Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jeremy Lin may miss remainder of season

According to reports, Jeremy Lin will miss six weeks due to a torn meniscus in his knee. Lin had missed the previous three games with a sore knee and today it was announced that he would undergo surgery. The six week recovery will mean a definite end to his exciting regular season but he could potentially return for a possible playoff run if the Knicks are able to make them and get through the first round.

The Knicks should be able to cope with the Lin injury due to their depth at guard but this revelation has been just another part of a series of injuries that have hampered the Knicks all season. This one paired with Amare Stoudemire's back problem may spell problems for the Knicks playoff hopes. Lin's sore knee had been most ignored while people focused on the Stoudemire injury and Lin was expected to return quickly. But apparently Lin's injury was worst than originally believed.

The injury may bring close to the end of Jeremy Lin phenomenal season in New York where for a brief period of time he was able to incite a madness around his exceptional play. Lin played far beyond anyone's expectations during a similar period where the Knicks were going through another rash of injuries.

Lin's contract expires at the end of the season and it will be interesting to see what Lin decides to do in the offseason and if the Knicks will be able to retain him.

Patrick Ewing interested in Knicks' coaching job

The legendary Patrick Ewing, in a recent interview with ESPN, expressed interest in becoming head coach of the Knicks. Ewing said he would be interested in coaching for New York if the team decided to go another direction this summer. Ewing did say that he thought Mike Woodson was doing a great job as interim head coach. 

Ewing is currently an assistant coach for the Orlando Magic under Stan Van Gundy and has been heavily involved in the development of Dwight Howard. Ewing has been looking for a gig as a head coach and even interviewed for the open position with the Pistons during the past offseason. But that position eventually went to Lawerence Frank and Ewing remained with the Magic.

The major knock on Ewing is that many see him as purely a developer of big men and relatively untested as a leader. But Ewing counters that former Knick head coach and current ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy started in a similar position before he became head coach.

But all this may not matter as Mike Woodson's chances of being retained look better and better as the season progresses. If the Knicks are able to keep up their great play and make the playoffs, it might be hard for James Dolan and Gus Griswald to decide not to keep Woodson as coach. Especially considering the change Woodson has been able to institute after the tumultuous atmosphere following the resignation of Mike D'Antoni.

Perhaps the only thing that might prevent Woodson from getting the job is the possible return of Phil Jackson. But as of now it isn't clear if Jackson would be willing to return to coach and if he would want to work in New York away from his wife, Jeanie Buss.

Bob Rathbun is pretty annoying

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching the the New York Knicks play in Atlanta against the Hawks. I watched the game via NBATV which used a feed from the home team's local network, FSN South. The Knicks lost and were ineffective for a solid portion of the road game. Any time the Knicks were able to get within striking distance of the Hawks, Atlanta would tighten down and pull away again. Atlanta finished with a decisive win over the Knicks who without two of their top players did not look very good. It wasn't a great night as a New York fan.

However the New York lost wasn't the worst part of my evening. That distinction rested in listening to Atlanta Hawks play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun call the game with NBA legend Dominque Wilkins. Now it's no surprise that team commentators are always pulling for their team and I have no problem with that. As a Knicks fan, I would want to listen to Mike Breen and Walt Frazier consistently glorifying opposing players or coaches. These network deal specifically with one team and everyone should understand the need to protect this relationship between the network, team and fans. Announcers, commentators, and analyst for the network are usually a bit gentler with bad play or controversy within the team. They might not ignore it but they don't usually aggressively dissect the problem.


But Bob Rathbun takes this team allegiance to another level. During tonight's game it felt as if the network found the most obnoxious Hawks fan and handed him a mic.

Rathbun is no newcomer to the field of sports broadcasting. He has worked for other teams, networks, and sports for a long time. He's won many awards for his work as well. Based on his achievements, he seems like a well liked commentator throughout the Southern region. He even has his own Youtube Vlog where he discusses sports, particularly college football. Including one great video (right) where he points out that the real victim of the Penn State Sandusky situation was the truth. Not the poor molested children but the rather the morally bankrupt system that makes it uncomfortable for coaches and players to tell "the truth" to the police about children being raped. What a shame.

Tonight was one of my first chances to listen to a Hawks broadcast. So I hadn't previously been exposed to Rathbun's quality broadcasting that he brings to the state of Georgia on a regular basis.

Needless to say, I wasn't impressed. Rathbun came off like a loudmouth homer who felt like everyone was against the Hawks. Throughout the night, he predictably sided with the Hawks on most close calls. He took a defensive stance when the call (correctly or not) was in favor of the Knicks and got upset over no-calls.

One notable example was a foul call on Josh Smith. Smith went for a block on a NY player who was driving to the basket. Smith was successful but a foul was called on the Atlanta forward. Rathbun immediately objected. During the first replay of the foul he declared that the call was baseless saying definitively that the block was "clean." Maybe he was right. But from the camera angle it was difficult to see the complete body contact between the players. Most commentators would have said something to the effect of: "I'm not so sure about that call, from that angle it looked like a clean block." But Emmy award winning Rathbun, decided that there was in fact no contact and the refs had made a terrible call.

Perhaps not a big deal if this was a one time occurrence, but throughout the night he reacted to calls with similar sureness. Maybe this is something that Atlanta fans don't mind as much because he is sticking up for his team. Maybe this was a weird night for Rathbun. But for a Knicks fan, it became increasingly annoying listening to this die hard Atlanta fan stick up for them on every single call. Especially when the team was in control for a good portion of the game.

I think perhaps the most comical moment of the night was a comparison of two similar events during the night. One occasion during the half half, Zaza Pachulia was setting a screen but did a poor job and moved a lot while the players moved over the screen. However the refs called a foul on New York instead. The Knicks complained and the FSN decided to show a replay. The replay clearly showed Pachulia moving his feet more than some fat nerd playing Dance Dance Revolution. No big deal, the refs just missed a call, happens all the time. So predictably the refs did their unspoken customary "make-up call" immediately on the inbound and penalized Pachulia for a small push off on Tyson Chandler. Something that probably would have normally been ignored, but the refs were making everything right. But Rathbun, being the Atlanta supporter he is, mostly overlooked the Pachulia movement. But he did have a problem with the refs calling the make-up foul. A little hypocritical, but it gets worst.

This sequence of calls was followed by Rathbun complaining, like a whiny teenage fan, throughout the game when he felt the refs missed moving screen calls on Chandler. Several times during the course of the game he felt Chandler preformed a moving screen and the refs missed it. He began to get audibly upset over the no calls. Then finally, late in the game he finally got his release when the refs called a moving screen on Chandler. Rathbun exuded happily with validation and frustration at the same time. Still upset over the referees not making earlier calls. There's no pleasing this guy.

Perhaps I am just upset because the Knicks loss, and having to hear this jerk complaining throughout the game despite the Hawks leading. But I really am starting to appreciate the Knicks broadcasters tonight. They may quietly root for the Knicks, but at least (in my opinion) it's not on an obnoxious level. They are willing to give the refs the benefit of the doubt and even admit when they are right on calls that go in the opposing teams favor. Rather than complaining about the call, they will talk about what the Knick player did wrong in the situation. Unlike Rathbun who functions on a level of annoying, confident, self-serving fan who reacts to the game in the same manner of a drunken Celtics fans and or frat boys. Hopefully, I can avoid listening to Rathbun in the near future. New York will play the Hawks one more time this year but it will be broadcasted via ESPN. Outside of that the Knicks won't see the Hawks unless they play in the playoffs. But even then, the match-up will be carried nationally rather than off FSN South. So at the very worst I will at least go until this fall without having to listen to Rathbun's award winning voice.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stoudemire to miss 2-4 weeks

The Knicks and Amare Stoudemire have opted to avoid back surgery in favor of rest that will force Stoudemire to miss the next two to four weeks. Stoudemire suffered a bulging disc in his spine during last Saturday's game against the Pistons that caused him to miss the last two game. At first there were worries that the injury may have been more serious and would require surgery. But following an MRI earlier this week, and a second opinion Stoudemire's bulging disc was deemed to be treatable with rest.

The injury comes at a terrible time for the team facing the most difficult stretch of the season in a tight playoff race with the Bucks (who won their game against the Hawks last night). The Knicks are also currently missing Jeremy Lin who will miss tonight's game with a sore knee.

The team was without both players during their previous win against the Bucks. The game was tough and the Knicks struggled but the finished with a decisive win.

It is not clear how effective Stoudemire will be when he returns from his injury. He was plagued with a back injury during last year's playoff that limited his ability as a player.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stoudemire's season in question with bulging disc

Tonight's win by New York over the Milwaukee Bucks meant a lot for the Knick's playoff picture. It increased their lead over the Bucks to 2.5 games and brought the team record back to .500 for the season. However the grind-out game was won without stars Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire, both missing time due to injury. Lin missed the night's game with a sore right knee, but could return as soon as Wednesday's game.

But Stoudemire's injury is much more crucial. Just prior to the game, it was learned that Stoudemire was out indefinitely with a bulging disc in his back. It's not clear how serious the injury is and the nature of the injury will determine how long Amare might be out. Coach Mike Woodson says that they are not currently looking at surgery, but it could be a possibility sometime in the near future. The good news, as of now, is it is not a herniated disc, which would end his season. Currently it looks like Stoudemire is in Miami getting a second opinion and this will shed some more light. But as of now it looks as if Stoudemire will miss the next couple of games.

In Stoudemire's place, the Knicks decided to go small and started three guards (Davis, Shumpert, and Fields) with Melo and Chandler. Josh Harrellson and Steve Novak both got some extra minutes during tonight's game but the Knicks were able to survive with the small line-up against the Bucks relatively short roster. Jared Jeffries would also normally grab some minutes but he too is out due to injury. But, as I have said before, if Stoudemire is going to miss the remainder of the season, the Knicks need to make a move to bring in another big man. At this point many of the trade deadline casualities (Diaw, Turiaf, Hickson) have been signed and the Knicks are left with less options. But the Knicks were already running with little depth in the front court and the injury to Stoudemire and Jeffries just emphasizes that lack out depth. Unless the Knicks trust rookie Harrellson to play big minutes they are going to need to make some move.

This, of course, isn't the first time Stoudemire has dealt with a back injury in New York. Amare was hampered by a muscle strain in his back during the playoff series against the Celtics last year. This kept him from his normal offseason training and forced him to rehab for much of the extended offseason.

This is a bad time of the season to lose one of the team's most talented players. The Knicks face a tough stretch of games over the remainder of the season and are in a tight playoff race against the Bucks. If the Knicks are able to survive the playoff race, Stoudemire has a month until the April 28th start of the NBA playoffs. The Knicks will hope that will be long enough to get him back on the court.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Knicks, Heat, and NBPA show support for Trayvon Martin Martin


On the evening of February 26th, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking back to his girlfriend's house in Sanford, Florida after making a quick trip to a nearby store. Martin and his girlfriend had been watching basketball on television and he had left during a break in the game to get some snacks. As he was returning a man, George Zimmerman, noticed him and percieved him as suspicious. Zimmerman is a member of the community who takes the security of his neighborhood very seriously. Strict and observant of the neighborhood, Zimmerman was attending school to reach his goal of joining the police force (however due to the shooting he has recently been expelled). Zimmerman after spotting Martin, he made a call to the police department, something Zimmerman often did. While talking to dispatch, Zimmerman described Martin as “a real suspicious guy” who looked like “he was on drugs.”

Martin realized that he was being watched and took off running. Perhaps he was annoyed by Zimmerman, or he himself felt endangered. Zimmerman ran after Trayvon while he was still on the phone with dispatch. Dispatch told Zimmerman he did not need to chase Martin, but Zimmerman continued anyways.

From this point on it's not exactly clear what happened. Trayvon's girlfriend, who was talking to him on the phone, said that Martin got sick of Zimmerman following him and confronted him. She heard sometype of struggle and Martin's phone went dead, likely after being dropped. A struggle of some sort did occur between Martin and Zimmerman resulting with Martin being fatally wounded. Witnesses report varying stories where Martin may have been to strike Zimmerman. Both were injured but Martin was of course injured much more seriously. Shot by Zimmerman. Martin was armed only with a can of Arizona Ice Tea, and a bag of Skittles. Zimmerman was better suited with his legally owned nine millimeter. Police finally responded to Zimmerman's call and the numerous phone calls from neighbors. They attempted to resuscitate Martin. But by 7:30 p.m. that night Trayvon Martin was dead.

Martin was by all accounts a good kid. He earned solid grades, and was an athlete that played football for his high school. Described by others as cheerful, he was not known to be violent or a criminal. Many people, like his loved ones and teachers, considered him to be an upstanding individual. His biggest sin was perhaps recently being suspended from school for a reason that is not quite clear. Some accuse Martin of getting into a fight, which was denied. Other say it was a lesser violation. According to his mother it was due to him being late to school too often. Either way, Martin had likely not committed a major violation of any sort. Martin had dreams. He sought to become an aviation mechanic and was looking at attending college at several local universities including Florida A&M.

Zimmerman's preconceived notions, and paranoia led him to a confrontation that resulted in the death of a young man who had done nothing wrong. If Zimmerman had minded his own business or let police handle the situation it is likely Martin would still be alive today. A young man who had a bright future and a stepbrother on the way. As of now, Zimmerman has yet to be charged with any crime. At the time of the incident, Zimmerman claimed he acted in self defense and the police agreed with his assessment. This has sparked an outrage that has resulted in continued protests across the country and many speaking up for Martin.

Recently criticism has escalated with increased pressure for the police to do something. Student walkouts and protests have reached their height. Protesters yesterday were joined by members of the NBA and The NBPA including two prominent New York players. It started when LeBron James tweeted a photo of the entire Heat team donning hoodies in memory of Trayvon Martin who wearing a hoodie when he was shot (to which Geraldo Rivera blames for his death). Later that day, the National Basketball Players Association released a statement supporting the Martin family and calling for the arrest of Zimmerman.

Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony followed suit offering support by posting photos of themselves in hoodies. Amare tweeted that he was standing up for Trayvon.

In the end, it's great to see NBA players supporting important social matters. These guys can provide more attention to various important causes by doing something as minor as wearing a hoodie. Going forward it is unclear how these actions by the players and protests by the community will affect the final outcome. Zimmerman may not end up in jail. But social pressure often leads to some form of justice and many in America, myself included, hope Trayvon Martin gets his justice.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Knicks set to face off with the Raptors tonight

The Knicks tweeted this video of Steve Novak doing what he does... draining three's. Check it out below. Should be a great game tonight that the Knicks are capable of winning to extend the five game win streak. There will be a post game report from me later. Enjoy the game.

[Novak warmup via knicksnow.com]

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Playoff Picture: Celtics beat Bucks, Help Knicks' playoff standing

Boston defeats ninth place Milwaukee, 100-91. This win is a mixed blessing for the Knicks. The Boston win means New York now hold a 1.5 game lead over Milwaukee for the final playoff spot. By no means a solid lead, considering the Knicks have 19 games left to play, but significant at this point. However the Celtics' win means they retain a 2.5 game lead over the Knicks for the seventh spot.

New York would like to leapfrog Boston and Atlanta to move into the sixth spot to benefit off a easier first round matchup. Miami and Chicago have all but locked up the top two spots with the closest competition being the Orlando Magic who are 5.5 games behind the second place Heat. If the Knicks were able to move up into the sixth spot they currently likely face the Magic.

However, the Knicks may have the toughest remaining schedule, facing off against eleven playoff teams including both Miami and Chicago. This will be a tough test for the team and we will get a look a at New York's playoff viability.

Current Playoff Standings

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Game Preview: Knicks vs. Sixers 2/21/12


The Knicks head on the road to face the Atlantic division leading Philadelphia 76ers in a game that could potentially affect playoff position for both teams. New York currently holds just a half game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for the 8th and final playoff spot. The Knicks also would like to score a win against the Sixers to help close the four game gap between the teams for the division lead. The division lead would be a major bonus for New York, who at this point, would be facing the Bulls in the playoffs. Division leaders are guaranteed a top four seeding which would help the Knicks avoid a potential top seed first round opponent like Chicago or Miami. Tonight's game will also provide the tie breaker if the teams finish with the same record. The season series is currently tied at 1-1 with Philadelphia easily beating the Knicks ten days ago in New York, 106-94.

However a lot has changed in those ten days, and the Knicks, under Mike Woodson, have become reinvigorated. They currently hold a four game winning streak after dropping their previous six games. The Sixers, on the other hand, have won only one of their previous four games. The sole win coming against the pitiful Bobcats. The worst loss was a 17 point blowout at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, whom the Knicks were able to handily defeat in two games over the weekend.

The Knicks will have to focus in on the offensive end of the court against the Sixers, who have the league top defense. Here are the three keys to the game for the Knicks to get the win.

Key #1: Carmelo must keep dishing the ball

Melo has done a good job in the past four games of moving the ball, averaging 5 assist per game in limited minutes. Tonight he will be facing off against one of the league's best perimeter defender, Andre Iguodala. Iguodala averages almost two steals a game and has been effective on Anthony this season. Melo has had only 38% shooting from the field. Anthony needs to take smart shots tonight and get the ball out of his hands and into the hands of lesser offensive weapons, like Tyson Chandler, who has been a key player over the four game streak.

Key #2: Stop Louis Williams off the bench

Williams is a key player for the average Philadelphia offense. He scores 15 points per game off the bench and is a strong distributor. He dropped 28 points in the previous game against New York shooting well from the field and behind the arc. But Williams has been prone this season to poor shooting performances averaging only 41% shooting from the field. Over the last three losses, Williams has been relatively shut down by the opposing teams, averaging single digit scoring, and shooting 10 for 35 from the field. Williams also has been unable to get to the line, with only ten attempts in the past four games (he had six attempts in the previous game against the Knicks). Stopping Williams will go a long way towards slowing down the Sixers offense that is 21st in the league in scoring.

Key #3: Bench must continue playing well

The Knicks bench has been very strong this season, and especially since Mike Woodson took over. But they looked pretty average against the Raptors last night scoring only 26 points as a unit. J.R. Smith scored 11 by himself, and looked great on both ends of the floor. The bench will have a tough matchup against the Sixers, who are considered by some to be the best bench in the league. The game will be interesting throughout, whether starters or the bench players are on the floor.

Turiaf close to deal with Heat

According to Yahoo! Sports, Ronny Turiaf is close to a deal with the Miami Heat. Turiaf's agent Marc Bartelstein says they are "working hard" to get the deal done. The terms of the contract are not yet known. Turiaf was previously on the final year of the 17 million dollar deal he signed with Golden State. Turiaf averaged 4.3 million over the four years of the previous contract.

It doesn't look like the Knicks looked at all at obtaining Turiaf. But they benefit them in their division as it keeps a big man out of Boston. The Celtics front court has had to deal with several serious injuries over the course of the season. Most recently, Jermaine O'Neal was lost for the remainder of the season due to a wrist injury. They have also lost Jeff Green, and Chris Wilcox to season ending heart surgeries.

New York trails the Celtics in the division by 2.5 games.

[Yahoo Sports]

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New York win helps keep Knicks in playoff picture


The Knicks cruise to 19-point win over the Raptors, 106-87, extending their winning streak to four games. New York didn't dominate this game but they still were able to finish with a decisive win. Jeremy Lin had a double-double with 18 points and dishing out 10 assists with 3 turnovers. Amare Stoudemire was also solid with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Four of the New York starters finished with at least 17 points as well. Off the bench, J.R. Smith continued his solid play scoring 11 points and grabbing 3 offensive rebounds in less than twenty minutes on the floor. Smith made smart plays and showed great hustle on the floor. The whole team showed good energy on the boards grabbing 46 total rebounds including 16 offensive rebounds. The Raptors only had four offensive rebounds.

The Woodson defensive scheme for the night was to pressure the Toronto ball handlers at and beyond the arc. They did a great job and held Toronto to just 2 of 13 three point shooting. Andrea Bargnani shot only 0 for 4 from three. The Knicks was swarming at points in the game and forced 17 turnovers including an impressive 12 steals.

The Knicks generally played well but they still had their problems. We saw more isolation tonight from the offense. The players and ball movement tended to slow during these periods but the team still finished with 23 assists. The Knicks also shot poorly from both three point range (5 of 16) and the free throw line (23 of 33).

Toronto was able to keep the game within reach until midway in the third when the Knicks pulled away by fifteen. Around this point, there was a mini-meltdown, highlighted by center Aaron Gray, who was ejected for arguing and proceeded to kick the game ball. The Raptors still were able to fight back and bring the game to an eight point deficit in the fourth. The Knicks were eventually able to pull away. Toney Douglas was even able to see his first minutes since mid-February. But Douglas wasn't too impressive in his playing time.

Overall, the Knicks did well enough to win and win big. They were up 21 points until a late Toronto field goal cut the score to 19. But they let the Raptors, a below average team, stick around way longer then they should have allowed. The game was close until the third period and was even still in reach during the fourth. Compared to the Indiana game where the Knicks both nights had a solid lead going into half. This type of uneven play might haunt the team if they do make the playoffs.

At this point, New York is two game below .500 (22-24) and hold the 8th and final playoff spot. They are a game ahead of the Bucks and 2.5 games behind the Celtics in the 7th spot. The Knicks would like to finish as high as possible, and preferably at least in the sixth spot to avoid a possible Miami, or Chicago match-up in the first round. New York's dream situation would be to overtake Philadelphia (26-20) for the divisional lead which would guarantee them at least the fourth seed in the playoffs. Which would likely eliminate a possible the worst possible match-ups for the Knicks in the first round.

New York is only 4 games back from the Sixers, but the shorten season makes taking the divisional lead more difficult. The Knicks and Sixers both have only 20 games left in the season. Hard to make a swing in this limited amount of games. The Knicks schedule also gets harder over the final month of the season with eleven of the final twenty games are against playoff teams. New York will face the league best Chicago twice, and the Heat once during this period.

The Knicks will have a lot of work ahead of them to not only make the playoffs but avoid a low seeding. They will have an opportunity tomorrow night, in Philly, to close the gap with the Sixers. Currently the Knicks have split the season series against the Sixers 1-1, winning the first game of the season but losing the second earlier this month. The Sixers will also be well rested going into tomorrow's game as they last played on the March 17th.

Happy Birthday to Spike Lee

Knicks ultra-fan director Spike Lee's birthday is today and he's celebrating at the Garden:

Update: Turiaf looking at Celtics and Heat

ESPN's Brian Windhorst is reporting that, as expected, Ronny Turiaf is being courted by the Heat and Celtics. Boston is perhaps a bit more desperate today after revealing last night that center Jermaine O'Neal is out for the season. No news that the Knicks are talking to Turiaf at this time or looking to make any roster moves at this point in time.

Aside from Turiaf, foward J.J. Hickson is also available after being waived by the Kings yesterday. It's not clear where he will end up just yet and won't likely be signed until after he clears waivers tomorrow night. Golden State and Phoenix are said to interested in the fourth year player. Golden State appears to be the front runner. But Miami and perhaps Boston will likely take a look at Hickson, who played with LeBron James in Cleveland for two seasons.

[Twitter]

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why the Knicks should sign Ronny Turiaf

Around the trade deadline, the Knicks were talking making a move to increase their front court. The current set of players were suited well for the high paced D'Antoni system, but coach Mike Woodson's scheme values size and defense over speed. Right now heart of the Knicks interior line-up is Amare Stoudamire, Tyson Chandler, and Jared Jeffries. Rookie Josh Harrellson and second year man Jerome Jordan are sometimes included in this mix and both are decent in their roles. Harrellson is a strong shooter with pretty good interior defensive skills. But Jordan is a work in progress, who has spent some time in the D-League, but has looked impressive during that stint. Many of these players have missed games this season (and in the past) due to injury, most notably Jeffries who has missed 14 games. Stoudamire and Chandler, throughout their careers have missed major amounts of time but have been relatively healthy in the past few seasons.

Right now the New York lineup is unbalanced with 7 players in the backcourt and only 8 players in the front court including injured swingman Bill Walker that can play either at guard or forward. At power forward and center, the Knicks only really have the four players. Steve Novak is listed at power forward, but because of his range and skill set, he is better suited at small forward. So if the Knicks were to lose any of their big men they could be extremely vulnerable around the basket. Especially if the relatively untested Jordan was forced into major minutes or if Novak was forced to play closer to the basket. Since the trade deadline has passed, the Knicks only option is to cut a player and sign another.

The Knicks are in a good position to sign talented players that were cut after trades. One such player is Ronny Turiaf, who was traded to Denver from Washington in the JaVale McGee deal, but was just recently cut to make a roster spot for (also former Knick) Wilson Chandler. Turiaf has only seen action in four games this season, and is currently recovering from a broken hand but was expecting to return soon before the trade. He played for the Knicks last season, providing solid minutes and solid defense for New York. His defense could be even more valuable in the new system. With the Knicks he was capable of providing a spark of the bench as well as talented defensive skills.


But if  the Knicks want to sign Turiaf, they need to move quick. New York isn't the only team looking for a big man. Several teams have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Turiaf including the Celtics, Mavs, and Heat. Earlier today, Boston said that they are in the process of acquiring a big man. But it doesn't look like it is Turiaf. It's not clear how much Miami, or Dallas are looking at Turiaf, but he would be a strong addition to either team.

The Knicks would have to cut a player to add Turiaf. The smartest move would be to cut one of New York's four point guards. The top two candidates would be Mike Bibby or Toney Douglas. Douglas was previously mentioned as a possible candidate for trade but nothing ever came of the rumors. He is the younger player with better potential to grow more in the system. Bibby, on the other hand, has just started seeing more minutes as a result of an injury to Baron Davis. As of now, Bibby is more valuable as a veteran, especially in the playoffs where he has played in a hundred games. However, Bibby is likely in the final years of his career whereas Douglas has more future value. But either way, both have seen wavering minutes in the past month, and neither is expected to get many minutes while Lin, Shumpert, and Davis are in NYC.

Davis questionable for game tomorrow

Knicks guard Baron Davis is questionable for their next game, Tuesday night, against the Raptors in New York. Davis suffered a strained hamstring during the first game of a back-to-back against Indiana. Davis then missed the next night's game and backup Mike Bibby saw action in his place. Baron had been playing strong since returning from his back injury that delayed the start of his season.

Veteran Mike Bibby started the season with the Knicks splitting minutes with Toney Douglas at point guard. But now both guards have been regulated to the bench with the return of Davis, and the strong play of Jeremy Lin, and Iman Shumpert. But Bibby emerged from the bench over the past few days during the Knicks blowout wins against the Pacers.

Douglas may also return tomorrow after being inactive around the trade deadline likely due to the birth of his son. The Knicks reportedly had been shopping Douglas around the trade deadline, as well, but found no takers.

[ESPN NY]

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Knicks' strong 2nd half defense leads to win third straight


New York continued their strong defensive play and handily defeated Indiana 102-88. The Knicks earned their third straight win under the Woodson regime and looked energetic and aggressive on the boards in the second game of a doubleheader. The final score was deceptive of the game's competitive nature. The Pacers got off to a quick start and led at the end of the first 35-33. The Knicks slowed the Pacers' scoring in the second quarter holding them to 16 points. Defense was key to this defensive swing as the Knicks forced 6 turnovers in the second. The Pacers missed Danny Granger's presence in the period. Granger played the entire first quarter and scored 8 points. But he went cold when he returned in the second quarter going scoreless on 0 for 4 from the field. He finished with only 11 points. The Knicks went into the half with a 60-51 lead.

But the Pacers kept themselves in the game, closing the gap to a single point early in the final period. But New York took firm control of the game on the merits of a 19-5 run that was spearheaded by Jeremy Lin. Lin finished with 19 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds. Lin was also fairly careful with the ball. He had only two turnovers and shot 60% from the field. Amare Stoudemire had a strong game too, scoring 16 points and hauling in 8 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony was effective scoring 16 points in 29 minutes on the court. Woodson seems to be going easy on Anthony, who is averaging 33 minutes per game on the season, but has played low minutes in the three games under coach Woodson. That might have more to do with the blowout wins than strategy. But it'll be interesting to see how many minutes Melo gets moving forward.

In the end, the Knicks bench was big in the win scoring 32 points compared to the Pacers' reserves who scored 17. The Pacers could have really used newly acquired Leandro Barbosa's scoring off the bench in this game, But Barbosa was inactive following his recent trade from Toronto. New York's other clear advantage was their ability to get to the line. The Knicks had 13 more free throw attempts and got to the line 40 times total.

The Knicks will hope to hold onto to their hot three game streak under Woodson as they head back to New York to face Toronto on Tuesday.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Knicks continue great play in first game of two against the Pacers


The Knicks looked great again in Mike Woodson's second game, and first real test as head coach. New York played solidly throughout the game and easily cruised past the Indiana Pacers 115-100. The Knicks strong defensive play against a talented team is a good omen for them and their playoff potential. Because of the blowout, coach Woodson was able to rest his starters and spread out the minutes among the bench. The Knicks, as a team dominated the Pacers in most significant stat categories but most notably in defense. The Knicks out-rebounded the Pacers 44-39, forced 18 turnovers, and had 11 steals. The Knicks also had 22 assists.

The Knicks will have a chance to put on another strong performance as they go on the road to face Indiana again in the second part of a back-to-back. The game will start tomorrow night at 7pm.

Game MVP: Tyson Chandler (16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks)

Positives:

  1. New York looked fantastic defensively. The Woodson system allows players like Tyson Chandler to really show off their defensive prowess. Chandler had 4 blocks and 7 rebounds in only 26 minutes. Offensively, Chandler was extremely productive, scoring his 16 points on 8 of 11 shooting.
  2. The Pacers are much better than the Blazers, but the Knicks still looked as dominant. New York held the lead for the entire game, and finished up 15 points. At one points they led by 30.
  3. Carmelo Anthony played very unselfishly recording 5 assists in only 22 minutes.
  4. Jeremy Lin had a much better night tonight then in the first Mike Woodson game on Wednesday. He only played 25 minutes as result of the blowout but scored 13 points and dished out 5 assists.
  5. J.R. Smith continued his good shooting that started during his performance on Wednesday. This is a great sign for Smith who has been struggling for the team since returning to the NBA from playing in China during the lockout.
  6. Most of the Knicks, and all of the starters had a positive +/- led by Chandler who finished +23.
  7. The Knicks continue to be extremely strong at drawing charges.
  8. The blowout allowed the Knicks to flex their bench and rest their starters. This is a big help for the team on the second half of the back-to-back games. Especially considering the Pacers don't have quite the depth that the Knicks have. It is also a good sign that the Knicks' bench is still playing well following the D'Antoni departure.
  9. The Madison Square Garden crowd was into the game from the opening tip-off. It was a much better atmosphere in comparison to the previous game that started off somewhat somber following the resignation of Mike D'Antoni earlier in the day. The crowd tonight had fun. Cheering on the defense during the very first possession, going crazy for Steve Novak, and demanding Mike Bibby in the final period. The Garden crowd is a great energizer for the team, and will be a playoff asset if the Knicks are able to finish the season well and keep the good atmosphere around the team.


Negatives:

  1. -Knicks were, again, throwing lobs and shooting threes late in the game when they had a comfortable lead. It wasn't quite as bad as what they were doing against Portland but it might be incentive for the Pacers tomorrow night.
  2. -Amare Stoudemire is still looking a little lackluster around the rim. He was 3 of 9 from the field tonight and had problems finish at the rim especially in comparison with Chandler. He hasn't been calling his own shoots this season as much, and show some hesitancy.
  3. Anthony shot poorly in his limited minutes and also had problems finishing

Can Linsanity survive?

When coach Mike D'Antoni left the Knicks earlier this week, it was an abrupt and mostly unseen change. Many had thought that D'Antoni was on his way out of New York, as the Knicks struggled to perform to the level of their talent. But many did not see D'Antoni leaving when he did, and choosing to resign himself. Many have said that D'Antoni's departure was likely the right move for the team, and even interim general manager, Glen Grunwald, felt it was a "selfless move" by D'Antoni.

The Knicks saw their potential following the coaching change during that night's game. Mike Woodson led them as they beat up on the struggling Trailblazers. The Knicks will likely be a better team in the new offensive system. But the one player who may be most affected by D'Antoni's resignation is Jeremy Lin.

Lin saw his meteoric rise after being inserted into the D'Antoni offense just over a month ago. In nine games, he wowed New York, and started a huge bandwagon movement comparable to Tebowmania. Averaging twenty-five points and over nine assists during this stretch made him the talk of the town. Following the return of Anthony to the system, Lin's production saw a decrease. During his first game under Woodson, Lin played his least amount of minutes (23) since being inserted into the starting line-up and only scored six points with six assists and just as many turnovers. It is now looking like Baron Davis will see a bigger role within the Mike Woodson system. He may even supplant Lin as starter despite Woodson claiming Lin will remain in his role.

Lin excelled in the D'Antoni pick and roll based offense that has made stars out of overlooked point guards like Steve Nash, Chris Duhon, and Raymond Felton. The system has been know for making all-star caliber players out of average talent. D'Antoni turned Steve Nash from a good point guard on the high tempo Mavs into a two time MVP in his first couple of seasons in his system (and Nash's ninth year in the league). Nash continued with his great production and could have won another third or fourth award in 2006-07 or 2007-08. His stats were the same or better than his MVP seasons but he didn't get the same respect from the league (who was unwilling to put him in the elite three-time MVP category). But after D'Antoni left, Nash saw a fall in production in Terry Porter's slower, defense oriented scheme. But when Porter left and another coach, Alvin Gentry, instituted a system comparable to D'Antoni's, Nash saw a return to his previous production.

In New York, D'Antoni worked wonders with struggling point guard, Chris Duhon. Duhon had been an average player in his first four seasons with Chicago. But in his first season with D'Antoni, Duhon had his best year of his career, scoring in double digits and averaging over seven assists a game. He was unable to keep up production the following season, and lost time in the system to younger players like Nate Robinson and Toney Douglas. Duhon left the team at the end of the season for Orlando.

D'Antoni performed wonders again in the 2010-11 season with Raymond Felton. Felton, a talented guard, like Nash, had been a good player with his former team (Bobcats). But had not been able to reach the next strata in his career. But in just over half a season with D'Antoni, Felton had his best career year. Felton averaged the most points, assists, and steals under D'Antoni. He was an All-Star candidate, and became a big part of the trade that brought in Carmelo Anthony (who would become a large part of the reason D'Antoni left New York). Felton did his best in the D'Antoni system and even came out in D'Antoni's defense recently.

Jeremy Lin was the latest product of D'Antoni system. Lin was an overlooked player out of Harvard that had struggled to get minutes with the Warriors and spent a lot of time in the D-League. Early in the season he was acquired and eventually cut by the Houston Rockets who were loaded at point guard. Lin was acquired off waivers by the Knicks after they used the amnesty clause on veteran Chauncey Billups, and their line-up was suffering from injuries. Lin was brought in as the third point guard at the time to help out Mike Bibby and Iman Shumpert until Baron Davis could heal. Davis was believed to be the savior for the Knicks at point guard. Lin turned out to be this savior.

In late January, Lin starting getting some minutes in the rotation as the Knicks continued to suffer from injuries. During a game against his former team, Houston, Lin played twenty minutes and was able to rack up nine points and six assist in those limited minutes. He then saw major minutes against New Jersey in early February, beginning the phenomenon know as Linsanity.

Lin excelled in the D'Antoni system because he was a good ball handler, distributor and finished well driving to the rim. But it was easier, earlier on, because of the spacing of the system. Lin would run a high pick and roll with Tyson Chandler and have plenty space to either drive or pass to Chandler or shooters like Novak, Fields, or Walker. When Stoudamire returned, it hurt the pick and roll for Lin, by bringing another body in the paint. But it was still managable. Stoudamire had a decent mid-range shot, and could work the pick and roll with Lin. But when Anthony returned it killed Lin's game, by bringing one more defender into the paint. This was exacerbated by the Knicks' bench, who were better built for D'Antoni's offense, playing at a higher level than the Knick starters.

Woodson's offense is based around the isolation, and screens. This takes the ball out of Lin's hands and forces him to be a strong player without the ball. This may bring an end to Linsanity, if he is unable to adjust. Woodson's offense puts the ball into the hands of the best scorer (Anthony) and gives the scorer the ability to decide the fate of the possession. Either beating his man one on one, or moving the ball to a teammate. Carmelo or Stoudamire will likely be featured in this system, and Lin will likely take a backseat to their production. Lin will still have a place as ball handler, but a player like Davis is indeed a better fit as a off-ball shooter.

Lin is on a small money contract, that expires at the end of the season. There has been no overt talk of signing an extension quite yet. Lin may decide that it would be in his best interest to move to a team with a system better fitting his game (perhaps where ever D'Antoni lands). The top candidate mentioned for a potential replacement to Woodson, Phil Jackson, has an offenses that doesn't emphasize the point guard either. So it might not matter who ends up in New York. Lin could fit in with John Calipari's dribble drive offense, but Calipari has said he will remain in Kentucky.

The future for Linsanity will depend on two things. His ability to adjust int he Woodson system, and where he goes following this season. Lin can still be a great player in the right system, but that system is not the Knicks' current or potential future systems. Woodson has supported Lin, and says he will remain the starter and could still be a great player if he develops his shot and learns to handle the ball more conservatively. The Knicks' defensive focus is good for Lin. He has shown he is a good defender and turnovers by the Knicks can give Lin has a ton of value as a ball handler on the break. But for now, fans will have to wait and see how Lin plays.

Who won at the trade deadline?


Despite all the big names that were said to be moving to new locations, no significant moves were made. The Lakers held on to both Bynum and Gasol. Orlando, most significantly, was able to get Howard to stick around for one more season. Michael Beasley will still be coming off the Minnesota bench. All four top players in Boston will be around for the remainder of the season. After all the talk and rumors, the deadline moves were rather conservative with major players staying put. But I will still take a look at every trade and give my take on who wins, and loses.

Golden State and Milwaukee

Warriors receive: Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson
Bucks receive: Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown

Analysis: In a deal done a couple of days before the deadline, the Warriors traded for size. Mark Jackson is trying to institute a defensive mindset for the Warriors and was able to obtain a very good defensive center in Andrew Bogut. If he can remain healthy he should be a good player in the paint for the Warriors. He will fit well in the front court/post with David Lee, who plays best in the pick and roll and from mid-range. The Warriors also got decent value for what they gave up. Ellis has been struggling this season, and it is still not clear how good Udoh will be despite being a high pick in the previous year's draft.

For the Bucks, the value of the trade will depend on how Ellis integrates in the offense and how Udoh develops. The Jennings-Ellis backcourt along with their collection of shooters including Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Delfino, and Ersan Ilyasova should make the Bucks a dangerous three point team. But with the trade of Bogut, the Bucks don't have any strong inside presence which may hurt Scott Skiles defense-first strategy. However the team has been functioning without Bogut for most of the season anyways, so it might not make a huge difference on the teams play. They will gain some cap space with Kwame Brown's expiring contract.

San Antonio and Golden State

Warriors receive: Richard Jefferson, T.J. Ford, and a potential first round pick
Spurs receive: Stephen Jackson 

Analysis: The Warriors acquired Jackson on Tuesday, said they would keep him on Wednesday and then sent him to San Antonio on Thursday. The trade is a perhaps a lateral move in talent for both teams. Spurs sacrificing some defense for a shooter that can be a solid scorer. The Warriors getting a solid perimeter shooter (42% 3 point shooting) that is good on the boards and defense. Jefferson's is a better fit in Mark Jackson's defensive Warriors than Jackson would have been. T.J. Ford was also acquired by the Warriors, but has already declared his intent on retiring due to injuries. The draft pick is also valuable for the Warriors who will likely not have a pick in this years' draft (the pick is protected and the Spurs will retain it if it turns out to be a lottery pick).

For the Spurs, they add a struggling player who was unhappy and perhaps a bad fit in Milwaukee and never got a chance in Golden State (where he has also played in the past). It is also a return for Jackson to the team he played with during the early stages of his NBA career. He since been a journeyman in the league playing for five different teams in seven different stints. He potentially could be an impact player for San Antonio as a scorer if he can return to form. Last season he averaged almost 19 points a game and was a good scorer in the mediocre Charlotte Bobcats. But in Milwaukee he didn't seem to be a good fit in Scott Skiles system which is based around defense. But if not, his contract is a year shorter than Jefferson's and will expire at the end of next season. Potentially clearing up the roster as the aging Spurs start to head into rebuilding mode in the next couple of seasons.

Los Angeles and Cleveland

Cavaliers receive: Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, and a first round pick 
Lakers receive: Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga

Analysis: This is a good move for the Lakers who were lacking both depth and a solid point guard. Sessions is a strong ball handler who is a great distributor and decent shooter. But Sessions is more productive with the ball then playing without the ball. That might be a problem on the Lakers where Kobe Bryant likes to handle the ball in the offense. It will be interesting to see how Sessions fits into the roster, and is able to adapt to playing if he is asked to play off the ball and shoot more often. Eyenga is a prospect who has solid shooting range but hasn't seen many minutes this season on the weak Cavaliers. He likely will not be a big minute player on the Lakers, but he may have a future or place as sometype of role player.

The Cavaliers get rid of Sessions' contract, which, while not big money, went through the next season. Sessions was a player who really didn't have a place on roster since the addition of Kyrie Irving. The Cavs don't get much out of this trade outside of the Lakers likely late first round pick in the upcoming year's draft. Not a bad trade for Cleveland who is still trying to build a team around Irving and move on in the post-LeBron era.

Los Angeles and Houston

Rockets recieve: Derek Fisher and the Mavs' first round draft pick
Lakers recieve: Jordan Hill

Analysis: The Lakers continue to add depth to their team that is sorely lacking in the high paced short season. L.A. didn't add any big names but they made themselves a better, more dangerous playoff team by adding talented players and giving up minimum talent. Hill isn't a huge name, but he is a good role player that can fill out the Lakers weak front court. Hill provides defense, and is a good rebounder off the bench. The Lakers current reserve big men are less effective when it comes to Hill's strengths. In both this trade, and the previous trade, the Lakers added two players that can provide minutes to their rotation. While they didn't give up much talent, they did trade Derek Fisher who had been with the organization for the majority of his long career. Fisher was a key member of the Lakers' championships during this time period but is now way past his prime and a liability on defense.

Houston doesn't get a lot out of this trade, but they are able to move Hill, who hasn't played much in their loaded front court, for a valuable draft pick.

Portland and New Jersey

Nets recieve: Gerald Wallace
Blazers recieve: Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and a protected first round draft pick

This is a smart trade for Portland, who is looking towards the future of the organization. Portland gets New Jersey's first round pick in next year's draft (which is protected if it turns out to be a top three pick). This, depending how the Nets finish the season, could possibly be a top ten, and if the Blazers are lucky, maybe even a top five pick. This will be a great asset to the rebuilding Blazers that lost Brandon Roy and cut the continually injured Greg Oden, whom the Blazers took over Kevin Durant as the top overall pick in the 2007 draft. The Blazers also will likely finish with their own lottery pick to pair with the extra pick from the Nets.

New Jersey, on the other hand, gets another talented player to pair with Deron Williams. Williams has a player option for the next season, and will likely opt out after the Nets were unable to obtain Dwight Howard from the Magic. The Nets made a desperation trade to do anything to persuade Williams to stay but it might now be enough. They could also lose Gerald Wallace at the end of season, as he also has a player option for next season. The Nets could potentially arrive in Brooklyn next season in bad shape. Without either elite player and a top draft pick from the draft.


Portland and Houston

Rockets receive: Marcus Camby
Blazers receive: Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet, and a second round pick (from Minnesota)

Analysis: Houston adds the veteran Camby who is still a solid big man on the defensive end of the court. Even in his 15th season Camby still is a strong rebounder and shot blocker. Camby's contract will also expire at the end of the season allowing the Rockets to have some room to make some moves to improve their roster. But Camby will continue to crowd the already talented Houston front court featuring Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, rookie Marcus Morris, and veteran Samuel Dalembert. Houston was reportedly trying to make some bigger moves. The Rockets were allegedly trying to deal for either Pau Gasol or potentially even Dwight Howard. The Rockets were also rumored to be shopping Kevin Martin, who has struggled and had minor injuries problems this season. Martin is also in the second to last year of his contract and hasn't worked out any possible extension or deal with the Rockets. But the Rockets did not make any of these rumored moves.

The Trailblazers were also looking to move Jamal Crawford, and he was even scratched at the last second from the Blazers' line-up in their previous game against the Knicks. But no deal materialized for Crawford and he will remain with the Blazers. But, outside of this failure to move Crawford, the Blazers have done well to rocket themselves into rebuilding mode including the firing of coach Nate McMillan. They have obtained draft picks from struggling teams and have added young players that have replaced veterans. In this trade, the Blazers added two young players that have failed to live up to expectations. Guard Jonny Flynn--who was taken with the six overall pick in the 2009 draft--looked early on like he was going to be a great player in the league. But since, Flynn has struggled in his first three seasons out of Syracuse. He has had problems fitting with the Rocket's backcourt that included Kyle Lowry. He may find himself in a similar position in Portland with veteran point guard Raymond Felton. Flynn was believed to have a ton of potential and was thought that he would turn out to be a great scoring point guard. But hasn't been able to grow into this potential.

Hasheem Thabeet also suffers from the similar career trajectory as Flynn. A top prospect, taken second overall in the same draft as Flynn but by Memphis. Thabeet has, like Flynn, struggled since he entered the league and been unable to live up to his high draft stock. In his first season, Thabeet was even sent down to the D-League for a short time period, becoming the highest draft pick to be demoted to the developmental league. Thabeet, who, Memphis saw a project player with tons of potential, has struggled to find time in the NBA with Memphis and Houston. Thabeet's game relies on his defense but he struggles athletically in the NBA and has problems with fouls. Portland has potential to work with both players but it remains to be seen if they can develop either one into a viable rotation player.

Toronto and Indiana

Pacers receive: Leandro Barbosa 
Raptors receive: Pacers' second round pick

Analysis: A solid trade for the Pacers as they give up little and gain a great scorer to help bolster their already talented backcourt containing containing Darren Collison and Paul George. Pacers were rumored to be trying to get Jamal Crawford from the Trailblazers but the two teams were unable to make a deal. Barbosa, however, is not a bad second option for the Pacers. A great shooter and scorer that has provided the Raptors with 12 points per game in just 22.5 minutes per game. He will strengthen the Pacers backcourt bench that is currently led by George Hill. But the Barbosa addition might hurt Collison's playing time more than Hill's, at least according to head coach Frank Vogel. Vogel said, after the trade was completed, that he hopes to work in more of Hill in the line-up.

The Raptors on the other hand don't really gain anything from this trade. They get a mid to late second round pick from the Pacers and lose a guard who contract was expiring at the end of the season. But the Raptors could have tried to get something more for a player of Barbosa caliber than a likely worthless pick.

Memphis and Philadelphia

Sixers receive: Sam Young
Grizzlies receive: Future considerations and Ricky Sanchez

Analysis: In yet another trade where one teams gives up on talented player for just about nothing, the Grizzlies sent talented swingman, Sam Young, to Philly for a potential pick and a perennial D-League player that hasn't played in an NBA game. Young, though not as talented as other players that were moved for little to no compensation, like Barbosa and Sessions, is a capable player that will help fill out the rotation. Philly has often been forced to play small because of their lack of big men. Young won't help with the size, but will give another player in the lineup that will be able to play defense and around the rim in a small role.

Washington, Los Angeles, and Denver

Wizards receive: Nene (Nuggets) Brian Cook, a future second round pick (Clippers)
Clippers receive: Nick Young (Wizards)
Nuggets receive: JaVale McGee, and Ronny Turiaf (Wizards)

Analysis: The Wizards obtain veteran big man Nene, who just signed a large contract earlier this season with the Nuggets. Nene offers the Wizards a veteran big man who is a smart defender, and a viable scorer around the rim. But with his talents, the Wizards also have to worry about possible injuries with Nene heading into his thirties. He has been injury prone in the past, but in the previous three season, has been relatively reliable. Nene missed only twelve games in the three seasons since 2008. However, this season Nene has missed 16 of the Nugget's 44 games. This is definitely a concern considering the Wizards will being paying Nene to the tune of 13 million every year through the 2015-2016 season. Nene can be a reliable, smart, impact player in the Wizards' front court but injuries have to be a concern of the Wizards and the Washington fans. But his mental ability may make up for any minor injuries. Especially considering he will replace athletically gifted but mentally weak JaVale McGee. McGee has become notorious for his lack of awareness and mental mistakes. On the other side of the trade, the Wizards don't gain anything from their deal with with Los Angeles obtaining veteran bench warmer Brian Cook and a meaningless second round pick for Nick Young.

Young will be a valuable player in the Clippers backcourt with Chris Paul which has been lacking depth since Chauncey Billups was lost to a season ending injury. Young will also provide the Clippers with a natural shooting guard in their back court that is mostly filled with point guards trying to play out of position. In the past two seasons, Young has show great development improving as both a scorer and shooter in Washington. This season, Young is averaging 16 points and almost 2 three pointers per game. Young's range will help with spacing for the “Lob City” pick and roll game between Paul and Griffin/Jordan. He may also become a strong third scorer for the Clippers, supplanting struggling forward Caron Butler, who is averaging only 40% from the field this year.

The benefits of the Nuggets portion of the trade is questionable. They gave up a talented veteran, in Nene, for a developing 4th year player JaVale McGee. McGee has shown great progress throughout his career. When he entered the league he was an incredibly athletic big man, with raw skills and tons of potential. He has been able to develop some of this talent and has become a strong shot blocker (averaging 2.5 blocks in less than 30 minutes per game) and rebounder. However he is plagued with bad court awareness and mental mistakes. These mistakes are often the topic of conversation on blog sites like Deadspin, where McGee now has his own topic know as “That's So JaVale.” He is also a weak post player and a terrible shooter especially from the free throw line. But under a smart coach, like George Karl, McGee could develop into a dominating big man like many believe he has the potential to be. But either way, McGee is likely an upgrade over Denver's current collection of centers, which includes former Knick Timofey Mozgof.

The Big Winner: There really isn't any clear single winner in this year's deadline trades. Perhaps the best results came from Orlando, where the Magic were able to hold Dwight Howard for at least one more year. This gives them another 365 days to juggle cap room and try to sign Deron Williams or another star to pair with Howard. The NBA's new amnesty rule (which allows teams to cut one player each season without cap implications) will help the Magic clear space. But based on the rosters situation, the Magic best option might be trying to make a deal using expiring contracts of guards Jameer Nelson, and J.J. Redick.

The Lakers also made some great moves to add depth, but they didn't really add any extremely talented players. Sessions and Hill will be good role players that will help fill out the Lakers rotation but likely won't make any huge impact. It also not clear how well Sessions will fit in with the Bryant-led Lakers. The Warriors also made some smart moves to try to become a stronger defensive team. The addition of adding Bogut was a great step in this direction for the team that has been known over the past decade for it's hyper offense and weak defense. Portland also made some good moves that will help with their rebuilding process but nothing that will change their chances for making the playoffs this season.


The Big Loser: Again, they're weren't any big trades that make a huge impact on one team or another. The moves that didn't get made might turn out to be the biggest mistakes for teams. The Nets, in that case, ended up with the short straw. They are now moving to Brooklyn next year and are going to have a tough time holding onto star point guard Deron Williams following the end of the season. They made a patch move by adding Gerald Wallace, but he probably won't be enough to satisfy Williams, who by most accounts, is interested in playing with another superstar like Dwight Howard. The Nets could lose newly acquired Gerald Wallace too, who also has a player option for next season. This would leave the Nets in very rough shape going into their first year in the big city. 

Another team that did fair well includes Toronto which made a one sided trade, sending Leandro Barbosa to Philadelphia for just about nothing in return. This won't kill the already troubled Raptors, but wasn't a great move for the team.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Would Phil Jackson fit with the current Knicks roster?


Jackson sporting Knick colors with a blue shirt,
 and orange tie.
Following the departure of Mike D'Antoni, the Knicks coaching situation is in question. Right now Mike Woodson is running the show and next season it is questionable to see what the Knicks will do with their coaching position. Phil Jackson's name has been often mentioned in association with the Knicks. But if he did come, would the current roster be a good fit for his offense?

Jackson as coach would have at least two benefits. First, he is used to the media and fan attention that surrounds an organization like the Knicks. As a player, he played for New York for the majority of his NBA career and has coached the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Both are major cities that get a lot of media attention and fan pressure to perform well. Jackson is going to be able to take the pressure that surrounds the organization.

Second, Jackson is also very familiar working with stars like Carmelo Anthony. He has coached two of the arguably greatest players in NBA history during his coaching career. Phil has been able to manage personalities like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. So he would obviously be able to work with Anthony. Anthony isn't on the same talent level or skill set as Bryant or Jordan in their primes, but he has similar needs. Jackson would also likely have leverage as coach over Anthony, something Mike D'Antoni never had.

However some had said that this roster does not exactly fit Jackson's offense. Though it wouldn't be perfect, the Knicks current roster would work decently well in the triangle offense. The triangle offense (like D'Antoni's) focuses on spacing. Shooters are a necessary part of the strategy, and the Knicks are at a premium in that category. The idea of the offense is to space the players on the floor in such a way that they are able to benefit when the defense shifts or attempts a double team. That means (again like D'Antoni's offense) players are asked to shoot when they get a good look and make the pass when the defense shifts. So everyone on the roster needs to be decent shooters and passers. Tyson Chandler would be the weak spot of the offense, but he can definitely develop as a passer and potentially as a shooter or post player. Chandler would be good enough to get by, Jackson has been able to make someone like Shaq (who isn't a great shooter or passer) as a viable part of the triangle.

The offense is also predicated on a point guard, a guard or forward, and a post player. These are the positions where the Knicks have the most talent. Jeremy Lin at point, Carmelo Anthony at small forward and Amare Stoudemire in the post would likely be the triangle combination. But Stoudamire is perhaps a stronger pick and roll player, as is Lin. But Stoudamire probably can function in the post enough to suit the triangle offense. He wouldn't be the same caliber as a player like O'Neal but he could do enough. Lin on the other hand might not be the best suited for the triangle but he has talents that are valuable in the offense. He is a great passer and unselfish teammate. He can also knock down shots when called upon. But as a player, he would be better suited in a pick and roll offense where he is called upon to make a pass or drive to the basket.

The biggest problem for the Knicks would likely be ball movement in the system. The offense is built so one player can pass to any of the other four players on the court. This makes spacing for the opposing team much more difficult and easier to attack. But the Knicks biggest problem in the D'Antoni offense was ball movement especially with Melo. Anthony loves to play in the isolation and has been accused of being a ball stopper by former player and current analyst Chris Webber. With Jackson' triangle offense the Knicks could run into the same problems as D'Antoni's offense. It may all come down to whether the Knicks can move the ball and what happens when the ball gets to Anthony. But Anthony wouldn't be the first player that Jackson has coached that has been criticized for hogging the ball. Kobe has also been accused of many of the same things as Anthony. So Jackson may be able to work and get Anthony to buy into the system despite the popular opinion surrounding the player. But it could potentially be the same situation for the Knicks under Jackson as it was for the Knicks under D'Antoni.

It might be too early to start looking for Jackson anyways. It is not even certain that he wants to return. He does have a history with the Knicks and analysts, like Stephen A. Smith, believe he wants to return to New York to end his career. Jackson is only sixty-six which, by coaching standards, means he still has a few years left in him. If he does have the urge to return, and he is willing try to win another ring, New York might not even be the most attractive roster. He might be more drawn to another team, like the possible Dwight Howard-Deron Williams combination. Both would be a better suit for his offense, and he might be given more leverage to craft his roster than take what the Knicks offer him.

Did Anthony force D'Antoni out?


With Mike D'Antoni leaving the Knicks, it is clear that he had problems managing the talent and especially managing Carmelo Anthony. Many believe that D'Antoni didn't want to trade for Anthony. It was said that D'Antoni would have preferred to holdon to the batch of talent they had. Instead former general manager Donnie Walsh and owner James Dolan were the real driving force behind gutting the roster for a superstar. But D'Antoni was forced to deal with the trade and running his offense with a player not quite suited for his offense. D'Antoni was unsuccessful with dealing with this addition. D'Antoni's offense called for ball movement and a shooter in the corner. But Anthony is better suited playing from mid-range and in isolation. Anthony would ignore his role in the D'Antoni offense and would instead choose to go back to his more familiar position in the elbow. It was clear how this affected the team's ability to execute on offense. The paint became more crowded. The high pick and roll between Lin and Stoudamire/Chandler was much more difficult to perform with Anthony on the floor.

So it is clear that Carmelo didn't respect D'Antoni enough to follow his game strategy. Either that, or D'Antoni was not willing force Anthony to play in his role. In the end, this bad relationship did likely lead to the dissolution of D'Antoni and the Knicks. But did Anthony play a larger role within the resignation of Mike D'Antoni?

Earlier today their were rumors that Anthony wanted to be traded. Anthony denied these rumors but it is reasonable for a observer to put two and two together. D'Antoni and Anthony were clearly having problems within his system and the Knicks were suffering because of it. These problems were highlighted by the Knicks' great stretch while Anthony was on the bench. But D'Antoni was unable to fit Anthony back in the system when he returned. So the problem became Anthony and the system. Anthony seemingly has more leverage with the Knicks administration. D'Antoni had (deservingly) not been resigned to any extension with the team and it wasn't clear if he would even be back next season. Rumors about a coaching change next season quietly loomed around D'Antoni. The Knicks also looked unwilling to move Anthony after acquiring him from Denver just over a year earlier.

If it came down to a stand-off between the player and coach, D'Antoni would likely lose. Today may have been that stand-off. D'Antoni's resignation coming just hours after the Anthony trade rumors had come to surfaced. It's not too difficult to not link together the two events. Without any inside info it is reasonable to think that Anthony may have made a ultimatum. Him or D'Antoni. Anthony demands a trade, and the Knicks' either pressure D'Antoni or D'Antoni realizes he is beat and decides to leave first. Now the situation become what can interim head coach Mike Woodson do with the Knicks and who will be coaching next season?

How long can Mike Woodson survive?

Analysts are already discussing the future of the New York Knicks head coach position. Outside of Woodson, who isn't getting much of a chance, names like John Calipari and Phil Jackson are being thrown around as potential replacements. If Woodson wants to return to the Knicks as the head coach, he needs control Anthony and the team in general. Especially in the past week they're have been leaks and rumors swirling around the team. Woodson needs to find a way to stem these leaks. That is step one. If Woodson can't control the locker room, then he doesn't have a shot. Woodson also needs to figure out how to get the team working together and playing defense. Getting the team to play together and start winning again would mean a lot. Even if he was just able to finish the season around .500 it might be enough to convince the front office to bring him back. But it is likely that the Knicks will still look at some of the big names before committing to Woodson.