Bill Walker is not the Knicks savior, but he is fun

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walker.jpgNow comes the time in the Knicks season when the media works to pit Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni against each other, and rather than bother that pair all it does is freak out James Dolan.The whole thing is about as pretty to watch as the Knicks on the court. What we need is a distraction…

Hello Bill Walker.

Up until this week, if you saw Bill Walker’s name in an NBA column this season, it was in the sentence “Bill Walker was a meaningless throw in to the Nate Robinson/Eddie House trade.”

Then he had two good games — he dropped a team high 21 during the Knicks embarrassing loss to the Cavaliers. So he got the start against Detroit (with Chandler out) and scored 22 on 9 of 13 shooting, bringing an athleticism that coach Mike D’Antoni’s system demands but that the Knicks sorely lack.

Two good games for these Knicks? Some fans now expect him to part Central Park Lake and lead the team to the promised land.

Reality is going to be different, but Walker is the kind of piece that could be a role player fit for the Knicks going forward.

There was a time when Walker was talked about as a lottery pick. He was a high school teammate of OJ Mayo, was voted MVP of the prestigious high school ABCD Camp, put on by Adidas to recruit young talent to the brand help showcase the nation’s young talent. He put up big numbers at Kansas State.

But he knees betrayed him. Major surgery on both knees, with a third injury coming during his pre-draft workouts with the Golden State Warriors. Walker fell from the lottery to the second round, where the Wizards grabbed him then traded him to the Celtics for cash. The veteran-loaded Celtics want no part of young, athletic players — note the signing of Michael Finley — so they sent him to the D-League on and off.

In New York, D’Antoni’s got nothing better to do than give guys who would  otherwise never sniff the court some run. See what they’ve got. The roster will be overhauled the next two summers, time to see what pieces you might want to keep.

And Walker might be one of those pieces. He’s no savior, but hey, he’s alright. And that’s alright with me.

Kristaps Porzingis grew up a Kobe fan. Still is one.


When you hear player comparisons for Knicks rookie, the most common is Dirk Nowitzki — a European big with ridiculous shooting range and potential to embarrass anyone.

So did he grow up idolizing Dirk? Not so much.

Rather, like many of his generation, he grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, he told Mike Francesa of WFAN.

“My favorite player growing up was Kobe. The Lakers were my team and I still love him.”

There is an entire generation of NBA players — and just fans — who would say the same thing.

In the interview, Porzingis laments his missed shots and turnovers, he thinks he can be a lot better. That is exactly what you want out of a rookie. It’s a huge adjustment playing at the NBA level, the speed of the game and IQ is a leap from Europe (or college). Recognizing the challenge is part of it.

There’s a lot to like in Porzingis. He could be special (we don’t know yet, we see only the potential). But idolizing Kobe — and if you understand the work he put in, the passion for the game — can be a good start.

(Hat tip NBA reddit)

Warriors’ interim coach Luke Walton’s car stolen

Luke Walton

If you’re looking for a “when are things going to go wrong for the Warriors” moment, we have one for you. But it may not be what you had hoped for.

Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton — the guy on the sidelines for the 15 (soon to be 16) game winning streak — had his car stolen during a crime spree, reports

One of the cars stolen during an Oakland Hills crime spree belongs to Golden State Warriors coach Luke Walton, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said late Monday.

Walton’s Mercedes Benz was stolen Tuesday by two suspects, who police believe are also responsible for a violent attack on a 75-year-old woman outside her home on Thursday. The suspects also took the woman’s car during the attack, according to police.

Yikes. That’s serious.

I’m sure Steve Kerr has like 14 cars, he can loan one to Walton.

Pacers guard George Hill returns Tuesday against Wizards

Paul George, Marcus Morris
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Pacers guard George Hill returned to the lineup Tuesday night against Washington after missing three games with an upper respiratory infection.

Hill is averaging 14 points and just under 37 minutes in 10 games this season. He was on the bench in case of emergency in Saturday’s victory over Milwaukee.

Coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday Hill’s infection had improved “to the point where he’s fine to play,” but would keep an eye out for fatigue after an 11-day layoff.

Hassan Whiteside on intentional fouls: “It’s not working, so keep fouling me”

Hassan Whiteside

Remember how Adam Silver was preaching that the league didn’t want to change the intentional foul rule — the hack-a-Shaq strategy — because it was really about two players (DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard) and a handful of others now and then. The fact that it’s not basketball didn’t matter.

Well, it’s not just two — Miami’s Hassan Whiteside has gotten the treatment this season. He’s a 53.4 percent free throw shooter this season.

And he says bring it on. From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:

“I’m enjoying this,” he said. “Foul me so I can get a double-double and we can win. It’s not working, so keep fouling me.”

He’s even smart at not getting fouled.

Whiteside also is liking that teams are looking at their options against the best defense in the NBA — yes, Miami at 94 points allowed per 100 possessions, is the best defense in the NBA right now — and deciding to attack Whiteside.

“There’s teams that’s out there that say ‘Stay away from Hassan,’ and there’s teams that say, ‘We don’t care if Hassan’s down there. Attack Hassan.’ I love them teams that do that. God bless them coaches. I love them teams.”

Whiteside is not as great a defender as the block totals would indicate — if he doesn’t see a block in it, his rotations can be a bit slow. One scout recently called him a selfish defender to me recently, suggesting he is in it for the numbers, not the sacrifices needed for an elite defense. True or not, the Heat have an elite defense and Whiteside is at the heart of it.

And if the strategy is to try to exploit him, Whiteside plans to make people pay.