Friday, July 08, 2005

Hard Hits: Just Hire Herb Already

While the NBA draft has come and gone and the free agent signing period underway, somehow, Knicks President and GM Isiah Thomas still has not figured out that no high profile coach is coming to New York to take over the tenuous position. This past Wednesday, Larry Brown's wife Shelly proclaimed to New York Post beat writer Marc Berman that her husband would not be coming but instead hoped to return to Detroit healh permitting. Even with it looking more likely that Brown would stay in Detroit, Thomas has continued to wait, almost as if he had some sort of blind faith that the Brooklyn native would actually change his mind.

What can't be figured out is what kind of kool aid owner Jim Dolan has given Thomas to make him believe that the Knicks coaching position was appealing. It's almost as if Thomas has become as stubborn as Glen Sather was with the Ranger coaching job two summers ago. Did he actually think a big name would want to come here, knowing in advance that they'd be under the radar without full control in an almost clown-like atmosphere? Thing is Barnum and Bailey is still one of the most profitable events when they come to town. And most importantly, they don't leave fans bitter and nauseous.

Already, one of Thomas' most coveted coaching free agents, Nate McMillan accepted an offer to coach the Portland Trail Blazers. In the past, Portland has been a place where clowns often reign supreme. But McMillan decided their future was much better and worth the gamble.

Where would you rather be? With a team that has a rising star at point guard with young athletic wing players and enough room on the cap to maneuver. Or with a team that is so far maxed out on the cap due to ridiculous length of contracts with little chance of adding a good big man who could make a difference. The choice is simple.

While Thomas continues to pin his hopes on Brown, the other elite name Phil Jackson decided that returning for a sequel in Hollywood with embattled player Kobe Bryant was more lucrative than coming back to where he won two NBA championships as a player in '70 and '72. Coincidentally, those are the only two titles the Knicks have won.

With former Minnesota coach Flip Saunders all but ruled out due to how much authority he wants with any prospective employer, this doesn't leave many options.

So, what is Isiah waiting for? Herb Williams did an admirable job taking over for Lenny Wilkens. Though he only went 16-27, he came into an impossible situation with a team that was going nowhere. After an initial poor beginning, his team responded well and competed better. Williams even got something more out of "Tiny" Tim Thomas by featuring him more as a go-to guy in the post. Thomas has a reputation for being soft but under Williams, he looked rejuvenated. If Williams gets the position, maybe Thomas will continue to thrive and increase his trade value.

Williams also got Jamal Crawford to distribute the ball more, even using him at the point in the fourth quarter in place of Stephon Marbury. In those instances, Crawford led the Knicks to victories. Maybe there is hope for Crawford after all. He certainly is talented, possessing a killer crossover, unlimited range from the outside and excellent leaping ability as Knick fans will attest to his two innovative dunks off the glass. It's just Crawford becoming more disciplined and not just running and gunning. There's also other teammates and defense, something the athletic player should be able to play.

Williams preached that his team come to play every night. He demanded that they become a better defensive club and exhibit better working habits. A trademark of the old "Back To D" Knick clubs in the 90's when they often challenged for the NBA title.

Despite being treated as if he was a ragged doll, Williams continues to exude confidence and show professionalism and understanding for why the process has taken so long. When asked to comment on things during a recent Knicks Summer League Camp game in Las Vegas by MSG's Gus Johnson and John Andareise, Williams didn't take anything personally. He insisted that he was the coach of the team and planned to go forth with gameplans for the upcoming season on what he felt will work with the newest Knicks. Until proven otherwise, Herb is the coach. And given his even-keel temperament, I feel he should be given a chance to work with this young nucleus of players.

He's got more NBA experience than Thomas' old Bad Boy pal Bill Laimbeer, who coached the WNBA Detroit Sparks to a title in '03. Laimbeer would have to make a transition from coaching team oriented women to more ego-driven men, who can create chaos. While he is knowledgable and would be an authoritative type of coach, it remains to be seen if that kind of personality could work here with younger players.

So, will Isiah finally wake up from the abyss and do the right thing? It's time to give the job to the most deserving man.

Hitting Back:

-Why does Isiah have to take it so personal when it's suggested that Stephon Marbury might be on the block? Maybe if he didn't basically proclaim that nobody on the roster was untouchable, people wouldn't speculate. Especially when the Knicks are overloaded at guard.

-This Nate Robinson will energize and excite fans when he gets into games this fall. Who knows? He could even wind up being a steal as part of the Quentin Richardson deal.

-When Willie Randolph starts Aaron Heilman to close the ninth with a four run lead against the Pirates and then allows him to load the bases before putting in closer Braden Looper, it doesn't exactly show much faith in Looper. It also was an awful move by a rookie manager who is still learning on the job.

-People who blame Looper for how that game turned out are way off. Looper wasn't put into a good situation. It didn't help that Cliff Floyd tried to be Superman when all he had to do was let the ball drop in front of him, which would have kept the game from being tied.

-Having Marlon Anderson and journeyman Jose Offerman split duties at first wasn't exactly Omar Minaya's plan for success. Until his recall from Norfolk, I didn't even know Offerman still played.

-What's more stunning? The fact that rookie starter Chien-Ming Wang gives the Yankees a better chance to win than Randy Johnson or the fact that Floyd was shafted from the All-Star team while less deserving teammates Carlos Beltran and Mike Piazza were voted starters?

-Is Mariano Rivera still done?

-A-rod has been brilliant this season and deserves his starting nod at third in Detroit but how does Hideki Matsui get overlooked by his peers when he has two less RBI's? He's been every bit as clutch.

-It's nice to see Jason Giambi coming around. But to all those who wrote him off before he had reached 100 at bats without being played consistently: Did you jump the gun a little soon to kick the guy while he was down?

-Now that the Olympic fiasco is over for New York, maybe now Mayor Bloomberg and the rest of the politicians can get back to what their job entails.

-Congrats to London on what should have been a momentous occasion landing the 2012 Olympics, only a day later was ruined by angry terrorists. It's sad that this will continue to be the story but is the harsh reality of the world we live in. One day, good shall prevail over evil. I just hope I'm around to see it.


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