Knicks Fanatics Blog & Hoop Heads North: Q&A Bloguin style

Knicks Fanatics Blog  Hoop Heads North

In an effort to help continue the great cross blog interaction here on the Bloguin network, ‘Lives’ of KnicksFanaticsBlog.com and I recently connected for some quality conversation regarding the New York Knickerbockers and all of the current and potential issues surrounding the team. As a fan of the NBA and with the ‘Summer of 2010′ fast approaching, I had a lot of questions that I was interested in hearing the thoughts of other passionate NBA fans. With a lot of the rumours surrounding the biggest names and upcoming free agents in the NBA possibly headed to ‘The Mecca’, it made for the perfect Q&A opportunity!

With the NBA All-Star Break upon us, there was no time like the present to share this with the NBA blogosphere, even if you don’t agree. Knicks fans and NBA fans alike, my boy Lives pulls no punches and he tells it as he sees it. I think you’ll enjoy reading what he has to say

Check out the full Q&A after the jump, you won’t be disappointed!

HHN: What is your take on David Lee NOT being named as one of the reserves on the Eastern Conference All-Star team? (Not to pre-empt your response, but I was very surprised personally.)

*Editor’s note – At the time of the Q&A, David Lee was not named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve, BUT he was just named earlier this evening as a replacement for Allen Iverson who is still home with his daughter who is extremely ill.

Lives: Every year deserving players are not selected to the All-Star team. The first problem is that the All-Star game is meant to serve two masters: the fans and the players — and it can’t fully satisfy both simultaneously.

The NBA is entertainment first and foremost and the All-Star game is a product designed to appeal to the fans which is why the fans vote. Fans vote for ‘Stars’ which is a combination of the most-popular and the best players in recent memory.

It should be expected that fans reward players for longevity and what they mean to the league over the long haul, not just what they are doing statistically at any point in time. The vote is little more than a popularity contest because fans are loyal to the game and they will constantly show appreciation to those who have given to the game, even players on the down side of their careers. Players who don’t deserve to get in based on their current season will always get in. Fans appreciate what Allen Iverson has done for the game and they realize he is on the way out, but they recognize his efforts and name over David Lee’s. I expect no different.

Of course the fan’s decisions make the decisions tough for the coaches who sometimes apply criteria other than obvious market demands.

I am surprised David Lee didn’t get the nod only because New York needs marketing help and Stern made New York a pet project when he sat down with Donnie Walsh and convinced his old friend not to retire and to come to NY instead so they could bring some sense of professionalism and normalcy back to MSG and get Jim Dolan under some control. For the league to recognize Lee would have helped, I think.

As a player, Lee would have been a justifiable choice.  His offensive game has developed superbly over the last three years. He is virtually unstoppable since he has developed that mid-range shot this past summer. He moves well with either hand and uses his wide body to great effect to protect the ball. His hands are like Velcro on the pick-and-roll. I love this guy and said from day-twelve that he should be a Knick forever.

But keeping it real, Lee’s poor defense is one of the reasons for our losing record. He is also playing out of position which works both positively (on offense) and negatively (on defense). If there were 15 All-Stars, we could complain a little more; but there were 12 chosen and 11 of them contribute to winning teams. Valid cases could have also been made against the snubbing of Jamal Crawford, Josh Smith, Mo Williams and Joakim Noah.

HHN: I know hindsight is 20/20, but one of my Twitter peeps recently brought up the fact that the Knicks had both Zach Randolph & Jamal Crawford who are now helping their current teams be legitimate threats in their respective conferences. Do you think the Knicks would have been better off keeping them?

Lives: It’s called hindsight only by those who don’t chose the right option when a decision is made. Hindsight is a slippery way of avoiding saying, “I was wrong”. It was obvious when Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford were traded that the Knicks were a much better team and were playoff bound before the trade. Crawford and Z-Bo were the team’s two leading scorers, respected in the locker room and were thriving with Eddy Curry out of the way. Z-Bo was even passing the ball as D’Antoni had requested, a welcome departure form his ‘Black Hole’ image. They had the makings of a superb team, but Walsh came in with a mandate to change the culture and to prepare the team for the Summer of 2010. He saw an opening and gave Z-Bo and Jamal away for expiring contracts and expiring players (see Cuttino Mobley).

Some are hoping that his gamble pays off when he tries to reel in a superstar free agent with the money he has saved for the occasion by dumping our best players and pretending to build a playoff contender for the present. We are all going to hell when he tries to sell us on Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh because he doesn’t have the attention to Championship detail to attract the best of the best (no offense to your guy). *Editor’s note/opinion – CB4 is one of the league’s best – Top 5 in the league – definitely underrated!

HHN: As a lifelong Knicks fan, do you like the team playing an uptempo style of play that D’Antoni has implemented, or do you prefer the Pat Riley/Jeff Van Gundy style of basketball?

Lives: I prefer winning basketball and in the NBA defense and physicality still wins. The Celtics won in 2007-2008 because they were extremely physical. The Lakers won because they became more physical than the previous year. D’Antoni’s run and gun style cannot win the Championship except by some great luck.  Today’s players cannot and will not play defense and offense at that pace and the playoff game slows down tremendously. Yes, I know that some will say the Suns could have won but for…However, the fact is that they have not won the Championship. They haven’t even gotten into the Championship round under D’Antoni. End of argument.

We should note however, that D’Antoni finally abandoned his ‘seven seconds or less style’ because his point guard (Chris Duhon) can’t and won’t play at that speed. He has developed much more of a half-court game and has admitted a greater focus on defense which is a departure from his arrival when he essentially said his defense was to have a better offense than the opponents.

HHN: What are your hopes for the Knicks during the soon to be immortal ‘Summer of 2010’? What players on the roster do you think have to return? And who do you think the Knicks will be able to land from this tremendous upcoming free agent crop?

Lives: I don’t know what players to hope for because I have no idea what kind of team we are trying to build. Are we looking for someone to help us implement a ‘run and gun’ game? Are we looking for a more traditional roster? If we get LeBron, what are we looking to put around him? He certainly cannot win a Championship alone. 

But I don’t believe we get LeBron or D-Wade. Bosh maybe. Joe Johnson most likely. We are not likely to attract guys who are businesses in and of themselves. We are not likely to attract winners because we are not a winning organization and we don’t treat our players well when the relationship sours. The way we have handled players such as Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson, Larry Hughes, Darko Milicic, and Eddy Curry – spiteful, inconsistent, non-communicative – has not gone unnoticed by players on the move and planning to move. We are more likely to attract those still trying to build a name for themselves and become financially set for life. We will attract those who are not thoroughly happy with their current environments and not because of money. Those players won’t mind taking the risk of dealing with this organization.

Don’t be surprised if we’re hyping someone like Joe Alexander, Marcus Camby, Manu Ginobli or Fabricio Oberto. And don’t be surprised if we lose David Lee between now and next season either in a trade or through free agency. If we knew what we were building we would have tied David Lee up earlier. And don’t be surprised if Nate Robinson is still a Knick although there are teams like the Celtics and Blazers who would take him.

HHN: Since I jumped ahead to the ‘Summer of 2010′, who in your opinion TRULY has the most influence on personnel moves: Jim Dolan, Donnie Walsh, or Mike D’Antoni?

Lives: This is my rare TMI a la TMZ moment, when I provide more gossipy information than I really know. 

I have no idea, but I think based on observation it depends on the player. Undoubtedly, D’Antoni had great influence in the drafting of his ‘God-son’, Danilo Gallinari, the child of his former roommate, and Jared Hill, an Arizona star who frequented Suns games while D’Antoni was in Phoenix. D’Antoni’s relationship with Mike Krzyzewski also resulted in Chris Duhon being plucked from free agency and the Bull’s doghouse to be transformed into the Knicks’ beta-dog (definitely not a better dog or an alpha-dog).

Similarly, Donnie Walsh is definitely responsible for bringing on Indiana retreads from retirement (Jonathan Bender) and from another team’s splinter center (Al Harrington). 

Then again, it has been suggested that Brandon Jennings is not a Knick because James Dolan was not interested in another troublesome point guard after dealing with Stephon Marbury. 

And who would you attribute for the failed courtship of Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Jason Kidd? Both D’Antoni and Walsh have a lot of respect amongst players in the league, but clearly not enough to overcome the Knicks reputation.

So, I think this mess is a ‘Master mind’ team effort. Perhaps that is the main reason there seems to be no real plan in place other than to stockpile cap space.

Thank you for the stimulating questions. I hope my answers, which many Knicks fans will disagree with, do your questions justice.

Be sure to check out KnicksFanaticsBlog.com for passionate New York Knicks and NBA discussion. You can also follow Lives and the KnicksFanaticsBlog crew on Twitter!

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