Tag: James Dolan

Annual Charity Day Hosted By Cantor Fitzgerald And BGC - Cantor Fitzgerald Office

Marv Albert helped influence Steve Kerr, saying “it never ends well” with James Dolan


Steve Kerr was smart. He was patient, he did his research.

He trusted Phil Jackson and believed in what Jackson is trying to build in New York, but there were other issues. What is Carmelo Anthony going to do? Actually, a glance at the entirety of the Knicks roster should have given him pause.

And then there’s owner James Dolan.

Dolan says Jackson is in charge and he never really wanted to be involved in the basketball operations anyway — I challenge you to find someone who actually believes that will last. Well, besides Dolan himself. I’m sure he’s convinced himself that is the truth.

Kerr did his research and as part of that talked to former Knicks broadcaster Marv Albert — the voice of the Knicks for 37 years until he and Dolan had a falling out (Dolan reportedly thought Albert too critical of the Knicks). And Albert gave it to Kerr straight, which didn’t help the Knicks cause, reports the New York Daily News.

Throughout the process, reports surfaced about Kerr researching Garden culture under Dolan, which included conversations with Albert, his TNT partner. “Steve reads everything. This was not something he didn’t know,” Albert said. “But he wanted to get deeper into it….

“Well, I told him it never ends well there. Just look at recent history. It’s because of one man (Dolan),” Albert told me Thursday over the telephone. “There is no happiness there. I say this with all kinds of friends I have there and (the ones) at the MSG Network. Everybody hates being there. For coaches it’s very difficult. Steve couldn’t accept anyone (from MSG’s PR staff) following him around with a tape recorder. Like Phil, Steve is a guy who wants to say what he wants to say,” Albert continued. “He’s very opinionated, which doesn’t always work when you are at the Garden.”

Reshaping the culture of the New York Knicks is Phil Jackson;s biggest priority — that is what is needed to get top talent to come and to retain it (not hat we are sold Kerr is a top talent yet, but he was Jackson’s guy).

What Albert told Kerr did not make the decision for Steve, there were a lot of factors going into him choosing Golden State — one more guaranteed contract year, vastly superior roster, getting to stay close to his family on the West Coast, and more. But this didn’t help. Kerr wants a situation he can succeed and with the specter of Dolan looming over the organization still it’s legitimate to ask if he will sabotage things. Again.

Is Mills hiring a stepping stone to Allan Houston as Knicks GM?

James Dolan

Trying to discern what is going on within the New York Knicks front office and who has the power is a lot like Kremlinology — you try to figure out what is going on based on who is standing next to owner James Dolan during a parade. Or something along those lines.

So why the sudden demotion of Glen Grunwald and the hiring of Steve Mills as GM — the guy who presided over the Knicks Isiah Thomas era, something no Knicks fan wants to relive? The move left a lot of people around the league shaking their heads as Grunwald had built a roster that made the second round of the playoffs, the first time the Knicks won a playoff series since 2001. Maybe Grunwald fought for his own ideas and opinions and didn’t just roll over for Dolan. Maybe Mills has some grand plan to lure free agents this summer that Dolan loved. This is the Dolan show, so it always comes back to him.

Or maybe Mills is just the placeholder until they can give the job to former Knicks player Allan Houston. That’s what Jared Zwerling was reporting over at Bleacher Report.

But Grunwald’s new title, “advisor,” also begs this question: What if his new role has something to do with helping groom assistant GM Allan Houston to eventually become New York’s GM? Mills, too, could have been hired to tutor Houston.

Former Knicks player Chris Copeland, now with the Indiana Pacers, sensed there could be a bigger opportunity in store for Houston.

“I think he’s the next in line,” Copeland said. “I’m sad for Glen—I have nothing but the utmost respect for Glen; I like Glen and I think he’s a great guy—but I’m extremely excited for Allan if he does get that opportunity. I think he’ll do a great job there.”

I don’t think Grunwald was stripped of his power so he could tutor Houston. Grunwald’s new title of “advisor” is essentially the banishment to Sibera of the Knicks organization.

However, it makes sense that Mills is the placeholder and tutor for Houston, who has long been seen as in line for that job.

That said, even the job of the GM is really subject to the whims of Dolan, he is the final word and the GM has to execute it. How well you can convince Dolan that your idea is his and is a good one may be the ultimate skill needed for that gig.

League called Knicks, Nets to meeting, told them to play nice

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets

There is a natural tension between the Knicks and Nets — the Knicks are the long-established team in New York; the Nets come into Brooklyn, they have been brash, and they are trying to steal part of that market share. Paul Pierce and Raymond Felton have gone back and forth a little on the issue this summer. This is not a full blown rivalry yet (we really need a playoff series between them now to get there) but there is some bad blood.

Or at least was.

Sensing things could get ugly starting with the two owners — Mikhail Prokhorov of the Nets and James Dolan of the Knicks — David Stern called a meeting early last season and told the two sides to sit down and smoke a peace pipe (in a metaphorical sense), reports the New York Post.

“There was such a meeting and the parties both said it was a very cordial and pleasant one,” said one league official with knowledge of the sit-down, which happened early in the season.

The official also confirmed Stern assisted in getting the pair together in an attempt to prevent a wave of spitballs going back and forth over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

Prokhorov and the Nets would love to spark a rivalry — they want to challenge for the heart and soul of New York. They are also a long way from that. The Nets have fans, but at its core New York is a Knicks town and changing that could take generations if it happens at all, something we were told by Kenny Anderson and plenty of other New Yorkers. So the Nets try to stoke the fires a little, then Dolan gets pissed. So everybody wins.

But the two sides have gotten along well enough to reach a deal to share the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, and likely the 2017 or 2018 one as well.

See, everybody is playing nice.

NBA Season Preview: New York Knicks

Knicks' Anthony celebrates after a three point shot late in the fourth quarter of the Knicks' win in Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff series against the Heat in New York

This week begins PBT’s team-by-team season preview, going through all 30 squads. We are starting in the deep Atlantic Division that could well send four teams to the playoffs, and we will move West from there. Next up, your New York Knicks.

Last season: Good God, where to begin. Uh, they beat Boston in their first game and looked like they would be a legit Eastern power. Then the wheels fell off and fell off some more, and then Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire both got injured and the team was screwed and everything was darkness. But wait! There came a voice of redemption in the night, and his name was Linsanity. OK, not literally, literally it was Jeremy Lin, and all of a sudden the undrafted sophomore who was less than a few days away from being cut exploded onto the scene. He dropped 38 on Kobe and the Gang, toppled the defending champs, and basically set the sports world on fire.

(Gasp for air.)

Then Amar’e came back and things were still great and they had an offense and then Melo came back and well, not so much anymore. The Heat and Knicks figured out Lin and they were struggling a little bit and OH WAIT, MIKE D’ANTONI RESIGNED. So then Mike Woodson takes over and Jeremy Lin gets hurt and Amar’e Stoudemire gets hurt (again), and then Melo goes on a tear and the Knicks look good because Anthony’s destroying everything and then the playoffs came and it turns out that isolation-centric basketball versus a team that likes to isolate and swarm the ball-handler and plays the best position defense in the league isn’t a good idea and the Knicks got their tails kicked and lost in the first round, the end.

Key Departures: They could have matched the offer for Jeremy Lin and kept him, adding a huge amount of salary to a team that has never acted as if it cared a lick about the luxury tax or salary concerns… but then they got high? No. They elected to pass on Lin and the poison pill in his third year. It was an… unpopular move with Knicks fans, let’s just leave it at that.

Josh Harrellson is also gone, along with Baron Davis and Mike Bibby. Jared Jeffries, Renaldo Balkman, Bill Walker, every Williams they had on roster, and Landry Fields. Oh, and Toney Douglas.

Key Additions: J.R. Smith comes back at a discount price, as does Steve Novak. Raymond Felton is the new starting point guard, and Jason Kidd comes to the City as a reserve. Ronnie Brewer helps their wing depth, especially defensively with Iman Shumpert out until after the start of the year. Marcus Camby becomes the first legit reserve big man for the Knicks since God knows when, and Kurt Thomas is still plugging along behind him. Pablo Prigioni joins the club at a ripe age to provide an emergency reserve point guard.

Three keys to Knicks season:

1) ISOMelo works. You can’t misread the Knicks’ intention. They can talk about teamwork and chemistry, about using all their weapons, about getting everyone involved. That’s great. But the decision to jettison Lin, the decision to retain Mike Woodson at head coach, bringing in players who played with Carmelo Anthony before in Denver, everything speaks to a clear statement of purpose: Get Melo his. Amar’e Stoudemire can work on his post moves all he wants, and Tyson Chandler can remain the most efficient big man in the game. That ball is going through Melo first and last and a lot in-between.

This is who the Knicks are. There’s a high feeling of resentment from certain sections of Knicks fans about this, that it’s getting overblown. But consider how Woodson ran his teams in Atlanta, with so many isolation plays for different players, but especially Joe Johnson. Consider the removal of a point guard who might challenge for control of the offense. And consider everything we’ve seen for the year and a half since Anthony was traded to New York. He’s the ticket-seller, the marquee name, the big star. They’re going to make sure he feels comfortable. And whether it’s what’s best for him or not, he feels most comfortable in the high or wing post, typically facing up to jab-step his way into a jumper. That’s who he is, and when he’s on, he’s one of the most deadly offensive players in the league.

That has to work. Despite schemes in the NBA built to victimize isolation, despite the plethora of talent surrounding him, and despite the low probability that it will be successful, this is what the Knicks have decided on, and that’s what they have to make work. Maybe it can, and I’m just missing the brilliance of this approach. But either way, if they’re going to succeed, that has to go over big.

2) Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire have to learn to co-exist, basketball-wise. Anthony’s not going to have a 99% usage factor, so yeah, there will be other people involved, and one of those needs to be Stoudemire. He dealt with a huge number of injury issues and many are moving towards just dropping him in the pile of overpaid sub-stars (oh, hey Carlos Boozer, didn’t see you there). But Stoudemire has legitimate reasons to suggest that he can bounce back this season with time to heal from last year’s injuries, and could regain some of his offensive explosiveness, even if the ship on his defense has long ago sailed.

But the problem has been that Anthony and Stoudemire have been absolutely wretched on the floor together. Stoudemire and Anthony played 976 minutes together last year and the Knicks were -2.4 in plus-minus during those minutes. They were outscored by their opponent with their two best offensive players on the floor. Now, there are some things the Knicks can do to get the involved separately, such as Raymond Felton rekindling the pick and roll with Stoudemire he had developed before the Anthony trade sent him to Denver. And Stoudemire has worked on his post game, which is, in and of itself, a move to appease the ISOMelo offense (Stoudemire getting out of the way from his preferred work at the elbow.

But they’re going to have to figure out how to play on the floor at the same time. Mike Woodson hasn’t even been willing to discuss the idea of bringing Stoudemire off the bench or keeping them in different rotations. Again, this is just how it is, and it’s something they have to figure out.

3) The defense better maintain. Drove me nuts last year trying to get people to understand that the Knicks were a great defensive team. People were used to Mike D’Antoni’s reputation, and they wouldn’t listen to anything otherwise. Woodson’s involvement as an assistant certainly was the difference and their defense maintained after D’Antoni’s departure. They were an elite defense, and in reality, they were well-built for the postseason. They were a defensive team that slowed the game down and ground it out, with a great rim protector down low. That’s a good formula for playoff success.

The offense this season won’t be improved enough to allow for defensive slippage, though. The Knicks have to keep their defensive principles and activity up, with an older roster. They’ll still be in need of Stoudemire to at least not be a weakness, and in truth, they need Anthony to be the kind of defender he’s capable of being at his best as opposed to the one he so often is. They can’t afford to tumble down defensively at any significant level.

What one thing should scare Knicks fans? Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler both have injury histories which are a concern. Carmelo Anthony missed time last season. If Anthony goes out for any time, after they’ve built their entire solar system around the Melo Sun, what happens? If Stoudemire goes down again, that means it’s time to re-evaluate his long-term viability and that’s a big contract under the new CBA to deal with as a liability. And if Chandler were to miss time, that’s the core of their defense. He is to their defense what Anthony is to their offense, only, you know, he’s actually better at it.

Beyond on-the-court stuff, though, the biggest thing that should scare Knicks fans is how the organization is run. Willing to overpay for any player but Jeremy Lin? CAA having ties in not just the players but in executives and even the coaching staff? Isiah Thomas sniffing around again? This is not exactly the painting of a picture you want for your front office. What else is new?

How it likely works out: Here’s the thing. The Knicks are a really good team. They honestly are. They’re going to be a very good team this year. They have an elite player in Carmelo Anthony. They have an elite player defensively who can also contribute in huge ways offensively in Tyson Chandler. Amar’e Stoudemire is not so far removed from the MVP-candidate he was three years ago. They have depth, Mike Woodson is a really good coach overall and in his preparation. He has a history of success.

Their model, like I said above, is sound. This is a team that has the model you want for a championship contender. They rely on their defense to get stops and put the ball in the hands of their elite offensive player. This is a formula that has worked in the NBA in the past. The Knicks will be a competitive team that is great on defense, and at times will be great offensively. They will look like world-beaters at times and like dregs some of the time. They’ll make the playoffs and depending on the seeding, might be able to muscle out a first-round win. But that’s pretty much their ceiling. They’re a very good team, which is nothing to sneeze at. But they’re paying for and selling to the fans the idea of a great team, and they’re just not that. Unless Carmelo Anthony puts together one of the all-time seasons in NBA history, not this year, but all-time, then the Knicks won’t wind up in a dramatically different spot than where they finished last year. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, that’s quite an accomplishment for a team that has such trouble being respectable last decade. It’s just not where the Knicks act like they are.

Prediction: 47-35, which is just what Kurt put the Sixers at on Monday. The Knicks, the Nets, and the Sixers all should wind up in about the same spot, battling for a fourth-to-sixth seed in the East. The only question will be if it’s a season that feels like they maximized their potential and it wasn’t good enough, or one where they fell short, but that just leaves more reason to believe next year they’ll put it together.

I can see no reasonable scenario in which the Knicks win the 2013 NBA Championship.

Report: Isiah Thomas could have job with Knicks but is hesitant to take it. For now.

Isaih Thomas Introduced as New Knicks GM

Right now, the Madison Square Garden organization — which owns the New York Knicks (along with the Rangers and other assets) — is in flux. Young, hard-charging MSG sports president Scott O’Neil is out and we don’t know which direction MSG goes next. Or how that impacts the Knicks.

So Knicks and MSG head honcho James Dolan did what everyone does when they have big decisions to make — he reached out to a trusted advisor and consultant.

Isiah Thomas.

That sends shivers down the spines of Knicks fans. Whether they like it or not, Thomas could have a job with the Knicks but doesn’t want it, a source told Frank Isola of the Daily News.

“Isiah is very close with Jim Dolan but he’s told me that he’s not ready to jump back into the NBA just yet,” said the source, who was with Thomas on Friday at the Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Springfield, Mass. “There’s this perception out there that Isiah is desperate to get back, but that’s false. I think it will eventually happen but just not now.”

Sounds like spin to me. Thomas and Dolan know the backlash that would follow with Thomas being hired in any capacity — Knicks fans loathe the idea — so rather than make it official Thomas stays an unofficial consultant while saying “I don’t want a job.”

Not that it really changes anything. Dolan meeting with Thomas Friday spun a lot of heads because the conventional wisdom is Thomas would do anything to get back in the NBA and with the Knicks. No doubt there is a desire. He tried to consult with them while a college coach, but the NBA was able to kill that (you can’t be a college coach and NBA consultant at the same time, that’s the rules).

So did Dolan offer Thomas a formal job? Does it even really matter? Thomas has always had Dolan’s ear, that has not changed. Never has, never will. Notice that two guys with ties to Thomas — coach Mike Woodson and GM Glen Grunwald — have positions of power with the Knicks.

Give Thomas a job and the only thing that would change formally is where Thomas gets his medical benefits. Thomas’ voice is already heard in the organization. It’s just a matter of perception and backlash if he were hired.

Thomas is working on his masters degree at Cal Berkley and may just want to do that for a while remaining off the Knicks official books. But don’t doubt his ties to the team.