Friday, June 25, 2010
The Knicks have a tremendous need for a big man, yet failed to capitalize by selecting one in the NBA draft. After selecting Andy Rautins of Syracuse with the 38th overall pick, the team instead selected the freakishly athleticwingman, Landry Fields, out of Stanford.
Potentially adding Fields to the plethora of wingmen the Knicks currently have on the roster begs the question: who will be the odd man out?
The likely answer is Wilson Chandler. As the Knicks look to beef up its roster to attract the summer’s best free agents, Chandler could become key trade bait in order to bring in another valuable player.
Chandler is the furthest developed of the Knicks’ young core, as he is also the most tenured.
With Danilo Gallinari, Bill Walker, J.R. Giddens, and now Fields on the roster, Chandler is becoming expendable.
While Giddens is nothing more than a low-risk role player, Gallinari and Walker still have a tremendous amount of upside.
The Knicks feel Gallinari has the potential to become a perfect complement on offense to a star free agent signee, and Walker was among the scoring leaders throughout his time in the D-League over the past two seasons.
What you see is basically what you will get with Chandler. While he has improved his midrange game over the past couple seasons, his statistics in virtually every offensive category have been near identical during his two seasons as a starter.
Then again, do not assume that Chandler cannot improve. He is still only 23 years old. That being said, his game impact could always be replaced by the Knicks. He is not a game changer, which is what the Knicks are lacking in order to win.
With a handful of wingmen on the roster already, and nearly half of roster left to fill, Chandler is not one needed to surround a potential free agent star(s) with.
With the Knicks still lacking a defensive wall and low post threat at center, Chandler would be well suited a trade piece along with Eddy Curry, possibly to be sent to New Orleans for Emeka Okafor and Darren Collison.
This trade benefits both teams. The Knicks would acquire Okafor, filling a desperate need. One of the league’s better defensive players, Okafor has averaged 10.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks throughout his career. He can certainly be a game changer (on defense, that is) in the eastern conference.
For those not sold on Toney Douglas as a starting point guard just yet, they will be able to take more comfort in Collison. A player more ready for the NBA than Douglas, Collison proved his worth as a starter while filling in for the injured Chris Paul this past season. Collison had 13 double-doubles (point and assists), and furthermore, had seven games with nine assists.
The Hornets, already stacked at point guard with Paul and Marcus Thorton, (in addition to Collison) would be smart to take advantage of the opportunity to rid itself of Okafor’s expensive contract, which continues on for four more years. The team would gain Curry’s expiring contract as well as a consistently performing starter in Wilson Chandler.
Wherever Curry ends up (hopefully) be traded, it make sense for Chandler to go with him as compensation, as Curry’s potential this season is completely unclear.
Unfortunately for Chandler, if he is not traded prior to the upcoming season, he could very well be pushed to the bench in favor of Gallinari and a much more talented free agent signee on the Knicks roster.
Although the Knicks did not have a first round draft selection in this year’s draft, there was still hope the team could improve its talented young core with its two second round picks.
Instead, the WaMu Theater at Madison Garden groaned with disappointment from Knicks fans scattered all around as their team selected Andy Rautins of Syracuse (38th) and Landry Fields of Stanford. (39th).
Unfortunately, for the Knicks, this draft drew two terrifying parallels to dreadful drafts of years past.
At 38, the Knicks were long hoping to snag Darington Hobson. As the draft progressed, it appeared that Donnie Walsh did not have to buy a first round pick in order to get Hobson.
Instead, Hobson was the 37th overall pick, one before the Knicks.
Walsh responded by selecting Rautins with the 38th overall pick. Fans may recall last year’s draft when Walsh drafted Jordan Hill with the 8th overall pick after Stephen Curry was taken by the Warriors just one pick prior.
The Knicks might win some hometown points by drafting a player out of Syracuse. The fact that he can shoot the three all day long should help Rautins in a system like Coach D’Antoni’s, but unfortunately, his overall skill set is otherwise limited. The term “one trick pony” comes to mind.
The second of the parallels will hit much closer to home for Knicks fans. Reports had former Lincoln High School star Lance Stephenson high on the Knicks’ list in the days leading up to the draft, but the team instead went with Landry Fields at 39. The Pacers wasted no time scooping up Stephenson with the very next pick.
The Knicks left fans with similar disappointment when the team chose to forgo selecting the homegrown Ron Artest in the 1999 draft, while at same time, watch him be selected just one pick later.
Everyone knows what a player like Artest can end up accomplishing. The Knicks can only pray they did not make the same mistake in letting Stephenson pass them by.
The opposite of Rautins, Fields is a very athletic wingman with a good rebounding ability for a player his size. The fact that he was selected, instead of Stephenson, will likely hurt his favor with Knicks fans more than anything else.
Both players have talent. However, they both could have probably been signed as a free agent after the draft. Neither one was expected to be selected that high in the draft, let alone, in the draft at all.
It was not until later that Walsh seemingly salvaged the draft.
Newsday’s Alan Hahn reports that the Knicks have purchased the rights to the 44th pick, Tulsa’s Jerome Jordan, from the Bucks.
Many insiders believed the Knicks were going to select Jordan with one of its original picks. He is certainly more of what the Knicks seem to be lacking; a seven-foot center with strong rebounding and shot-blocking abilities.
It will be interesting to see how Walsh feels about his selections, as well as how Coach D’Antoni envisions each prospect fitting into his system.
Until then, not much more can be said. At the same time, the uncertainty of each pick’s potential is a major let down.
The Knicks definitely lost points tonight by letting Stephenson escape through their fingers, but redeem themselves by picking up Jordan.
It is just a shame the team actually had to purchase another pick to get Jordan, rather than simply selecting him earlier.
Overall Knicks’ 2010 NBA Draft Grade: C
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
In the summer of 2007, the Boston Celtics were in trouble. After a measly 24 win season (and not many better seasons prior to that), General Manager Danny Ainge understood improvements had to be made to save his job.
He responded by helping the Celtics finish at 66-16, the third best regular season finish in the already storied franchise’s history, becoming NBA Champions just a season later.
Ainge obviously did not sit back and wait to see how things played out. He made moves. The centerpiece of the Celtics’ improvement was Kevin Garnett, but how in the world did Ainge convince the former MVP to accept a trade to a team with such a losing record?
He made a noticeable splash on NBA Draft Night. Nearly a month before the KG trade, Ainge set the tone by acquiring Ray Allen.
Despite being a seven time all-star, Allen was an aging guard, coming off of an injury-riddled season in which he appeared in only 56 games.
Furthermore, his contract was set to climb up past $20 million per year for three more seasons.
There is no doubt a move like that is an incredibly risky one, but that is why it created such a splash. The fact that Ainge was willing to take on such a player (at such a contract) proved he would do anything to win, and subsequently was the ripple effect to the Celtics becoming champions.
In order to bring the Knicks back to greatness, Donnie Walsh needs to take note from Danny Ainge and make a splash.
Attention, Mr. Walsh: Richard Hamilton can be your ripple effect.
With the Knicks in an even more desperate situation than the Celtics were in just a few seasons ago, Walsh needs to make sure he pulls out all the stops in order to recruit the league’s top free agents to New York.
Bringing in Richard Hamilton would prove to free agents that the Knicks are ready to start winning basketball games.
That’s not to say the Knicks should build around Hamilton, but simply that Hamilton can be the Knicks’ Ray Allen of sorts.
Hamilton is coming off an injury-plagued season of his own, and has three more years on his contract for over $12 million per season.
While that type of acquisition may seem burdensome at first, the Knicks would immediately bring in an NBA champion.
Hamilton knows the ultimate definition of teamwork. A member of the Larry Brown-led Pistons in the mid 2000’s, his scoring average hovered around (but normally lower than) 20 points, constantly leading the team in scoring, while keeping the rest of his team involved in the offense.
Still a consistent 18 points per game scorer, if Hamilton were able to provide the Knicks with anything close to what Allen provided (16-18 points) the Celtics over the past three seasons, the team would be thrilled.
The trick to acquiring Hamilton is not eating into the Knicks’ cap space. Trading for Hamilton would only be worth it if he gives the Knicks a better chance at signing two marquee free agents to maximum deals.
The easiest way to accomplish this would be to trade Eddy Curry (and his expiring contract) to Detroit.
There have been recent rumblings of Curry being open to accepting a buyout in order to re-sign with the Bulls to restart his career. While that would save the Knicks some money (if the buyout were agreed upon before free agency begins), the team may benefit more if it gets value back for his expiring contract.
The Pistons would be able to (and may be likely to) buy Curry out after acquiring him anyway, as a simple means of getting rid of Hamilton’s contract.
Nevertheless, one can only hope that Walsh has been taking notes the past few seasons. It may be the only way he can end up impressing fans and free agents alike.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
As the Knicks prepare to woo some of the league’s best players via free agency this summer, Chris Bosh is certainly very close to the top of the priority list (behind LeBron James, of course).
In fact, the plan is to sign two talents to maximum contracts. LeBron and Bosh teaming up in orange and blue is the Knicks’ ultimate pipe dream.
However, Bosh’s comments on the SNY Network’s “The Wheelhouse” may lead fans to believe that he could get traded to the Knicks before then, specifically, on draft night.
That’s right: draft night. When asked about his summer plans, Bosh replied, “"We'll see after draft night,".
Newsday’s Alan Hahn breaks down what Bosh may have meant with that very comment in his blog, “Knicks Fix”.
“Bosh - like all of the opt-out players - could be traded on draft night, as well. In this scenario, the Bird Rights go with the player, which changes the game dramatically because now you can re-sign this player after capping out, though they do take up room on your payroll as a cap hold so it's not like you would still have room for two maxes.”
Bosh waiting to make any assertions until draft night could benefit the Knicks in one of two different ways.
Hahn reports that the Knicks hope to make a splash on draft night to set the tone that the team is going to drastically improve this summer.
That could include making a draft night trade for a player like Tony Parker or Richard Hamilton, in hopes of convincing free agents that the Knicks are going to be a legitimate contender.
It could also suggest, however, that Bosh himself will be traded to the Knicks on draft night, hooking the team up with his Bird Rights.
The tricky part of it is actually pulling off the trade. In the case of a Parker/Hamilton deal, it is believed that Eddy Curry and his contract would be the centerpiece.
The Raptors, however, are said to want as much talent as possible back for Bosh. The Knicks biggest asset, obviously David Lee, is also a pending free agent. Unlike Bosh, Lee and his “rights” cannot be traded on draft night because he is currently signed to a one year contract.
This makes any deal with the Knicks for Bosh on draft night highly unlikely unless by some miracle the Raptors were to take on Curry.
Curry’s contract could prove to be a tremendous asset for the Knicks leading up to July 1st, as trading him for a winning talent would simply be considered addition by subtraction.
By trading Curry for the likes of Parker/Hamilton, the Knicks could add a moderate all-star (not to mention, Parker and Hamilton both have championship rings) to put next to the team’s young budding talent in order to further entice LeBron, Bosh, or anyone else for that matter, to play for the Knicks.
It would take less pressure off the Knicks as well. If the team brings in a star before July 1st and then is ultimately only able to lure in one maximum free agent as opposed to two, that would simply mean that Parker/Hamilton would hold down the fort with the signed free agent until 2011.
In 2011, if the cards are played correctly, the Knicks could make a run at another top-notch free agent available (namely Carmelo Anthony) with an already strong core in place that includes those two players mentioned, along with the Knicks’ current young group.
Don’t look now, but hope is starting to mount for the Knicks.
The possibilities appear endless.
Friday, June 18, 2010
It’s tough to say that things haven’t clicked yet for the Storm’s Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird.
Together for nine seasons, and nearly their entire careers (aside from Jackson’s rookie year in 2001), the two have terrific chemistry. With 12 all-star appearances (seven for Jackson, and five for Bird) and a WNBA Championship between them, their prolonged success as a pair is quite impressive, something not matched often in pro sports today.
But that lone championship came in 2004, and has since been followed by five conference semifinals losses.
The Storm are hungry for a title once again. The team, which holds a league-leading record at 9-2, held a five game winning streak before having it snapped Thursday by the Indiana Fever.
The team will have its work cut out for it as it looks to resume its winning ways, going up against MVP candidate Cappie Pondexter and Liberty in New York Friday night.
Although providing a tough matchup, it has not been smooth sailing for the Liberty. After acquiring Pondexter prior to the season, the team was expected to experience more of the same success the Storm has had thus far. Widely viewed as a title contender, the team started off 2-4 before winning two games to reach .500. After another loss to the Washington Mystics, the Liberty are looking to even their record up once again.
Despite the Liberty’s bumpy ride, neither Jackson nor Bird is ready to disregard them as a threat.
"They’ve got a really good team," says Jackson. "Cappie [Pondexter] obviously brings a whole other dimension to the team. You can tell they are starting to roll now (after the two wins), but we are going to focus and hopefully come out with a win."
"It’s going to be a very tough game for us," added Bird. "They have a great mix of players who have won championships. And Cappie brings so much more to their team. I think they are just going to keep getting better and will be dangerous."
The Storm’s dynamic duo includes two of the league’s most talented players and even an MVP candidate of their own, even if she doesn’t want to acknowledge that recognition just yet.
During a recent interview, Jackson was extremely modest about being included in the MVP discussion with Pondexter and Diana Taurasi at all, Bird had no problem acknowledging how lucky she felt to play with the "best player in the world" and that Jackson "should be number one" in the MVP race right now.
Friday night’s matchup is a homecoming of sorts for Bird, who grew up and played her high school basketball in Long Island, New York.
"The minute the schedule comes out [for that game], I immediately get started on making plans. It’s always great to come back home. I’m really excited."
If the Storm can bounce back from their loss against the Fever and beat the talented Liberty, it will prove resilience. It may also show that this Storm team is different from the ones that have lost in the Conference Finals in years past.
With Candace Parker now out for the season, if Jackson can stay healthy, she could very well finish with the best all-around season in the WNBA. Bird is leading the league in assists, averaging a career-high 6.7. That number undoubtedly correlates to Jackson’s uncanny ability to finish on the offensive end.
Frankly, if Seattle’s dynamic duo can carry its success through the rest of the season, they very well may end up taking the rest of the league, well, "by storm."
The Storm take on the Liberty at Madison Square Garden on Friday night at 7:30EST.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The Cavaliers must be panicking now that Tom Izzo has decided to stay at Michigan State, declining the Cavaliers’ $6 million per year offer to become the team’s new head coach.
LeBron James’s failure to speak with Izzo in the first place can only add to the Cavaliers’ concern.
Izzo is a world class coach at the college level who would have provided the Cavs with some desperately needed stability after they fired LeBron-favorite Mike Brown.
Unfortunately for them, of course, the Cavs are now living in a world full of uncertainty with no head coach.
They also run the risk of losing the best basketball player in the world.
Having no top-notch coach, let alone any coach at all, only increases the chances of James leaving for a destination with a good coach and more stability than the Cavs currently offer him.
As the speculation continues to mount, the Knicks should be asking themselves, is Mike D’Antoni Lebron James’ dream coach?
The answer could very well be yes. The Knicks have been strategically preparing for July 1, 2010 for two years now, starting with the hiring of its coach.
D’Antoni is a gifted offensive mind, truly the ultimate player’s coach. His high octane offensive teams in Phoenix averaged 58 wins over four seasons, with a very simple core philosophy -- shoot early and often.
It may appear improbable that with everything LeBron James has accomplished offensively, he has been held back. Sadly, however, it’s true. Mike Brown’s offense was slow, mundane and boring.
Under D’Antoni, James would be completely unleashed. Perhaps the best finisher in the game, his strength and quickness could make him unstoppable in an offense that thrives in transition.
Although D’Antoni’s offense is commonly known to run through a good point guard (the Chris Duhon experiment simply did not work out), James could certainly fill that role too.
Many analysts claim his best attribute is his passing ability. It’s hard to argue. A true amazement on offense, Lebron is a phenomenal playmaker that recognizes mismatches and can get the ball to the right guy at the right time. The proof is evident in a player like Mo Williams’ development.
The offense could completely be run through Lebron, whether the end result is creating his own shot, driving to the basket, or finding an open teammate. LeBron can do it all.
For comparison, Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson come to mind.
In the right system, he can certainly be that type of player and build that type of legacy.
Even though his team faltered, LeBron proved in the playoffs, and even in the regular season for that matter, that he is on the cusp of averaging a triple-double.
While never having coached quite a player like that, if there was any coach who could help LeBron accomplish that feat, it would be D’Antoni.
D’Antoni certainly gives the Knicks an advantage this summer, having coached many of this summer’s top free agent prizes before in the Olympics. The players all love his run and gun free-styled offense.
While defense may not be D’Antoni’s strong suit, the theory is simple -- the better defensive players a team has, the better its defense can be.
Lebron undoubtedly is one heck of a defensive player.
D’Antoni has also never won a championship, which is the very reason why Mike Brown was fired.
However, LeBron should not be too concerned about getting too attached to D’Antoni. The Knicks are nowhere ready to fire a coach simply for not winning a championship.
At least not yet.
In fact, the team is currently still craving to go deep in the playoffs, or even make the playoffs at all.
Certainly LeBron is up for that challenge and could be pairing with D’Antoni to take it on very shortly.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
In the summer of 2000, the Knicks were one of the league’s best teams, having made the NBA Finals just a season before.
With enough cap room to sign a star, the Knicks sought out the perfect teammate capable of helping (future Hall of Famer) Patrick Ewing reach the Finals once again.
The team took an elaborate approach towards one of the league’s best players, and clearly the best available one that summer, Grant Hill.
Hill was wined and dined, given a jersey in orange and blue with his name on it, and wooed by New York City celebrities such as Matthew Modine, Peter Boyle, Chazz Palminteri and Michael Imperioli.
That effort obviously fell short, as Hill signed with the Magic that summer instead. The Knicks traded Ewing just a couple months later and began what has ultimately turned out to be a ten year rebuilding effort.
The team is in a similar, yet much more desperate position this summer, with a boatload of cap room and multiple marquee free agents available.
Of course, catching bigger fish requires even bigger bait, which is why the Knicks have formally announced a star-studded celebrity panel to assist in the all-important recruitment of this year’s dazzling free agents, most notably, LeBron James.
The panel, which is expected to rapidly grow as needed, is already reported to include A-list celebs who have graced Madison Square Garden’s front row for years.
Spike Lee, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, Tracy Morgan, and Donald Trump are all preparing to meet the potential Knicks.
Various New York Sports heroes, such as John McEnroe and Super Bowl champion Phil Simms are also expected to play a part in the recruiting effort, while former Knicks Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, and Stanley Cup champion (with the Rangers) Mark Messier are all sure to sing praises about what it really feels like to play in “the world’s most famous arena.”
The group is expected to meet with many free agents, but some are already focusing on one player in particular.
Referring to Lebron James, Chris Rock has his own pitch already planned, telling The New York Post, “You really want to live in Cleveland? That's what I would tell him. Where do you want to live?"
The celebrities assembled are some of the most famous in the world, let alone in New York City. However, it’s none other than “The Donald” who is the city’s ultimate tour guide.
"He would take over the city," said Trump. "I am in many different cities, but I can tell you, LeBron, there is only one New York,” Trump offered.
Let’s hope this celebrity “cast” also remembers that LeBron wants “a running mate” too!
And while New York City Mayor Bloomberg has not been named on the official roster, he has already gotten involved.
Friday, June 11, 2010
With the possibility of the likes of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and/or Chris Bosh joining the Knicks this summer via free agency, little focus has been put on whom the team may lose.
Of course, the Knicks have been one of the league’s most embarrassing teams in recent years. The fact that they have freed up cap room and are ready to shed themselves of some of the dead weight occupying valuable spots on the roster may come as a relief to many.
However, with all there is to gain, the Knicks stand to lose its first all-star in seven years: David Lee.
Even after a Donnie Walsh overhaul, Lee is one of the few holdovers from the dreadful Isiah Thomas-era. With five seasons under his belt, Lee is tied with Eddy Curry as the current longest tenured Knick.
Lee, of course, has been tenured by choice. Curry is tenured as part of obligation, as the team has been unable to trade him due to his long contract and multiple injuries.
A restricted free agent last year, Lee was only rewarded with a one year deal after playing well under Coach Mike D’Antoni in an effort to preserve precious cap space for this summer.
Now the time has come to make decisions. After being slighted by the team last season, Lee has set himself up for a big payday, fully blossoming under his offensive-minded coach. Lee experienced a 20-10 season highlighted by an all-star appearance.
In addition to Lee, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, and Carlos Boozer are also among the top big men available.
All have all-star appearances and playoff experience. Lee has never made the postseason.
While Lee is unlikely to demand a full maximum contract from the Knicks, it’s possible he may not produce the numbers he did this past season ever again. His 20 point average may very well have been a result of inflation from simply being the first offensive option in such a system.
If the Knicks are able to secure such a star like James, Wade, or Joe Johnson to be their number one option, would Lee be just as much of a contributor?
My guess is unfortunately not. That would mean that Lee is no longer worth whatever contract he is given for his stellar play this past season.
The other three big men have all proved that they can play well and sustain averages while playing with effective supporting casts, which in essence, leads to winning games.
As well as he has played, Lee has not proved he can win.
Bosh, Stoudemire, and Boozer offer far more credibility and proof why they are all worth a more expensive contract.
One scenario that does include Lee returning to the Knicks is if they are in fact able to secure an elite wingman. Lee could join the wing if the Knicks are unable to sign one of the other big men, or perhaps desire to sign Lee at a “hometown discount” in hopes of signing yet another big name in free agency in 2011.
Although Lee may not be able to sustain his numbers from last season or even close to that with another starring attraction around, the Knicks may never know unless they try.
Nevertheless, that is only one scenario. If the Knicks happen to strikeout completely this summer, Lee could be offered more money to stay in New York. At that point, however, Lee would likely still be a part of a losing squad, and for certain become a scapegoat for not winning.
Lee is obviously not ready to carry the burden of a team winning or losing on his shoulders. He may never be ready to carry that burden in his career.
That is why if he returns to New York, it needs to be with a star.
Whether he was to average 10, 15, or 20 points, if Lee were part of a winning team, he would have less pressure to produce individual numbers.
While rebuilding the Knicks, Walsh needs to assess whether or not he believes David Lee can be part of a winning environment.
If the answer is yes, Lee needs to be sold on the fact that he can be a contributor, but should give as much of a hometown discount as possible so that the Knicks can build the team around him to be a contender.
If the answer is no, however, that decision will be solely business related. David Lee has given his heart and soul to the Knicks organization, but unfortunately, sometimes a good attitude is not enough to win.
The free agents available have all been pieces of legitimate contenders. Walsh’s focus this summer needs to be finding the pieces of a whole to build his own contender in New York.
If David Lee is not one of those pieces, fans need to prepare to say goodbye to him, but hopefully hello to winning ways in New York once again.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Six months ago, if anyone had predicted Nate Robinson would be playing in the NBA Finals, there’s a good chance they would be considered crazy.
"Good things happen to people who wait."
That was Robinson’s simple statement on January 1st, after erupting for 41 points and leading the Knicks (his team at the time) to a victory over the Hawks. Before entering that game, Robinson was benched for 14 straight games because of what Coach Mike D’Antoni referred to as disciplinary reasons.
As a Knick, Robinson was known for his electrifying yet often erratic style of play. A lightning bolt off the bench for four and a half seasons, he knew how to work the passionate Madison Square Garden and get them on their feet, often cheering for a Knicks squad with little promise.
His prolonged benching was no doubt a result of his loose style of play, as Robinson would play uncontrollably. The icing on the cake came when Robinson took a shot on the opposing team’s basket during a Knicks-Nets matchup.
That shot, nevertheless, was after the quarter buzzer had sounded.
Even after his “disciplinary” benching, Robinson showed resilience and came back with a vengeance. His 41 point performance proved his confidence never wavered. However, it was his toned down performances that followed that proved he was committed to giving the coaching staff exactly what they were asking for.
His display of responsibility is perhaps what led the Celtics to take a chance on the energetic little man. As a player playing on a one year contract, Robinson had the right to veto any trade. However, the Celtics’ need for that offensive jolt off the bench and Robinson’s desire to play for a winner made the two parties a good match.
The Knicks sent Robinson to the Celtics at the trading deadline.
Perhaps as Robinson worked to rebuild his reputation, Boston was a beneficial fit. Robinson was sharing time with a number of veterans on the bench, and as the team geared for the playoffs, he was no longer the center of attention.
In the months that followed, Robinson has visibly become a smarter player, more than likely, a result of learning from a great coaching staff and an even greater core of veterans.
Nevertheless, Robinson has not lost the electrifying part of his game. If anything, he has learned to balance it with sound, fundamental play.
"There will be a game where we’re flat, and we’re going to need somebody to come in and make something happen, and Nate will do that. And I told him that yesterday. I told him there will be a game that he’s going to win us. He’s going to win us a playoff game."
Those were Coach Doc Rivers’ motivational words regarding Robinson in April. “Little him” proved his coach correct as he scored 13 points in eight minutes during a crucial run in the deciding game of the Eastern Conference finals in which the Celtics defeated the Magic to advance.
Robinson’s reference to good things happening to those who wait has proved correct once again, as he has patiently waited his way all the way to the NBA Finals. Although the Celtics lost to the Lakers in game one, Robinson had a positive performance, dishing out four assists and no turnovers in 13 minutes.
If Knicks fans were watching last night, they could have still noticed similarities in Nate’s game from when he played in the “World’s Most Famous Arena”. As he dribbled back and forth across the three point line, Knicks fans would usually cringe, as an erratic shot was almost sure to follow.
Last night was different.
As he dribbled with his head down, now donning white and green, Robinson looked up just about every time, delivering precise passes to Boston’s big men for easy layups.
Yes, last night was different. As the Knicks have been watching the playoffs from home every step of the way, Nate Robinson was been a part of a risen Celtics team. Taking out other Eastern Conferences along the way, Robinson and the Celtics can feel proud that they are playing in the NBA Finals as 28 other teams watch from home.
Robinson’s proof that he can fit on a winning team should help him dramatically as he looks for a new contract this summer, be it from the Celtics, or anyone else interested in his services.
"Good things happen to people who wait."