D'Antoni convinced his system works just fine

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New York media don’t believe it. Knicks fans are not convinced. But Mike D’Antoni knows it down the core of his being.

His system can win.

And because he believes it, he is not changing the coaching staff or the system. Not one thing.

“We’re not throwing anybody under the bus,” D’Antoni said. “That’s not going to happen.”

The real question is what team president Donnie Walsh believes.

However, sources close to the Knicks president say that Walsh is concerned about the team’s defensive woes. The best way to solve the problem is to acquire defensive-minded players. But the culture also needs to change, and yesterday D’Antoni, who has a reputation for being rigid, made it clear that his system works.

With the Knicks on pace for a second straight 50-loss season under D’Antoni and the team struggling defensively, the assumption is that the defensive-minded Walsh will want to address the issue during the off-season.

You have got to love the way this glosses over the crappy Knicks roster to get to the “real problem” of the system. As if there is a system out there that could make this roster good.

Let’s be clear — the Knicks defense does suck. The best measure is points given up per possession (look at it this way: at the end of the game each team is going to have had the same number or trips up and down the court, it’s the team that is most efficient with them that wins).  The Knicks are 24th in the league in points surrendered per possession. (Their offense is a middle-of-the-road 18th in the league by this measure).

D’Antoni’s teams have never been great defenders, but they have been okay. His 06-07 Suns team was 13th in the league in defense by possession. His teams continually lived within a few spots of the league average. They were not good, but they were not bad — and with an overpowering offense that was good enough.

Good enough to win a title? Maybe, maybe not (Steve Kerr ended the experiment prematurely). But the defensive problems stem from a roster of terrible athletes and the fact they have to start 6’9″ David Lee at center. It’s about matchups, about players. Bring in a defensive coach if you want — you give John Wooden these players and their defense will suck.

Fix the roster and then you can fairly judge the coaching staff. Right now, how can you tell?

Devin Booker to play in Suns’ opener Wednesday

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Devin Booker — the Suns’ newly minted max contract player — had been working hard to recover from off-season hand surgery in time for the opening of the season (the original timeline after surgery had him missing the first week or two of the season).

Looks like he made it, according to coach Igor Kokoskov, via Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

Booker is young, 21, and hopefully he just healed quickly. There is no reason to rush Booker back here, the Suns need to approach this season with a long-term view, not thinking win now.

This is going to be an interesting young Suns team with Booker, rookie Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges, and now with some veteran voices in Trevor Ariza and the newly added Jamal Crawford in the locker room. This team is not playoff bound in the West, but nightly they will be improved and not a pushover.

Portland, NBA community react to passing of Paul Allen

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For 30 years, Paul Allen has owned the Portland Trail Blazers. In that time the team made the NBA Finals a couple of times, was a model of consistency making the playoffs 23 times, and providing a city unforgettable memories filled with some of the biggest personalities and best players in the game.

Allen passed away Monday, losing his battle to cancer. He was just 65 years old.

It has led to an outpouring from the entire NBA community, especially around Portland.

“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small.  He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies.  He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him.  Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”

Russell Westbrook listed as out for season opener vs. Warriors

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No Russell Westbrook. No Andre Roberson. Maybe no Steven Adams.

This is not what the NBA had in mind when they sent Oklahoma City to Golden State for the second game of the NBA’s opening night doubleheader on national television. But, that’s the reality due to injury.

Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on right knee back on Sept. 12 and it was expected to be re-evaluated around the start of the season. However, with the marathon of the NBA season about to start no way the Thunder were never going to rush him back, national television and the Warriors or not. While it’s less than ideal, getting it dealt with and missing training camp and a few games is better than to risk something worse during the season (or miss a month of the season in a Western Conference where there is little margin for error because of the depth of quality teams).

The Thunder called it “maintenance,” but this is Westbrook’s fourth surgery on that knee, although it’s the first in more than four years. His issues with this knee date back to the 2013 playoffs when Patrick Beverley crashed into it and tore the meniscus.

Westbrook is about to turn 30, has some heavy-usage miles on that body, and just signed a five-year, $205 million contract extension.

Alvin Gentry: Pelicans wouldn’t trade Anthony Davis for anyone – ‘not even Beyonce’

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Pelicans star Anthony Davis said he’s the best player in the NBA.

His coach, Alvin Gentry, agreed then expanded.

Gentry:

If you don’t want to call him the best player, I call him the most valuable. Because if you can trade him for anybody, then he is the most valuable guy. Not that we would ever consider that. Don’t you guys take some kind of spin and put it on top. There is no one in the league that we would trade him for. There is no one out of the league. Not even Beyonce. If we wouldn’t trade him for her, then he’s probably untouchable.

I’d trade Davis for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s also in the MVP race, even younger and locked up an extra season.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden are better, older and locked up for longer than Davis. I’d probably trade Davis for LeBron or Curry, though not Harden.

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum are worse, younger but also locked up for longer than Davis. I probably wouldn’t trade Davis for any of them, though the additional team control makes it worth considering.

Really, Davis is already at the point – as few as two years from unrestricted free agency – trade speculation hits high gear. The possibility of him leaving New Orleans high and dry in 2020 is too great to ignore.

As far as Davis for Beyonce… I guess it depends on your priorities.