Linkin' Center: Move Amare Over, A New Odd Couple, & The Homeless Knick

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New York Knicks forward Amar

If Timofey Mozgov doesn't work as center tonight, maybe it's time for Amare to strap it on and man the middle. (Source: Yardbarker.com)

KnickerBlogger interviews New York Times writer Howard Beck who intelligently wonders if perhaps we should move power forward Amar’e Stoudemire over to center?

Mike Kurylo: Speaking of Amar’e – is he really going to play the 4 exclusively, primarily, or occasionally? What’s your take from what you’ve seen in practice?

Howard Beck: That’s a great question because over the last week or so, watching Turiaf struggle a little bit and watching Mozgov flash between promising and foul prone I’ve been thinking about that same thing. And I’ll ask Mike D’Antoni about that today when I get there. In Phoenix, the Suns were widely successful with Amar’e as their so-called undersized/non-traditional center, and I don’t know why the Knicks can’t be successful as well. I think they have to (try) a banger/traditional center next to Amar’e to help him out and keep him out of foul trouble. But I think there is a lot of merit of playing it the Suns way – which is go undersized at every position and just outrun the other team up and down the court. You know there are only a few true centers who are scoring centers in the league anyway, so it’s not as if Amar’e Stoudemire is going to just sit there every night and get banged on by low-post/back-you-down centers. There just aren’t many of them anymore. I think we’ll end up seeing Stoudemire at the 5 a lot, but I think Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want to start that way. He’s inclined to, if he can, keep Amar’e at his natural position.

Personally, while I’ve enjoyed pushing all the Mozgov Could Be Great propaganda, I just have a hard time picturing him being a big contributor for the first few months of the season (if not longer).  Initially I’d actually assumed that we’d eventually realize we needed to move Amar’e to the 5 spot not just because both Moz and Turiaf are more 10-20 minute guys rather than starters, but also because we’d be itching to give Anthony Randolph more minutes.  Even though we’ve mentioned Randolph in the center conversation, he’s really more suited to play power forward or small forward.  Which are the ideal positions of probably our two best players in Stat and Danilo Gallinari, thus limiting the backup minutes available.  So I assumed we’d need to play Stat at the 5 to allow Randolph more time.  The problem is Randolph’s been so mediocre in training camp/pre-season, the coaching staff correctly hasn’t been searching to get him more minutes.  Perhaps he’ll grow more comfortable as the season goes on and will work his way into the starting line-up.  Beck, however, predicts that we will indeed move Amare over eventually, but it will be to get Kelenna Azubuike in at shooting guard.

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Move over Felix and Oscar, there’s a new, even odder couple in town.  Former Knick fan fave Anthony Mason makes one think of hustle, toughness, solid defense & rebounding, making the most out of one’s limited abilities, and surprisingly intelligent passing.

Words to describe Eddy Curry?  Indifferent, lazy, poor defender & rebounder, never fully tapped his incredible abilities, and a guy who’d rather turn the ball over than pass it back out to a teammate.

No, these two guys are not developing a sitcom or reality tv show (although I’d pay big bucks to watch that).  Instead, according to the New York Post

The Knicks have enlisted former Knicks defensive stalwart Anthony Mason to work with Eddy Curry and try to motivate him to save his career, The Post has learned.

Mason, a former Knicks forward who embodied the team’s defense and toughness from the 1991-1996 glory days, wore a Knicks coaching shirt yesterday and appeared briefly on the court. But mostly Mason’s work with Curry will be behind the scenes, in the weight room where they will be workout partners.

Curry, who could be cleared for practice in the next two weeks, is out with a right hamstring strain, but the Knicks also want him to lose more weight and Mase is on the case.

Curry was not permitted to go to Milan and Paris, partly to work out with Mason.

Mason, out of Springfield Gardens, is trying to get back into the league as a coach/special instructor.

[Knicks President Donnie] Walsh said the Curry idea made sense because Mason, also trying to drop a few pounds, already was using the team’s practice facility to work out.

First, let me apologize for mistakenly writing and bashing Curry for not going to Europe to bond with the team.  It had been reported that he had chosen to stay behind which I thought was a big mistake because it would only further alienate him from his new teammates.  Second, I’m impressed that Walsh hasn’t given up on Curry since nearly everyone else in the world has.  Honestly, as the Post says in their first line, if Mason is able to turn Curry around, it would more save Curry’s career than help the Knicks.  So that’s a pretty nice move by Walsh.  Third, along those same lines, since Mason is trying to break into coaching circles, this is also a pretty generous move on Walsh’s part to give him his shot.  If anything, this seems more like a really nice goodwill move rather than an intelligent basketball decision, but since owner Jimmy Dolan is made of money, who cares?  Fourth, Anthony Frickin’ Mason and Eddy Curry together????

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Over at SportsIllustrated.com, Ian Thomsen does an Atlantic Division preview with a very dispiriting view of the Knicks chances.  Naturally he lists the Celtics as the top team in our division, but sadly we come in fourth out of five, only ahead of the Toronto Raptors, but with Philadelphia at number two and New Jersey at number three.  While my hopes have dimmed a bit after our first two pre-season games (although I’m hoping our performance tonight will renew my faith — particularly you Ray Felton), if we end the season behind both those teams I will be really, really, really, really, really, really bummed.  I’m talking really, really.  Here’s the summary capsule, but there’s also a video preview of the Knicks at the link:

They’ve improved but they’re not nearly good enough. Coach Mike D’Antoni must make the most of meager resources to rebound and run in order to exploit Amar’e Stoudemire and Danilo Gallinari while playing to the up-tempo strengths of fill-in point guard Raymond Felton. This franchise needs an overachieving year in hopes of developing momentum to help lure a star to New York next summer. Perhaps David Lee will be appreciated now that he’s gone.

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Lastly, on an even more depressing note since it’s about real life and not fluff like basketball, NBA Fanhouse tells this sad story:

Former New York Knicks captain Ray Williams was driving away last week in his faded, 1998 Chevy Tahoe, finally regaining possession again after it sat in the transmission repair shop for almost a year, waiting for him to scrape together $2,900 to pay the repair bill.

He was beaming. It was one proud moment for a homeless man.

[...] The triumphs of “Sugar Ray,” Williams are dramatically different today.

Williams, now 55, was once the toast of the Knicks and Madison Square Garden, where he captained the team that won 50 games during the 1980-81 season, more than any other Knicks team in a 15-year span. He earned his nickname because of his laid-back manner and his sweet style of play, averaging 20.9 and 19.7 points in back-to-back seasons.

A year later, he helped the cross-river New Jersey Nets open a new arena, leading them in scoring, through a 20-win improvement and into the playoffs. In the final game of the regular season, he scored 52 points against Isiah Thomas’s and Bill Laimbeer’s Detroit Pistons, setting a franchise scoring record that still stands today.

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Tags: Amare Stoudemire Anthony Mason Anthony Randolph Danilo Gallinari Donnie Walsh Eddy Curry Howard Beck Mike D'Antoni Ray Williams Timofey Mozgov

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