Friday, August 31, 2012
Happy Friday, Knicks fans!
With not much else going on around the Knicks' world today. take a look below at a couple of different video clips from interviews conducted with Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony this week.
Fresh off his victory in the Olympics, Chandler chats here about his time in London, his transition to the Knicks last season, and his family's potential future (or lack there of) in reality television.
In this next clip, Anthony too discusses bringing home the gold medal. The Knicks star also shares his hopes for the upcoming NBA season and talks about how the team will overcome the departure of Jeremy Lin.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
A former NBA all-star on the Mavericks, injuries have limited Howard to only appearing in 96 (out of a possible 230) contests over the last three seasons.
Though he missed time last season, Howard still managed to average 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 23 minutes per game for the Jazz. Staying healthy remains the key, but the Winston Salem native appears as though he could still make an impact for NBA teams.
Likely to be without guard Iman Shumpert (who is rehabbing from a knee injury) until January, perhaps the Knicks would benefit from bringing a player with Howard's skill off the bench.
In addition to re-signing J.R. Smith, the Knicks were also able to lure in Ronnie Brewer earlier this offseason. While Brewer would be a good candidate to receive spot-starts and fill the defensive void left by Shumpert's absence, New York could still use a bit of a scoring boost.
Having already signed veterans like Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby to help complement their second unit, the experienced Howard would fit right into the Knicks' revamped group.. Even if he were not able to stay healthy throughout the entire season, the team would really only require a consistent contribution from him while Shumpert sits out.
Signing a player like Howard is by no means a necessity for the Knicks, but there's no doubt he has the potential to help, either. With the team at full health, it may even be difficult to find consistent minutes for Howard and a couple of other existing reserves.
Having said that, during a long 82 game season in which NBA players endure and are forced to overcome an array of bumps and bruises, adding a bit of quality depth for the long haul couldn't hurt. It solely depends on what kind of opportunities the other teams competing for Howard's services can offer.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Could former Knicks center Eddy Curry be making a return to the Big Apple next season?!
Have no fear, Knicks fans. It's not what you think. After helping resurrect the NBA career of Gerald Green last season, Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears is reporting that the Nets are looking for yet another diamond in the rough.
Fresh off winning an NBA championship with the Miami Heat, Curry is apparently looking to further his career despite playing sparingly last season. The big man is reportedly working out for Brooklyn's newest squad today along with Hilton Armstrong.
Because the Nets were ultimately unable to make a trade for Dwight Howard, the team kept a good deal of its depth for next season. Despite having Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries back on board, perhaps the Nets could still find minutes for Curry in the rotation.
The Heat took a chance on Curry last season as the team looked to build up depth at the center position. The former Knick had a long road back but still managed to appear in 14 games. He served as the starting center in New York from 2005-2008, before being dealt in the Carmelo Anthony trade after barely hitting the hardwood from 2008-2010.
Another player (perhaps one holding a bit more promise) with a Knickerbocker connection getting an NBA workout this week is GWU standout Tony Taylor Jr.
In addition to reporting exclusively last week that Taylor Jr. worked out for the Knicks, KnicksJournal.com was also told the Celtics were among the teams considering the Sleepy Hollow native for a spot in training camp. Taylor Jr. will reportedly have his opportunity to shine for Boston brass tomorrow, as he is scheduled to have a formal workout.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Jeremy Lin won't be making a return to the Big Apple next season, but Raymond Felton will be. After leading the Nets to back to back NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, Jason Kidd will also make a return to the tri-state area as he too dons orange and blue for the Knicks this fall.
With two quality point guards ready to compete for major minutes, is it obvious which one should start?
Since he signed with the Knicks, it's been widely assumed Kidd would serve as a backup floor general (originally, of course, to Lin). Because he's led the Knicks' offense before (and helped make Amar'e Stoudemire look like an M.V.P. too), Felton's been regarded as the team's starting point guard for the upcoming season.
But is it safe to make these distinctions just yet? In a recent interview with KnicksNow.com, Kidd talked about playing alongside guys like Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler. Saying he hopes to STAT's new Steve Nash, the future Hall of Fame bound point guard seems focused on playing with the Knicks' "Big Three."
One would expect a reserve to be more concerned with helping improve teammates with him in the second unit. Though Kidd has said publicly it doesn't matter whether or not he starts games (simply that he finishes them on the court, instead), perhaps a starting role will serve both he and the team better, given his mentality.
Kidd is coming off the weakest season of his career, in which he averaged only 6.2 points, and 5.5 assists, and 1.7 steals in 28.7 minutes per game. That said, his experience, veteran leadership, and strong fundamentals may make him the better candidate to start games.
A team's point guard is supposed to be an extension of the head coach on the floor. Coach Mike Woodson would certainly be able to rest easy knowing a quality guard like Kidd is helping the Knicks find a rhythm and get off on the right foot offensively to start things off each and every night.
Felton is absolutely capable of starting and running an offense as well. Having said that, it could probably be argued that he enjoys scoring and has more explosiveness going to the basket than Kidd does. With Iman Shumpert not expected to hit the hardwood again until sometime in January, the Knicks may lack that offensive boost off the bench until then. Felton seems like a better candidate to potentially fill that void.
With Kidd growing older and having already seen his minutes decreased last season with the Mavericks, a case could be made for him to only play around 24 minutes per game. This would be a good way of keeping him fresh throughout the season and into the playoffs.
Perhaps allowing Kidd to run with the starting five, while playing Felton more minutes (as part of a different combination of lineups) as a sixth man would benefit the Knicks.
The team certainly has a lot of talent with an array of versatile players, so the possibility for different lineups are endless. What the team believes will work out best remains to be seen.
Monday, August 27, 2012
The NBA offseason has reached the utmost of slow points of the summer, but luckily for the Knicks, the team can rest assured knowing the roster is more or less set for the upcoming season.
Despite allowing Jeremy Lin to sign with the Rockets, thus ending "Linsanity" in the Big Apple, Knicks' General Manager Glen Grunwald still did a masterful job filling out the team this summer.
Alex Raskin of NJ.com helps fans take a look back at Grunwald's busy offseason (in chronological order, for that matter) during which the executive retained the likes of J.R. Smith and Steve Novak, and also lured in popular veterans like Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby.
In the piece, Raskin asks readers and fans alike to assess Grunwald's work. What do you believe is the best move he made? What about the worst one?
Kidd and Raymond Felton, as a pair, are a very solid alternative to Jeremy Lin. Despite Lin's popularity, there's no denying that both Kidd and Felton are quality floor generals. But Knicks fans also have to like what Grunwald did with the shooting guard position.
Landry Fields certainly had his moments for the Knicks over the first two seasons of his NBA career, but choosing not to match his offer sheet with the Raptors (a $20 million contract over three years) was the right thing to do. Helping balance out the starting lineup with his defensive prowess towards the end of last season, Iman Shumpert proved he was to superior to Fields in many ways, and thus, a better fit for the long-term future.
But with Shumpert expected to still be rehabbing from his knee injury through January, the Knicks had to make sure the roster was covered at the two-guard for the upcoming season. Re-signing Smith, at the contract he agreed to, was a phenomenal move. However, Smith's most efficiency and best production comes with him playing off the bench. Poised to now play his first full season in New York, expect Smith to be a serious candidate for "Sixth Man of The Year", should Coach Mike Woodson bring him off the bench more often than not.
To ensure the Knicks continue to get the most out of Smith all season long, Grunwald may a key (yet somewhat unexpected) move. By making a play for swingman Ronnie Brewer, the team acquired a spot-starter, who like Shumpert, is more known for his defense.
Brewer will be a perfect fit amongst the Knicks' existing offensive firepower already present in the starting five. Smith's ability to provide the team with a boost as he paces the play of the reserves will make him a crucial piece as well. Throw in a healthy Shumpert to that mix, and the Knicks undoubtedly have impressive depth at the shooting guard position. It's all thanks to Grunwald making the right moves, one after the other.
What other positions do you believe the Knicks made significant improvements at? What do you think of the job Grunwald has done so far? Let me know on Twitter at @KnicksJournal.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
After seeing NBA champion Tyson Chandler come to the Knicks and immediately elevate the team's defensive effort and mentality, it's no surprise fans were pleased to see Marcus Camby return to the Big Apple this offseason.
Prepared to backup Chandler next season (creating a very intense one-two punch on the defensive end), it was none other than Camby himself who helped anchor the Knicks' defense from 1998-2002. Still playing at a high level at 38 years old, it's arguable that he and Chandler collectively represent the strongest starter/backup defensive duo in the league.
Though it's normally not a good thing to be considered "a third-wheel," the Knicks and their fans should feel an immense amount of pride and excitement when recognizing Kurt Thomas as the team's third-string big man.
Currently the NBA's oldest active player (he'll be 40 in October), Thomas was also on the Knickerbocker squad that reached the NBA Finals in 1999.
Even in his "old" age, Thomas remains one of the league's most reliable players. He's still known to knock down that classic mid-range jumper with ease (he shot 47% from the field last season with the Blazers), and still has no qualms about sacrificing his body for the sake of the team.
The big man's gritty effort on the defensive end helps him fight for rebounds, block shots, and chase down loose balls on a nightly basis.
Though he spent last season in Portland, Thomas was even more the fan-favorite the season prior, in 2010-11 with the Bulls. He started 37 contests, filling in Joakim Noah, and even earned the nickname "Big Sexy" from Bulls' commentators. He averaged 4.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and even shot 51% from the floor for Chicago, before embracing somewhat of a lesser role with the Blazers last season.
But expect Thomas to be trusted with decent minutes once again next season. Having donned orange and blue in the past, Thomas knows exactly how to succeed and embrace the special feeling that comes along with it, right in the heart of New York City.
With Jared Jeffries also involved in the trade that brought Thomas and Raymond Felton both back to New York, Thomas could very well fill a role similar to that of Jeffries'. It wouldn't be surprising to see the returning big man be granted a couple of starts here and there. His ability on the defensive end could earn him major minutes when the Knicks face a team with a big man like Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum.
While he's known for his defense, Thomas also stands to pass on his key to longevity to a star like Amar'e Stoudemire. With STAT having to deal with various injuries during his first two seasons in New York, it could prove immensely helpful for Thomas to talk with the six-time all-star about how to longer his career in the NBA. The elder statesman surely has some secrets as to to how to keep your body strong and staying ready and able, while at the same time, enduring the bump and bruises that come along with years of competition.
Friday, August 24, 2012
As if his celebrity status couldn't get any higher as an NBA all-star and M.V.P. candidate, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is enjoying his newfound fame as Olympic gold medalist.
Speaking to KnicksJournal.com and other members of the media at St. John's University, the site of his ProCamps summer basketball camp, Anthony said, "Everywhere I go, people are asking me to see my gold medal."
"It's already locked up," he joked. "It's getting framed, but I might pick a day and bring it over to the facility to show everybody eventually."
Anthony went on to say that winning big in this summer's Olympics gives him that much more motivation to accomplish just as much success with the Knicks.
"I'm excited just to get this season going," the forward said. "Especially coming off the type of run the United States had, I'm excited to bring that same mentality back to the New York Knicks. Everybody is working. I see that Amar'e Stoudemire has been working with Hakeem Olajuwon, Iman Shumpert is working on getting his knee right, and Tyson Chandler was down in London with me. We have a team full of veterans that know the game--- guys who you don't really need to teach the game to. It's just a matter of us putting it all together and making it work."
Anthony continued to praise Stoudemire's work ethic, but sounded confident in his teammate's abilities regardless. Addressing STAT's workouts with "The Dream," he said, "Whenever it comes to working on something new, all that matters is that you're consistent with it. It's not like Amar'e didn't have those moves before. I guess he didn't feel as comfortable down there [in the post] or whatever the case may be. But now him playing down there puts me at the wing and allows me to play off of him. It'll make a difference."
The Brooklyn native also went on to dismiss any suggestions of a serious Knicks-Nets rivalry next season, and simply added that his team was focused on continuing to improve, and nothing (or nobody) else.
This is the first year Anthony and ProCamps hosted a basketball camp in New York, having teamed up to host one in Denver over the past several years. The Knicks star sounded optimistic he would continue to do them in the Big Apple.
On Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama hosted his highly anticipated basketball fundraiser, the "Obama Classic." The event took place at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Basketball fans and Obama supporters alike were treated to a variety of events throughout the evening, including an autograph session (for a $250 donation), a skills clinic (for a $5,000 donation), and lastly, an informal shoot-around and a dinner with President Obama and his array of basketball player and legend guests (for a $20,000 donation).
The President certainly brought out some of the biggest and best names the game of basketball has ever seen for this elaborate event. Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Knicks legend Patrick Ewing were among those to highlight the event. Knickerbocker champions Walt Frazier and Senator Bill Bradley were also in attendance, as were NBA Commissioner David Stern and current NBA stars like Chris Bosh and the Knicks' own Carmelo Anthony.
On this patriotic occasion, President Obama made sure to congratulate Anthony on helping Team USA bring home the gold medal during the Olympics. The big time basketball fan said, "When it comes to how we deal with other countries, I’m very proud that America is stronger and more respected around the world, and we saw—some of you were at the London Olympics—Carmelo and some other folks were there," he said, as the crowd applauded. "Way to bring home the gold. We appreciate that."
Anthony has been a big and vocal supporter of Obama and his campaign from the very beginning. While it's always been enough for Anthony to simply give back, there's no denying how valuable the experience of being around so many Knicks' legends at once could have been for the star forward. Seeing and hearing from so many players who have been celebrated in the Big Apple should only give Anthony even more motivation to continue cementing his legacy as he chases a championship for New York.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
During the NBA offseason, a variety of Knicks fans always seem to be curious about what members of the team are up to. What do players like to do in their downtime? Are they working out often and staying in shape? Do teammates keep in touch to maintain or build that chemistry as necessary to improve next season?
Of course, we know that Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler played together during the Olympics and helped the United States bring home the gold medal. Amar'e Stoudemire just completed a vigorous two-week training session in Houston with Hall of Famer Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon.
But what have some of the Knicks' role players been up to this summer?
Fans can rest assured that Steve Novak has been working hard as he looks to build upon the same success that helped him electrify the Garden on a nightly basis last season. A Milwaukee native, Novak returned to the Big Apple this week for "Dream Week" and spoke with KnicksNow.com's Jonah Ballow about his summer.
In addition to having spent time with his family and paying close attention to his Knicks teammates in the Olympics, Novak said he was relieved to have agreed upon on a new contract with New York so early in the offseason. Clearly that goes a long way in giving someone peace of mind.
Much of Novak's success last season came from playing alongside Jeremy Lin. As "Linsanity" exploded onto the NBA season, Knicks fans couldn't seem to get enough "Novakaine."
Lin was able to find Novak in the right spots again and again, allowing the forward to knock down a barrage of three-point field goals each and every game. He too, like Lin, became a bit of a household name as he made it rain from long range.
But with Lin now gone, it's crucial that Novak develops a similar understanding on the court with the team's new point guards if he wants to continue having success.
It seems like that forward couldn't agree more.
Novak told Ballow that he's taken the time out this week to begin working out with the Knicks' new starting point guard, Raymond Felton. It sounds as though he likes what he sees so far, too.
"I was working out the last three days with Raymond Felton," Novak said. "He looks great. He's shooting the ball well and looks like he's in great shape. We're just going to try to use that momentum to start the year strong."
With Landry Fields departing New York and Iman Shumpert expected to miss the first couple months of the season with a knee injury, it's possible J.R. Smith receives some starts at the shooting guard position. Should this happen, Novak will be all that more important as that first line of offense off the bench. It's imperative he comes in and provides the Knicks with a consistent boost.
There's no doubt that beginning to work out with the team's newest floor general will go a long way towards helping Novak insure the Knicks won't miss a beat next season when the reserves come in.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
As the Brooklyn native is welcomed back home to the Big Apple, Team Melo takes a look back at Anthony's journey in the Olympics.
The first video below chronicles the forward's last day in London before winning that highly coveted gold medal. Watch as Anthony tours the city and enjoys what he calls a "pre-celebration."
In this next video, Anthony is officially fresh off winning the gold medal as returns to New York City. Watch for the star's post-winning reaction as his victory is recognized alongside other Olympic gold medalists while at an event with Garden of Dreams.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Somewhat known around the Big Apple as "The $100 Million Man," Amar'e Stoudemire displayed great potential of bringing the Knicks back to greatness during his first season donning orange and blue.
Developing a great understanding on the hardwood with then point guard Raymond Felton, Stoudemire, thrived, playing like an M.V.P. candidate in 2010-11. Having played with Steve Nash before and finding success via the pick and roll, it was no surprise that STAT hit it off with Felton on the court.
Last season, Stoudemire seemed to struggle without Felton as the Knicks failed to settle on a regular starting point guard until Jeremy Lin came along. By the time that happened, perhaps it was too late for the pair to develop that same chemistry STAT formed with previous floor generals.
Nevertheless, with Felton now back in the fold, Stoudemire is looking forward to reliving old times. The big man belives he and the re-acquired point guard won't have any difficulty picking up right where they left off.
Reflecting upon their first stint together, the big man said, "Ray and I were able to build great chemistry. We would sit and chat every day after practice. We would discuss how to execute things off the pick and rolls. We talked about the kinds of things each one of us look for within the flow of the game. We really were able to get things going. None of that will change."
Stoudemire added, "It'll be more of the same this year. We're going to continue to build that rapport with a full training camp under our belts. After that, we'll be ready to go."
Appearing at "Barnes & Noble" in New York City to promote the first book of his new children's book series ("STAT: Standing Tall and Talented #1: Home Court"), Stoudemire spoke to KnicksJournal.com and other members of the media about how he and Felton will look to help lead the Knicks next season.
Because Felton, like Stoudemire, is coming off somewhat of an off-year, the pair is sure to be as hungry as ever to help one another bounce back. With exciting prospects ahead, STAT was optimistic regarding the point guard's potential contributions next season. He said, "Raymond is going to be awesome. He's a player who wants to improve and always talks about getting better. He's going to help us."
Of course, the Knicks have players like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith who can both bring the ball up the court and create offensive opportunities for themselves. Both seem to thrive when given such freedom with the players.
That said, other players, like Stoudemire, thrive with a floor general making intelligent plays to set him up appropriately. As last season proved, Anthony cannot simply carry the Knicks on his back all season long. STAT needs to be a major factor on offense, but perhaps Felton can help him regain his form a bit.
How Coach Mike Woodson plans to integrate both styles of play and help the different offensive weapons mesh remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Stoudemire needs to rise above once again.
Sounding confident he would be contributing much more efficiently and effectively next season, the Knicks' forward said, "Coach Woodson made it clear that the team needs me to be that offensive threat. He's going to put the ball in my hands more, and I'm going to be ready to execute to the best of my abilities."
It's safe to say that Amar'e Stoudemire's first two seasons with the New York Knicks have been filled with their share of ups and downs.
After displaying M.V.P. like dominance during his first season in the Big Apple, a mix of personal issues and injuries led to Stoudemire facing much adversity during the 2011-12 campaign.
What's more, after having played with steady floor generals like Steve Nash and Raymond Felton in the past, Stoudemire also struggled to get into a rhythm offensively last season as his team took nearly half the season to settle on a consistent starting point guard.
This is because much of the big man's offensive success has thus far appeared dependent on an effective pick and roll. Not one to create opportunities for himself, Stoudemire thrives next to a point guard who knows how and where to hit him with the ball in the right spots.
But that same dependency seems like it'll come to an end as the Knicks star looks to expand his skill set for next season. Appearing at "Barnes & Noble" in New York City to promote the first book of his new children's book series ("STAT: Standing Tall and Talented #1: Home Court"), Stoudemire spoke to KnicksJournal.com and other members of the media about his latest workouts with Hakeem Olajuwon.
While Mike D'Antoni made Stoudemire look good in his run and gun offense, STAT stressed the importance of playing well in the post if he wanted to continue being a major component of the Knicks' offense under Coach Mike Woodson.
The big man explained, "Coach Woodson's style of play includes an inside/outside type game, so it was important for him to develop me as a post player. I was willing and ready. It adds a new threat to my game, because it helps me become more of a complete basketball player."
Despite adding different facets to his game, Stoudemire didn't sound as though he'd be a fish out of water in the "new" offense. He added, "We'll still have pick and rolls. That's the number one play in the NBA. I still plan on being a factor for our team in that sense. That said, having a post game is going to be that much more of an advantage for me. With my quickness, size, and skill set, I'm able to finish around the basket with both hands and shoot the jumper. All that often creates havoc for opponents."
Being able to dominate the game with his back to the basket at times will certainly lead to Stoudemire taking his time to create opportunities for himself around the hoop. Having such versatility is sure to elevate the big man's game. In fact, Stoudemire believes these same post moves will help Coach Woodson create a balance in the team's offensive flow, thus getting the most out of both STAT and Carmelo Anthony.
Addressing how he and Anthony will complement each other next season, Stoudemire said, "I think Coach Woodson wants to make sure he takes full advantage of both of our talents. Carmelo and I have been two of the top players in the league for almost ten years now, so as a coach you're going to want to get the most out of those weapons in your arsenal."
Ready to bounce back from an underwhelming season, Stoudemire seemed to promote that he is not a changed player, just more so simply an elevated one. The big man firmly asserted, "There were a lot of things that Hakeem and and I talked about and worked on. That's for me to know and the rest of the guys to soon see. I'm looking forward to showing my opponents."
Monday, August 20, 2012
As we enter the dog days of summer, the NBA's free agency period has slowed down, as now more players have found teams and may already be beginning to look towards training camp.
For the latest word on what the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and their Knickerbocker teammates have been up to, we here at KnicksJournal.com have decided to search the blogosphere to begin the work week.
First and foremost (as previously reported by KnicksJournal.com), Knicks star Stoudemire will be the center of attention this afternoon in New York City, as he promotes his new children's book series. STAT will be appearing at the Citigroup "Barnes & Noble" store on East 54th Street & Third Avenue today at noon. The six-time NBA all-star will be signing copies of his latest release as he meets and greets what's sure to be a nice turnout of dedicated fans.
Carmelo Anthony will also be taking time out this week to be with fans, as he hosts his very own basketball camp at St. John's University, this coming Friday and Saturday (August 24-25).
It seems like rehabbing guard Iman Shumpert has followed suit as well, as he made an appearance at former Knicks guard Nate Robinson's basketball camp on Long Island last week. In addition to providing that fun little tidbit, my friend Seth Rosenthal also fills readers in on the latest "Shumpdate."
Though Anthony has returned to the states since winning an Olympic gold medal in London, Tyson Chandler is yet to arrive. Instead, the big man ventured straight to Africa, where he's appearing on behalf of the U.S. fund for UNICEF. Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York has the scoop straight from Chandler himself.
As the Knicks' players continue to make the most out of their time away from the hardwood, the front office still has a couple of decisions to make as the new season grows nearer. With assistant coach Kenny Atkinson leaving New York for a similar post with the Atlanta Hawks, the team may be looking to fill that newly formed void on the bench. Could legendary big man Patrick Ewing be granted a return to the Big Apple?
Of course, such a reunion is wishful thinking, but in the meantime, my pal Tommy Dee takes a look at another former Knickerbocker getting a fine opportunity to coach, as Monty Williams recently signed an extension to stay on as head coach of the Hornets.
In addition to filling out the coaching staff, the Knicks have surely already begun to think about which players will be donning orange and blue during training camp. In case you missed it, check out KnicksJournal.com's exclusive report as to which promising young prospect (a Long Island native at that) may be joining the team for training camp and possibly beyond.
That's all for now, but happy surfing Knicks fans!
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Coming off an underwhelming season that came to a close in the form of a first round playoff exit, the Knicks have revamped their roster with an array of veteran role players in hopes of competing for a championship next season.
Nevertheless, with a roster spot or two still open, New York has opted to sign a couple of potential uncovered gems (Chris Copeland and J.R. Smith's younger brother Chris) to non-guaranteed contracts.
With the various veteran players already on the roster surely to receive the bulk of minutes, taking a chance on a prospect or two could really benefit the Knicks long term. The team could take its time developing each respective player in the D-League, with little pressure on them to make an impact on the NBA team so soon.
Though Copeland has more serious hopes of actually making the Knicks (following a strong showing in Vegas), New York could also look to formally sign a player simply in order to assign his rights to their D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. This was reportedly the case with Smith, and now the team apparently sees a similar opportunity with yet another promising young guard.
Last month, KnicksJournal.com reported exclusively that Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald (along with other NBA executives) observed the "RBA Sports Summer Showcase" at Basketball City in New York City. GWU product and Sleepy Hollow native Tony Taylor Jr. seems to have made quite the impression.
Knicks scouts brought Taylor Jr. in for another workout just this past week, and reportedly loved what they saw yet again. Addressing his client's prospects for the upcoming season, BJ Bass of RBA Sports said, "There are a few NBA teams that have Tony on their short list for veteran's camp, including the Knicks, Magic, Celtics, Heat, Pacers, and Lakers. There are also about half a dozen D-League teams that want him as their starting point guard."
It would make sense that the Bayhawks are among those squads. According to Bass, if and when an NBA team brings certain young players into training camp, they then have an opportunity to shield a select few from entering the D-League Player Pool, thus saving the player(s) for its own D-League affiliate.
The agent continued, "What's happening now is that the D-League coaches are pushing their NBA affiliates to offer Tony a spot in veteran's camp, so they can protect him from being drafted by another D-League team."
Though Taylor Jr. garnered early comparisons to the likes of Chauncey Billups and other strong point guards. NBA executives are beginning to compare him, even more favorably, as he continues to impress. A certain Hall of Fame playmaker comes to mind.
"The more I've watched Tony develop since GWU, the more he reminds me of Isiah Thomas. I'm not afraid to say it," Bass added. "Close your eyes and picture him in a pair of Pistons' blue shorts during his highlight reel and tell me I'm crazy."
Though the Knicks added three new point guards this offseason, with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd both coming off unfavorable seasons, and Argentinian floor general Pablo Prigioni already 35 years old, the team could be making a smart move considering Taylor Jr. as the guy to be waiting in the wings for an opportunity.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Following what was considered an underwhelming season for both himself and the Knicks, Amar'e Stoudemire took this summer as an opportunity to improve his game. With the pressure on for New York to really make some noise amongst the Eastern Conference's top contenders, STAT seems to understand what is at stake.
Fresh off his two-week training session with Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, the Knicks' star forward will return to the Big Apple and take some time out to promote his new children's book, Home Court (STAT: Standing Tall and Talented Series #1).
In a recent press release, the six-time NBA all-star explained his motivations for penning his new series, saying, "I decided to write for children because although I am an avid reader now, I wish I had read more as a child. I hope that together with Scholastic, we can creatively inspire a new generation to read.”
Stoudemire will appear at the "Barnes & Noble" Citigroup location on East 54th Street and Third Avenue in New York City this coming Monday afternoon, August 20th. In addition to signing and promoting the first book in his new series through Scholastic, STAT is sure to greet and interact with the various Knicks fans, who, in addition to supporting him last season, are also hopeful for what's to come next. The signing begins at noon.
The big man's interest in writing a children's book series should come as no surprise to Knicks and NBA fans alike. A dedicated family man, Stoudemire has three children and recently got engaged this summer in Paris.
Last summer, KnicksJournal.com spoke with STAT following his acceptance of an "2011 Father of the Year" award from The Father's Day Council.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
The key to the Knicks' star forward making strides over the last week seems to be his level of motivation this summer.
In the summer of 2010, Stoudemire was a pioneer of sorts when he arrived in the Big Apple, ready to spearhead a changed culture and mentality for the Knicks. During their first half season together, STAT and Carmelo Anthony ranked among the league's top duos in total points scored, often trailing only LeBron James and Dwyane Wade through the tail of the year. The pair looked as though they would only improve with time to build rapport and an understanding of each other's game.
Instead, the 2011-12 season was one during which each player struggled with his own inconsistencies. Though Anthony finished strong, playing like a surefire M.V.P. candidate in the month of April, he sometimes failed to aggressively take over games.
Nevertheless, it was clear Anthony was the team's number one option on offense throughout the season. Given Stoudemire's ability to dominate and fill it up on offense, the line between the two scorers shouldn't have to be so clearly drawn.
Instead of being a secondary option on offense, STAT too needs to play like an obvious NBA all-star. Each with the ability to score upwards towards 25 points per game, Stoudemire and Anthony should serve as 1A and 1B options on offense, rather than one and two.
The work Stoudemire has been putting in with "The Dream" just goes to show you he's all the more dedicated to assuring this indeed happens. Our pal Howard Beck spoke with Olajuwon, who is overwhelmingly pleased with what he sees from the power forward:
Hakeem Olajuwon, a former Houston Rockets star and an oracle of the low post, is pleased with his pupil’s progress.
“You won’t believe it,” Olajuwon said in a telephone interview from his ranch outside Houston.
The apprenticeship began on Aug. 6, with daily three-hour sessions on Olajuwon’s private court. Stoudemire has proved a quick study, assimilating moves and countermoves as fast as Olajuwon can demonstrate them.
“It’s night and day,” Olajuwon said. “What’s so nice is he wants it; he likes the post. He’s always wanted to play there, but he doesn’t have the moves that would give him that option.”
As always, make sure you give Beck's piece a read. A (now) rare Knickerbocker feature from the newly appointed Nets beat writer, Beck examines the big man's progress as he looks to bounce back from last season.
With STAT seemingly making vast improvements in Houston, and Anthony having appeared to regain some of his swagger while representing Team USA in London, Knicks fans should begin to feel optimism filling the air.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire and (free agent) guard Baron Davis have both had quite the busy offseason this summer.
Among other things (like getting engaged), Stoudemire has been rounding out his summer by working on his post game with one of the best, Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, this past week in Houston.
After suffering a knee injury in the 2012 NBA playoffs that will potentially keep him off the hardwood for up to a year, Davis has already begun to work vigorously towards rehabbing. He and fellow injured Knicks guard Iman Shumpert have trained together in New York as they both look to make their way back.
Nevertheless, with a little bit of extra time on their hands, Davis and Stoudemire will reportedly try their chops at acting.
The Knickerbocker duo, as well as Pacers forward Danny Granger, will appear in an upcoming episode of The Mindy Project a new comedy on Fox starring The Office alum and avid NBA fan Mindy Kaling.
The three players will play themselves during a scene in which the show's characters party with them inside a nightclub's V.I.P. section. The fact that Granger will guest alongside the two Knicks is quite ironic, granted he took opportunities to take cheap shots at the team over the course of last season.
This isn't the first time either Davis or Stoudemire have tried their hand at acting. Though Davis had a cameo in the Adam Sandler summer flick, "That's My Boy," his most recent role came as Brian Davies in a web series focusing on the Olympics.
Stoudemire has played himself in a couple of films, but also guest-starred on TV Land's The Exes last season. Clips of both Knicks playing different roles can be found below.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Following an 18-6 finish to the regular season, interim coach Mike Woodson received support from many Knicks players who hoped he'd return next season.
With the interim tag removed and Woodson now the man in charge for the foreseeable future, he and his revamped veteran team are ready to get down to business.
Though an entire 82 game season and a full training camp will certainly help their cause, Woodson has wasted no time beginning to lay the ground work. Not waiting until fall, there's apparently no time like the present.
Since reaching a new agreement to remain with the Knicks, Coach Woodson has spent his summer traveling the globe, taking time out to visit and train with a number of his players. Whereas last summer, NBA players were not able to interact with team officials because of the lockout, this year we've begun to see how much of an impact such relationship building can possibly make.
In addition to watching New York's summer league team play in Las Vegas (where current Knickerbocker James White and non-guarantees Chris Copeland and Chris Smith showed off their skills), the favored coach has made a number of other stops too.
Woodson traveled to London earlier this month, where he watched Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler begin their eventual quest for an Olympic gold medal. Ironically enough, he also interacted with the man he replaced, former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni (an assistant coach for Team USA).
Though he indeed took some time to watch the Olympics, Woodson was not in town to watch his players officially bring home the bacon. Instead, the coach was in Houston earlier last week.
According to my pal Jared Zwerling, Woodson had reached out to his former NBA teammate, Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon to initiate his training sessions with Amar'e Stoudemire. The head coach, along with assistant coach Herb Williams, reportedly both flew in to see how workouts were going up close and personal for themselves.
There are high hopes for the impact these said workouts will have for Stoudemire come next season. After an underwhelming year, Woodson hopes to have the M.V.P. caliber STAT the Knicks were spoiled with in 2010-11 at his full disposal in time for training camp.
The coach appears very dedicated to the development and mentality of his players. Making the effort to have extensive interactions with a number of them, Woodson clearly seems like he knows how to motivate. If all this isn't enough, the team's record to finish out last season should speak for itself.
Aside from simply scheduling and/or initiating workouts to help his guys improve, Woodson isn't afraid to get down and dirty himself, either. This man does not mind putting in the work at all. In addition to his stars, the coach also ventured to California to meet with Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields, prior to them both signing elsewhere in free agency.
The coach met the popular point guard for dinner, and also logged in some time at the gym, running some drills with Fields as well.
The Knicks certainly carry an abundance of high expectations and hopes with them from fans and media alike going into next season. With the pressure already mounting, at least Coach Woodson can say he's putting his best foot forward (along with his players) in hopes of assuring his team achieves success.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Less than two months after winning an NBA championship, LeBron James will return home from London with an Olympic gold medal.
James helped Team USA power past Spain in the championship game, coming away victorious with a 107-100 win. James added 19 points and 7 rebounds for his team, who were led by Kevin Durant's 30 points.
Durant became just the fifth American to ever score 30 points or more in an Olympic game, but it was clear he also got help from a number of his star-studded teammates. In addition to James' contributions, Kobe Bryant poured in 17 points of his own during what is widely believed to have been his final Olympic contest.
Though the United States only led by one point heading into the fourth quarter, Chris Paul and company applied sufficient enough defensive pressure to help sink Spain towards the end. The point guard scored 11 points, coming up with a huge steal and beating the shot clock with a remarkable layup to help Team USA start securing their victory.
This summer's Olympic games gave an array of high profile NBA players the opportunity to shine at some point during competition. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony only added 8 points in the gold medal game, but certainly proved to be a consistent double-scoring threat off the bench for Team USA over the last couple of weeks.
Anthony's consistency, along with his offensive explosion of an all-time USA high of 37 points vs. Nigeria, should fill Knicks fans with optimism for next season. The Brooklyn native is clearly the type of star who can take over a game and change it for the better. As evidenced this summer, there are very few other players a team would want to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line.
With an ability to knock down shots from all around the court (no matter how much pressure has mounted) perhaps only Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant currently surpass 'Melo as a superior player in crunch time. The Knicks should be pleased with a top-three closer.
With many high hopes heading into next season for success in the Big Apple, the Olympics seemed to serve as the perfect opportunity for Anthony to reassure everyone of just that.
Already an NBA champion himself, Knicks center Tyson Chandler will also return to the states with an Olympic gold medal to call his own.
Friday, August 10, 2012
As Knicks fans watch teams like the Lakers and 76ers fortify their front courts in the massive NBA trade reportedly going down, perhaps they can at least find peace in the fact that their own all-star big man, Amar'e Stoudemire, is dedicated to improving his game.
The above video clip, which comes exclusively from Team STAT, includes new footage from Stoudemire's workouts with Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon.
In the new video, the Knicks star also shares his motivation for putting in that extra work this summer, citing his fans and their loyalty during what was an underwhelming season for the big man.
Stoudemire talks about feeling like a student of the game all over again, which could certainly be a good mentality to have. As we've mentioned here before, STAT and "The Dream" appear to be working on his movement around the basket.
Already known as a solid pick and roll player, things would really open up for Stoudemire if he were able to elude defenders with quickness under the hoop. Becoming a more agile big man would give STAT an undeniable advantage heading into next season.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Because Carmelo Anthony played like a surefire M.V.P. candidate during this past NBA season's final month, many fans have begun to turn their attention to Amar'e Stoudemire.
Despite struggling in the early goings of last season, Anthony turned up the heat and proved he's capable of elevating his game when the Knicks need it most. With New York poised to compete at its highest level in years, fans are hoping Stoudemire can do the same.
To ensure that this indeed happens, STAT is certainly putting in the work. The big man flew to Houston earlier this week, prepared to spend two weeks training with NBA Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon.
Stoudemire completed his third day of workouts on Wednesday, working with Olajuwon alongside Nuggets center JaVale McGee.
Thanks to the wonderful world of social media, Knicks fans can be closer than ever to Stoudemire as he looks to better his game. Travis King, a dedicated member of Team STAT and an agent for Rogue Sports, is posting all sorts of exclusive photos and video clips (like the one above) on Twitter to provide fans with an inside look. Make sure to follow him @loyaloneforlife
MSG Network's Alan Hahn also seems well-informed on the ongoing workouts, having posted this interesting blurb below:
"@Amareisreal has been working with Hakeem Olajuwon this week in Houston along with Denver's JaVale McGee. Hakeem focusing a lot on Amare's footwork on his go-to moves, plus teaching how to read the defender and how to counter how teams defend him in the post. Amar'e said he was going to keep a notebook during this two-week tutorial and memorize all he can to get his money's worth ($50G per week is the tuition)."
Being able to read and then react to an array of different defenders would surely become a key component of Stoudemire's skill set.
Over his first two seasons donning orange and blue, many analysts and fans alike have preached how important it is for STAT to have a physical front court mate who can endure most of the bumps and bruises throughout the season. In Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby, he will have two teammates who will do exactly that next season.
That said, the way Stoudemire can help his own cause is by being quicker than the defender. Reading opponents and being able to beat each one to the basket will hopefully help the Knicks star escape such physical contact.
Needless to say, these workouts would prove to be invaluable if Olajuwon is able to help STAT improve his elusiveness around the basket.
In addition to training, Stoudemire is also spending time building rapport with other notable Knicks personnel, according to King. He recently had dinner in Houston with Olajuwon, new teammate Marcus Camby, and Knicks' head coach Mike Woodson (a former teammate of "The Dream.")
Assistant Coach Herb Williams is also expected to be in town to observe the ongoing workouts as well.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
At the end of last month, Knicks Journal reported exclusively that Knicks' General Manager Glen Grunwald attended a workout at Basketball City in New York City to observe a handful of NBA prospects.
Today, fans and readers alike have the opportunity to see just what Grunwald and other NBA executives saw.
Watch the clip above for a recap of the workout, complete with scrimmage footage and commentary on a few of the day's top performers.
Much thanks to my pal Tommy Dee for linking the recap video...
For more information on some of the more talented prospects to have played, click on the links below to our exclusive interviews with each one.
7/26: Brooklyn native Vernon Goodridge Talks About Keeping His NBA Dream Alive
7/27: GWU Product Tony Taylor Talks About Potentially Joining His Hometown Knicks
8/1: Journeyman Brian Kortovich Discusses Spending 2010 Training Camp with Knicks
The Knicks are poised to make their biggest push towards a championship title in years this upcoming season. In preparation to do so, New York has surrounded their stars with a core of savvy veteran role players.
Thus, the team has gotten older and wiser. The players ready to don orange and blue next season are proven and experienced. Because of this, there are seemingly fewer opportunities for "player development."
Knicks' assistant coach Kenny Atkinson thought now to be as good of a time as ever to leave the team for a different opportunity. The assistant is set to join the Atlanta Hawks under head coach Larry Drew.
Atkinson was hired by New York and initially worked with Mike D'Antoni's staff, focusing on player development.
One of the highest regarded assistants in all of the NBA, Atkinson garnered praise for his work with Jeremy Lin last season. The pair worked together tirelessly, with Atkinson preparing Lin to be ready for his opportunity to unleash Linsanity.
Following D'Antoni's resignation, new head coach Mike Woodson failed to give Atkinson a seat next to the rest of the coaches on the Knicks' bench. The assistant sat behind his colleagues for most of the season.
After trading players like Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams this offseason, the Hawks will surely be a team retooling (yet not necessarily rebuilding) as they look to continue competing with Josh Smith as the team's leader.
Though Atlanta also acquired Devin Harris this summer, the team still has a plethora of younger guards Atkinson will have the opportunity to work with. Rising star Jeff Teague (24) started all 66 games last season, and the Hawks recently lured in sixth man Louis Williams (25) from the 76ers.
It's unknown who, if anyone, Atkinson will specifically work with on his new team. Nevertheless, he's still expected to be given more responsibilities than he was in New York.
And his former head coach believes it's a strong hire for the Hawks. Talking from Team USA practice in London, D'Antoni spoke with the New York Daily News and sang Atkinson praises.
It remains to be seen if the Knicks will choose to formally replace Atkinson on their coaching staff. Aside from a player development coach, there's also been talk of adding an "offensive coordinator" to Coach Woodson's staff for the upcoming season.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Knicks fans have been fortunate enough to see Carmelo Anthony play a crucial role for Team USA during the Olympics, helping lead his team to a 4-0 record thus far. The star forward has filled it up offensively, holding his own next to scoring juggernaut teammates like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant.
As my pal Tommy Dee notes, however, Anthony has still struggled to garner praise from media and fans alike, largely in part due to his inability to advance past the first round of the NBA playoffs, and a rumored negative attitude.
Even so, if this summer's Olympics are any indication, the Brooklyn native clearly still has the ability to rise above as one of the league's best players. The motivation to do so is certainly there, as Anthony continues to see fellow top members of his 2003 NBA draft class win championship rings.
But before Anthony begins to make sure an NBA championship doesn't continue to allude him, an Olympic Gold Medal is in his sights. Tonight, one of his newest Knicks teammates stands in his way.
Team USA will take on Argentina later tonight in London, where Anthony, Tyson Chandler, and company will come face to face with Pablo Prigioni and other notable NBA talents.
An unexpected acquisition, Prigioni signed with the Knicks this offseason simply for a shot to break into The Association. Though he will likely play behind both Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd next season, the guard comes to New York well aware of and ready to embrace his role.
Having watched Argentinian teammates like Manu Ginobli, Carlos Delfino, Luis Scola, and Andres Nocioni all make it to the NBA, Prigioni should have a good idea of what it takes. Tonight, it'll be Knicks fans' turn to watch him.
Though he's penciled in as the third-stringer for New York at the moment, Prigioni could still end up with ample opportunities to hit the hardwood next season. Felton has some big shoes to fill with regard to replacing Jeremy Lin, and after missing 18 games last season, it's unknown how durable 39 year old Kidd will be.
What's more, Prigioni is a savvy pass-first floor general who knows how to get his teammates involved. Thus, it's very possible he could see time on the court alongside one of the other two point guards in a smaller lineup.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Prigioni is already beginning to gain the respect of a player with Anthony's talent, either.
UPDATED 5:16 PM EST: Turns out Prigioni will not play for Argentina against Team USA tonight, as per Marc Berman...
Saturday, August 4, 2012
As Knicks star Carmelo Anthony continues his strong string of performances during the Olympics, local fans can optimistically start looking forward to watching him a little bit closer to home.
According to Newsday, more fuel is being added to the fire that is an upcoming Knicks-Nets rivalry. Though the Nets will call Brooklyn their home next season, they will play a preseason matchup in another familiar place.
Continuing to embrace their move to the Big Apple, the Nets will take on the Knicks in their former arena, Nassau Coliseum. The battle for New York will officially begin October 9th as the two teams clash on Long Island.
Forget "Hello Brooklyn." Hello 'Melo! After scoring an United States basketball all-time high of 37 points in the country's win over Nigeria on Thursday, the forward helped pace yet another victory today.
Though Lithuania gave the U.S. a run for their money (even outscoring them 22-21 in the game's final quarter), Team USA powered through and came away with a 99-94 win. LeBron James played like the M.V.P. he is, attacking the basket late in the game and finishing with 20 points.
Anthony was also a focal point on offense, scoring 18 of his own 20 points through three quarters for the U.S.
He, LeBron, and company will take on Manu Ginobli, (new Knick) Pablo Prigioni, and Argentina next.
Friday, August 3, 2012
While Amar'e Stoudemire stays stateside and prepares to start training with Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon, Carmelo Anthony (along with Knicks teammate Tyson Chandler) is representing his country and competing against the best players in the world during the Olympics.
And he's doing a pretty darn good job of proving he's exactly right where he belongs.
On a United States squad otherwise stacked with talents like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant, Anthony came off the bench and erupted for an offensive explosion during his team's victory over Nigeria last night.
Not only did the Knicks star help the United States set an Olympics record with 156 total points (they won by a score of 156-73), but he set two records of his own.
Anthony was on fire, knocking down ten three-point field goals (an United States Olympics record) on his way to scoring an U.S. Olympics all-time high of 37 points. He did so in just 14 minutes of play.
A man of many "I Do This" moments during his season and a half donning orange and blue, Anthony filled it up offensively on one of the sports world's biggest stages.
His heroic performance just further proves he has the ability to help lead the Knicks back to greatness. Though he may not be the best player in the NBA, Anthony is certainly up there. New York could have more confidence in only a small few around the league.
Under Mike D'Antoni (who is actually an assistant coach for Team USA), the Knicks struggled at times as they tried to secure a bevy of different last-second game victories. Should fans need any more confirmation that 'Melo is the player New York needs, take a further look at some of the Knicks' previous last-ditch efforts drawn up with Stoudemire as their number one option.
Aside from his pure talent level, Anthony perhaps has more hunger and motivation than any other player in the NBA. Being a Brooklyn native, the forward would surely enjoy celebrating a championship in the heart of the Big Apple. What's more, as the sole remaining member of the top five selections of the 2003 NBA Draft class without a ring, the pressure continues to mount for Anthony.
But just as much as Anthony needs the ultimate victory to better his legacy, the Knicks need a star like him to lead them to that plateau. There's no doubt Anthony is exactly the type of player you want with the ball in his hands with the game on the line and your team's fate hanging in the balance. He's clutch, he's efficient, but most of all, 'Melo is bold as hell and doesn't hesitate to dive head first towards the big moment.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
The Knicks look steady at the point guard position, with Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, and Pablo Prigioni all already in the fold.
But as the team learned last season, various injuries and/or a player's failure to meet expectations can always lead to an unknown void needing to be filled.
With Kidd and Prigioni both already in their upper thirties (our friend Seth notes the Argentine point guard is actually sitting out today's Olympic contest), perhaps New York is looking for some insurance down the line.
The Knicks announced yesterday that they've signed Louisville guard Chris Smith, younger brother of swingman and the team's sixth man, J.R. Smith.
The younger Smith donned orange and blue for the team during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, but played sparingly and only shot 29% from the field.
It's been widely reported that C. Smith's one year deal is non-guaranteed, and thus, such a signing is viewed by many as purely a favor to his older brother.
Even so, my pal Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York reports the Knicks may aim to assign Smith's rights to their D-League squad, the Erie Bayhawks.
Last season, New York actually sent both Jeremy Lin (pre-Linsanity) and Jerome Jordan down to Erie to get more minutes and spend time with the team. Amityville native and NBA veteran Mike James also spent time with the D-League squad and later received a call-up from the Chicago Bulls.
Given how quickly the Knicks went through giving different floor generals minutes last season, it certainly wouldn't hurt to develop and keep closer tabs on a promising prospect. It's just a shame there were probably better options out there.
Because the newly signed Smith's deal is in fact non-guaranteed, he currently does not represent the team's fifteenth and final player on the roster just yet. He will, however, join the Knicks in training camp.
Connections are everything, and certainly knowing a couple of important people in the Big Apple helped the Louisville guard's cause. For more on the type of journey it takes to break into the NBA and obtain a team's final coveted spot, check out Knicks Journal's interview with journeyman Brian Kortovich, who spent training camp with New York in 2010.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Late last week, Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald and other NBA executives packed the Basketball City facility in New York City to observe a workout from various prospects. Each executive surely had a target or two in mind that they came out to see.
But it was a basketball journeyman who surprisingly stole the show instead.
28 year old point guard Brian Kortovich turned heads by putting on a sure-fire shooting display from all around the gym, even outplaying some of the workout’s top regarded prospects.
Though he’s still trying to break into the NBA, this isn’t his first time around the block. In addition to playing internationally in places like Kuwait and Israel, Kortovich has been in preseason and training camp with local teams like the Knicks and Nets in recent years.
While most NBA fans are in awe of the stardom of players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony, many forget the type of grind and focus it takes for a player just to get into the league in the first place.
Having not given up on the dream just yet, Kortovich recalled what it was like to get a shot with the Knicks in 2010. The guard said, “I got my first shot with New York after I came back from my first year in Israel. I stood out in workouts, and from there, I made the preseason squad. Guys like Donnie Walsh, Mike D’Antoni, and Glen Grunwald all began to know who I was. Doing what I had to do in front of them and getting noticed just renewed my confidence that I can still make a career out of this.”
As Kortovich continues working towards making the right impressions, he stressed being respected as a peer of fellow NBA talents just as much as being recognized by executives. As fate would have it, a popular Knicks star happened to take notice of him during his first Big Apple tryout.
“There were definitely a couple of guys who kind of took me under their wing,” Kortovich revealed. “Especially Amar’e Stoudemire and Ronny Turiaf. Those two guys were really cool to me. Patrick Ewing Jr. and I got along well too, because we were both sort of in the same boat during camp. The final spot came down to Pat, Shawne Williams, and me. I thought Pat was going to get it, but obviously the Knicks went with Shawne. It was the right decision, because he played really well.”
Despite not obtaining that highly coveted final spot on the Knicks roster, Kortovich said getting recognized by a player like Stoudemire was well worth the experience.
“STAT never went publicly on record or anything, but I knew I had his endorsement,” the guard admitted.
“I remember at one point early in camp, I knocked down back-to-back game winners during scrimmages off pick and roll screens. Stoudemire was guarding me, and I guess he didn’t think I could knock them down like that, but I did. The next morning, I was getting taped up in the trainer’s room and Stoudemire walked in to ask when I was going to start taking it easy on the first unit. I knew then that I was close.”
Kortovich hasn’t stopped trying to grind his way back. The journeyman spent part of this summer at the IMPACT basketball facility in Las Vegas, where many players worked out during the lockout.
Talking about a recent opportunity that came his way, the guard said, “I had a workout in Vegas in front of some NBA scouts. The guys at IMPACT actually got me in front of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. I was out there with Rashard Lewis. It’s a humbling experience to go shot for shot with a guy who’s coming off an $100 million contract, you know?
“Guys like Rashard, Austin Daye, and Omri Casspi were playing with me in Vegas and it was good to earn their respect. Having that just goes to show you that I’m right there and just have to keep working hard. I’ll get it.”
Kortovich lamented that finally breaking into the NBA isn’t just purely about one’s skill. There are politics involved. Because he didn’t go to a big school (Kortovich attended Manhattan College), the guard wasn’t given the national platform many other young talents are. Thus, catching on with a big-time agent who can find those better opportunities has proven to be difficult. Nevertheless, Kortovich says he may soon be catching on with an agent that represents players like Lewis and the Knicks’ own Raymond Felton.
And as he looks to market himself to NBA squads looking for certain niche players, Kortovich says he should garner comparisons to a former popular NBA talent. The guard shared, “Growing up in Cleveland, I always modeled my game after Mark Price. He was my build, weight, and height. We shoot it similarly and are both crafty in the sense that we get into the lane to create out own shot.”
The 28 year old went on to say he believes he could help an NBA team. He added, “Obviously, point guards create offensive opportunities for others. I run the pick and roll efficiently, but more importantly, can spread the floor. I can help stars like LeBron or Carmelo who need spacing in order to get to the basket. I think if you shoot well enough, there should always be a spot for you on an NBA team.”
And the aforementioned Knicks star, Anthony, seems to agree. After playing against Kortovich during the winter, the Brooklyn native added, “There is no doubt that Brian can play in the NBA. He has the talent, work ethic, and his jump shot is on point. If I were a GM, he'd be on my team."
With so many positive endorsements, Kortovich still has plenty of confidence in his abilities. Focused on keeping the dream alive, he said he is aiming to get a training camp invite from an NBA team this fall.
Assessing his different options, Kortovich asserted, “Plenty of people look at me and just say I should go play in Europe and make a lot of money. To me, this is about getting to the NBA. Have I maybe forfeited some money in the process, continuously getting cut? Sure I did, but the money isn’t what motivates me. I’ve gotten a taste of what the NBA feels like from being in training camp. I’d still do it all over again. Even after all this, I can still say I feel blessed.”
NBA fans can get a feel for Kortovich’s skills as he continues his grind to The Association by checking him out this summer, playing at Rucker Park. You can follow him on Twitter @SmokinACES1.