Saturday, June 25, 2011

Knicks and Nets ~ The Battle For The Boroughs

 From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH ~ NETS
....and the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP ~ KNICKS

The Knicks Are A Two-Star Solo System Surrounded By A Lot of Dark Matter Hiding The Chaos Within; While The Nets Are Building a Franchise The Old Fashioned Way, Quite Literally From The Ground Up.

One team executive is making his mark on a franchise by putting his fingerprints all over an organization in a short period of time while working for a relatively hands-off owner.  Another team executive, who started out similarly and with success, except for the part about a hands-off owner, is making his exit having performed one last act of mercy for an organization and an insufferable and adversarial owner.

Since Billy King jumped in the pool as Nets' new GM, he's been splashing water at the Knicks.  Sure the Knicks landed Melo, considering Carmelo Anthony was actually close to signing with the Nets assuming a lock-out.  But very shortly after that deal went down, Billy King stole a lot of the Knicks' thunder by landing Deron Williams from Utah in a move that stunned most across the League.

Earlier this week, Coach Avery Johnson threw out the ceremonial first pitch before a Brooklyn Cyclones' game.  It was there on the field during an interview Coach characterized his owner as a passionate man who's fairly hands-off. - "But he'll supply you with all the resources to succeed."

So, with the conclusion of the 2011 NBA draft, Billy King proved once again he doesn't need a micro-manager obsessing over his moves or raking over his decisions.  And behind the glitz of the Deron Williams trade, the Nets are quietly but very effectively engaged in team building. 

The Nets originally owned the 27th pick of the first round.  They traded that pick to Boston along with a future pick, for G-Marshon Brooks; selected by the Celtics with the 25th pick.  He stayed in college for four years and guys like that usually come into the League much more polished and ready for the NBA. 

A second deal by Billy King landed F/G-Bojan Bogdanovic; selected #31 by the Timberwolves.  Billy King sent them a 2013 pick and cash in exchange for the former EuroLeaguer.  And with the 36th pick, Billy King selected F-Jordan Williams.

In all, the Nets are resoundingly said to have had a very solid Draft Day.  The hopes now are in signing Chris Humphries to a deal.  If they can manage that, then the Nets off-season will have been considered a  huge success (in the absence of an extension for D-Will).

And what of Donnie Walsh; Jim Dolan; and the Knicks?  Madison Square Garden might be undergoing renovations this summer, but Dysfunction will always have a home on 33rd Street and 7th Avenue for as long as Jim Dolan keeps Zeke, his phantom teddy bear, behind the curtain. But that's another story.

With the 17th pick in the first round, the Knicks selected IMAN SHUMPERT.  At first I hated the selection.  I'm still waiting for a big body to clog the middle and get some rebounds for this glass challenged bunch.  But after digesting the selection for a day, it grew on me.  At any moment, Chauncey Billups (whom I didn't want retained) is a tube of Ben Gay away from getting hurt again.  Landry Fields disappeared after the Knicks made the Melo trade, as they switched and adopted the Star System; foregoing the Team Concept.  With Team Ball out the door, Landry's game went MIA. 

So, Shumpert will be called upon for much needed back up duty.  His defensive prowess will be negated if the other four Knicks on the floor with him don't buy in also, because they sure as hell aren't going to get the defensive impetus from Coach D'Antoni.  Tony Douglas perhaps can join forces with him in the back-court and form an effective defensive minded duo.  Where they fit into the 0.7 second shot offense is any-body's guess.

The Knicks also acquired Josh Harrelson from the Hornets for cash.  Out of Kentucky, He's a 6'10" center selected by the Hornets with the 45th pick.  Will he stop the opposition from walking their dog in the paint on their way to an uncontested dunk or lay-up?  Doubt it.

But that was Donnie Walsh's last official act as a team executive.  He is now just a token Team Consultant for cosmetic purposes of course; and for the next fiscal year only.   Jim Dolan pays former employees handsomely for their strict and binding silence once they ultimately sour on the owner like many not named Isiah Thomas.  But even Jim Dolan knew, as he was in the process of pushing Walsh out the door, that Donnie was still the best man to conduct the Draft for him because of the time; effort; and research already logged in.

The exit of Donnie Walsh also means Mike D'Antoni is officially a coach in limbo without the GM who hired him around.  Mike D'Antoni sacrificed his reputation as a winning coach for two seasons at Donnie's behest in order to get the Knicks turned around.  Now the next, unknown GM inherits a roster/coach relationship which raises more questions about the team's direction than it does supplying a clearer picture like before when Donnie was still in charge.  The Knicks are left guided by a coach which One; the fans were never overwhelmingly enamoured with. -  Two; a coach whom most are down on because of his lack of interest in emphasizing defense. - And three; someone who no longer has someone in the Front Office watching his back.

The Nets on the other hand, will continue forward with a General Manager and a Coach working together while building a franchise the old fashioned way; from the ground-up; just like their new arena.  Everything about the Nets organization you used to know has been purged.  There is a new owner; GM; coach; and a young roster completely turned over from the last era.  The Nets' foundation is strong; very strong; steel and concrete rising above Flatbush Avenue at Atlantic Avenue strong.

The Knicks?  Faced with real direct competition for the first time EVER, the Knicks franchise is scrambling to renovate their own arena and sticking season ticket holders with the bill.  They are also trying to patchwork a roster together without the services of a GM as of this day going forward.  And yes, the roster is an inharmonious patchwork. 

I still believe Melo and Amare are incompatible players.  But the Knicks (err...Dolan) sold out to the Star System over the Team Concept.  Donnie Walsh would have negotiated a better price for Melo and not have left the roster so vastly incomplete.  But the owner played Capitalist Media Mogul and made sure to acquire drawing attractions for his Entertainment Empire. 

It never was about Basketball with him.  Look no further than his opposition to the West Side Stadium.  In all the years Isiah Thomas ran the Knicks, Jim Dolan never said "Boo."  The owner however, has done everything to step all over Donnie Walsh's toes; whom was basically forced on the Knicks by David Stern; because of the direct threat posed by Prokhorov's Nets.  Basketball decisions are not order of the day on 7th Avenue.  Business preservation is and in my opinion, will turn out all wrong.

It seems as if the closer the Nets get to Brooklyn, the more erratic and anxiety riddled James Dolan becomes.  Behind the Knicks Two Star solo-system is a lot of dark matter hiding the chaos within.

The Nets?  There is a lot of scaffolding obscuring the old fashioned creation of an organization from the ground up.  And like their new arena under construction, when all the work is considered complete and ready for the Brooklyn Opener, we'll see just how strong the team's foundation really is.  But I think they're taking sure steps and getting it right.

I truly believe, because of the tactics employed by both teams in their escalating Battle of the Boroughs, the Nets are on more solid footing than the Knicks are.  It may not seem that way to the naked eye.  But if you expose a lens long enough on both team's path's towards the New York City showdown, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Photos as/of June 23, 2011





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