Latest News, NBA / Oct 8, 2010 / 11:51 am

Stern: NBA should have saved the Knicks from themselves

Throwing in the towel to ensure a shot at an NBA superstar used to be so much easier. If you were the Cleveland Cavaliers trying to get LeBron James as he came out of high school, all you had to do was (allegedly) tank a season to get a high Lottery pick. If you were the New York Knicks trying to get Patrick Ewing out of college to revitalize the franchise, all you had to do was (allegedly) rig the Lottery drawing. If you were the Minnesota Timberwolves trying to afford a No. 1 draft pick without breaking the bank, all you had to do was (really) pay the guy under the table like a migrant farm worker.

It’s not that easy anymore. When the Knicks decided they were going to make a run at signing free agent LeBron James in 2010 — or at least Dwyane Wade or Joe Johnson or some franchise-changing superstar — it was a years-long process of sacrificing season after season in the name of acquiring contracts that expired at the same time LBJ and his high-profile friends hit the free-agent market. In their far-sighted efforts to get LeBron, the Knicks alienated thousands of fans, became a League-wide punch line, and took one of the most high-risk gambles in sports we’ve seen since the tailback in The Last Boy Scout brought a gun onto the football field.

Only it didn’t work. At least not as well as New York had planned.

The Knicks did end up signing Amar’e Stoudemire this summer and gave their fans at least some reason to be optimistic (and there’s still Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker in 2011). During their preseason opener in Italy last week, NY announcer Mike Breen openly admitted that this year’s Knicks team was the first one in a while “that was put together to be a team, not to collect expiring contracts.”

And the way the Knicks handled the situation is something NBA commissioner David Stern doesn’t want to see happen again.

“One of our generalized goals in collective bargaining is to come up with a system in which teams are not doomed by their past mistakes for an inordinate amount of time, so fans can have hope,” Stern was quoted in Newsday when talking about the Knicks.

It’s not like what the Knicks did was illegal, but it’s kind of like when teams rest their starters near the end of the regular season, or subtly tank to get better draft position. The League can’t necessarily stop it, even if the fans don’t necessarily like it. So while Stern hopes the next Collective Bargaining Agreement can have something in there that prevents another situation like the 2005-2010 Knicks, there may not be anything he can really do.

What do you think? Can the League do anything to avoid another team ending up like the Knicks?

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  • George W Kush Sr

    Stern should take the franchise away from Dolan. That’ll fix the Knicks. Then Stern himself should get fired, that’ll fix the NBA.

  • http://www.TheProductBand.com Kermit The Washington

    Boom. Can’t say anything better than the above.

  • Alex “Robocop” Murphy

    Shorter max contracts from 6 to 5 (in house), and from 5 to 4 when getting a contract from another team without your Bird rights.

    And make first round draft picks only 2 years of guaranteed money with the end second year having the player leave for restricted free agency or stay for a third year for being a possible unrestricted free agent. This way people who really want to gamble on potential can either make that decision to stash their player away in europe or legitimately play them. People need to realize the league is still diluted. Why waste roster spots on players (who have guaranteed money for a few season) that still need development or who will never pan out. Put someone in who can play. Since the shift from a 12 player bench to a 15 player bench (2 on the inactive list) the league has watered down talent that aren’t ready for meaningful minutes in rotation. This can help especially getting rid of headcases (without having to wait until the end of their contract to either waive them or trade them for nothing and lose money doing so) (ie. Kedrick Brown, Joe Forte and soon to be Lance Stephenson).

    Just think about it. Most players come out by age 20 in the draft. That would give them the opportunity to get 2 legit max deals @ 5 years with their same team (if they are worth it) as they are in their waning years of exiting their prime.

    Also last year of all contracts (excluding only one year deals) should be non guaranteed. (You’ll definitely see more trades and financial responsibility).

    Possible hard cap.

  • Cavalier

    Agreed, Robocop. Stern is clearly signaling that in the future there will be shorter length guaranteed contracts. It’s possible all teams will have options after 3 years, etc, in addition to 4 or 5 year max deals. They are going to break the players’ union. No doubt about it.

    All that being said, I don’t think any system can save the type of bad management that the Knicks have displayed as of late. In any system with defined rules, the best run organizations will succeed. There is a reason why only 8 different organizations have won titles in the last 26 years and you can’t say it’s all about big markets/big wallets (see: Spurs, San Antonio or Knicks, New York). New York has an advantage that people want to play there but this advantage is completely eliminated by Dolan’s ineptitude.

  • Lee

    They could give the no. 1 pick to the 17th best team in the nba making bad teams want to be the best they can be. I know it would still lead to problems but it could mean a team can take the step from being “1 piece away” to challenging for the title which could make the league more interesting.

  • ShowKase

    @ Lee
    I like that idea! It would definitely prevent teams from tanking.

    I also agreed with ideas of the above posters. Shorten the contracts, Fire Dolan, and make players EARN their contracts. Their are too many trash bags picking up “guaranteed” money for doing notihnig to help their teams. Also, reduce the bench numbers back to 12. Seriously, why doe Mark Madsen and Brian Scalabrine have championship rings?

  • Joe’s Momma

    Mr Kush @ #1 got it right! I second that.

    I think this is Stern’s backhanded way of saying, “the NBA needs shorter ‘max’ on the # of years handed out”

    If he wanted to help the Knicks, why did he initially give the go ahead for them to bring back Isiah?

    He isn’t trying to help anybody except the bottom line, don’t get is confused with trying to help teams.

    Here’s an idea, how about let the general managers come up with contracts that are not bloated?? How about that one Mr. Stern? Add some team options and player options to certain years. How about having teams hire better GM’s?

    When did Stern feel like its his job to become Captain Save a Squad?

    I get the Knicks sucked for a decade, but how is he going to save them after they still traded lottery bound picks and sign terrible contracts? Oh yea, rig the lottery so NY can get Patrick Chewing, that might help ‘em make the playoffs, only if you bar them from trading picks. Good luck with that one.

  • Joe’s Momma

    I like what Stern has done for the NBA when it was known as the League of the over dose. But the past 10 years he has continually grabbed more and more power and flexes every time he gets the chance. Tech for punching the air? Tech for slapping someone on the backside? But no tech for blatantly disrespecting the opposing team by dancing like 8th graders at a dance where the girls are on one side and the boys on the other?

    He needs to take a step back, because there are a lot of things he is doing/has done that is not kosher, ya dig? (i.e. Patrick Ewing draft, ’04 draft, Seatle Sonics, etc.)

    He got those grubby fingerprints on a bunch of things that look a little sideways.

    Supply and demand baby, let the market work itself out. Too much “government” intervention and we get these bailouts that skrew everyone except the people who deserve it.

    Stern is Napoleon, my boy Sheed said it right.

  • gertie

    “under the table like a migrant farm worker”? WTF do you know about migrant farm workers and how they get paid?

  • Knicksfan84

    The Knicks mimic NYC, and thus represent them! Is Dolan no different than Bloomberg…. Are the Knicks run no differently than any major group in the city aka MTA, NYPD, FDNY, SUNY, STATE GOV etc…. TERRIBLE and without any hope of getting better.

  • Dr. Jumper

    CS @ Gerdie… watch it DIME!!!

  • AirKaris

    Seattle: Stern should have saved the Sonics from ownership

  • sh!tfaced

    just don’t bring back Isiah and everything will eventually be OK

  • http://knicksdefense.com knicksdefense

    I think that they should call it the Isiah Thomas rule. You know, there was the Allan Houston rule, the Larry Bird rights, when a team is completely doomed due to idiotic management, it should be called the Isiah Thomas rule that they can get out from the weight of the world (aka, jerome james plus eddy curry equals the weight of the world).

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    David Stern has presided over 2 great ages of the NBA and made countless decisions that have benefitted the League. Can’t think of hardly a single misstep.


    Dictator David should definitely force Dolan out. That dude’s an idiot and easily one of THE worst owners in all of sports.

    The list of moronic decisions in the past 5 years cannot be listed. The Knicks are and will be a joke.


  • Rockco

    NBA = WWE


    let DANA WHITE run the NBA!

  • NYK

    @George W Kush Sr

    No truer words have ever been said about the Knicks.

  • JB

    If this were the Grizzlies or the TWolves that did this to try and sign a max free agent, would the media give it any attention? Probably not. But the media is on the Knicks’ d*cks… so NOW it’s a tragedy that a team strikes out in free agency.