Knicks have all hands on deck at open tryout for D-League squad

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

On Saturday, the Knicks hosted open tryouts for their new NBA D-League squad in Westchester.

Though it’s a little unusual, the team has yet to find and/or formally announce their first head coach. Former Bulls guard Craig Hodges has been linked to the job.

And while Hodges (or any other head coaching candidate, for the matter) was not present at the tryout, New York had plenty of representatives as they searched for any diamonds in the rough to be found.

Many looked on as a group of approximately 75 hit the hardwood aiming to impress. Knicks’ Assistant General Manager (and acting Westchester GM) Allan Houston was on the prowl, as was the team’s Director of Scouting and Administration, Kristian Petesic.

Well-known Phil Jackson confidant Clarence Gaines (hired as a special advisor to the President) observed the tryout as well. Chris Brickley, one of the Knicks’ player development associates, was among the coaches leading the prospects through drills.

Houston and Petesic have both played key roles in running D-League operations for the Knicks in past years (when they were previously affiliated with an outside team). They’ll undoubtedly have even more freedom with their own team in Westchester.

Tyson Chandler fires back at Knicks for character allegations

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

Upon dealing both Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks, Phil Jackson cited team chemistry issues as one of the needs for a trade.

As a former NBA champion, Chandler came to the Big Apple to serve as the team’s defensive anchor. Rising up as a Defensive Player of the Year and an NBA All-Star over his tenure with the Knicks, it’s safe to say that he made quite an impact.

Tyson ChandlerBut over the course of a season where nothing went right for New York, Chandler’s play was rather underwhelming as he battled injuries this past year.

That was enough for Jackson to want to ship Chandler out of town. Once again a Dallas Maverick, Chandler is now firing back at the Knicks for some of the more recent allegations about his character.

“I did nothing but try to help the culture there the three years I was there,” Chandler told ESPN Dallas in a recent interview. “You can say I didn’t live up to whatever or you didn’t like the way I played or anything. But to ever question who I am and the type of leader I am in the locker room, I don’t even know where that came from.”

“I honestly don’t know where that came from. I don’t know if Phil put that out there or who put that out there, but to me, that was the ultimate shock,” Chandler continued.

Someone who clearly doesn’t back down very easily, Chandler was highly critical of Mike Woodson and the team’s defensive effort last season. He might have been on to something, but many wondered if the big man should have started assessing things by simply looking in the mirror instead.

Chandler likely isn’t a bad leader at all. There’s no doubt that he took charge and helped the Knicks during his tenure in New York. But perhaps being such a vocal character outside of the locker room (taking exception to the team’s play and expressing as much through the media), isn’t exactly the type of leader the Zen Master is looking for.

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ESPN poll puts Knicks at bottom in attractiveness to fans

A new ESPN poll shows that the Knicks are ranked 121 out of 122 major sports franchises in North America in fan attractiveness. The poll includes every team from the four major sports and the Knicks came in second to last. Only the Toronto Maple Leafs trail the Knicks in the overall standings.

They are also at the bottom (last of 122) of specific categories including fan relations, the courtesy by players, coaches and front offices toward fans, and how well a team uses technology to reach them and the players effort on the field and likability off it. Three other New York teams: the Mets, Islanders and Knicks are all in the bottom five when it comes to ownership, though none earned “bottom honors.”

Harris Decker

USATSI_7813999_110579513_lowresObviously, the Knicks have not been a fun team to watch over the past year but it wasn’t long ago that the Garden was filled to the brim and the team was fighting for top honors in the East. Times have changed and this poll reflects that.

I’d be fascinated to see this poll retaken at the seasons end. With Phil Jackson in control, I’d expect the public perception of the team to change drastically. It’s easy to call the Knicks players effort on the court “poor,” but consider the circumstances. They were playing for a coach that was completely lost and under a general manager that didn’t have a handle on his players abilities. Without many big changes, this same team will come back this year and make waves in the East.

The one place the Knicks should take a close look in the mirror is fan relations. Just because the team is bad it doesn’t mean the service and organization needs to treat their fans poorly. Whether it’s true or perceived, the Knicks have a problem with the way they appear to the public. The Charlotte Hornets have made the playoffs just twice in the past decade, yet their overall ranking on this list was 29. It is possible to be a bad team on the court and a good team off the court.

Right now, the Knicks are bad no matter what angle you’re viewing them from. With just over one month before the Knicks tip-off against the Bulls, here’s to those numbers improving under the Zen Master.

Report: Craig Hodges leading candidate to coach Westchester Knicks

Former Bulls guard Craig Hodges has reportedly emerged as a leading candidate to coach the Westchester Knicks (New York Daily News, September 17).

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

Such a development isn’t too surprising, though it doesn’t come with as much star power as one would expect.

There are plenty of talented and qualified individuals still available to coach in the D-League, but it’s clear Phil Jackson and co. prefer someone with triangle offense experience to lead their new group of young guns. After playing for Jackson in Chicago and then subsequently working with him for the Lakers through six seasons, it’s safe to say Hodges has sufficient familiarity.

A former head coach at the colligate ranks, Hodges went 8-51 with Chicago State University through two seasons.

Westchester is one of the few NBADL teams to not have found and/or formally announce their head coach heading into this coming season. Open tryouts for the team are set to take place on Saturday, September 20.