NBA AM: Why The Knicks Are Winning
Why The Knicks Are Winning: You can call it “Linsantity”, “Linsational” or even “Lintastic” but the truth of the matter is that the New York Knicks are winning basketball games without their marquee stars because Jeremy Lin is doing something the Knicks have not done all year — move the basketball.
“He just does everything easy and the rest of the guys around him are playing the way we want to play,” New York coach Mike D’Antoni said.
“I think it’s for real. The things that are real are his vision, which won’t change; his speed, which won’t change; his knowledge of the game, which won’t change. I think it can only get better.”
Lin, who has captivated the NBA landscape in New York, has scored 76 points in three games, but more importantly has handed out 25 assists in that span.
Said another way, Lin has almost half as many assists in three games as incumbent guard Toney Douglas who’s played in 25 games. Rookie Iman Shumpert has 78 assist in 21 games, about three times what Lin has amassed in three games.
The fact that Lin is scoring in the 20s every game is a byproduct of ball movement.
The Knicks had four players in double figures offensively last night. They had five in double figures the game prior versus Utah and four more versus the Nets five days ago.
Jeremy Lin has been great for the Knicks, but while fans are focusing on his offense the thing that’s being missed is that he had brought out huge games from his teammates and that’s been what’s truly special about Jeremy’s week.
Imagine how things will change once Amar’e Stoudemire returns to action on Monday, or more importantly when Carmelo Anthony gets healthy.
If Jeremy can keep the ball moving the Knicks might get things turned around.
Chandler Staying With Nuggets: Wilson Chandler’s agent, Chris Luchey told Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports that his client would be returning to the Denver Nuggets when his commitments in China end even though several teams have expressed interest in him.
“Wilson likes their direction and the stabilization of their roster in Denver with the young talent,” Luchey said. “He wants to see how they develop as a team. It’s a unique situation. The ball is in their court. If Wilson is comfortable, he will be a part of their core group.”
Chandler is unfortunately trapped in a tough situation because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement as our own Larry Coon detailed yesterday.
The new CBA does not allow for sign-and-trade deals to occur after the season starts. Chandler could only leave Denver, who holds his rights as restricted free agent, by signing an offer sheet from another team that has cap room to sign him and Denver opts not to match.
The wrinkle is further complicated because Chandler has until March 1st to reach a deal with another team, or he is stuck with Denver.
Chandler’s camp is saying that Chandler will either reach a long-term deal with the Nuggets after gaining his release in China or he’ll sign with the Nuggets for the balance of the year and start the free agent process again next year.
The Nuggets say that re-signing Chandler is a priority and plan to meet with Chandler in roughly a week to hammer out details on a new deal.
Chandler’s Guangsha Lions are expected to make the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs, so exactly when Chandler will be released is still very much up in the air.
The CBA regular season ends on February 15th. The playoffs will start on February 22nd with a best-of-five format consisting of eight teams playing in three rounds.
Aaron Brooks’ Guangdong Southern Tigers clinched the top playoff seed last week, while Chandler’s Lions are still very much in the hunt and tied at 16-13 for the sixth through eighth spot.
J.R. Smith’s Zhejiang Golden Bulls are just outside the playoff bubble now and are currently in 11th place at 15-13.
Smith was also voted a CBA All-Star starter which may further complicate his release. The CBA All-Star game is set for February 19th.
All three players will need their FIBA letter of clearance from China before being eligible to play again in the NBA.
Stern Talks Hawks: After announcing the 2012 NBA All-Star game would be held in Houston earlier in the afternoon, NBA commissioner David Stern stopped off in Atlanta last night and held court with reporters. Stern hit on a wide range of topics, most notably the future of the Hawks in Atlanta and the current ownership group, the Atlanta Spirit.
“They’ve committed to pay the luxury tax, which not many teams in our league do these days,” Stern said of the Hawks’ owners. “They are committed to hire the personnel to demonstrate to the fans that this is a franchise worth supporting. I think they are committed to Atlanta, and I’m committed to them.”
Stern admitted there continues to be interest in the franchise from would-be buyers, but for now the Hawks are not entertaining offers.
“It could be sold if they were interested in selling it,” Stern said. “But without naming names, they are well down my list of current worries. … They are doing pretty well on the court and I do know, because we talk about it a lot, they are committed to give it the business support.”
Over the past few weeks there has been considerable talk about new cities landing NBA teams with groups in Las Vegas, Seattle and Kansas City being mentioned as possible destinations for struggling franchises.
Stern was asked about the prospects of expansion in the NBA in the wake of booming ratings and fan interest.
“I don’t see it, honestly,” explained Stern. “There are franchises that might turn out to be candidates for moving through relocation. I won’t rule it out because the owners always consider it.
“Economically given our prospects — which are very bright — for a new television contract, significant digital revenues and expanded international operations, what we end up doing is we take in cash but we give away a lot of our revenue stream. And so that would be looked at very, very intensely and I’m not sure there’s a majority of owners that would want to go for expansion in the near future.”
Stern was then asked about the idea of European or international expansion, something he has said could happen within the decade.
“That’s a different kind of expansion,” said Stern. “We decided that’s something I should start talking about again. Because I said at first, 10 years ago, I said in 10 years. Now I’ve got to start it again in 10 years.
“The reality is, you cannot do this stuff free of discussions about the economic situation in the world. So, Athens wouldn’t come to mind as a city for an NBA franchise right now. It might in some future time. It’s a great place. They have an arena that’s left over from the Olympics. They probably can’t afford to carry it.
“I guess what I would say is, you could step back and see where we played our last exhibition games in Europe. And they were in London in the O2 Arena; they were in Paris at the Bercy, which is the subject of some discussion about a total renovation; they were in Barcelona with FC Barcelona, which is one of the world’s most wealthy and well-run basketball clubs; and they were in Milan, where the mayor of Milan suggested that they would be in connection with the 24-team World’s Fair. … And then, when you think of the fact that the 02 World is in Berlin and the 02 is in London — two newish arenas — the nationality was at some point, at some point — I don’t know when — there’ll be a reason to seriously consider multiple franchises in Europe because that would enable you to play a schedule. … Five [teams].”
Stern admitted the concept of the NBA playing in Europe has been talked about with several variations laid out, including the idea of a five-team division alternating between East and West every other year.
“We currently have six five-team [NBA] divisions. And so, I laugh, because someone proposed to me some years ago, a European, that here’s the way you do it: You take the European division and you move it between [NBA] conferences. So, in the year that it plays in the East, then you would have the Eastern teams play more in Europe. And the year Europe plays in the West, you have the Western teams play more. You could justify almost anything.
“It’s not the schedule and the traveling which is the problem,” explained Stern. “It’s the arenas, the ownership, the television arrangements, the pricing structure and the fan avidity. And it doesn’t pay to take anything for granted. It’s a nice thought. But basketball is not going to vend in Europe quite yet. It’s just growing. And it’s growing slowly but it’s growing nevertheless.”
David Stern has said a few times that if five ownership consortiums surfaced willing to pay $500 million per franchise, that’s when serious talks about Europe would likely take place.
As Stern predicted almost 10years ago, the arena solution is working itself out.
The other key obstacles revolve around money and the economy, once those are resolved, the NBA in Europe could happen, but as Stern pointed out, it’s probably still ten years away.
DeVos On Dwight: Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel was granted a rare interview with Magic chairman Rich DeVos this week, and the two talked about not only the future of the Magic as a team, but also in terms of who will own the club in the coming years.
The elder DeVos pledged that the Magic will stay in his family even after he passes, saying that owning the team brought his family together and there were no plans to change that.
The 85-year old DeVos is not as hands-on as say Dallas’ Mark Cuban, but DeVos is often seen inside the Magic locker room, when he attends games, chatting it up with his players.
DeVos is particularly fond of Dwight Howard, a player he hopes he can convince to stay in Orlando long term.
“We love him, and he respects us, so we talk,” DeVos said.
“When you’ve lived as long I’ve lived, you see things from a bigger lens and you try to share that with the young guys coming up, including being patient.”
Howard has requested a trade from the Magic; however, sources say that ownership not only nixed a possible deal to the New Jersey Nets before the season started, but also ordered Howard removed from trade discussions.
DeVos says he understands what Dwight is looking at, but he’s urged his All-Star center to realize change may not work out for the better.
“He’s respected,” explained DeVos. “You have to move in life, but the loyalty you develop in a community is always remembered. But if you leave, you don’t pick it up in the next town. It’s not an add-on, you know, because you lose what you had. Maybe you gain some new [loyalty], but maybe you don’t. Maybe the net gain isn’t as good you think. We just talk about stuff.”
Howard has been vocal this year about the talent on this Magic squad, questioning if the team had the means to win a championships.
“We talk about all that,” DeVos said. “We want to win, too. We all want to win, OK? I don’t think he tells you anything he doesn’t tell me. You can’t change anything until he says he’s going to stay. Then you can do a lot of things.”
DeVos said the rumors that the Magic would never agree to a trade with the L.A. Lakers because of how Shaquille O’Neal left the team more than a decade ago was not true.
“I don’t have any emotion on that,” DeVos said. “I never talked about where he would go because I don’t want him to go. I don’t discuss where he might go.”
The Magic are 16-10 on the season and three games behind Miami after dropping the HEAT in Orlando last night.
The Magic are currently the sixth seed in the East and would open the playoffs on the road against Philadelphia if the playoffs started today.
The NBA trade deadline is March 15th, so the Magic still have 35 days to decide how they want to proceed with Howard.
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