Knicks Gotta Knick

Knicks Gotta Knick

New York Sports have an unnatural relationship with reality.

Think of it as a super hot female model. Not the cute girls at the bar and local flyer bikini models that made up the last shitty Sports Illustrated calendar. Like a real smokeshow. She walks around and people just do shit for her. Buy her stuff. Act extra nice. And It happens so often that she starts to take it for granted. She expects it. She becomes self-absorbed.  

Yeah? Nah.

And we all know what happens when that girl loses her looks, or the next super model takes her place and they fall into obscurity. It’s not a pretty picture.

The analogy here is that because something is attractive, it often doesn’t feel that is has to work hard. Let me present a specific case of not working hard as you become less attractive: the New York Knicks.

The Knicks haven’t been relevant in 20 years. That wasn’t always true. Between 1993 and 2003, the Knicks appeared in the NBA finals twice, with two different head coaches and two very different teams, philosophically. That actually is a credit to management. Generally a team has a small window with a great lineup. See Golden State… or every team Lebron jumps tat to get all stars to carry his ass.

That the Knicks lost one final (maybe Pat Reilly should have subbed in Hubert Davis? Its why you lost, bro) and a few years later were back in the finals to lose with a completely different team – showing that Patrick Ewing missing lay ups and dunks doesn’t actually matter to a loser franchise- as long as you reallocate resources.

Guy had a J

But between 2001 and today? The most exciting Knicks moment was a cast off point Harvard educated guard that electrified a city. For ultimately a go nowhere team.

So we have to look at this body of work- a dead body, really- and we have to ask- why are the Knicks so horrible?

The answer isn’t so complex. I boil it down to headline envy.

The Knicks under owner James Dolan likes headlines. But not the right kind, like winning titles. No, he wants everyone to write about the Knicks, to refer to Madison Square Garden as the Mecca of basketball (wonder how many basketball fans actually know what Mecca is?) and to keep headlines because…have you seen the Forbes valuation of the Knicks lately?

$4 billion dollars. FOUR BILLION DOLLARS. For a team that hasn’t won a title in the lifetimes of most of their fans. The last time the Knicks were champions Gerald Ford was president.

He looks happy.

And how bad are the Knicks? Look at their present crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets have made the NBA finals twice since the Knicks made their last appearance. The Nets aren’t able to keep a home, but they have more success this century than the Knicks have. And since 1974, are 2-2 in league finals compared to the Knicks 0-2, albeit that the two wins were in the ABA. But for NBA standards, since 2000 the Nets have at least won a playoff series- when was the last time the Knicks did that?

The Nets have been vagabonds throughout their existence. Since their NBA arrival in 1976 they’ve called Uniondale NY home, Secaucus NJ home, nearly called Newark NJ home, almost called Westbury NY home, and presently call Brooklyn home. No one wants to keep them! And yet…since 2000, more successful than the Knicks if you look at playoff series wins as a barometer.

This pissees Dolan off. So he wants the backpage of the newspapers by interfering with team management so trade for superstars, or stars, or by leading the league in ejecting alumni, or anything that gets a headline to disrupt his losing. Speaking of losing, how have the Knicks done with coaches?

I’m pretty sure the last good Knicks coach was Jeff Van Gundy. You could argue Larry Brown was a good coach, but certainly not in his Knicks tenure. The Knicks are presently looking at new and exciting head coaches, some with limited experience. And the first experience all of these guys get? Losing. Fizzoutdale sucks.

Same goes for the front office. Phil Jackson was an incredible NBA coach. And was an imbecile as a team President with the Knicks. The sole good draft move Jackson made was Kirstaps Porzingis, who he promptly alienated and ultimately read about demanding a trade. Why read about it? Because his ass was already kicked out the door, having done nothing but lose in his Knicks tenure.

But the management in between? Isiah Thomas did a fantastic job as team President and GM, and even better as head coach. The Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph trades comes to mind, as do all those bad free agent contacts to players like Jerome James and Jarred Jefferies. Then there’s that weird $11.5 million deal he gave to Anucha Brown Sanders. I don’t know what that’s about but it can’t be good.

And amazingly, after the sexual harassment claim from Sanders, Dolan hired Thomas to run the New York women’s basketball team, the Liberty. This is the lack of judgement that makes the Knicks losers. Guess you can’t sexually harass a lesbian? It did get headlines, which is what Dolan wants.

Couldn’t make that shit up.

Every team in sports looks to point to a golden age, but I’m a fan of the “what have you done for me lately” school of thought. And what have the Knicks done lately?

Be bad enough to miss the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a solid lottery pick? And why not? Because unlike say the New York Mess (not a typo) the Knicks will drop money at free agents. Where they do a terrible job with such- hi Joakim Noah! But just enough to make sure they’re picking somewhere after the top ten.

This past Knicks season had some promise because they were absolutely fucking horrible and had so many expiring contracts that they would finally be able to be big game hunters in free agency. And you know what happened? Knicks gotta Knick.

They lost the draft lottery. So as fans suffered all season with that little glimmer of hope for a brighter future, the Knicks couldn’t even lose right. Now I am NOT saying that RJ Barrett is a bust, and in fact he seems to have the trust of the organization as their highest draft pick since Patrick Ewing. But at the same time…he can’t hit free throws? WTF. Every game the Knicks lose by 3 or less will 100% be Barretts fault for sucking at fundamentals. He went to Duke. He should know better.

Luckily for him, the Knicks are usually blown away by much larger margins of failure.

The other part of the Knicks past season that gave them promise was the two 1st round draft picks that the Knicks got from Dallas for Porzingis. But you know what? Luka Doncic will make sure those first rounders are somewhere in the 20’s. The Knicks best hope is to package those two picks and see if they can get to a top ten pick, because a bench isn’t going to help this mess. All they do is draft bench. Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Frank Tkinilikiniaiah- but not Alonso Trier. No, he was undrated but the Knicks signed him because he was buddies with Kevin Durant. That’s the way to woo a guy.

Because Kevin Durant was leaving Golden State to hang out with an undrafted college kid. An undrafted college kid.

Oh, that was the other thing. The summer of 2019 free agency splurge! Who were the Knicks getting? Durant? Anthony Davis? Kyrie Irving? A combination? All three?

Howabout this- Knicks gotta Knick. They got fucking nothing. A bunch of castoffs that are serviceable NBA players, but no leadership. And their coach? David Jizzdale? That wasn’t a typo either. Will he lead? Has he ever? Guy is a career loser as a head coach. How he has a job is not only staggering, but also lends to explain why the Knicks are just perennial losers.

Sucks.

But boy did they get headlines. The next one will be for firing the coach.

So that’s a lot of bitching. What about a positive? How do we fix this?

First step- James Dolan needs to sell the team. He has $4 billion reasons to. Take the money and play with your shitty jam band. You’ve done enough. And not in the good way. Shit, the Nets sold their team and shitty arena over a billion, and the Los Angeles Clippers went for $2 billion. Take the money and go ruin something else.

So douchey.

Next step? You have a $4 billion franchise. Invest 1% in a head coach, GM, front office, and scouting staff. Maybe 1.5%. That’d be $40 to $60 million dollars. You know what you’d get? The top head coach and the top GM in the NBA taking a massive salary. You have a salary cap on players, but on coaches? Not so much. Yes, there are some staffing limits that apply to the players cap, but that doesn’t fall on coaches.

Is Blatt answering a call?

Next step? Draft well. That’s why you have scouts. And free agents? Be selective. Have a five year plan. Reevaluate that plan after every game. Do not be afraid to make trades, but always weigh the trade offs and opportunity costs in keeping an asset and moving an asset. Maybe hire a team economist and a team cap expert? Look at the present model that’s working- teams effectively shooting the three- and emulate that, but figure out what the next trend is- maybe defense comes back? Maybe it’s three point plays at a higher percentage shot? Maybe it’s a ten second offense? But for the Knicks, we know what isn’t winning- what they’ve been doing for almost 20 years.

Time for a change, Knick fans, or else it will be more of the same. Or more to the point, Knicks Gotta Knick.

*This article was written while watching two consecutive Thanksgiving time Knicks losses- to be fair, consecutive Knicks losses can happen at any time- but was inspired by Knicks superfan and the creator of the term “Jizzdale,” AMR.

Follow the author on Twitter @JoshBarely

The NBA, China, and You

The NBA, China, and You

The NBA is performing its annual world exhibition series. This series of games is part of the goodwill of the best professional league in the world, but also reflects the ever growing global popularity of the game of basketball. Basketball is popular because it’s as cheap to play as soccer, and is an accessible game to pretty much anyone. Fans in China especially love basketball and are very supportive of the NBA.

Then the literal shit hit the fan. Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey spoke in support of the protests presently going on in Hong Kong. In case you weren’t sure what was going on in Hong Kong, here is the short version:

Since 1997, Hong Kong has been a part of China after being a British colony. The residents have historically had decades of autonomy from China, and built a thriving economy. China has mostly left Hong Kong alone as it has been a cash cow, but every now and then China pokes at Hong Kong just to remind them who is really in charge.

Protesters attend a demonstration demanding Hong Kong’s leaders to step down and withdraw the extradition bill, in Hong Kong, China, June 16, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu – RC12BDB5C070

The present protests originate from a bill that was introduced that would allow Hong Kong to deport suspected criminals to mainland China to face trial there. Many people feel that such would guarantee extraditions initiated by China, more criminal convictions and violate their rights, so the residents took to the streets to protest.

They’re also protesting police corruption and brutality, and at least one protestor has been killed by police during these protests. And the protestors also want the promises of expanded democracy from a 2014 bill enforced. Lots of moving parts, but basically, they want democracy.

Rockets GM Morey tweeted support for the residents of Hong Kong because generally, the United States should be supporting democracies all over the world. It has been a foreign policy of ours since World War Two, one of the main reasons that we spend billions of dollars to support Israel today, and the impetus for at least four military conflicts in the last 50 years or so.

A tweet is so innocuous, right? WRONG. Morey was bombarded with HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of angry tweets from China. League officials started to speak out of both ends of their mouths. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he supports free speech for NBA employees, and in the same breath said there are consequences for your free speech. The message was received by the rank and file of the NBA.

Champion coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr danced around supporting Hong Kong despite being vocal critics of the United States. Lebron James called Morey “uneducated,” which is interesting. I’m sure there is no direct financial tie between Lebron and China. Also Lebron managed to firmly plant his foot in his mouth in the process. But more on this later.

Even present Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai wrote a rambling letter attacking Morey’s knowledge of China and explaining a history of foreign imperialism in China and why Chinese are so sensitive to western commentary on Chinese life and culture.

Interestingly, Tsai is from Taiwan, a state that has been long backed by a Western nation that has preserved their autonomy. Tsai came to America and got a degree from Yale, and worked hard to earn a $700,000 annual salary from a Swedish investment firm in Hong Kong before he took those earnings back to the mainland to start the Chinese equivalent of Amazon, an American idea.

Even more interestingly, all of the aforementioned actors are silent on the current Chinese persecution of the Muslim Uighur population, who are pretty much presently sitting in camps which the Chinese say serve the purpose of reeducation. Any person who has ever read a history book knows what reeducation means. You would think a guy that makes profits in China and became an internet billionaire like Tsai would want all the people in China to be his customers and be free to shop on line, but he’s predictably quiet on the subject.

I get the feeling that Joe Tsai is an asshole, but it’s just a feeling. Based on anecdotal data. I’m sure he gets birthday gifts for his kids or something, but I don’t have a source on that.

So you may be asking, why is the NBA so afraid of China? Why are the players shutting the fuck up? Why are North American arenas taking away not only protest signs, but also informational campaigns out of their arenas? And the answer is simple- money.

The NBA collective bargaining agreement (CBA) creates a split in league generated revenue between players and owners at basically a 50-50 share. The players share of revenue is generally expressed in the salary cap. If you’ve followed the NBA, you’d know that revenues grow annually, meaning the cap grows annually, so every year players get paid more and more.

Want an example? When the New York Knicks gave undrafted bench energy player Ron Baker a contract, it was for a two way roughly $540,000. That’s like sports minimum wage. However, Baker had a management team that believed in handing out bad contracts more than they believed in him. Baker as a rookie averaged 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists a game for that season. Those stats made him a multimillionaire.

The Knicks gave Baker $9 million dollars over the next two years. I’m pretty sure I can post those same stats for $530k over 50 games like Baker did, and would gladly sign a 2 year deal for $9 million. And not even see the end of that contract, as he was waved by both the Knicks the Washington Wizards last season.

Why the fuck would you give Ron Baker a $10 million net value as a human being? Because the NBA prints money.

The salary cap for the upcoming season is $109 million, and is expected to more to $117 million for the 2020-2021 season. Why go through all of this?

Because China. If China decides “Nah, fuck you” to the NBA and stops showing games, supporting teams, cutting off apparel sales, the conservative estimate is that the NBA salary cap for 2020-2021 is going to be $99 million, and the doomsday estimate is $94 million.

From $117 million to $94 million? That means a team loses $46 million in revenues. And the players on that team combined lose $23 million. But that’s not just all.

Hong Kong has an opinion, too

There are 30 teams in the NBA. That’s $690 million of player salaries that will go away. Raises that will be reduced. Unrestricted free agents what will see pay cuts for becoming a better player. Veterans who will have prematurely ending careers. Do you think that players want to see nearly $700 million go up in smoke? And owners see almost $1.4 billion not hit their bank accounts? FUCK NO.

So you want to know why Lebron is toeing a line? Or Popovich? Or Kerr? Or every player in the league? Or arena security? Because everyone has jobs and money on the line. The NBA players union assuredly wants the cap to escalate, not return to 2016- which was $94 million.

As American citizens, we enjoy the ideas of democracy and freedom. We believe on some level that we should support sucj ideas if they are in our best interest. And people are looking at a guy like Lebron- a guy who has never had loyalty to anything in a career but Lebron and opportunity- who made some hypocritical statements and are calling him a dick. Lebron actually said that in this matter he does not want to be political. He doesn’t want to be political? He mocked the current president. He campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2016. He’s gotten involved in public schooling in Ohio. He’s been vocal in the Black Lives Matter movement. He’s absolutely political.

And today? He’s China’s bitch. So…maybe he has more in common with the president than he realizes.

I talk to people. I have yet to meet one that has said “I agree with what Lebron did. He has to cover his ass.” Pretty much everyone sees him as full of shit, which is easy to realize if you every watched that self-absorbed shit ESPN “The Decision” soap opera.

There are many people who are yelling that Lebron should have made a statement about the Hong Kong situation. They say things like “You have to express what you feel even if its in the face of losing money” or “If you believe in the cause, who cares what your boss says, because freedom is important!” A lot of these people are right leaning, which I find interesting.

Why? Because they’re fucking hypocrites.

How did I make that jump? Remember that Colin Kaepernick guy? The guy that expressed what he believed in despite losing a lot of money? And they spoke out for freedom and social issues despite his bosses asking him not to? Oh, they guy was buried. “Shut the fuck up and play!” How DARE you take a knee during what historically has been…a commercial break. When TV networks- like right leaning Fox and left leaning CBS- have taken a knee for the anthem, too.

And these same douchebags? They were the ones saying about Kaepernick “If I did whatever I wanted to at my job without a care about what my boss said? I’d be so fired!” So, to be clear, you’d shut up and do as your told? Like Lebron is doing?

Yes, I know you’re not worth half a billion dollars as Lebron is. But while there is some courage in having “fuck you” money, most people like to get paid to do things. Can Lebron never work again and be ok? Sure, absolutely. Can you and I? No. So he should live by different rules than you do? Who else is subject to your whims? So, here’s what I’d suggest.

Shut the fuck up. It’s easy to have armchair courage. But fact is, people love to just complain and never fix shit. And I’m not even talking about the racism angle here, which absolutely has something to do with it. I don’t recall anyone complaining when Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas refused to meet then President Barack Obama. Seems people liked the freedom of expression back then that they presently hate with the Golden State Warriors announcing that they’ll do the same.  

In short, is the NBA scared about potentially losing billions of dollars? Absolutely. Is Lebron James a douche? Absolutely. Is Joe Tsai a selfish fucked up opportunistic individual? Absolutely. Would you rock a boat at work about your feelings? Not a fucking chance. So when we complain about Kerr and Lebron, are we hypocritical? Well…you are. I don’t have the suck up gene.

In short, people don’t just want nice things. They want to complain. They want to bury someone and will dance around their reality to do so, like those fucktards that are incels or the skags that are social justice warriors or the jerkoffs who gossip at the office. The NBA and China encouraged people to be douchebags about this specific topic, but if it wasn’t them there would be some other nonsense to blame. So feel however you want about Lebron or China or the NBA. Just don’t pretend that you’re better than any of them. And try to be as good as Daryl Morey.

The 2019 New York Knicks Draft

The 2019 New York Knicks Draft

Hey dear readers, I bet you’re expecting a mock draft. Well, fuck that. What’s the purpose? Zion goes 1st overall? And then who gives a shit.

Here’s what a draft generally entails. There are 3 strong players in any draft. Maybe 2, maybe 4. But about three. They will play for a bad team. They will look to either become cornerstones for a franchise, or look to move to a better team to join up with another star. More on that later.

So the NBA draft in 2019 will be a lot like other drafts. But here’s where the NBA fucked up.

The league should have rigged the draft to allow the New York Knicks to have won the draft lottery. Why?

Because the Knicks were terrible. Worst record in the league. Understand that people buy tickets to see the Knicks- I would rather waste money on buying Absinthe, letting it evaporate, and snorting the crystals instead of paying for a train, seats, and snacks for failure- despite the fact that as an organization, they are losers? And the fans often get what they came for.

But the Knicks were such losers, they didn’t even win for losing. And even then, they’re still getting a solid player. Until they have to pick that player.

What the Knicks have is salary space for two NBA star players. And they drafted a high level wing forward last year. This means that if the draft falls wrong, the Knicks are going to be fucked. Why?

Easy. The Knicks took Kevin Knox as the future small forward. There’s a strong chance that the Knicks will be looking at drafting a small forward at pick 3. If so, the Knicks can either trade Knox, or trade pick 3. Except, there’s only one answer. And that is, there should no way that the Knicks trade the third overall pick.

NO WAY.

Whomever the Knicks choose?  Better than whomever they have.

So if the Knicks are drafting a point guard? Fuck you, Kyrie, with your name sounding like an 80’s song from Mister Mister. If the Knicks are getting the other kid from Duke? Trade Knox. And if Zion falls to them? Duh.

But me? I look to move my 3rd overall to New Orleans, plus this and next year’s seconds, plus a future first or two to get Zion. Dallas gave you two firsts for gimpy Kristaps Prozingas, who despite being punched in the face was a proven NBA all star, so why not make an offer to move up two spots?

New York Knicks first round NBA Draft pick, Kevin Knox, poses with his jersey at the teams training facility Friday, June 22, 2018, in Tarrytown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen) ORG XMIT: NYKH103

Why would New Orleans make the trade? Because they’d be getting a 3rd player in the draft, plus two more firsts and two seconds to move down two spots. Also, they’re still trading Anthony Davis and will take in a haul for him. The Celtics made a deal like this with the Nets and have been prosperous since. New Orleans could use the hype of Zion and the demands of Davis to make them potent for years. Oh, and since these will be so many guys on entry level deals, the Pelicans can be active in the free agency market.

Zion is made for New York. The next Charles Barkley. Not a small market guy. Then the Knicks can go out and sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving or Kawai Leonard or whomever they want to. Kevin Knox can learn a jump shot and swing to G2, or sit behind Leonard. Actually, maybe Knox- Tim Hardaway Jr never did.

But here is what the Knicks will do. They will trade away a top pick to acquire a nightmare contract, then sign a free agent, which is what they could have regardless while keeping a major asset. Instead they’ll make some headline grabbing splash, keep an inferior player at small forward, and sign maybe one UFA. They’ll fuck up everything like they always do, because they’re the Knicks. And with the weaker level of firepower, they will b a 500 team that exits in the first round of the playoffs. Again.

If only the NBA had the sense to make the Knicks a valuable team based on something more than geography, they’d have frozen an envelope again.