Somewhere, in the not so distant future, George Karl and Mike D’Antoni are going to share a schmoke and a pancake, and while drinking the night away, they're going to let it all out. Comparing notes like college girls, they'll come to the conclusion like men that it was all a part of the journey, and most importantly, the job description. But what they won't do is make excuses, because most of the time coaches aren't built that way.
D’Antoni quit after asking management if they would entertain a trade of Anthony before the deadline, after Melo’s team leaked anti-D’Antoni reports through CAA mouthpiece Chris Broussard, while also leaking to the New York Post that he wanted a trade.
I’m going to sum up the Melo situation as quickly as I can. He’s a cancer. He corroborated with the Nuggets to get his extension while stripping the Knicks of their key players – and even had his powerful agent/shoe company people installed at Madison Square Garden to eventually run out D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh. They, like most of us, thought it was dumb as hell to sell the farm for a career-loser and I-guy.
Melo showed up in New York and acted like the messiah and team leader, having the audacity to tell the cameras that his teammates needed to play defense. Instead of trying to expand his game to learn a new skill set under D’Antoni’s known quantity of a system, he refused to make his teammates better. Once the going got bad, he tried to pass the ball. I chronicled it then, and it really happened. But watching Jeremy Lin soak up the spotlight and show Knicks fans a better way – a way that anybody that had dribbled a basketball knew was the path to blue and orange salvation – Carmelo just couldn’t take it. True to form, the losses piled up and he just knew it wasn’t his fault, and the guy that wouldn’t let him ‘play his game’ simply had to go.
And Knicks fans, having seen their shadows, can go back into the hole they crawled out of, and just thank their lucky stars that they’re not Warriors fans, like me.
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EDITORS NOTE: Be on the lookout for Trade Deadline Madness 2, posting shortly.
In the interest of accuracy I was wrong about Melo integrating into the offense, though the issue was more pronounced defensively and in the locker room. One of the criticisms being heaped on MDA was his inability to take the momentum created by Lin’s emergence and hold Melo’s feet to the fire with it, but that’s a little bit like blaming the dog for biting you after you yank its tail.
Now Mike Woodson, the mastermind behind Iso-Joe and resident pushover, steps in to let the inmates run the asylum. This has potentially huge fantasy impacts, though how much he can shape the team with seven weeks to go is a question mark. Anthony might see an uptick in his numbers, but again, he was already breaking plays and doing his own thing. Likewise, Jeremy Lin’s numbers could also take a little bit of a dive. Last night’s first outing, unfortunately, shed little light because the only team in the NBA more jacked up than the Knicks right now, the Blazers, got beat up, laughed at, and embarrassed by 42 points.
Melo’s buddy, J.R. Smith, was let loose and scored 23 points with seven triples, Steve Novak hit six threes for 20 points, and Iman Shumpert scored 16 points off the bench. Lin’s 6-6-6 line was impacted by the blowout, as were all of these lines, and surely the devilish numbers don’t sit well with the superstitious. Baron Davis had 10 assists in 18 minutes, and Landry Fields had one point. Melo scored 16 points with seven assists and two threes, and none of the starters played more than 26 minutes.
What does it mean? Nothing. If you’re holding a borderline asset here, you have to wait it out to figure it out. The Knicks will likely have fewer possessions per game and are surely heading for a team-wide locker room implosion. Melo’s guys, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, are decent bets to emerge from the wreckage. Lin’s guys, Landry Fields and Steve Novak, they’re looking at rough times. Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire are probably wondering what they signed up for. On the wings there is a log-jam. Somewhere Spike Lee shed a tear.
THE WORLD SERIES OF ROLLING THE DICE
Easily the biggest news of last night came around midnight out West, when RealGM broke the story that Dwight Howard was going to sign his waiver and stay in Orlando. We’ll learn more about the story behind the story, but Howard is throwing his new agent (Dan Fegan) under the bus and it makes me wonder if Fegan couldn’t deliver on something (i.e. Deron Williams, with a separate agent, wants to play in Dallas). Howard said that he got bad representation and then Quentin Richardson tweeted a picture of the Magic on the plane having a good time, and you know it’s real when Von Wafer is throwing gang signs.
The bottom line is that multiple sources are confirming Howard’s position, and it would take a PR disaster of amazing proportions for Howard to change his mind once again. I’m not going to bother laying out the various scenarios in which Howard could be fibbing, double-crossing, etc. My gut tells me this is done, and if it’s not then we’ll do it all again tomorrow. At a minimum, we’ll get to hear Fegan tell his side of the story through some sort of leak.
All in all this is great news for owners of Magic players, as the cloud of Howard will now be gone, and most importantly their cushy fantasy arrangements won’t be compromised. Jameer Nelson is revitalized and had 25 points, five rebounds, seven assists, a block, and five 3-pointers, begging the question of whether or not he’s allowed into Dwight’s parties again. Hedo Turkoglu (17-4-4) and Ryan Anderson (19 & 8, two threes) are both helped greatly by news that Howard is staying, as the offense is built perfectly for them. That is, of course, if the big man doesn’t change his mind. J.J. Redick scored just six points in 34 minutes and now that Jason Richardson isn’t imminently being offloaded (yet), some of the appeal is lost there.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN BROOKLYN
Deron Williams (calf) is targeting this weekend for a return, but it’s anybody’s guess how the Dwight Howard news will impact his plans for the rest of the year. If the injury is at all serious and he’s not forming a super team in Jersey, he could easily shut it down. Jordan Farmar should still be owned in all 12-team formats, despite getting handled by Jerryd Bayless to the tune of 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting with just three assists and five turnovers. Kris Humphries went off for 16 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, three steals, and three blocks, and if you were like me wondering who the extremely athletic big for the Mavs was years ago it’s fun to see it all play out. He has added an offensive game to the repertoire and if he and Brook Lopez stay together, he’ll be a fantasy stud beyond this year.
The story from the Nets side though was Gerald Green, an interesting entry into the best dunker of all time discussion because he looks down at the rim. Green went off for 20 points in the second half to finish with 26 points, putting him on a three-game tear of 21 points per game with five threes and four steals total. Can he keep it up? It’s not a sure thing, but why not? He’s putting butts in the seats and the Nets are awful. I’m not dropping a consistent, low-end producer to find out, but if I have any dead weight at all, I’ll throw caution to the wind.
A WORD ON THE BLAZERS
Until Nate McMillan gets fired or the team gets shook up at the deadline, as expected, they’re all going to struggle. This means, of course, that after the shake-up that whatever is left is going to bust out of its funk to some degree. I’m holding all of the assets there, including guys like Raymond Felton and Wesley Matthews. Jamal Crawford is gone, but I’m holding him, too. It never ceases to amaze me though how media analysts can’t separate the technique of coaching, which McMillan clearly has figured out through meticulous planning, from the ‘reaching guys’ and personnel decision elements. But hey, he talked to me when he was a player, and boy is he a good guy.
TANKING IS FOR WINNERS!
Stephen Curry (ankle) is walking a fine line between his current act and being shut down, and there was a reason I put him on my 'do not draft' list this year. To be clear, I actually had to delete him from my spreadsheet and turn the photo I have of him on my desk away from me. And while the Warriors and the media have been surprisingly forthcoming with the tanking issue, it’s going to be difficult for them to fall organically into the bottom-seven (to save their lottery-protected No. 1 pick, Utah). From there it’s all about ping pong balls. Owners have to hope for the best, here, and only you know where your threshold for a drop exists.
The Warriors are still leaning toward keeping Stephen Jackson, though it might have as much to do with not having the time to clear a deal after physicals get done to finalize the Ellis/Bogut trade. And the question on everybody’s mind is whether or not Klay Thompson will hold his value, and answer from me is a fairly resounding ‘yes.’ Thompson scored a career-high 26 points with three triples and a 9-of-16 mark from the field, and owner Joe Lacob was seen blowing kisses to him during timeouts. Yes, Lacob loves the kid, and Jackson is basically going to take a backseat and, who knows, his hamstring might just act up (if you know what I mean).
Even if Thompson’s minutes shrink to 30 minutes (a worst-case scenario), he’s still going to post low-end value, so when you ask me about whether you should drop guys like Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Arron Afflalo, and the like I’m going to say do it. When you ask me about Isaiah Thomas I’m going to say no, and I’d probably say ‘yes’ to Jerryd Bayless as a point of advice, but then turn around and not pull the trigger when it comes to my own team – seeking the upside of Bayless on a gamble. And if you’re fighting for the playoffs I can reach way higher up the food chain for Thompson, too.
DRINKING WITH DAVID LEE
Though not as exciting, owners should be plenty excited about Nate Robinson (20-5-11, four steals), who could easily quarterback the Warriors down the stretch if Curry gets shut down. He’ll produce about half those numbers if Stephen Jackson plays less than 20 minutes per game and Curry returns to play a full slate, too. That’s good enough to knock off those options that are struggling in the aforementioned list.
While I said I’d toss Wright for Thompson, owners need to hold him while he’s hot as he posted 16 points, seven boards, and two threes in 33 minutes. As I alluded to in yesterday’s trade piece, we’ll soon know where he stands and owners can pitch him away if things break the wrong way. Brandon Rush (7-5-3-1-1) slowed down in 30 minutes, but with five games next week is a pretty nice pick-and-play, and has some upside of his own as one of Mark Jackson’s favorites.
Andris Biedrins went scoreless with three points and two blocks, and I’m pretty sure Lacob thought the term ‘amnesty’ meant ‘immunity’ after a drunken night of watching Survivor with David Lee.