The Knicks have been on one of those long family road trips that, by the end of which, no one is talking to each other. They’ve been on the West Coast for twelve days, in five cities, at the end of a trying season, and everyone is on their last nerve. The beat reporters are fighting — Frank Isola from the Daily News has been subtly detailing the dissolution of professional decorum and accusing other writers of unprofessionalism, and Alan Hahn of Newsday made fun of a guy for using SNY “as means to get into a club.” — and the team itself is coming apart at the seams. The sportswriter fights are no big deal (other than as evidence that Twitter is fun), but the team discord is in danger of leaking into next season.
Remember when McGrady came to the Knicks, and writers (Isola, actually) were saying he might be the best Knicks player since Sprewell, and he couldn’t wait to restart his career in New York? Well, that has ended. He hates it here and doesn’t want anyone else to come, either. Even worse: He’s talking down LeBron coming here.
“To me, in my honest opinion, I don’t see it happening,” said McGrady, who missed Sunday night’s 113–107 win over the Clippers with a sore knee. “I really don’t. It’s set for him right now.” That’s a dramatic change in thinking from when McGrady joined the Knicks in February and was optimistic about the possibility of playing with James in New York. Although McGrady told reporters that he “would love” to play for the Knicks next season, there is a sense that he has soured on the club.
Mike D’Antoni has reportedly let it be known that he doesn’t want McGrady back. D’Antoni has denied making up his mind on McGrady, and there is also the issue that the final call on whether to re-sign McGrady will be made by team president Donnie Walsh.
Isola quotes McGrady saying that part of the reason players might not want to come to New York is the media presence, and Isola nicely follows that up by pointing out there were only three NYC beat reporters left at the end of the endless trip.
That D’Antoni would not want McGrady around makes total sense. The guy’s defense is as gimpy as his legs — it is hard to believe McGrady is only 30 years old — and we are still talking about a guy who has averaged 10.1 points per game as a Knick. This is not only not someone you build a franchise around … this is someone with worse numbers (and much lower upside) than Bill Walker. But there is still a sense that D’Antoni’s troubles with some players these last two years — Larry Hughes, Nate Robinson, Eddy Curry, and McGrady — is somehow going to hurt the Knicks’ chances at LeBron, that the players will all tell LeBron that D’Antoni isn’t fun to play for. We thought LeBron was friends with Jay-Z and Dr. Dre. We did not think his only friends were aging, overpaid malcontents. Good to know.