Posts Tagged 'New York Knicks'

Early Observations on the 2015-16 Knicks

Rookie Kristaps Porzingis entered the season as a mystery to Knicks fans.

Rookie Kristaps Porzingis entered the season as a mystery to Knicks fans.

The New York Knicks hope to turn a corner in the second season of the Phil Jackson/Derek Fisher era after a franchise worst 17-65 record in 2014-15. New York added eight new players in the offseason, including first-round draft picks Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant, and Carmelo Anthony is back in the lineup after undergoing season-ending knee surgery in February.

The Knicks split their first two games, blowing out a shorthanded Milwaukee Bucks team 122-97 Wednesday night, before dropping their home opener 112-101 to a well-oiled Atlanta Hawks team the following evening.

This team is a work in progress, as Coach Fisher continues to figure out the most effective lineups and the best way to utilize his talent. However, there is plenty of insight to be gleaned from the Knicks’ first two performances.

THE ROOKIES

Rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant hope to change the course of the franchise.

Rookies Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant hope to change the course of the franchise.


In any other season, the biggest story in Knicks training camp would have been Anthony’s recovery from knee surgery, but New York fans’ curiosity has centered on the 7’3” Porzingis since the Knicks passed up better-known American talent to select the then 19-year-old Latvian with the fourth pick in the draft.

The Zinger was New York’s highest draft pick since Patrick Ewing was selected first overall in 1985 and could determine the fate of the franchise for the next dozen years. He has drawn comparisons to everybody from future Hall-of-Famers Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki to notorious busts Shawn Bradley and Andrea Bargnani.

After two games, it is apparent that Porzingis is highly skilled for his size. The Latvian has a nice touch around the basket and though he has connected on just one of six three-point attempts, he has looked comfortable launching from well beyond the arc and nailed 36 percent of his long balls for Sevilla in Spain last year.

Porzingis has a surprisingly tight handle and moves very well for a seven-footer, as displayed in this highlight steal, spin and flush against the Hawks.

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The Legend of KristapsPorzingisis growing rapidly: https://t.co/T4iULDoBMN https://t.co/e9xNh28ZfV

— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 30, 2015

There is a litany of skilled seven-footers who have gone bust in the NBA. (See Andrea Bargnani and Darko Milicic.) It is too early to say for certain which direction Porzingis’ career will go, though there are two promising signs that he will be more Dirk than Darko: he appears to love the game and he has a little dog in him.

When asked by scouts what most excites him about life in the NBA, Porzingis replied, “I think it’s pretty cool you can get into the gym at any time. You don’t have that option in Europe. So that’s pretty exciting.” via Herring of WSJ.com While that answer may sound canned, all reports by ex-teammates and coaches support the sentiment.

Porzingis has also demonstrated some fight through the first two games. Despite his frail frame, he has repeatedly driven into traffic and banged with bigger bodies, instead of shying away from contact.

It will take a few years for him to learn the intricacies of NBA basketball, e.g. when and how to assert himself offensively, when to pull up for a jumper rather than forcing the drive, how to avoid foul trouble, the nuances of the Triangle Offense, etc. He also desperately needs to put on weight, as he is currently not strong enough to exploit his size on the block, forcing him to drift out to the perimeter.

Porzingis’ ideal role as he continues to fill out is as a pick-and-pop player. The Wall Street Journal’s Chris Herring makes a compelling argument that Zinger should be playing more time with the second unit, which uses more pick-and-roll sets.

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The trade that sent Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks for the 19th pick in the draft may have been the shrewdest move of Jackson’s tenure as President of the Knicks. New York used the pick to nab point guard Jerian Grant.

Throughout the preseason and the Knicks’ first two games, Grant has demonstrated an excellent feel for the game. He knows how to run an offense and has compiled five and seven assists, respectively, in limited action during the first two games.

Grant’s quickness provides a new dimension to the Knicks’ attack. He has instilled pace into a second unit, which outplayed the starters over the first two games and is the only Knick who can consistently break down a defense by driving into the paint. Fisher has adapted the second unit’s offense to include more pick-and-rolls in order to accommodate Grant’s strengths.

Grant’s inexperience has been evident at times, specifically with some sloppy passes against the Hawks. He has also missed some easy layups after electrifying drives to the rim. Teams are going to go under screens against Grant until he proves that he can consistently knock down the three ball.

Fisher will likely keep Grant with second unit based on that groups success, but do not be surprised if Grant is closing games for the Knicks in the near future.

CARMELO ANTHONY

Carmelo Anthony may take a while to find his game after knee surgery.

Carmelo Anthony may take a while to find his game after knee surgery.


Carmelo Anthony has no spring in his legs, which is not surprising after knee surgery. He is shooting just 33 percent from the floor, including 1 for 12 from downtown. It may take Melo a couple of months to get his legs underneath him. In the meantime, expect the eight-time all-star to use his strength to bully his way to the basket, as he did against the Hawks. There has to be at least some concern that at age 31, with a lot of mileage on his legs, Anthony will never fully regain the explosiveness that made him such a devastating scorer.

VETERAN ADDITIONS

Coach Fisher is expecting an immediate impact from the team's free-agent signings.

Coach Fisher is expecting an immediate impact from the team’s free-agent signings.


Starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo missed most of training camp and the first two games with a strained left hamstring. The injury is not considered serious, but hamstring injuries tend to linger. The Knicks are counting on Afflalo to be a consistent second option to go with Anthony.

Robin Lopez is as advertised. He is not exceptionally long or a great leaper, but is an intelligent defender who knows how to cover angles and use his body effectively. Lopez showed off a right and left-handed hook shot while putting up 19 points against the Hawks. He and his backup, Kyle O’Quinn, bring a grittiness to the team that was sorely lacking last season.

O’Quinn may have been a steal for the Knicks at $16 million over four years. The bruising big-man has about the same vertical leap as my 96 year-old grandmother, but he has six fouls and he knows how to use them. O’Quinn was quietly effective during his four seasons with the Orlando Magic, averaging 13 points and 10.6 rebounds per 36 minutes and has made the most of a bigger role with the Knicks.

He grabbed double-digit boards in each of the first two games. He knocked down an eighteen-foot jumper against the Hawks and even delivered a couple of nifty drop passes for layups out of the triangle. Old School Knicks fans had to delight in the site of the Queens native exhorting his teammates on while trailing the Hawks by 22 late in the third quarter. That is the attitude the Knicks need as they transform a losing culture.

Derrick Williams is looking to create a niche in the league after a disappointing start to his career. The second pick in the 2011 draft led the Knicks in scoring in the preseason with 15 points per game.

Williams put up 24 points on 8 of 17 shooting in the opener and could thrive as the No. 1 option on the second unit. The hybrid forward needs to stop settling for outside jumpers, where he is below-average shooter (30 percent from downtown for his career), rather than using his athleticism to get to the rim. Coach Fisher needs Williams increase his presence on the boards and become a more active defender.

THE BACKCOURT

Jose Calderon's days as a starter may be numbered.

Jose Calderon’s days as a starter may be numbered.


New York started veterans Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic in the first two games, though both could find themselves on the bench before long. Vujacic, who played in Europe most of the past four year, is a spot starter while Afflalo’s hamstring recovers and could find himself out of the rotation when Afflalo returns. Vujacic has a strong understanding of the Triangle Offense and can knock down an open three, but offers little else offensively, and he and Calderon are a liability defensively.

Calderon may be done. The point guard attributed his poor 2014-15 season to a nagging Achilles injury, but he has not looed any better in the early going. Quickness was never the Spaniard’s forte, and at age 34, he cannot even keep backup points guards out of the lane. He takes care of the basketball and is still an above-average three-point shooter, but it is difficult to keep him on the floor, when he cannot penetrate or defend the pick-and-roll.

Look for Grant or second-year guard Langston Galloway to take Calderon’s late-game minutes and possibly his starting spot. Galloway can play both guard positions and is not afraid to take a big shot. He appears to be developing chemistry with Grant who has hit him for several open jumpers. The next step in his development is to incorporate more dribble-drive into his game and put greater pressure on opposing ball-handles.

New York is still unlikely to snag a playoff spot in the inferior Eastern Conference. They lack reliable second and third options and Lopez is probably the only plus defender in the starting lineup. However, the team is headed in the right direction. They added much needed depth and a number of high-character players whose attitudes alone will make the team more competitive. The development of the two rookies and Galloway should also make the Knicks fun to watch.

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Anthony Mason Has Always Been a Fighter

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Former 13-year NBA veteran Anthony Mason is fighting for his life after suffering congestive heart failure and undergoing five heart procedures in recent days, according to Peter Vecsey. His oldest son, Mason Jr., told MSG Network’s Tina Cervasio on Saturday that his 48-year-old father is in stable condition.

Mason, best known as the barrel-chested bruiser from the rugged New York Knicks teams of the early 1990s, is a colorful character whose game was as unique as his myriad hairstyles. He is also a fighter.

Mason was not heavily recruited out of high school before attending Tennessee State University. He was cut by the Portland Trail Blazers months after they selected him in the third round of the 1988 draft. Then he spent three years as a basketball nomad, playing in Turkey, Venezuela, the CBA, and the USBL, along with brief stints with the New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets.

The Queens native finally found his niche in the N.B.A. with his hometown Knicks in the fall of 1991. New York’s new coach, Pat Riley, wanted to assemble a physical, defensive-minded roster, reminiscent of the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons team that swept his Los Angeles Lakers in the 1989 Finals.

Mason’s tenacity and intimidating presence was exactly what Riley was looking for. At six-foot-seven, 260 pounds, Mason had the bulk of a bodybuilder and a scowl to match. He and fellow castaway, John Starks, competed with a sense of desperation that invigorated their teammates and the fan base, and they quickly became integral members of Riley’s rotation.

Over the next four seasons, “Mase and Oak” (Charles Oakley) bullied opponents on the boards and in the paint, freeing up New York’s star center, Patrick Ewing, to score. The formidable frontcourt led the Knicks to the N.B.A. Finals in 1994. Mase was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year the following season.

Mason’s role extended far beyond that of enforcer. He was remarkably agile for his size, and his ability to corral opposing guards combined with the strength to push big men off the block made him a valuable defender. During the 1994 playoffs, Mase checked athletic Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen in one series, before frustrating Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon in the Finals.

The burly forward possessed a surprisingly deft handle and excellent court vision. Knicks fans grew accustomed to the sight of Mase grabbing a defensive rebound and dribbling between his legs, while pushing the ball up the floor, before delivering a crisp chest pass into the shooting pocket of an open guard on the wing.

Riley’s successor, Don Nelson, was so impressed with Mason’s passing that the Hall of Fame coach ran the Knicks’ offense through him during the 1995-96 season. The versatile forward also played a league-high 42.2 minutes per game that season.

Mason used his solid frame to back down defenders on the block, where he was adept at finishing with either hand, though his range was limited to a few feet from the basket, beyond which the lefty resorted to an ugly push shot. His one-handed free throws were comical, and at times difficult to watch, though he somehow managed to complete 71 percent of them.

The pugnacious forward also had a playful side, and his funky hairstyles, which consisted of various messages shaved into his head, from “Mase” to the Knicks logo, to motivational phrases, drew media attention. Local newspapers and national magazines did feature stories on his barber, Freddie.

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Mason was a bit of a rabble-rouser off the court. He was arrested for scuffling with a police officer during his tenure with the Knicks, and the defiant attitude that made him such a menace on the court grated on his coaches. In July, 1996, New York traded Mason and Brad Lohaus to the Charlotte Hornets for Larry Johnson.

Mason produced his finest statistical season in 1996-1997 for a Hornets team that won 54 games, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird and Bill Walton as the only players in the past 40 years to average over 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists per game (16.2, 11.4 and 5.7), via basketball-reference.com.

Once again, Mase led the league in minutes per game (43.1). He was named to the All-N.B.A. Third Team and finally received recognition for his stellar defense with an N.B.A. All-Defensive Second Team selection.

Mason was traded to the Miami Heat in 2000, where he was reunited with Riley. He scored 16.1 points and grabbed 9.6 rebounds per game in 2000-01, while often defending opposing centers with Alonzo Mourning out of the lineup. At age 34, he was named to his first and only All-Star Game. Mase concluded his career with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2003.

Despite the various uniforms, he will always be remembered as a Knick.

The Frazier, Reed and Bradley squads of the 1970s set the standard of excellence for New York basketball, though the Knicks teams of the 90s forged their own special bond with the city. After 15 years of incompetence, underachieving and a general malaise, which hangs like a fog over Madison Square Garden, Knicks fans long for the passion of Mason, Starks, Oakley and Ewing.

Anthony Mason is a product of New York City and competed with a tenacity and swagger that resonated with New Yorkers and gave credence to basketball’s moniker, “the city game.” Knicks fans hold Mase in their hearts, knowing that he will not stop fighting for his.

New York Knicks’ Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2014 Offseason

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http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2161974-ny-knicks-biggest-winners-and-losers-of-the-2014-offseason

Realistic Expectations for Cleanthony Early’s Rookie Season With the Knicks

Cleanthony Early

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2127138-realistic-expectations-for-cleanthony-earlys-rookie-season-with-ny-knicks

How Carmelo Anthony’s Past May Influence His Decision This Summer

carmelo-anthony-window-closing

Carmelo Anthony will have the opportunity to sign a maximum-salary contract for the third time in his career if he opts out of his current deal with the New York Knicks to become a free agent this summer, as expected. He cashed in on each of the previous two occasions, agreeing to deals with the Denver Nuggets and Knicks totaling $145 million, yet those decisions precipitated a void that dollars cannot fill.

One of the greatest scorers of this generation has made just one trip past the second round of the playoffs and has yet to compete in the NBA Finals during his 11 seasons in the league.

The cynical point of view is that Anthony simply valued money above all else. However, several factors impacted his contractual decisions, including a short-sighted agent, a desire to play in a big market and an untimely lockout. It is also easy judge those decisions harshly in hindsight by downplaying the role that unforeseen circumstances played in his experiences in Denver and New York.

Anthony signed his first veteran contract in the summer of 2006, with one year remaining on his rookie deal with the Nuggets. Denver offered the 22-year-old the maximum amount allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, $80 million over five years, and Anthony jumped at it. The deal included a clause which enabled Carmelo to opt out after the fourth year.

“It was a no-brainer for me,” Anthony said. “When all the rumors were out there saying I was signing this type of deal or that type of deal, my family called me and said, ‘Look, are you crazy?’ Growing up we don’t have [much],” via ESPN.com.

Anthony’s friends and fellow members of the 2003 draft class, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, did not believe that signing the maximum deals offered by their respective teams (the same five years and $80 million) was a “no-brainer.” All three sacrificed a substantial amount of guaranteed money in favor of greater wealth down the road and signed three-year contracts worth about $43 million, with a player option for a fourth year.

Bosh, Wade and James understood that as seven-year veterans they would be eligible to negotiate a maximum contract worth 30 percent of the salary cap if they opted out of their contracts in 2010. Players with less than seven years of experience can only earn up to 25 percent of the cap.

Carmelo and LeBron have been friends since high school.

Carmelo and LeBron have been friends since high school.

In 2010, James, Wade and Bosh joined forces on the Miami Heat and are currently pursuing a third consecutive championship. Anthony, who has been close friends with James since high school, and played with all three on the U.S. Olympic team, could have teamed up with one or more of the future Hall of Famers in a number of locations, including Miami and New York, if he had signed a shorter deal. He also would have avoided the complications presented by the lockout the following year. Instead, Carmelo could not become a free agent until the summer of 2011.

Anthony refused a contract extension offered by the Nuggets in 2010 and the Brooklyn native made it known that he wanted to sign a maximum-salary contract to play with his friend Amar’e Stoudemire for the Knicks. A long-anticipated lockout of the players by the owners following the 2010-11 season put a wrench in his plan.

Amid widespread speculation that maximum salaries would be significantly reduced under the new CBA, Anthony felt compelled to sign a new deal before the lockout. The only way he could do that with the Knicks would be if the Nuggets traded him to New York before the 2011 trade deadline, so he requested a trade.

The star forward had leverage over Denver. He could have left them empty-handed by departing via free agency over the summer and was able to determine his destination by refusing to sign an extension with any team other than the Knicks.

Denver obliged and on Feb. 21, 2011, traded Anthony, along with Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams to the Knicks in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, second round picks in 2012 and 2013, a first round pick in 2014 and the right to swap picks with the Knicks in 2016, as part of a three-way deal that also involved the Minnesota Timberwolves. Anthony promptly signed the largest extension allowed under the CBA, a three-year, $65 million deal, beginning in 2012-13.

The move backfired on Anthony. Stoudemire’s body began to give out soon after Carmelo’s arrival. The six-time All-Star played sporadically over the past three seasons and has been reduced to a shadow of the explosive superstar he was with the Phoenix Suns.

Carmelo never had the opportunity to play with a healthy Stoudemire.

Carmelo never had the opportunity to play with a healthy Stoudemire.

The NBA gifted the Knicks a way out from under Stoudemire’s colossal contract with an amnesty clause in the new CBA. Instead, the Knicks used the provision to erase the final year of Chauncey Billups’s contract from the cap in December, 2011, just six months after picking up the option on his deal, in order to sign Tyson Chandler.

To make matters worse, the rollback on maximum salaries under the new CBA was not nearly as severe as the players had feared. In the first year of a new contract, a player may still receive up to 105 percent of his prior salary. Annual increases for non-Bird contracts (which Anthony’s would have been had he signed with the Knicks as a free agent) dropped from 8 percent to 4.5 percent.

The Knicks were expected to have about $17 million in cap space in the summer of 2011, assuming they renounced the rights to free agent Wilson Chandler, though they would not have had much trouble unloading a player, such as Anthony Randolph (who was traded to Minnesota in the Anthony deal and was scheduled to make $2.9 million in 2011-12, or Ronny Turiaf, who earned $4.3 million that season) in order to offer Melo a max deal.

The maximum amount Anthony could have earned over the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons by signing with the Knicks as a free agent would have been about $58, $7 million less than the extension he agreed to. However, since Anthony will be opting out of the final year of the deal, it is worth noting that the difference in money during the first two years of the contract extension would have been about $3 million.

For $3 million, Anthony ensured that three-and-half years of his prime would be spent on a mediocre team with virtually no financial flexibility, young talent or draft picks.

He could not have anticipated the exact results of the lockout, how much New York would give up for him or that Stoudemire’s career would nose-dive, but he did know that he was depleting the team’s talent and limiting its maneuverability. The Knicks could have used the assets they surrendered for him to acquire another star, such as Chris Paul, to add talent through the draft or create cap space. Anthony also should have been aware that he was committing to a team with an incompetent owner and a history of head-scratching personnel moves.

Now Carmelo finds himself at a crossroads once again. He turns 30 on May 29th. Basketball mortality is on the horizon. This is his last shot at a maximum-salary contract. It is also his final opportunity to put himself in position to be a top dog on a championship contender.

New York can offer him $33 million more than any other team, but that cash comes with no guarantees. The Knicks will not have the cap space to add another star player until 2015, and their track record, combined with a dearth of valuable assets does not instill confidence in their ability to build a contender. Teams like the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets have the pieces in place to win a championship with Anthony in the fold.

LeBron took control of his own destiny by sacrificing a little money to join Wade and Bosh in Miami, rather than relying on faith that the Cleveland Cavaliers would build a championship team around him. Carmelo should take a cue from his friend. History suggests otherwise.

How to Improve the New York Knicks’ Point Guard Situation Next Season

felton

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2053773-how-to-fix-new-york-knicks-point-guard-situation-next-season

Five Realistic Free Agent Targets for the New York Knicks

phil

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2048335-realistic-2014-free-agency-targets-for-the-ny-knicks



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