By John Schmeelk
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Legendary investor Warren Buffet has summed up quite nicely in one quote the key to being successful: “Intensity is the Price of Excellence.” The Knicks better listen because it’s quite obvious they need some education.
Often times Mike D’Antoni can be taken with a grain of salt in his post game press conferences but he was dead on after the Knicks loss to the Clippers. “Sometimes we don’t want to put in the effort first, and we just want to win the game without having to go full out,” D’Antoni said. “Then we have to go full out and it’s too late.”
It’s exactly what the Knicks did against the Clippers, and have done in recent games against subpar teams. They coast for the first three quarters, putting little effort in on the defensive end or on the boards. Either losing or with the game close in the 4th quarter, the Knicks turn it on. Sometimes it’s enough, but other times it’s too late.
Apparently, D’Antoni ripped his team in the locker room after the game for their lackluster play, and Amar’e Stoudemire agreed with the coach’s assessment. It’s understandable why they’re frustrated because in short bursts, when the effort is there, the Knicks can be an average defensive team. With their offense, it’s all they have to be to be a playoff team.
That D’Antoni and Stoudemire see and understand the problem is a positive, but they can’t seem to solve it. Stoudemire has been sending the same message of effort and focus on defense for a month, but as he said last night, “I guess I was talking to the wall.” Those are not comforting words. The Knicks are an extremely young team, making the inconsistency understandable, but no less acceptable. Lapses like that could easily cost the Knicks a playoff spot.
Despite popular opinion, D’Antoni does teach defense. He understands its importance, even if he doesn’t focus on it in practice as much as someone like Jeff Van Gundy. The scheme he has put in is sound, forcing opponents to the baseline where help is supposed to be. Recently, that help has been absent. It’s the same on the boards, where the Knicks are getting consistently outrebounded simply because they aren’t boxing out. It’s simple stuff.
It’s up to the coach and team leader to get through to the players to be more consistent and give 100% for four quarters. The young players on the team need to understand the gravity of the situation and play like their playoff lives depend on it, because they do.
UP AND UNDER
Up: Timofey Mozgov might just be a keeper. I’m not talking about a 30 minute a game starter and an All-Star, but he can be a useful player for 20 minutes that can defend, rebound, and finish. That’s all the Knicks need out of their center and he is providing it.
Under: Knicks fans are back filling Madison Square Garden and showing a lot of passion, but I beg you to chill with the “We Want Melo” chants. For one, it has a chance to play in the heads of the players, especially someone like Wilson Chandler. It also might panic Dolan who might make Donnie Walsh improve his offer to secure Anthony. Boo all you want, but please relax with the Carmelo chants. I don’t think the rumors have affected the team yet, but chants like that can’t help.
AROUND THE WORLD
I’m really proud of the basketball media. It took only a few hours for more or less the entire community to come out and debunk the Carmelo to the Lakers talk as nothing more than a bogus rumor. For one, as Frank Isola reported first, the Lakers have no interest in dealing Andrew Bynum. The bigger detriment to the deal, in my opinion, is Bynum’s injury history and bad knees. Why would Denver want him?
The Lakers are looking to make a move, however, in an attempt to shake up a stale roster. But no one seems to want Ron Artest and the Lakers don’t have many other assets unless they want to move Lamar Odom, a key to their team. Kobe and the Lakers visit MSG on Friday.
Expect more trade scenarios to be floated by Denver over the next two weeks until the trade deadline. They’ll do everything they can to make the Knicks offer more than what is currently on the table. Don’t be surprised if Denver actually decides to hold on to Carmelo and tries to convince him to sign an extension. It’s wishful thinking but it might be worth the risk if all they are getting back are two players that will be restricted free agents (Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer) and a first round pick.
Likewise, Carmelo’s quote that he would seriously consider resigning with Denver in the offseason reeks of someone trying to scare the Knicks into securing a trade now. He wants to be in New York yesterday and is tired of waiting for a trade to be negotiated. Donnie Walsh’s poker face remains intact but he will have to make a decision soon. Is losing someone like Landry Fields worth guaranteeing Carmelo Anthony? There’s a risk to trying to sign him in the offseason. Is adding Fields to their trade offer worth eliminating that risk?
Another option, and the preferable one in my opinion, is to make the trade better for Denver by taking back more salary. One option floated by Alan Hahn was including a Raymond Felton for Chauncey Billups swap. A second option is taking back Al Harrington and/or Renaldo Balkman, and sending Denver Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike to give them more cash savings. As much as I hate the idea of Al “The Human Black Hole” Harrington back on the Knicks, (along with his 5 year 35 million dollar contract), if he’s the price for Carmelo, so be it. Somewhere, Mike D’Antoni is cringing.
Oh, and Knicks fans, stop dreaming about the 2012 free agent class. There’s no telling what’s going to happen between now and then. Chris Paul is no sure thing. However, do remember if Carmelo doesn’t come there are more options down the road. All would not be lost.
For more on the Knicks, and everything else in the world of sports, dare to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/Schmeelk.
- Schmeelk’s Stance: The Waiting Game (newyork.cbslocal.com)