Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I was thinking, maybe, since you're coming to town so soon, that, maybe you'd want to come to a Knicks game with me. What do you think, Johan?

In non-Knicks news, in other words, the kind of news that most New Yorkers care about, the Metropolitans have in place a deal to acquire Johan Santana from the Twins in exchange for four prospects, not including Fernando Martinez. The last hurdle is finalizing the contract extension, which should be many years for much money. The Mets and Santana have 72 hours to settle on terms.

I have goosebumps and Metsblog.com has crashed. In t-minus seventeen seconds the Mets will announce that single-game tickets for the upcoming season are going on sale next Saturday. That is a safer bet than any Super Bowl prop you're going to find.

Whew! I feel giddy about baseball for the first time since July. This changes everything, for Mets fans, going into the season. It'll be all about looking forward rather than looking back.

Can't Sleep On Nate Any Longer

Over at the Worldwide Leader, basketball number cruncher John Hollinger has put together an All-Sleeper Team, composed of the 15 players who are having break-out seasons and deserve the attention of the NBA-watching public. And, our very own Nate Robinson made the list:

Nate Robinson, Knicks
In our zest to chronicle the assorted sideshows at Madison Square Garden these days, we perhaps have missed a story right in front of our faces -- Robinson's development into a real, live NBA player. It doesn't seem possible that a 5-foot-9 shooting guard can cut the mustard, but in his third pro season, Robinson is pumping in 20.6 points per 40 minutes and, even more shockingly, snaring 5.0 rebounds.
Of late, Stephon Marbury's absence has given Robinson a bigger opportunity to shine, and he's taken full advantage. In 14 January games, Robinson has averaged 14.7 points and 4.7 assists and shot 47.1 percent; in fact, he and Jamal Crawford form a far more effective backcourt than anything else the Knicks have tried over the past couple of years, which is one reason the team's play has improved of late.

As Hollinger notes, the rush to document the madness and malaise at the Garden has led to positive developments, either with Nate or even with the team's good play lately, being overlooked. It is refreshing to hear a pro writer admit this. Hollinger is a stand-up guy and as smart a basketball scribe as exists today.

The other sleepers on his list were David West, Brendan Haywood, Josh Childress, Devin Harris, Andrew Bogut, Louis Williams, Rashad McCants, Thadeus Young, Ryan Gomes, Dorell Wright, Shawne Williams, Kris Humphries, Francisco Garcia and Ronny Turiaf.

Mardy or Mighty Mouse?

After much speculation and foreshadowing, the Memphis Grizzlies released veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire today, according to SI.com.

Stoudamire, the diminutive handler formerly known by the handle Mighty Mouse, was drafted out of the U of Arizona by none other than our very own Isiah Thomas when he was mismanaging the Toronto Raptors. With the Knicks only true-point guard (and even that's a stretch) Stephon Marbury sidelined indefinitely, while recovering from surgery, is a reunion in the works?

I hope not. I don't doubt that Stoudamire would be an upgrade over Fred Jones and that he would help this team and do a better job of feeding Curry inside than Crawford or Nate, BUT I'd rather see Mardy continue to sneak onto the floor to spell (or start!) Nate and Jamal.

Letting Crawford, Nate and Mardy handle the point guard duties for the rest of the season is the move of a team seeing what it's got heading into 2009 and beyond while signing a 34-year-old is the move of a team clawing at this year's eight seed without heed for what comes next.

Besides, the Nets could use him to back up Marcus Williams after they trade Kidd.

Tuesday's Starting Five

1. Chris Paul. The New Orleans Hornets stung Denver last night 117-93, led by CP3's 23 points, 17 assists and 9 rebounds. The Hornets spanked the Spurs even worse over the weekend and have been holding their slim lead over Phoenix in the West thanks to 9 straight wins. This is the best team in basketball right now. And Chris Paul is the M-V-P. Hands down. Remember when coach Byron Scott was taking a point-guard led Nets team to the Finals? Do you think Jason Kidd does?

2. The Flu. With the phlegm and the used tissues and the occasional vomiting, it's not as sexy an accessory as Tom Brady's boot but it is what the Giants have brought with them to Phoenix. Apparently a few players left Green Bay under the weather and the team was a bit late in arriving in Scottsdale yesterday because Aaron Ross was sick on the team plane.

3. Kobe Bryant. Nothing will make him feel better about the woodshedding he got from Lebron in the fourth quarter on Sunday than tonight's visit from the Knicks. He scored 39 on his December visit to the Garden and has lit them up over the past few seasons.

4. Michael Beasley. The all-world frosh at Kansas State predicted a win against undefeated Kansas on Wednesday. His coach supports his confidence. Will he be back on this list on Thursday?

5. Chris Webber. He's back. And, he's back with Don Nelson and the Golden State Warriors, where it all started. These two famously combusted years ago and sent the club into a tailspin from which it has just recovered. I wonder how this will go?

Benched: Koby Clemens. The Rocket's son comes out and laments how hard all this steroid stuff has been on him and his father. Oh, I'm sorry, Koby. I can imagine that it is rough to go home to your gazillion dollar estate in your tailor made Hummer that your dad bought you and think about former family friends injecting horse medicine into your father. Is all of this distracting you from the baseball career that your father had built into his own contracts? It must be tough. Good luck with all that.