Steve Novak disappointed in last season’s playoff benching while playing for Knicks

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The Knicks were in Toronto for a preseason game against the Raptors on Friday, so all eyes were on the players involved in the trade that went down between the teams this summer.

Andrea Bargnani leaving Toronto was the biggest part of the deal, considering his status as a former number one overall draft pick along with the albatross-like standing he had as the face of Raptors failure over the last several seasons.

But one of the former Knicks who was sent to Toronto in the trade had a more interesting story to tell about the way he was (or more appropriately, wasn’t) used in New York’s second round playoff loss to the Pacers last season.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Former Knicks 3-point sniper Steve Novak admitted Friday he was very disappointed in Mike Woodson for not using him in the second round of the playoffs against the Pacers after he returned healthy from a sore back.

“Me and Mike were very open about it.,’’ Novak said after Friday’s morning shootaround at the Air Canada Centre before the Knicks face Toronto in a preseason game. “It wasn’t like a rift. Obviously he knew the whole time I wanted to play. I told him when I got healthy. I made sure I went up to him and said, ‘Listen, I’m 100 percent. Don’ t not play me because I’m hurt. I’m ready.’ ’’

Woodson responded, and agreed with Novak that there were no hard feelings. He said the decision was solely based on defensive strategy.

“That’s what coaches do,’’ Woodson said. “We change up and do certain things. In the playoffs, it’s strictly defense. I just went in another direction. It wasn’t anything Novak did. We wish him nothing but the best here.’’

The back injury that Novak suffered in the first round against the Celtics seemed like a fine excuse for the lineup adjustment, and it’s true — the Knicks could have used more shooters in that series against the Pacers.

The reality, however, is that Novak played the role of a specialist all season long, and was up and down in terms of his contributions, which were dependent largely upon how opposing defenses chose to play. Novak was inconsistent at best, and if Woodson didn’t feel like he could count on him on one end of the floor and knew he was essentially useless on the other, then despite the loss, he probably made the right decision.

One last look back: Best dunks of All-Star Weekend (VIDEO)

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Defense? That’s one thing that rarely makes an appearance All-Star weekend.

Combine that with the game’s best athletes and what you get are three days of insane dunks.

The NBA put this together, the best dunks of All-Star weekend in Charlotte. Enjoy.

Wizards’ Bradley Beal: ‘Recruiting process is really going alright…I’m trying’

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LeBron James went out of his way to say he was not recruiting guys on his free-agent heavy All-Star Team.

Bradley Beal had no such hesitation, he tried to recruit guys, as he told Chase Huges of NBC Sports Washington.

“The recruiting process is really going alright. It’s going alright. I’m trying,” Beal said. “This is new for me. I’m definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for.”

Beal was too smart to name names — that would have brought a fine from the league — but he said some guys asked if he was happy where he was, while other guys he talked to about the possibilities in Washington.

The problem is while the Wizards will have some cap space after trading Otto Porter and Markieff Morris (and assuming they don’t pick up the option on Jabari Parker) but they will be nowhere near the max cap space needed to land the elite free agents at the All-Star Game (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, etc.). Even the second-tier All-Star free agents such as Khris Middleton will get max offers. Same with players who just missed the game, such as Tobias Harris.

If the Wizards renounce free agents they can get to $9 million in cap space, stretch and waive Ian Mahinmi and they can get to $18 million. That’s the top end. Meaning the Wizards will have room to make moves for good rotation players, but with John Wall‘s supermax extension kicking in at $38 million next season flexibility is limited. Genuine upgrades will be hard to come by.

Predicting what Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld will do next summer is a fool’s errand, but Beal is doing his part to try and bring more talent into Washington.

Kevin Garnett says 2000 Olympic team had $1 million bounty to dunk on Yao Ming

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Team USA earned a Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, led by Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and Alonzo Mourning. Lithuania made the Americans work that year, losing by just nine in pool play then by two points in the semi-finals.

That’s not what anyone remembers from those Olympics, they remember Vince Carter doing this to 7-footer Fredric Weiss of France.

Recently Garnett sat down with Dwyane Wade for an interview (which airs on NBA TV today) and he told a fantastic story about that dunk. (Hat tip to Yahoo Sports)

Everything just paused. First of all, people didn’t know, we had a bounty out on Yao Ming. The whole USA team had a bet. We had a million dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming. None of us did. We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it or we would miss. So, the first thing I thought of when I saw Vince dunk over Frederic was oh s***, you won the million dollars. But then I realized it obviously wasn’t Yao. I pushed Vince, and if you look at the clip, he almost punches me in the face by accident. But my first thought was, oh s***, you won, you got the million.

KG has the best stories.

MSG denies rumor James Dolan looking to sell Knicks

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Rumors that James Dolan is considering selling the Knicks — which elicits a “Hallelujah” chorus from Knicks fans — have been cropping up for a couple of years now. There were rumors he wanted to spin off the Knicks and Rangers into their own company to be sold. That’s just one, there are others — he confirmed he got a feeler $5 billion, but never a firm offer, for the Knicks — and each time he has shot them down.

This is no different.

On his latest Podcast, the Ringer’s Bill Simmons said he had heard that Dolan wanted to focus more on concerts/in-game experiences in Madison Square Garden and that the Knicks were “available.”

The Madison Square Garden Company released this statement (hat tip New York Daily News).

“The story is 100% false. There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions – nothing.”

That’s pretty unequivocal.

While Dolan may entertain the idea on some level of selling the Knicks, until he takes concrete steps to do so — not rumors, but actual, documented moves — I’m not buying it. He’s sitting on a gold mine that keeps going up in value, despite how he manages it, so why sell now? Knicks fans that buy this rumor will likely end up like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.