New Orleans, where the city is continuing to negotiate an arena lease extension upon which the ownership deal is contingent.

• Stern confirmed that he has spoken with Seattle investor Chris Hansen, who is spearheading support for an arena to attract a team and replace the Supersonics, who moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. “It sounded OK to us,” Stern said of Hansen’s plan. “Go for it. That’s all.” But Stern acknowledged that the plan would require that “we have a team that we could put there.” As arena funding talks with Sacramento and the Malodors continue, one might view Stern’s enthusiasm about the prospect of a return to Seattle as a leverage point in that negotiation.

• Stern alluded to increased attendance, TV ratings and sales, but didn’t give specifics. National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter said earlier in the day that Stern has told him attendance and merchandise sales are up, and that Silver told him in a recent meeting that league revenues are expected to increase more than pre-lockout projections. “Everything is good,” Stern said.

• Asked whether the NBA would consider aiding teams that lose superstars to free agency, such as host city Orlando is facing with Dwight Howard, Stern said, and “No. Why should we? … We have a system that has a draft that basically tells a player where he’s going to play in this league when he’s drafted, and a further system that has a huge advantage to the team that has him. Our players could play for seven years for a team they didn’t choose. And we think that’s a system, but not a prison. ... I'm sure Dwight will make a good and wise decision for him."

• Stern shot down the notion of adding expansion teams in North America (as if there aren’t too many teams already). But he wouldn’t rule out overseas expansion in the next 10 years, deferring the topic to silver, who said, “We’ll see.”

• Stern took issue when asked to evaluate his decision, when acting in his capacity as the owner of the Hornets, to disallow the trade that would’ve sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. “There’s no superstar that gets traded in this league unless the owner says, ‘Go ahead with it.’ And in the case of New Orleans, the representative of the owner said, ‘That’s not a trade we’re going to make.’” “But that representative was you?” Stern was asked. “Correct,” he said. “And was that the right move to make?” “Buy a ticket and see,” Stern said. “We’ll see how it works out.”

• Asked about reports that shoe companies are trying to steer their star clients to bigger markets – a reference to Adidas’ relationship with Howard – Silver said the league does not have jurisdiction over shoe companies. “But we have looked into it, and we have been assured by the two major shoe companies in the league that the incentives they build into contracts are based on winning as opposed to market size,” Silver said.

• On Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American whose sudden emergence with the Knicks has spawned intense global interest, Stern said, “I just think it’s the universal story of the underdog stepping forward.”
Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:56 pm
 

Against Lin, D-Will restores sanity

NEW YORK – For 16 days, all Deron Williams heard about was Linsanity.

“It started on me,” Williams said Monday night.

And his personal mission was to have it end on him, too.

“We definitely had this one circled,” Williams said. “The whole team did, and I personally did because it’s been stuck on my mind. This all started on me.”

On a night when the Knicks assembled their full array of stars around amazing point guard Jeremy Lin, it was Williams, the one-man show from across the Hudson, who stole the show. Williams had a season-high 38 points, including a career-high eight 3-pointers, as the Nets beat the Knicks 100-92 to avenge a Feb. 4 loss at Madison Square Garden that spawned the incredible rise of Lin.

“Like I said, I had this one circled,” Williams said. “I don’t really watch SportsCenter. I don’t really watch too many games. But I do see Twitter. People tweet me and every three lines was, ‘Jeremy Lin destroys Deron Williams.’ So I definitely took offense to that. I had it circled.”

So did Knicks fans who were waiting to see how Carmelo Anthony, returning from a seven-game absence due to a groin injury, would fit with Lin running the offense. The best way to put it is: some good, some bad, lots to work on.

Anthony was willing to work within the flow of the offense, scoring his first basket on a pick-and-pop with Lin and then setting up Amar’e Stoudemire for two straight baskets, including and three-point play. But predictably, given Anthony’s extended absence while Linsanity gained momentum without him, the Knicks’ offense lacked its usual flow.

Lin’s 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds weren’t enough, and both Anthony (11 points, 4-for-11 shooting, six turnovers) and Stoudemire (17 points, four rebounds) struggled to pick the right times to assert themselves. Baron Davis also was ineffective in his first game of the season after missing the first 32 with a bad back, and it was J.R. Smith’s second game with the team.

“We have to get some things sorted out, and we know that,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Before we get back to Williams, who was the biggest reason for the Knicks’ struggles because he flat wore out Lin on the defensive end, here’s what you need to know about the much-publicized job of fitting Melo back into the Knicks’ offense: It can work, but everyone is going to have to adjust – including him.

Straight from a scout who has watched Anthony’s career extensively, here are the issues: Anthony and Stoudemire like to operate in the same area of the floor, and that’s something D’Antoni has to figure out regardless of who the point guard is. The way Lin has played for the first 11 games of this run, it will be easier for him to figure out than it was for any of the other point guards the Knicks have tried.

Here’s the other, and perhaps more important issue: Anthony likes to set up and call for the ball in an area that is between the low block and the 3-point line, a little wider than most mid-post isolation scorers want the ball. Anthony has been effective his entire career from that area, because he has so many options from there. But he also takes up a lot of space, thus killing the corner 3-pointer – so crucial to D’Antoni’s style – on that side of the floor, and also crowding out the pick-and-roll and wing penetration. One game is a little soon to call it a failure, though I’m sure that won’t stop it from happening.

“We are not in panic mode,” Lin said. Now, back to the real star of the show.

Back to D-Willsanity. After one night of well-deserved satisfaction, Williams goes back to his reality of playing for a 10-24 team that is quite obviously in the Knicks’ shadow for the time being. At his locker in the visiting room Monday night, Williams called this “definitely the toughest year of my career and one of the toughest years of my life.”

“I’ve never lost at any level going back to middle school,” Williams said. “It’s definitely been a struggle, but I’m learning to fight through things and trying to lead guys even though it’s not the best situation all the time. We’re playing better as it goes and learning how to play and we’re developing guys. So it’s still a fun process. I just hope it’s not an extended process.”

Which brings us to Williams’ future, the options he has before him with an opt-out after the season and whether he’ll be chastened in his desire to team up with stars – in Brooklyn or somewhere else next season – when he sees that it isn’t always easy to make it all fit.

“We still need to get some guys in here, there’s no doubt about that, if we want to be a better team,” Williams said. “We’re 10-24 right now. We’ve got to get some players.”

Asked how he feels about the Nets’ plan to make that happen, Williams said, “I’m very comfortable right now. There’s not much I can really do besides play basketball. And that’s what I said I was going to do from the beginning of the season: play basketball and let everything work itself out, and at the end of the season, assess where things are. I’m sure I’ll have a conversation with Billy (King, the Nets’ president), with ownership and go from there.”

On Wednesday night, the Nets’ last game before the All-Star break, Williams will see his friend and foe (for now), Dwight Howard, when the Nets host the Magic. The fortunes of so many are tied up in what happens with Howard between now and the March 15 trade deadline – and with both of them after that, on July 1.

“It’ll be interesting to see how the fans are going to react,” Williams said. “I’m sure it’ll be pretty crazy. I kind of look forward to the game. I like playing against him, so it should be fun.”

Enduring the worst season of his professional life, D-Will deserves to have some fun. And putting a speed bump in front of Linsanity, which started on his watch, was well worth the trip back across the river.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 11:56 pm
 

For Knicks, ideal ending to Linsanity

NEW YORK -- Linsanity was going to end some time. For the Knicks, this was the ideal script.

After seven straight wins over nearly two weeks, fueled by outlandish statistical production, a 38-point performance against the Lakers, a Hollywood buzzer-beater in Toronto and a team-wide revival of chemistry and good times, there had to be an ending. A return to normalcy.

A loss.

All of those things arrived Friday night for Lin and the Knicks, who lost to the previously six-win New Orleans Hornets 89-85. Lin provided glimpses of his lead-guard artistry, but also coughed up nine turnovers to go with his 26 points and five assists. The Knicks committed 21 turnovers resulting in 28 points, shot 4-for-24 from 3-point range and 19-for-29 from the foul line and trailed by as many as 14 points and held the opponent under 20 points.

So why is his good, that only one game after climbing all the way back to .500 after being 8-15 when Lin first got significant floor time on Feb. 4 against the Nets?

Because Carmelo Anthony, in all likelihood, returns Sunday afternoon at home against the Mavericks. And thus, the end of this magical ride with the undrafted, Asian-American point guard from Harvard can't be his fault.

"I don't think this is good because I hate losing," Lin said. "But I know what you're saying in terms of everything dying down a little bit. It may help me, it may help the team a little bit in terms of having everything off the court cool down."

Lin blamed himself for the loss, saying, "If everyone wants to credit me for the last seven games, then I definitely deserve this one on my shoulders. That's fine with me. ... Just a lackluster effort on my part. Nine turnovers is obviously not going to get it done from your primary ballhandler."

The teammate who will need broad shoulders once he's back was the guy warming up hours earlier before the game on the Madison Square Garden court, testing his strained groin and launching jumpers with his iPod playing in his ears. Anthony, who will try to practice Saturday with the goal of returning to the lineup Sunday, has heard day after day of pre-emptive criticism that his ball-stopping, isolation-oriented offensive style would derail the chemistry Lin has inspired and bog down the Knicks' offense.

So maybe it will be prudent to allow Anthony to actually come back and play with his new point guard before deciding that it can't work.

"I don't think it'll change from my standpoint, my approach to the game," Lin said. "I think I'm going to come in with the same mentality, to attack and be aggressive, maybe run (fewer) pick-and-rolls and hopefully be more efficient. Obviously, it's always a good thing when you have more weapons, more play-makers -- not that we don't have enough right now. But somebody with Melo's capabilities, you don't get that every day from anybody."

Also coming on board soon will be newly signed shooting guard J.R. Smith, who is expected to arrive in New York Saturday night -- though he's unlikely to play Sunday without having practiced with the team. Smith brings some baggage with him, but presumably he will put it down long enough to knock down 3-pointers in bunches, something the Knicks could not do Friday night.

Before all the changes and adjustments that will come with them, the end of Linsanity -- or at least, the return to normalcy -- is out of the way. And for the Knicks, that might just be for the best. 
Posted on: February 14, 2012 10:38 pm
 

Lin uses his jumper, just like he was coached

Long before Linsanity took off, Jeremy Lin was alone with his trainer in a 24-Hour Fitness in Pleasanton, Calif. He was working on a lot of things -- balance, upper-body strength to absorb contact and still finish the play, and most impressively, his jump shot.

"I'd like to see him use that jumper a little more," his personal trainer, E.J. Costello, was saying on the phone earlier Tuesday. "He can drive to the hoop and kick, but he’s got a good jumper and I’d like to see him use it."

Costello, who spent a couple of hours a day with Lin, four days a week from May through September in the Bay Area during the lockout, got his wish Tuesday night.

Despite eight turnovers from Lin, despite trailing by as many as 17 points, the Knicks and their fearless point-guard savior would not go away. Lin took the advice of his strength coach on the final possession in Toronto, confidently stepping into a game-winning 3-point shot with 0.5 seconds left to give the Knicks their sixth straight victory, 90-87 over the Raptors.

"It was a good shot for me," Lin said.

The way things are going for him now -- 5-0 as a starter, and 6-0 if you count his 27-point debut off the bench 10 days ago against the Nets -- any shot is a good shot. Nearly every play results in the right decision.

Not always the best result, but almost always. And nobody is quibbling with the historic results.

"I'm just glad it went like this so we can calm the Linsanity down a little bit," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters in Toronto, his postgame comments beamed back to New York on the Madison Square Garden Networks.

"He held it til five-tenths of a second left," D'Antoni said. "He was confident that shot was going in, no rebound or nothing. That thing was getting buried."

Yes it was, just like the hundreds of jumpers a day Lin was taking in the gym with Costello during the lockout.

"He’s money when it comes to shooting," Costello said. "And he just has to carry that onto the court."

After leading the Knicks to victories in his first four starts, being named Eastern Conference player of the week and becoming the first player in NBA history to total at least 20 points and seven assists in his first four starts, Lin did it again Tuesday night. He had 27 points (9-for-20 shooting), 11 assists and yes, eight turnovers. He was torched defensively by Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa at times in the game, and later said, "That's on me."

He passed one test, getting superstar Amar'e Stoudemire back Tuesday night and still winning despite an off-night from Stoudemire -- understandable, considering his absence due to the loss of his brother. Carmelo Anthony, the other star whose game may or may not fit with the way the Knicks are playing under Lin's leadership, will be back later in the week.

Of teammate Iman Shumpert, who slowed Calderon down in the fourth and made Lin's game-winner possible when he stole the ball from Calderon and drove for a run-out dunk that cut the Raptors' lead to 87-84 with 1:28 left, Lin said, "He just bailed me out tonight."

The way Lin has bailed the Knicks out of what had been a dismal season that saw them lose 11 of 13 on their way to an 8-15 record before Linsanity began. The Knicks (14-15) can climb back to .500 Wednesday night in New York against the Kings as they start a five-game homestand that promises to be the most electrifying in at least a decade.

"I don't know when there's an ending," D'Antoni said. "Maybe there won't [be]."

As the basketball world tries to digest and comprehend Lin's improbably sudden rise to stardom, you could see Tuesday night two of the key aspects of his game that he worked so hard on during the summer and early fall. After Shumpert's steal and dunk, Lin drove the lane, absorbed contact and converted the basket and three-point play to tie the score at 87-87 with 1:05 left. As Costello has watched from afar as Lin has made plays like this during the six-game winning streak, he couldn't help but think back to those long days at the gym when they worked so hard to make him strong enough to absorb contact and finish plays.

"He uses his body really well," Costello said. "His upper body has gotten so much better and stronger, and his ability to control his body really speaks to what we did in the offseason. We killed his upper body. You can see a massive bruise on his right arm, and I talked to him and he said, 'My body is beat up right now.' But as he gets in shape, he’s only going to get better."

Better?

OK. Who's going to dispute that now?

In the postgame news conference, Lin was asked, "Can you believe this is happening to you?"

"No," he said. "But I believe in an all-powerful and all-knowing God who does miracles."


Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:48 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 6:32 pm
 

How the Knicks can keep Lin

On the phone with a basketball executive Tuesday to go over the mechanics of how the Knicks could keep Jeremy Lin beyond this season, the notion of how surreal the conversation was came up more than once.

But in answer to your question, Knicks fans: Yes, if Lin continues to perform at anything close to the level he's displayed so far, New York will have the means and the inclination to retain him for next year -- and most likely, beyond.

Here's the deal: By virtue of the Golden State Warriors signing Lin to a two-year contract before waiving him in December, Lin becomes a restricted free agent after this season. Under typical circumstances, Lin would be eligible to receive a qualifying offer from the Knicks worth approximately $1.1 million.

These, obviously, are not typical circumstances. Several factors are at play, including a new provision in the collective bargaining agreement that allows players who achieve certain playing-time benchmarks (dealing with games started and minutes) to be eligible for a higher qualifying offer. In Lin's case, the maximum qualifying offer he could get under these new rules would be about $2.7 million -- the equivalent offer for the 21st pick in the 2008 draft.

Given Lin's absurd level of production so far, chances are this provision won't matter. Even if Lin's productivity drops off, as is widely expected, he's still shown enough to warrant multi-year offer sheets from rival teams.

"He's had five games that LeBron James would be jealous of," one NBA general manager told me Tuesday. "So he's outplaying his time in the D-League right now. It’s happened, but it’s pretty rare for a guy to play better in the pros than in the minor leagues. It's also rare for someone who's had a five-game stretch like this not to turn out to be an All Star."

Even if Lin settles somewhere in between All-Star and rotation player, the Knicks can expect the offer sheets to roll in. But due to the so-called Gilbert Arenas rule -- instituted in the 2005 CBA to prevent teams from being outbid for their own restricted free agents with two or fewer years in the league -- the Knicks will be insulated from such potential poachers.

The maximum that another team could offer in the first year of a multi-year offer sheet will be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception of $5 million. The second year of the offer sheet would be subject to the 4.5 percent raise for non-Bird free agents. After that, the offer sheets can be back-loaded up to the max -- 25 percent of the cap -- but the Knicks would be able to match under league salary rules. In any event, it likely will cost them their mid-level exception for next season.

The Knicks could use up to their full mid-level ($5 million) to match any rival offers. Under the new rules with different mid-level thresholds for tax-payers, non-tax payers and teams with room, the Knicks would not, under the new rules, be able to exceed the cap to sign another free agent and then use the full mid-level to retain Lin. In that case, they'd be relegated to the room exception ($2.5 million).

So basically, Lin, who was in danger of getting waived again before he unleashed this five-game tirade in conjunction with his non-guaranteed contract (worth a lockout-prorated $613,474 this season) becoming guaranteed, has a big pay day ahead of him. And the Knicks need not worry about him finding a new team for the foreseeable future.

And Lin, who was sleeping on his brother's couch on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when all of this took off, will be able to afford all the couches he wants. Not to mention an apartment of his own.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 8:33 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 9:17 pm
 

Metta to Lin: Get some swag

NEW YORK -- Leave it to Metta World Peace, the Artest formerly known as Ron, to weigh in on the Jeremy Lin phenomenon in ways that make you laugh, scratch your head and wonder if the world is about to end.

World Peace and Linsanity colliding at Madison Square Garden may simply be too much for the atmosphere to handle.

I never do this, because rarely are all the quotes worth your time. But A) I want to watch the game, and B) all the quotes are amazing, bizarre and will make for enjoyable reading during timeouts. But only during timeouts, as the Knicks' Linsation has nine of their first 13 points as New York leads the Lakers 13-4 as I type this in the first quarter.

Here ya go. Pay special attention to Artest's -- I mean, World Peace's -- fashion advice toward the end, when he suggests a new haircut and shades and says, "You're Jeremy Lin, for godsakes."

Q: Your impressions of Lin.

A: I was like, 'Wow, he had 25 in one game and everybody was going crazy.' New York media, you know? And then it happened two more times and I was like, 'Oh, yeah, it’s good. It’s good.' … Looking from the outside in, everybody’s pretty happy for him. It’s good to see something special for the first time. It’s kind of like when Yao came in and when Toni Kukoc came and everybody was talking about how he was Michael Jordan overseas. It’s good to see something for the first time. And he’s doing it without his two star players.

Q: Who were the Knicks' point guards when you started watching them?

A: (Charlie) Ward, (Derek) Harper, those old rugged guys, real basketball. This is like play-play basketball now. I miss the Harpers. They put that forearm on you and you can’t go nowhere. That’s New York City. That’s hard-nose. I miss that. I miss that. You can’t do that with these soft, cotton candy players. They cry all the time. Babies. Cotton candy.

Q: How good can he be?

A: He still has to play some New York City street ball to break himself in. He has to like go to Hunter College and Rucker and Kingdome and then he would be a real New York City insanity, or whatever you said.

Q: What do you think about all the attention he's getting on Twitter?

A: I think it’s good because it’s a first. It’s the first time. It’s just not normal to see an Asian-American in the NBA, and he’s the first. (Actually, he's the fourth. But who's counting.) And it’s great because Asian-Americans play a whole lot of basketball throughout America. You see it all the time. How many Asian-Americans do you see playing basketball in the street who actually want to play in the NBA? I’m assuming there’s a lot of them. And he did what it takes to play, and he’s a role model. Good in school, he’s a role model all the way around.

Q: What did you know about him before?

A: I know he used to miss layups on the fast break in Golden State. I know he used to turn the ball over at half court. He was trying to find himself. He was the first Asian-American to play (again, the fourth), he must’ve had a lot of pressure on him. He was pretty good. He was athletic. You saw that, but it wasn’t converted to his game. But now he’s playing ball now. He’s showing why he’s a good player. If he had that Ron Artest in his prime defense on him, that would've been a problem. That would've been a major problem. I don’t even think Metta World Peace wants to see that.

Q: Did the Lakers talk about him in the locker room?

A: Do we talk about him? Yeah, we talk about him. We think he needs a better haircut. I don’t like that style. You’re in New York, the fashion capital. Change your haircut, OK? You’re a star now. Wear some shades. Shades, OK? Put down the nerdy Harvard book glasses. Put on some black shades, OK? With some leather pants. Change your style. Fashion.

Q: Do you wear leather pants?

A: No, I won’t wear them, but he should wear leather pants. He’s the type of guy who should wear leather pants, some nice shoes and change his fashion. You’re Jeremy Lin, for godsakes. You know what I’m saying? You know? Put down that law book, stop reading the New York Times and start reading the Daily News. Newsday, that’s the one. I like that one because there’s always color in that one. What else? Wall Street Journal. Get some swag. You’re in New York City. Put your hat to the back, too. Put your hat on backwards. Come to practice with your pants sagging and just tell them, 'I don’t feel like practicing.' Practice? You know? Practice? And wear an Iverson jersey. You know? Come to practice with a cigar. Lit. 'I’m Jeremy Lin.' You know? He should change. We're all excited to play tonight. It’s like the first time for everybody. Everybody’s excited. Kobe’s excited. He wants to get 50. He wants to welcome Jeremy Lin to his new level."

And this concludes this episode of, "I never thought I'd type that and post it online."

Enjoy the game.
Posted on: February 5, 2012 12:39 am
 

Jeremy Lin: From teammate's couch to career night

NEW YORK – This was partly about Jeremy Lin and his own personal party at Madison Square Garden Saturday night. It was about Lin, the first NBA player from Harvard in 58 years and only the fourth American-born Asian to play in the league, putting on a show with 25 points, seven assists with the crowd chanting his name.

And then Pearl Jam singing his name over the PA system as thousands stayed in their seats for the on-court TV interview.

He had toiled in the D-League, been tossed aside by the Warriors and Rockets, and wasn’t sure he’d be long for this part of the basketball world, either. How unsure was he? Lin had been crashing at his brother’s place when coming home late from road games, as the Knicks did after a crushing loss in Boston Friday night. But there was no room at the inn – his brother had ample house guests, Lin said – so he slept on teammate Landry Fields’ couch the night before the best game of his life.

“I think I may just go move in with him,” Lin said.

Or get his own place. It’s only one game, but it was precisely the spark the Knicks needed after losing 11 of their previous 13 with an offense predicated on quality point-guard play “grasping at straws” without one, coach Mike D’Antoni said.

“The biggest thing is, he’s got a point guard mentality,” D’Antoni said. “He has a rhyme or reason to what he’s doing and players can kind of play off that. Whereas when you don’t know, you’re just grasping at straws. He gives us a good feel. Again, it’s one game, so let’s not get too excited. But he gives us what we sorely need.”

And this is where the story of Lin having a career night turns into a story that is really about something else. Having a point-guard play the way Lin did Saturday night – attacking and beating pick-and-roll double teams, aggressively getting into the paint and scoring – only underscored how lost the Knicks were without that.

And how lost they will continue to be if they don’t keep getting it.

“We’ve got to make sure we continue to keep the floor spaced and move the ball,” said Amar’e Stoudemire, limited to 17 points and in foul trouble in the Knicks’ third game in as many nights. “We’ve got to continue to do that consistently. We can’t do it one game and then the next game go back to what we’ve been trying not to do.”

Stoudemire was a factor only sporadically due to foul trouble and the grueling stretch of games. Carmelo Anthony was 3-for-15 for 11 points. In the Knicks’ third consecutive game against the kind of elite point guard they lack – Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams – somehow Lin was the best player on the floor. If you’d told Stoudemire before the game that Lin would’ve had almost as many points as Stoudemire and Anthony combined Saturday night, “I would’ve woken up from a bad dream,” he said.

Was it a fluke that Lin made 13 of 19 from the field – jumpers, floaters, reverse layups – on his dream night? Yeah, that’s not going to happen again. But the way Lin directed the Knicks’ directionless offense? The way he gave it purpose and an actual method of attack? Having seen him a time or two in the D-League, where he was the best player on the floor of every game I’ve seen in person, Lin can do that.

But the fact that D’Antoni already said he was thinking seriously about starting Lin Monday night against the Jazz? That speaks more to the Knicks’ state of desperation than anything else. They’re going nowhere without a point guard to run the offense, and who knows when Baron Davis is going to be ready. And when he’s ready, who knows how much of Baron Davis is going to show up.

So for now, for this snapshot in time, the Knicks have a point guard. Dare I say it was the best a point guard has played for D’Antoni since a gentleman named Steve Nash was doing stuff like this every night for him. So Jeremy Lin saved the Knicks from their 12th loss in 14 games, saved D’Antoni from another day of speculation that he’ll be fired, and generally just took a tense, desperate situation and let everyone breathe a little.

“I’m just thankful to be here right now for this team,” Lin said.

Believe me, the team feels the same way.
 
 
 
 
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