Chris Paul’s Options

[Anyone participating in a Chris Paul to the Knicks discussion should read these two articles first.
ESPN: http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/6847/would-cp3-sacrifice-40-million-to-sign-in-ny
NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/sports/basketball/chris-paul-was-near-the-garden-but-still-miles-away.html?_r=1&ref=basketball]

I thought I’d break down the options Chris Paul and the Hornets currently have.

Option A: Resign with the Hornets after this season.
Result A: 5 years, $99M ($20M/year)
Hornets are: Thrilled

Option B: Extend contract with the Hornets
Result B: 3 years, $56M + no trade for 6 months ($19M/year)
Hornets are: Very Happy

Option C: Sign extension & trade to New York
Result C: 2 years, $37M ($18.5M/year)
Hornets are: Angry

Option D: Sign extension & trade to team with more assets that New York
Result D: 2 years, $37M ($18.5M/year)
Hornets are: Not as Angry

Option E: Sign as a free agent with Knicks (after they dump Iman Shumpert, Toney Douglas, and Landry Fields)
Result E: 4 years, $58M ($14.5M/year)
Hornets are: Really Pissed

Option F: Sign with another team that can give a max salary cap
Result F: 4 years, $74M ($18.5M/year)
Hornets are: Really Pissed

Option G: Hornets trade Chris Paul without an extension
Result G: Either E or F
Hornets are: Angry (ie. they’ll get less because there is no guarantee he will stay with that team)

A few things are obvious:

  • If Chris Paul wants to get the most money, his best option is to stay in New Orleans
  • If Chris Paul is going to leave, the Hornets best option is to resign him and trade with a team that is not the Knicks.
  • If Chris Paul wants to go to New York, his best option is to get traded there after signing an extension. Unfortunately this isn’t a good deal for the Hornets who are owned by the league. While an owner might make a deal of this sort, I think the league isn’t as likely to do so, because they would get blasted by the public for favoring a big city like New York.
  • Option G isn’t a bad option for New York. But it’s not a particularly good one for Chris Paul if he wants to go to the Knicks since he’d have to come via free agency and lose money.
  • Summary:
    If Paul is willing to risk losing about $5M per year, he can force his way to the Knicks via free agency. Obviously losing Paul to free agency is the worst move for the Hornets, so they may risk trading him. Unfortunately New York isn’t a great trading partner due to all the assets they gave away in the Carmelo deal. If the Hornets refuse to deal with New York because another team has a better offer they can try to force his hand that way. Paul would have to consider whether or not going to another team instead of New York is worth $4M. If Paul is bluffing about signing with New York, the Hornets might call him on it. In that scenario Paul would have to sign with another team that has cap space, which might be as bad as his Hornets team (Kings, Nuggets, Pacers, etc.)

    Ultimately Paul’s decision comes to to three factors:
    1. If Paul wants to come to New York no matter what he can next year, at a financial loss.
    2. If Paul wants to play for a winning team, he’ll most likely have to play nice with the Hornets to find him a suitor for a sign & trade.
    3. If another team blows the Hornets away with an offer, and Paul wants to go to New York he will have to consider leaving money on the table or signing an extension with this other team. (The Knicks don’t have the assets for this.)

    Perhaps You’ve Heard of This Chris Paul Fellow?

     

    From Hornets.com. The colors will change to blue and orange soon.

    16 months and 1 day ago, in the aftermath of The Decision (and in my very first piece for this website), I considered the possibility of the Knicks forming their own Big 3. At that time the Knicks had only signed Mr. Stoudemire. However, then as now there seemed an air of inevitability that Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul would both decide to come to the Big Apple.

    As the 2011-2012 season begins, the Knicks are halfway to that dream. Chris Paul will be the dominant subject of speculation this season, and early reports seem to indicate that experts will remain amusingly divided on the inevitability of his joining the Knicks until the day it occurs. Chris Broussard broke that Paul’s first choice was far-and-away the Knicks. (Hooray!) Then John Hollinger suggested that Paul was unlikely to join the Knicks, due to limited cap space. (Bah!) Then Frank Isola tweeted that Melo had a big grin on his face during a media session with Paul at his charity. And soon I will report that I saw Melo and CP3 playing hopscotch together. You get the picture.

    Cutting through the multitude of opinions on the subject, I wonder what could possibly make people doubt that Paul will sign here next year. I have no inside connection to someone in Paul’s camp. I have two rather circumstantial pieces of evidence which make me think Paul will sign: that he’s been BFF with ‘Melo all summer, and that Broussard said he wants to come here. But really, havn’t the past two years proven without a doubt that star players will play where they want to play? The Melo-Bosh-Amar’e-LeBron-Wade-Paul group all wanted to play basketball with their friends in the city of their choosing. Five of the six have made that a reality.

    Now, to the extent that Paul might like playing somewhere else (Broussard says he’s open to the Clippers), he might join one of those teams. But the reason will be the same: because he wants to, and not because of relatively minor financial considerations. While Professor Hollinger does some good work demonstrating how the Knicks’ offer will be smaller than a Hornets’ extension, I can’t help but feel that it just doesn’t matter. Jordan Brand guys all know the marketing power that being in this city gives an athlete. Prospective PG’s gotta buy shoes too, and New York is the stage where Paul could increase the value of his brand. It just seems preordained when you throw in the combination of his friendship with Carmelo and the opportunity to run Mike d’Antoni’s offense (or the opportunity to figure out how to make a point guard relevant in the triangle…perhaps you’ve heard of this fellow Phil Jackson? Nevermind.)

    Personally, I plan on tuning out most of the chit-chat about Paul, except when it confirms my pre-existing belief that he will sign as a Knick in the summer of 2012. As the season progresses, perhaps it will become time to analyze how Paul will neutralize Melo’s bad shot selection, or wonder about how devastating the CP3/Amar’e pick and roll will be. Some may say that I am reacting as a typical New Yorker, always suspecting that a particular player will want to join my team. To them I reply, how cool is that Knicks #3 jersey going to look? Sun’s gotta rise, Earth’s gotta turn, and Chris Paul will be a Knick. (I hope.)

     

    Lockout Over! Loud Noises!!!!

    For all you normal folks/non-shameless insomniacs (like yours truly, for whom sleep is more of a concept than a practical reality), I, in a state of  near-apopletic glee, am proud to report that the NBA lockout ended at around 3:30am, Eastern Standard Time.

    Woo!

    There’ll be time for coherent, thoughtful analysis in the days to come, but for now…

    Welcome back, worrying about Amar’e’s back.

    Welcome back, hours of speculation about trades for Chris Paul.

    Welcome back, Carmelo’s evolution into a dominant, two-way player.

    Welcome back, Iman Shumpert’s potential and endless jokes about how “Shumpert” sounds like a Hebraic pickled herring delicacy

    Welcome back, black-free unis for the ‘Bockers (fingers crossed!).

    And most importantly, welcome back, actual basketball games — as opposed to hours of rumination on the vagaries of effing labor negotiations.

    Happy Thanksbasketgivingball, Knickerbloggeristas! How U?

    Introducing The NBA Players Assocation League

    Right now the landscape looks bleak for NBA owners, players, and fans. Without a strong positive effort at the negotiating table it’s very possible that the 2012 NBA season could be canceled. And so far it’s hard to find any positive news on a potential deal. In this dreary time, a little creative thinking and the ability to take a few risks by the players could make life better for themselves and the fans. And all they need to do is create their own league.

    With nothing else to do, the players have turned their talents to charity games, which lack the feel of true game play. Sometimes it’s fun to see who dunked on who, and how many points player X put up. But in the end the games are meaningless because they are missing one element: competition. If I could use an analogy, charity games is to an NBA game what Star Magazine is to Time. Having the players continue with just exhibition games would be like having a season full of All Star Games. Eventually the novelty would wear off.

    So how would I form a player owned league?

    THE FORMAT

    The primary thought of creating a player’s league is making a format that would foster competition. Obviously the goal would be to crown a championship team in some sort of elimination process. The easiest way is to run a tournament. However the problem with a tournament is the few number of games an individual team could see. A single elimination tournament would mean that half the league would only play a single game. A double elimination tournament would only be slightly better, but both would have another problem: the inability to attract fans to individual teams. Since a tournament would be hosted in a handful of locales, there would be nothing to tie the basketball fan to a certain team. For instance which team would Knick fans root for: the one with Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett, the one with Amar’e Stoudemire and Chris Paul, or the one with Renaldo Balkman and Dwight Howard? Even if they chose one, what are the odds that they’ll get to see their team live?

    Hence a more successful run player league would stage a handful of games at a home location to connect fans with teams. These games could be a regular season or perhaps more aptly named qualifier season. Let’s assume this league has 12 teams split into two divisions (East & West), where each team plays their division-mates twice. That’s a 10 game season, which would give enough data to seed the teams come playoff time. A single elimination tournament where the top 2 teams in each division get byes, and the other 4 do a single elimination game (3vs6, 4vs5) to play-in. Each round increases the number of games in the series. So the first round is a 3 game series, the second round is a 5 game series, and the finals go best of 7 games. This kind of format would give the league a total 60 qualifying games, and another 22-37 tournament games. If they play a conservative 2 games per week, I estimate it would take about 3 months to finish a complete season.

    THE TEAMS

    Of course having a competitive league and tournament would be the first step, there would still need to be something to attract fans to the league. Becoming a fan of a sports team usually involves a tight bond that is unbreakable. If tomorrow the Knicks traded their entire team for the Oklahoma Thunder, Knick fans would accept their new players as their own. Hence fandom is often tied to a singular attribute, which in the case of professional sports is the franchise. In this league that tie wouldn’t exist, but it can hook into two things that the fan already relates to. First is the city or region, which most fans live near or have another tie to. So the New York team would likely gain fans from the Tri-State area, ex-patriated New Yorkers, or those with family or friends in New York. The second is a player which might be on their current favorite team.

    Therefore it’d be best that each team have a local representative. Take the best players from 12 different teams in the league, and have each one be team captain for player’s new league. Hence the New York team might get Amar’e or Carmelo as their team captain, the Boston team might get Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce, and the Los Angeles team would likely get Pau Gasol (just kidding, I mean Blake Griffin). Team nicknames could be based on the captain, and the New York Melos might be a subtle tip of the hat to the last century when the Cleveland Naps were named after their best player.

    Once each team has a captain, the draft would occur. A random order would be set and the captains would chose their team from a list of 250 or so eligible players in a snaked draft format. Each team would have a 15 man roster. Something like this could be televised, albeit on a channel that wouldn’t care about angering the current set of owners or even a pay-per-view event. This would be must-see-tv for NBA fans based on the drama alone. Which players would go too high? Too low? Which player would make the best/worst GM? How many players would seek out or snub fellow teammates? If the players wanted to make it even more juicy, then have the draft order based on strength of captain as seen by their peers. In other words, have the captains rank the other captains, with the lowest selecting first.

    Perhaps the captains would be at their computers, much like you would at your office fantasy draft. Maybe 1-2 minutes for the first round, then a nerve racking 30 seconds from therein, with the last 5 rounds by auto-pick. In an hour or so every fan would know their starting 5. Perhaps break every round for commercials and it’s a 2 hour affair to go 10 rounds. What announcer/analyst wouldn’t drool over the prospects of overseeing such an affair?

    THE LOGISTICS

    Here is the most difficult aspect of the undertaking. Someone needs to run the whole shebang and make sure the league has home arenas (current NBA homes will be off-limits), hotels, referees, doctors, accountants, etc. The players will need a management team, or perhaps a handful of management teams to pull it off. Enough coaches could probably be found, especially among the ranks of the retired or those who have turned to the microphone for employment.

    Other issues would be television coverage, sponsorship, & finding investors. In lieu of a channel picking them up, the players can attempt to have their league game sponsored on the internet. Maybe work with a powerhouse like Yahoo or Google. Of course failing to get televised would cut into their earnings. Another idea is to sell team names to sponsors, which would also help with initial investment.

    Speaking of profits, a quarter to half should be split evenly among all the members of the player union (although since it’s dissolved I’m not sure how that would work) and another percentage should go to charity. Both will help their public image, and giving to their brethren will strengthen their resolve during the lockout. The rest is divided up among the teams, with the better ones making a higher percentage of money, and the players drafted higher also getting a bigger slice.

    SUMMARY

    So what would the outcome of such a series of events? For the fans it would be a new take on and old fling. A Bizzaro-esque world of jumbled players and cities, feeling new and yet familiar at the same time. Most importantly it would be competitive basketball at the highest level which is what the fans yearn for.

    For the players it would be a chance to show the fans that they really enjoy playing, and to show the owners that they aren’t beholden to them. Of course if the logistics of running a league become difficult and frustrating then the players might see the owners in a more favorable light.

    For the owners this could be a warning call that perhaps there’s a route other than “my way or the highway.” That there are other ways to successfully run a league, and perhaps their role as facilitator is over-valued. Maybe instead of trying to use the players to fix their system, they can institute revenue sharing on their own & treat the players more like partners at the bargaining table.

    And for the workers of these events it could mean a little extra dough in their pocket. Perhaps vendors can see employment in the new locales, and maybe some of the gear (t-shirts, hats) will be vogue enough to allow them to survive until the NBA starts up again.

    The Undead

    I really like zombie movies.

    Not so much the new ones – the “28 Days Later School,” if you will – where it isn’t actually the undead, but a semi-logically explained ‘rage’ virus that has turned regular, not-dead people into berserker-type monsters. I prefer the real magilla, mainly because the virus zombies tend to run really, really fast. That’s scary, yo. Too scary. Fast-moving zombies completely shatter my delusion that when (not if, when) the evil horde arrives, I could weave my way through/away from a flock of brain-cravers because they’re staggering around like I used to after a night of pickling myself with vodka. If they’re running a sub 4.4/40-yard dash, I’m lunch.

    These days, it seems there plenty of folks out there who share my predilection – given the success of The Walking Dead (Yes, I watch it religiously. If the makers of that fine televisual program read this blog, I’d prefer more zombies and fewer heartfelt conversations, please. Thank you.), all the Romero reboots, and the un-killable (pun intended) Resident Evil franchise. If you’ll allow your humble correspondent to get all sociologically speculative n’ shizznit I think the reason zombies have surpassed vampires as our collective current bête noire, is that no matter how horrible life might be when the zombies overrun the planet, at least it’d be…well…simple.

    It wouldn’t matter what your credit score is. It wouldn’t matter if you did or didn’t possess the finest brand-name clothes/car/home/job. It wouldn’t even matter that the woman you’ve been flirtatiously texting for weeks finally agrees to go out with you and in the midst of what seems to be a great date, dropped the, “I think we’re just friends,” deuce right in your lap. All of the maddening inconsistencies and vast shades of grey that make up modern life would be gone in an instant. All that would matter is whether or not you can whack the noggin off the undead creature standing in front of you with a cricket bat before it eats you.

    Simple. Back to the true nature of man. Kill or be killed. Survival at its essence.

    That’s what makes the zombie apocalypse so appealing. In the name of intellectual honesty, I’m certainly not the first to have/hold this theory. There’s a really sweet (if lengthy) back and forth with more or less the same thesis over at Grantland (though I did think the above thoughts before I read the afore-linked article).

    The reason for this possibly overly lengthy, seemingly jejune preamble is because at this hour, the hard-line owners (And it’s oh-so-deliciously ironic that we Knicks fans may find yet another reason to loathe Michael $%@#-ing Jordan) are thiiiiiis close to blowing the whole durned thing to smithereens. And as I check Alan Hahn’s Twitter feed for minute-by-minute updates, I’ve been trying to figure out why (aside from the obvious, “There might be no games,” aspect) this is all so enervating, so profoundly upsetting.

    At least for yours truly, it’s because sports, like the aforementioned zombie paradigm, project the illusion there exists a world beyond the realm of money. Now of course, we all know this is patently false. Half the stories one might read about one’s team in any calendar year will inevitably be about free agent X or salary cap room, or (if you like the Mets) how much money your intrepid owners will have to pay Madoff’s victims.

    The game, though, is meant to stand alone as pure combat. The Warrior-Poet. Effing Spartacus in the ring. Me v. You. Who’s better? I dunno, let’s play and see. Not, “Let’s go through your 990 return for fiscal year 2011,” and see. Not, “I’m going to impose my arbitrary aesthetic criteria and invalidate your artistic efforts because your entire venture exists outside my narrow, self-propagating definition of what constitutes good work,” and see.

    I’ve actually put off writing about this because, over the last two months, I’ve been sent to “cover” a couple of ostensibly basketball-centric events that nearly sent me into a rabid, anti-consumerist frenzy.

    Example One: Chris Bosh’s Fashion Week Charity something or another a few months ago. What it was about, I still can’t fathom but basically, crowds at Saks’ Fifth Avenue lined up to shoot Nerf balls at a hastily strung-up hoop with Bosh whilst he was draped in fancy garb. I too tried to “dress up” for the occasion, but as befits my fashion sense (or lack thereof), I looked like an out of work accountant from the Great Depression. But lo, there were hundreds of people, forming a serpentine path through the store, all for thirty seconds of…I don’t know…a chance to be near a star? To take and iPhone photo of someone famous so you could tweet about it and post it as a Facebook status update? Why, dear Lord, why? All I could think about while staring at the huddled masses was the original (and awesome) 1978 Dawn of the Dead – where zombies have overtaken a mall and are riding the escalators, numbly staring at stuff they couldn’t afford in some half-remembered haze,  doomed for all eternity to repeat the pointless, boring, soul-deadening rituals of their former so-called life.

    Example Two: about a month later, like a good little member of the fourth estate/zombie, when beckoned by the powers that be, I too, staggered in an undead stupor down to Greenwich Village to report on the unveiling of Carmelo Anthony’s new shoe (MJ’s brand, natch. That bastid’s everywhere!!). I mean, I really almost rediscovered my collegiate, bomb-throwing, Marxist past on this’n. They’d taken over a former gallery and built this monstrous deconstructed basketball court, draped the artistic golem in the new shoes and projected videos of Carmelo discussing his life, game and how his entire ethos is clearly been distilled to a plastic/leather shoe. When the PR guy was showing me around, it took all of my restraint not to ask which sweatshop in China made these items and if Carmelo cared about the deplorable conditions in free trade zones and the worldwide labor struggle in general.

    I didn’t.

    I did ask if the shoe would improve ‘Melo’s D, to which the PR flack laughed knowingly. I still don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.

    There I was, staring at this unholy creature/creation and all I could think about was the amount of time and effort and thought and MONEY went into trying to sell me or any other potential consumer this product which is, in the end, a shoe. Just a shoe. In a pique of near-rage I just wanted to scream, “Dear God, what a waste! Look at all the creativity and intelligence on display here and it’s entirely been funneled into selling some thing that you and I don’t really need. Or more specifically, to making you or I feel like our lives are less than meaningful, but if you buy this shoe, well, that will certainly solve all your problems. Get out now! Save yourselves before this beast devours us all!”

    Again, I didn’t do that.

    I’m an American. Self-indulgent, holier-than-thou rants notwithstanding, I don’t think socialism can work on any large scale. If I’m going to be at all honest here, I have to admit that I like the toys and I want ‘em as much as the next guy and I’ll bust my hump to be able to afford ’em. More importantly, I was legitimately excited when I found out I was invited to gawk at Melo’s shoe and discuss fashion trends with Chris Bosh. Why? I wanted…something. Fame. Money. Power. Immortality. I don’t know. But in my gut, I instinctively knew I wanted or even craved it — even if I couldn’t begin to articulate what “it” exactly was/is.

    Alas, one can only confront uncomfortable realities so much of the time. I was talking with my father about the attendant problems with our escapist passion for basketball and he said, “I’m a realist. I’ve devoted my life to depicting reality.” And I replied (in perhaps, a moment of clarity) “Yeah, but sometimes in order to accurately perceive reality, you need to be able to escape it.”

    So here we are. The truth is, you watch a ballgame, and you’re watching the money. There’s no way around that. But another truth is, you watch a ballgame and you’re watching poetry. The pass and fell of these mighty opposites is what makes sport great. It’s events like the Melo/Bosh ones and this protracted ‘negotiation’ process that make one dwell too long on the brutish pole. Or at least it does for me.

    It’s five minutes to doomsday. Owners, players, I implore you. Give me my game, warts and all, back.

    Please?

    Knicks 113, Heat 111

    Editor’s Note: This didn’t happen… But it could’ve.

     

    Down a point and team depleted to within an amnesty clause of bench’s end, Mike D’Antoni swallowed his pride, and with one begrudging summon, made a move that would prove prophetic. Prophetic and basically necessary.

    “Look, I put [Renaldo] Balkman in for his defense and his arms, and the fact that the next guy down from him was a pile of towels,” said D’Antoni of the seldom-used forward, who would soon after hit an impossible corner three to give the Knicks a 113-111 victory over Miami Wednesday night. “I sure as $#!% didn’t expect him to shoot that. If I’d known that, I might’ve rolled with four. Norman Dale style.”

    Lucky for D’Antoni and his troops – not to mention the frantic capacity Garden crowd soon uncorked– the man they call “Humpty” made sure his Knicks “had five on it.”

    “That was pretty sick, wasn’t it?” the dreadlocked Balkman – re-arrived last February in the Carmelo Anthony trade –chuckled to the throngs of reporters flocked locker-side. “That right there was the $#!%.”

    Never mind that the Knicks had both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire on the floor.

    Never mind that Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire had accounted for a combined 73 points.

    Never mind that the play was designed for Chauncey Billups (16 points, 7 assists) to get the ball at the top of the key, off a screen that Balkman never bothered to set.

    Never mind that, having received the inbound pass from Landry Fields as the last option, Balkman was supposed to swing it immediately back to Billups to run the set.

    Instead, Balkman caught the pass – a split second before Fields, devoid of timeouts, would’ve been whistled for a five-second call – took no less than four, completely uncontested dribbles and, with Udonis Haslem standing confused on the low block, hoisted a totally unnecessary corner triple that left the net’s bottom hanging over the rim.

    “I was open, and the one thing Coach always tells us is, if you’re open, shoot,” said Balkman of the rogue dagger. “So I really owe this one to Coach.”

    With no timeouts  and only a tenth of a second remaining, the Heat could muster little more than a late 80-foot LeBron James heave. Which went in, oddly enough.

    It’s the first time since the 1999-2000 season – 12 years – twelve years – TWELVE YEARS – that the Bockers have started their campaign with two straight wins.

    After squandering a 17-point fourth quarter lead, the tired Bockers  – clear victims of a lockout-shortened training camp – were forced to draw deep from an already arid bench.

    “There was definitely a few guys dry heaving into Gatorade cups out there,” said rookie Josh Harrelson, himself the recipient of a shocking 20 minutes off the  pine in place of a foul troubled Ronny Turiaf. “At lunch I was telling Jerome [Jordan] to ease off the milk, but he kept sayin’ there was no way we were gonna’ play, so what did it matter?”

    Three Knicks — Derrick Brown, Shawne Williams, and Bill Walker — sustained what appeared, at first, to be pulled hamstrings. They were cramps. None returned. All are listed as day-to-day.

    Despite all that, the Knicks added to the good vibes of Sunday’s season-opening thrashing of the Nets – an equally weird night highlighted by Net forward and recent Kardashian cast-off Kris Humphries openly weeping during player introductions.

    Anthony, who paced the Knicks with 41 points on 14-35 shooting, to go along with seven boards, said his team would take the Ws regardless.

    “Man, I thought I’d seen it all with Humphries cryin’ like that, joggin’ to center court and just huggin’ Lopez,” said Anthony. “But then Balkman hit that shot, I just couldn’t believe it. To be honest, I thought it was some fan for a second, wearin’ a Balkman jersey. I thought, ‘where’d he get a Balkman jersey?’ Then I remembered he came over in the trade.”

    Asked why Balkman hadn’t swung the ball back to Billups, as D’Antoni had illustrated, Anthony was incredulous.

    “He probably didn’t even hear him, man,” he said.

    Anthony was nearly as valuable on the defensive end, where he managed to keep LeBron James largely in check, holding the two-time MVP to 21 points on 8-22 shooting.

    “Defense is just a matter of heart and determination,” said Anthony of his impressive two-way effort. “Basically I just stood there in the lane and dared him to shoot.”

    Flanking Anthony in equivalent dominance, Amar’e Stoudemire clowned Chris Bosh inside and out en route to a 32 point, 10 rebound  performance.

    “We came out with a lot of energy, a lot of intensity, and a lot of focus,” said Stoudemire, fully healed from last season’s protracted back issues. “I’ve always said, I’m like Moses leading the franchise to the promised land, and Melo’s my David — my slinger. We showed that tonight. Energy.”

    Chris Bosh led the Heat with 35 points and 15 rebounds.

    Landry fields chipped in 16 and nine rebounds for the Knicks, while Toney Douglas and Turiaf each tallied 14. All three of them continue to grow interesting beards.

    Meanwhile, rookie Iman Shumpert impressed in his Garden debut, logging 15 minutes and scoring 12 points – all of them two-handed dunks on Mike Bibby.

    But it was Renaldo Balkman, the former South Carolina Gamecock and member of the Puerto Rican National Team, who would convert the most decibel-rising shot of the night, and his career.

    And so it was that a night which began with a christening of the newly-renovated Garden — headlined by James Dolan’s JD and the Straight Shot’s 15-minute rendition of Jefferson Starship classic “We Built This City” — ended with a shot that would test the sturdiness of roof and rafter.

    “I’ll remember that one for a long time, man,” said Balkman as he searched frantically his car keys.”It just goes to show what you can accomplish when you’re in the right situation.”

    Finally, Balkman found his keys, which he keeps in a technicolor, wallet-size pouch.

    “Now it’s time to celebrate. Any of y’all have a plastic water bottle you don’t want?”

    The Knicks will play the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday.