July 23, 2009

We've Moved!

Newsday.com has been re-designed. As a result, the Knicks Fix can be found here.
Loyal Fixers, update your bookmarks!

http://www.newsday.com/sports/basketball/knicks/the-knicks-fix-1.812055

See you there. A new blog has already been posted.

July 22, 2009

Mid-Level Crisis

The later we go, the more the tables start to turn.

Once the dust settles after the first two weeks of free agency, you see what's left and watch as the second wave begins. There are very few teams with money left to spend -- or willing to spend -- this summer, which turns Donnie Walsh's MLE from an unwanted leverage tool to one of the only options left to consider.

So who gets it? The more time Walsh takes to mull, the more it seems Andre Miller -- an experienced floor leader who has proven to be durable and reliable -- is the preference.

Miller, 33, has been reluctant to take the Knicks' one-year offer at the mid-level because he is still holding out hope he can get a lot more. His last hope may be the Trail Blazers, who had cooled on signing him a short while ago but have recently re-engaged in conversations. Portland, which has about $9M in cap space to spend, is reeling internally after failing on two bids so far this summer in Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap. Miller would almost certainly take the money, but does Portland see enough value in him to go for a long-term investment?

In Mike D'Antoni's system, Miller knows his stats will benefit because there will be more possessions per game. In Portland, the ball is in Brandon Roy's hands most of the time.

The 76ers don't appear interested in offering Miller, who made $10M last season, anything more than the same thing the Knicks would offer: one year at the mid-level. Philly is already over the cap by a few hundred thousand with just 10 players signed, including first-round pick Jrue Holiday. It is seriously doubtful the Sixers would take a sign-and-trade that included Chris Duhon ($6.03M), which has been suggested. It appears that they are prepared to simply walk away from Miller at this point and go with Lou Williams and Holiday as their PG tandem.

So perhaps Walsh opts to wait out Miller's talks with Portland before he jumps at his last option, which would be Sessions, who would have to get a multi-year mid-level, which eats up some of that coveted cap space in 2010.

But we've seen Steve Nash take a two-year extension in Phoenix, which eliminates him from the open market next summer. Even if they do nothing this summer, with Chris Duhon's contract expiring, the Knicks will need to find a PG in 2010. Actually, if they sign Miller to a one-year, they'll still need to find a PG in 2010.

Sessions, 23, would make the Knicks even younger and even more athletic. They wouldn't be, on paper, that much better, but they would have a growing collection of talented, athletic young players (Gallo, Wilson, Jordan, Douglas).

As for Session's restricted status, Milwaukee is clearly looking to save money (see: RJ, Charlie V) and they are enamored with first-round pick Brandon Jennings. Why invest in Sessions for a multi-year deal when you have Jennings now in the mix? And Jennings' rookie scale is far more affordable (the 10th overall pick averages about $1.9M over the first three years) that what Sessions is seeking.

One option instead of an offer sheet could be a sign-and-trade with the Bucks with Duhon ($6.03M) as the trade chip. Duhon and Scott Skiles worked together with the Bulls and Jennings' youth calls for a veteran backup.

Sessions' agent, Jim "Chubby" Wells, is suggesting there are other teams in the mix for Sessions. The Clippers are believed to be one, despite the fact that they just made a four-player deal that included Sebastian Telfair. We're told the Clips are already looking to trade Telfair, who has one year at $2.5M and a player option for $2.7M left on his contract.

So if DW waits out Miller, does he risk losing Sessions?

July 21, 2009

Postcard from Vacation 2.0

I'm out of it for a little while, and everybody gets delusions of grandeur -- Han Solo

You knew once I punched out the time clock all hell would break loose...

According to Frankie Ice, the Knicks had Andre Miller in for a quiet visit to the MSG Training Center on Monday. There was no need for pretense here, both parties know what this mutual interest is all about. Call it symbiosis. The Knicks clearly want to upgrade their PG position without compromising their salary cap space in 2010 and Miller would gladly play in this PG-friendly system, pad the heck out of his stats and jump back into the free agency pool next summer, when more than half of the league will have cap space to spend.

The caveat remains, what else, but money. Miller has also visited with the Trail Blazers, who are apparently taking another long look at their PG spot after failing to upgrade the frontcourt with Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap. Portland can come in much higher ($9M per?) than the Knicks mid-level, but what if the Sixers would take a sign-and-trade situation here?

I don't see why they would want Chris Duhon here when they have Miller's heir apparent, Lou Williams, and first-round pick Jrue Holiday. It might cost more than just Duhon to get this done.

On the other side of the city tabloid rivalry (doesn't anyone take vacation anymore?) is Starberman with his report that Ramon Sessions' agent is telling anyone who will listen that the Knicks are preparing an offer sheet at the full mid-level for his young, athletically-gifted client.

The Clippers were also believed to have heavy interest in Sessions (once the Allen Iverson idiocy subsided) and they had the cap-space ability to make a higher offer than the MLE. But they just flipped Q-Rich to Minnesota for three players, including Sebastien Telfair. With Baron Davis and Telfair, there really isn't a place for Sessions anymore.

The Knicks have coveted Sessions since last season and checked in on him early in the free agency process. At the time, the vibe was that the Bucks were planning on keeping him, even after they drafted Brandon Jennings at 10th overall. But things have changed.

In fact, if MIL is so enamored with Jennings after a pretty solid summer league (14.6 points per game, 8.2 assists), perhaps they go with the younger, cheaper version and pass on paying out for Sessions (12.4 points, 5.7 assists in 79 games this season).

Here's one angle to consider: Chris Duhon in a sign-and-trade. Why? Skiles and Duhon had a strong relationship when they were in Chicago and Duhon can provide the type of veteran presence at the PG position to allow Jennings to develop at his own pace. Plus, it is hard not to overlook that Duhon at his charity golf outing in Slidell, La. mentioned several coaches who have had an impact on his life but Mike D'Antoni -- the man who gave him a second chance to be a starting PG in the NBA -- was not among the list. Skiles, however, was. (head nod to "s0li" for the catch and twitter link).

If the Knicks go in this direction -- and it appears they will -- the obvious will be stated: they will go into the new season against an improved Eastern Conference as the Young Guns. Sessions is 23 and, along with Toney Douglas (23) is the oldest of the young core, which will include Wilson Chandler, 22, Jordan Hill, 21, and Danilo Gallinari, 20.

What will it mean for graybeards David Lee (26) and Nate Robinson (25)? Lee appears to be still in the mix, but if Sessions is acquired that would pretty much signal the end of KryptoNate on Broadway.

As always, stay tuned . . .

July 19, 2009

Postcard from Vacation

141410__vacation_l.jpgTime to load up the family truckster and get some family time. There is still some Knicks news to be made -- mainly on the David Lee/Nate Robinson fronts -- and I'll have my Blackberry along for the ride and promise to update when appropriate.

Until then, here are some recent tidbits and thoughts to keep you up to date:

* - According to another Greek-based sports website, Nate Robinson, who has spent some time in Europe this summer working basketball camps and vacationing, is apparently going to make a stop in Athens to check out the scene. Olympiakos, as we told you last week, is offering KryptoNate a two-year deal for about $10M total. (One thing to keep in mind about European teams is that contracts are not guaranteed and many times players have experienced issues with getting paid. Josh Childress, who just agreed to return to Greece for a second stint, did not have such issues in his first season, so it's not fair to assume Olympiakos deals in that sort of business. We're still skeptical that he goes to Greece, but we're even more skeptical that he will be a Knick come training camp.

* - Not that he was ever on the radar, but former Knick rental Chris Wilcox is expected to sign with the Detroit Pistons. The Bad Boys are really loading up, aren't they? The word was they had been targeting Glen "Big Baby" Davis, but Wilcox fit the bill. With the logjam in the Knicks frontcourt, there was no place for Wilcox as it is. Plus, he reportedly will get two years at $6M total, which is more than the Knicks would be willing to offer for him right now.

* - I did a column for Sunday's Newsday about the State of the Knicks. With the window now officially open for the Cavs to sign LeBron to a contract extension (today is the three-year anniversary of his deal), I analyzed where the Knicks are in the effort to land the biggest free agent we'll see on the market in 2010. One correction from my previous 2010 Outlook blog is that I mistakenly calculated some of LeBron's extension numbers by eliminating his $17.1M salary in 2010-11. Obviously whatever the Cavs offer this summer (four years is the max) would go beyond 2010-11, unless he decides to opt-out of his deal to become a free agent in 2010. Then it would be a new deal. My bad.

* - I'll be curious to see what the results will be of David Kahn's visit to Spain this week to meet with officials from DKV Joventut and try to negotiate a lower buyout for Ricky Rubio. The reports of a $6M buyout are inaccurate, I'm told by a European scout. It's quite less, but still substantial and way more than the NBA-restricted $500K max an NBA team can offer. For anyone who thinks Kahn is doing this as a means to make Rubio more tradeable, think again. If Kahn somehow can work this out and bring Rubio to Minnesota this season, No. 6 pick Jonny Flynn (17 points, 7.5 assists per game in the NBA Summer League) would hit the trading block.

* - As far as the MLE that is burning a hole in the pocket of some Fixers, let's review the available free agents:

Ramon Sessions' agent is really trying to push the Knicks angle with the Bucks showing little haste in signing their RFA. It's similar to the David Lee scenario, with no competition for his services, Milwaukee knows they are negotiating against themselves. They also know they can (and will) match any offer made at this point (no one has cap space). As for sign-and-trade possibilities? The Bucks have to agree to the trade. I was told there was some interest in Sessions and likely an inquiry was made from the Knicks early in the free agent period. But nothing is hot at the moment.

Andre Miller remains an option if he wants the full MLE for one year. Miller won't jump at that, however, until all other options (Portland or a sign-and-trade for more money) are exhausted.

Lamar Odom won't even pick up the phone. Unless he wants to use the Knicks as leverage to get what he wants. But the reports are he's already trying to get back in the good graces of Jerry Buss after snubbing the Lakers owner's $9M per offer.

Allen Iverson? Forget it. Seriously, let it go.

* - The Carlos Boozer thing remains interesting from a Knicks perspective only because we know the Jazz would be moving him strictly to keep from going over the luxury tax threshold after they officially match the Portland offersheet for Paul Millsap. So for them to make a contract-for-contract trade makes no sense. Someone has to get creative. For instance, if you had a player in an expiring year who had to retire because of a heart ailment and after 41 games his $9.5M salary is paid up to 80 percent by insurance . . . Hmmmm . . . Would you really let the fact that you own a team's 2010 unprotected first round pick get in the way of saving luxury tax payments?

* - Remember, you can follow me on twitter (twitter.com/alanhahn) all summer for any up-to-the-minute information that comes my way, musings on the Knicks moves and strategies and, for anyone who cares, updates from my progress in the P90X program. (Week 4 starts Monday...yes, even on vacation).

Photo credit (National Lampoon's Vacation): EW.com

July 17, 2009

A modest proposal to resolve the Lee/Knicks situation

We reported today that among the concepts discussed with Donnie Walsh, David Lee's agent, Mark Bartelstein, has offered a deal in which Lee would take a salary reduction in 2010-11 to save the Knicks some money against the salary cap for that very important summer of free agency.

The story, which you can read here, appeared in today's Newsday.

The issues is that Lee would still seek a deal that, in total, averages at least $10M-$12M per season, which Walsh apparently believes is too high. At least that's what he suggested earlier this week when he said that Bartelstein's number was higher than his.

Supposing the sides can meet in the middle on the average, we propose a deal like the following might actually work (the numbers are approximate):

2009-10: $9 million
2010-11: $8.05 million (max 10.5 percent reduction)
2011-12: $8.9 million (max 10.5 percent raise)
2012-13: $9.9 million (10.5 percent raise)
2013-13: $10.9 million (10.5 percent raise)

Total: five years, $46.8 million
Average salary is $9.3 million

No, it's not the $10M-to-$12M that is comparable to Andrea Bargnani and Andrew Bogut, but it is in the range of Andris Biedrins and Troy Murphy. And to sweeten the offer -- and show some appreciation for David's offer to take a dip in salary for 2010 -- perhaps you include an early termination option (ETO) for Lee for the 2011 summer. If he continues to put up huge numbers, he'll be able to go into UFA for a bigger payday at the prime age of 28. And the Knicks will have his Bird Rights, so they can sign him over the cap and also give him the biggest deal.

Now, the $8.05M is still a big chunk against the 2010 budget, but, as we've said here before, David's "cap hold" would be $8M if he merely took his $2.7M qualifier this season. You'd have to renounce his Bird Rights to clear him completely from the cap, which makes no sense at all. Better off trading him, which, again, would bring in more contract anyway (and not likely land you the all-star caliber player you're looking for...emphasis on the phrase player you're looking for.

Instead, to offset Lee's number the Knicks have a year to move the only other two big contracts on the 2010 ledger: Eddy Curry ($11.2M) and Jared Jeffries ($6.8M). Curry has vowed to be in top form when training camp opens in September and there are always teams in the market for big men (Houston? Charlotte?). The goal would be to get Curry playing well, putting up solid numbers and then find a suitor...quickly. With Lee's reduction to $8.05M, the team would still get a decent savings if they can move Curry for an expiring.

I'll be the first to admit it will be difficult to move Curry if he is playing well, however. Bigs are so valuable in this league. But so are versatile forwards like Lee, who fits the system here and the way you want to play.

The Knicks already have an overabundance of bigs as it is. Consider the list on the roster right now: Curry, Jeffries, Milicic, Hill, Harrington and Gallinari (not to mention the unsigned Lee). We know D'Antoni likes to keep a tight rotation as it is, so what four players out of this group of seven play and what four sit?

Something's got to give, or someone's got to go. Harrington's in a contract year and would not take sitting, well, sitting down. Curry has to play to maintain his value. Hill is a rookie, so perhaps he can be brought along slowly, but you need his length and athleticism. Gallo is the future and, arguably, the present. Jeffries is versatile and can handle a reduced role, but he's another one that you need to keep on the court for showcase reasons. Milicic? OK, he doesn't have to play, but his size and shooting ability may make give D'Antoni reason to give him a long look early on.

As for the Portland angle (now that Utah has decided to match Paul Millsap's deal), it's expected that the Blazers will next target Andre Miller or Lamar Odom with their cap space. They know the Knicks would match the four-year, $32M deal they offered Millsap if they gave it to Lee.

* * *

* - Donnie Walsh is expected to talk with Aaron Goodwin, the agent for RFA Nate Robinson, today. I don't expect there will be an imminent resolution, but the Knicks would be willing to bring Nate back at a one-year salary. I believe the playmaking and floor-general abilities that Toney Douglas has shown so far in summer league (21 assists, two turnovers in two games) has convinced them that he can step into the backup PG role behind Chris Duhon. That would push Nate down the depth chart some as a change-of-pace guard who would really come in as a two. There isn't a great sign-and-trade market out there for Nate right now, but some teams may eventually consider using a piece of their unused MLE for him with an offer sheet. The Knicks may have to let him go for nothing if he's not in the plans.

* - Don't forget the Knicks are back in action at the NBA Summer League today against the Sacramento Kings at 6 p.m. (ET). It's a good chance to get an early look at Tyreke Evans, whom the Knicks coveted in the draft.

July 16, 2009

Live chat with Alan Hahn

Alan Hahn talks Knicks and answers your questions today in a live chat at 1 p.m.

July 14, 2009

Hill needs to join Eddy in the gym

Jordan Hill's summer league debut resulted in the admission from the Knicks lottery pick that he needs to get himself in better shape.

“I could definitely be in more shape, I could get on that this summer," he said. "Practice has been pretty tough. I should just eat right and do the things I need to do to get better.”

Hill said after the draft he went home for a little bit and worked out at school, but he's aware the NBA game --not to mention Mike D'Antoni's constant-motion system -- has high physical demands. Hill unquestionably goes after the ball and attacks the backboard (eight rebunds in 28:33), but his lack of explosiveness will hamper that ability greatly. And with the ball he showed tendencies to fade-away on jump hooks and turn-arounds.

His 6-for-14 performance from he floor is a clear indication that his legs weren't underneath him. None of this is a major concern because it is all correctable.

“He’s got to get stronger, he’ll do that; He has to get more comfortable, he’ll do that," D'Antoni said. "I thought he got better as the game went on. I think by the end of the week you’ll see he’ll get better.”

If anything, you can certainly say Hill showed greater promise than Hasheem Thabeet, who had an underwhelming six points, six rebounds and one block in 23:36.

* * *

* - Toney Douglas also struggled with his shot (2-for-13, 1-for-4 from downtown) but did dish 11 assists with zero turnovers and two steals in 28:52. He's definitely showing point-guard ability, but he needs to discover the floor general within and likely will as he gets command of the system.

* - Morris Almond really stuck it in my face, didn't he? (Of course you know he reads the Fix...doesn't everybody?). Almond looked like a natural in the system, with 7 of 12 from the field and 3 of 6 from downtown for 17 points. He's trying to earn an invite to training camp this fall and if he can show this kind of shooting consistently in the remaining four games, he'll have a ticket to Saratoga.

As we discussed this with D'Antoni, Anthony Roberson was warming up for the Bulls.

* - As we said in a previous blog (and as Starberman reported in today's Post), the Carlos Boozer situation will be monitored by the Knicks. Are they legit players? Not quite. Up to the Jazz to see what they'd want off the Knicks' roster (not named Chandler, Gallo, Hill or Douglas, of course). Would they consider Nate Robinson? Obviously to match Boozer's salary, it'll take another contract to go with it (Cuttino Mobley?).

The Knicks likely wouldn't agree to deal for Boozer with the idea to immediately sign him to an extension. He would be a one-year "rental." Not a bad rental.

* - By the way, I've heard the Olympiakos offer to Robinson is real. Whether he takes it seriously or not is another story.

* - Jumping on the red-eye tonight and heading home. We'll keep in touch with things in Vegas from afar. Gotta say I was here four days and the only gambling I did was at an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. Winner, winner, sashimi dinner.

By the way, did y'all hear Jessica Simpson is available again?

July 13, 2009

N8 the Greek?

Apparently Olympiakos is targeting Nate Robinson with a boatload of cash (use your Google translator to read it). As they did a season ago with Josh Childress, the Greek team is hoping to sign Robinson as another ticket-seller, who would easily be a bigger star there.

According to the story -- loosely translated -- Olympiakos may also consider a run at Ramon Sessions, who is a restricted free agent with the Bucks.

European teams can sign restricted free agents from the NBA with no compensation. But the NBA team does maintain the player's rights.

The Knicks might actually have no problem with Robinson taking the Greek offer, mainly because not have to pay him and still could use him as a trade asset. Coincidentally, Robinson has been in Europe making appearances at basketball camps. He is an immensely-popular NBA player who might be the type to strike it rich in Europe as a fan attraction. But he is also the type that would likely prefer to remain in the NBA.

Money, of course, does talk.

Donnie Walsh hasn't expressed too much concern about the talks with Robinson's agent, Aaron Goodwin, but he did seem somewhat agitated with the uncertainty involving David Lee's situation. Walsh said he has talked financial parameters with Lee's agent, Mark Bartelstein, but clearly Bartelstein's target is a lot higher than what Walsh is willing to give.

Game time

It's like the Knicks have had a mini training camp for a five-game summer league. We've been here since Friday night, the Knicks had two-a-day practices over the weekend and one more today. Finally this roster of busts and bloomers will take the court tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3 p.m. local time (6 p.m. where it matters) against the Memphis Grizzlies.

You can expect a starting lineup that looks something like this:
PG Toney Douglas
SG Morris Almond
SF Alex Acker
PF Jordan Hill
C Saer Sene

Phil Weber used all kinds of lineups in the workouts so it's very possible they try to go smaller and put Hill at center.

Douglas has impressed people the most in the practices because he is showing an extra gear and a terrific ability to dart laterally both with the dribble and defensively as well. Not a great shooter, but he can get to the rim. His court vision is good. Definitely ready for a rotation spot.

Hill has been very active but is still somewhat raw. Plenty of time to work on offensive moves and to develop more explosiveness, which he should have. He does get after the ball, though. You can't teach that.

The other player to keep an eye on is Morris Almond, though he really hasn't stood out much in practice. Aside from the obvious -- dude can shoot -- he doesn't stay active enough to be a consistent threat. Not enough energy and intensity flowing out of him. You can see why he couldn't keep a seat on Jerry Sloan's bench.

I like the versatile Alex Acker (Pistons,Clippers), who is long and very athletic and, opposite of Almond, very active. Not a great shooter or offensiv threat, however. If he were more like 6-7 or 6-8, he might be more of a given as an NBA small forward. At 6-5, he's a bit undersized for the frontcourt, but perfect to defend shooting guards (like OJ Mayo).

Another player to watch is Blake Ahearn, a D-League standout, is very flashy and makes you notice. He is very confident with the ball, makes flashy passes -- one-handed variety, around his back, under the arm of a defender, etc. -- and can shoot it. Struggles defensively and doesn't always make the safe pass (a little too careless), but the real issue for him at the NBA level is his first step. Not much blow-by speed there to beat people off the dribble.

By the way, while you're watching the game (MSG, 6 p.m.), follow me on Twitter (twitter.com/alanhahn) for thoughts and observations from Cox Pavillion.

* * *

* - Sneak preview of my story in tomorrow's Newsday: Eddy Curry's trainer says 300-310 is the target playing weight for Curry. Why? Because while they have focused on burning the excess fat (he's lost 30 pounds already), the goal is also to have Eddy develop and build more muscle, which, as you know, weighs more than fat. So forget that fictional 285 pound listing in the media guide.

* - Rumor Mill got quiet for a day, so let's throw out some random, baseless speculation: The Utah Jazz have an interesting situation with Paul Millsap signing an offer sheet with the Portland Trail Blazers. They're trying to move Carlos Boozer now in order to clear enough space to match the offer sheet and keep Millsap. Just a thought, but would the Knicks ever consider offering Lee in a sign-and-trade for Boozer? Then Utah wouldn't have to match Millsap, could get something of value for Boozer and the Knicks would get an all-star caliber player who has an expiring contract.

Just bloggin.

July 12, 2009

Curry: 'I'll be ready'

He ran hard, he spun, he bounced and he dunked. In fact, he dunked with ease, which is not something you could say a few months ago.

Eddy Curry looked himself again. Yes, still big, but nimble and explosive. And six weeks into his strict offseason regimen, he went as far as saying the game seems to be coming easier for him again. He reacts now on instinct when over the past few seasos he admits he used to calculate a lot of his moves.

"This," he said, "is the way it used to be when I was coming up."

Eureka.

So my story from Friday's Newsday may have overexaggerated his weight loss to date. One of his trainers, Jerry Powell, told me abut 46 pounds. The Knicks are saying about 30.

Donnie Walsh seemed pleased with what he saw so far. But, as Walsh has learned -- just as everyone else who has ever dealt with Eddy throughout his career, it has never been an issue of ability, but the maddening lack of motivation to get the most out of that ability.

“He’s a tremendous talent, but a lot of it is up to him, if he wants it,” Walsh said. “That’s the key, does he want it? He’s put in a lot of work. If he continues to do that, then he can be a factor in the league.”

The Orlando Magic showed the tremendous value of the big man in the playoffs. I don't believe Walsh is quite ready to give up on Curry, who in top shape and in Mike D'Antoni's pick-and-roll system could be very effective. If Curry is motivated only to earn himself another big contract in two years, the Knicks can benefit from it.

But it seems more likely Curry would welcome a trade for a fresh start (and to get away from he media glare) and the Knicks would love to clear his $11.2M off the ledger in 2010.

For more on Curry, read my story in today's Newsday.

It's amazing, really. It's a big story that a highly-paid veteran player is working hard during the offseason to be prepared for the coming season.

Meanwhile, we see Jared Jeffries, who looks tremendous and put in a vigorous workout on the court after the morning sesion, and think nothing of it.

Just bloggin.

Jordan Hill will be developed as a center

One immediate thought when you watch Jordan Hill is how ferociously he gets after the ball. Rebounds, challenging shots and even loose balls, Hill is active.

Now, in three summer league practices so far, it's obvious his legs aren't quite under him so the explosion isn't quite there. He should be playing above the rim and we haven't seen that aspect. His post moves are raw and he is hesitant with the ball. The shot is flat (again, attributed to the legs).

But the Knicks have seen enough with the 6-10 1/2 Hill to believe he can eventually grow into being a "center" in Mike D'Antoni's system. His mid-range game, quickness and ability to run are the reasons why they want to develop him as such rather than as a power forward. The belief is that Hill can pull opposing bigs out to the perimeter and either shoot his jumper or blow by them with his quickness. I think that aspect of his game (putting the ball on the floor) certainly needs to improve before that becomes a legitimate part of his skill set. But he's young.

Hill can move well though and should pick up the high pick-and-roll play quickly. Once he gets some bounce back in his legs (by training camp), he can get some easy baskets and his activity around the backboard and ability to get up the floor will be an asset.

It'll be interesting to see him go up against 7-4 Hasheem Thabeet in the Knicks summer league opener on Tuesday against the Grizzlies.

* * *

* - Eddy Curry is expected to be at the evening practice tonight. He will meet with Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni and then it is up to him if he wants to work out by himself with strength coach Greg Brittenham on the sideline or join in with the summer league team on the main court. Walsh and D'Antoni want to see his progress. Everyone does. Follow me on twitter for some initial observations.

* - Jimmy Goldstein, the heralded NBA superfan, attended the morning practice and sat next to Donnie Walsh. The two of them are from the same generation and yet by appearance seem to be from separate universes. Nice man, though (talking of Jimmy). And loves to talk hoop.

* - So Steve Nash is expected to be here in Vegas this week to meet with Steve Kerr and discuss terms of a contract extention with the Suns. Would it be rude for Nash to ask Kerr if they could meet at the New York, New York hotel and casino?

* - Huge electronic billboard outside the Wynn's Encore hotel promoting Beyonce's upcoming run of shows there later this month. It's a traffic-stopper:

beyonce_vegaspromo051409_o.jpg

Photo credit: Encore Las Vegas

July 11, 2009

Ewing Jr. out for summer league

Patrick Ewing Jr. wasn't on the court this morning with the Knicks summer league team and is not expected to play at all in the five-game schedule. The Knick legacy is out with what the team is calling "a medical issue", but we can surmize from that it likely involves the knee he injured at the end of the D-League season.

As late as the end of June Ewing Jr. had planned to be ready for summer league -- and another shot at making the Knicks roster. He won't be able to use Vegas as a springboard to Saratoga, but if he is healthy he still could get an invite to training camp.

It's going to be crowded, however. Morris Almond is a pure shooter, as is D-League standout Blake Ahern, who showed off in practice today that he is not just a one-dimensional shooter. Ahern made some fancy passes through traffic (one time he did a Skip-to-My-Lou) and he also flushed one with authority on the break, which no one in the gym saw coming.

The most impressive player was Toney Douglas. He has NBA speed and agility and terrific hands. Gets into the paint and can dish as well as he can finish.

Jordan Hill took a pounding from Sene, who is known to foul a lil bit. Hill looked like he had trouble getting his legs under him, but one noticable trait was how he got after the ball. The post moves are raw and hesitant. He's got some work to do.

Danilo Gallinari was in the gym and worked out on his own. He has been running for almost two weeks and said he feels good and plans to be 100 percent by training camp. He spoke very optimistically and with confidence, which we didn't get last season.

Joe Crawford smiled when we asked him about his little brother, Jordan, who is now famous for dunking on LeBron James at his camp last week. Crawford said he was happy for his brother, who will be a sophomore at Xavier this season, because of the attention it is getting. "It's good because he can play," Joe said. "It's not like he's just this athletic guy that can jump and when people see him they'll be disappointed. He can play."

No sign of Eddy Curry yet. Donnie Walsh is expected to arrive this afternoon and will attend the evening practice.

Remember you can follow me on twitter (twitter.com/alanhahn) for more frequent updates, news bits, observations and inane thoughts as I meander the Vegas strip. Two choices tonight: UFC 100 tonight at Mandalay or a ticket to "Menopause: the Musical" . . . hmmmm.

Waking up in Vegas

Took a late-night cross-country flight out here and my body clock is tickin-like-this...

The Knicks just got here yesterday, as well, and it seems they're already with a hangover. Grant Hill took less money to stay in Phoenix....did that really happen?

The Knicks' summer league team -- with freshly-signed (made official this morning) eighth overall pick Jordan Hill as the centerpiece -- begin two-a-day workouts this weekend at Valley High. Though there is anticipation to see how Hill and fellow first-rounder Toney Douglas look (not to mention roster hopefuls such as Morris Almond, Alex Acker and Patrick Ewing Jr.), the biggest workout of the weekend will be on Sunday, when veteran Eddy Curry is expected to arrive and run the floor with the group. The Knicks brass -- I'm hearing even the owner, James Dolan, too -- wants to be updated on Curry's progress in his offseason diet and fitness program.

Though I doubt the Knicks would invite other teams in to watch, the Rockets may be interested in Curry's progress, as well. GM Daryl Morey, with Yao Ming's foot injury threatening his season, if not his career, confirmed here on Friday that his team is in the market for a big man.

Curry's $11.2M would be a huge number to remove from the 2010 ledger and it would also give the Knicks a little more flexibiliy in re-signing David Lee, whose options continue to dwindle. The Trail Blazers tendered one of Lee's market comparables, Paul Millsap, an offer sheet for $8M to $9M per year.

There was also this report from Philadelphia about a sign-and-trade scenario involving Chris Duhon for free agent Andre Miller. I checked in on the Miller front yesterday and was told by someone close to Miller that he didn't have he Knicks on his radar at this point. The report said it wa Duhon's agent who was trying to make the deal happen. Obviously the Knicks can't include a first-round pick (as the story suggests) because they don't have a pick in 2010 and, as a result, they can't trade the pick in 2011.

I'm not sure this is the best deal for the Knicks, considering that Miller would need to be signed beyond 2010 and, while he is one of the smartest point guards in the NBA, his lack of quickness at both ends of the floor and below-average shooting from the perimeter aren't the best it. However, he would be an upgrade and he does provide leadership.

We'll see what transpires.

Stay connected here throughout the day and weekend for updates from the Summer League and be sure to follow me on twitter (twitter.com/alanhahn) for thoughts and observations right from the gym and everywhere else.

July 10, 2009

Hill passed on the full MLE from Knicks

Grant Hill's agent Lon Babby said on a conference call today that Hill turned down a one-year offer from the Knicks for the full mid-level exception of $5.8M.

Instead he chose to stay in Phoenix for one year at $3M and a player option year in 2010-11 for $3.24M.

The Knicks also had a three-year deal on the table, with the third year a player option, with the same scale as the Suns' offer. Babby said if Hill chose New York he would have not taken the three-year deal, but the one-year full MLE.

So that's two free agents down. Is Andre Miller next? According to a person close to him, Miller hasn't reached the point where he is ready to start considering taking the mid-level. Portland may not be an option if they trade for Kirk Hinrich, but Miller could find sign-and-trade scenarios.

This is going to be a long summer, Fixers. Donnie Walsh's best play at this point -- after the two main targets opted not to come here -- is to wait out the process and see what comes begging for that MLE as July turns to August.

And one thought on the Steve Nash front: Hill staying in Phoenix is an obvious sign that Nash plans to stay there, too. But for how long? That player option is key for Hill to escape if Nash leaves next summer in free agency.

UPDATE: My old buddy Gambo, a popular and well-connected sports radio host in Phoenix (and a former Newsday sports writer), says Nash will meet with Suns brass next week in Las Vegas to discuss a two-year, $20M extension. Possibly scratch another option off the Knicks' wish list....


Knicks brass want a look at Eddy's progress

Had this story in today's Newsday that says the Knicks have ordered Eddy Curry to come to Las Vegas to practice with the summer league team on Sunday. According to Jerry Powell, one of the trainers that was hired to get Curry back in shape this offseason, Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni want to see how Curry is doing with the program.

Powell said it was clear to him that Curry's "confidence has been damaged," but noted a serious lack of responsibility as the cause of his downfall.

"He's going to be better because he's putting the work in ... There were summers he did nothing," said Powell, who is from Lindenhurst and has built a career out of basketball training, with NBA players such as Knicks forward Al Harrington, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, Nuggets guard J.R. Smith and Grizzlies guard Marko Jaric, among other college and high school players, on his client list.

Check out the story for more details.

* * *

Last night we heard conflicting reports from sources and other reporters about the Grant Hill situation. One person said it sounded like Hill was close to taking the Knicks' offer and had several reasons why New York was a good fit (starting role, connection with Mike D'Antoni and his wife loved the idea of living in New York). And that seems to parallel what Bill Rhoden wrote today in the Times.

But then you read well-connected Paul Coro in today's Arizona Republic and that concern we've mentioned here before about free agents using the Knicks to get the deals they want with their "home team" return.

But Hill may sign today with the Knicks, I was told.

Jordan Hill, that is.

* * *

The Daily News already moved on to the next possible free agent target, Andre Miller. The 33-year-old veteran initially thought he could get a big money deal in Portland, and the playoff contending Blazers could remain an option. Miller would have to take less from the Knicks, who, as far as I've been told, have not yet reached out to him.

* * *

I'm leaving for Vegas later today, Fixers. I'll blog from Vegas -- the first Knick game is Tuesday (MSG will televise all games live and replay them in the evening, as well) -- and, as always, you can follow me on twitter for more frequent, up-to-the-minute thoughts, rumors and observations.

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