Saturday, January 28, 2006

Free Channing Frye

Mr. East editorial

This is a new regular feature that I've decided to write. It's not so much a plea to play a favorite player, but rather a plea to make sense out of the future of my favorite team....The Knicks. Mr. West has given light to the Larry Brown equation in this analysis, so check that out too.

There's no secret that my favorite player is Charles Oakley. The era of Knicks basketball that he helped to define was enjoyable to watch, despite the roughness of the battle. The results were unquestionably successful and you knew exactly what the franchise was trying to do. Hustle. Defend. Rebound. Win.

The sorry state of affairs at the Garden since the end of the Ewing era continues and seemingly becomes more clouded in controversy and rudderless on court play as well. The problems that face this franchise are so daunting and embarrassing that I would strongly call for the elimination of the team from the NBA if it were in a city like Kansas City or Oklahoma City. However, it's not. It one of two remaining cornerstone franchises of the league (the Celtics are the other) and sits in the world's most famous city in the "world's most famous arena".

Let's look at a couple of the hideous problems plaguing the team and talk about them, shall we?

1. The Salary Cap
How did it ever come to this? I remember the days of Al Bianchi in the front office, when we used our first round picks on guys like Jerrod Mustaf (see: right). That sucked. I remember Ernie Grunfeld investing in Chris Childs to run the point. That also sucked. How about the brilliant Layden era, when we brought in Howard Eisley and Willie Anderson's little brother as important cogs to the team.

As the Ewing days came to a close, I begged the invisible Knicks' management living in my apartment (or rather my head) to call it a day. I begged them to get the cap under control, let the team suck for a few years, and build something from scratch. Yeah, the Garden would have been dark during the NBA playoffs, but...well....what does it look like now?

We are so far over the cap that it will take a decade of smart management to get it under control. Only it doesn't look like that's in anyone's plans now, and we continue to spiral out of control with a worse and worse product on the court each year. Let the contracts that will expire, expire guys and take my advice for once.

2. Isiah Thomas
I wasn't against Isiah at first. I thought he made some smart moves as President of the Raptors back in the day. He could draft well, and he did point guard a Detroit team to two championships. Then again, he sucked as the coach of the Pacers....

Now it is apparent that he has no plan. It is clear that he can draft well, but that he has zero people skills, less business sense, and a poor eye for existing talent. Fire him now before it gets worse....

3. Larry Brown
Very smart coach. Good track record of success. New Yorker. Now for the rest of his personality traits....stubborn old man, greedy bastard, disloyal asshole. This is the guy that you've selected to run your asylum of mediocre talent and mentally weak salary thieves.

How the fuck does this guy continue to be the darling of New York when he loses to the Sixers, minus Iverson, by 15 points, while starting Qyntel Woods and Maurice Taylor over Trevor Ariza and Channing Frye. Ariza didn't play a single minute, Frye played 16, and Jamal Crawford played 18. On top of that Jackie Butler and Malik Rose played 15 minutes each while David Lee didn't play and Quentin Richardson played 19.

Attention Larry Brown: You aren't coaching the Pistons anymore. You can't expect this roster to be the Pistons. They are the crappy Knicks, and your best players are Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford, David Lee, Channing Frye, and Eddy Curry. Ariza, Robinson, and Richardson are next. Mo Taylor, Malik Rose, Antonio Davis, and Jackie Butler should never see more than 10 minutes in a game and more than two of those guys should never see minutes in the same game.

The young guys need to grow, and learn to play as a unit. They are the future. The future could be bright. The "now" is hideous and you are making it worse. FREE CHANNING FRYE!!!

4. Stephon Marbury
This guy has actually kept his mouth fairly quiet and has adopted some of the things that Brown wants him to do. He gets 40+ minutes night in and night out and rightly so. That having been said, I fear that Isiah has fueled the worst case scenario with Marbury by giving him as much clout in the organization as he has. The lockerroom is Steph's but he can't handle being a leader. He's a selfish guy with a big head who can ball like crazy. He surrounded by family and friends (in the organization!) who reinforce his distorted self-image and I fear that we are stuck with something unmanagable. We should let his contract play out and then let him go.

So much for post#1 in my regular Knick editorials. The main idea you should take away from this editorial is...PLAY THE YOUNG GUYS! Screw the here and now, and plan for the future. In the next edition, I will spell out the steps that I think will save the franchise from itself.

Mr. East

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mid-term Coaching Grades - EAST

Atlanta: Mike Woodson (D+)
The Hawks have the worst record in the league. The only thing that keeps Woodson from an F is his roster of duplicated positions.

Boston: Doc Rivers (C-)
I like Doc. One of my favorite Knicks. He’d make a better GM than coach.

Charlotte: Bernie Bickerstaff (C)
Second worst record in the league, but lowest payroll. Bickerstaff isn’t a top coach but he’s got his young guys competing.

Chicago: Scott Skiles (F)
Dumbest rotation in the NBA. Stick with a few guys and let them play Scooter.

Cleveland: Mike Brown (B+)
With LeBron you should win the division, unless Detroit is ahead of you. So-so talent, but good results so far for the 1st year coach.

Detroit: Flip Saunders (A+)
Credit to Larry Brown for toughening this group up, but more credit to Flip for keeping them loose enough to take it to the next level. Coach of the Year.

Indiana: Rick Carlisle (A)
He’s another coach in the control freak mold, but I actually like him. He keeps his team at the top even with distractions (Artest) and injuries (Tinsley/O’Neal).

Miami: Pat Riley (B)
Pat hasn’t been around long enough to fairly grade him as a coach, but he’s put to rest the talk about playing time and ball-sharing. Reputation alone gets him a B.

Milwaukee: Terry Stotts (B)
The season is still young and this roster of mediocre talent may just yet collapse, but in fairness to Stotts, he’s coached his team to a playoff position so far.

New Jersey: Lawrence Frank (B+)
If you’d asked me two weeks ago, I’d have given him a C-, but the recent win streak has the Nets on top and patience has seemed to pay off. (and a healthier Kidd).

New York: Larry Brown (C-)
In my pre-season prediction for this team, I said that the best runs would be with the younger guys playing. It’s taken LB too long to figure that out. Free Channing Frye!

Orlando: Brian Hill (D+)
I don’t know why Orlando wanted a second go around with this career sub-.500 coach, but they’re getting what they paid for. No Hill, and a shit Steve Francis hurts him.

Philadelphia: Mo Cheeks (C)
Poor Mo. He’s inherited a tough coaching job. Allen Iverson is as good as it gets, but he dominates his team so much. With Webber available most of the year, they should be over .500. Sorry Mo.

Toronto: Sam Mitchell (F)
Losing to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the pre-season and allowing Kobe 81 points should qualify him for an F- or a G, but he is coaching the worst franchise outside Atlanta after all.

Washington: Eddie Jordan (B-)
Everyone says he’s on the hot seat, but this roster just isn’t that good. Outside Arenas, and Jamison on some nights, this team sucks. Name one other guy you’d want playing minutes on your team.

Mid-term Coaching Grades - WEST

Dallas Mavericks, Avery Johnson: A
The Mavs are playing great ball, right on the heels of the Spurs with a
record of 29-10. That means they are one game out of home court
advantage for the playoffs. And that is huge for Dallas. Lil' Man
Avery has them playing tougher and leaner. Dirk is now in "not to be
fucked with" territory. Also, they have the best road record in the NBA
next to the Pistons.

Denver Nuggets, George Karl: C+
Karl is a real Jekyl & Hyde. One minute he seems smart, the next minute
he seems like a moron. Last season he was a "genius" but this season he
has been, well, bearable. The Nuggets played above their heads last
season and are underperforming this season. Karl has not figured out
how to combat the injuries properly nor has he addressed the shooting
guard dilemma firmly. But he's doing alright. The shitty division
helps him, too.

Golden State Warriors, Mike Montgomery: C
The Warriors were the "hot" pre-season pick for some but no coach is
going to change the essence of that squad easily. Still, Montgomery has
been unable to get wins from a squad with good talent. In his defense,
I do not think Baron Davis or Jason Richardson are "winners" at all, and
changing their styles is impossible. But he needs to play better role
players and instill a sense of urgency. Fast.

Houston Rockets, Jeff Van Gundy: F
Admit it, he sucks as a coach right now. His style and stringent
approach to the game is not right for the Rockets or really the NBA
anymore. Yes, injuries have not helped but with Yao and McGrady, this
team still underperformed. Basketball is not football-- every play
should not be controlled by the coach. 3-13 at home? Shit, my 7th
grade hoop coach could get more wins. A lousy, lousy job.

LA Clippers, Mike Dunleavy: B+
The Clippers have been doing it. The rotation has been solid, the
players have been balling in roles that work for them, and the Clips
have the wins to show for it. The Maggette situation (always injured,
not a team player) is still there, as is the Livingston experiment (he
does not help the team when on the floor but he has to learn sometime)
but Dunleavy has kept it all together.

LA Lakers, Phil Jackson: B
Maybe Kobe should be listed as the coach because Phil cannot do much
except watch Kobe go off each night. Phil is not the master anymore
because, surprise, Jordan or Shaq is not on his team. But he lets his
team play and does not get too involved, which is wise with Kobe & Co.
Say this, I would not want to face the Lakers in the playoffs. So give
Jackson some credit.

Memphis Grizzlies, Mike Fratello: A-
The Grizz are winning: one the road, in tight games and with injuries.
Fratello, with his bizarre dyed hair that is strikingly gay, has been
the coach to finally let Pau be the man. If he just developed a
functioning center to deal with Western big men, he would be an A+.

Minnesota Timberwolves, Dwane Casey: C
Does anyone even know anything about this guy? He is so under the radar
he must be a genius! Look, the T-Wolves have Garnett and garbage. So
playing .500 ball in the Western Conference is not so bad, is it? But
Casey has handled the center position horribly and is faced with the
problem that Jaric and Hudson, now both playing OK, are at the same

Oklahoma City Hornets, Byron Scott: A-
Wow. I'm not sure how Scott went from being voted as the worst NBA
coach 2 years ago by NBA players to getting this wreck of a team to
.500, in the Western Conference no less. So give them man his due. He
has played Chris Paul to be the man and basically scrapped his way with
NBA journeymen who can ball when given the chance.

Phoenix Suns, Mike D'Antoni: A
Uh, yeah, the guy can coach. The anti-Van Gundy: his team scores, moves
the ball, and wins. With supposedly limited talent. How many other
teams could turn Boris Diaw and Eddie House into studs? It is a joy to
watch his team play basketball.

Portland Trail Blazers, Nate McMillan: C-
Poor Nate, I hope Paul Allen's money was worth it. Sure, Portland is a
hodepodge of talent but some key pieces are there to form an OK club
(see the Bucks or Hornets for how to do it right). But McMillan has
been tinkering too much for his own good. Injuries have hurt but
spreading out all the minutes has given this team no identity or
reliable forces. Weak.

Sacramento Kings, Rock Adelman: C-
Maybe it's just been too long. Maybe it's just time to move on. The
Kings have been in a slow downward spiral ever since losing Game 7 to
the Lakers in 2002. Adelman now has less overall talent but many key
pieces. The players are bitching, the losses are piling up at home, and
the Kings are struggling to make the playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs, Greg Popovich: A
The Spurs are a machine right now. Parker is coming into his own in a
major way, the well-known reserves are doing as asked, and Duncan is
Duncan. The Ginobili floundering (start or 6th man?) needs to stop and
the center position is still a joke. But that won't stop the Spurs.

Seattle Sonics, Bob Hill: D+
Well, so much for Walt Weiss. He earned a "D" anyway. Bob Hill is not
much better. How another over-the-hill coach with a spotty record gets
another head coaching job is typical NBA ownership stupidity. Hill has
tried to fix the line-up and failed. And he was exposed as a joker when
Ray Allen was suspended for 3 games, and Hill's squad lost all 3 games
by an average of 18 points. Next!

Utah Jazz, Jerry Sloan: B
Sloan is a tough motherfucker. The Jazz are in the thick of it because
he has them balling well. AK-47 and Boozer still miss tons of games but
the Jazz are winning, not losing like last year. His team is playing
hard and beating teams they really should not defeat.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


How he weasled out of Detroit, tricked the media, suckered the Knicks, and is currently throwing games.

I said it as soon as Isiah Thomas flashed his oh-so-cute smile to the New York media this summer about his supposed genius hiring of Larry Brown: one of the greatest scams in basketball history. I'm just glad members of the media, like Sports Illustrated are finally willing to speak up about it.

The constant ebb and flow of media popularity of coaches happened to peak perfectly for Larry Brown. Surely his ability to turn crappy team around is commendable but, can we all just admit this, a little played out at this point. You can’t even hear a word about Larry Brown without hearing about how he always makes a franchise successful eventually. Yeah, well, enough about his resume. Let’s focus on the “now.”

Just how fucking bad must a coach to get these Knicks to be 13-27? I submit it is so bad it is sabotage. As in, Larry Brown is purposefully having the Knicks lose. Yes, the coach wants the Knicks to lose. Is he throwing games? Effectively, he is. There, I said it.

Larry Brown is one smart motherfucker. He finally gets his ring with Detroit then knowingly starts flirting with the Cavaliers during a key Pistons playoff run last year. This was no accidental ploy or innocent flirtation on his part. He wanted out of Detroit. He knew there was no way he was going to be allowed to go to Cleveland and yet he tricked everyone into believing it. The man is a shrewd cat. Just how the fuck do you think he was going to be allowed to become the president of Cavs’ basketball operations when they compete in the same division as Detroit while he was still the coach of the Pistons? The Pistons organization and the NBA would have shut the deal down … in fact, they did! He pissed them off so much that they bought out his contract to let him go gently into the night, riding off into the sunset as a hero coach he got Detroit back into the rings game. Hey, no hard feelings, let’s just walk away from one another. Right? Oh, you dumb motherfuckers. Detroit was never known for being a hotbed of intelligence. The suckers not only got fingered in the ass by Brown, but they paid him to do so. Only in the NBA do you pay someone who you rightfully should fire.

Larry Brown duped everyone in Detroit, Cleveland, and the NBA and the media. He had his sights on New York all along. And he nailed the fucking job.

Can I get anyone to disagree with me that Isiah Thomas is a total moron? Seriously. The dude totally messes up the Raptors until the owners realize it and kick him out. He then proceeds to literally fuck over the entire CBA with smiles and bullshit. Those CBA owners are still out for blood. Then he takes over a Pacers squad that was in the Finals the year before under Larry Bird and proceeds to go 41-41 and 42-40 in his two seasons and never made it past the 1st round of the playoffs in 3 seasons. Indiana then woke up and fired his ass. Then, somehow, he becomes GM of the Knicks. God help us. (I will now spare you my opinions of the obviously moronic moves Thomas has made with the Knicks).

Larry Brown saw a golden opportunity in New York and a wide-eyed dumb fool in Isiah Thomas. Of course Isiah was going to go after Larry Brown. Of course Brown was going to be offered a king’s ransom. Isiah had shown everyone that the cash was flowing and all NY wanted was to win, win, WIN! Kudos to you, Larry Brown, but that play was too easy, even for you. Gee, Larry Brown says he was not even thinking of coaching any more. He says he just wanted to relax and be with his kids. "I don't see myself coaching again next year," Brown said Yeah, right, no 60-year old dude with a 8-year old kid wants to hang out at home with that little fucker. Any Knicks fan who is a dad smelled the bullshit 8 million miles away. And, so, Larry got paid. And Isiah smiled. Again.

Currently, the Knicks are 13-27. In a totally shitty division. With players that most teams would kill to have on their squad. Playing in an arena that used to be a major home court advantage. Goddamn if Herb Williams could not have this team at least with 15 wins by now. Goddamn if Herb Brooks could not have 15 wins by now. And that cat coached hockey. And he’s dead. Coach Brown moves players like cattle in and out of the lineup. He makes backhanded comments at his players at every opportunity. He has consistently placed the wrong mix of players on the floor in crucial periods. And the Knicks are not just losing but losing badly. Go ahead and tell me that the current Knicks coash is one of the greatest coaches of all time. Look me in the eye and say “yes, Coach Larry Brown is earning his paycheck.” Shit, I dare you to tell me that he is out-coaching even one other NBA coach! Forget his salary, forget his history for just one minute. The current Knicks coach sucks based on the coaching he has done as the Knicks coach. You think if Herb Williams were 13-27 that he’d still be coach? Puh-lease. I have dingleberries with more wins than the Knicks.

So back to my theory that Brown is throwing games. Is it out and out cheating to make his team lose? No, not in that sense. But is it a coach knowingly secure in his job and paycheck basically fucking around and not concerned about winning games nightly? Yes. He has the luxury of toying with players and fans to actually set the bar so low that he forces the Knicks to dump players he does not like. And he gets to use the changes and inheritance of these so-called bad players as an excuse to lose night and night out.

Ask yourself this one question: if Larry Brown was a young, hungry 35 year-old desperate to make his first stint coaching in the NBA, would the Knicks be 13-27? NO FUCKING WAY. Instead, he’d be buddying up to use Marbury’s talents rather than alienate his star player. He’d be installing consistency amongst his starters and using his deep bench to create a hellacious second unit. He’d be crafting strategy to maximize his players rather than forcing his players to minimize his own style of play.

You wanna know who the Larry Brown scenario is going to play out? I said 6 months ago and I’ll say it again now for all to hear loud and clear: Larry Brown is going to coach the Knicks to a losing record in his first year. He will use the popular tactic of indirectly hinting that his players are not smart enough or just don’t yet understand “what it takes to win.” Because, shit, only Larry Brown knows how to win. Of course, many players will come and go, supposedly players Brown wants; “Larry Brown kind of players.” Then, at the start of the 2006—2007 season, Larry Brown will start to miss games due to “health reasons.” (remember Detroit?) No one can fault a man for making sure he does not drop dead, right? Then, Larry Brown will quit the Knicks for “medical reasons.” And the Knicks will do the honorable thing and pay him for the full year plus buy out his remaining contract. Everyone will smile and cry a bit and say “gee, if only Larry Brown was in good health, we could have turned this around!” And Isiah will get another year on life to continue to fool people that he has a brain rather than rocks in his head.

New York, you’ve just been fucked. Let’s just see how long it takes for everyone to realize it.

Mr. West

You Can't Handle the Vote? Or Can You?

Oh Shit! The Fans Know Something!

Since it is a known fact that NBA All-Star votes are a popularity contest, it would be pretty stupid of any savvy media member of blogger to critique the fan choices too seriously. But have you seen the vote tallies lately? Gotta say that the fans have been showing off some hoops knowledge I never thought they had.

With the glowing exception of CFR (That's "Crazy Fucking Ron" Artest to you) and Grant Hill garnering more votes than Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard in Eastern Conference forwards, I think the fans have done a good job for the most part. Dudes like Camby, Okur, Gasol, Tony Parker, and Billups were shown some love I did not think the masses had it in their hearts. And it is pretty hard to argue against the top vote-getters who will be starters. Maybe I am being condescending or overly negative but I expected the fans to exhibit an open love affair for only well-known names that the media has put into the their heads over the years. Or maybe it’s just that the new school of NBA players has finally pushed the big names of the early 90’s (think Webber, Hill, Francis, Payton) in their place both on the court and in the fans’ minds. Heck, even Yao beat out Shaq before Shaq fled to Miami.

Mr. West