Category Archives: Knicks

This Could Be Ugly

I am going to say that Carmelo scores more than 30 points tonight. It’s a conservative guess because most people think he might get 50, but he is going against Porzingas, which is not a great matchup for him on either end of the floor. One thing is for sure, Carmelo will be motivated to get revenge on the Knicks.

Beyond tonight, this is going to be a painful season as there are really very few reasons for optimism. But, you can also make the case that winning is the last thing the Knicks should be concerned with. They need to get another high draft pick and hope they can find the right guy. The NBA changed the lottery rules, so finishing last isn’t the priority, but finishing in the bottom three should be. (The new rules give the bottom three teams, the same chance to get the top pick- 14%)  A good draft pick is about all we have to look forward too. On the plus side, we at least have our draft picks, a big change from recent years.

That’s the sad reality of the Knicks these days. We are rooting for draft picks.

Advertisements

Melo is Traded

The Knicks have finally traded Carmelo Anthony!  He is headed to Oklahoma City for the equivalent of nothing- Kanter, McDermott, and a 2nd rounder. Kanter is actually a decent rotation player, but you get the point.

This really wasn’t about what they got back, it was about burying a mistake and moving on. Melo didn’t work out. Jackson compounded that mistake with a max contract and a no-trade clause. Revisiting it all again is pointless.

And now the Knicks launch their latest rebuilding attempt in earnest. It won’t be pretty and it won’t happen fast. But, they have Porzingas and Willy and that’s a start. If they drafted the right guy in Ntilikina, they will have a strong nucleus and if they are smart, they will lose a lot this year to get another lottery pick.

Knickfunction

The Knicks are reportedly firing Phil Jackson today. That’s not something I object to, his 80-166 record speaks for itself, but the timing of it shows how incredibly dysfunctional this franchise is.

What other franchise would allow the team President to run the NBA draft and then turn around and fire them three days before NBA free agency begins?  You either do this after the season ends in April, or you wait until after free agency and the summer leagues conclude. Doing it now cripples your ability to improve in free agency and calls into question why the Knicks drafted the guys they did just last week.

Again, firing Jackson is not a dumb idea. His record was atrocious, and his behavior even worse. He was the guy who gave Carmelo a max deal with a no-trade clause and a trade kicker. When he saw it wasn’t working he didn’t quietly try to get Carmelo to waive that and go elsewhere, he started trashing his own player in the press. For a smart guy, that is really stupid. Then he starts smacking the future face of the franchise around in the press and floats trade rumors about him. If you are a NBA free agent, why would you sign on the dotted line to play for this man?

But the sad reality is that this won’t make things better. A new president will come in, but Jim Dolan will remain. It was Dolan who created the culture of paranoia and dysfunction that surrounds this team. It was Dolan who forced Donnie Walsh to empty the cupboard for Carmelo when the Knicks could have waited three months and signed him as a free agent. It was Dolan who foisted Isiah Thomas on us, and may try and do so again. Phil Jackson deserves his pink slip, but until Dolan goes, Knickfunction will mean dysfunction.

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.