Knicks trade revisited

Let’s get back to those salary-clearing trades for a moment. The Knicks motivation for making the trades was imminently transparent. Their timing was not. Why would New York trade away its top two scorers in the beginning of the season when it had gotten off to a better-than-expected start? Why not try and make the playoffs this year? Those trades, maybe even better trades, would likely still be there later in the season, in the offseason, even next year?

One well-connected league executive theorized that the Knicks realized that they were in a position where they might end up just good enough to make the playoffs, but not good enough to do anything once they got there. Making a trade later this season and throwing away a real chance at the playoffs would be much harder to sell to their success-starved fan base. So would making a trade in the offseason, after a presumed first or second-round playoff exit.

All of which sets the Knicks up in a position to miss out on young (cheap) talent from lottery picks over the next two seasons.

This is exactly what happened to the Lakers during the interregnum between the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant years and the Pau Gasol-Kobe Bryant years. If it hadn’t been for Kobe Bryant’s ankle injury and Lamar Odom’s shoulder injury in the 2004-05 season, the Lakers never would’ve lost enough games to get the lottery pick that turned into Andrew Bynum.

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Random thought for the night

I was thinking about the offseason move that brought Jason Hart to the Clippers for Brevin Knight. Considering Hart has barely gotten off the pine since Mike Dunleavy made the move to play rookie Mike Taylor ahead of him, why would the Clippers even bother going out and getting Hart.

I’ve spoke with several people about this and the general feeling was that the club felt Hart would be a better fit for the No. 3 guard role than Knight, more from a locker room, team chemistry perspective than anything.

Since his demotion, Hart has been nothing but professional. He pushes Taylor in practice, teaches him, and is generally a pretty positive guy in the locker room.

Knight, the feeling is, may not have been as keen on riding the pine. And as such, would’ve stunted the development of Taylor, who has been a real bright spot in an otherwise dreary season.

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Injury updates

Eric Gordon left Saturday’s game in the third quarter with a sore right hamstring. Gordon’s injury is best described as a tight, sore hamstring than a pulled hamstring. Gordon said he didn’t know how bad it was, or what the recovery time would be. But he’d know more in the morning.

It’s worth noting that trainer Jasen Powell probably saved Gordon a more severe injury by taking him out of the game when he did. Once the muscle tightened, it easily could pulled, snapped or evolved into a more severe injury.

Marcus Camby also came away with a little ding. Camby limped off the court midway through the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a right foot injury. But returned a few minutes later and was on the court at the end of the game.

“I’ll be OK,” Camby said. “I didn’t really want to come out of the game because it was getting intense. It was getting fun going down the stretch, but I came back, got some more tape on it and I was able to continue.”

Camby said he tweaked his right ankle, but did not reinjure the bruised right heel that kept him out for most of training camp and the first three games of this year.

“I think I’ll be out there in Dallas. I’ll know more after tonight,” he said.

It’s worth noting that Camby walked out of the arena Saturday without any extra protection on his ankle. M experience has been that guys are immediately put into walking boots if the ankle sprain is considered serious, so this was an encouraging sign.

As for the two Clippers who didn’t dress Saturday — Chris Kaman and Ricky Davis — my sense is that they will be out a little while. Kaman has been playing with a sore left arch for a little over a week now. He actually did injure it in the Oklahoma City game, it’s not just a flare up from overuse.

He isn’t going to travel on the four-game road trip, meaning the soonest he’ll play again is December 8th against Orlando, but my sense is that two weeks (from Friday) is the most realistic.

Davis is going to shut it down for approximately two weeks too. His left knee tendinitis has flared up and Davis feels like he needs to rest it in order to resume playing at a level where he can help the team.

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Kaman out, Baron in

Chris Kaman is in street clothes for tonight’s game against the Heat with a strained arch. No timetable has been set for his return, but he is not expected to make the team’s upcoming four-game trip so the soonest he’d be back in uniform is probably December 8 against Orlando.

Baron Davis has a stomach virus, but is dressed and ready to play tonight. Not sure how much he’ll be able to give though.

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Injury updates

Chris Kaman is now doubtful for tonight’s game against Miami with plantar fasciitis in his left foot; but a new player has been added to the injury list.

Baron Davis has come down with the stomach virus that took out Jason Hart and Brian Skinner the other night and will be a game-time decision.

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D’Antoni says Thomas: “Might be a few pounds overweight”

Ouch.

When the Knicks acquired Tim Thomas as part of the Zach Randolph trade, it was assumed that Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni liked Thomas because of the success they had together in Phoenix.

He might still like him just fine, but a few pounds less of him would be preferable, according to an article in the New York Post.

D’Antoni said both Harrington and Thomas have to get in better shape.

“[Thomas] might be a few pounds overweight,” D’Antoni said.

Thomas, who came with Mobley from the Clippers, did not argue with D’Antoni’s assessment. He said it has been three years since he played D’Antoni’s speedball system.

“It’s going to be difficult for Cuttino also,” Thomas said. “I have to continue to get in shape for this system. It’s up and down, and in L.A., it was run when you have the opportunity. The last couple of years, it’s been that way. I know how to get myself right. I’ve played it before. It will take me a week and I’ll be ready.”

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Quick injury update

Jason Hart and Brian Skinner are OK after missing Wednesday’s game with the flu. Chris Kaman is officially questionable with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Ricky Davis is doubtful with a sore left knee.

Kaman will likely be a game-time decision while he waits to see how his foot responds to the cortisone shot he got on Wednesday night. My understanding is that it generally takes 48-72 hours for the shot to have its greatest effect so Kaman is still within that window.

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BDs mood

I’m not always big into trying to read guys moods from what they saw and how they act. Any NBA player who has been in the league for a few years is pretty good at saying and doing the right things when the media is around.

But I will say, Baron Davis’ mood seems to have brightened considerably in the last week. Basically, as soon as the Randolph trade went down, and about the same time Eric Gordon and Mike Taylor have gotten it going. BD seems to really enjoy mentoring the rookies.

Tonight after the close loss to the Nuggets, Baron went around the locker room giving fist taps to all the guys and wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving. He’s social on other nights, but this was by far the most I’d seen him reach out to the team after a tough loss.

The other day we had a chance to ask him about mentoring the young players. Here’s what he said:

“With Mike it’s a little different because he is a point guard so it’s like a lot of times you have to do more coaching,” Davis said. “You have to tell him, `that’s not a good play, that’s not a good pass, you gotta pass the ball to him.’ I’m a little harder on Mike than I am on Eric because they play two different positions. We have a great relationship though.

“When I come off the court and sit on the bench, he’s in my ear. And I respect that because he knows what I can do out there and he’s making sure I’m doing everything that I possibly can, it’s another set of eyes. He has good eyes and Jason Hart is the same way. We all kind of communicate to each other and try to help each other out there.”

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What happened on the last play?

So the Clippers came down the court, down 106-105 with 9.9 seconds to go, having already decided to play it through and not call a timeout.

Why?

“I did not want to call a timeout. I don’t believe in that,” assistant coach Kim Hughes said. “I’m kind of like Jerry Sloan in that. I think it’s to your advantage to go in transition, without allowing them to get in a set defense.”

OK, so then what happened?

“I thought Baron had a wonderful opportunity to penetrate, he chose not to, which is fine. Marcus was open. I don’t think it was a great shot. I’m sure he doesn’t think it was a great shot. Eric Gordon was wide open up top,” Hughes said. “You can look back, and remember that you didn’t call a timeout. If it was a situation where we should’ve called a timeout, I’ll take the heat for that. But I don’t believe in that.”

And so the Clippers ended up with the ball in Marcus Camby’s hands about 22-feet out with about two seconds left on the clock.

Camby’s not really a 3-point shooter, though he can make them.

“It was right there on line. It just came up short,” Camby said after the game.

What if it would’ve gone in and Camby would’ve beaten his former team?

“I guess that’s just fitting the way our season has gone,” he said. “We had this team last time up 18 at halftime and we let them come back and win the ballgame. I thought the effort was good. We were missing a lot of players. We had two guys sick. Kaman went down. We were without Mike today. His father in law passed. We had a lot of things stacked against us. But I thought the effort was definitely there.”

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