Knicks Don't Have Knack On TNT


Jason Kidd and Grant Hill didn’t buy into the uptempo style. Neither did TNT.

Whatever plan New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D’Antonio are cooking up for Cablevision’s NBA franchise, TNT wasn’t down with scheduling the orange and the blue on any of its 53 regular-season games for the upcoming season.

And what, miss out on the drama of White Chocolate, Stack, Jamaal Tinsley? This is the latest group of past their prime players the Knicks are looking to lure to Broadway for one-year deals, as the club tries to get under the salary cap as much as possible for the 2010-11 season. That’s when the Knicks unquestionably will succeed in their quest to attract a top-tier free agent to their second-tier team at the World’s Most Famous Arena, where they can perform before the bright lights of Manhattan and hoopdom’s most sophisticated fans.

The Knicks’ scheduling air ball comes as TV officials have long talked about the need for strong NBA teams in Boston, New York and Philly, three big Nielsen markets with basketball traditions.

Well, we know the Celtics are back. The 2007-08 world champions missed out on their chance to repeat as Kevin Garnett went down with a season-ending injury. Brian Roberts’ 76ers have made the playoffs two straight years. Jim Dolan’s Knicks haven’t smelled the playoffs since the 2003-04 season.

For its part, ESPN was kinder to the Knickerbockers, who will tip off five Garden appearances on the worldwide leader’s air. Granted they’re the “opponent” for the Miami Heat and Dwayne Wade on Christmas at noon. And yes, why wouldn’t ESPN want to get in on the LeBron (Nov. 6) and Kobe escapades (Jan. 22)?

Last February, The King’s retracted triple double, replete with a 52-point outburst, and The Black Mamba’s 61-point explosion at MSG were by far the most-watched Knicks games on Madison Square Garden Network in the 2008-09 season. Indeed, James’s heroics, diminished somewhat when the official scorer swatted away his 10th board, was the highest-rated game on MSG since 2004.

The superstars’ game plan: torch the Knicks and then talk about their respect for the mecca of basketball.

As for the LA Clippers-Knicks on Dec. 18, it must be a top two market thing, or the hope that viewers will tune in to see just how bad Chris Kaman’s hair will be that night. Raptors-Knicks on Jan. 15? Can’t be Toronto, which doesn’t count on the Nielsen scorecard. So it must be for the acclimation benefit of Chris Bosh, who no doubt will be lacing them up for the Knicks, beginning with the 2010-11 season.

Sure. And I have two tickets that will let you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to the new home of the New Jersey Nets (YES, the Vince Carter-less club is shut out on both ESPN and TNT next season), sometime during the next decade.