Derek Fisher: High number of expiring contracts challenge Knicks’ chemistry

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No team has fallen further short of its Vegas-based projected winning percentage than the Knicks.

Part of that is probably New York’s large fan base skewing the projection by betting on the hometown team. Part of it just the Knicks stinking.

At 5-21, they’ve looked jumbled on the court. Perhaps, their roster breakdown – beyond a lack of talent – is to blame.

New York has nine players with expiring contracts:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire
  • Andrea Bargnani
  • Samuel Dalembert
  • Jason Smith
  • Iman Shumpert
  • Shane Larkin
  • Quincy Acy
  • Cole Aldrich
  • Travis Wear

Plus, J.R. Smith has a player option, and Pablo Prigioni’s deal is only partially guaranteed.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Derek Fisher’s job of developing the Knicks into a cohesive unit has been compromised by two-thirds of the roster being in the final year of their contracts, according to the head coach.

“That’s a reality of this game,” Fisher said on Sunday. “You have a number of guys that are thinking about how they’re going to provide for their families and where their career is going and whether they’re going to be here or on another team and all the ramifications of those decisions.

“So that’s not easy stuff to process. And then on top of that they’re being asked to sacrifice more and do less in order to win so it’s not a great combination for cohesion and team chemistry but I do think there are enough guys in the locker room that want to do it the right way and so that’s why we’ve had a chance a lot of nights to win. But I don’t think anybody’s giving up on what we’re trying to do at this point.”

I’m sincerely impressed by the way Fisher addressed this topic. He didn’t criticize or belittle his players for being concerned about their next contracts.

Their concern is valid. To the Knicks whose contracts end after the season, counting cap space and speculating about free agents is not a game. It’s real life with major decisions and worries ahead.

Fisher, whose playing career just ended, can relate. Perhaps, he can even help them navigate these difficult waters.

If the Knicks just worry about their next contracts, that won’t help them. They’ll keep losing, and their value this offseason will continue to fall. Winners get overpaid.

Fisher’s understanding is a step. If he can make more logical substitutions and get everyone on the same page with the triangle offense, that would go a lot further.

How a single computer folder and dogged HR official exposed former Kings executive’s $13.4M embezzlement scheme

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Just how close did Jeff David come to getting away with embezzling $13.4 million from the Kings while working for them? He already secured a new job with the Heat and was in the process of moving from Sacramento to Miami.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

On this Monday, walking through the Davids’ new front door is a dizzying procession of cable guys, utility workers and movers. Amid all of this, Jeff receives a phone call from a former co-worker with the Kings. Her name is Stacy Wegzyn, and she works in HR. Jeff last remembers sitting in her office in Sacramento just months earlier, being told that the Kings were going to eliminate his position. After a few pleasantries, she gets down to business. She tells Jeff she’s been going through his old files, and in doing so she found one labeled “TurboTax” that references an entity called Sacramento Sports Partners.

“I was just curious what that is and if those are documents that should go to somebody else,” Wegzyn says.

It’s a seemingly innocuous inquiry from an HR lifer. But it’s one that will dictate the rest of Jeff David’s life. If he knows that — or senses it — he doesn’t let on.

“No, no, no,” Jeff responds. “That was a … man, this is taking me back. Maybe 2015?”

Wegzyn presses on. She asks Jeff whether the documents contain anything that anyone with the Kings needs to see. Jeff assures her they can trash them because the entity isn’t around anymore. A few minutes after he hangs up, his mother-in-law, Nancy, is standing at the front door when an FBI investigator appears, asking to speak to Jeff.

If you like the NBA or true crime – let alone both – I HIGHLY recommend reading Arnovitz’s full piece. It’s riveting!

Warriors Kevon Looney cleared for on-court basketball work, will return soon

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At least someone on the Warriors is getting healthy.

Big man Kevon Looney, who played opening night and has since been sidelined with a sore hamstring and neuropathy (what the team described as “nerve-related symptoms”), has been cleared to return to on-court basketball activities, the team announced Tuesday. From the official press release:

He will participate in select practice sessions with the Santa Cruz Warriors this week and will re-join the Golden State Warriors over the weekend. We will continue to monitor his progress and will provide another update on his status on Sunday.

Looney has already been officially assigned to Santa Cruz.

This is good news for the Warriors, who have been starting Willie Cauley-Stein but desperately need more shot blocking and depth up front.

Anyone getting healthy is good news for a Warriors team that is 2-12 and has the worst net rating in the NBA (-10.4).

Carmelo Anthony to start first game for Portland, apparently thinks he’s wearing number infinity

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Carmelo Anthony will wear No. 00 with the Trail Blazers.

Why?

Apparently because 00 kind of looks like ∞.

Anthony:

Somewhere, Kyrie Irving is nodding in support.

In terms of numbers that make sense…

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

That’s a sizable role for a 35-year-old in his first game in more than a year. But Portland needs scoring with Damian Lillard sidelined, and – at last check (though, again, a while ago), Anthony was accustomed to big minutes.

Besides, we all want ample opportunity to see Anthony back on the court after his lengthy absence.

David Fizdale: Knicks owner Jim Dolan gives me ‘vote of confidence’ at every game

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Knicks coach David Fizdale is on thin ice.

New York is 4-10. Knicks president Steve Mills is reportedly laying the groundwork to fire Fizdale. Mills and general manager Scott Perry addressed the media after a recent game and sounded as if they were at least partially blaming Fizdale.

But does Fizdale have a key supporter at the very top of the organization?

Fizdale, via Ian Begley of SNY:

“Every game, every game. Jim Dolan comes in and gives me a vote of confidence, a pat on my back and really has just been incredibly encouraging over the last year and a half or whatever it’s been,” Fizdale said. “All we talk about is just sticking to the process of making these guys better and building for a future of sustainable winning.”

A common synonym for “vote of confidence:” “dreaded vote of confidence.” Just how bad are near-nightly votes of confidence?

This will convince nobody that Fizdale’s job is safe. Someone will likely take the fall if the Knicks’ struggles continue. It might be Fizdale. It might be Mills. But Mills – who preceded and succeeded Phil Jackson in running the front office – knows his way around Madison Square Garden. And even if Mills gets demoted or fired, a new lead executive would likely want his own coach.