Alan Hahn's most recent Knicks Fix is well worth a read. Hahn addresses Mike D'Antoni's rotational alchemy and evolution from players' coach to dictator. It's good stuff. For our purposes, though, this bit of housekeeping is of particular interest:
Will Jonathan Bender eventually prove D'Antoni right, as well? This reclamation project is struggling to find his game after a four-year layoff, but D'Antoni is committing a valuable spot in the rotation to him mainly because he believes this could be an investment for later in the season, when the Knicks hope to be playing for a playoff spot. The team has until Wednesday to decide whether they want to guarantee Bender's contract ($800K) for the rest of the season or put him on waivers. By Friday, all non-guaranteed contracts are locked in for the rest of the season.
It sounds like the Knicks plan to keep Bender around, as long as he feels he is physically able to keep the pace.
"We think that this is not only for right now, this is for the future," D'Antoni said of Bender last week. "He's the type of player that, if we can get him to a certain level, he'd be very, very valuable and we need to stick with him."
Y'all know where I stand on this. After initial distaste, Bender gangled his way into my heart in a matter of minutes. Since that point, I've watched Legs struggle through rose-colored glasses, standing atop a forthcoming t-shirt design. Bender's looked a little rusty since his adrenaline rush of a debut, having trouble with his dribble and repeatedly getting his close shots blocked. On the other hand, he's shown a decent stroke from outside, a good nose for boards, and willingness to to play defense, all of which count for something. Those contributions, as well as Bender's spellbinding pattern of movement on the court have me visually hooked and incapable of making reasonable judgments. Given my unnatural affection for him, it'd be wrong of me to give the final P&T assessment of whether or not Bender should stick around, so I'll leave it to all of you. Vote or I'll have Jonathan Bender bite you.