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Jeff Van Gundy says it would be ‘ludicrous’ for Knicks to fire Mike Woodson after timeout failure vs. Wizards


After the Knicks lost to the Wizards earlier this week by coming undone on the game’s final two possessions, there were some observers that believed Mike Woodson should finally take the fall for his role in not only that particular loss, but also how his team had underachieved to this point in the season.

New York seemed to be on track for a victory, but then a bad defensive assignment with no one rotating to help saw Beno Udrih allow Bradley Beal to get to the rim uncontested for what ended up being the game-winning shot. The Knicks still had six seconds remaining and three timeouts left, but Woodson failed to use one which resulted in his team hesitating and Carmelo Anthony forcing up a wild floater from 27 feet out that had no chance of going in as time expired.

Woodson took the blame for not calling the timeout afterward, but former Knicks coach and current ESPN/ABC broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy believes that firing him over a single mistake like that would be somewhat ridiculous.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Van Gundy, on a conference call to promote ABC’s Christmas coverage, said Carmelo Anthony also was to blame for not getting the ball up the court quicker.

“The thing that irritated me, even if someone had the opinion it was a mistake, to go from mistake to quote fireable offense is ludicrous,” Van Gundy said. “You don’t cut or trade a player because they make a mistake in an NBA game. Nor should there be an over-reacton to what a coach does. What really needs to happen is to get their roster intact and when they’re healthy, play a lot of better.”

The health and the roster construction is a big part of the problem in New York, and after guiding the team to the second best record in the Eastern Conference a season ago, Woodson deserves a certain amount of leeway and shouldn’t be judged completely until he has all of his pieces in place.

Van Gundy did, however, say that there should be a philosophy in place on how to handle those types of situations, and that it should be installed from the beginning of training camp. Anthony said after the game that he was expecting a timeout, so maybe Woodson simply made a mistake. But that alone shouldn’t cost him his job when there are so many other issues with the team beyond that one game’s final possession.

Report: Rockets will try to sign Alessandro Gentile next summer

Alessandro Gentile, Paulius Jankunas
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The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.

So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.

If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.

Report: Hawks co-owner made more money by exposing Danny Ferry’s Luol Deng comments

Michael Gearon, Bruce Levenson
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A terribly kept secret: Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. wanted to get rid of general manager Danny Ferry.

Many believe that’s why Gearon made such a big deal about Ferry’s pejorative “African” comment about Luol Deng – that Gearon was more concerned about ousting Ferry than showing real concern over racism.

Gearon had another, no less sinister, reason to raise concern over Ferry’s remarks.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

While Gearon felt that Ferry, as he wrote in the June 2014 email to Levenson, “put the entire franchise in jeopardy,” Gearon also figured to benefit financially from a Sterling-esque fallout.

In the spring of 2014, Gearon was in the process of selling more of his interest in the team to Levenson and the partners he had sold to in September. The agreed-upon price for roughly a third of Gearon’s remaining shares valued the Hawks at approximately $450 million, according to reports from sources.

“We accept your offer to buy the remaining 31 million,” Gearon wrote in an email to Levenson on April 17, 2014. “Let me know next steps so we can keep this simple as you suggested without a bunch of lawyers and bankers.”

Approximately five weeks later — just a little more than a week before the fateful conference call — Steve Ballmer agreed to pay $2 billion for the Clippers, a record-smashing price that completely changed the assessed value of NBA franchises. Gearon firmly maintains he was acting out of the sincerity of his convictions to safeguard the franchise from the Sterling stench, but such a spectacle also allowed him to wiggle out of selling his shares at far below market value.

Gearon and his legal team later challenged the notion that the sell-down was bound by any sort of contractual obligation and that any papers were signed. Once the organization became involved in the investigation, the sale of the shares was postponed.

Arnovitz and Windhorst did an incredible amount of reporting here. I suggest you read the full piece, which includes much more background on the Gearon-Ferry rift.

Considering the Hawks sold for $850 million, Gearon definitely made more money than if he’d sold his shares at a $450 million valuation.

Did that motivate him? Probably, though it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Most likely, his actions were derived from at least three desires – making more money, ousting Ferry and combating racism. Parsing how much each contributed is much more difficult.

What Ferry said was racist, whether or not he was looking at more racism on the sheet of paper in front of him. His comments deserved punishment.

But if Gearon didn’t have incentive to use them for his own benefit, would we even know about them? How many other teams, with more functional front offices, would have kept similar remarks under wraps or just ignored them?