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Greg Anthony's Renaldo Balkman Conspiracy Theory

7/2/2006

Thanks to my friend Randy for pointing out an incredible item in today's New York Post (it's in the column called "The Rumble" which doesn't appear to be online).

The Post quotes Greg Anthony speaking on a Sirius satellite radio's Mike & Murray show. He points out that both Knick first-round picks--the infamous Renaldo Balkman and Mardy Collins, are clients of agent Leon Rose. Rose, of course, is a condifant of the much-discussed William Wesley, as well as the agent for LeBron James.

(You'll see Balkman's agent identified as Andre Buck. Buck works for Rose.)

Anthony suggests that it's possible Isiah Thomas reached for some Rose clients in the hopes that Rose might feel indebted if/when LeBron James becomes a free agent. "This could have been legwork that was laid potentially for a run at LeBron James," The Post quotes Anthony saying on Sirius.

It may be a little far fetched. I can't imagine what the Knicks could do to get in a salary cap position to sign a major free agent any time soon. Look at their salary commitments. (This list doesn't even include the fat contract of Rose client Eddy Curry.) Maybe the idea is that he'd force a trade? Sign for the mid-level exception? Who knows. Stranger things have happened, and if James signs the five year-extension Cleveland has on the table, this kind of talk should go away.

But in the meantime, it's a curious notion that perhaps the Knicks were more enamored with Leon Rose than Renaldo Balkman. Especially in light of the fact that Balkman's own college coach, Dave Odom, is quoted in today's Post saying he can't explain why Balkman was drafted so high. Marc Berman reports:

Odom said he's concerned how Balkman will defend quicker small forwards on the perimeter and how he'll fit into halfcourt sets on offense. Balkman played power forward at South Carolina, which won the past two NITs at the Garden.

"He hasn't played a lot of one-on-one defense; he was our post defender, so it's something he has to work on," Odom said. "I was very honest with [Isiah]. Isiah will you tell you, I didn't blow him up. I'm very proud of him but I really do think he's a work in progress."

Though Balkman was NIT MVP at the Garden in March, blocking six shots in the final, he was benched 12 games last season.

"Looking over his career, every third game was a great game," Odom said. "But two of the three have been OK, sometimes not OK. Consistency has been a problem. He has to discipline himself to bring his best every night, and he'll be a very good player."

Odom said Balkman's biggest strength is grabbing defensive rebounds and dribbling out on the break. Though Thomas plans for the Knicks to be high-tempo, most possessions are halfcourt sets where Balkman's decision-making, passing and shot-making are suspect, according to Odom.

"At his size, he's got to play on the perimeter in the NBA," Odom said. "He's not going to make a living playing with his back to the basket. He's got to work on catching the ball on the perimeter and making plays. That's not something he's done a lot of. Most championship games are decided at the halfcourt level. That would be an area he'll need to work on."

Adding a little fuel to the fire: LeBron James still hasn't verbally accepted Cleveland's offer of a contract extension. He can't sign until July 12, but that hasn't stopped other free agents, like Carmelo Anthony, from announcing their intentions.