Report: Allan Houston to be next Knicks GM?

Jared Zwerling, one of Bleacher Report’s newest NBA writers, reported yesterday that the Knicks’ shocking decision to relieve Glenn Grunwald of his role earlier this week is, potentially, good news for former Knick and current assistant general manager Allan Houston.

According to Zwerling and his sources, the Knicks are likely grooming Houston to eventually take over for new GM Steve Mills in a couple of years.

This wouldn’t be a tremendous shock, considering Houston is the current Assistant GM, though that doesn’t make the abrupt Grunwald firing any less bizarre.

One of the sources Zwerling cites in the piece had this to say about Houston’s relationship with Knicks owner James Dolan.

“Dolan has always taken care of his former players, especially stars, which Allan was. I guarantee you he’s close to Allan just like Isiah Thomas and other former Knicks,”- Source #2.

We’ll probably never find out the real motivation behind the abrupt Grunwald dismissal by Dolan, but this might be the closest answer we get. Dolan is an odd guy, but he’s a guy who knows what he wants, and won’t hesitate to drastically change the course of the franchise to get it. If Zwerling’s source is accurate, and Houston’s relationship with Dolan is starting to mirror the one Isiah had(s), all the chaos this week will at least have some sort of rhyme or reason to it. On the surface, at least.

Houston has worked his way up the ladder under two very different GM’s with two very different philosophies in Grunwald and Donnie Walsh. He’s regarded highly by numerous players and executives, so perhaps Dolan zoning in on Houston being his guy to guide the franchise going forward won’t meet the same fate as the Isiah years.

Additionally, it might well be the case that Dolan — who nearly whiffed completely on the 2010 free agent class — wants to give Houston the position as the Knicks once again try and lure new stars to the Big Apple in 2015.

Lots of questions still remain, obviously, but the dust is certainly starting to settle. Maybe everything will be okay. Oh wait, it’s the Knicks, which means: PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Can Delonte West or Beno Udrih fill the void left by Jason Kidd?

The Knicks’ front office has been active this summer making a number of moves to try and keep the team in some semblance of contention. They’ve thus far traded for Andrea Bargnani, re-signed JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, and Pablo Prigioni, and brought aboard the recently-amnestied — and forever volatile — Metta World Peace.

Yet, glancing at the current depth chart — even with the all the offseason additions — the Knicks clearly have a number of roster issues that need to be addressed.

Mike Woodson might be bringing back a lot familiar faces from last year’s squad, but the absence of Jason Kidd as the team’s steady backup point guard remains arguably the biggest void. Kidd — whose production plummeted in the playoffs, where he tallied a robust 0.9 ppg — retired, landing another NBA gig somewhere else. Can’t remember where. But even given Kidd’s infamous playoff woes, it’s easy to forget how important he was to the Knicks’ early season success, when the team sprinted out of the gate to the tune of a 21-8 tear.

Despite his age, Kidd was a guy the Knicks leaned on pretty heavily during the regular season, where he played major minutes (at least 30 minutes per game in 36 outings, per NBA.com) and contributed both inside and outside the box score.

Kidd’s scoring production (a mere six points per game) is very much replaceable, but perhaps the biggest post-Kidd challenge facing Woodson will be finding a new combo guard(s) to fill the minutes Kidd’s departure leaves open.

Of all the 5-man units Woodson used last season that tallied at least 30 minutes together, the most successful unit consisted of Felton, Kidd, Smith, Melo, and Chandler — a quintet that played a team-high 269.9 minutes, per 82games.com. What separated this unit from the rest was their incredibly efficient  +137 when they were on the court together — an impressive number, to be sure.

So who fills the void? The Knicks are reportedly interested in the services of combo-guards Delonte West and Beno Udrih. Udrih is most definitely the better — and pricier — option to fill the combo-slot alongside with Prigioni, for a couple of reasons.

First, Udrih is a much better passer than West. Over the course of his 9-year NBA career, Udrih went from averaging roughly four assists per 36 minutes to close to seven per 36 last season.

West is the better shooter, but he also shoots more then Udrih. A lot more. Which poses its own potential problem: bringing in a player like West to a backcourt that features JR Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni begs a simple question of available shots. The Knicks have plenty of scoring options already in place, so focusing on adding another combo guard who’s primary instincts are to shoot — and not create for others — is probably not the way to go.

We also have a pretty good idea of what Udrih is going to bring to the table if he’s brought aboard instead of West; the former played major minutes for the Orlando Magic down the stretch last season, while the latter didn’t suit up for a single NBA game.

While Udrih is probably worth more then what the Knicks will be able to pay him (the veteran’s minimum) he is on the north side of 30, where he may be willing to accept a little less to play for a playoff team.

With a recent knee surgery expected to sideline J.R. Smith for the start of the 2013-14 season, the Knicks find themselves in a situation not unlike the beginning of last year, when it was Iman Shumpert whom the Knicks were waiting to return from his own, decidedly more serious injury.

Whether they end up with Udrih, West, or someone else entirely, New York’s newest signee will likely be counted on for some major minutes — and production — to start the season.

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.

 

Pelicans 77, Knicks 72: Knicks fall in Summer League opener

In what was a really close game throughout the day, the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the New York Knicks in their Las Vegas Summer League opener yesterday afternoon, thanks in part to a huge afternoon from Austin Rivers.

Rivers, who had a rookie year he’d like to forget, elevated the Pelicans with twenty-four points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists.

Iman Shumpert, playing for the Knicks Summer League squad, got a pretty good amount of burn, which is hardly surprising: with the Knicks point guard depth lacking a bit going into the 2013-14 season, the plan seems to be to let Shumpert handle a few minutes a night running the point.

There’s just one problem: Shumpert is not capable of running point in the NBA. Today’s game was just another example: he missed all of his shots, didn’t attack the rim, and turned the ball over a bunch of times. He did manage to contribute on the glass — something he’s excelled at so far in the league.

Along with Shumpert, the Knicks rolld out Jeremy Tyler, C.J. Leslie and Tim Hardaway Jr. for hefty minutes today. Tyler looked the most comfortable with team, adding eleven rebounds, ten points, five fouls, was consistently active, and definitely came across looking like a player the Knicks could use in a thin front court this season.

Hardaway Jr. got the most minutes today, and what we saw was pretty much expected — high volume shooting, finishing with a rough 4-12 FGA/FGM for the day, including 1-6 from deep.

It might be a day Hardaway would like to forget, but that’s why they call it Summer League.

C.J. Leslie stuck, for the most part, with what seemed like the Knicks program for the day: not making many shots. Leslie went 2-9 from the field, and never really looked comfortable. Part of this might have to do with Leslie’s unique situation; unlike Hardaway Jr., Leslie has no idea if he fits in the Knicks somewhat long-term plans. Leslie is one of those guys who is going to get a lot of minutes this summer, but has to play a lot better then he did today if he wants to make the 15-man roster.

Two guys that most are probably not familiar with that had good games today were Toure Murry and Eloy Vargas. Murry was the only Knick to shoot the ball well, going 4-6 from the field and notching eleven points in just twelve minutes of play.

Vargas, along with Tyler, had a nice day inside — not so much on the defensive or rebounding side of things, but he did add nine points on 4-5 shooting.

Murry and Vargas came off as the two guys who should probably get a bigger role in the next couple of games, to see what they can do in 30+ minutes of action.

The Knicks next game is Sunday afternoon against the Washington Wizards at 4:00 EST.