King Of The Wild Frontier

I love getting email!

—–Original Message—–
From: David Crockett
Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2004 11:35 AM
To: KnickerBlogger@kurylo.com
Subject: frank williams and other knicks thoughts

hey,

i just came across your blog for the first time this past week. i wanted to comment on something you wrote at the end of the nets series regarding frank. i’ve been a big fan since his college days.

you mentioned the likelihood that he’d be moved this off-season. here’s two reasons that would be laydenesque*:

1. basketball reasons – i think we have every reason to suspect that williams will develop into a solid-to-very-good third guard, an aaron mckie type player. right now frank is by far the team’s best perimeter defender (sadly, followed by penny hardaway). if the team moves frank it *must* get a big, defensive guard in return.

2. financial reasons – who is new york going to get that brings frank’s particular skill set at his salary? the knicks probably wouldn’t need to break the bank to re-sign him either. i hope isiah doesn’t continue the recent history of taking on big contracts (e.g., eisley, anderson, witherspoon, norris, et al) to fill roles that should be filled by younger less expensive players.

[*note: to my readers that aren’t Knick fans or are from Utah, Laydenesque is not a compliment.]

I agree with you that Williams is the Knicks best perimeter defender, and should turn into a solid player. The problem is the Knicks have a PG that was 7th in minutes per game. Marbury is Isaiah’s prime acquisition as the Knicks GM, so I doubt that he’d move him so quickly (unless McGrady or Kobe were involved). According to 82games.com, Williams spent more time at shooting guard, than at the point. Next year, if Allan Houston is healthy, those minutes are pretty much gone.

So the Knicks have two options. They can keep Williams as their backup PG & third SG (or fourth if the entity known as Shanderson is still around), and he’d get somewhere in the vicinty of 10-15 minutes per game. He makes a small salary, but the Knicks are nowhere near being under the cap. In this scenario, Williams has little value to New York.

On the other hand, he might be exactly what another team desires, especially one that is actually trying to stay under the cap. Williams can be a good starting PG. He doesn’t shoot well, but he’s got great vision and a nice passing touch. On the other side of the ball he is a tough defender (remember the playoffs against NJ?). All that has to be appealing to some GM out there, especially for only about $6M over the next 3 years. If his value to another team is greater than his value to the Knicks, then a trade is in order. If the Knicks can use him as a “throw-in” to upgrade at another position I’m all for the move. We can do a 2-1 and package Frank with Nazr, Kurt or Tim to improve in that area. Another idea would be to trade him for a good defensive big man (less than 59 years of age). A good defensive big man would get more playing time for the Knicks than Williams.

I don’t want to see Williams traded. In fact he’s one of my favorite players to watch, despite his low eFG% (my pet stat). It might have been questionable to trade for Marbury when Williams was starting to develop as the Knicks starting PG. However that deal is already done, and unless the Knicks lose Marbury, Houston, or Hardaway, I don’t see much that Frank can do in blue & orange. Nothing would make me happier to see him develop into a solid pro, but with the current roster he just won’t get many minutes in New York, which makes him prime trade bait.

Gloat Across the Moat

One of the things that really pumped me up about watching last night’s game was a post by a fellow blogger. Joe Netsfan wrote a lovely piece “eulogizing” the Knicks after the Nets won only the first game. In his column, he proceeded to insult:

the Knicks coach,
“The Knicks…are coached by a legendary-but-long-past-his-coaching-prime man named Lenny from Brooklyn. He’s forgotten more than Lawrence Frank’s enormous brain has had a chance to learn, but that’s the whole problem. He can’t seem to remember it…”

their injured players,
“Tim Thomas’ injury on a hard-but-legal foul is unfortunate, but all that does is make the Knicks that much more weakened. As if the Nets needed any help from the Knicks in that department…Hell, unleash Allan Houston. He’s more precious than fine china, and couldn’t stand the bump-and-grind he’s likely to face.”

their heart,
“Of course, now the softer-than-DQ Knicks are saying all the right things, about how it’s only one game and they’re going to guarantee no more easy looks near the hoop. So, now they’re talking tough? That’s what makes the Knicks softer still – they can’t even find the right notes to play, ones that would actually convince us that they can back it up.”

their GM,
“What I’m telling you is this – the Knicks will have the life choked from their Isiah Thomas-built Frankenstein-esque roster no matter what the Knicks show up with.”

and their fans,
“Go softly into the night, Nicky Knicksfan. Do not cry because you’ve been beaten by the better team.”

Ouch!

I’m glad Joe has decided to reach out to us Knick fans with his liver. As Jason Kidd learned in game one, it’s easy to taunt someone lying on the floor while you’re standing over them. I’d thought that Joe Netsfan wouldn’t try to allientate Knick fans, since we give them our money when we show up in droves to help them fill their largely empty arena.

I’ll fully admit that the Nets are the better team this year, but isn’t it a little too early to gloat? I hope his article made him some extra friends out in the swamps. After that column, Joe won’t have any New Yorker’s shoulders to cry on when the Nets lose to the Pistons, are unable to sign a free agent (thanks Alonzo & Dikembe), and move the franchise to our city.

Knicks – Nets Game 2

I’m pumped up for tomorrow’s game. The Knicks were underdogs in this series, but they were the trendy pick for a first round upset. The argument goes that the midseason changes made the Knicks better than their sub .500 record indicates. In addition there is doubt that the Nets aren’t that strong of a team, with most prognosticators having Indy and Detroit fighting to represent the East in the Finals.

Let’s not forget the geographical vicinity of the two teams. Walk north from MSG about 8 blocks to the port authority bus terminal & you’re only 15 minutes away from the Nets’ home court. It must irk the Nets’ players that when they face the Knicks in East Rutherford, there is plenty of orange and blue in the house.

If the first game was a boxing match, the Knicks would have hit the canvas twice, but gotten up with a bloddy nose. In fact at times it did resemble the squared circle, with Frank Williams and Tim Thomas taking hard shots. Thomas got the worst of it all, and probably won’t play Game 2. Williams was the only one to fight back with a shove that cost his team a possession, but saved some face with the Knick fans that reminisce over guys like Oakley, Sprewell and the X-man.

The Knicks always seemed to play their best wounded and trapped in a corner. They don’t always win, but the effort seems to be there. These are the kind of games I like to watch, when you don’t know what will happen next. The allure of team sports is the possibility that anything could happen on any given night. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kurt Thomas took out his team’s frustration on one of the Nets tomorrow. I wouldn’t blink an eye if Tim Thomas or Allan Houston decided to step on the court and give it a try. The game is as likely to go clean without a hitch.

There are so many possibilities on who might step it up tomorrow for the Knicks. Penny Hardaway is running the point. DerMarr Johnson will see more playing time, due to injuries. Sweetney and Deke will likely see more time. Maybe Kurt Thomas has let that 1-10 game simmer, and has something to prove against K-Mart.

Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to it. I’m fully prepared for what will happen, be it another let down, a nail biter, or a boastful victory. For now I’ll let the anticipation keep me happy until game time.

Little Man In My Head

There’s a little man in my head
And he must have lived in someone else’s head before
‘Cause I was born in ’63
And he’s only been there since ’74

— “Little Man In My Head”
Dead Milkmen

Every once in a while, the part of my brain that thinks he’s a 94 year old grumpy man creeps out and spills it’s liver about basketball and just about anything else that can keep it awake for more than 10 minutes at a time. Today, this is what he shared with me.


ESPN has put up their experts’ picks on their web page. Not a single columnist has picked the East to win it all. I can understand the East being an underdog, but not one of their 12 experts is willing to go out on a limb on this one? Chad Ford has Gary Payton as the Finals MVP. Is the East that inferior that the 4th best player on a West team has a better chance to win the Finals MVP than any East team has of winning it all?

Marc Stein not only has the Mavs over the Kings, but apparently over the Twolves as well (since they he has them losing to the Spurs in the conference finals). Now that takes guts. I wonder how many other teams in the history of the NBA with a defense ranked in the bottom 5 have won not just one, but two series in the playoffs as underdogs. I mean an educated professional sports columnist like Marc Stein does know that the Mavs defense is that bad?

Bill Walton has the Lakers going all the way and Shaq as the Finals MVP. Just in case you were worried that he would be rooting for anyone else during his telecasts.

Moochie Norris has been left off the Knicks’ roster to make room for Allan Houston. Houston only has a 20% chance of playing this series. That seems about right, since Morris makes 20% of Houston’s salary.

Obviously the NBA moved the Knicks/Nets game to 4:30, because of the Yankees/Red Sox 1:20 game. I wonder if any game during the first month of the NBA regular season will ever mean enough to reschedule another league’s playoff game? Maybe an MLS game? Probably after that Freddy guy retires.

Or maybe they can just get rid of the regular season altogether and expand the playoffs some more. Sure an 81 game series may not be as exciting, but imagine all that extra playoff revenue!


Whew I think I got that all out of my system. On a positive note, you have to read this article. It’s just about the greatest article I’ve read concerning blaming a single player in a team sport. READ IT! Someone needs to give this guy some kind of prize.

Nets 108 Knicks 83

“If the Nets are injured and not playing well, whoever faces them is definitely going to have a good chance of beating them… But they’re going to play hard. They’re defending Eastern Conference champs for the last two years. So they’re not just going to give up.”

Penny Hardaway was right with one part of his quote. The Nets played hard last night and didn’t just give up, trouncing the Knicks 108-83. For the most part the Nets dominated the entire game. The closest the Knicks got after the beginning was a 6 point deficit in the third. It was the type of game where points came fast and furious in spurts. As soon as the Knicks were that close, they were back down by 13 only a few moments later.

New Jersey exposed New York’s weakness, interior defense. I tried to keep a play-by-play account using Dean Oliver’s method from his book, Basketball on Paper. I got through a little more than a page, before deciding to give it a rest. The Nets first play of the game was to post up Rodney Rogers. The play didn’t net any points, but I’m sure that was coach Frank’s game plan. According to my score sheet, they went into the post 4 times in the first 6 minutes.

Not that you needed a score sheet to know that. You probably wouldn’t have to watch the whole game, since I’m sure the dunk Jefferson had with 6:00 gone in the first quarter on Kurt Thomas will be shown coast to coast. That dunk gave the Nets a 18-9 lead, and forced Lenny Wilkens to call a time out.

Right after the timeout, my score sheet shows Tim Thomas missing a shot near the foul line. What would happen next would prompt me to drop my pen and forgo keeping track of the game. Jefferson got the ball to Collins in the post. The Nets center missed the easy shot, but quickly got his rebound. He did this two more times, until the Knicks were able to get the ball away from him. He didn’t end up with any points on the scoreboard, but he had made another point: the Nets owned the paint. I dropped my pen part in anger because Collins was able to get his missed shots back so easily & part because it happened so fast it was hard to keep up with.

The Knicks’ aren’t going to be able to compete if they don’t protect the basket. If Dekembe Mutombo were healthy, I’m sure he would have seen action early in this one. None of the Knick’s other big men are great defenders, not Nazr, not Baker, not Sweetney, not Harrington, and not Thomas. Kurt Thomas is a good man-to-man defender, but as Jefferson found out tonight, he’s not a great help-defender. The Knicks will have to address this flaw in the offseason.


If you’re the optimistic type, you’ll be happy to know there was plenty of garbage time. Coach Wilkens gave playing time to Sweetney, DerMarr Johnson, and even Frank Williams. Frank Williams is back on the active roster because Allan Houston went on the IL. Unfortunately non of the Knicks’ young players did anything special. Hopefully we’ll see more of Williams, and I’m not hoping for more garbage time either. He can’t be any worse than Moochie Norris.

Catch Me If I Fall

20,000 miles to an oasis
20,000 years will i burn
20,000 chances i wasted
Waiting for the moment to turn

— “Texarkana”
R.E.M.

I don’t think I can say anything about last night’s loss that won’t be said in any of the New York newspapers. I’ll keep it short and say they had plenty of chances to win, and the game should not have gone into overtime. Kenny Thomas hit a lucky three point shot to tie the game. If the fact that it banked in hard off the glass doesn’t convince you, then consider his three point stats.

Year	Team	G	Min 	3PM	3PA	3P%	PPG
 1999	HOU	72	25.0 	0.4	1.7	26.2	8.3
 2000	HOU	74	24.6 	0.3	1.2	27.2	7.1
 2001	HOU	72	34.5 	0	0.2	0	14.1
 2002	HOU	20	29.3 	0	0	0	9.8
 2002	PHI	46	30.3 	0	0	0	10.2
 2003	PHI	57	35.0 	0	0.1	0	12.3
 Career		341	29.5 	0.2	0.7	24.4	10.3

That’s right, he’s a career 24% shooter from beyond the arc, and hasn’t attempted more than 0.2/G in more than 4 years. Obviously someone figured out he wasn’t effective from that far & made him stop shooting treys a few years ago.

Watching the game (at least the first 47:59.6 minutes of it) I kept thinking about two things. I was alternately saying to myself “Wow they look pretty deep” and “Calm down, they look good because they are playing Philly without their two best players.”

The Knicks are a deeper team now than they were in the beginning of the year. Back in October, the only depth we had was PF (McDyess, Thomas, Harrington, Spoon, Lampe, Van Horn and Sweetney). You could argue that we had 3 PGs, but I think you’re giving Eisley too much credit. We’re certainly deeper at the bigger spots. Nazr Mohammed and Vin Baker are our centers, and don’t forget Dekembe Mutombo. Kurt Thomas also can play the 5, as had Sweetney versus albeit a very small Celtics lineup. At PF we have Thomas, Sweetney, and now little used Othella Harrington. Vin Baker can play there as well, as can Tim Thomas for small stretches.

Small forward is adequately covered with Thomas, Hardaway, and Anderson. Even if Marbury didn’t play the mega-minutes that he routinely does, we would be deep at PG with backups Frank Williams, Mochie Norris, and Penny Hardaway. With Allan Houston back, shooting guard is covered along with Anderson and DeMarr Johnson.

Isaiah Thomas has done a commendable job putting together a team, as opposed to the collection of players he inherited. The Knicks still have their weaknesses, but at least Lenny Wilkens has options on who to play instead of trying to figure out how he’s going to fit 7 power forwards in the game.

International Relations

In the spirit of international friendship between our two nations and because our two favorite teams will be facing each other Friday night, Scott from RaptorBlog.com and I will be swapping blogs for a day. You can catch my blog on the “new” Knicks there.


Cuz this life is too short
To live it just for you
But when you feel so powerless
What are you gonna do?
So say what you want

— “Powerless”
Nelly Furtado

Since I’m guest blogging for Mike, I figured I’d drop some Canadian content on y’all with the opening lyrics. Also, they’re an apt summary of my current state as a Raptors fan. Toronto’s recent injuries and pathetic performance have me feeling powerless and all I can do is bitch about it.

Knicks fans have undoubtedly been watching the Raptors’ recent struggles with great interest due to the effect they have on your playoff position. Toronto has lost 10 of their last 11 games with six of those losses occurring while Vince Carter and Jalen Rose were sidelined. Jalen is on the IL recovering from his broken hand but Vince is back in uniform. Even though he’s still suffering from his ankle injury from two weeks ago, he’s still the key to any hopes we have of making the post-season.

In his current condition, Carter does not have the explosiveness to beat your defenders off the dribble nor does he have the mobility to defend your quick guards. It won’t surprise me if Allan Houston gets the open looks he needs on Friday to rediscover his shooting stroke. Raptors’ coach Kevin O’Neill’s best bet would be to put Morris Peterson on H20, since Mo Pete is our best perimeter defender right now.

Down low, Chris Bosh will probably be unable to stop Nazr Mohammed and Kurt Thomas from dunking and rebounding at will. Bosh is woefully undersized at center and his bum ankle negates any athletic advantage he might have. I’m not particularly hopeful for a repeat performance of his 18-point, eight-rebound, four-block performance against your team in January. In his current emaciated, crippled condition, he’s as well-suited to play center as Al Sharpton is to become your next president.

At this point, you’re probably wondering if the Raptors have any hope whatsoever of preventing an old-fashioned New York beatdown at the Air Canada Centre. If Toronto has a secret weapon, it’s Donyell Marshall. Jalen Rose was the biggest name in November’s trade with Chicago, but Marshall has proven to be the true stud in this deal. He’s averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds as a Raptor while shooting 42 percent from three-point range. Donyell is our “stealth bomber”. Several times a game, Vince will drive and draw a double-team before dishing out to Marshall for a wide-open trey. The Thomas boys would be wise to stick to Donyell like glue rather than worry about Carter taking it to the hole. These days, his drives are mostly decoys.

I’m not even going to bother discussing Friday’s point guard matchup. Marbury vs. Palacio is more lopsided than a dance-off between Usher and William Hung. On Wednesday night, Starbury outscored Milt 36-0. I just threw up in my mouth while writing that last sentence.

Once your current group gets used to playing with each other, I think the Knicks could really make some noise in the post-season. Unfortunately, I can’t bring myself to root for your team even after the Raptors are inevitably stomped in the first round like a narc at a biker rally. I could never support a team run by a cold-hearted snake like Isiah Thomas. Oh, you’re cheering him now. But one day, you’ll see what a complete bastard, what a psychotic megalomaniac he is. And when that day comes, I’ll laugh and have a sandwich. Isiah has failed at everything he’s done since he retired from his playing career. It will be particularly sweet to see him crucified once and for all by the ruthless vipers in the New York media. Peter Vescey is sharpening his knives as I write this, waiting for the right moment to strike the killing blow…

Whoa, sorry about that. I got a little carried away with my Zeke-hate there. Anyway, good luck on Friday. But don’t count on seeing too many “Welcome back, Lenny” signs in the stands. The only reason we’re glad to see him again is that he’s coaching our opponents this time.

Email Scott

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