Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Coach ... and recruiter! Mike pitches Jamal
By Jared Zwerling
NEW YORK -- Last week, Mike D'Antoni got his Christmas started early. Not only that, he received the biggest gift first: a defensive and rebounding machine named Tyson Chandler.
Will another action figure he's been hoping for -- this one a little smaller -- fall into his lap? That could be either Jamal Crawford or Shawne Williams.
After Wednesday's practice at the Knicks' training facility, D'Antoni dished on his desires for one of the two unrestricted free agents. It turns out, he's even been calling Crawford and Williams to pitch them playing for him this season.
"Yeah, a few times," D'Antoni said. "They're free agents, right (laughs)"?
D'Antoni shared more about his conversations with Crawford.
"You do a lot of groveling and try to paint the best picture possible,” D’Antoni said. “But at the end of the day, they've just got to be comfortable with every aspect of playing, who his teammates are and the business side, the money. When you line those up, then great. If something outweighs the other, you never know. You never know how they make their decision."
D'Antoni has no idea which team Crawford will eventually sign with. Currently, the 6-5 shooting guard is home in Seattle and reportedly weighing higher offers from the Kings (one year, $6.5 million) and the Blazers (two years, $10 million with an opt-out in 2012). The Knicks only have a two-year, $2.5 million exception available because they're over the salary cap.
Williams has been in New York City working out and is reportedly deciding between the Knicks, Nets and Warriors. A third option for the Knicks is Maurice Evans, but the Wizards would like him back, and Reggie Williams, who played for the Warriors last season, is also a consideration.
D'Antoni admits the team's depth is "a little bit" of an issue and knows interim general manager Glen Grunwald is still working the phones to find the best complement for the team. Since Toney Douglas has moved into the starting five, Crawford is likely the first choice to fill in much-needed bench scoring, but Williams would build on the team's defensive focus and add 40.1 percent 3-point accuracy. Whatever happens, D'Antoni is ready to run -- literally -- with the players he's got in front of him.
"I think Glen will always try to tweak it, always try to make it better, but it's going to be certain situations that are going to be very hard to better what we have," D'Antoni said. "He'll keep looking -- that's his job -- but I'm very comfortable with the guys that we have going into the season. Still, I'm a little nervous about what's going to come out of it. We only have 10 days. Eventually we'll settle down; we'll get into a groove. We like what we have."
Amare Stoudemire hinted that another move should happen. In fact, regarding Williams, he said, "We definitely want him as a teammate." But right now, STAT is in the same boat as his head coach.
"I mean, we're looking at it as if this is the team we're going to have," Stoudemire said. "We're preparing that way and we're just going to keep practicing extremely hard and keep improving as a team with the guys we have. If they make more moves, then great. We can add those guys in, but we can't hope for that."
Hope may come in the next 24 to 48 hours and, if so, D'Antoni would be a very happy camper.