Category Archives: Knicks

You Cannot Be Serious!

ESPN has a new story titled, “Should the Knicks blow it up or pursue the playoffs?” I am not making that up. It includes this amazing quote”

That time is here for Knicks management. Jackson needs to decide whether he wants to continue to push for the playoffs or pull the plug on what feels like another lost season in New York.

“continue to push for the playoffs”!? The Knicks are 11-games under .500 and 3-7 in their last 10. That’s a playoff push? Sure, the Eastern Conference is once again top-heavy, but they are four-games back with three teams in front of them. And if they made the playoffs then they would probably be a sacrifice to King James in the first round.

Instead here is a “crazy” idea. Lose games as often as possible. If ever there was a season to tank, this is it, because the draft looks really deep and the Knicks finally have paid off all of Isiah and Jimmy’s terrible draft pick trades. If possible, trade Carmelo for another first round pick and then do the smart thing- rebuild. A lottery pick added to Porzingas with another first rounder thown in is a good start. Stink again in 2018 and you have another lottery pick. Suddenly, you might have a pretty good core of players.

Whatever you do, don’t try to add anything to this team that would sacrifice the future. That would be amazingly stupid.

This Will End Badly

The story in Blecher Report was a harsh, but fair critique of Carmelo Anthony. Basically, he doesn’t have the killer instinct of Jordan or Bryant and Phil Jackson has screwed up by expecting him to develop it. The story would have faded away pretty quickly if Phil Jackson hadn’t decided to tweet about it, after not tweeting anything since the end of December. Here’s what Jackson had to say:

“Bleacher’s Ding almost rings the bell, but I learned you don’t change the spot on a leopard with Michael Graham in my CBA daze.”

Now, if you want to take the best possible spin on that, Jackson is saying that he knew what Anthony was and still thought he was a max-contract player. (Let’s not debate if he is or not, just stick with me.) So, it’s a somewhat awkward defense of Anthony involving a player from 25-years ago that almost nobody remembers.

The problem is, you have to be really willing to jump through hoops to get there, and Phil knows the NYC media well enough to know this would be the equivalent of throwing meat to hungry dogs. And so you have this. Or this one. And this one. And plenty more. It’s an easy narrative to fill because the logic is Phil wants to trade Carmelo, but needs Carmelo to waive his no-trade clause, so he needs to make Carmelo want to leave at all costs.

But that ignores, the reality of what GM does this? The Yankees treated A-Rod better than this when he was suspended for a year for cheating and the reason is, you never ever want to malign your own players because it lowers their value. Other GM’s aren’t stupid and they will read stories like this and tell Phil if you want him gone that badly, here’s our lowball offer.

So then you have the other possible explanation suggested in one of those links- Phil wants to get fired and head back to his beach house with a fat contract for two more years. Definitely plausible again, but while Phil’s reputation is going to survive, flaming out so badly in NYC isn’t the ending I can believe he wants and will resurrect the narrative that Pat Riley is a better coach/executive than him.

If it had been reason #1, a backhanded compliment. Jackson could have defused the whole thing with a follow-up tweet like this: “I love Carmleo and he is a vital part of the franchise. I would never want him to change his playing style.” Problem solved and crisis averted. And yes, we know he is lying, but he is putting the story to bed.

So that leaves us with the other two explanations and both point to the same conclusion. Jackson is trying to force Dolan to make a decision. It will be his franchise or Carmleo’s and one of them is leaving town. Either Carmelo in a fire sale or Jackson with $24-million still owed to him. Scorched earth either way and just another terrible chapter in a franchise with way too many of them this century.

Good Idea/Bad Execution

So give the Knicks points for trying to shop Carmelo Anthony as per this story. Take away points for going to Cleveland and asking for Kevin Love. Should the Knicks trade Carmelo? Absolutely, and hopefully this was just the start of their efforts, but they need to get real. They are not going to get a Kevin Love-type player in return.

And that’s ok, the important thing is to get some more draft picks or young players who might turn into something rather than try to fool anyone into thinking they can remain competitive. This is not a team that will win a championship as currently constructed, so you send Anthony and Rose out of town, give Noah a seat on the bench, and surround Kristaps and Willy with some young guys. For the first time in probably a decade, the Knicks control all of their future first round picks, so losing this year really isn’t a problem. You head to the lottery and see what happens.

They have about a month before the deadline and they are 20-26. A smart team would sell aggressively. The Knicks have never been a smart team.

 

The Anti Decision

I’m having a hard time understanding the anger directed at Kevin Durant for signing with Golden State. For one thing, he did it the right way. He didn’t go out and embarrass his former club, just the opposite, writing this piece in the Players Tribune.  Second, can you blame him for the move?

Durant is a nine-year veteran at this point in his career. He has done everything except win a title so he is joining a team that gives him a great shot to do it. What’s wrong with that?

Sure if you are an OKC fan this hurts a lot, but if you are not why are you upset? An immensely talented player used his free agency to find a place he wanted to play. He didn’t force his way out of OKC, he left after nine years.

Its funny how people forget certain things like the fact John Elway was drafted by the Colts, or Eli Manning was drafted by the Chargers. We forget those things because neither of them ever played a snap for those teams. Instead they forced their way out of those teams without even trying to play in the city that drafted them. Or how about Carmelo forcing his way out of Denver a few months before he hit free agency so he could get a bigger contract from the Knicks?

Durant didn’t do any of those things. He made the choice free agency allowed him to make. All the people howling about it should remember that.

Another Way To Go

I didn’t mind the Derrick Rose trade because the commitment was for one year. If Rose rediscovered his greatness, the Knicks would have an incredibly valuable asset on their hands at the next trade deadline. If not, he gets erased from the cap next offseason. And, if Rose makes Carmelo better, the Knicks could get more for him in a trade as well. But I was worried that the Knicks were going to turn around and sign Dwight Howard, an aging malcontent. That doesn’t sound like it will happen, but it does sounds like the Knicks are going to give Jokim Noah a four-year deal for something around $70-million. It’s not the money that bothers me, Timothy Mozgrov just got only a little less from LA, its what it means. It means that the Knicks are trying to win right now and that is stupid.

Noah can be a really good player when he is healthy, but he is 31 and on the downside of his career. Adding him to this team means the Knicks are keeping Rose and Anthony and they are going to try to be a playoff team next year which is good in the short term, but really dumb in the long term if you believe in Porzingis. Because the goal should be to surround Porzingis with enough talent in a few years to compete for a title. That means acquiring draft picks and other future assets, not guys who will be washed up or retired in a few years. Consider a team with Rose, Anthony, Noah, Porzingis, and someone TBD at shooting guard. Are they good enough to make the playoffs? Absolutely, but what are they going to do when they get there? I would say winning a first round matchup is about their ceiling. Are they good enough to beat Cleveland? Not unless that TBD shooting guard is Kevin Durant. And that’s the ultimate thing. I don’t care about the Knicks being in the playoffs again. I have suffered through two terrible eras of Knicks basketball, this one, and the 80’s, and I am still here. But, I remember the 1990’s. Those teams never won, but they had enough talent that they had a chance almost every year. That’s what I want, a team that is a legitimate title contender like what the Rangers have been these past few years, or the Yankees were from 1994 to 2012. That’s a team I can enjoy watching, and while I will suffer if they come up short, at least I will have gotten the chance to see them compete at the highest level.

Instead we will probably get a team that will finish above .500, make the playoffs and maybe win a series. They will then get crushed by someone in the second round and head home with a mediocre draft pick as their consolation prize. I would rather blow it all up, trade away everyone except Porzingis and build for the future. It’s too bad Phil Jackson doesn’t agree.

 

Now What?

In a vacuum, the trade for Derrick Rose is a good one for the Knicks. They didn’t overpay. They got a player who could be great next year, but is only signed through next year, so the risk is minimal. And when was the last time the Knicks actually acquired a draft pick in a trade instead of sending one away? The problem is, the Knicks do not operate in a vacuum and I am now terrified that the Knicks will take a serious run at Dwight Howard.

And that would be a huge mistake. Howard isn’t the player he once was, and he clearly has attitude issues. In short, he is someone the Knicks should stay far, far away from. But these are the Knicks where floor seats are expensive and need superstar names to entice customers to buy. Smart fans would prefer almost anyone, and especially Hassan Whiteside, in the pivot next year. Hopefully, Phil Jackson agrees with that.

Hornacek?

Word is Phil Jackson, Steve Mills, and Jeff Hornacek had dinner in midtown last night. While that’s not evidence of a done deal, it’s a sign that the Knicks are really serious about making Hornacek the next coach of the Knicks.

My first thought is, can he shoot a three still? My second is, does Phil Jackson hope to be fired? Look, Hornacek may be a great guy, but he isn’t a triangle coach, something Jackson supposedly insisted on, and he doesn’t appear to be a great coach. In Phoenix his teams got worse each year, albeit after a big improvement when he took over.

Some will take this as a sign that Jackson realizes he need to bend. Hiring a non-triangle coach and a coach who isn’t one of his former assistants or players. I don’t agree. There were guys like that available earlier this year who had far better resumes, Thom Thibodeau for example. To me this is either a hire forced on Jackson by Dolan, or a radical change that makes me question exactly what the long-term plan for the franchise is once again.

The Beginning and The End

For the Rangers, tonight marks the start of the NHL Playoffs. For the Knicks, tonight marks the first day of the offseason. Let’s delve into both.

The Rangers have won eight playoff series over the last four seasons, but they haven’t hoisted a Stanley Cup. That ties a “record’ held by the Bruins of the late 1980’s for most playoff series wins without a Cup- ugh. They absolutely can win this year, but they made it more difficult by beating Detroit on Saturday. If they had lost that game, they would have opened the playoffs in Florida and assuming a victory there, played the winner of the Detroit-Tampa series. Now they have to beat the Penguins in Round 1 and probably face the best team in the NHL, Washington, in Round 2.

It won’t be easy, but it comes down to a simple formula for them. Lundqvist, Lundqvist, and more Lundqvist. If he is on top of his game, the Rangers will be a very tough team to play. If he isn’t, if he plays like he has the past few weeks, this will be a very quick playoff appearance.

*****

Then there are the Knicks and we can actually look at their season with some good feelings. For one, they weren’t the disaster they were last year. 32-50 is nothing to brag about, but when it comes on the heels of a 17-65 season it represents progress. Two, Kristaps Porzingas looks like a cornerstone player.

They are going to need more and that’s where Phil Jackson is going to have to earn his paycheck. I think that the easiest route to respectability is trading Carmelo for a lottery pick this year, stinking next year for another lottery pick, and using your major cap room after the 2016-17 season to round out the roster. I can’t tell what the team is going to do. Part of me thinks Anthony is going to force his way out of here, but part of me suspects that the Knicks won’t part with him because he gives them the illusion of competitiveness. I hope I am wrong about that because Anthony is on the decline and by the time Porzingas is all that he can be, Anthony will be a role player at best.

Stay tuned.

Losses Ranked

After last night I tried to come up with the worst losses I have suffered as a sports fan. This is called catharsis.

1- Game 5 1995 ALDS- So many things make this the worst starting with the fact that the Yankees had the series in hand the day before when they jumped out to a 5-0 lead in Game 4. They blew that and then came into the 11th inning of this game with a one-run lead. Three batters later the game and the series were over.

2- 2002 NFL Playoffs- Start with the fact that the Giants led 38-14 with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter, but then consider this. The 49ers rally and cut the lead to 38-30 with two TD’s and two 2-point conversions. They then kick a field goal to make it 38-33, but the Giants drive deep into SF territory only to miss a field goal on a bad snap.

Then things really got nutty. The 49ers drive down and score a TD, but the 2-point conversion fails. The Giants have a minute left and get into position for a 42-yard field goal to win the game. Bad snap #2 ensues and the Giants have the heave the ball downfield in desperation. Everyone in the world sees the Giants’ receiver get tackled before the ball arrives and the flag on the play. But, the call is ineligible man down field and the game is over. The following day the NFL apologized to the Giants because the player flagged as ineligible had in fact checked in and was eligible and for missing the obvious pass interference call. <sigh>

3- Game 3 1980 ALCS- George Brett off of Goose Gossage, tears flowed.

4- Game 5 2004 ALCS- What people forget about this game, which went 14 innings, is how many times the Yankees bent, but didn’t break as the extra innings progressed. Made it that more painful when things finally ended.

5- Villanova 77 UNC 74. The cruel part of this game was the fact that it was “over” with a few minutes left. UNC trailed by 10 and had no shot. But Marcus Paige refused to accept that and hit one of the craziest three-pointers you will ever see with 4.7 seconds left. But then….

6 and 7- Games 1+2 2014 Stanley Cup- Both games see the Rangers up 2-0 early. Both games see LA storm back. Both games go to extra time. Both games end with LA winning.

8- Game 5 2011 ALDS- I saw this one in person and I will never forget the quiet after the game ended.

9- 1989 NFL Playoffs- Rams come behind in the 4th quarter to tie the game and then win the coin toss in OT. Flipper Anderson catches a pass, gets to the end zone, runs down the tunnel, and disappears.

10- Games 1 and 7 1995 NBA Semifinals- Pick your poison. Game 1 is Reggie Miller’s “8 points in 9 seconds” where the Knicks blow a 6-point lead over the final 18. Game 7 is Patrick Ewing missing a layup at the buzzer and the Knicks losing their first ever Game 7 at home.

Honorable Mention- 2002 Olympic Hockey Finals- The 1980 Men’s Team lights the torch and you can feel the gold medal finally coming back to U.S. soil. The 2002 team beats the Russians in the semis, just like 1980, and then gets bombed by Canada on home ice to lose the gold medal.

 

Can We All Get Our Money Back?

I have to give Carmelo Anthony credit for this one, he told a heckler last night to ask Knicks owner, Jim Dolan, for his money back.  That’s both funny and bold.

Unfortunately, it is also a grim indicator of just how badly things have been going for the Knicks this century. Since the calendar hit 2000, the Knicks have finished above .500 four times, made the playoffs five times, and won a grand total of one playoff series. At this point the question should be why would anyone give the Knicks money in the first place?

I suspect we are on the verge of some more major changes. I don’t think Dolan is going to take all of this lying down. Phil Jackson will probably go, Anthony will probably be traded away, a new coach and GM will be brought in. The championship drought will continue.