Report: Knicks player says team’s CAA clients get preferential treatment

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The New York Knicks have deep ties with Creative Artists Agency. It’d be one thing if the Knicks just had good relationships with those agents and that led to them repeatedly signing their players.

But the Knicks reportedly forced their coach, Mike Woodson, to join CAA. And above him, general manager Steve Mills and assistant general managers Mark Warkentein and Allan Houston are also CAA clients.

You can see how that could lead to problems.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

One Knicks player recently told ESPN.com that the CAA ties were a problem in the locker room.

“You see how guys from CAA are treated differently,” the player said. “How they get away with saying certain things to coaches. How coaches talk to them differently than they talk to the other guys. It’s a problem.”

First, for reference, let’s split the Knicks’ roster into two lists:

CAA

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Andrea Bargnani
  • J.R. Smith

Non-CAA

  • Tyson Chandler
  • Amar’e Stoudemire
  • Raymond Felton
  • Iman Shumpert
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.
  • Pablo Prigioni
  • Kenyon Martin
  • Toure’ Murry
  • Cole Aldrich
  • Jeremy Tyler
  • Earl Clark
  • Shannon Brown

With Chris Smith gone, the Knicks are no longer quite as CAA-heavy.

Melo gets preferential treatment, because he’s the team’s best player and a true star. He’d get special privileges no matter which agent represents him.

Bargnani and J.R. Smith? Yeah, I can why (at least) one of their teammates is dismayed.

Smith has gotten a ridiculously long leash from Woodson, and before getting injured, Bargnani regularly started despite poor – and occasionally stupid – play. When all signs point to the Knicks playing better with other players – mostly small lineups that include Tyson Chandler as the only big and two point guards in the backcourt rather than Smith – these two got chance after chance.

Maybe the Knicks are pursuing Phil Jackson, who isn’t a CAA client, to fix these broken processes. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

The Knicks under Dolan have maintained a close relationship with CAA, the agency that represents both Anthony and Woodson. The hiring of Jackson could be viewed as Dolan wanting to distance himself from CAA.

“The Knicks and Phil are getting exactly what they want out of this,” said one general manager. “The Knicks are showing that they want to do something and this is a chance for Phil to get the Lakers to make a move. If they don’t, he can take the Knicks’ money.”

Why the Knicks are distancing themselves from CAA now, just before Melo hits free agency, confuses me. It might be the right move at just the wrong time. But New York shouldn’t throw good money after bad, either.

If Jackson can make the Knicks function like the well-run franchise they aren’t, including putting the relationship with CAA on more reasonable grounds, they’ll be getting their money worth.

Meanwhile, Smith and Bargnani will continue to get the money they’re not worth.

It’s too late to completely fix the issue, but Jackson could get New York headed in the right direction.

Draymond Green guarantees Warriors will beat Rockets in Western Conference finals

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Warriors coach Steve Kerr is confident despite his team trailing the Rockets 3-2 in the Western Conference finals.

Golden State forward Draymond Green goes further.

Green, via Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic:

“We still winning this,” Draymond Green said. “Book it.”

Of course, Green is confident. He’d never say he expects his team to lose.

But he didn’t need to frame it this way. He could’ve said he was just focused on the next game rather than make such a bold proclamation.

He’s taking pressure upon himself and putting his reputation on the line. If Golden State loses, especially in Game 6 at home with Chris Paul out, Green will be widely mocked.

If he and the Warriors pull through, he’ll probably deserve praise for setting a tone that helped them advance.

Danny Green: Kawhi Leonard told me he wants to stay with Spurs

AP Photo/Eric Gay
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The Spurs are reportedly worried Kawhi Leonard‘s camp wants to get him to the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks or 76ers.

Leonard hasn’t said much himself – except apparently to San Antonio teammate Danny Green

Get Up on ESPN:

Green:

I talk to him here and there, check up on him, see how he’s doing.

I think he wants to be in San Antonio. He’s let me know that. He’s let me know verbally he wanted to be there. So, we’ll see what happens.

Green has tried playing peacemaker throughout this saga – going as far as denying tension that clearly exists. He’s not the most reliable source.

And even if Leonard explicitly told Green he wants to remain in San Antonio, I’m not sure Leonard is confrontational enough to tell Green he wanted out, even if he did.

Those caveats acknowledged, this could be a huge revelation.

If Leonard wants to stay with the Spurs, the next step is meeting with them, mending their relationship and convincing them he deserves a super-max extension (which projects to be worth $219 million over five years). No matter how Leonard feels about San Antonio right now, if the Spurs don’t trust investing so much in him, that could lead to a fractured relationship and his exit.

So, there’s still a lot to sort out. But Green saying this means something.

LeBron James flips elimination-game game on its head

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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His Cavaliers down 3-2 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, how does LeBron James assess his situation?

"I don’t enjoy being in the position where it’s you lose and go home," LeBron said before Game 6 tonight in Cleveland.

He might not enjoy this position, but he’s pretty good in it.

Since he first reached the playoffs in 2006, other teams have won 26% of their elimination games. LeBron’s teams have won 57% of theirs.

Of course, LeBron hasn’t gone 12-9 in elimination games just because he’s lucky. He has willed his team off the mat numerous times.

LeBron has scored 40 points and/or had a triple-double in six straight elimination games, winning five of them. His line in his last elimination game before that streak? Just 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

A full history of LeBron’s elimination games:

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Rockets played with fire with Chris Paul, got burned

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Chris Paul played 79 minutes in three days.

Prior to Games 4 and 5 of these Western Conference finals, he hadn’t done that in more than two years. He hadn’t done it without both games going to overtime in more than three years.

The Rockets leaned heavily on the 33-year-old Paul, and they’ll pay the price.

Paul will miss Game 6 against the Warriors tomorrow. Given how quickly Houston ruled out Paul with a strained hamstring, he seems unlikely to play in a potential Game 7 Monday.

Injuries are somewhat – but not completely – random. Players are more susceptible when worn down. After missing the close of the 2016 postseason, Paul missed 45 games the last two regular seasons. He has accumulated a lot of mileage in his 13-year career.

Yet, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni drastically shortened his rotation, anyway. Not only did Paul play big minutes in this series, he shouldered a huge load. He took the reins of the offense at times, allowing James Harden to conserve energy for defense, while maintaining his own strong-two way play. That’s never easy, especially in these high-intensity games.

This was the risk.

We can feel bad for Paul and his predicament. We can also acknowledge Houston got this far by gambling on Paul’s health.

That’s not to say it was a bad bet. This is what you save him for, the biggest playoff series of his career and maybe one of the last before he exits his prime. The Rockets would have been far worse off to this point resting Paul extensively and protecting him. Even with such a heavy workload, an injury was never fait accompli. And Houston got plenty from Paul before he went down. He was instrumental to wins in Game 4 and Game 5 that gave the Rockets a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Now, they just must hope that’s enough of a head-start into a world of playing without Paul.