The Week That Was: The Big Knicks Trade

     The 2018-19 season has been an unmitigated disaster for the New York Knickerbockers so it wasn’t shocking that the team would make a trade before the deal deadline to shed player assets for either future draft choices or to free up payroll to make a run at top-tier free agents who will become available this coming July.

     It was expected that the Knicks would try to move guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. whose .large contract would prevent the team from having a shot at soon-to-be marquee free agents as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. It was also no secret that the team was looking to shed veteran guard Courtney Lee who was not getting much playing time from head coach David Fizdale.

     The Knicks did move both Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Courtney Lee as well as another guard, Trey Burke, to the Dallas Mavericks last Thursday. What got the NBA world buzzing was that they included in the deal forward Kristaps Porzingis, who had assumed the role of the Knicks franchise face in spite of missing this season with a knee injury, ever since he was drafted with the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by then Knicks president Phil Jackson. The Knicks also received two future first-round draft choices.

    In return the Knicks received center DeAndre Jordan, forward/guard Wes Matthews, and point guard Dennis Smith, Jr. from the Mavericks.   

    While there was immediate outrage from many Knicks fans and many in the media, the truth that it will take years to see how this all shakes out.

     Kristaps Porzingis may be a great talent but one can understand why the Knicks were willing to part ways with him. He did not report to the mandatory exit interview following the end of the 2017 season with then head coach Jeff Hornacek. It is rumored that Porzingis turned down contract extension offers from management because they weren’t for the maximum possible compensation. It’s also rumored that Porzingis didn’t see eye to eye with either general manager Scott Perry or head coach David Fizdale.

    It also appears that the trade was made to further obliterate Phil Jackson’s unpopular tenure as Knicks president/general manager. Jackson selected Porzingis with his team’s top pick in 2015 but he also selected point guard Frank Ntilikina in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft. Many thought he should have chosen Dennis Smith, Jr. instead. Smith’s arrival at Madison Square Garden obviously does not bode well for Ntilikina.

     Smith, Jordan, and Matthews are very good players who could quickly improve the Knicks’ dismal record. Of course that would harm their chances at getting the top pick in this year draft where the grand prize is franchise changer Zion Williamson from Duke University. It will be interesting to see whether Fizdale gives Jordan and Matthews much playing time since they have expiring contracts.

       Former New York Jets center Kevin Mawae was named as an inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer. Mawae was always a good interview and was quite knowledgeable about NFL labor issues since he was the team’s union rep for many years..

    Neil Walker, who spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Mets before joining the Yankees as a free agent in 2018 is leaving New York City for Miami in 2019 as he was signed by the Marlins.

     Walker got off to a slow start for the Yankees but became a fan favorite as he collected many clutch hits down the stretch as well as being able to play a variety of infield and outfield positions. Marlins owner Derek Jeter surely paid attention to that as well as the fact that he was a leader in the Mets clubhouse. Sportswriters and TV/radio sports voices always sought him out before or after a game.

    I get the fact that the Mets have no interest in either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado but they still need a decent-hitting outfielder and Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez, and Hunter Pence are available free agents. Likewise, pitcher Gio Gonzales, who has always mastered the Mets on the mound, is also still out there. Any of those players would upgrade the Mets without breaking their payroll budget.

     Former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson announced at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America dinner last month that he is free of cancer and that he’ll be returning to the Oakland Athletics as a special advisor.

     Viewers of local evening news are poorer now that WPIX-TV has not renewed the contract of its longtime sports anchor, Scott Stanford. While there are a lot of knowledgeable sports anchors, few have made me laugh as consistently as the witty Stanford has over the years.

     Andy Roddick, the last American male tennis players to win the US Open (and that was back in 2003) did a nice job “performing” Bonnie Tyler’s 1978 hit, “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” on Paramount Television Network’s “Lip Sync Battle” which is hosted by St. Albans native LL Cool J.    

     If you want to get a preview of the 2019 men’s division at the US Open then check out the New York Tennis Open that will take place February 9 through 17 at the Nassau Coliseum. OK, Rafa, Roger and Novak will not be there, but nearly every well-known American player including John Isner, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, and Long Island’s own Noah Rubin will be taking part.

    The decline of drive-ins and multiplex theaters in general have hurt the release of low-budget comedies. The good news is that the direct to DVD market is a profitable one for film studios. A good case in point is that Universal Pictures has just released “Benchwarmers: Breaking Balls” that stars “American Pie” film series fixture Chris Klein and the always welcome “Saturday Night Live” alum Jon Lovitz. It’s a likable comedy about softball that nicely spoofs “Major League” as well as every movie about lawyers ever made.

     ALM Media, which publishes a number of periodicals in the legal, finance, and insurance fields, held their annual Legal Week Show at the New York Hilton last week.

      Lexis Nexis, the legal research firm, was displaying its Lex Machina database which allows attorneys to research the rulings of nearly every judge in the country. This data gives lawyers insight as to whether to settle or take a plea or go to court to the end. “This is our version of ‘Moneyball” (the analytics used by Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane to make player personnel decisions with a limited budget that was famously turned into a movie that starred Brad Pitt), a Lexis Nexis rep told me,

     Corel was showing its latest WordPerfect product, X9, at Legal Week. I still think that it’s a superior world processing package and way more user-friendly than Microsoft’s Word which is the industry leader.




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