Saturday at 7:30 the Cavaliers tip off against the Knicks. Fellow bloguin blogger Lives from the top-notch Knickerbocker site Knicks Fanatics and I exchanged a Q & A in preparation for the match-up. Look for my answers to his questions here. His A's in response to my Q's are as follows...
StepienRules: LeBron just inked his endorsement deal with McDonalds...so why does he need the media market that is New York then? And why do you guys think you can get everybody? We just gave you Sabathia, leave us alone!
Knicks Fanatics: LOL. If LeBron comes to New York, McDonald's may name a sandwich after him: LeTripleDouble Burger sounds better than the Angus Burger. Too bad they can't have it their way and nickname him the Burger King. Seriously, not all New Yorkers believe that Madison Avenue is the center of the marketing universe. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Britney Spears have proven that you don't need to work in New York to take advantage of the New York media. Those who think LeBron needs New York to sell shoes and hamburgers in China, LA and Belize are just looking for pennies in the bottom of the purse to give LeBron in addition to a max salary, because they can't convince him that he would join a winning organization. With that said, I would be very happy for LeBron to select New York as his new home. And stop complaining, we gave you Walt Frazier once.
Knicks Fanatics: David Lee is an offensive stud and a defensive dud. I love David Lee. He is a true professional who has developed an aspect of his game every year. On a good team, he would be an excellent addition offensively. He cannot be stopped because he has a sure mid-range shot and is ambidextrous with good foot work. He also has a great nose for the ball on rebounds. Unfortunately, he is playing out of position because D'Antoni never met a true big man (unless you include Stoudemire) that he liked to play at center. David Lee can't protect the paint from bigger, faster and longer centers, but they also will not challenge his mid-range shot. David Lee also does not help well or consistently on defense, but I imagine he would be a little better if he was on a team that really emphasized defense. Yes, he deserved to be an All-Star and so did those selected and a few not selected. However, he did not necessarily deserve it over Al Horford. Lee is an excellent player on a team with a losing record because of poor defense. Lee is part of the reason for the poor defense, although his play is a reflection of D'Antoni's basketball fail-osophy.
Knicks Fanatics: Larry Hughes is still a licensed contractor, but one minute his license is suspended and he is in the D'Antoni doghouse and the next minute he's given a temporary work permit. Larry has been a brick man for a long time. However, he has a valid point when he complains about D'Antoni not communicating with him about his role on the team. Hughes was an important part of the Knicks turnaround in December during which we went 9-6. But D'Antoni coaches by feel -- he's an artist -- and he made an artistic decision to sit Hughes and take Nate out of the dog house. D'Antoni never explained to Hughes why he was sent to the bench and how long it would last. Some folks subscribe to treating millionaires in a sub-human fashion -- the word is that they make so much money that they should sit down and shut the hell up until their number is called. But, Hughes is a veteran professional and to be forced to sit, allegedly on merit, while Chris Duhon is stinking up the place and without explanation is insulting and disrespectful. So Larry is not too happy about the lack of communication especially since he is playing for his next contract and he can help the team win. But D'Antoni treats all his non-favorites (like Eddie Curry, Darko Milicic, Nate Robinson, Al Harrington) that way which is why at one point or another he's had an unhappy bench . So, the short of it is that Larry sucks, but like any veteran employee ready to work, he deserves some respect.
StepienRules: Is Mike D'Antoni on the right track? You see him as the Coach of the future?
Knicks Fanatics: Mike D'Antoni does not have a clue, but, as stubborn as he is, he is eventually willing to face reality after it beats him down. After a year, he finally realized that his Seven Second or Less offense was not going to work with Chris Duhon. So he changed to a half-court largely pick and roll offense to accommodate Duhon. Then he tried taking the ball out of Duhon's hands and made Lee and Jeffries point forwards. But, it was just now, against the Wizards, that he has finally admitted that Duhon does not have the heart to lead an NBA basketball team. He sat Duhon for the second half of the Wizards game in favor of Nate. Something he should have done before, but he was so busy trying to show Nate whose boss that he gave away games instead. D'Antoni also changed his defensive philosophy to include some actual defensive principals. Previously, he preached that having the best offense was a winning defense. Still, his defense is heavily reliant on the skills of Jared Jeffries. Without him, D'Antoni's team would be the worst defensive team in Knicks history. D'Antoni probably wishes he was in Chicago but he did not want the meddlesome oversight of an owner intent on building a team with defense in mind. Right now he is the coach of the future because he is under contract. How long he hangs around depends on what happens this summer. If LeBron comes, D'Antoni stays. If LeBron does not, D'Antoni starts packing some boxes at home.
StepienRules: Everyone asks what happens to the Cavs if LeBron leaves. But what happens to the Knicks if he stays? You guys have a plan B?
Knicks Fanatics: We are expected to be satisfied with the acquisition of Bosh, Stoudemire or Joe Smith. But realistically, we have a major problem whether James comes or not because we have no idea what type of team we are building. In addition to James (or some other star) we will need a point guard of some value. We will also need to decide what to do with David Lee and Nate Robinson. It is probably time to trade David Lee because he will rightfully command about $9-10 million per. We can't afford that with Jeffrie's salary on the books. Then if we get rid of Jeffries, we will need forwards with veteran defensive mindset. The fact is that we have spent so much time in demolition mode and so little time building a team for the long haul that we have no clear plan B, except to Be Disappointed for a few more years.