Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Endgame

Endgame. That rabidly morbid Irishman Sam Beckett really hit it on the head. I don’t think he was a Knicks fan. But I’d like to think that if he were alive he’d be watching our embattled hardwood heroes with a wry grin of self-knowledge. I certainly think this exchange could be situated in the blue seats at MSG w/o any difficulty…

Nell: Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.

Nagg: Oh?

Nell: Yes, yes, it’s the most comical thing in the world. And we laugh, we laugh, with a will, in the beginning. But it’s always the same thing. Yes, it’s like the funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don’t laugh any more.

So forgive your humble correspondent a few sh*ts and giggles in the endgame of another laughably disappointing and utterly familiar failure of a season. In lieu of a coherent thesis, I’ve cobbled together some semi-connected thoughts that’ve been rattling around in the ol’ bean Larry King/Lupica style, with a few obscure references/mixed metaphors to spice up the brew.

Bill Walker is a Golden God. And he will eat your children. It’s nice, isn’t it? Bill Walker out of nowhere has entered the temple, named himself rabbi-in-chief, thrown out the moneylenders and proceeded to march to Bethlehem on a road of opponent’s bones.

I’ve always been fascinated by players like “Sky” Walker. (Sorry Kenny, you can share your fancy nickname, Kid N’ Play fade notwithstanding: http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/nba.dunk.contest.winners/images/1989-kenny-walker.jpg) Perhaps it’s because I’ve had to sit through so many godawful seasons w/this club, or maybe it’s my underdog-lovin’ soul, but during these desultory endgames, invariably an innocuous 12th man/CBA callup will catch fire, inspiring dreams of a Chorus Girl to Headliner/”Flo Zeigfeld’s in the house tonight” rocket ship to superstardom. I was similarly pie-eyed over Qyntel “Must Love Dogs” Woods (“He’s the Next Tracy McGrady!”) and Jackie Butler (“He’s Oliver Miller reincarnate!) not to mention Ime Udoka (“He’s another Bruce Bowen! With fewer dirty plays!”), Lee Nailon (He’s Jamal Mashburn 2.0!), and even Kurt “Crazy Eyes” Thomas, who, once upon a time, was basically left for dead by Riley/Miami after his knees turned to guacamole. So press on Billy. Odds are, this is a blip on an otherwise uneventful career, but like Starks and Mason before ye, in one word – youneverknow.

Is there a worse sportswriter in Christendom than Marc Berman? I’ll spare you the burdensome reminder that he is a Murdoch employee, but, odds bodkins, is he an utter hack! I know that it’s only sportswriting, I’m not asking for Sy Hersh to become a  ‘Bockers Beat writer but please, can someone stop this man from outright making stuff up? Like this recent blog entry: “Walsh, D’Antoni not on same page.” A semi-literate reader might presume that the article would include things like, I dunno, quotes that showed the two gentlemen in disagreement about this particular subject. But lo! Berman’s only “evidence” is that he, Berman thinks Walsh thinks MD’A could’ve done better with a mismatched collection of expiring contracts and rookies. How that makes them “at odds” is beyond me. Then he brings up the Marbury benching (quelle surprise). Ok, Maybe now he’ll have a quote that Walsh was against the move. That wouldn’t make the GM and coach “at odds” in the present considering it happened 1.5 years ago, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Alas, no quote re:Stephon. Moving on, he writes that both parties were psyched to have Milicic only the coach “marburyed” him. Was Walsh against benching Milicic? Did he press Mike to play him? Well, if Berman knows he ain’t telling. And then you get a few snipes at Gallo and a suggestion that McGrady is only playing for himself and the team won’t get LeBron to close the entry. Fascinating thoughts indeed, but they have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE “THESIS” OF THE BLOG ENTRY. If you want to read it yourself, be my guest. But you better have some of that Lava Soap with pumice if you want to rid yourself of the stench afterwards. http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/knicksblog/walsh_antoni_not_on_same_page_jbxRTUIRcH5ljbDHxbMM8L

If this were a singular occurrence, fine. But this is what he does, day in and day out. He manufactures or imagines conflict/”drama’ where none exists. And I won’t even get into his super-special BFF relationship w/Marbs. Ok, I will. It’s downright creepy at this point. The guy’s in China for the love of pete. Berman’s like a jilted lover who hacks into his/her ex’s facebook page/email to see what she’s really up to.

Worst Uni/logo combo in La Liga? OKC Thunder. It’s borderline criminal that Durant has to walk around in public in these duds. Forgive my sartorial musings, but if you name a team the Thunder, doesn’t sky/light blue seem like a ridonculous choice? Color scheme notwithstanding, the logo/font makes it look like they got those unis on the cheap from some Tulsa AAU team. And if you don’t want to call the team “the Cyclones” as was previously leaked, because there are a lot of people in OKC who, you know, died because of cyclones, isn’t “Thunder” just as insensitive?

Is it me or does Gallo get whacked every time he drives the lane? Not being hyperbolic here – every freaking time and nary a peep from the refs. Maybe it’s because he kinda runs like a guy who’s had a few too many being chased by the cops. The only logical explanation I can think of is that when his arms and legs are flailing wildly (in directions often oppositional to his forward motion) and he’s pinging off defenders on his way to the rim, to the refs, he’s “initiating” the contact. Or they just hate Italians. This of course, is par for the course. The last Knick who “got the calls” was Ewing. And even then, his only indulgence was being allowed to take an extra step or two when he launched one of those trusty hook shots of his going from the baseline to the pivot.

End of rant. Even with my multitude of gripes/harangues, I’ll watch this thing to the bitter end, probably laughing and not laughing all the way. Beckett would approve.

59 comments on “Endgame

  1. misterma

    Surprisingly, Mr. McGrady still gets superstar calls. On the downside, his teammates tend to stand around when he has the ball, as if he were still a superstar, not a washed-up curiosity on a bad team.

    Either way, I’m glad he took Duhon’s minutes.

  2. tastycakes

    This season of failure and dismay is unlike the others.

    It’s a nearly blank slate up ahead. Just get through this season, and who’s left on contract? Gallo, Chandler, Toney D, and Eddy “Snacks”?

    It’s like we’re about to become an expansion team but without the expansion draft!

    Well, and there’s that 33M to spend. And some teams might want to give us real players for Currywurst.

    I’m used to a decade of the hope / disappointment cycle. We’re back to the moment of hope. With or without LeBron, it’s going to be a completely different team next year, built nearly from scratch. For now, that’s good enough for me.

    But I think I’m probably done watching the Knicks this year. Judging from the activity here lately, so are most Knick fans.

  3. d-mar

    Vecsey writes another one of his ridiculous columns in the Post today, this one about how Walsh might have been better off hanging on to Crawford and Randolph and their draft picks and picking Brook Lopez and Jennings instead of Gallinari and Hill. We then would have a starting lineup of Lee, Lopez, Randolph, Jennings and Crawford plus our draft picks. A playoff team, yes, most likely. But then what? How do we get better after that? With late 1st round picks? I think NY b-ball beat writers are just bored, and after beating up on D’Antoni are now moving on to Walsh.

    Everyone acknowledges this is the greatest FA class in NBA history, and to not be in the game on July 2010 would be foolish. I’ll take my chances and not have to cheer for the above 40 win squad for the next 5 years.

  4. TDM

    “It’s like we’re about to become an expansion team but without the expansion draft! Well, and there’s that 33M to spend.”

    So true. How telling is it that 2 guys that couldn’t sniff the crack of the rotation in Boston are now getting substantial playing time with the Knicks. Granted Walker and House are in many ways justifying trading Nate, but it just goes to show how far the Knicks are from really contending on a serious level. If the Knicks don’t snag LBJ or D-Wade this summer, and end up with Bosh, Gay, Lee, Gallo and TMac as a starting 5, I think a lot of people will be thinking it wasn’t worth toiling through the past (at minimum) 2 seasons. If that is the end result after the summer, I think Vecsey will be correct about Randolph and Crawford. That said, his comments about Lopez and Jennings are obviously with the benefit of hindsight: “if we drafted Lopez . . . if we drafted Jennings.” If my aunt had a mustache, she’d be my uncle.

    Regarding Darko, I read the other day that Donnie is looking to sign a center for the remainder of the season. If true, that kind of chaps my ass considering the Knicks had Darko rotting on the bench for the better part of the season. There are several other teams looking for a big man (Dallas, Denver, Portland) and the names that keep coming up are Mikki Moore, Jake Voskuhl and Dwayne Jones. Problem as I see it is that Darko is better than any of these guys:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=milicda01&y1=2010&p2=mooremi01&y2=2010&p3=voskuja01&y3=2009&p4=jonesdw02&y4=2009

    In the past 6 games with the Wolves, Darko has put up 5 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks in 20 minutes per game. Yes, he’s foul prone, but no more so than any of the other stiffs out there.

    Dwayne Jones is an interesting prospect, but the Mavs passed on him for a reason. He’s putting up good numbers in the d-league, but he’s not the shotblocker that Darko is. The Mavs are even considering dusting off Deke instead of Jones.

  5. Nick C.

    I don’t know I for one was happy to see Jamal and Zach go. Their brand of basketball was excrutiating to watch and harder to root for.

  6. Caleb

    Darko likes playing basketball about as much as Eddy Curry. Don’t miss him a bit.

    With Vecsey’s 20-20 hindsight a lot of teams would look better – we’d have Lopez & Jennings with cap space coming up in just a year, but then other teams might have snagged them ahead of us if they’d gotten the plans for the Vecsey Time Machine.

    We know the salary dump was a big gamble but I’m still glad we did it.

    I do think it’s unlikely we’ll look at the trade as being disastrous. We’ll still have Houston’s pick next year, and unless we whiff on the top 8 or 10 free agents (not just LeBron) I think the 2011 part of the trade will only cost 5-10 draft spots, at most. And with two years of max cap space to burn, it’s hard to see that 2012 pick being a high one.

    Shifting gears, it’s time for the annual “NBA should have an NCAA tourney-style playoffs” articles. Here’s the latest from Hollinger, with the Knicks-Pistons game as Exhibit A of what a play-in tourney could fix. Surprisingly, he sounds like he thinks the NBA would really do it.

  7. TDM

    “Darko likes playing basketball about as much as Eddy Curry. Don’t miss him a bit.”

    I don’t necessarily think that is true. I think his is pissed that he hasn’t gotten playing time. He’s not apathetic like Curry. But even assuming your are correct, the Knicks still need someone to actually play the center position – other than Lee. Look at what Marc Gasol, Andre Blatche, JaVale McGee and Andrew Bogut did against the Knicks. Its apparent that the Knicks have match up problems against real centers and need someone to fill the paint.

  8. Kikuchiyo

    Really, let’s not get nostalgic about Z-Bo and Crawford, who have still won nothing and who were, to me, absolutely brutal to watch. Quentin Richardson helped the Heat beat the Lakers last night. Are you interested in seeing him back too? (Nate’s played well, also, in Boston.)

    No, this is not about rearranging the furniture. This is all about burning down the house and building something completely new. It’s almost all gone now, except for the lingering scent of curry….

  9. TDM

    Kikuchiyo – by “you,” are you referring to me? If so, you completely missed the point.

  10. Caleb

    “Its apparent that the Knicks have match up problems against real centers and need someone to fill the paint.”

    Sure, but Darko’s not playing in NY next year anyway, and I’d rather Walsh beat the bushes for a prospect, even a long shot. Sort of like trying out Bill walker.

  11. ess-dog

    I will NEVER miss Jamal Crawford’s game – just terrible. Z-bo is actually a pretty nice player IMO, maybe not at his price, but he can score, rebound, pass, and he’s taking less 19 ft jumpers now. His D isn’t great but it’s better than Lee’s.
    Actually, the Bosh, Lee, Gallo, Gay, TMac lineup sounds pretty good to me (subtracting Gay for Chandler/Walker… Gay is too ‘spensive) for 2010. Then you can trade/run out curry for another star player (Melo?)
    I’m actually interested in how this season plays out to see what we have. Is Walker for real? Can TMac come back? Will he help draw free agents? Will Bender’s legs shatter on the court?

  12. tastycakes

    For those waxing nostalgic about Z-bo, here’s a little reminder:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4xH85iDDIs

    Z-Bo and Crawford are a couple of middle-of-the-road players who can help teams that mask their deficiencies / don’t rely on them as their top dogs. They were kind of our top 2 guys when they were here, and they sucked. But in Atlanta, Crawford joined a winner that could use his electricity off the bench, and in Memphis, I don’t know what happened. Clearly Z-Bo has matured a little bit, but I wouldn’t want to build around him in a million years.

    Also, Z-Bo is better at D than Lee? Not so sure about that. Zach was one of the laziest guys in the league at getting back.

  13. JK47

    I’m sorry but Vecsey’s Jennings-Crawford-Randolph-Lee-Lopez team looks like a pile of crap to me, an Isiah Thomas team. It would be a horrific defensive team and woefully inefficient on offense. FAIL.

  14. Owen

    “If my aunt had a mustache, she’d be my uncle.”

    That was funny.

    I read Vecsey’s column and despise his tone. But the argument that Walsh could have positioned us much better going into this offseason is correct in my view. If instead of trying to resurrect 7SOL he had gone out and drafted the best player available at the positions we needed most we would be in much better shape.

    You don’t need a time machine to imagine a world in which we had taken Lopez, Lawson (trading down perhaps), and Blair and still had draft picks for the future. I think a team with Chandler, Lawson, Lee, Lopez, Blair, draft picks, and money to spend in 2010 and 2011 would have been exactly the kind of team that Lebron would have been interested in joining.

    I give Walsh max credit for unloading Randolph and Crawford, something I never imagined he could do. But beyond that, I think i would rather have had Jon Abbey GM’ing the Knicks than Walsh.

  15. jon abbey

    “But beyond that, I think i would rather have had Jon Abbey GM’ing the Knicks than Walsh.”

    thank you! I believe I’ll be hiring Caleb as my cap guy, Owen as my sabermetric consultant, and yes, Isiah Thomas for draft day.

  16. Owen

    “thank you! I believe I’ll be hiring Caleb as my cap guy, Owen as my sabermetric consultant, and yes, Isiah Thomas for draft day.”

    Caleb sure, but if I get hired it will only be because you can’t scrap together the funds to lure Mike Kurylo away from his lucrative Knickerblogger gig…

  17. Robert Silverman Post author

    Jon – Can you make me The Grand Pooh-bah of Arcane Knicks History and General Frivolity in your new hierarchy?

  18. jon abbey

    anyone who rips Berman and mentions my boy Jackie Butler in the same piece is cool with me, you got it.

    Detroit amusingly up 20 early in Cleveland, what chance do we give them to hold on? 5 percent? less?

  19. BigBlueAL

    The Raptors announcers have been killing Harrington all game for his selfish offense.

  20. Jeff

    I’m pretty sure David Lee and Al Harrington are the worst defensive frontcourt of all time

  21. BigBlueAL

    Gallo with a little bounce in his step here in the 4th, of course Im sure now he wont touch the ball for the rest of the game.

  22. Robert Silverman Post author

    “Just good enough to lose”: The 2009-10 NY Knicks – a season in hell

    Available at all bookstores now

  23. Jeff

    Time for more hyperbole…

    I think the shitty pickup games I play in have better defensive rotations and weakside help than either team in this game.

  24. Droidz1979

    “2009-2010 NY Knicks : A feel-good losing team”

    They give you just “enough” effort to have a close game and lose in the end…plus, a win would be too much to ask for. Hopefully the script would be totally overhauled for the 2010-2011 season.

  25. tastycakes

    I don’t feel good about losing to a mediocre team missing its best player. I wish I could say their effort has been good all year. But it hasn’t. God, I hate this team. Go Knicks.

  26. Robert Silverman Post author

    Hey Coach Mike – considering that the Raptors ran the exact same play for the final 3 mins or so (A high pick and roll that left Lee isolated on the PG) and the Knicks couldn’t get a stop. Maybe, you either stop switching, put someone in to cover Jack or do SOMETHING. But no, you decided to do the same thing and hope for a different result – which is one definition of insanity

  27. Droidz1979

    in all fairness, the Raps do still have Hedo, Andrea, Jack and Calderon who are talent-wise above the current Knick roster..as the saying goes, at least it was a close game lol

  28. Owen

    Donte Greene Memorial Award goes to …”

    That was a good one, you coin it back then? We really should have a post up listing all the guys who have broken out against us….

    Another disappointing loss, good for my fantasy team though….

    Interesting to see Malik Rose doing the postgame. He sounds good….

  29. Robert Silverman Post author

    One bright spot – it was startling to see the difference in the offense when Rodriguez was pushing the tempo as opposed to McGrady walking it up.

    When they do go 7SOL, S-Rod could be a homeless man’s Steve Nash

  30. tastycakes

    Ha, I think I did start the Donte Greene running joke. It’s totally amazing to me how frequently scrubs end up having career nights against the Knicks this year. And it just keeps happening!

    In fairness to Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson was right there in the running tonight.

    Was watching on League Pass Broadband, the Toronto announcers were super psyched about Weems “breaking through” and kept expressing “how proud” they were. Watch the boxscore; Weems and Johnson’ll be back to their scrubby ways in no time!

  31. ess-dog

    The Knicks are like that friend who can’t hold their liquor. You still keep going to bars and parties with him, knowing full well the result will be ignominious. You know the weakness (alcohol) will be there and they will be powerless against it’s effect, but still you watch the same sad scene unfold.
    Sigh.

  32. ess-dog

    Btw, in my metaphor, the alcohol = the opposing team scoring freely in the paint. But I’m sure you all know that.

  33. d-mar

    So now that we’ve seen the post-trade deadline squad for a few games, who do you think we should try to keep for next season? I know some of that depends on whether we get one max FA or two, but I would say the only keepers are Lee, Gallo, Will, and Douglas. I like T-Mac and was rooting for his comeback, but he really doesn’t have much left except some basketball savvy and the occasional ability to draw fouls. Sergio impresses on occasion and can push the ball, but seems to have no ability to hit a shot, which sort of makes him Duhon on amphetamines. And Walker may be just like his namesake Kenny, all flash but not much else.

    I can’t wait for Al Harrington to be wearing a uniform other than ours.

  34. jon abbey

    “I would say the only keepers are Lee, Gallo, Will, and Douglas”

    I think there’s a real question about whether Lee is the big man you want to build around at this point, just because of the defense and lack thereof. yes, Bosh and Amare are also both bad on D, but I can’t believe they’re this bad (I don’t watch them nearly as much, obviously).

    I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, but Amare has been on fire lately, huge dominating games against both the Spurs and Jazz, abusing Duncan/Boozer/Millsap etc., and I wonder if LeBron/Amare/Johnson might be the way to go (obviously if possible). this would give D’Antoni a chance to change his whole legacy, reuniting 2 of the 4 best players on his best team (no Nash/Marion) in a situation they could actually win in this time (although fuck David Stern again for that Amare suspension costing Phoenix a title).

    am I fired now, Owen? :)

  35. Droidz1979

    @Jon, agree with you on Lee.. he is not worth it if we’d have the chance to bag Bosh or Amare. Plus, S. Rod’s effort to push the tempo would be put to waste if guys wouldn’t be willing to run along with him. Guess Duhon was such a bad influence to guys like Gallo and Chandler that they are not used to it. Really, can’t wait for the next season to start and see what the final roster for this Knicks team will be. I’d rather we keep Chandler, Gallo and Sergio (if we don’t get to upgrade this position/use him as a decent back-up).

  36. Owen

    Fired? I can’t fire you. You are the boss, your fate is in the hands of Hahn and Berman alone…

    Amare and JJ are exactly the same player. Guys you should never give max contracts to if you want to win a title.

  37. Roadking

    Does anyone have a feel for Gallo’s/Chandler marketability right now? Is there any possibility of sending Gallo/Cahndler away with Curry? Would you do the deal to get rid of Curry and add even more space or wait with the expiring contract until the next year’s excellent FA’s?

  38. Thomas B.

    @15
    Well then I guess I’ll go work for the Nets since there’s no room for Thomas B. in the Abbey world order.

    Nice to see some regular posts by TDM. Not the same here without you buddy.

  39. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    No one’s going to take Curry’s contract without a top 3 pick or multiple first rounders, neither of which the Knicks will have for the next ten year or so.

  40. jon abbey

    “Amare and JJ are exactly the same player. Guys you should never give max contracts to if you want to win a title.”

    they’d also be easily the best two players LeBron has played with. I’m one of the biggest Varejao fans around, but no way he’s nearly as successful without LeBron on his team.

  41. Frank O.

    Robert:
    Your initial post made me laugh.
    Thanks.

    I have found it impossible to watch the Knicks. The level of stupid simply is frustrating.

    I’m also find the mutual admiration you all have charming, as a long time observer and sporatic poster…

  42. ess-dog

    Hey, I’m curious if any regulars made it to the MIT sports analytics conference today… if so, please write in when you can with comments!

  43. DS

    Berman is THE WORST:

    Lee says: “I’m doing my best down there at 6-9 to contest shots,” Lee said. “I’m going to try to do better, control the paint better. A lot of times I’m playing a guy 5 inches bigger than I am and 50 pounds heavier. It’s something I can definitely get better at. We have 21 games left and I’ll be at the ‘five’ and see what happens. I’m doing all I can do.”

    Berman concludes: [Headline] Knicks’ David Lee is getting frustrated.

  44. Owen

    DS – Very good quote. Lee at center was always an alchemist’s dream. He knows it, I guess D’Antoni is realizing it too by now…

    For MIT coverage go to True Hoop…

  45. Owen

    DS – Very good quote. Lee at center was always an alchemist’s dream. He knows it, I guess D’Antoni is realizing it too by now…

    For MIT coverage go to True Hoop…

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