Knicks Morning News (Wednesday, Jul 31 2013)

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Basketball: Miller Returns to Grizzlies (Wed, 31 Jul 2013 02:58:17 GMT)

    The Memphis Grizzlies signed Mike Miller in a deal that brings back the best 3-point shooter in franchise history as the Grizzlies try to find a way to improve.    

  • [New York Times] Los Angeles’ Forum Arena to Reopen in Jan 2014 After Renovation (Wed, 31 Jul 2013 00:15:45 GMT)

    The Forum, the erstwhile home of pro basketball’s Los Angeles Lakers and hockey’s Los Angeles Kings, will reopen in January following a $100 million renovation, event venue operator The Madison Square Garden Co said on Tuesday.    

  • [New York Post] Anthony won’t commit to Knicks for long-term (Wed, 31 Jul 2013 03:00:01 -0500)

    While Carmelo Anthony praised the Knicks offseason moves, saying the Andrea Bargnani trade was a “steal for us,” he stopped short of predicting he and the Knicks would have a long marriage.
    Anthony can opt out of his contract after the 2013-14 season, so the Knicks’ success in the coming…

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks, Nets play on Christmas – but not vs. each other (Wed, 31 Jul 2013 03:48:31 GMT)

    The Knicks and Nets willl both play on Christmas, but Santa isn’t gifting New York an inter-city match up. A league source told the Daily News that the Knicks are tentatively scheduled to host Kevin Durant and the Thunder on X-Mas, the same day Brooklyn plays the Bulls at the Barclays Center.    

  • At TrueHoop: The Summer League Spurs and the Mystery of the Green Light

    If you’ve perused the articles that came out of this year’s (and last year’s and all the year’s, Katie) Sloan Sports and Analytics Conference, it can read like a Phillip K. Dick-ian dystopic what-is-to-come; players hooked up to newfangled whizbangers and geegaws, military-inspired technology tracking their every move, and so on.

    Your humble correspondent took a somewhat Ludditical techo-fear-y view of the proceedings, perhaps foolishly so, for it seems the future is NOW.

    The great(s) Steve McPherson and Andrew Lynch were watching a friday night tilt on the first eve of this years Summer League when they spotted what looked like a flashing green light under Aron Baynes’ jersey. I was watching with them and it was really odd. Of course, at one time or another, we’ve all thought the Spurs were actually robots or androids or possibly…gasp!…Cylons that Pop or RC Buford was controlling from some secret vat of goo. JUMP!

     

    But as is oft the case, the truth is stranger (or at least more interesting) than fiction:

    “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us …”
    — F. Scott Fitzgerald

    It all started with a little green light.

    On the first night of the NBA’s summer league in Las Vegas, the San Antonio Spurs played the Charlotte Bobcats. As Spurs center Aron Baynes prepared to inbound the ball from the baseline, a small green light was visible, blinking steadily through the white mesh of his jersey.

    First question: Is he a cyborg?

    Second, more sensible question: Is that the biometric monitoring the Spurs have used in the D-League?

    A stroll behind the bench confirmed every Spur had a small bulge, just between the shoulder blades, blinking green.

    Fascinating. Mysterious. And as it turns out, loaded with potential: It’s part of a system that has led to a huge reductions in injury, and dramatic improvements in performance, in a professional league half a world away.

    After the game, the Spurs communications staff opted to “politely decline” the opportunity to talk about the green light.

    We learned from 48 Minutes of Hell’s Andrew McNeill that the Austin Toros — the Spurs’ D-League affiliate — were trying out some technology made by Catapult Sports.

    “It’s a load meter and it’s a new sports science thing,” Toros coach Brad Jones explained to McNeill. “It’s like a vest you put on underneath [your clothes] and you wear it in practice and it keeps track of the energy you’re burning.”

    The key term here is “load,” the aggregate energy put into and stress placed upon the body during athletic activity. In basketball terms, this may mean — according to the Catapult Sports site, which confirms the Spurs as clients — measuring “the speed of a shooting guard coming off a down-screen, the impact force of a center banging on the low block, or the total distance covered by a point guard over the course of a game, week or season.”

    Was this what the Spurs were wearing? An article on the company by Forbes’ Alex Konrad noted that “[w]earable sensors are still banned in the U.S. during official game play.”

    Konrad put us in touch with Catapult’s Gary McCoy who, it turned out, was in Las Vegas, ready and willing to sit down to talk about what Catapult Sports does.

    It’s the future, yo. Get used to it. Read the full article, including some very pertinent thoughts on what the ethical dilemmas of all this meta-data mining might portend.

    Knicks Morning News (Tuesday, Jul 30 2013)

  • [New York Post] Brother: Metta can be ‘goon’ for Knicks (Tue, 30 Jul 2013 03:37:52 -0500)

    Daniel Artest, Metta World Peace’s brother who had a brief professional career, told The Post the Knicks were missing a certain element last season — “a goon.” He feels his brother can fill the bill.
    The Knicks got beat — and beat up — by the Pacers last May in the playoffs…

  • [New York Post] Camby joins Rockets (Tue, 30 Jul 2013 00:53:36 -0500)

    HOUSTON — Former Knick Marcus Camby signed a free-agent contract with the Rockets yesterday.
    It is the second stint for Camby in Houston after he played for the Rockets in 2012. The 39-year-old played 19 games for the Rockets that season and averaged 7.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1…

  • A Review of ‘Amare Stoudemire: In The Moment’

    If you’re a normal person, you’re probably unaware that Amar’e Stoudemire had an hour long documentary, In the Moment, released on Epix back in April. I stumbled upon the documentary on Netflix the other night and decided to check it out, the thought being, “It’s the offseason, and besides, I really want to rediscover the Amar’e love of 2010-2011. So what the hell?”

    The documentary begins with a mix of STAT highlights and a monologue about winning a championship. It’s pretty clear Amar’e is not the most comfortable guy with one-on-one interviews — or the most realistic — but as the film goes on, he gets better.

    What he does do is go into some startling specifics about his childhood. His mother was in-and-out of jail for the majority of Amare’s formative years, and it is revealed that she actually tried to abort Amare at one point during her pregnancy. STAT then talks a little bit about the passing of his father, and how much of an emotional wall Amare built as a kid because he never really found it in him to cry.

    We then get to see some of STAT’s old high school tapes — footage that makes Amare look like Dwight Howard amongst boys. He was just so much bigger and stronger then everyone on the court, and it showed. At one point, Amare’s mother talks about trying to persuade Amare not go to college, and declare instead for the NBA Draft.

    The best part of the documentary, to my mind, is the look-in at Amare’s current family, and how good he is not only with his own kids, but all the kids and fans he encounters. For what it’s worth, Amar’e always seems to have a smile on face when meeting fans — a look vastly different from the one we normally see, particularly in interviews where his injuries and disappointing last few seasons are discussed.

    Footage of STAT’s workouts with Hakeem are short, but the one thing I took away from the highlights was that Hakeem, even at 50 years old, could still beat Amar’e — along with a lot of NBA players — one-on-one. It should also be noted that Hakeem’s spectacular ranch has been added to my bucket list of places to visit.

    One other positive aspect of the documentary is the insight into Amare’s children’s book, and the tour he’s undertaken to encourage kids to take up reading. Yes, a lot of professional athletes do this, but Amar’e definitely exudes that this is a very important pillar in his life.

    The greatest — and worst — moment of the documentary came when one of Amare’s young fans was talking about Amar’e and commented, “He’s always going to log out those minutes you want him to.” I don’t think the camera guy had the heart to pull him aside and give him the bad news.

    In the Moment isn’t exactly groundbreaking, and a lot of the information is stuff most fans already know, but there are definitely some cool tidbits in the film that make it worth watching — particularly if your view of Amare has shifted more towards the negative. It’s not going to win any Oscars, but this film will definitely help many fans rediscover why they liked Amar’e in the first place.

     

    Knicks Morning News (Saturday, Jul 27 2013)

  • [New York Daily News] Pablo gets Knicks bounce in Argentina (Sat, 27 Jul 2013 04:44:46 GMT)

    Manu Ginobili still rules in Argentina, based solely on the number of San Antonio Spurs uniform tops worn by children in Buenos Aires. But Pablo Prigioni is slowly gaining ground.    

  • [New York Post] ‘Peace’ seeks new nickname (Sat, 27 Jul 2013 03:26:11 -0500)

    After word spread around the Internet Metta World Peace might be changing his name again ahead of playing for the Knicks next season, the man himself took to his Twitter account to squash the idea.
    “Don’t believe anyone who said I’m changing my name again,” World Peace tweeted…

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Basketball: Delle Donne Will Miss W.N.B.A. All-Star Game (Sat, 27 Jul 2013 03:56:40 GMT)

    Elena Delle Donne, the first rookie to lead the W.N.B.A.’s All-Star voting, will miss the All-Star Game on Saturday while recovering from a concussion.    

  • The Falsity of Mike Woodson’s Respect and Accountability

    Let’s get this out of the way first: Mike Woodson is a good NBA coach.

    As with any coach, Woody has his strengths and weaknesses, though thus far he’s mostly impressed in his tenure as the Knicks’ head coach. However, following Woodson’s short interim stint in the latter part of the 2012 season, there was the presumption that — unlike the ousted Mike D’Antoni — Woody’s persona was that of an unchallenged enforcer. Phrases like “he holds players accountable,” and “he is respected in the locker room” were, and are, thrown around quite a bit.

    The former is questionable, while the the truth of the latter, I would argue, is routinely suspended.

    Allow me to explain.

    Let’s start with “holding players accountable.” Former Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni was often criticized for letting payers slide, while Woodson received praise upon praise for holding players to account for their actions while making them aware of their futilities. As far as punishment or enforcing goes, however, the case was exactly the opposite: In the 2009-2010 NBA season, Nate Robinson feuded with D’Antoni, who was skeptical of his diminutive sparkplug’s careless behavior and self-centered basketball.

    What did D’Antoni do? He benched Robinson for a full month. Oddly enough, from the time he was bench until his eventual trading, Robinson’s efficiency actually rose relative to his pre-benching play. His TS% upped from 54.1 on a USG% of 23.6 to 55.7 on  a USG% of 26.7, at which point he was shipped off to Boston in a trade that gave the Knicks a few extra bucks to spend in the vaunted summer of 2010, but also ridded D’Antoni of his chief nemesis. One could argue that sending a problem off to another state or resigning it to the bench isn’t the right way of handling it, but to that I would respond that it’s worked pretty well for Gregg Popovich, who’s done it a good amount over the years.

    Now consider Mike Woodson, who is universally known as a much stronger voice with a much fiercer hand when dealing with ruffian charges. Remember this year’s Playoffs? Remember when J.R. Smith elbowed an opposing player, spent most of his nights partying and shot under 29% from the field on a bum knee — an injury the team was aware of all the while — in the conference semi-finals? With Smith flailing with his shooting and averaging half the assists he did per game during the regular season — despite being on the floor for more minutes in the postseason — why didn’t Mike Woodson “hold him accountable”?

    The Knicks fell behind to the Pacers 3-1, and in those four games Smith averaged 30 minutes a night and couldn’t find the bottom of the net on a Fisher Price hoop. Injury, streakiness, partying — his play was atrocious no matter the excuse you use. So with the Knicks on the ropes and needing parental intervention to come and yank them out of a hole, what does coach Woody do? Hold Smith accountable and play him 15 minutes? Does he tell him to not take step-back contested 20 footers? Of course not! He plays Earl 36 minutes, then 35 the game following, during which Smith put up 13 attempts per on 30% shooting.

    This is just one example. After all, it’s not like Woodson ever really got on Melo for slacking with his defensive play as the season progressed, or pressed Ray Felton to attack the rim on pick-and-rolls and eschew firing up long twos because that’s inefficient. If Woodson did deliver such messages, then they fell on deaf ears. If he didn’t, well, my point is made.

    I’ll admit, I wouldn’t have it in me to tell my superstar to put the same effort on defense as he did for the first dozen games of the season. Maybe the best way to get production from these multimillionaires it to treat them like children and spoon feed them how awesome they are, and tell them they can do whatever they want. But to then call Mike Woodson a model of team accountability and responsibility? It’s just not accurate.

    As for the “player respect” part: These players love Woody. They do. I’m pretty certain of this. However, it does not mean they respect him always. Not as a person, mind you — they absolutely respect him as a person and a man — but as a basketball mind. Which is kind of important.

    Drawn-up plays sometimes don’t work as planned. This happens to all teams. Athletes are humans, and they’re often wont to improvise. Sometimes they break deliberately, however, and in the Knicks’ case, this happens often, and it’s often Carmelo Anthony at the root of these deviations. Where are they most common? When the game is on the line. Perfect timing, huh?

    Now this isn’t anything exclusive to Anthony and the Knicks. Many stars who are terrific in the clutch turn away their coach’s play call to make their own move. Carmelo is only one of the culprits. But this glosses over an important point: Melo was a disaster in the closing minutes of games this season. When trailing by five points or less down the stretch, Anthony shot under 40% for the year. With under a minute left? A jaw-dropping 22%. With the game within three points and with 30 seconds or less to play? Brace yourselves: 14%. Fourteen!

    Maybe, just maybe, Melo would’ve been wise to run Woody’s plays more often, instead of making up his own on the fly.

    Watch this play here against the Brooklyn Nets. Keep a close eye on Tyson Chandler’s pick placement, and how he reacts when Melo “uses” it:

     

    See how Anthony popped out over the three-point arc as Chandler tried to adjust to that movement? Watch it closely and it’s obvious that Carmelo doesn’t run the intended play — Like Tyson was — and instead races outward for a quick catch and isolation. This next clip features basically the same play, the same decision by Melo and, predictably, the same result. The best part here is that Woodson calls for the Knicks to run his play right away — as noted by the announcers — yet this plea is ignored, just like the play itself.

    Once again you’ll notice Chandler preparing himself for the play at hand, only to have to extend further out because Melo’s looking to ditch the draw-up and take his own crack at it.

    I kid you not, this same play with this same process and result occurs TWICE MORE during the season. Anthony’s maintained a streak of putting tight games on his isolation-ready shoulders, including a few times in the first round series against Boston where he called off a pick-and-roll with Chandler in the final minutes of a tight contest. Again, this happens to all coaches, yet for some reason Woodson is still heralded by some as a master puppeteer of shot-crazy egos.

    This shouldn’t shift your opinion of Mike Woodson as an NBA head coach, unless you were somehow of the belief that he is an almighty disciplinarian who is rarely disregarded and perpetually defied. Neither of those two things should be thought of as his greatest coaching quality. His ability to successfully change his whole dynamic on the fly and winning 54 games with an injury-riddled roster? That’s Mike Woodson’s best quality.

    As much as I commend Woodson’s (usually) very sound coaching, I simply can’t agree with those who make him out to be something he’s not.