The titular head of the Knicks, President and CEO of Cablevision Systems Inc. and Executive Chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company, James Dolan, was playing with his rock band â€” JD and the Straight Shot â€” last night after the Knicks were blown out by 31 points at the Garden. Dolan promptly guaranteed a victory on Wednesday night. Here are some more moves Dolan can make to hurt his own team.
It’s not like Dolan doesn’t care, it’s that he seems to care too much, and his vigilant paranoia and ego won’t allow anyone to persuade him otherwise. Rather than hold himself accountable for the faltering franchise, Dolan usually just fires back at whatever outlet is castigating him for another boorish move with his team; New York’s team. But New York’s team is rapidly being supplanted by the Brooklyn Nets on the court and in the front office.
To wit: J.R. Smith looked awful on Sunday in his return, going 1-for-9 from the field; Tyson Chandler is out with a fractured fibula for the next month plus and we don’t know how he’ll look whenever he returns; Carmelo Anthony is shooting 41 percent on the year and getting bruised at power forward; Iman Shumpert didn’t solidify his starter’s spot during Smith’s suspension to open the season; Andrea Bargnani still doesn’t play defense and Amare Stoudemire is a husk of his former self. The 2013-14 New York Knicks are in disarray, and it’s â€” at least partially â€” Dolan’s fault; although, Smith can still move pretty good in the hallway leading out to the court.
Dolan recently believed a cheerleader rebrand was in order. With all the early losing, the Knicks City Dancers are one of the highlights for Knicks fans during an embattled opening couple weeks. Here are five more superficial changes Dolan can make, which will inevitably backfire.
*** *** ***
Fire Mike Woodson
After that 31-point loss to the mighty Spurs, Dolan had a meeting with his coach, according to the New York Daily News. We can only guess at what was discussed, perhaps Andrea Bargnani’s help defense, but we do know that’s a bad omen for the coach with the mound of facial hair.
Listen, Dolan isn’t above panic firings. It’s become almost part and parcel of his ownership tenure. He hires someone then quickly tires of them, before lambasting them in public before finally cutting the cord on their association with the team. Woodson helped the Knicks win 54 games last season before a first round victory over the Celtics â€” the first playoff series victory since they reached the finals in 1999. Though ‘Melo is struggling from the field, Woodson has him actually giving a crap on defense. Woodson has also handled the distractions of J.R. Smith without ruining his confidence or letting him jack 25 shots a game.
If Knicks glad-hander Marc Berman at the New York Post is defending the job you’ve done even after the season’s first two weeks, then you know Woodson should stay. But wouldn’t it just make perfect sense for Dolan to fire the one guy that can get this team to care about little things?
Trade Iman Shumpert
Over the summer came word that Dolan had flown off the handle yet again, and was seeking to trade Iman Shumpert for he declined an invitation to participate in Summer League in favor of doing a promotional tour in Asia. But Dolan was talked off the ledge.
If Dolan thinks J.R. Smith deserves to start, even if his play doesn’t support it and even after Smith won last season’s Sixth Man of Year award, he might just unload Shump to acquire an overpriced veteran years from his peak as a player. That’s just how JD rolls, regardless of what Mills or Woodson tell him.
The Knicks are already paying Amar’e over $20 million this season, and STAT stinks. His knees are a cluster of fluid and disintegrating tendons and he just can’t move enough to warrant big minutes. Getting rid of the only Knicks wing that plays top notch defense and is still on his rookie deal makes so much sense for Dolan, it’s surprising he hasn’t unloaded him already.
The recently shorn tresses of Iman, has already led to an uptick in Norris Cole jersey sales, and if Iman gets dealt from the Knicks, Dolan might have a riot on his hands from all the twee fans in Manhattan who follow Shumpert’s blossoming rap career.
Despite all this, Shump is still on the roster, but don’t put it past Dolan to panic trade him for Kendrick Perkins if the Knicks continue to falter.
Dolan’s latest guarantee that the Knicks would go into Atlanta on Wednesday night and get the victory got a confused reaction from ‘Melo. As the Wall Street Journal‘s well-respected beat writer, Chris Herring, points out on Twitter:
Melo, on Dolan guaranteeing a win at a concert yesterday: "Our owner had a concert?"
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 11, 2013
Anthony said "I guess we gotta win" since Dolan guaranteed one on Wednesday
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 11, 2013
This comes after Dolan told his staff â€” both on the court and in the executive boxes â€” that they need to win a title this season. That urgency underpins all the highfalutin bombast from the executive MSG chairman. He either doesn’t understand basketball, or his megalomania is incapable of allowing him to see that the Knicks are barely a playoff contender on the court right now.
Guarantees are fine, especially when told in Moses Malone‘s trademark cadence, but for a team that’s under the media microscope already, why tempt fate and incur the wrath of your overextended coaching staff and front office? Because it’s Dolan, that’s why.
Next thing you know, he’s going to guarantee 70 wins this season after the Knicks lose No. 13.
Physically strike Mikhail Prokhorov
We’ve already covered the battle for New York City, and in that list was the matchup between Brooklyn’s owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, and Dolan. With Prokhorov jet-setting around the world doing whatever it is billionaire Russian tycoons do, he’s left the day-to-day management of the Nets to Billy King and his front office staff. Not so with Dolan, who fired Glen Grunwald in the offseason and hired Isiah Thomas‘ old buddy Steven Mills as the new GM.
And it was Grunwald who traded future picks for the Andrea Bargnani experiment that looks worse with every uncontested layup, but doesn’t it seem like Dolan ordered that move in his increasing agitation after all the Nets’ moves?
Dolan doesn’t appear to be in the best shape, not that it matters from his perch atop the MSG hierarchy, but if he wants to continue to rub Prokhorov the wrong way in the press, he better watch out. David Stern attempted to squash the beef last season, but you know if the Nets finish with a better record and seeding in the East this year, that will cause Dolan to blow another gasket.
Nothing would crystalize the impotence of the Knicks more than if Dolan tried to contend with the Nets’ owner in a physical battle.
Keep the pressure on ‘Melo and the front office to win now
Carmelo Anthony isn’t stupid. He knows he controls the fate of this franchise even more than Dolan does. But wouldn’t it be just like Dolan to demand wins of his star the year before he’s set to enter free agency for the first time in his career? Sure, the Knicks can offer ‘Melo more moolah, but Carmelo has plenty of that already.
Could Carmelo grow tired playing for an owner that’s as impatient as the city his team plays in? Except, the owner cannot comprehend the consequences that stem from his impulsive behavior? Demanding the team play better is different from actually making strides to improve them, and it’s that disconnect that hovers above everything Dolan does with this team.
Anthony also said, "This city and this organization is not known for being patient." He said several times they "would figure it out."
— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) November 10, 2013
The New York Knicks are in trouble already this season, and we’re hoping Dolan ignores our five suggestions and just lets the team play. But we’re guessing at least one of these suggestions comes to fruition if the Knicks keep losing.
What do you think?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @countcenci.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.