Tuesday, November 20, 2007

That Crazy Atlantic...

After 3 weeks of NBA basketball and the holiday approaching it is time to take stock in what has gone on thus far in the Atlantic Division of the Association.

First the obvious: The New York Knicks are an absolute joke. They have become an embarrassment to basketball, to professional sports and of course the city of New York. After an amazing New York weekend and some real strong insider sessions with some of my cabinet we came up with the following steps the Knicks need to take to get this sinking ship at least patched up and pointing towards something positive.

1) Buy out Stephon Marbury
Yes, it is a ton of money but the Knicks have been paying people for years that are no longer in uniform, except in this case it will be helping the team if he is NOT in uniform. Forget the numbers he may get, he is hurting the current team and slowing the development for the future. Oh yeah, and he is completely out of his mind. Please Steph, take your cash, your sneakers and your new view on life and go to Italy, please, please, please go away!

2) Fire Isiah Thomas from both positions he holds.
Do I need to state the facts? He is 6-22 since he got an undeserved extension last season. His personnel moves have not gotten the team anywhere near respectability and he is losing control as the head coach. There is no way he has the full attention and respect of that locker room. The other night we caught him dropping an F-bomb to Nate Robinson during a dead ball. Probably the best camera work the MSG network has done in years.

3) Hire Jeff Van Gundy as Head Coach.
While I love the Van Man in the booth on ABC/ESPN he is what the Knicks need on the sideline, at practice and in the locker room. He is a pro’s pro. The guy can flat out coach. He can teach the game, motivate and handle the New York media. The job he did in 1999 getting that Knicks team to the Finals after the season they had is always over looked. The inability to get the Rockets out of the first round of the playoffs was unfairly placed on the style he had them playing rather than Tracy McGrady not being able to lift the level of his teammates like SUPERSTARS do. Van Gundy will teach the Knicks how to defend and play with some pride. Combine that with their size and ability to score the ball and fans being real fired up about his return and this would be the best answer right now for the organization.

4) Hire Jerry West as Team President/General Manager.
You want to restore some class and some pride at the Garden?
You want a proven talent evaluator and someone who has put together championship teams? Then what you need and should want on the next flight to the Big Apple is Jerry West. From his days as a player to the man in charge of building three championship Laker teams and a fifty win team in Memphis West is an obvious candidate for this position. Let me ask you something? Who is going to question Jerry West? Who is going to doubt his ability? Answer to both, NO ONE.

West of course will need some assistance with this mess, and I know you are all pulling for me to get into the league, so yes, I already left him a message on his cell piece and sent him a box of cigars from the Red Auerbach collection.

Looking at the rest of the Atlantic the Celtics could not have asked for a better start. They lost for the first time in Orlando on Sunday night. After falling behind by 20 points in the 3rd they came roaring back to take a lead but the Magic (off to a 9-2 start) made big plays down the stretch. The Celtics stand at 8-1 with the Warriors and the Lakers coming to Boston this week. 10-1 is quite realistic. Did anyone know how good of an all-around player Ray Allen is? We all knew he was a great shooter but his passing, his work on the dribble and his defense have all been very strong thus far. He is so smooth on the court. What a compliment to Pierce and KG. For the all the Rajon Rondo bashers out there he is shooting 57.5% this season. Will he maintain that? Probably not, but a good start was needed in that respect and he has responded well. I could not be happier with James Posey. While Eddie House got off to a hot start, it is Posey who night in and night put does the little things, and plays some very important minutes.

Toronto is at .500 sitting at 5-5 and that is where this tem will be around all season. As good as Bosh is, and as well as Ford has developed this team is no longer going to sneak up on everyone like last year. Combine that with what the Celtics turned into and the Raptors will be fighting to stay in the playoff race most of the season. With games starting tonight at Dallas, at Memphis and at Cleveland let’s see what kind of early season resolve the team north of the border possesses. With Rasho Nesterovic now sidelined for two weeks Bosh is going to need help up front more than ever, will Andrea Bargnani and Jamario Moon be enough?

When Vince Carter sprained his ankle against the Celtics 9 days ago my first thought was that the Nets would be able to stay the course as the ball movement would increase as isolations for Vince to shoot fade away jumpers would cease in his absence. Well guess who was dead wrong? The Nets have been getting beat, six straight losses to be exact. Last night they got slapped in Utah, last week was the Jason Collins episode at home in the 2 point loss to the Hornets, and both Boston and Orlando handled them easily as well. So is there an answer while Carter is out? Kidd can only do so much. And while Sean Williams is getting more minutes and proving he is going to be a force in the league the Nets really need to dig deep before this gets out of hand. How much time do you give Nenad Kristic to get back into rhythm following last year’s knee surgery? His 18 minutes per night and 5.6 points are a far cry from what the Nets were hoping for in his return. The Nets go out west for games at Portland, Seattle and the Lakers followed by Memphis visiting the ZOD early next week. Getting 3 of the next 4 is a must for New Jersey. Time to get on J-Kidd’s back, again.

The 76ers are 3-6. Surprise? No.
Andre Iguodala is leading them in scoring, assists, steals and minutes.
Surprise? No.

This team is exactly where we all thought they’d be. They need to keep developing talent around their new AI. The problem is all I see are role players at best with Willie Green, Reggie Evans, Kyle Corver and Samuel Dalembert getting the bulk of the minutes. Rodney Carney and Thaddeus Young are averaging a combined 20 minutes a night. Not exactly what you’d be expecting from your last two first round draft picks.

Look for the Celts to keep rolling and the Nets to gain some footing on their three gamer out west. As for the rest of the Atlantic, especially in New York we are just going to have to wait and see, well at least until after the Knicks host the Warriors tonight. Gotta go see if Jerry West hit me back…enjoy your afternoon.

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