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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Herb Williams shares advice for current Knicks

J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks looks

J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks looks on after a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden on December 7, 2014 in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Alex Goodlett

Herb Williams was wearing his familiar Knicks' black sweatsuit, taking pictures and signing autographs before leaving the gym. Phil Jackson fired Mike Woodson and his staff in April, ending Williams' long run with the Knicks, but he remains close to the organization.

"I can't say nothing bad about the Knicks," Williams said. "I've been with the Knicks for 20-something years and I've never had a problem.

"Any time they call me, they need me to do anything, or want me to come out and do an appearance, if I'm free I'm more than happy to do it."

Williams would like to get in the NBA. He was in Allendale, N.J. Friday, doing a basketball clinic with fellow former Knicks John Starks, Larry Johnson and John Wallace. When they played together, they won as many games in eight days as the 5-20 Knicks have won this season.

A fixture with the organization as a player and assistant coach, Williams swears he doesn't know what's going on with the Knicks this season. He said he's "a little surprised" at their record but added they need time to learn a new system, and said it's important everyone stays together.

"You can't start pointing fingers because things start to unravel and come apart," Williams said. "You got to stay together, especially in this market. You've got to support your teammates. You got to support your coaches. And you got to try to keep as much stuff between you as you can so stuff don't get out and everything is not flying around, you don't hear crazy stories."

That's already started.

Reports of in-fighting, players being upset with Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks disliking the triangle offense came out this week. Another was that Anthony would be willing to waive his no-trade clause after re-signing with the Knicks for five years and $124 million in the summer.

Last season, the Knicks had finger pointing, in-fighting and some players resisting what Woodson wanted to do. But Williams says everyone contributed to the Knicks' 37-45 season and doesn't fault Jackson for making changes.

"I'm not blaming anything for last year," Williams said.

"Last year is what happened. We didn't make the playoffs. They decided to go in a different direction than the staff that was there and I respect that.

"You got to do what you think is the best for the team or best for the franchise and you can never knock a person for doing that. As long as they're trying and they're trying to do better and they're trying to make it better for the people of New York, my hat's off to them."

Bryant blows up

Kobe Bryant proved once again why he's the most ruthless, competitive player in the league -- and in the process added more credence to the belief that players don't want to play with him.

Video of Thursday's practice circulated with Bryant cursing at his teammates, and calling them "soft like Charmin." As he walked off, Bryant said to GM Mitch Kupchak, "I'm supposed to practice and get better. These [expletive] ain't doing [expletive] for me."

Bryant has been painted as the reason Dwight Howard didn't re-sign with the Lakers. They had words when they played each other earlier this year. But Bryant is all about winning and he doesn't tolerate anything else. But it can bother some people.

"You can all criticize my style of leadership all day long," Bryant told reporters after the Lakers' surprise win in San Antonio Friday. "It's uncomfortable, whatever you want to say. But I've been doing that since high school. We play this game to win championships and I have five of them."

Incidentally, Charmin responded from its official Twitter account: "You know, in terms of toilet paper, saying you're as soft as Charmin is a good thing. In basketball? Not so much."

Paying homage to Pop

Derek Fisher, who had some intense battles with the Spurs as a Lakers and Thunder player, spent some time before and after Wednesday's loss in San Antonio talking to coach Gregg Popovich. Fisher said he would have liked being a Spur.

"He means a lot to me personally in terms of what he stands for and the ways he's helped developed what this organization has become," Fisher said. "I've never played for him. I have very few regrets because I've had a wonderful life. But he's definitely a coach that I've always thought about having the opportunity to play for him or work for him.

Smart play, Klay

Klay Thompson probably could have gotten more money this summer. But he wanted to remain with the Warriors, who likely would have matched any offer if he had become a restricted free agent.

So Thompson signed a four-year, $70-million extension last month, and is having an All-Star caliber season for the NBA's best team.

"Why go somewhere else and start over when you get a huge contract with one of the best teams in the NBA?" Thompson told "I think only an idiot would turn that down. I love it here. Love my teammates, the organization, especially the fans, and I never really wanted to go anywhere else."

Fast breaks
- This may hurt Knicks' fans but Steve Kerr -- Jackson's first choice to guide his team -- is off to the best start of any first-time coach (19-2) Kerr said: "It means I'm the luckiest coach in NBA history because I inherited a team that was already this good."

- Expect trade talk and player movement to start picking up. Monday is the first day players signed or acquired in the offseason can be dealt.

- Ex-Knicks GM Scott Layden, now a Spurs executive, attended the unveiling of Niagara University's new basketball court last weekend named in honor of his parents: the Frank and Barbara Layden Court. Frank played and coached at Niagara, and briefly served as a consultant for the Knicks.


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